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AR15 Bolt Catches

An AR15 bolt catch is used to lock the bolt carrier group in the rear position once the magazine has been emptied. When you’re ready to resume firing, the bolt catch release the bolt.

Not every AR15 bolt catch we carry is the same. Different textures provide different grips and “feel” to the catch, and some even offer extended designs to make using the bolt catch easier.

When the last shot is fired from the magazine the bolt catch automatically engages, locking the bolt carrier group open. Also at any time, the user can manually engage the bolt catch to perform the same function. When the user disengages the bolt catch, the bolt carrier group will slam forward again allowing the firearm to resume firing. Many people prefer using the bolt catch to send the bolt carrier group forward rather than using the charging handle since it is easier and more natural to get your hand properly back into a shooting position.

The type of bolt catch you run on your AR-15 comes down to personal preference as they are not all built the same. There are many different options on the market, from a more traditional MILSPEC bolt catch to something custom. Every bolt catch has a unique texturing pattern that helps with grip when the user during operation. These vary from rough and jagged to simple horizontal grooves. Extended bolt catches make it much easier to lock the bolt carrier group to the rear and to send it back forward again. This can be very important if you are shooting in a competition where the difference between first and second place comes down to fractions of a second.

There is also the option of extended bolt releases, although not everyone is a fan of them you can get lightning-quick reloads when you learn how to use them properly. These releases extend to the opposite side of the lower receiver making sending the bolt forward as simple as a flick of the index finger. There are accessories on the market such as the Magpul B.A.D lever that can clamp on to a traditional bolt catch that adds the functionality of an extended bolt release without committing to that set up indefinitely.

Not only do you have the functional options but you can also personalize your bolt catch by adding some color. Some bolt catches come pre-colored but it can also be done after the purchase. This is a great way to break up the traditional “black rifle” look and make your rifle something truly unique to you.

The proper operation of the bolt catch can be somewhat complex to a new shooter. To lock the bolt carrier open the user must pull back on the charging handle then press down on the bottom of the bolt catch (the part closest to the magazine release). Once you feel the bolt catch move you can then gently releasing tension on the charging handle. If the bolt catch does not engage you likely need to pull the charging handle back further. To properly send the bolt carrier group forward again simply press down on the top part of the bolt catch (the part that sticks out near the bottom of the upper receiver). Not only is this method faster and easier than using the charging handle many new shooters tend to be too gentle sending the charging handle forward which can result in feeding issues.