AR15 FAQ – Is Forward Assist Needed On An AR-15 or AR10?

AR15 FAQ – Is Forward Assist Needed On An AR-15 or AR10? Depends completely on what you use the rifle for. What is Forward Assist on an AR15 or AR10? […]

AR15 FAQ – Is Forward Assist Needed On An AR-15 or AR10?

Depends completely on what you use the rifle for.

What is Forward Assist on an AR15 or AR10?

The AR-15 Forward Assist is a mechanical button that can be depressed if the Bolt does not go fully into battery on a live round. It functions the same on the AR10 platform, so we will just refer to it as the AR15 forward assist for this article. When depressed, the Forward Assist has a pawl on the end that engages cutouts along the side of the bolt carrier to try to force the bolt carrier forward enough that the bolt will cam into the fully locked position… making the AR15 safe to fire.


Who doesn’t need Forward Assist on their AR15?

Most folks will never need to use the Forward Assist since the only shooting they will do with their AR15 is casually shooting paper targets with factory ammo. They probably won’t have any/many rounds that don’t feed or chamber smoothly. If they do, then they can remedy the issue by extracting the round with the charging handle. Since paper doesn’t shoot back, there is no urgency and the problem can be diagnosed and corrected before resuming use. If you are in this category of shooter, then AR15 Forward Assist may not be worth having. When an AR does not have a Forward Assist button protruding from the side we may call it a “slick side” AR.

AR15 FAQ Is Forward Assist needed on an AR-15 - target shooting

Who might benefit from Forward Assist on their AR15?

People who tweak or modify their rifles

I use the forward assist a fair amount when we test various ammo, barrels, BCGs, gas systems, etc. and sometimes need the FA to get the bolt fully into battery between adjustments or parts changes.

AR15 FAQ Is Forward Assist needed on an AR-15 - customized AR15

For example: We are testing the Dead Foot Arms Modified Cycle System folding stock (video), which has a proprietary BCG, buffer and spring assembly, with the Fostech Echo AR 2 binary trigger, which requires a bit more dwell time than most other trigger setups. Both of the manufacturers said they had not yet tested the DFA MCS with the Fostech Echo AR2, but suspected they would not be compatible, due to the lighter buffer and an expectation of reduced dwell time. We tested a variety of shooting methods and ammo and found that it actually works great in some circumstances, but fails to fully lock the bolt in another circumstance. A quick tap on the Forward Assist solved that problem so we could continue testing.

AR15 FAQ Is Forward Assist needed on an AR-15 - customized AR15 pistol fireball

Just a fireball as the shot fired and the bolt cycled

Jeff took this mid sized white tail buck with the WMD Guns WMD-10

Hunters or others that need to be quite

From reader  Michael B. “I found out its very necessary to have to quietly load a round. So it is very useful.”

I had not thought of this while writing, but I often hunt with an AR15 or AR1o. My AR10 does not have forward assist. So, I have to choose whether I want to climb into the deer stand with a round chambered or climb with an empty chamber, knowing I’ll have to drop the bolt when I get settled. I err on the side of safety and climb, then hoist the rifle with an empty chamber. But it sure would be nice to have the option to ride the bolt slowly forward, then quietly tap it into battery with the Forward Assist button.

AR15 FAQ Is Forward Assist needed on an AR-15 - IDF soldier shootsPeople who have Duty rifles

For any AR platform rifle that my life might depend on, I want Forward Assist. Simply put, I would rather have it and not need it then need it and not have it. All it takes is some dirt/sand in the action, chamber or magazine to put enough drag on the rounds that the bolt doesn’t quite go fully into battery. That is what Forward Assist is for. It may not fix the problem that caused the bolt to fail to go into battery. But if it keeps me in the fight, then I have a better chance of still being alive to troubleshoot the issue later.

So, do I need Forward Assist or not?

Statistically speaking, you probably don’t need forward assist. However, I recommend that you get an AR that has forward assist just in case.

Not everyone agrees, though. Our reader James sent this picture with the statement “50 years ago in a land far away I never had to use my forward assist!”

If you like this, you might like our Slide Fire stock review

Check out the Project Humvee Battlewagon US Army Surplus HMMWV. is a proud member of Team Defender


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Big thanks go to our Ammo Sponsor Defender Ammunition Company for supplying ammo for our tests and reviews on an ongoing basis.

Guns go great with Silencers!

You can legally purchase silencers online and have them shipped to your local SOT FFL, who will help you with the ATF Form 4 transfer process. Here are some links to trusted retailers who sell suppressors.

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About Jeff

Jeff is the Editor in Chief of Gear Report and a National Shooting Sports Foundation Media member. He reports on the outdoor industry, reviews gear for camping, hiking, shooting, hunting, paddling, backpacking and other active pursuits.

A USAF veteran, Jeff earned a MBA in Marketing and Health Services. He specializes in consultative selling and internet marketing. As the VP of BD & Marketing, Jeff provides sales and marketing leadership to MGECOM, Inc. and helps acquire new clients in need of solutions for online merchants in need of Affiliate Marketing program management.

Jeff founded and manages Cress Sales & Marketing LLC, offering online sales and marketing consulting and services to online merchants and service providers.