For newbies in the AR15 world, lots of things on this rifle may seem confusing. This is especially true for the forward assist - a button located under the charging handle on the right side of the rifle (in most cases).
Let’s break it down for you and by the end of the article you should know everything about forward assist.
Purpose of Forward Assist
First, we have to see how everything started.
The forward assist is first introduced on the old M16 rifle. This little feature had a strong impact on the rifle itself and today is an inseparable part of any rifle built on the AR platform.
So, how does this little button work?
First, you need to understand how the AR15 rifle works to understand the forward assist. In short, when you fire a round, the gases push the bolt carrier group backward to eject the empty round, after which the buffer spring pushes the bolt carrier group forward to insert a new round.
And this cycle repeats each time you fire a round.
However, when you shoot your rifle occasionally in environments full of dirt, sand, etc. and your rifle gets dirty, it can happen that the bolt carrier group doesn’t fully close and insert a round into a chamber.
This is where forward assist comes into play.
When the round is not fully into the chamber, you press the forward assist (that little button under the charging handle) and with this, you manually push the bolt carrier group forward and lock it into place.
This is why the forward assist is so important - it helps you maintain the reliability and safety of your AR15 rifle in extreme conditions when your rifle somehow jams. But, you don’t have to be concerned as proper maintenance of your rifle will prevent this from happening. Also, if you don’t shoot your rifle in harsh conditions, then no worries.
Installation, Parts, Maintenance
If we’re talking about parts this little fella consists of, it’s enough to say this it consists of pawl (this is a “button” you press actually), plunger (the part that engages with bolt carrier group), and of course, a small spring that puts back the button so you’re able to press it again if necessary.
How to Install the Forward Assist
Everything always starts with safety actions. So, before proceeding with installing or changing your forward assist, be sure that your rifle is unloaded without a mag and round in the chamber.
Now, after you’re done with these checks, it’s time to install the forward assist.
First, you have to disassemble the upper receiver. If you’re building your rifle from scratch, then this step doesn’t apply to you.
Position it: put the forward assist housing in the recess on the right side of the upper receiver. Be sure that the roll pin hole aligns with the proper hole on the receiver.
Next, insert the plunger into the housing with a forward assist spring. This spring is important to make part actually work.
Secure the forward assist assembly with a roll pin: use a roll pin punch and hammer to tap the pin into place.
Lastly, reassemble all remaining parts of the upper receiver and perform the function test. That’s it regarding the forward assist installation.
Of course, as with many other firearms, forward assists require maintenance too. All parts are prone to wear and tear over time.
So, when you perform cleaning and lubrication of your rifle, clean, lubricate forward assist too. There’s nothing specific to follow for forward assist only.
How to Choose Forward Assist
Choosing the right forward assist is not so complicated process as it’s one quite simple part. It’s not too expensive too so replacing it won’t make you spend too much cash.
There are also lots of different brands and options available on the market, but depending on your preferences you can choose forward assists in various styles that will make your rifle stand out and make something unique to you.
We will list a few forward assists you can buy at our store.
Strike Industries Strike Forward Assist
We will be totally honest with you - the forward assist is part you won’t need 99% of the time. However, if you don’t already have to use it, you can choose one with a unique design that will make your rifle look cool.
And this refers to most forward-assist models.
We will start with Strike Forward Assist made by Strike Industries. It comes in three different colors: grey, red, and black. We personally like red the most, but if you don’t care about color, no worries. The forward assist button has a very interesting design so this way or another, it will look very cool on your rifle.
It can work with AR10 rifles too.
It’s made of lightweight aluminum which is also highly corrosion-resistant. This is a full assembly, so you’ll just need to insert it into your upper receiver.
Get it here!
Strike Industries AR15 Forward Assist
Another model from the same company. Same job, same thing, just a few tweaks to its design. However you turn it, when you press it you won’t feel any difference between this, the one from the above, or any other mil-spec forward assist.
That’s why we mostly focus on its looks rather than anything else because this is the only real difference it makes.
This model has a hexagonal design and comes in three colors: standard black, gold, and chrome. Our choice is the chrome model, but the golden color looks very nice too. It’s up to you which one you’ll put on your rifle.
It’s made of high-strength 12L14 steel and comes fully assembled. Just put it on the upper receiver and you’re done.
Get it here!
V Seven Weapon Systems Ultra-Light Forward Assist NiB
The main difference V7 brings is the construction of the forward assist. It’s made of 4140 Heat Treated Hardened Steel which is strong and durable.
Another great thing is the weight of 9.2 grams compared to the standard 22 grams which is mostly seen among these parts.
As for the looks, it comes with NiB Matte Silver Finish, corrosion resistant, and nicely looking. It will fit nicely on any build and will stand out for sure. Also, you can choose the surface between vertical lines, Bull’s eye, and minimal.
It’s however, more expensive than the models from above, but still, this won’t waste lots of money.
Get it here!
Forward Controls Design Low Snag Forward Assist AA Dimpled - Black
Forward Controls Design offers a lightweight and improved replacement forward assist for AR-15/M-16 rifles called the Low Drag Forward Assist (LDFA).
It’s designed with ergonomics in mind and is perfect for rifles with ambidextrous charging handles. Its snag-free rimless design allows ambidextrous charging handle users to operate the right latch without any snagging on fingers or fingernails.
This one is made of 4130 Steel with a black nitride finish. Also, the lightweight build won’t contribute to increasing your rifles’ overall weight.
Get it here!
Yes, we said it once, and we will say it again - 99% of the time you’ll not going to use forward assist on your AR15 rifle. However, it’s good to know that you have a backup plan because you’ll never know if certain situations may make your rifle jam. So, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
On the other hand, whether you use it or not, it can definitely improve your rifle looks and help you make something unique and really special to you.