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AR-15 Won’t Eject Rounds: Common Reasons and How to Fix

One of the most common issues with AR-15s is ejecting rounds. Ejection is the last phase in the cycling rounds process and can be one of the most dangerous fixes when it doesn’t function properly. So why won’t my AR-15 eject rounds, and how can I fix it?

The most common reasons an AR-15 won’t eject spent rounds is because the weapon is dirty, you have a worn extractor or extractor spring, or the weapon is short stroking.

Rounds that don’t eject from your AR-15 could signify deeper problems. Issues inside the rifle could be dangerous for the shooter and those around them. Safety is paramount when shooting. So read on and learn why rounds don’t eject from your rifle and how to fix it.

What to do When Your AR-15 Doesn’t Eject Rounds

Failures in semi-automatic rifles are common, and when the shells don’t eject, you could find yourself in a dangerous situation for you and those around you. However, there are several reasons that rounds won’t eject, and addressing the issues should clear up your problem and provide a safe firing platform.

What Causes Your AR-15 to Stop Ejecting Shells

Before jumping into fixing things, you should know where the problem originates. By knowing what the problem is, you can mitigate the damage. Stopping the issue completely is tricky because it is often a by-product of the improved rate of fire.

When cycling, high-speed movement in the rifle will often cause problems of all types. Ejection is only one of the issues. (source)

A few reasons that rounds could not eject from the AR-15 are:

  • Dirty Weapon – Clean your rifle. The benefits of keeping a gun in serviceable order far outweigh the drawbacks. By having a barrel that has large deposits of carbon, you ensure the failure to eject. Keep the rifle cleaned, and you will see success on the range and hunting.
  • Extractor Problems – The extractor is a mechanism inside the bolt that grips the round while it is seated. Once it has the shell’s rim, it retracts and drags the spent shell. If you have extractor problems, it is cracked or broken, the round will not be removed, and you will have a spent casing lodged in the breach.
  • Short Stroke – One of the biggest extraction problems is a short stroke. A quick stroke occurs when the bolt doesn’t complete its trip forward and back from the round. When this happens, the round doesn’t get pulled back or impacted enough to dislodge it after the rifle fires.

The reasons behind the ejection problems are easy to track down but can be a pain in the neck if you have to do major repairs on the inside of the rifle, it could take time and the help of a professional to get you back on track.

Cleaning Your Rifle is Imperative to Prevent Ejection Problems

One of the best ways to keep your rifle from having ejection problems is to keep it clean. Proper maintenance on the gun will ensure that all the pieces on the inside are protected and move freely when firing.

Here’s a quick video showing how to clean an AR-15 with more info below:

A few things to have when cleaning your AR-15 are:

  • Rags – One of the easiest things to get the carbon off the surface of the rifle is rags. They are cheap, have tons of uses, and apply oil when you finish cleaning. However, rags can leave strings and bits of fuzz behind. Make sure you clean off the tiny bits, or they can soak up oil during the application.
  • Cleaning Kit – A cleaning kit to tackle a large job like a rifle is a great idea. The extra tools include brushes that clean the star chamber and long attachments to clean the barrel. If you are one of the lucky ones, you could even have an attachment just for sticky ejectors.
  • Q-Tips – An unconventional tool for the thrifty is the Q-Tip. You can do a deep cleaning on the rifle by getting a few dozen of the cotton-tipped spears. They allow you to penetrate deep into folds that your fingers could miss.

Here’s my Cleaning Gear Page where I show everything I use to clean my rifle.

Cleaning isn’t something that should be put off until it’s too late. By cleaning after each trip to the range, you can add long life to your weapon and keep the gun accurate. Ejection issues force a shooter to drop aim to check the ejection port and possibly lose sight of their target.

A Broken Extractor is Another Possible Problem

When the extractor breaks on your rifle, it will not cycle or eject rounds. The symbiotic relationship between cycling and discharging is imperative for semi-automatic operation, and once a major part like the extractor goes, you are left with few options.

The options for a broken extractor on your AR-15 are:

  • Replacement Parts – The rifle market is full of replacement pieces for your rifles. By taking time and knowing the make and model of your firearm, you can search for a replacement. Replacing has become a much more steady option since the 3D printer has become more prominent.
  • Gunsmith – A gunsmith is qualified to work on most firearms and could fix your rifle or machine a new extractor. Gunsmiths are handy craftsmen who work with tiny intricate moving pieces to keep guns in safe working order. Trusting one to fix your extractor problem would not be a bad idea.
  • Get Crafty – A large portion of the population knows firearms as a second language. While regular shooters might have problems fixing an extractor, these seasoned rifle people have knowledge beyond books. If you are one of these people, fixing the rifle should be a walk in the park.

The extractor is one of the biggest failures that can take place in the ejection cycle. If it fails, you can get it fixed with no sweat, but protecting against these failures is a much safer strategy. Remember that safety is the number one rule when shooting firearms: no loaded firearms and 100% muzzle awareness.


When your AR-15 rounds don’t eject from the breach, it could be because of a few different problems. For example, the weapon could have a bad ejector inside the bolt, or the teeth could be worn to the point they don’t grip the round as it returns to the rear position.

When your rifle has bad ejection issues, you should look to maintaining the gun and practicing safe clearing procedures to remove faulty rounds. In addition, you save yourself and your range mates from possible discharges by doing a bit of extra work.