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AR-15 Won’t Load Next Round: Common Cycling Issues and How to Fix

The AR-15’s biggest problem is often cycling issues. Rounds won’t feed into the chamber, and continuous fire is disabled. Setting the problem straight could take time and force you to miss valuable targets. But, on the other hand, it’s all part of sports shooting! Don’t let a few misfeeds or misfires ruin your experience. So why won’t my AR-15 load the next round?

The most common reasons for an AR-15 to have a failure to load a round is the weapon is gummed up and dirty or the magazine has an issue with the magazine push plate, seems, or magazine spring.

Working with rifles in a field environment is more successful if there are prior checks on weapons and equipment. It might sound absurd to take a tactical approach to hunting, but some often forget that upkeep is the difference between eating and starving. So read on and learn how to fix your rifle and protect against cycling issues.

What Causes AR-15 Failure to Feed? How to Fix

Misfeeds and misfires are often the by-products of breakdowns around the lower receiver. Breakdowns could be simple, like cleaning your rifle or a failure to a spring in the magazine. Other times there could be catastrophic failures of trigger mechanisms or excessive ballistic force.

Rounds Should be Sturdy and Not Cheap

The increase in AR-15 style rifles has increased the demand for efficient bullets to fire. Unfortunately, companies make rounds with cheaper brass or metals that could crimp during cycling. As the crimp worsens, rounds refuse to come out of the magazine or to leave the chamber if fired.

Some ways to prevent yourself from buying bad rounds are:

  • Next Step Method – People thrive off buying cheap ammo. Manufacturers make a killing by making cheap rounds for people to shoot on occasion. If this is you, an excellent tactic to take is the next step method. If you see cheap rounds, find the next highest price point and go with them. A little means a lot when it comes to rounds.
  • Ratings – If you want a good dependable bullet at a reasonable price, the best thing to do is see how the other customers rate the rounds. Some sites have star-scale ratings on their pages that show customer ratings. This could change the game for people who have shopped purely on price points.
  • Stay Uniform – The best way to prevent using cheap ammo is to find a brand and stick with it. However, this could mean that you lose the ability to shoot regularly. If you are an avid shooter, another option is to buy in bulk. Having tons of the same ammo is good but remember that rounds have a shelf life.

Being aware of how you spend your money is essential. Pay attention to quality when it comes to buying rounds for your rifle. Spending extra money could save you a headache down the line when you must replace pricey gun parts because rounds swelled in the tube.

Magazine Malfunctions Increase Cycling Issues

The mag that feeds in the rounds is another culprit of cycling issues. Often magazines are tightly constructed with powerful springs to maintain pressure on the stack. Other times they are old and dusty with weak springs and possible failures. Checking your mags before taking them out to shoot is a great way to combat cycling issues.

A few ways to check your magazines are:

  • Feel the Seams – Old magazines tend to have fault lines around the seams. The seams hold in all the spring pressure from below, and when one breaks open, the rifle is sure to misfeed. In addition, the pressure within the magazine is essential for cycling, and any deformities in the magazine’s integrity will cause even more problems.
  • Check the Spring – The magazine would be worthless without the spring. The force from the spring drives the rounds up into the tube when they cycle. By checking that the spring is working, you ensure that it makes the proper movements to have the weapon fire.
  • Push Plate – The push plate is the plastic piece that holds the rounds to the top of the mag. Check the plate for cracks or stiff places in the movement. If the plate has faults, switch mags or buy new ones before firing again.

Magazines are cheap and easy to find. Some could be outlawed in your state; check the local laws, or risk getting into trouble if you aren’t paying attention. By ensuring that the inner workings of the magazine are functional, you solve a significant cycling issue. Feeding the rounds is as crucial as ejecting them.

Cleaning Your Rifle is Another Option

Carbon scoring inside the rifle can keep it from ejecting rounds, despite ammo choice and magazine functionality, and ruin the cycling process. The gears on the inside of the gun are tiny, and enough build-up of composite will mess it up something fierce.

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

Some things to remember when cleaning your rifle are:

  • Schedule – Keep the cleaning of your rifle on a consistent schedule. Ensuring the rifle’s cleanliness protects the firing pin and bolt mechanism—these two work tandem to load shells into the breach and force them to fire.
  • Glove Test – While cleaning your rifle is an excellent way to protect against cycling issues, being over the top is not bad either. Using white gloves, you can run your fingers along the nooks and crannies to expose any dust you might have missed.

Cleaning is one of the most important things you can do for the health of your rifle. Taking the time to work on the cleanliness of your rifle will keep you out on the range for extended periods or allow you to take down precious game meat.


When your AR-15 doesn’t cycle, the rounds jam in the breach, or get stuck in the lower receiver, you can protect yourself and the firearm from catastrophic failures by doing some maintenance and following a few rules.

The most potent ways to protect against cycling issues are by keeping your weapon clean and buying the appropriate accessories; you can provide a long life for the gun. Keep in mind that safety is paramount when dealing with firearms. Ensure the weapon is unloaded and there are no rounds in the chamber before cleaning.