AR-15 Bolt Catch
The bolt catch also called the bolt release, is an essential part of any AR-15. It adds to the rifle’s ergonomics and allows shooters to operate their AR faster. However, the bolt catch is a part that is neglected when it comes to upgrades and maintenance.
What Is an AR-15 Bolt Catch?
The bolt catch or bolt release is located on the left side of an AR-15, and in some ambidextrous rifles, it can be actuated from both sides. The function of the bolt catch is to simply catch the bolt and lock it back after the last round from the magazine is fired, extracted, and ejected. The bolt catch is also called the bolt release because it can be depressed to release the bolt from its locked position and make the rifle operational.
Why Is an AR-15 Bolt Catch Essential?
The bolt catch serves multiple functions on the AR-15 platform. First of all, it helps the shooter reload the rifle faster. If an AR does not have a bolt catch or the bolt catch is not working, the bolt will not lock back on the last round; this means that after the shooter inserts a new magazine, they will need to pull back the charging handle to load a round into the chamber, and make the rifle ready to fire.
However, with a bolt catch, the bolt is already locked back, and the shooter simply has to press the bolt release with their support hand after they insert a fresh magazine. This makes the reloading process much faster.
Moreover, when the bolt catch locks the bolt back, it is a clear indicator to the shooter that the rifle is empty and safe. The shooter can then instantly start a reload, whereas, if the bolt isn't locked rearward, the shooter doesn't feel that the rifle is empty, and they may waste valuable time pulling the trigger on the next shot.
The bolt catch can also be used in tandem with the charging handle to lock the bolt back manually. This can help clear malfunctions and misfires and make maintenance easier.
Benefits of Installing a High-Quality AR-15 Bolt Catch.
- Smoother Operation
- Reduces Wear
- Ambidextrous Operation
- Positive Engagement
Shooters can also upgrade the bolt catch on their AR-15 which can have many advantages. Enhanced bolt catches are made from steel or other metals and have smooth finishes that decrease friction between the bolt catch and the bolt. This allows for smoother bolt catch manipulation and decreases wear on the parts of your rifle. Moreover, some aftermarket bolt catches have extended levers. This will let shooters depress the bolt catch/release without changing their grip on the rifle. This can make reloads even faster and significantly improve the ergonomics of your AR-15. Also, some bolt catch has an enlarged paddle, so you can have positive engagement even when wearing gloves or in a stressful situation. Lastly, some people also upgrade their bolt catch on the AR-15 to add to the rifle’s aesthetics.