AR-15 Dust Covers
One of the most prominent controversies regarding the AR platform is whether you need a dust cover or not. Many modern AR owners say that the dust cover is obsolete, whereas a major part of the AR community believes it is an absolute necessity. So, let's get into it and talk about AR dust covers, what purpose they serve, and finally, if they are a necessity or not.
What is a Dust Cover on an AR?
On the right side of an AR receiver, you will find the ejection port, which is an opening in the receiver to allow spent or malfunctioned rounds to be ejected. Most AR-15s have a cover over this opening, which is there to keep dust and other debris out of the firearm when it is not being used.
Dust covers were a part of the original AR design, and even first-generation AR-10s had dust covers. The Military also made the requirement on AR-15s when they adopted the weapon and even now, the US military's new NGSW (Next Generation Squad Weapon) features a dust cover.
Is the Dust Cover Necessary?
The dust cover is an essential part of an AR platform, and where it has a significant benefit, it doesn't have any notable disadvantages. A dust cover is necessary for a military setting where soldiers must operate in different environments. In recent conflict areas like Iraq and Afghanistan, dust is a major problem, and as it gets into the receiver, it can start to collect and cause malfunctions. Therefore, a dust cover is very beneficial, as it keeps the sand particles and other debris out of the receiver.
However, the dust cover isn't that important if you are talking about a civilian AR. It doesn't hurt to have one on your AR, and removing it won't have any significant advantage, but the drawbacks aren't that intense either.
A civilian AR is used as ruggedly as a military M4 or M16. There isn't that much dust in most places in the US, and most people regularly clean their rifles after every use. Furthermore, these days bolt carrier groups have advanced finishes, which decrease friction in the chamber and allow the rifle to operate more smoothly even if a bit of dust and debris gets into the chamber.
So, having an ejection port dust cover is preferable. However, even if a rifle doesn't have it, it doesn't mean it will start jamming on every other shot. In a civilian environment, with proper maintenance, an AR without a dust cover can be as reliable as one with a dust cover. For military use, a dust cover is absolutely essential.
Can You Fire an AR With The Dust Cover Closed?
Yes, even if the dust cover is closed, you can fire your AR-15. The dust cover will pop open automatically as the bolt carrier group starts to move back. So, you don't have to consciously open the dust cover every time before you go to shoot your rifle.