Brushbeater speaks from experience, here. Read the entire post, and make sure you’re set up to keep it running in the field!
Some key excerpts; photo’s added:
- Spare Bolts: Far and away, the only part I’ve actually seen break on the AR-15 platform (aside from the dead trigger spring on the SR-25…but that was different…) is the bolt. Just buy a spare, right? Well, yeah. BUT- Did you check the headspace with a go/no-go gauge? Do you own a go/no-go gauge for your weapon? Did you re-check it after so many rounds out of the weapon (the wear changes the spacing)? Did you test it for function? Is there any binding or unusual wear on the lugs? It goes without saying that the bolt must be quality- proper gas key staking, proper steel and heat treat, and no gimmicks (like the ‘lube-free’ AR-15 bolt…wtf, over?).
- Use Standardized Parts: Cornerstone to the homebuilt/bubba gun issues is the use of bargain-bin non-spec/non-standard parts. This is endemic to the AR, with all the snake oil being sold, so the watchword for keeping a rifle serviceable is using standardized simple spare parts.
- Spare Trigger Packs: On the note of spare parts kits, the bulk of those parts are the trigger components.
- Know the Points of Failure on Your Weapon: Every design out there, even the mythical Kalashnikov, has failure points in the design. It’s common knowledge that cleanliness is important to keep an AR bolt running (although it’s far more resistant to fouling than commonly thought).