Why Anti-Tilt Buffers Matter

Did you know that all AR-15 and AR-10 bolt carriers tilt down at the rear end as the action cycles?  This phenomenon called “carrier tilt” became widely known when piston driven ARs became popular because in some cases it was severe enough to cause obvious damage to the gun in short order.  On the piston guns, the gas piston strikes the solid carrier key on top of the bolt carrier to drive it to the rear.  This strike at the top of the carrier causes the lower, rear of the carrier to tilt downward as it starts to move which makes it contact the lower portion of the buffer tube (receiver extension).  On most standard bolt carriers, the rear of the carrier is completely unsupported and there is enough play in the tolerances between the carrier guide rails at the front and the upper receiver to allow this movement.  So a lot of piston guns were getting noticeable wear in the buffer tube or at the front edge of the buffer tube after just a few hundred rounds and customers didn’t like this.  To fix the problem, piston gun manufacturers enlarged the profile of the rear end of the carriers and beveled them or machined “skids” into them so they couldn’t tilt as far and if they did impact the buffer tube, the wear wouldn’t be as significant.  This is a partial solution for the piston guns, but some tilt may still happen depending on the tolerances and there is a bit of movement before the carrier gets inside the buffer tube where the skids can help.

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What most AR shooters don’t realize is that the Direct Impingement Guns or “Gas Guns” also suffer from some carrier tilt.  It usually isn’t as much so it may not result in any buffer tube wear or other obvious visual signs.  But the gas still hits the carrier at the top, just as it does on a piston gun causing the rear to tilt.  It’s impact just isn’t as abrupt as a piston is, so the tilt isn’t normally as severe.  But there is still the same amount of play in the carrier to receiver fit to allow for tilt on a gas gun and it still can have negative consequences even if it isn’t damaging your buffer tube.  When the carrier tilts as it starts moving to the rear and unlocking the bolt, it is putting extra stress on the bolt which is still locked into the barrel trying to turn and pull through the locking lugs.  This stress can eventually cause the bolt to crack and break, normally at the locking lugs or at the cam pin hole, which are two of the thinnest and most stressed points on the bolt.  So that’s a serious problem right?  If your bolt breaks, your weapon is down hard until it can be replaced.

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So how do we solve this problem?  The piston gun manufacturers modified the design of the rear end of the carrier as mentioned above.  That’s a good thing.  Many shooters carry a spare bolt in their pistol grip which is a prudent idea in case one does break.  Some of the top tier companies started making their bolts out of tougher steels and doing more quality control on the bolts which raised the price a bit, but is a good thing for the gun owner and does reduce breakage.  But in my mind, a real solution needs to get rid of the carrier tilt in the first place and remove these stresses from the operating system altogether.  That’s where the anti-tilt buffer comes in.  An anti-tilt buffer has a protrusion at its front end that extends into the hole in the rear of the bolt carrier.  It supports the bolt carrier through it’s entire cycle not allowing it to tilt more than a few thousandths of an inch.  So the buffer tube doesn’t get any wear, the bolt doesn’t endure any stresses from the carrier tilt and the entire system cycles more smoothly because there is less friction.  All in all this is a great solution.  As you should know, there’s always a trade off somewhere for these advantages, so what’s the down side of an anti-tilt buffer?  Since the buffer is holding onto the rear of the carrier, you can’t just pull the rear takedown pin and shotgun open the action.  You have to pull both the rear and the front takedown pins and pull the upper receiver completely off of the lower receiver to open the action.  Not too bad right?  Some folks don’t like this because they are so used to opening up the action that way, but it’s a pretty small trade off for a smoother running, longer lasting operating system if you ask me.  Besides, now days you can find all sorts of easy pull take down pins to make pulling them both a breeze.  So if you want the smoothest running, longest lasting operating system you can have take a close look at some anti-tilt buffers.  The CTS Aktive buffers are some of the best.

AKTIVE Buffer for Fixed Stock AR-10 and AR-15

Without a doubt, the AKTIVE Buffers by CTS Engineering would be one of my first picks for any AR-15 or AR-10 rifle with a fixed stock.  They have a solid stainless steel buffer body with an overall weight that has been finely tuned for excellent performance in those specific platforms.  But even more importantly, they have a shock absorbing piston on the front end and a far superior bumper on the rear end for a dual stage buffering action.  This action really does make a noticeable difference in the smoothness and recoil of the weapon.  I’ve seen a lot of buffers over the years and this is probably the best bang for the buck of any buffer on the market.  The AKTIVE buffers are made in both a standard and an anti-tilt version in so you can have every feature you could want on a buffer.  They run as smoothly and quietly as any buffer system on the market, so if you are thinking about using a suppressor, they are a great choice for that too.  Heavy loads or light loads?  No problem.  Match them up with a tuned, ground and polished JP buffer spring for the quietest operation possible.  You will be very pleased, I assure you that.  If you have a fixed stock AR type rifle, this is one of the best upgrades you can buy for it.

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A letter from Abraham Lincoln to Mrs. Bixby – 21 November 1864

Dear Madam,

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of you bereavement and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and the lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln

Nokick.com (Para Bellum Products, Inc.) is a veteran owned (USMC retired), family operated business. My wife and I also own Blitzkrieg Components, where we sell our Blitzkrieg Components Front Sight Posts.  In the last year, Facebook has shut down any advertising that we do on Facebook because we are a gun related retail store.  We don’t sell firearms, only parts, which shouldn’t make any difference, but does make it seem more ridiculous. Also, in the last year, Google has also stopped allowing us to advertise because we sell gun related items.  Test it for yourself: go to google, type in a common firearm item: gun buffer, gun parts, etc.  No paid ads come up.  Which is fine, sort of, because who likes ads anyway.  But maybe you like gun parts and want retailers to come up when you search.  And, maybe, we all should be a little irked that their doing the selective sifting for us.  No problem.  I didn’t want to give them my advertising money anyway.  But, will you do us a favor.  Support us by liking our Facebook page, Para Bellum Products, Inc. – www.nokick.com,​  and  sharing this message.  We appreciate you, your help and your business.

AR15 Complete Stock Kits

Here is a quick look at our new AR15 Complete Stock Kits.  The kits come with some great high end parts.  Other companies sell kits, but the parts included are usually middle of the road.  Ours come with the castle nut, end plate, Vltor Buffer Tube, Magpul MOE Stock and a buffer/spring combo.  For the buffer/spring combo, you can choose between the JP Silent Captured Spring or the KynShot Hydraulic Buffer with a JP Spring.

AAC Breakout Compensator for a 300 Blackout Barrel

One question I get a lot – what’s the best compensator for a 300 Blackout Barrel?  Check out this video on the AAC Breakout Compensator.

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