Gas Rings Seal Test

There are three gas rings as part of your AR bolt and they function a lot like the piston rings in your car’s engine. If the rings do not create a good seal, your rifle may not function properly, so it’s important to make sure they provide a good seal. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to check this.

Remove the bolt from the bolt carrier group and make sure the gaps in the rings do NOT line up. This is important because if they do line up, it creates a channel gas blows through. If you need to rotate the rings, it’s easy enough to do with a small screwdriver.

Next, thoroughly clean your entire bolt carrier group and reassemble.

Stand your bolt carrier group on end. If the carrier stays up, your ring seal is good. If gravity pulls the carrier down, you need new rings.

Finally, pull the bolt out as far as it will go and stand the bolt carrier group on end with the bolt facing down. If the carrier stays up, it’s all good. If gravity pulls the bolt carrier down the bolt, however, then the rings aren’t sealing and you need to take the bolt to a gunsmith to have the gas rings replaced.



Scott Mayer

“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”

Scott Mayer

Scott Mayer

Writer at John1911
Mayer began his outdoor industry career in 1993 on the NRA Technical Staff where he became American Rifleman magazine first Shooting Editor. Mayer left NRA and entered the business end of publishing in 2003 as Advertising Account Executive for Safari Club International SAFARI Magazine and Safari Times newspaper. In 2006, Mayer was named Publisher of Shooting Times magazine where he was also tasked with launching and leading Personal Defense TV, the first television show of its kind.

In 2008, Mayer returned to the editorial side of publishing, this time in the digital field, as Editorial Director for Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Handguns and Rifleshooter online magazines. After a brief stint in 2011 as the Digital Media Director for an ABC TV affiliate, Mayer returned to the outdoors industry and Safari Club International where he is currently Assistant Publisher and Multi-Media Communications Editor.
Scott Mayer

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  • David May

    Thank you for such useful info!

    • You are welcome. Thanks for stopping by.


  • Mikial

    Great post, Marky.

    Practical and useful.


  • Daniel, God is my judge

    An easy test, but I’m wondering, approximately how many rounds are the rings good for. Is there a standard or does quality vary from brand to brand? Thanks.

    • Scott Mayer

      I don’t know of any standard number of rounds and doubt there is one unless there is one dreamed up by some bureaucrat for some type of manual or procedure. They need to be replaced when they need to be replaced.

    • I was about to say I don’t know of a standard schedule either. I know some just ignore it until one breaks or they are chasing function.

      Truthfully, as many of our regulars know, I am really not a big AR guy so I have never had a need to go down in the weeds on it. If I were to handle it like a 1911 schedule, I might preemptively change them out annually or after a competition season.

      Maybe it will be something I pay closer attention to when I start shooting the FN Military Collector A4 regularly.


  • Bryce Mibeck

    Do we have to take the bolt to a gunsmith? They seem simple enough to insert. Is there some trick I don’t k ow about to this?

    • Paul Ellis

      No trick to it…they just sort of roll on….

      • Paul is correct. No trick. But you have to remember we are writing for all experience levels. There are people out there who don’t know much. And their position is, “I am not touching it. Take it to a gunsmith so it doesn’t blow up.”

        Doubt me?

        Jump on to any 1911 based gun forum and you will see the following post over and over, “For X amount of dollars, my gun shouldn’t do Y. I got a lemon. They better warranty it”.

        And they are freaking out about a scratch in the finish of some part.

        Like I said. There are some real dummies out there. And a gunsmith is happy to take their money so they can sleep at night and be the king of whatever shitty gun forum they frequent.


        • Paul Ellis