Fact Check: AR-15 Forward Assist Does NOT Switch Firearm From 'Regular Semi-Auto To Overlapping Auto'

Fact Check

  • by: Christiana Dillard

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fact Check: AR-15 Forward Assist Does NOT Switch Firearm From 'Regular Semi-Auto To Overlapping Auto' Satirical Post

Does the forward assist on an AR-15 switch the firearm from "regular semi-auto to overlapping-auto"? No, that's not true: The forward assist is used to manually close the bolt of the AR-15 and has nothing to do with the AR-15 being a semi-automatic firearm. Additionally, the post in which the claim appeared is clearly satire.

The claim appeared in a Facebook post on July 8, 2022. It has a screenshot of this tweet, which has a picture that identified a forward assist on an AR-15. The screenshotted tweet reads:

I am prior service armored infantry for the Coast Guard--for those unfamiliar, this is the button that switches your AR from regular semi-auto to overlapping-auto

A civilian has no business with this capability.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

gun full auto FB post.png

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Jul 12 20:15:08 2022 UTC)

The Facebook page where the post was published is identified as a satire page where "nothing posted is considered true," as shown in the screenshot below:

danger close satire FB page.png
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Jul 12 16:54:21 2022 UTC)

The tweet that originally made the claim was a satirical joke. In several tweets that followed the original -- including those found here, here and here -- the Twitter account that originally posted the claim implied that the original claim was sarcasm in response to tweets critical of civilian use of AR-15s (here and here).

The forward assist is used to manually ensure that the bolt of the AR-15 -- which is a part of the bolt carrier group of the firearm that is responsible for loading and sealing the chamber for firing -- is closed. It is usually only used if the bolt won't close on its own, which may occur if the firearm or ammunition is dirty. The closure was originally developed for military use and doesn't have anything to do with an AR-15 rifle being a semi-automatic firearm.

Lead Stories also didn't find any evidence of an "armored infantry for the Coast Guard," as mentioned in the post that originally tweeted the claim.

There are articles (here and here) and videos (here and here) explaining the purpose of the AR-15 forward assist. None of them mention that the forward assist changes the firearm from a regular semi-automatic firearm to "overlapping-auto."

Updates:

  • 2022-07-18T22:47:59Z 2022-07-18T22:47:59Z
    Added more clarification that Lead Stories recognizes that the claim is a joke. Added statement about the "armored infantry for the Coast Guard" claim from the original tweet.

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  Christiana Dillard

Christiana Dillard is a former news writer for Temple University’s Lew Klein College of Media and Communication. She received her undergraduate degree in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been a freelance writer for several organizations including the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, Pitt Magazine, and The Heinz Endowments. When she’s not producing or studying media she’s binging it, watching YouTube videos or any interesting series she can find on streaming services.

Read more about or contact Christiana Dillard

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