NEWS | Feb. 13, 2020

M4 Carbine: How to Clear an ‘Above the Bolt’ Cartridge Jam

Class of 2023 Basic Rifle Marksmanship
Photo by Matthew Moeller

Soldiers, ever needed to fix a jam on your M4 carbine? If the round is stuck above the bolt, you have a bad magazine.

In the picture below, you can see where the ejector port has been scratched up by someone trying to clear the jam. 
Round is stuck between the front of the charging handle and the bolt
Round is stuck between the front of the charging handle and the bolt;
notice how the ejector port is scratched
Since the round is stuck between the front of the charging handle and the bolt, sliding the charging handle is only sliding the round and the bolt.                         
These types of jams are easy to clear. Just follow these steps and you’ll be back to firing in no time:
  • Place the weapon on SAFE.
  • Unload the magazine.
  • Lock the charging handle in a forward position.
  • Place a tool, such as a multi-purpose tool or screwdriver, or even a finger, up against the front edge of the bolt. Then force the bolt rearward. This should let the round fall free.
Under normal training or operating conditions, once the round is out, field strip the weapon and inspect the bolt face, bolt lugs, bolt carrier and chamber for damage. If they are serviceable, then reload a new magazine and continue firing. 

If you're in an emergency or time-critical situation, grab a new magazine and continue the mission. If your weapon continues to malfunction, then a more complete inspection is required. And at the end of the mission, take the time to perform the inspection, even if there were no more malfunctions. Get with your armorer for assistance, if needed.
But don’t re-use the magazine you took out. It’s bad and shouldn’t be used in your weapon again.
Make sure you mark the bad magazine and tell your unit’s armorer so he can replace it.

Ordering New Magazines

Here are links to two (2) TACOM messages, MI 16-039 and MI 17-045, that give guidance on ordering new magazines: