SLR15 Rifles AR-15 / M-16 / M-4 Armorer Course
When: September 6-7, 2018
Where: TACOPS East Conference in Arlington, Virginia
We conducted a 2-day (16-hour) AR-15 / M-16 / M-4 Armorer Course at the TACOPS East Conference. This was our fourth time teaching at this conference, and we look forward to being back next year.
The training room we were located in was better than previous years. This room offered decent lighting, so people could see small parts, decent lighting is a must imho. Everyone had plenty of table space, allowing people to spread out. There was also a large screen and projection system that allowed us to show animated graphics of the weapons system, powerpoint detailed pics of gun parts, and especially when looking at finer detail things like machining, stress cracks & wear.
The student base was all Law Enforcement Officers from Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Georgia, North Carolina, West Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, Maryland, and several federal agencies were represented as well.
Rifles represented in this course were Bushmaster, Ruger, Colt, I. O. , Smith and Wesson, Daniel Defense, Bravo Company, Rockriver, Sig Sauer, DPMS, Windham, Aero Precision, LWRC, and a few custom builds.
Day-1 started with going through the course manual that all students are given. Students were supplied with their own set of basic tools that are necessary to do 95% of the work on their rifles (short of restocking and rebarreling, of which wrenches and sometimes fixtures are necessary), Slip2000 "EWL" Extreme Weapons Lubricant and #725 Cleaner Degreaser, etc. A short session of nomenclature was covered, at which time covered every feature and exterior piece of the rifle to include all the hidden design features that most people are not aware of, and everyone prepped the rifles for disassembly work. Everyone was taught the procedure series of checks that we recommend.
Everyone was taught our recommended way to field strip a rifle, and whey we do it this way so as not to cause damage, premature wear or stress on anything. We covered maintenance of where and what to clean, and what needs lubrication to keep it running. We showed why not to use the firing pins as tools. We showed everyone our recommendation of how to remove fouling and why, and everyone got to use our methods.
The entire bolt carrier assembly was covered, to include inspections, maintenance, upgrades, 3 types of gas rings, and differences in finishing and machining. carrier key (gas key) installation and staking, ejector systems, etc. Everyone was introduced to the different types of gas rings. We went through what each types does, and their proper installation order.
Note: When everyone checked their bolt carrier keys for proper staking, they found the gas key screws were not staked on the I.O. and Ruger rifles. There were also rifles from Aero Precision, DPMS, Rock River, and Bushmaster that had very light gas key screw staking, where the stakes weren't touching the screws. We supplied a couple of MOACKS and Sully Gas Key Stakers that we had with us, and people put them to good use.
Note: One Officers Rock River bolt had a broken ejector spring (3 pieces). We occasionally see broken ejector springs, which is why we recommend a regular inspection and replacement. He was given a replacement spring.
Note: One Officer brought a new in the box Aero Precision rifle to class, in a 16" M4 profile type barrel. Upon inspection the extractor spring (4-coil), it was found to not have an insert. The Officers was given an insert, which he installed. The bolt also only had 2 gas rings, as one was missing.
We got into the lower receiver assemblies, starting with the fire control group (trigger group). We teach this in a building block format, starting with baby steps of getting things out and in, then build into how things work. Everyone learned how to install and remove things so you don't cause damage. We went through detailed inspections of all the sear engagement surfaces, spring types, single stage, and two stage trigger systems. The last part of the day we spent on an introduction to timing, which we like to do so that it grows in peoples brains over night, in preparation of getting into great details of timing for day-2. Everyone put their rifles back together, making sure that everything worked properly before we ended the day.
Day-2 started with a review of everything that was covered on day-1, with some greater details and myths covered. We then got into a session on the timing as it pertains to proper cycling, and showed what effects timing, and how & what happens when it is out or proper time, dwell time, suppressor issues, etc.
Note: Several agencies in this class have added suppressors to their rifles. None of them were aware that adding a suppressor can change the timing of the rifle. A couple of the agencies were having problems with extraction. Once we explained how the addition of suppressors can effect timing, we showed them how to make adjustments and get things running reliably.
There was a Sig Sauer piston rifle in this class. This allowed us to show a hands on example of how the piston systems work, and the differences between makers and models. We showed how these work, adjustments of when/when not to adjust, and covered what the pros/cons are.
Everyone in this class had collapsible stocks, and we showed the proper mounting & gauging, and made sure everything was properly staked. Everyone stripped their lower receivers, which allowed a chance for further inspections, and we went through a session on troubleshooting. We showed examples of good & bad machining on parts, and how this effects the entire rifle. Lastly we went through full-auto and burst systems, showing how these work, and trouble shooting related to such. Once everyone was comfortable with the entire lower receiver assembly, the were put back together, inspected, and made sure everything is in proper working order.
The last half of day-2 was spent on the upper receiver assembly. We covered barrel removal, mounting, gauging & inspections. Everyone was allowed to rebarrel their rifles or make adjustments. We showed why people should be picky on how barrel nuts are indexed, and why there is a torque spec. If barrel nuts are not indexed properly, it could cause stress and premature wear during cycling and excessive wear on the gas or piston system. If barrel nuts are not torqued to their minimum recommended specs, things can come loose, and if it's loosed you can lose accuracy, being loose can also be a safety issue.
Several Officers took advantage of the time & tools, removing their barrels. Upon inspection of the barrels that were removed, none had moly paste, and several of the barrel nuts were not properly aligned, and one was loose as if it was never torqued to proper spec. All barrels that were pulled, were remounted, torqued and properly indexed.
Once all the rifles were put back together, everything was inspected and gauged to make sure it was in proper working order. Everyone did chamber inspections, checked & gauged the four gas seals, firing pin protrusion, trigger press, and headspace.
Here is a brief overview of a few things that were covered:
History of the Weapon
Cycles of Function
General Disassembly & Assembly
Identification of Common Problems and Parts
Identification of Group Components
Semi, Burst, and Full Auto Parts and Conversions
Complete Armoring Disassembly / Assembly
Cleaning and Maintenance
Sight and Distance Considerations
Barrel: Twist, Length, and Profiles
Parts Interchangeability, including Brands
Firing Pin Protrusion
Chamber Inspection and Issues
Troubleshooting, diagnosis & repair
Gauging, Inspections, Stress & Interval Issues
Accessories and Customizing
Tool Options and Selection
SOP/MOD Accessories and Additions