SLR15 AR-15 / M-16 / M-4 / AR308 Armorer Course, Eau Claire WI, Jan 7-8 2020

SLR15 AR-15 / M-16 / M-4 / AR308 Armorer Course

When: January 7-8, 2020

Where: Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

We conducted a 2-day (16-hour) AR-15 / M-16 / M-4 / AR308 Armorer Course that was hosted by the Chippewa Valley Technical College, at the Emergency Service Education Center. This was our seventh course here, and we look forward to more in the future. The training room offers great lighting, plenty of table space for people to spread out, and a large screen which allows us to project some powerpoint and animations onto, showing close up detailed pics of gun parts, and especially when looking at finer detail things like machining, stress cracks & wear.

This class was a mix of Law Enforcement Officers from Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Rifles represented in this course were SLR15, Colt, American Defense Manufacturing, HK, Sig Sauer, Bushmaster, Bravo Company, Anderson, APF Armory, Saber Defense, Aero Precision, Palmetto State Armory, DPMS, Rockriver, LMT, DEZ Arms, Smith & Wesson, Saber Defense, and a few custom builds.

Day-1 started the day by 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 why 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: We went through proper carrier key staking. Several people found their gas keys were lightly staked, where the staking wasn't touching the screws on DPMS, Bushmaster, and RockRiver. Two Colt 6920 rifles had loose gas keys, even though they had been staked (This is why we counter stake), these Officers retightened them, then staked and counter-staked them so they don't come loose.
Note: Another Officers Colt 6920 had a bent gas key, you could see where the gas key was dented in on top from what most likely happened when it got dropped. This gave us the opportunity to show hands on how to removed a staked gas key, and then we replaced it. We supplied everyone with a MOACKS and Sully Gas Key Staking Tools, everyone decided to use the Sully Gas Key Staking Tool and get things staked properly, and then counter staked them as after seeing Colt ones that had come loose.

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.

At the end of the day everyone put their rifles back together, making sure that everything was in proper working order.
Day-2 started with a review of everything that was covered on day-1, with some greater details and myths covered. We then went back into trigger groups in great details, covering single stage, 2-stage, good and bad triggers, differences and options in spring systems, diagnosing problems when semi-auto turns into burst, and showing the differences in quality of triggers that are on the market. Once done with semi-auto trigger systems, we went into select fire trigger groups covering full-auto and burst trigger groups, to include replacement and diagnosing and repairs when experiencing malfunctions.

After trigger systems, we went through the rest of the lower receivers. Everyone in this class had collapsible stocks. We covered the proper mounting & gauging, and proper castle nut staking. Everyone stripped their lower receivers, which allowed a chance for further inspections, and we went through a session on troubleshooting. 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.

We then got into a session on the timing. This is where we cover proper cycling, covering what effects timing, and how & what happens when it is out or proper time, dwell time, suppressor issues, etc, and how to get things into proper timing. This also led us into piston systems. There was two Officers with HK416 piston rifles. We covered how the piston system works, break down and maintenance of the system (Yes piston systems do get dirty and have to be cleaned and maintained), how to properly adjust for timing changed, and trouble shooting. We also covered dwell time, and how it pertains to cycling issues, and hopefully got the point across of why we do not recommend barrel lengths shorter that 11.5" on unsuppressed rifles.

Note: One Officer present stated that his agency had a bunch DEZ brand rifles, that were blowing primers, ripping the lip off extractors, etc. He had been through our Armorer Course before, and thought it was a timing issue, so he attempted to solve it by using different buffers, action springs, etc, with no change if the problems. He stated that these had also been sent back to the manufacturer, who couldn't find any issue with them. He was unable to get any of the rifles to this class, so we arranged to stop by their agency in a few weeks to take a look at the, so I will update with what we find or possibly fix in a few weeks.

The last half of day-2 was spent on the upper receiver assembly. We covered barrel removal, mounting, fixturing, gauging & inspections. We show numerous ways to fixture a barrel into a vise, and our preference as to which fixtures/methods to use when and how. We did a hands on barrel removal, break down, inspection, mounting (To include a group hands on of how to mount, properly torque and gauge the barrel system, which ensures it is in proper working order).

At the end of the day everyone put their rifles 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
Barrel Replacement
Cleaning and Maintenance
Sight and Distance Considerations
Ballistic Issues
Barrel: Twist, Length, and Profiles
Gas Systems & Piston Systems
Parts Interchangeability, including Brands
Firing Pin Protrusion
Trigger Systems
Chamber Inspection and Issues
Troubleshooting, diagnosis & repair
Gauging, Inspections, Stress & Interval Issues
Accessories and Customizing
Tool Options and Selection
SOP/MOD Accessories and Additions

Greg Sullivan "Sully"
SLR15 Rifles
(763) 712-0123
Hmm, that's a pretty diverse group of rifles. I was surprised that the Colts got called out for deficiencies. Good learning point.
Hmm, that's a pretty diverse group of rifles. I was surprised that the Colts got called out for deficiencies. Good learning point.
We report what we see. Most firearm manufacturers are capable of making a quality product, you also get what you pay for. Parts have a life span for use, we cover this in the courses we teach. Sometimes you can spot wear, or can find stress issues when doing proper maintenance, and get things corrected or replaced before they break (We cover this in great detail in courses, as we hate to see a parts issue cause a malfunction when/if lives are depending upon the firearm running). We also emphasize that firearms should be inspected for proper assembly, and regular maintenance and inspections for wear should happen. When parts break prematurely, or when something wasn't assembled correctly and it causes issues, then it comes down to either the person maintaining and repairing it, or how the company it came from stands behind it with their customer service.

Greg Sullivan "Sully"
SLR15 Rifles
(763) 712-0123