SLR15 AR-15 / M-16 / M-4 / AR308 Armorer & Rifle Instructor Combined Course, Petersburg VA

SLR15 Rifles AR-15 / M-16 / M-4 AR308 Armorer & Rifle Instructor Combined Course

When: April 1-5, 2019

Where: Crater Criminal Justice Academy, Petersburg Virginia (Disputanta)

We conducted a 5-day (40-hour) AR-15 / M-16 / M-4 Armorer & Instructor Combined Course at the Crater Criminal Justice Academy. This was our 4th course at the Academy, and we look forward to many more. The classroom that we used on days 1-2 offered lots of space and everyone had their own table, the room had decent lighting, with a media projection system for us to show some powerpoint and weapons animations on. The range that we used on day 3-5 offered plenty of space, allowing everyone to spread out sideways so nobody was on top of each other, and also offers 50yd shooting.

We have been teaching a Combined AR15/M16 Armorer & Rifle Instructor Course for over 2 decades, as it is our thinking that anyone who is a Firearms Instructor, should also be an Armorer on any weapon system that they are teaching on, as this way they have an understanding on what is going on under the hood of the weapon. For the first 2-days of the course we are in the classroom going through a complete Armorer Course, and the last 3-days are all spent on the range.

Rifles represented in this course were many, to include SLR15, Colt, Bushmaster, DPMS, Rockriver, Ruger, Smith & Wesson, Sig Sauer, LWRC, Daniel Defense, PWA, and a few custom builds.

Day-1 Armorer Course: We started the day 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.

We showed the proper way to field strip a rifle from the user level, how to teach it, and reduce the possibility of causing damage or premature wear/stress on the rifle. Proper maintenance was shown of where, what & how to clean things. We showed what firing pins designed for & covered all the things that you shouldn't be using them for. Once user level maintenance was covered, we moved into armorer level for maintenance, inspections, and repairs. We went through the complete bolt disassembly, upgrades for reliability, stress on parts, life expectancy, etc. We covered the three types of gas rings, proper installation, and replacement.

Note: When Officers checked their bolt carrier key staking (gas key), light staking was found on 3 DPMS, 4 Rockriver, and a PWA. We supplied the Sully Staking Tool and MOACKS, which people corrected the staking.

After bolt carrier assemblies were covered, we moved into trigger groups. The majority of everyone had single stage triggers. There were 3 Rockriver's with 2-stage triggers. One Officer brought a PWA full auto that his agency acquired in the 90's. Everyone was taught how to remove trigger groups. Once removed, we covered the pins and springs systems, and trouble shooting.

Note: The Officer who brought the PWA full auto had lots of trouble getting his hammer pin in/out of the receiver. Upon inspection, the pin had a large crease in the metal down one side, causing a deformation of where the pin didn't want to move through the hammer pin hole of the hammer. We replaced it with a pin. The new pin also had trouble fitting through the hammer. Looking closer at the hammer and receiver, there were lots of marks left where you could see that someone beat things up hammering them in/out, indicating that someone had messed with things and had no idea what they were doing. The auto sear spring was also damaged, again showing signs of someone working on it that had no idea what they were doing. IMHO this lower receiver was beat up to the point that it should probably be taken out of service at some point, as the hammer/trigger pin holes were deformed to the point they were out of round and opened up. Which brings me to a point, if you don't know what you are doing, then leave it alone, take it to someone who knows what they are doing, or seek out training so you get educated and learn how to do things correctly.

Note: One Officers Rockriver had a bent hammer pin. This most likely occurred when someone tried to install a hammer pin into the receiver & hammer, but had no clue what they were doing. It is very simple, in that the Safety Selector needs to be in the Fire position (Not Safe position) when installing the hammer and hammer pin so it lines up. If the Safety Selector is in the Safe position, the trigger cannot pivot downward enough at the front to allow a hammer to properly line up so the hammer pin can be correctly installed. Again as I stated above, if you don't know what you are doing, then leave it alone, take it to someone who knows what they are doing, or seek out training so you get educated and learn how to do things correctly.

At the end of the day everyone reassembled their rifles, made sure everything was working correctly before they left.

Day-2: We started with a review of everything we covered in day-1, and we added on a few pieces. We showed the differences in bolt materials, testing, stress and breakage. This led to a discussion of purchasing a quality bolt, and a discussion of main components of the bolt, trigger group, and barrel that are very important in designing and purchasing a rifle, and this is where parts should not be skimped if lives depend upon it.

We went back into trigger groups, covering the differences and how things work in single stage, two stage, full auto, a burst trigger systems. We showed good and bad triggers, and what their personalities are, and covered troubleshooting on trigger systems. After triggers we went through the entire lower receiver, covering stock sytems, magazine catches, bolt catches, takedown and pivot pins, etc.

All the rifles present had collapsible stocks, several didn't have their spanner & castle nuts staked and were built dry, which were all fixed by the students. We spent time on going through the cycles of fire, and the timing cycles of this weapons system, and what effects that timing cycle. This included going through explanations and demonstrations of timing, timing issues, dwell time, and how this pertains to how the weapons system runs smoothly, and when it isn't running then what it might be and how to fix it. This class had barrels represented were a mix of 16", 14.5”, and 11.5", which allowed everyone to get a hands on look at timing and pressure issues. We covered different gas systems, pistons, and we supplied several variations, which allowed us to go through the different personalities of each, how each of these systems run or don't run, and what the advantages or disadvantages are. Everyone was shown hands on explanations of how each of these relate to timing/dwell-timing and diagnosis of issues.

We spent the afternoon going through the upper receiver assembly. This included the forward assist, ejection port cover, gas tube & pistons, and rebarreling. We had a group that wished to team up and completely disassemble a barreled upper receiver assembly. This gave a hands on opportunity for everyone to go through a complete disassembly. We showed how to remove stuck gas tubes using the Sully Gas Tube Jaws. We also showed numerous tools and methods of how to vise up a receiver or barrel for removal and installation. Once the barrels were removed, we showed trouble shooting and maintenance of where and when a front sight base/gas block might need to be removed and why, and why flash hiders/suppressor mounts need to be removed and cleaned when issues present themselves. Once barrels were remounted, we covered complete inspections and gauging of the rifle, to include things like chamber inspections, firing pin protrusion, trigger gauging, headspace, etc. At the end of the day everyone reassembled their rifles, gauged everything, and made sure everything was in proper working order.

Here is an overview of what was covered on the first 2-days in the Armorer Course:
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 System
Parts Interchangeability, including Brands
Firing Pin Protrusion
Trigger Inspections & Troubleshooting
Chamber Inspection and Issues
Troubleshooting, diagnosis & repair
Gauging, Inspections, Stress & Interval Issues
Accessories and Customizing
Tool Options and Selection
Iron Sights
SOP/MOD Accessories and Addition

Day-3 started at the range. We started with a discussion about cold & hot range concepts from the instructor perspective, when these are used, and everyone agreed to run a hot range for the class. We went through our range protocol of rules, commands, and got everyone on the same sheet of music of what is expected. Next we went through medical issues that a Firearms Instructor may have to deal with. We passed around several different styles of tourniquets and trauma dressings, then gave a hands on demo of how everything is used. We came up with a plan of what to do is someone was to get hurt. This also led into a discussion of the need for having proper safety gear like good eyewear, hearing protection, proper clothing, body armor, hydration issues, and gear/firearm issues.

We covered the fundamentals of marksmanship of check weld, sight picture, sight alignment, optics, trigger finger placement & press, trigger follow through, dominant eye, one eye vs two eye shooting, cheek weld, breathing vs breath control, etc. We then went through our protocol of loading, mag changes, reloading, tac loads, etc. When loading magazines into a firearm, we teach to firmly push a magazine into the weapon, then give the magazine a good tug/pull downward to confirm that the make sure it is firmly seated & locked into place, this is something that was instilled in me several decades ago (I am a Disciple of Phil Singleton). We went through malfunctions on the rifles, how to deal with them, we showed traditional methods (like the S.P.O.R.T.S. method, of which we are not a fan of and why ), and then showed our preferred methods and why. We also showed armorer level malfunction issues that instructors may have to deal with.

We discussed zeroing and ballistics as it pertains to the performance of the rifle, along with what the AR15/M16 weapons system was designed for, and gave options of different zeroing options. We discussed as a group of options for zeroing as it might pertain to Law Enforcement distance engagements, and discussed actual Law Enforcement shootouts as it pertains to distances & gear set up, along with training. We provided multiple types of zeroing targets for both iron sights and optics, and discussed zeroing distances and external ballistics. Everyone opted for the 50yd zero. During checking zeroes, we showed how to use the different targets, and how to adjust their different iron sights and optics.

We went through standing positions. We ran everyone through a series of standing position drills, which showed strengths & weaknesses, what is natural vs unnatural, what recoil actually does during the cycling phase and how the body mechanic works in correlation to physics. We had students perform a series of hammer fire, and controlled fire drills, of which drove a point home that everyone seemed to like controlled fire better. Lastly we used these exercises on standing foundation to show how the shooter controls full-auto, dispelled the myth that full-auto climbs and sprays, by the time we were done everyone was running wide open full-auto and keeping groups tight with no climbing or spraying.

We showed a sampling of different slings, different methods and theories for mounting, and how these are used. This included single point, 2-point traditional, tactical 2-point variations, and 3-point (my personal favorite). We then ran a transition drill where everyone got to learn that having a sling on a rifle is a viable tool, as a rifle without as ling is like having a handgun without a holster.

The rest of the day was spent on foundational shooting positions, starting from the ground up. We present over 20 different shooting positions with variations. These positions are used for stability, use of terrain, cover, concealment, and to provide the shooter any advantage that can be obtained. We went through a series of different prone positions, sitting, kneeling, squatting, etc. We went through when to use these positions and why, demonstrated how to get into these positions, instructor level of how to teach these positions and getting into them, covered how to demonstrate from the instructor perspective of what these positions are used for, and covered instructor & range training issues. We ran through several relays of all these shooting positions, and carried into them the follow up of working in a 360 degree world, as if you fought your way into shooting position on the ground, then you should fight your way back up. We finished the day with an instructor lecture of why to run a fun drill at the end of the day, then we ran a couple of different drills. The end of day-3 was spent with a review and debrief.

Day-4 started with a review of range rules, commands, medical gear & procedures, and we went over what we did on day-3. We rechecked zeros. We also discussed working with shooters who have trouble zeroing, and showed several ways of how to deal with those shooters and get them tuned in.

We went back through all the shooting positions that we did on day-1, having Students teach them, this puts people under pressure of having to remember, step up and teach, and allows everyone a better change of learning & remembering, as this helps solidify the information. We also showed variations of these shooting positions that may pertain to better use of cover, and may work better with different gear or sizes and shapes of shooters, then let everyone shoot from all these positions at varying distances.

We had students teach standing foundation principles. We went back through full-auto, how it is controlled, and dispelled myths of recoil management. We had everyone shoot more full-auto, and got them tuned to the point that they could run and entire mag one handed under control, not that we advocate doing this but it shows that with proper foundation the shooter controls the gun (not the other way around), and this helped show that the shooter doesn’t need to steer the front end of the gun if their foundation is solid as it pertains to body mechanics crossed with physics.

From there we moved into how to deal with multiple bad guys, showing traditional and our own spin on it, and where and why there may be differences in methods. This allowed a discussion of Boyd’s OODA loop, and Hick’s law. We then ran through some fail to stop drills of the traditional Mozambique drill, and we showed our theories, and with the use of a shot timer it showed differences, and the differences were correlated to Boyd’s & Hicks laws.

Day-5 started with some rain for the first hour. This didn't slow us down, as we were able to go back and have people teach slings, malfunction of why and how to clear them, and zeroing. Once the rain quit we hit the range shooting several qualification courses. We showed different concepts of qualification courses, with a discussion of how and when to use them. Next was a discussion on department policies, qualification standards, and possible legal cases and issues that may come up in court. A review of the previous days was done, and we had students step up and teach portions of the fundamentals in front of everyone, and critiqued by everyone, we did this several times in this course to make sure that people understood the fundamentals, and how to teach them. We went through more courses of fire, showing examples of drills we use to build understanding and confidence, drills to drive key training points home, to how to work with problematic shooters.

The rest of day-5 was spent on movement shooting, pivots and turns of working in a 360 degree world. We showed how instructors should teach doing this with weapons control, and how these pivots/turns relate to the real world in things like applying them to structures. We went through movement shooting, showing several different concepts of forward movement, how to teach them, and where each would be applied. We taught several variations of lateral movement, showing different applications for each, where these are used for moving around objects & vehicles, clearing structures, and something that was taught to me over 3 decades ago of where you find yourself in the path of the train then get off the tracks. The last thing we covered was team movement and tactics. The end of day-5 started with the traditional cleaning up the ranges, a review & debrief, and everyone received their certificates.

Note: All rifles ran flawlessly during the 3-days of range. This means that everyone had lubed their rifles with the Slip2000 "EWL" that we supplied them on day-1, and by following our directions of what, where, and how much lube to use, is that they were able to run about 1500rds through their rifles with no issues. This also means that the work and maintenance they performed in the Armorer portion of the class, worked, and that by their rifles running flawless that they past the Armorer Test.

Here is a brief overview on what is covered on the range days:
Patrol and Tactical Employment Considerations
Sling usage
Shooting Positions
Sight and Distance Considerations
Position Shooting
Moving and Multiple Targets
Transition Drills
Firearms Safety
Qualification Training Course and Test
Instructional Guidelines
Rapid Deployment
Employment From & Around Vehicles
Team Concepts
Teaching Fundamentals
Working with Problem Shooters
Policy & Procedural Issues
Ballistic Issues
Setting Up Rifle Programs

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