Quality Assurance in the Selection of Equipment & Information.


Quality Assurance in the Selection of Equipment & Information.

By: Frank Woods (NYPD)

What is “the best?” This isn’t so much a subjective matter, as it one of observation. To start, let’s determine what it is not:

– Best is not determined by a cabal of industry & marketing masterminds scheming and plotting on how to drive spending and take your money.

– Best is not merely what works. Even the worst specimens will successfully function. “It works” does not mean “it works best.”

— In addition to this point, Best is not that which was the hotness back in the day, just because you’ve got an emotionally driven soft spot or fondness for it. Just because it was the best in its time and during its prime, does not mean that modern day standards and applications haven’t rendered it obsolete. Modern day standards and applications are determined by what is best.

“Best” is determined by the end users that require it. Simple as that.

Enter emulation. I recently read an article that contained a novice perspective, whereby the author proposed that those with limited knowledge and skill set avoid emulating the choices in selection of equipment by those beyond said limited levels, to avoid spending money they didn’t have to spend, because what they purchased could potentially be beyond their skill & requirements.

I found this perspective to be erroneous and naive, though o can’t say I blame the author; being an admitted novice himself, I can’t expect him to have taken all points into consideration. You don’t know what you don’t know.

In the context of this article, “emulation” is defined as follows:

Emulation: Research & study into aspects of durability and dependability, based on what is currently used in the field under rugged conditions within specified tolerance criteria, and copying that which is observed to have been selected and is in use by military and law enforcement.

So the first question that needs to be asked is, “Why do we emulate?” At square one, we know little, if anything regarding our craft. Naturally, we look to those that have progressed beyond square one, and observe how they’ve situated themselves, because we know they’ve already got that part figured out. We see what works, by virtue of seeing it in use by those better educated and well versed than we are.

They set the example, and we follow suit. We benefit from this because it gives us more time to focus on training and perfecting our skill sets, rather than pondering what to select based on limited knowledge. We also avoid short changing ourselves by overlooking that from which we could benefit, via the misperception that, “I’m a novice, so I have no business or need to worry about or look into such things.”

For example, a close friend of mine, when he first started out upon entry into the community of firearms and all things related, thought, contrary to my advising him to purchase a quality chest rig or load bearing equipment otherwise, thought he would be fine grabbing a pack lined with PALS webbing that included an integrated an integrated belt, and mounting rifle & pistol mag pouches to that belt, in battle belt or “war belt” fashion. This was after I had convinced him that carrying his reloads in a duffel bag was a bad idea.

He thought, based on his limited knowledge (or lack thereof) as a novice, that that would be all he needed. Derp at its best (I’ll touch more on derp later, albeit in another form.) Eventually, he came around, and procured for himself a quality chest rig and plate carrier. I credit his decision and selection to emulation; of me, in particular. Which leads to the question, who did I emulate? The answer is the same as that belonging to the same question, but applied universally.

Who do we emulate? This one’s easy, almost to the point of it being common sense to those of us initiated proper in such things. I’ve already given you the answer, if you think about it.

We emulate the best. The best fighting force on the planet: ours. And the best of the best among them. We observe and ask, “What do they use for X, Y, Z?” And you can believe they’ve covered everything. For every role or function, they have procured weapons and equipment of all varieties, and in a format that is usually scalable and modular, able to go from minimal to full out as needed. The best of all available options, because it is what met their criteria as required.

From this selection pool, you scale backwards to find what best serves your own needs and requirements. From the examples set by our military, law enforcement makes its selections where there is overlap. So too should anyone in the market for such item’s, regardless of background, profession, for duty use, or personal. Whatever it is– I want the best. Such is the standard, and scope through which I view it.

(The caveat to this is budget, in the case of military or agency procurement. But the intended audience of this writing: the end user who self procures, is not so much restricted by such a thing as one might believe. To this end, there is a saying: “Buy once, cry once.” If your life will depend on it, never settle for less than the best. Save your pennies.

We observe, analyze, and scrutinize that which the best consists of for the sake of Quality Assurance. When I say “I want the best,” I want quality, enforced by standards. Quality tells me where a product stands on the scale of durability and dependability, which on turn determines whether that product conforms to the modern day standard. As stated earlier, modern day standards and application thereof is determined by what is best, by who is best. So the best quality is what we want.

“Quality” in the context of this article is defined as the most dependable/reliable sample(s) available.

For instance, if I *gotta* have a slim subcompact .380 pistol for concealed carry, I’m not going to select a Walther PPK or variation thereof. I’m going to pick a Glock 42, because as a pistol, the Glock conforms to modern day standards in quality, application, durability, and dependability. The Walther PPK, having been rendered obsolete by the modern day standards, does not. But because 9mm is the minimum standard for defensive and duty use, and because the pistol is barely any larger, the Glock 42 .380 is usurped by the Glock 43 9mm, so that’s what I’d grab to fill the slim subcompact carry role.

To argue otherwise in favor of lesser selections in hardware or caliber is an emotionally sourced argument at its greatest. Remember, the best is determined by the requirement of the best end users, not industry moguls trying to drive spending via marketing, and not by your emotions. So Glock & 9mm wear the crown, until something better comes along, to be determined by the best.

(Not to suggest the likes of other top tier labels such as FNH or HK are lesser than Glock. They, all being part of the same selection pool, stand on equal footing, which speaks to the quality of the products offered by those manufacturers overall, though there are some exceptions. However, Glock is undeniably the most popular among them, I find.)

Emulation is one form of quality assurance when the correct source is emulated. Another means of quality assurance is filtering the information one might encounter. There’s a lot of information out there that is misleading or outright incorrect. We filter this information by applying the same standards of quality in regard to procurement of equipment: we observe, scrutinize, and vet the source.

If you haven’t already guessed, I’m talking about YouTube.

YouTube should be regarded as a double edged sword as far as this industry is concerned. It is a medium of utility when used to disseminate factual information by qualified individuals. It’s also the Mos Eisley of Derp. Anybody with a cell phone can record and post a “review” of any given product. The problem here is there’s no guarantee John Q Public knows what he’s talking about, in technical terms or in regards to quality.

Examples? There are hundreds of videos on YouTube that would have you believe that the Springfield XD series is equal to or better than a Glock, or that AR500 steel plates coated with something like rhino liner or Line-X are a smart and acceptable substitute for ceramic plates. This becomes a problem when the novice, who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know, finds videos like these and uses them to justify his misinformed purchase or worse, to argue that poor quality products such as those mentioned are as good as they’re purported to be in said videos, when debating with someone that actually knows what they’re talking about and is trying to advise the novice, with his best interests in mind. The result is one where the novice selects something that fails to meet the standard, and the knowledgeable advisor, on frustration, says “Fine, do what you want, I don’t care, and I don’t have time to argue if you’re going to be thick headed.”

This can prove to be fatal for the novice, should the items they selected fail them when needed most. Of course, everything man made will fail at some point, but those of lesser quality that fail to meet the standard can and will fail to function more likely than not, more often. This poison spreads when that thick headed novice, thinking himself qualified, goes ahead and starts advising other novices, recommending to them their own lesser quality, substandard selections, and in the most severe instances, advising that those other novices DISREGARD OUTRIGHT the input & recommendations of the knowledgeable advisor.

Their justifications are to the tone of derp classics such as “Mine is just as good as his,” “Why spend more for the same thing?,” “That guy’s a buff/elitist/snob,” and “This weapon platform used by militaries of third world countries is better than what our own uses.” We’ve all seen and dealt with this kind of thing on the internet, but I’m not writing this to preach to the Primary & Secondary choir. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced this myself at work with novice types within my agency, and it’s ridiculous.

To the point: newsflash novice, you’re not qualified to be giving advice to other novices, because you’re a novice. The rookie does not train the FTO, or the recruit the drill instructor. Especially if the advice you’re giving doesn’t meet spec. Which brings me back around to YouTube: Consider the source, and ask the following questions:

What qualifications does the person(s) speaking in the video possess? What are their background/credentials and experience? Do their reviews meet a standard, or do they amount to misinformed blabbering? What are their testing standards and scientific method? Do they even employ any? Do they emulate those used by the leading experts in the qualification of quality and standards? Do they test the integrity of the product fairly, objectively, and thoroughly? Are the failures documented outright or glossed over? Is the armor plate tested as it would be in a lab, or is it set up like just another target?  Because 100 rounds through a fresh out the box firearm do not a torture test make. Not even 500 rounds. Or 1000. When you hit 5000, we start paying attention.

All these questions are examples of the lens through which such readily¬† accessible information like that found on YouTube must be looked at. Anyone and their mother could make a video review on YouTube, so there’s no guarantee you’ll find quality information there. Just because the guy in the video is saying the item in question is awesome, meanwhile those in the know are advising you to avoid it, is not proof contrary to what the knowledgeable advisors are saying. It only tells me the one doing the video is out of the loop and/or doesn’t know what he’s talking about. In short, not a qualified source of information.

In the effort of quality assurance, one must properly vet the source of information with regard to YouTube videos, and who’s making the video. This way one can automatically exclude anyone doing a DIY video raving on whatever they spent their money on.

There are good sources of information out there on YouTube; the diamonds in the rough. They’re not hard to find if you know what to look for, or the right word of mouth to heed, such as that provided by the subject matter experts at Primary & Secondary. Examples of solid go to sources of information to be found on YouTube include, but are not limited to:

– Nick Humphries of Practically Tactical
– Tim Harmsen of Military Arms Channel aka MAC
– John McQuay of 8541 Tactical
Sage Dynamics
Ballistic Radio
Pat McNamara
Mike Pannone

In case anyone’s wondering, no, NutnFancy doesn’t meet the standards set forth by Primary & Secondary. His videos are much longer than they need to be, and it can’t be helped to notice that he tends to come off biased in his presentation. It’s been said of NutnFancy, “He could tell me the sky was blue, and I would walk outside to confirm.” Taking into consideration that NutnFancy waxed poetic over the Mini 14, the author and those associated agree with this assessment.

In conclusion:

The quality of information in this industry and the applicable career fields is paramount. We assure the quality of this information by vetting the source. We vet the source via observation, analyzation, and scrutinization. When we do this, we determine who is the best, what the best use, and why. When we emulate the best, we retain the best, and thus, quality assurance has been achieved. This is a never ending process, ongoing as the modern day standard continues to evolve.

Vigilance in Quality Assurance must be absolute.


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