AAR- Defensive Edge AR15/M16/M4 Armorer Course- April 19&20, 2008
Greg “Sully” Sullivan joined us here in Upstate NY for 3 great days of training covering Tactical Rifle and his acclaimed Defensive Edge AR15/M16/M4 Armorers Course. I wanted to host the armorer course based upon my own selfish desire to learn more about these weapon platforms. The Ar15 being a highly prolific weapon system with numerous training groups I thought it only makes sense that if we are going to learn to fight with them we better learn to fix them. As many of us know they can be… finicky at times dependant upon what manufacturer, make, model or add-ons you have. We had 17 guys attend this course from all over NY and one from CT. Attendees brought a variety of rifles from almost every major manufacturer and a lot of interesting things were discovered about each rifle. Training Day 1
Sully started this course off with a detailed introduction of himself and his long term utilization of this weapon platform in all its various forms. He has been working with this system since 1973 when his LE agency was the first in MN to adopt these rifles for officer duty. He is proud of this fact and states that now 85% of the police cars/departments have an ar15 in them.
Sully ran D.P.M.S. training division from 2000-2003 when he started his own small custom building company. His first SLR15 rifle has been on the market for 5 years now. He was quick to point out to all of us that the curriculum for the armorer course is constantly being updated and evolving as the industry changes. He isn’t the kind of guy to sit back on the work he has already done and say “That’s good enough”. Next Sully explained to us how this course would work. We would do everything ourselves on our own guns or one of his that he graciously provided. His opinion is that the brain remembers in pictures and pictures are generated from “doing”. I was already enjoying myself as was everyone else.
Around 9:30am Sully kicked things off with… SAFETY. We were working with live weapons and he made it clear that at no time during the course inside the clubhouse should we have any live ammo out. He then made sure that we all understood this and we took a minute to make sure our work environment was sterile of any live ammunition.
Tools were the next topic. What tools we would need for this course and what tools we should have in order to work on these guns in the field. An emphasis was placed on learning to work on the gun with basic necessities and while specialty tools are nice some of them can be quite expensive and cumbersome if you’re out on the range or at a training course. Sully provided us with all the tools we would need for the course: a very detailed manual, rubber matt, plastic block, small hammer, dental pick, pipe cleaners, 4 different punches a small bottle of kroil and some Slip2000 lubricant. We went over each of the tools and he explained which was for what and made sure we all knew that using the wrong tool could result in some major damage to our firearm.
Basic Weapon Maintenance and inspections followed along with field stripping. Sully explained “Staking” and then looked at each of our bolt carriers to see how effectively the gas key was staked. Those that needed better staking got the chance to use a MOACS tool and spring loaded punch to properly stake.
When this was completed Sully went into a very thorough and detailed explanation of the cycle of fire. He explained to us the importance of knowing the cycle in order to help properly diagnose problems we may see or be asked to look at as potential armorers. Following this a quick methodology for diagnosing problems was outlined and discussed:
1) Ask the user what the problem is
2) Clean & lubricate weapon
3) Go to range and attempt to duplicate the problem
Recommendations for preventing common problems were presented to us such as the addition of better extractor springs and inserts, swapping out bolts and proper instruction on maintenance of the firearm. This is something he considers a training problem since most people do not follow basic maintenance guidelines having been trained improperly.
1) Most guns are not lubricated properly
2) Or, they are over-lubricated
3) Poor ammunition is utilized that can cause problems
After lunch we spent the remainder of TD1 disassembling the lower receivers and then re-assembling and once again disassembling them. The proper tools for each job were essential starting with the magazine catch, trigger guard and bolt catch. All those small pins and parts can get lost pretty damn easily and a few of us borrowed more than one spring or pin from Sully when we couldn’t find ours because it flew across the room. The grip, safety selector and trigger assembly came next. The trigger, disconnect and hammer were a real PITA for me in particular. Finally we took the stocks off and Sully discussed the pros (very few) and cons of different buffer modifications people make.
For the guys who may have the opportunity to work with them Sully discussed burst and auto assemblies. A decent amount of time was also spent on trigger jobs, what they entail and what not to do.
Racer934 working his buffer tube:
After putting it all back together again that pretty much concluded TD1 and everyone cleaned up. Training Day 2
Training day two began with a quick review of what we covered the day before and addressing any problems or questions we may have still had. The morning started with a look at the upper receiver assembly. Sully started us with the bolt carrier and bolt assembly. Some common myths regarding the gas rings were discussed as we disassembled the bolt in its entirety.
From here we moved into the charging handle for those who had one and the upper receiver and sights. The rear sight assemblies were completely disassembled followed by the forward assist and dust cover. Soon after that we hit the front sight assembly which was a precursor to us removing the hand guards, gas tube and barrel assembly. The barrel removal is defiantly IMO something you need the right tools for and not something I want to do without a couple of others who attended the course around to help out.
Mag162 helping me with my gas tube:
After everyone FINALLY got the barrels off, gas tubes fixed (those that needed it) and re-assembled Sully spoke to us about Head Space, Sighting, Troubleshooting, Parts and “specialty” tools and accessories and finally barrel twist and ballistics. It was a VERY full couple of days and I am glad that I took notes and pictures to help remember certain aspects I might now have caught at the time because I was fumbling with a part or trying to find a spring! Sully conducted a complete review of what we covered, certificates were distributed and any final questions were answered. We got things packed up and it was time to head out. Overall this was an outstanding course and one that I would certainly like to attend more than once. I know those of us in the Upstate NY training group will be bringing Sully back to NY sometime soon. If you own an AR/M16/M4 you owe it to yourself to learn as much as you can about that weapon, especially if you’re going to be taking it into harms way. Get to one of Sully’s courses and bring a magnet!
Check out Defensive Edge and the SLR15 line of rifles-Defensive Edge/SLR15