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9/19/2017 7:27:10 PM
Posted: 7/17/2003 2:54:32 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/17/2003 3:28:03 PM EDT by ajp3jeh]
(This seemed like the best forum but if it's not please feel free to move)

I just got back from Colt's 3-day AR-15/M-16 Armorer's school and thought I'd pass on some thoughts.

First, the course itself is impressive, I'm also a Sig certified armorer and Colt's course imparted a far greater level of understanding about the weapons system. There is a strong emphaisis on fixing real world problems and this is based on a solid understanding of the weapons and how it operates. To this end, we stripped and reassembled the weapons multiple times. The instructor also had a ton of tips on how to perform common tasks in a way that made them easier. Everything from how to hold parts to easiest order of assembly was covered. The instructor also told us what steps the military manuals don't handle well and gave us the best ways to do them. (I.E. the military barrel changes uses a barrel vice which can lead to cracked receivers. We were told to use a block that captures the upper receiver in a vice to avoid this)

Additionally, there was an excellent PowerPoint Presentation that showed in slow motion how all the parts interact. The instructor flat out refused to move on before it was clear everyone understood what was happening. Besides, the Power Point presentation, there were some awesome props and books used throughtout the course. We were given three sets of handouts. Two were military manuals for the guns that are commonly available. The third was a set of pages that had been developed by the instructors. These contained a condensed version of everything you needed to know and included lots of diagrams, parts, and other info you need when actually working on the weapons.

There were two cut away rifles that were absolute works of art. One was an M16A1 (with burst feature added) that had most of the metal above the fire sytems removed so that you could watch all the parts move. There was also a M4 variant that was opened up in the same way. I cannot emphasize how much these "weapons" help with understanding everything. For instance, I didn't truely appreciate how the locking system worked until I could watch the bolt run forward through the locking lugs turn 22.5 degrees and lockup. The instructor also had various parts of the rifles that were either defective or taken from the manufacturing process. For instance, they had the rear of a barrel with barrel extension cut in half so that you could see the details.

The course carried with it a strong emphasis on doing everthing "correctly" as defined by Colt. I originally thought that I would be swapping barrels as soon as I got back but the class was a serious wakeup call. For instance, they emphasize using one of two systems to insure the proper alignment of the barrel to the receiver and either of those cost $250. We were encouraged not to swap barrels but were shown how it was done and then given the oppurtunity to do so.

Also of note, Colt seems to think that every rifle you work on is full auto. There was a strong emphasis on understanding full auto and burst operation. For those receiving military rifle and converting them to semi-auto only, there was ample time spent explaining the options for parts swap to carry this out. The reverse was also discussed, and included tips on spotting attempts to convert semi-autos to full auto.

Another nice feature of the class is the wealth of Colt minutia that associated with these weapons. The instructor created materials included diagrams of all the common parts that have changed throught the years and which parts work with which.

One minutia point that people might appreciate is the LE/Police guns as compared to the "civilian" market guns. Any AR sold to LE goes through all the quality control steps and check that the military guns do. The "civilian" guns don't go through the as rigoruous a process. For instance, every LE/Military barrel is proof tested while "civilian" guns are batch testing meaning about 1 in 4 barrels is tested.
I also found the honesty of the instructor refreshing. He didn't stand up there and emptily sing the praises of Colt (though he clearly thought they made the only rifles you'd ever want and explained why) and openly acknowledge problems they have including their inability to support customers properly.

At the end of the course, there was both a written test and a practical test. The written test emphasized teaching point issued throughout the class and focused on common problems that you'd most likely be dealing with. The practical exam involved four rifles that had common problems. You had to examine the rifles, function check them, visually inspect them and figure out what was wrong.

The class was also supportive about your own curiosities. I mentioned to the instructor that I might not be able to understand the operation of the full auto parts without firing the weapon (a lot). His response was to ask whether I had ammo and magazines. I can assure that on the second day I did, and gave one of the new semi-burst-full auto guns a nice workout. I was also allowed to work on my own personal rifle using their tools. I was able to install a single point sling plate and swap in an Ashely Same Plane Aperature between lessons.

Overall, I thought the class was excellent and well worth attending. My understanding of these rifles has increased immensely and my confidence to perform common maintenance items is there as well. I also gained a full understanding of my capabilities and what I feel comfortable doing and not. (A man's got to know his limitations) The instruction was excellent and top notch. If you own an AR-15 or M-16 and can qualify for the course (either military, LE, or security) the course is well worthwhile.

As a final random thought, it was amazing to see how many guns Colt had sacrificed for the class. The typical class size is 20-30 and there was a gun for every student and almost everyone was full auto. Also, the guns had had the cr@p beat out of them. Many of pins had been drifted in and out so much that they would rattle out if you worked the action briskly. The instructor flat out said that he wouldn't fire one of these guns as they're just so beat up and loose.
Link Posted: 7/17/2003 4:09:09 PM EDT
Originally Posted By ajp3jeh: ...For instance, they emphasize using one of two systems to insure the proper alignment of the barrel to the receiver and either of those cost $250...
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What do these fixtures look like and how do they work? Thanks for the report!
Link Posted: 7/17/2003 4:39:22 PM EDT
The first and prefrerred is a precision made piece of metal that features a point on the end. The metal fits in the carry handle and points toward the front sight. An properly fitted barrel will allow the point to touch the center of the front sight. The other option was a calibrate laser that slid into the carry handle. The laser is then turned on and should index in the center of the front sight. A less expensive, and less accurate method was offered. It involved hanging a plum bob at the far end of a room. The idea was that you sighted down the barrel and centered the line of the bob in the barrel. If the barrel is installed correctly the locking lugs are oriented in line with the string that you can see down the barrel.
Link Posted: 7/17/2003 7:51:07 PM EDT
I concur with everything you said. I attended in 2000 and had the same experiance you did. I am looking forward to going back for my recert. as my cert. is about to expire. Was Ken Elmore your instructor? He is one hell of a guy and makes himself available to you after the class if you need help. I have called and e-mailed him and Tina many times since taking the class. Just an FYI. The Remington school is not even half as good.
Link Posted: 7/17/2003 11:20:25 PM EDT
Ken and Tina are great people. I’ve gotten to know them over the past few years as I’d break things I’d have to go down there to have them fix em. They’re one of the big reasons I stick to primarily Colt products now. Did you see the different manufacturing phases of the extractors? And folks wonder why a colt extractor is so expensive… You talked about your instructor showing you broken parts and such, if it was Ken did he show you a short gas tube that looked somewhat melted? Say by two Beta mags? I did that. Glad to hear you had a good time and learned a lot. There is certainly a lot more there than I ever thought at first. Best Regards, J
Link Posted: 7/20/2003 6:39:51 PM EDT
ajp3jeh thats a great report I have one coming up in dec and looking foward to it thanks
Link Posted: 7/21/2003 3:26:32 PM EDT
Thanks for taking the time to type that up John! Interesting info on the Civvy-vs-LEO/Military weapons. [8D]
Link Posted: 7/21/2003 5:57:13 PM EDT
Interesting, I guess that explains why colts usually don't have windage issues out of the box. It also strengthens a suspicion a had about the why the QC can differ a lot on their civilian rifles. I wouldn't surprise me to find out that they use the parts that don't quite pass spec on their LEO/military rifles on their civilian offerings. I have a MT6400c that doesn't have the m4 marked upper receiver and the upper does have some finish issues, nothing that is critical, but are issues none the less.
Link Posted: 7/21/2003 9:52:07 PM EDT
A lot of gun companies do this. They have one production line for Government (Mil & LEO) sales and one for civilian sales. Remington does this and is quite open about it in their Armorers School. Many parts are different between the "Police Mag" and a "Wingmaster".
Link Posted: 7/22/2003 7:26:21 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Luckystiff: Was Ken Elmore your instructor? He is one hell of a guy and makes himself available to you after the class if you need help. I have called and e-mailed him and Tina many times since taking the class...FYI. The Remington school is not even half as good.
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I actually had Bob Gawe (sp?) as my instructor but apparently he and Ken developed the course. I've also used Ken and Tina as a resource and they really know their stuff. As far as Armorer's Schools go, Colt is the best I've been to. At Sig school I just learned how to detail strip and swap a part or two. At Colt, learned how everything WORKS.
Link Posted: 7/23/2003 1:14:00 PM EDT
Originally Posted By ajp3jeh: As far as Armorer's Schools go, Colt is the best I've been to. At Sig school I just learned how to detail strip and swap a part or two. At Colt, learned how everything WORKS.
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Glock is similar (their one day Armorer's Course) they show you disassembly, all the while telling you how their gun is great and you shouldn't have to need to do much. Also didn't have many answers for questions.
Link Posted: 7/23/2003 1:36:26 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/23/2003 1:37:06 PM EDT by Luckystiff]
I have been through the following Armorers Schools: Colt M16 Beretta 92,96,Cougar and 1201FP Glock Remington 870, 1100, 1187 and 700 Ruger Mini-14 NRA Law Enforcement Automatic Weapons By far the best was Colt and the NRA school followed VERY closely by Beretta. Remington had a good instructor but the course materials sucked. Ruger was okay and had a very well put together manuel. Glock has a good manuel but could have been presented better. I did get to go to the Glock party at the 2001 SHOT Show because I took the class there. Food was good and got to meet Gaston (sp?) Glock himself. That was cool.
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