“It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.” – Bruce Lee
We recently presented a Level I Rifle Course in the Midwest, and as is our norm, we request that students arrive with a semi-automatic (auto-loading), magazine-fed, military pattern rifle. We see many styles and calibers of rifle, but as one might expect the common choice is AR15 variants chambered for 5.56 NATO – and this class was no exception. In fact, all 10 students had an AR15 of some sort! The majority were manufactured by JP Enterprises of Hugo, Minnesota, and ran just fine. Our recommended list of AR15 manufacturers includes, DSA, Rock River, Daniel Defense, Smith & Wesson, and now JPE. [However, JPE is not famous for their discounts. Base models are listing at $1900!]
12 years ago we could count on 50% of the AR15’s on the firing line going down on the first day. Generally, lack of lubrication, a broken extractor, or a broken extractor spring were the common issues. Occasionally we see things like frozen ejectors, buffer retainers dislodged and loose barrels, but the majority of issues were extractor related. These days, with CNC machining, CAD engineering, and the addition of a “D-ring” to the extractor spring, it seems like most the AR15 reliability issues have been addressed. We still see occasional problems, but they are not the norm when one acquires a rifle from a reputable company.
As is our standard practice, at the beginning of class our Staff Instructors inspect each firearm before a shot is fired. We check function, and inspect for lose sights and screws, broken parts, and other obvious problems. On this day one of our student’s rifles “fired” as the trigger was reset. The rifle in question was a “Frankengun”, meaning it had been assembled at home in kit form from available parts, and had yet to be test-fired. We asked everyone to don hearing protection, loaded the rifle and then attempted to fire. All three of our Instructors were able to produce “full-auto” bursts as the trigger was reset!
Not having time to delve into it further, the student was given a loaner rifle and continued on with training. We assume it was a disconnector/trigger group issue, most likely from worn or non-milspec parts being thrown together during assembly.
Function checking is a mandatory part of all firearms cleaning and maintenance procedures – only the foolish would take a gun apart, reassemble it, and then expect their life to depend on it without being sure it will go bang! In this case, the rifle would go bang when the operator didn’t want it to – an arguably worse position to be in during a fight! Our student had no idea there was a problem, but we’re sure he’ll be checking such things regularly from now on!