Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Continuing Education

One promise my company made to me when I took this current job was to pay for education or training as it applied to my work as the firearm manager. All I needed to qualify was have one year of service and be recognized as a committed and reliable employee. It's a simple program. Pass a course and I am reimbursed. One course per year. It didn't take much thought to choose from among the offerings.

My first choice was training to become a Glock Certified Armorer. On Tuesday I passed my armorer course (aced the test) and now possess a three year certification. Our store can now hang the "Armorer On Duty" shingle if they wish. For our customers my services are now marketable.

For friends my services will be free, just pay for springs and parts and stuff. And for Carl I can now fix that failure to feed problem he had with his 9mm G19 at last year's Gunstock Blogmeet.

The course was held in the meeting room of a police station in a west suburban Chicago community. These courses are not open to the public. Most of the attendees were LEO's. I was only one of two dealers out of the forty. The eight hour session began with donuts (it's a cop thing) and coffee. The instructor was a veteran LEO with SWAT credentials who is now employed full time by Glock to travel the country and spread the love.

After an introduction video by The Gunny the instructor presented the course outline. We were given manuals, two special tools, an exploded view work mat, some cool swag and an operational firearm to practice with (mine was a Gen 3 G23).

We went through complete disassembly/reassembly procedures of the barrel/slide section followed by the lower polymer frame. I must admit before the course the thought of doing this was intimidating since I am not a mechanical marvelite. But this is a Glock, the simplest (which is why I picked Glock as my first manufacturer to armorer train with) and most reliable auto-loading handgun of all time.

All the instructions were very clear and easy to understand. John (not his real name) the instructor was very helpful and took the proper time for the few who were having problems. We had frequent break periods which helped. I was stuck installing one part, the slide lock. lever and spring. Once John showed me a quick trick all was smooth from then on. A patient instructor helps a lot.

John drilled us repetitively. No instruction manuals or videos could have taught me this so quickly and thoroughly. Hands-on instruction is always the best way to go far especially when a functional firearm is involved.

Like any man made device something will go wrong eventually as frequency of use and age dictate even for this brand. Similar to an automobiles some parts will suffer from wear. Think brakes, wiper blades tires and shocks. Springs are one culprit of firearm malfunction. I was told most Glock problems occur because an amateur tinkered with the operating mechanism not knowing the proper steps in solving a problem thereby further complicating the situation. Pleaded guilty to that charge many times. Mostly with automobiles, lawn mowers and motorcycles.

A certified armorer has the ability to diagnose a problem through disassembly the firearm, replace the part(s), reassemble and then test the results before delivery. An armorer is a mechanic, not a gunsmith. Think of a gunsmith as a surgeon and an armor as a nurse practitioner.

Gunsmiths go way beyond armorer rank and spend years training. They are capable of fabricating new parts, re-chambering bores, tapping receivers for scopes, glass bedding a rifle barrel to a new stock, adjusting or improving accuracy among many other technical skills where use of extreme precision is necessary.

Since up to 65% of LEO's carry Glock most departments have at least one armorer on duty. The two next to me were from the same department. All duty weapons go through total teardown, cleaning, part replacement and testing at least once annually since they place their lives on thhe reliability of this single item.

This was interesting. We were trained to install the New York spring. Back in the 80's when departments were converting from revolvers to Glock auto-loaders officers had encountered some uncomfortable adjustments. SInce this pistol has no mechanical safety many on the NYPD were experiencing issues when reaching to draw their weapon. The old revolvers had a hard trigger pull and these new Glocks did not. Light trigger, no mechanical plus poor training proved disastrous. A few of them "Fifed" on duty and the pistol discharged, some shooting themselves in the leg or foot. The easy solution was to install a harder trigger spring named the New York spring after the NYPD. The officer sitting next to me whispered to me it wasn't the pistol's fault, the officers back then were poorly trained and drilled. Many departments specify these springs for duty weapons raising the trigger pull anywhere from 8-11lbs.

Major firearm manufacturers conduct armorer certifications. Given choices of companies such as Smith & Wesson, Springfield or Ruger who manufacturer a vast array of handguns and long guns, as a beginner I chose one manufacturer that focuses on perfecting one specific type of firearm. Because of my novice status I chose Glock. On top of that I own and respect my Glocks.

When I arrived home the first thing I did was tear down and scour my 14 year old G22. What filth I found in those crevices. The process took less than thirty minutes. Next week I will order all new springs and that gun will function like brand new. For about thirty bucks. And the labor will be free.


Carl from Chicago said...

That is fantastic. I thought I was just doing it wrong with the Glock. High on the list to get it fixed. We need to hook up in April.

Dan from Madison said...

Very cool! I should probably tear down all of my firearms and give them the "big" cleaning here sometime before it warms up.

Terry from Crown Point said...

Next one!