Kyle Defoor Learns About Big Army Maintenance

…O,r lack of the same. A class for a large Army unit came completely unglued as weapon after weapon failed. Charging handles broke. Dust covers went flying off. Locking lugs sheared. A furious Defoor, noting that the guns were Colts, posted a nastygram on his Facebook page with a photo of some of the parts:

failed parts from defoor post

These were supposedly new guns, but look at the condition of these parts. They’re not milspec parts after two days of shooting. The dust cover pins don’t appear to be grooved for the c-clip, which explains the absence of c-clips and the parts being off the firearm.

As it happens, Defoor learned more about the unit’s situation, and soon changed the title of his post to: Military and unit level maintenance issues with Colts produce serious issues in less than two days of shooting.

Soon, he posted a followup, explaining what he meant.

Update- After three broken locking lugs….(not kidding)

I made a mistake and posted too soon. My apologies.

Found that new bolts and c handles from new “headquarter” guns were interchanged with deployed guns or sent forward as spares and replaced with either used or non Colt parts. There is no rhyme or reason to the how or why and no one who can say who did what exactly. It’s a zoo and has turned training into a damn armory class.

My spot checking wasn’t good enough due to the large number of guns online, it provided a false feedback because I saw Colt bolt markings on the few I looked at. I should’ve checked them all along with c handles before the lugs broke. Big lesson learned but I could’ve never came up with this scenario if I tried.

Obviously we are steering them in the right direction but money seems to be the big issue here.

I changed the title of this post to reflect our findings and again shouldn’t have posted so quickly and apologize.

In other words, the bolts that failed were non-Colt bolts of unknown provenance that were swapped into some old guns after the bolts from the old guns were cannibalized to support a unit in the field.

It’s generally not good practice to replace new for worn bolts (or simply swap worn bolts from gun to gun) in AR rifles, unless you also replace the barrel extension. This is for the same reason it’s not good to replace a worn camshaft in an internal-combustion engine without also replacing the valve lifters or cam followers — otherwise the worn lifters will quickly reshape the cam.

The AR design can actually tolerate a lot of that, but not an indefinite amount.

The problem of no-name parts is a different, and larger one. Defoor continued:

They can’t within any reasonable degree tell the use of the parts that failed due to poor records and high turnover with personnel. Also there are no big mil tests for bolts or charging handles beyond “looks good” as I found out today. Very surprising.

Not that surprising. Military parts records are hamstrung by the one-size-misfits-all computer systems used for military inventories. (They still use thick printouts, impact-printed on green-and-white-striped paper — remember that?) It’s hardly a shock that a system designed to keep track of the wool socks in the warehouse in Shemya, and getting pallets of dry cargo from the Liberty Ship to the Red Ball Express, chokes on trying to trace the provenance of parts. (The Army’s aviation supply system can sort of do this, for obvious reasons; but they’re still decades behind the industry).

Some long-ETS’d or retired supply sergeant probably dealt with a bunch of yelling about deadlined rifles, especially in a headquarters company that hardly ever shoots, by shipping good parts to fix bad rifles downrange, and then, rather than wait for the bad parts to come back from the deployment, turn them in, and wait months for reissue, or simply turn the unserviceable weapons in for higher-echelon maintenance, simply went online and bought some generic AR parts and swapped them in. That’s our take on this; somebody bent the rules in classic SF “if you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin'” style and the unit got bitten in the gluteus maximus because he didn’t know what he didn’t know.

See, parts is parts, right? No, wrong. Even though the military does a crap job of keeping track of the parts once they’re accepted, they actually test each lot of spare parts (on a sample basis, of course) fairly thoroughly. Many commercial parts are never tested at all, not even one in ten thousand parts, not even for critical parts like bolts. So the first “test” a charging handle, or dust-cover pin, or, God forbid, a bolt gets is when Joe unlimbers his service rifle at the range with live ammo.

There are some nondestructive ways to test some of these parts. For example, a properly forged charging handle is likely to weigh more than an el cheapo. Ditto for a bolt. The roll pin (a key point of failure) can be visually inspected. But these inspections are not in the manual, and in any event, the average Joe (the -10 level of maintenance, “operator” in a non-tactical sense) has no training on inspecting individual parts. Neither does his unit armorer (-20 level maintenance, “organizational”).

Some of the comments on Defoor’s Facebook page are very helpful. For instance:

Matt Murray
As a former member of TACOM SARET, I’ll weigh here. I’m not sure what unit this was, or what MACOM they fall under, but preset and rest missions by TACOM and direct support units have been lacking in both funding and personnel since the slowing of the ARFORGEN cycle in 2011. Soldiers at the 10 level are not trained or qualified to make repairs or diagnostics on the myriad of issues that come to light in TIs per 23&P TMs. When units can no longer get the level of quality reset maintenance after deployments, or preset maintenance before deployments, issues like this unfortunately manifest on the range rather than the 30 level shop. Furthermore, unit armorers are not trained to identify issues as expertly as a 91F or TACOM equipment specialist, and lead times at DS assets are horrendous at present due to budget cuts. So when training cycles begin, armorers and Supply NCOs are stuck issuing weapons that haven’t been properly inspected at the 30 level for years in some cases. In any case, this ain’t Joe’s fault.

Stripped of the Army acronymese, Murray is saying the units are not getting the opportunity to have their weapons inspected pre- and post-deployment by expert direct-support or depot armorers and gunsmiths. So problems turn up in the range, when they would have been caught by a proper TI (technical inspection) at the -30 (direct support maintenance) level.

Which is frustrating to a unit that’s used some of its discretionary funds to bring in Kyle Defoor to train hundreds or at least dozens of soldiers (how does that even work?), and frustrating, obviously, to Defoor and his assistants.

How do you avoid this kind of problem with your firearm? Learn to inspect guns and parts, but also, be extremely judicious in your choice of parts.

27 thoughts on “Kyle Defoor Learns About Big Army Maintenance

  1. DSM

    If all the parts were traced back to possible ShotGun News specials that’s one thing but I’ve seen fresh from the factory Colt M4’s get sent back with QDR tags. All parts are not created equal and while the typical home-built or hobby AR will do just fine you shouldn’t be tempted to cut corners on a duty weapon.

    In the AF we only had three levels of maintenance; operator, sub-depot and depot. Operator is basic PMCS, sub-depot is anything and everything short of major overhaul and depot is everything else. Because small arms play such a minor, hated role in the AF it works out fairly well for the CATM shops in that a handful of people can service an entire installation’s weapon stocks. Pre-embark and post deployment inspections were a must.

  2. Boat Guy

    Having been a “School-Trained” Armorer back in the Dawn-of-Time I still have a nodding acquaintance with the Army system (Army and Marine Armorers trainde together at Aberdeen in those days) and in my subsequent career have learned that the “system” usually WILL work – if you FORCE it to do so. Unless you’ve got shortages in units which are actually in contact (in which case the SOF-default of lie/cheat/steal applies) you do the paperwork, identify the shortages and use the paperwork to beat folks over the head. You use your chain (if you don’t have the juice yourself) and their chain to make life miserable until the pogues DO THEIR JOBS. It’s as painful as writing proper evals/counseling sheets on your shitbirds to actually get rid of them rather than passing them onto someone else, but it’s the ONLY lasting way to solve the problem.

    1. Tim, '80s Mech Guy

      The out of channels availability of parts makes this worse, a good LGS will have all the parts you need let alone the urge to just click on Brownells, Midway or, God help us, the bargain basement parts places. Most of these offer various levels of quality. Misuse of “GI and Mil-Spec” dont help. You are probably better off with a paper pushing reluctant armorer than a “Gun Guy” who might talk someone into letting him tinker(in big army anyway), sort of like not wanting someone with too much imagination rigging chutes.

      1. Kirk

        One of the local gunshops has a guy working there who’s been floating around the local stores for at least a decade. And, he’s built and advised on God-knows-how-many AR-15s, over the years.

        Dude still doesn’t own a headspace gage, and the stores don’t stock ’em, or know where to get them, either. Every time I get a wild hare up my ass to build an upper, and might be interested in doing an impulse buy of the barrel and bolt from these guys, it founders on that whole “Hey, where do I get the gage from to check these…?” thing.

        I’ve been the guy sitting in the armorer’s chair on two ranges where weapons went “Boom” due to headspace and timing issues. Homey ain’t putting a weapon that hasn’t been gaged to his face, I’m afraid. When I finally do pull the trigger on building out these uppers, I’ll buy the whole shooting match from Brownells, or something.

        Some people’s children, I’m telling you… Every time I have this conversation with someone down there, they look at me like I’m speaking High Gibberish, or something: “I’ve never had a problem with just buying a bolt and a barrel… They’re all good…”.

        All I can say is, YEEESH.

          1. Kirk

            Oh, I know where to get them… I just don’t, because if I had them, then I’d want to use them, and… I don’t need to spend the money to put together another rifle I’m probably not going to have the time to shoot. The lack of a gage is a good financial discipline tool, in my case.

            Why the hell all these idiots around here are all building weapons without one? I don’t know–As the Poles put it, Nie moj cirque, nie moj mopty,…”. Or, in English: “Not my circus, not my monkeys…”.

        1. John Distai

          Umm, dumb question, but…if I have a factory built rifle and I buy a replacement bolt, do I need to go through this headspace checking?

          1. Kirk

            You should… The odds are, you’ll get away with not doing so.

            Unless, of course, you’re that one-in-every-few-hundred-or-so who has an out-of-spec barrel extension and/or chamber…

            I’m the kind of guy that the lords of chaos like to screw with, so I won’t fire a weapon I know hasn’t had its gaging. Your mileage almost certainly will vary.

            And, a gage is cheap enough: $23.00, or so, at Brownells.

            http://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-tools-supplies/measuring-tools/headspace-gauges/5-56mm-maximum-headspace-gauge-prod6646.aspx?avs|Cartridge_1=AKK_5xzzx56%20mm%20NATO

  3. W. Fleetwood

    A minor point,, but I’d suggest something like this:” The AR system will tolerate a lot of this but the amount is always indefinite, which is part of the problem. Rifle A may tolerate having everything but the frame mixmastered and still work like a charm, but Rifle B will choke on the first swipswap, and that’s using a part from the Milspec bins.” There is usually a good reason, and a horror story, behind what at first glance appears to be raving, clinical OCD in military support units,

  4. Kirk

    I doubt anyone had the imagination to go out on the economy and buy spare parts; SARP is so tightly controlled these days, and funding tracked with the credit cards. More than likely, this represents contamination of the Class 9 channels with fakes at a higher level than some supply sergeant would be able to influence. I could be wrong–Idiocy abounds.

    This is a sign of the biggest problem with Army weapons maintenance. There are no real armorers out there, and the guys like me who sucked up knowledge and did their best to run the arms rooms are few and far between. You can coach, teach, and mentor all you like, but when the commander insists on doing stupid shit like putting a random joe into the company armorer slot, doesn’t get him trained, provides no real supervision, and then expects things will just “work out”, shit like this results. A lot of the problem is that the majority focus of the job becomes physical security and accountability, with maintenance coming in a very distant third or fourth priority. The Arms Room is probably the most neglected end of the unit maintenance program, and it is mind-boggling the amount of sheer incompetence you’re likely to find down at that level. You can’t part time the armorer job, making a part of the supply clerk’s mission, and expect things to end well.

    Could go onandonandonandon about this, but we’re not running a symposium for company commanders or people supervising arms rooms. Let’s just say that the Army system sucks serious, serious ass, and leave it at that. I’m really surprised more commanders don’t wind up in jail or fired over their arms rooms operations, but that’s probably because they manage to miss nine-tenths of what goes on in them. Fuck, I saw missing weapons go through multiple change-of-command processes, and nobody ever noticed they didn’t actually exist anymore…

  5. Gray

    C’mon gentlemen, this is no big deal. There are much more important issues that must be addressed and remediated: Altogether now, with gusto: Wymmin and Diversity!!!

    1. Pete

      I’ll bet this unit is good to go on its SHARP, EO, and Resiliency training though…

    1. Kirk

      Per what I was told, the Euro penchant for serial numbers on parts was meant to keep hand-fit parts together, in order to prevent problems with fit and things like headspace. If the part had a serial, or a partial serial on it, that meant that it had been hand-fit to the parent gun, and was not supposed to be transferred or swapped around. It was also supposed to help out when doing mass-cleanings.

      That’s one thing that always drove me nuts, which was that there was never a designed-in barrel/bolt marking system required on fixed-headspace weapons. Mix up your bolts? Call third-shop, ‘cos you need a mass gaging, now. At a minimum, I think there should have been a built-in flat on the bolt and the barrel extensions on the M16 so that the assembly guy/girl could have electro-penciled at least a partial serial number. Same-same with the M60, and everything else with a fixed headspace subject to wear.

      Interesting thing I have been told, that I’m not really sure about the veracity of: Supposedly, every MG3 barrel in the German inventory can interchange. No need to worry about headspace, ever. I’ve asked, and I’m still not sure how the hell they make that happen, other than with draconian policies on gaging and discarding worn barrels and parts, but it’s supposedly a thing. Which blows my mind–I knew a guy who’s a genius with the MG42s here in the US, and I distinctly remember him talking about his issues with keeping his guns headspaced, and what a pain in the ass it was. But, modern German soldiers swear to me that they don’t have an issue with headspace on the MG3, and that any MG3 barrel can go into any other MG3… Which seems like a logistical miracle.

      1. Arturo

        I have heard the same thing, headspace was a real issue and probably a primary reason. The is thing, hand fit can mean different things to different people. German armourers had blank bolts in their equipment and they would chuck bolts that would headspace, but didn’t meet a certain engagement. Which I believe was 60%. Stocks, barrel bands, and the like would interchange and function as well. Now due to the way the rifles were basically hand made, if they do all match there is an increase in precision. There are german acceptance manuals floating around detailing the how, where, and which for an acceptable rifle. According to records, average MOA for rifles was 1-2, which doesn’t sound too bad to me.

        I haven’t heard good things about the MG42, I saw an interview with a soldier who served on the eastern front who complained on how hard it was to keep them running. The littlest of dust would ready it inoperable. I have also heard how the rollers wear the extensions out with the only stop gap being to replace the rollers with larger ones until you replace the barrel. Imagine all those spare barrels. How did they keep all those straight? The swiss even have special screw in roller interface on the STG-57 to deal with it for accuracy purposes. I guess german quality control has finally got its act together with the MG3

  6. Big Country

    Currently (at least til August 1st… I’m a contractor) I’m working as a certified 91F Small Arms Repairman for the 81st RSC for the Army Reserve. We do all 23&P TIs for the various units, both pre-deployment and post deployment. Biggest issue that I’ve seen so far in this post Iraq/Afghan shutdown phase is a failure at the 30 Level at the redeployment shops to actually perform their jobs and missions.

    To whit: We did an MP Company recently returned from a one year mission in Baghram, and all of their M-249s had been sent for “RESET” at Ft Bliss. RESET being what I understand to be a 30 level complete Technical Inspection (including Gauging), Cleaning, Repair, Testing and Re-fielding to the Unit. We were called in by the Unit Motor SGT (Motor Sgts are now in charge of all Maintenance for the Reserve, and usually wear the alternate hat of Unit Armorer as well) to TI at our level to Certify the weapons as “G-t-G” for a range.

    On checking out these things, the first question that popped into my head was “What the hell did they do with them?” Nothing cleaned. Beat on. No spare barrels. Broken parts. Generally beat to shit and looked it. My guess? The Contractor supplying services @ Bliss opened the Connex they were shipped in, looked, said “Yep… thems is M-249s” and then shipped them back to the unit. No way in HELL were they touched. I’d stake my career on it. (Probably am if they read this)

    Unfortunately it’s the nature of the beast… minimum labor for maximum profit. Considering almost NO ONE is held officially accountable adds to the problem. Same goes for all the other weapons systems too… Jacked Up Shmacked Up and Out of Spec like a mother… one way I can tell if a Unit didn’t get properly RESET is that their M-4s and M-16A2s are still decked in “Pimp my carbine” nonissue parts like MagPuls and other such ephemera… I have quite a collection of this crap as I get to pick and choose to keep it when I have to replace it all as “Joe” rarely kept the original piece he yanked off downrange…

    Someone really needs to look at the 30 level at the main depots, as they’re the ones who leave it to us overworked (and soon to be out of contract) Small Arms Repair guys who work out of an AMSA (Area Maintenance Support Activity) to fix all this crap… Just my 2 Cents… and as far as Colt versus “Others” I’ve worked on primarily Colt and FN systems, but have even seen the occasional still functioning GM made Hydromatic lowers (1968-1973 I think was the contract for those) which means THOSE are still kicking after 45+ years, and 3 to 4 iteration/modifications… Personally, I think the worst of the lot is the early model FNs with “dot matrix” engraving… poor finish, usually bad headspace and I’ve replaced entire uppers due to wear and tear…

  7. Miles

    So things really haven’t changed.

    Man, this how I saw most units play the game from even a 1/4 century ago.
    I don’t know how many times, in the 3 different shops I was in, we always almost begged the unit armorers to bring their weapons down to our shop. It seemed like they were peeved to do this, like it cut into their personal time or something.

    I say most because all my active duty unit’s weapons were in the best condition possible. It certainly helped to be the 3rd shop.

    For the last years before I retired?
    Well, …life was even more wonderful for a smallarms repairer.

    1. Kirk

      “I don’t know how many times, in the 3 different shops I was in, we always almost begged the unit armorers to bring their weapons down to our shop. It seemed like they were peeved to do this, like it cut into their personal time or something.”

      See, right there? That’s a prime reason I think we need to step back, and re-work our entire personnel system. How the hell can you be effective at supporting a unit when you don’t even begin to understand the issues they are dealing with?

      Believe me, I feel your pain. Getting the guys out on the line is a gargantuan pain in the ass. But, having done the job they’re doing, I know precisely why it is that it is so hard to get them to “do the right thing” and bring the weapons over to 3rd shop. The biggest problem isn’t the actual armorers, although those can be some obtuse mofo’s–It is the commanders and the XOs. Nobody ever taught them what the hell goes into running an arms room, they know very little about weapons, and all the maintenance training they’ve ever had is purely vehicle-centric. And, the incentive system is perverse beyond imagining–As a commander, you’re never, ever going to get in trouble for weapons maintenance issues. That’s so rare as to be in the Dodo classification. What you are going to get in trouble for is weapons accountability, and surrounding paperwork issues. Believe me, I know–I used to inspect arms rooms, and the few times I found maintenance issues that were so egregious that I couldn’t look the other way and drop a hint to my peers over at the BMO, the commanders would always be like “Are all the weapons there? Oh, they are? OK, no problem, then…”. I’d always wind up leaving the office, muttering under my breath about “Dude, you’re undeployable right now, and you can’t even take your shit to a range… You’ve known this for weeks, too, and done nothing about it… By rights, you ought to be relieved of command…”. They never were.

      The Army, I’m afraid, is not really an armed force in the classical sense. Instead, it’s morphed into some kind of half-ass bureaucracy with guns, and the weapons are not a focus, they’re an afterthought at best.

      I mean, come on now–Why is it that I had to explain the basics of how guns work, every time I had a problem with them, to the commanders and officers? I can think of only a very few officers I knew who were even slightly clueful about firearms–The rest? Sweet Jebus, come take me now…

      You just haven’t lived until you’ve tried explaining to some genius company commander why the hell it was a bad idea for him to dump every M16, M4, M249, and M60 bolt into a bag and carry it separately on the aircraft. Or, why you flatly refuse to participate in any actual, y’know, firing of the company weapons, and why you’re filling out a Memorandum For Record while you’re talking to him. This is no shit–I had that exact scene take place when I was going to JROTC as an augmentee, and it took me finding a small arms warrant officer down at Chaffee to personally come over and tell that captain what a thundering dunderheaded idiot he was, and to get the mass gaging done that his brilliance required. We were two days late going into the box, and that somehow became my fault…

      Swear to God, sometimes I think we’d be better off if we just fired about 90% of the leadership cadre, and started over with the mentally handicapped. At least, they’re trainable, and stay trained.

  8. Docduracoat

    I am amazed to hear that it is a bad idea to replace a ” new bolt for a worn one unless you also replace the barrel extension”.
    As a gun nut for the past 20 years, I have broken AR bolts (usually a lug breaks off) after shooting several thousand rounds.
    I always thought the bolt was an expendable part, to be replaced when needed.
    My Colt Sporter lightweight in 7.62 x 39 took 10 years of heavy use maybe between 9,000 to 10,000 rounds before a bolt lug broke off.
    It uses a 5.56 bolt with the face widened to accept 7.62 x 39 so it is weaker than a normal 5.56 bolt.
    Colt would not sell me another x39 bolt, so I bought a “super bolt” from another company.
    It’s been a year and another case of Tula is gone and it is chugging along just fine.
    I would trust my life to that Colt.
    Or to my wife’s Bushmaster in 5.56

    1. Miles

      What you have to worry about is the extent of wear of, or damage to, the locking lugs in the barrel extension when a bolt goes south since the lugs that are undamaged, on both sides of the equation now are subjected to greater straight line as well as skew stresses until the defect is discovered.

      Gaging headspace of the new set up is required, but you have to closely inspect the extension lugs and it ain’t easy.
      Uncle doesn’t care about replacing a barrel extension. If it’s got a problem, the solution is a whole new barrel.

    2. Kirk

      You’ll get away with just swapping bolts, and never have a problem for about 99.9% of the time. The problem is, when that bolt and barrel extension don’t like each other, and fail catastrophically, it’s not a minor affair. You won’t be likely to see that when you’re just running your personal guns, but when you’re managing and maintaining a fleet of over a hundred, the odds that someone is going to be removing a bolt carrier from their shoulder becomes a hell of a lot more likely.

      I still don’t know for sure what happened, on that one–It wasn’t one of my guns, but it was on the range with my company. Knowing the armorer the way I did, just about anything was possible, but they wrote it off to “ungaged weapon, mis-headspaced bolt”. From what it did, I have to wonder if it wasn’t also at least partially a misloaded cartridge, and what happened came from a detonation instead of a deflagration of the propellant. Because, when the bolt carrier shoots back through the buffer spring tube and shears off the carrier key on the way, to go almost all the way out the back of the buffer tube and most of the way through someone’s shoulder? That’s pretty damn out of the ordinary, and not what I’ve seen happen before with other headspace issues. They damn sure blamed it on the headspacing, though…

      And, that, my friends is a lesson for those of you still in the Army: When shit goes south, the ensuing investigation tends to ground itself out through the first mistake or omission the investigator finds surrounding the incident. That’s almost a law of nature, my friends, and why the actual proximate cause of the issue is never held responsible for what they did, when it’s a people problem. Did Private Jones decide to get back at his squad leader by taking his weapon and hiding it in the woods, hoping to take it home when his chapter was finished? Oh, of course that wasn’t Private Jones’s fault, that’s the clear responsibility of the company commander, first sergeant, and XO, who allowed an arms room system to develop where one person signed out multiple weapons for cleaning…

      Saw that one happen. Three careers severely truncated, and not a goddamn thing was done to the POS chapter case who was the actual guilty party. It all came down to the multiple-weapons thing, and the fact that they didn’t have a valid, signed Statement of Understanding about proper weapons accountability procedures from the POS.

      Personally, if I’d been running things, he would have gotten a bullet in the back of his head in front of a battalion formation, delivered by one of his NCOs. But, I’m an asshole.

  9. Pete

    Having seen a few recent years of Big Army weapons maintenance, here are a few observations:
    – A common conception is that 10 level doesn’t allow any maintenance that might require a tool, to include using a wrench to remove a 240 flash hider IOT install a BFA in one case.
    – 20 level armorers in my experience do inventory and security. They know nothing of weapons maintenance beyond cleaning. A roll pin? might as well be a tool for baking bread. A bore scope? Those are for zeroing, right?
    – 30 level maintainers know how to replace parts but have no way to track round counts of weapons, no bore scopes to check gas port or throat erosion, don’t make a habit of go/no-going bbls/bolts, almost never replace buffer springs, never replace M4/M16 front sight posts (gas port erosion), almost never replace extractors or extractor springs, and replace gas rings only when so worn they basically move freely. Generally things go off visual inspection rather than actual gauging. For instance gas rings are checked by placing a BCG bolt side down and seeing if the bolt no longer provides resistance. I’m not saying they can’t do it, but they tend to have a lot of guns to go through and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Of course, “ain’t broke” simply means no one reported it broken and Joe knows so little about how his weapon works his diagnosis boils down to “it jams alot” which the 20 level dismisses and the 30 level never hears about…

    Bottom line, I think Big Green would be well served by these new pistol grip mounted gyroscopic round counting systems and a regime of round-count driven parts replacement.

    1. Big Country

      On your commentary vis-a-vis the 30 level TIs… speaking from experience (and maybe I’m the exception rather than the rule) but I replace EVERYTHING on a level to the point units HATE calling me in. Mind you this is the Army Reserve, and NOT Active Duty. I regularly deadline the hell out of the weapons for Gas Rings, Loose Carrier Keys, Buffer Springs AND surprisingly we actually have a borescope that we use regularlly as well.

      The problem is that I find is that AFTER I do a Technical Inspection is getting the Units to resubmit Work Orders for the REPAIRS. THAT is one of the major problems. To break it down the way things work is
      1) The Unit submits Work Orders for us to come out and do the Technical Inspections. WE travel to THEM as the reserves do NOT have a proper Arms Room for us to store/recieve weapons at our AMSA Shop. (They keep promising that one of these days but it aint happening soon)
      2) We pack our crap and lug a huge toolbox to the unit. Depending on Weapons Density, we usually need a week to do a MP Company (highest amount of weapons) properly. Average Weapons we can TI PROPERLY in a day is 6-8 M-249s, or 15-20 M-16A2s… you get the idea… .50s done right? about 4 a day. The more detailed the weapon, the more time it takes. The system we work with FLMS (Fleet Management Maintennece System Software) delegates 45 minutes per weapon for intitial inspection, testing, and final inspection. Like I said, time intensive.
      3) On completing the inspection, we give the unit our “Deadline report w/ a list of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Its up to them to get us the repair work orders as we ARE NOT authorized to open work orders for repairs. (We USED to have a small stash of small parts (front sights, roll pins, and bolt rings and a few carrier keys but we got busted on our last inspection and they took away our spares stash as we aren’t supposed to have ANY spares… another rant for another time)
      4) Only once we get the repair orders do we actually order the parts, and once they come in, we reschedule a “Repair Visit” to fix whats broke.

      Wash Rinse Repeat.

      One of the issues is that these guys, depending on the unit, have the attitude of “OK… as long as we aren’t missing anything” and don’t care about the Maintenence… The BEST units are the ones who monitor our work while we’re there and actually hand us a pile of the Repair workorders as we’re getting done… Unfortunately, these units are few and far between…

  10. Bronson

    We need a cultural shift in the Army.

    Weapons Maintenance needs to be redefined. “Inspection, cleaning, and periodic parts replacement.”

    Weapons need to have accurate round counts. This needs to be pushed down to the lowest level where every Soldier is trained and then held accountable for their weapon system and its performance. While I would love for every gun to have 2x BHI Weapons Log Books, I know money is an issue – Joe can put all of that info in his leader book.

    There needs to be better methods for inspection, testing, and function checking for parts. These need to be included in modern FM/TM’s so that institutional knowledge isn’t lost and you can articulate what you’re doing , why, and be able to reference it doctrinally. There are commercial and company armorer courses that are leaps and bounds more informative and hands-on than ATRRS armorer courses.

    Weapons need life cycles. Vehicles, commo, medical, et al have life cycles – why not weapons?

    Units need a pool of spare weapon systems to issue out immediately as replacements in the event of a weapon becoming Non-Mission Capable (NMC). This needs to be pushed down to the Small Unit Level.

    Units need a pool of spare parts to issue out immediately as replacements in the event of a parts failure. This needs to be pushed down to the Small Unit Level.

    Accuracy testing needs to be performed for gauging barrel life, as opposed to using GO/NO-GO Gauges that do not accurately measure weapon precision.

    End Users need to be able to better draft requirements. GPF still has a 7″ non-free floated rail, stock trigger, and flashlights are typically issued only for RFI. It’s 2015 – we’ve learned many things after a decade of war. Let the Materiel of DOTMLPF show that.

    Weapons need to be overhauled prior to deployment, and function checked that they work.

    TACOM needs to stay in their lane and realize they can only offer guidance. Title X clearly articulates Commanders authority.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Great comment, as have been many in this thread. This blog is often more educational for me than I expected it to be, and this is a case in point.

  11. Tennessee Budd

    A lot of good info here, but what led me to comment was learning that they still use that green/white alternating paper. I remember my orders out of Basic in ’88 being printed on that stuff. Hell, folded thrice it would’ve stopped a .25 (but what won’t?).

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