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11 July 2010, 11:14 #1Distinguished Member
- Join Date
- Aug 2007
Principles Of Troubleshooting And The AR15
Principles Of Troubleshooting And The AR15
Developing good troubleshooting skills can be indispensable in maintaining your AR15 and ensuring you get the most from your range time with the weapon. Let’s take a look at some of the keys to effective AR15 troubleshooting as well as the Principles Of Troubleshooting.
Troubleshooting is a method of reviewing a mechanical system in order to identify the cause of a system failure so that a corrective action can be applied returning the system to service. A basic knowledge of system operation is fundamental in not only identifying the failure, but finding the appropriate corrective action.
Once the failure has been identified, system knowledge and previous experience step in to find the most probable cause of the failure and to determine which corrective action is required. Often times in more complex systems, the process of elimination is needed to separate portions of the system known to be in working order. This can help to narrow down and isolate the faulty portion of the system.
After the corrective action has been applied, verification through operational or functional checks should determine if the identified cause of the system failure has been corrected.
Where To Begin
As I mentioned above, a basic knowledge of system operation is fundamental in identification of the failure. Having an understanding of how the system operates and how individual components interact with each other is the foundation to building good troubleshooting skills.
The building of this foundation can be accomplished in many ways. A few examples would be:
- Studying technical data such as:
- Army TM 9-1005-319-23&P Unit And Direct Support Maintenance Manual
- TM 9-1005-319-10 Operators Manual
- FM 3-22.9 Rifle Marksmanship
- Through many of the Build-It Yourself type publications for sale, written by any one of the numerous industry professionals.
- If financially feasible, signing up for an industry sponsored armorer’s course.
- Subscribing to monthly magazines related to the AR15.
- Joining a reputable AR15 internet forum where valuable information can be gained from skilled and experienced Industry Professionals as well as experienced builders and shooters.
- And of course the experience of simply building your own AR15.
Identifying The Discrepancy
Applying good troubleshooting skills enables the AR15 owner to take a look at the weapon’s discrepancy and then break the weapon down into individual components, isolating one component at a time in the system, until the faulty component is identified. This process of elimination can often times be sped up if a known serviceable weapon is available where components can be robbed or swapped in order to narrow down the faulty component.
If too many components from a known serviceable weapon are robbed or swapped in order to narrow down the faulty component, this can hinder the fault finding process. In aviation maintenance (my profession for the past 25+ years) this practice of swapping out too many known serviceable components is termed “Shot Gunning A Problem”.
If “Shot Gun” type troubleshooting techniques are used, the component which actually remedies the discrepancy may never be known to the troubleshooter.
“Shot Gun” type troubleshooting techniques can also cost the AR owner extra money. If multiple components are simply purchased and replaced, rather than correctly troubleshot, these purchases can quickly add up. In this day and age with the economic situation the country is in, and the price of ammunition, the money used towards these unnecessary purchases could surely be put to better uses elsewhere.
“Shot Gun” type troubleshooting techniques also rob the AR owner of the valuable experience gained in utilizing proper troubleshooting techniques. The next time this type of discrepancy surfaces, the AR owner will be right back at square one, having lacked the necessary experience in troubleshooting that particular problem his first go-around.
Zeroing In On The Problem
Maintenance manuals such as the aforementioned Army TM 9-1005-319-23&P Unit And Direct Support Maintenance Manual, contain specific troubleshooting charts outlining some of the most often encountered discrepancies, their probable causes and their necessary corrective actions. These are of course the most basic discrepancies and there will be the occasion when a problem will arise that the chart does not cover.
AR15 Familiarization- Getting Back To The Basics
Getting to the basics takes us back to the building of that basic knowledge foundation of the AR15. Again, you need to have a basic understanding of how the weapon functions, and how the individual components interact with each other. Just because you are working on what you think is a gas system related discrepancy, don’t overlook other components that can have that same affect on the system.
For example, a weapon that is exhibiting signs of short stroking can usually be identified with a lack of gas system pressure. But don’t rule out the mechanical side of the weapon as well. Make sure you keep all these probable causes in mind.
Take your approach to troubleshooting with one component at a time. Starting at one end of the system, using the process of elimination, systematically eliminate all the components that you for a fact know are serviceable and correctly installed. Focus your troubleshooting efforts. Eliminate one component at a time until the discrepancy is found. Crack open the TM. Use the troubleshooting charts available to help get you to the corrective action faster.
Relying On Others For Experience And Answers
It can be very helpful to rely on the experience of others. Finding a reputable AR15 website, enlist the on-line help of Industry Professionals or experienced builders and shooters in finding solutions to tackling those tuff troubleshooting problems. You personally may be at wits end and have never seen a particular problem before, but I can guarantee you there are others who have.
A lot of times the maintenance manual can be helpful and will give you a good basic starting point towards finding the solution to your problem. But there are always those rare causes to a problem that can only be answered and corrected through previous hands-on experience. And that experience won’t be found in any maintenance manual or publication.
Tips For Enlisting On-line Help From Others
Using an example from my profession, aviation maintenance, clear communication is essential, and can be the key to quickly identifying and resolving a troubleshooting problem. If a pilot does not accurately document in his log book, the problem he encountered with his aircraft, this simply compounds and severely delays the whole troubleshooting process. This also holds true when enlisting on-line troubleshooting help from others.
When describing your troubleshooting problem on-line, try to be as precise as possible. A few key points that can help others narrow down your problem might be:
- Are you the original owner of the weapon?
- Did the previous owner mention problems with the weapon?
- Did you build the weapon yourself?
- Give a detailed list of the components used to build the weapon.
- Give a detailed description of the methods used during assembly. Did you deviate from standard practices? Use alternate methods or substitute special tooling?
- List the magazines used in the weapon.
- List the ammunition used in the weapon.
- List any previous work recently done to the weapon.
- And lastly, as stated above, give a description, as accurate as possible, detailing the exact symptoms the weapon is exhibiting.
Your Chance To Help
Below is a basic troubleshooting chart compiled from the various M16 and AR15 tech documents I have collected over the years. In addition to the basic discrepancies and corrective actions, I have added to the chart those discrepancies and corrective actions encountered over the years through on-line troubleshooting help.
I would like to enlist the help of our Industry Professionals and Weapon Evolution members in adding to this list. My intent is to make this troubleshooting chart the most comprehensive available to date.
If you have a personal item you wish to add to the list, please post it in the thread linked below. Provide some background history behind the defect and what lead you to the corrective action. Let me know under which category you would like your defect posted and I will then edit and add it to the list.
12 July 2010, 18:18 #2Distinguished Member
- Join Date
- Aug 2007