AR-15 Armorers Course – Semper Paratus Arms in Alaska
Sometimes it seems that getting specialized training for people up here in Alaska can be difficult, to say the least. In light of this, I was excited to see that William Larson from Semper Paratus Arms was to travel from Arizona up to Alaska to conduct a two-day AR-15 armorers course for this pattern of rifle.
Will is a veteran of both the U.S Army and U.S Coast Guard. Having completed a deployment to the Middle East in support of operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom in 2005, Will entered into the private sector working in Iraq and Afghanistan as an armorer/instructor for several large private military companies supporting the Department of Defense and the Department of State. Giving him more credibility to teach an AR-15 armorers course, he has attended and completed numerous factory armorer courses from such companies as Beretta, Barrett, Colt, Dillon Aero, FNHUSA, Glock, Knights’ Armament, Remington, and SigSauer. The course is prepared and given by Will and is recognized by AZPOST for law enforcement agencies.
Many companies that support an AR-15 armorers course for this rifle system only make it available to military or law enforcement professionals. With the AR-15 rifle being the most popular firearm in America today, there are many civilians who are interested in expanding their knowledge on the subject to not only learn exactly how their rifle is operating but also how to troubleshoot issues that might arise. Because the rifle is so modular, there are also a ton of people wrenching on their rifles and not necessarily doing it correctly. Learning from someone who has spent a considerable amount of their adult life in a military armorer capacity can be valuable.
I know what you’re thinking….”Can’t I just learn from videos on YouTube?”. My answer to that is ‘yes’ and ‘NO!’ Yes, you can get a basic understanding on where the parts go and get a basic feel for how to install these parts, but there is no replacement for hands-on experience with someone who can show what works, what doesn’t, and how to properly overcome common problems. I have been dedicated to learning about the AR-15 for the past 4 years, reading books, building complete rifles, complete lowers and doing various other small jobs, and was still doing a few small things incorrectly. I feel that if Bravo Company USA trusted him to build rifles for them, I felt that I could learn a thing or two from him during his AR-15 armorers course.
Day one of the course started with introductions that rolled right into parts nomenclature along with cycle of operation and the differences in various parts from different manufacturers. Many people are living in a haze of ‘parts are parts’. This could not be more incorrect. I started where everyone seems to start when diving into this world of ‘lego guns’ and obviously wanted to spend as little as possible to get what I thought I wanted. The deeper I dove, the faster I came to the realization that ordering quality parts from reputable manufacturers is paramount to starting down the road of building a rifle with rugged reliability that will serve you for many decades to come.
We began practicing dis-assembly of the lower receiver after some fairly in-depth discussion on gas port diameter, the effects that it has on your firearm and how the weight of the carrier and buffer can affect reliability and functionality. These are some of the things that I feel are often over-looked when regarding purchase for the casual rifle ‘builder’. Knowing when things are in or out of specification and knowing which companies are highly regarded in producing on-spec parts is worth the extra effort in your search for quality pieces/parts.
After we set the foundation on how the rifle is to operate, had a grasp on the cycle of operation, and dove into the physics and geometry behind the relationship between the safety selector, trigger, disconnector, and hammer, it was now time to look at how all that information added up to proper troubleshooting. We were given real-world problems that Will had seen first-hand to see if we could accurately diagnose what was wrong in the given scenario.
It was now time to dive into the upper receiver group assembly. Will gave us tricks on installation of the forward assist assembly, the ejection port cover, and thoroughly went over the proper method for torquing the barrel nut. These aren’t incredibly difficult tasks, but just being shown a few handy little tips/tricks from someone who has done anything 1,000 times is generally when you should pay attention.
The last day rounded off with a knowledge test to see if we had retained the information that was presented to us over the previous two days. I’ve taken a few shooting courses and now this armorers course, expanding my knowledge not only on how to shoot these firearms but also how to properly maintain and repair them as well. What is certain is that these are an investment in your skills and I feel that investing in life skills are never a waste of money. Yes, it can be expensive and the first thing you think of ‘I could use this money for more gear/ammo/etc’…which is also true. What I have found, and any friend of mine that I convince to take these courses can agree, is that all of these courses are a simple case of ‘you don’t know what you don’t know”. After seeing the amount of information that is distributed to you at a rapid pace it is apparent that the companies that are giving these classes are trying to give you your moneys worth.
You may think you know everything there is to know, but there’s always room to improve your knowledge and skill-set on any subject. Will is planning on returning to Alaska and if you have any other questions on scheduling or if you can take advantage of him coming back up, shoot him a line on the Semper Paratus Arms Facebook page.
For more information on upcoming training courses such as this one, please ‘like’ our Facebook page and we will keep it updated with announcements for training.