Firearms Training: Fundamentally Sound
with Chris Cerino
Basic requirements for officer-owned carbine rifles
Who can deny the many benefits of carbines in police work? They are light weight, light recoiling, adjustable, high capacity, long range, accurate and with proper training, very easy to operate. A fair adage would be to say that anyone who doesn’t have a carbine is looking for one, and anyone who has one, is looking for another one. Stores can’t keep them on the shelves and high-end carbines are selling more and more because the end users are becoming educated in the benefits of a well-built machine.
Over the years I’ve trained a lot of people in the use of the carbine. People often ask me, “What is your carbine class like?”
I tell them that it is exactly like my pistol class except with a carbine. It focuses on weapon familiarization, handling, and manipulation skills, as well as the fundamentals of marksmanship as they pertain to the system. With these skills and some continuing education in the carbine, officers are able to solve incidents without having to worry about the function of the gun.
People often ask me about my opinion on personally-owned carbines for police officers. I feel strongly that any officer who wants to own his or her own carbine should be permitted to do so. Of course, if I managed the range program, I would also set parameters so that the weapons they use are ensured to be safe and reliable.
There are so many quality carbines on the market today that any of them will meet an officer’s needs. This day and age sees more carbines produced at a higher rate, by a larger variety of manufacturers than any other time in our history. Almost any manufacturer can have a problem with a gun at any time. That can happen with anything. However, over all the years of teaching and the many guns I have seen come through training, I have come to some educated conclusions about what makes a poor choice for a patrol carbine.
The guns I see that usually fail are ones that are cobbled together by mixing and matching the cheapest of available parts from a variety of manufacturers. They are often poorly armored and/or assembled incorrectly. The guns that fail may be a quality gun that was tampered with to make it “better.”
Many a time I have seen an officer spend all the money he has on the rifle and then put the most inexpensive accessories on it. Remember that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If you have bought a flat top carbine and then put a $95 red dot sight on it, you’ve reduced the operation value of the weapon to that sight.
Carbines are all the rage these days in law enforcement, and many of the officers I train ask me what my ideal patrol carbine would be.
My patrol carbine is a basic entry model with iron sights, a small rail piece for a white light, a fixed skeleton stock, and a two point quick adjust sling. It is light, reliable, and ready to rock with the sling masking taped to the hand guard for quick deployment. No adjustments, nothing that can render it useless. If I had some extra money, I would have one of the new long life red dot sights — one that I could leave on and simply change the battery ever year on my birthday. One side note here: Red dots are really fast but they don’t compensate for your inability to apply the fundamentals.
Back to personally-owned patrol carbines. The reasons I like the idea are few but strong.
An officer who wants a personally-owned carbine will usually carry it with him on patrol. This officer will likely be more familiar with it and have confidence in its ability and therefore be more likely to deploy it at an appropriate incident. Lastly, they will more likely clean and maintain a personal gun (I’ve seen my share of bagged trunk guns, all banged around and neglected).
Parameters for a personally-owned Carbine
• A quality upper and lower appropriately matched
• A quality set of iron sights, front and rear
• A white light mounted in a solid and functional location
• A quality, simple-to-use sling
Personally-owned weapons would be subject to inspections for function and reliability. The range master or instructors responsible for these inspections should attend a quality armorers program. A solid armorers program does more than just show a person how to disassemble and reassemble a weapon system. It should teach trouble shooting, problem areas to inspect, maintenance intervals, common problems and solutions.
A good armorers program should show how to replace a barrel and the proper reinstallation and timing of the barrel nut.
An agency armorer should be able to open a weapon up and, for the most part, visually verify that the various component groups are assembled correctly. The reason that the above listed topics should be in an armorers program is simple. The AR15 / M16 platform is the most widely used and highly customizable weapon system on the market Officers will want to customize their rifles and a qualified armorer should be on hand to facilitate this.
Changing sights, hand-guards, gas blocks, bolts and carriers, grips, stocks, and even barrels are all reasonable modifications when done with quality parts, proper tools and solid knowledge.
I’d like to talk next time about running the carbine and the training required to be a competent operator. It’s doesn’t take much, just a solid, knowledgeable approach.
Until next time...