Do you make the mistake of relying on one gun?

Equipment fails. Usually at the worst conceivable moment as evidenced by the fact that I’m writing this from my wife’s laptop. Mine kicked the bucket.

Convenient.

I wish my laptop was the only thing that failed me recently. Almost two months ago I wrote about how to prepare for a carbine course. I was preparing for a course I took a little over a week ago, a combined pistol/carbine class taught by Larry Vickers.

As part of my own preparation I had been familiarizing myself with my go-to rifle; making sure I had it zeroed and could make good hits quickly with my new Aimpoint Pro. Everything was working well; when I did my part I was shooting ragged holes at 25meters.

And then something happened.

A little heat and my rifle suddenly opened up to 8.5×11 size groups.

It definitely was the rifle. More specifically, it seems that it was the barrel. I removed the barrel and shipped it back to the manufacturer, CMMG. Long story short, the barrel was bad and produced poor groups for them as well. They ended up shipping me a complete upper to replace it. CMMG definitely stands behind their products.

In the meantime, being very short on time, I ordered a brand new Daniel Defense barrel. The barrel came in with a week to go before the class, as did the new Troy MRF-DI Battle Rail I ordered. Unfortunately I could not install the rail on the rifle. After spending a huge amount of time on the phone with both Daniel Defense and Troy it appears that the rail was out of spec.

As a result I had to overnight some plastic handguards to be up and running in time for the class, and took some time off work mid-week to zero and verify function of my rifle before the class. Everything worked fine and thankfully I got through the class without a hiccup.

What can we learn from my month of equipment failures?

I certainly learned a few lessons, the most important being that one is none. Backups are a good thing. If I had another rifle in a workable configuration I would have been good to go without the last minute parts shuffle. Don’t rely on one piece of equipment if you can avoid it.

The next most important lesson is avoid buying parts for a rifle under a time crunch. No one local ever seems to stock what you need, and most online distributors are out of stock on 50% of their merchandise at any given moment. If you need to build or buy a rifle for a class, make sure you do it months ahead of time. Invariably something will go wrong and you’ll need the time to sort it out. If you’re luckier than I am, you don’t have anything to lose by gearing up early.

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