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Thread: Department Issue/Authorized RDS

  1. #1
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    Department Issue/Authorized RDS

    My former department strictly prohibited officers from modifying or repairing duty firearms. Only armorers or sometimes instructors were permitted to work on firearms beyond field stripping and cleaning. While officers could attach lights, red dot sights, and slings to rifles (if there were no modification to the weapon itself), these attachments were to be approved by an instructor or armorer.

    That said, mounting, maintaining, and even changing the batteries on a pistol-mounted RDS seems vastly more complex than screwing an EOTech on an AR-15. Is there an agreed upon best practice for this? Do agencies train officers in these skillsets or do armorers/instructors have to deal with these issues?

    Thanks and be safe.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by jnc36rcpd View Post
    My former department strictly prohibited officers from modifying or repairing duty firearms. Only armorers or sometimes instructors were permitted to work on firearms beyond field stripping and cleaning. While officers could attach lights, red dot sights, and slings to rifles (if there were no modification to the weapon itself), these attachments were to be approved by an instructor or armorer.

    That said, mounting, maintaining, and even changing the batteries on a pistol-mounted RDS seems vastly more complex than screwing an EOTech on an AR-15. Is there an agreed upon best practice for this? Do agencies train officers in these skillsets or do armorers/instructors have to deal with these issues?

    Thanks and be safe.
    There are several agencies that have gone down this path already.....some more wisely than others. Especially on this forum, your best source of this info is gonna be @SoCalDep. They've done yeomans work on figuring out the proper how-to's of a PMO Program. Hopefully he chimes in.....if he can take time away from putting guns in freezers for fun.

  3. #3
    Member SoCalDep's Avatar
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    My department has a similar policy regarding modifications to firearms. One of the few exceptions is that we do allow our people to change their sights. When we first started our optic program we allowed the user to mount their optic, or they could bring it to us on the first day of class and we mounted the optic for them.

    By that time we'd been using 36 optics among the various subgroups of the weapons training unit with round counts ranging from a few hundred to almost 40,000. We only had two optics come loose, and we didn't know what we didn't know.

    Once we started to see the trends in mounting failures as more and more people started coming through the class (it's a 1,000 - 1,200 round class so if there's a problem we often see it during the class - but not always) we started looking into best practices. There had already been several discussions here on PF and after talking to several people including @Wayne Dobbs, consulting with a mechanical engineer, and experimenting with different methods and products, we came to what we think is a good mounting procedure to minimize problems. The procedure has been revised a couple times, once specifically because of input from a member of this forum who suggested test-fitting the screws and plates and such to make sure everything fits before going too far in the process.

    We tracked information about the implementation of the program last year, sent surveys to participants, tracked scores during the class and on a mandated later date, and did a bunch of research, testing, and experimentation. We tested aftermarket screws from McMaster-Carr (and are still testing stainless steel versions) and found them to be at least as good if not better than those provided by most manufacturers. This testing involved firing 10,000 rounds through a pistol with an optic mounted with the screws, corrosion testing, and various other procedures that I won't bore you with.

    All that to say we learned from our mistakes and the experiences of the participants in the program and narrowed most mounting failures to failure of the thread-locker. This included not using any threadlocker, using products that suck, not putting the threadlocker where it needed to be, using too much (especially in the case of Vibratite VC-3), not allowing it to cure, and not removing oil, solvent, or grease from the interacting components prior to assembly.

    When it comes to optics we don't have the compressive force as if we were driving a screw into two pieces of wood, and we're not using the torque we would when putting on wheel lugs, so in order for things to stay where they should under the violent reciprocation of the pistol's slide, everything needs to stay in place. This is one reason I don’t like plastic plates. I believe that they have a higher potential for movement between the optic and slide which can cause the screws to vibrate loose.

    We had the procedure largely formed about three months into the program and sent out an email to all optic participants letting them know the proper procedure. We also started encouraging people to not mount their own optic prior to the class.

    Early this year we started mandating that all optics be installed by our armorers at least 24 hours prior to the class to ensure they are mounted properly and to allow inspection of the pistol to ensure it complies with policy. We recommend they wait 24 hours prior to zeroing in order to allow the threadlocker to cure, but sometimes that isn’t practical, so we’ll have them zero immediately after installing and then we’ll re-check the torque once they’ve zeroed. We’ve had very few optics come loose since.

    Optic Mounting Steps:
    1. Inspect pistol to ensure it is compliant with policy and has backup iron sights
    2. Inspect the optic to ensure it is an authorized model and is functional
    3. Test fit the optic, plate (if applicable) and screws to ensure they are compatible
    4. Degrease all interacting parts (slide/plate threads, screws, excess oil in optic cut or on plate)
    5. Apply Loctite 248 to the screw threads where they will engage with the plate and or slide threads
    6. Tighten the screws until resistance is felt then apply alternating torque until the specified torque spec is reached
    7. Apply indicator marks (I prefer oil-based paint pens – put the paint on something and then apply with a toothpick unless you really like taking risks)
    8. Co-witness the reticle to the backup iron sights to make zeroing easier

  4. #4
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    Thanks, guys. I was an instructor, but not an armorer, at my last agency. I tend to agree that having armorers handle stuff beyond putting a TLR-1 on a duty pistol is probably the best policy for the great, unwashed masses.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoCalDep View Post
    My department has a similar policy regarding modifications to firearms. One of the few exceptions is that we do allow our people to change their sights. When we first started our optic program we allowed the user to mount their optic, or they could bring it to us on the first day of class and we mounted the optic for them.

    By that time we'd been using 36 optics among the various subgroups of the weapons training unit with round counts ranging from a few hundred to almost 40,000. We only had two optics come loose, and we didn't know what we didn't know.

    Once we started to see the trends in mounting failures as more and more people started coming through the class (it's a 1,000 - 1,200 round class so if there's a problem we often see it during the class - but not always) we started looking into best practices. There had already been several discussions here on PF and after talking to several people including @Wayne Dobbs, consulting with a mechanical engineer, and experimenting with different methods and products, we came to what we think is a good mounting procedure to minimize problems. The procedure has been revised a couple times, once specifically because of input from a member of this forum who suggested test-fitting the screws and plates and such to make sure everything fits before going too far in the process.

    We tracked information about the implementation of the program last year, sent surveys to participants, tracked scores during the class and on a mandated later date, and did a bunch of research, testing, and experimentation. We tested aftermarket screws from McMaster-Carr (and are still testing stainless steel versions) and found them to be at least as good if not better than those provided by most manufacturers. This testing involved firing 10,000 rounds through a pistol with an optic mounted with the screws, corrosion testing, and various other procedures that I won't bore you with.

    All that to say we learned from our mistakes and the experiences of the participants in the program and narrowed most mounting failures to failure of the thread-locker. This included not using any threadlocker, using products that suck, not putting the threadlocker where it needed to be, using too much (especially in the case of Vibratite VC-3), not allowing it to cure, and not removing oil, solvent, or grease from the interacting components prior to assembly.

    When it comes to optics we don't have the compressive force as if we were driving a screw into two pieces of wood, and we're not using the torque we would when putting on wheel lugs, so in order for things to stay where they should under the violent reciprocation of the pistol's slide, everything needs to stay in place. This is one reason I don’t like plastic plates. I believe that they have a higher potential for movement between the optic and slide which can cause the screws to vibrate loose.

    We had the procedure largely formed about three months into the program and sent out an email to all optic participants letting them know the proper procedure. We also started encouraging people to not mount their own optic prior to the class.

    Early this year we started mandating that all optics be installed by our armorers at least 24 hours prior to the class to ensure they are mounted properly and to allow inspection of the pistol to ensure it complies with policy. We recommend they wait 24 hours prior to zeroing in order to allow the threadlocker to cure, but sometimes that isn’t practical, so we’ll have them zero immediately after installing and then we’ll re-check the torque once they’ve zeroed. We’ve had very few optics come loose since.

    Optic Mounting Steps:
    1. Inspect pistol to ensure it is compliant with policy and has backup iron sights
    2. Inspect the optic to ensure it is an authorized model and is functional
    3. Test fit the optic, plate (if applicable) and screws to ensure they are compatible
    4. Degrease all interacting parts (slide/plate threads, screws, excess oil in optic cut or on plate)
    5. Apply Loctite 248 to the screw threads where they will engage with the plate and or slide threads
    6. Tighten the screws until resistance is felt then apply alternating torque until the specified torque spec is reached
    7. Apply indicator marks (I prefer oil-based paint pens – put the paint on something and then apply with a toothpick unless you really like taking risks)
    8. Co-witness the reticle to the backup iron sights to make zeroing easier
    Outstanding information, @SoCalDep! We would be well served to listen to this advice and experience. SoCalDep's organization has LOTS of experience with this topic.
    Regional Government Sales Manager for Aimpoint, Inc. USA
    Co-owner Hardwired Tactical Shooting (HiTS)

  6. #6
    THE THIRST MUTILATOR Nephrology's Avatar
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    Sep 2011
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    West
    Maybe a related Q - what pistol mRDS makes/models have been approved? Would be curious to hear from LEOs if they can share their approved optic list, trends might be interesting.

  7. #7
    Site Supporter Lon's Avatar
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    Apr 2011
    Location
    Dayton, Ohio
    Quote Originally Posted by Nephrology View Post
    Maybe a related Q - what pistol mRDS makes/models have been approved? Would be curious to hear from LEOs if they can share their approved optic list, trends might be interesting.
    I can tell you what we’ve approved:
    Gen 5 MOS 17/19
    M&P 2.0 compact optic ready
    Sig 320 FS/compact optic ready (can’t remember the specific models since Sig has a bazillion)
    RMR
    Holosun 507/508/509
    CHPWS plates only (no factory plates)
    BUIS from Ameriglo, Night Fision, Trijicon and Dawson

    Everything but the gun is private purchase and must be installed by Division armorer.
    Formerly known as xpd54.
    The opinions expressed in this post are my own and do not reflect the opinions or policies of my employer.
    www.gunsnobbery.wordpress.com

  8. #8
    @SoCalDep - question, please sir:
    Are you allowing any time for the Loctite to “set”, or whatever the proper term is?

    Thanks in advance for this and your work!

  9. #9
    Oops; reread the thread all the way through and see you would like a 24 hour period after mounting.

    So, no consistent loosening issues if “string/curing” period not followed?
    Thank you

  10. #10
    Member SoCalDep's Avatar
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    Mar 2016
    Location
    Between LA and Bakersfield
    The 24hr cure time is based on the technical data provided by Loctite.

    http://www.farnell.com/datasheets/319969.pdf

    While I can’t say for sure, the optics we’ve had come loose using these procedures were almost always shot a good amount prior to the 24hrs, so I’d err on the side of caution and strongly recommend letting it cure prior to shooting.

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