Apr 28, 2010
Accuracy International’s Armorer Course
Course Instructor: Stacey Blankenship
I had the opportunity to attend the April 26th and 27th Accuracy International Armorers Course here in Colorado. As luck had it, I returned from Texas on Saturday in time for the Course on Monday and Tuesday.
The course started at 9AM at the Trigger Time Gun Club in Longmont, which is just a short ride from Denver.
The first day was dedicated to the Accuracy International AE series rifles. This is the Accuracy Enforcement model, which was designed for Law Enforcement. This rifle was my first Accuracy International many years ago. I believe I had the oldest rifle in the class with the original version purchased around 2002. Since that time they had moved forward with the Mark II model.
The classroom area was set up on the second floor of Trigger Time and each student found a complete Armorers Kit along with a bound Technical Manual that completely details the rifle. Stacey started out going through the history of the rifle, the design, as well as showing each student the differences between the older model and the new Mk IIs.
Each student had either their own rifle or Mile High Shooting provided a loaner rifle from several available. We started at the back of the rifle and worked our way forward completely disassembling the rifles down to a bare action. Key points discussed where:
1. Torque settings
2. Recommended maintenance areas,
3. How far to break the rifle and what was recommended as well as what was not recommended
4. Factory upgrades, warranty information
5. Identification and proofing marks
We got to see the key locations were operator error might lead to problems down the road. One identified during class was the area of the base. We noted that a front base screw on an aftermarket addition may be installed improperly and binds up the barrel inside the receiver.
Stacey was diligent explaining to the LE Officers in the class how they can maintain several guns in their charge without the need for an outside gunsmith. The modular design of the AI series rifles cannot be over stated and Stacey detailed every single area where changes and upgrades can be made. At one point Stacey had us all check the headspace on a single rifle using all the bolts in the class. A 10-year spread of bolts in a new rifle and they all head spaced properly. This was a powerful teaching point. As well we swapped bolts between the AE and AW series and showed the versatility of the product and the similarities of the designs.
At the end of the class we returned our rifles to the original condition and went downstairs to fire them at the Trigger Time inside 100 yard Center fire range. Mile High Shooting provided each student with a box of Fiocchi Match 168gr ammo to test fire their rifles. It was amazing to see how close to spec the rifles returned to zero. The shifts were small at best.
I really learned a lot during this class, even having owned the AE for 10 years I had never broken my rifle down to the point we did. The class was a wide-open format and Stacey answered every single question thrown his way.
At the end we had a hands on with the new chassis and rifles, which are part of the AX series that are soon to be released. It was great getting some one on one time with the new AX series and to have all the new upgrades and changes explained in detail as well as being able to see them in person.
Day two was dedicated to the AW series. Most of the students were repeats from the AE class, so it was pretty easy to get up to speed. The AW series has many similarities so again we started at the back of the rifles and moved forward taking them down to their lowest point possible. Again, my rifle was the oldest in the class and it was great to see the changes over the years. My receiver year was 1997 so the modular changes to the chassis were easy to point out.
We got into the major differences between the AE and AW, as well as how each upgrade moved the rifle from the previous version. Stacey also detailed any proof markings and import stamps that would be of value to a collector of these fine rifles.
It’s a bit easier to tear an AW down because you don’t go beyond the action and the chassis bonded area. However we did tear down the folder on a chassis, removing it and the internal butt spike down to its base components. The hand on with this class was outstanding. You really get to see the robustness of this rifle first hand when you’re looking it in pieces.
We also had a used rifle in the class that had some previous, not recommended modifications and we were able to see Stacey repair them in front of our eyes. He completely rebuilt a trigger that had been fouled up by its’ original owner. The trigger is really the best tactical trigger out there, and taken apart you can see why, it is just so simple.
The key learning points are very much similar to what I wrote above so I won’t repeat them, but one thing I learned is just how far warranty and support with go with this rifle. Several times Stacey mentioned to me, with my rifle from 1997 that AINA would warranty and support the chassis, completely upgrading it to the latest version free of charge. He mentioned this not because I was there, but because that is their policy on the subject. When you tear it down it is easy to see the improvements made over the years and each time it was pointed out that older rifle can and would be upgraded if requested. Another important fact, the warranty work is performed in the US and the rifles do not need to go to England to have the warrant and service work done.
In the end we returned the rifles to there original state. Paul from Trigger Time had previously shot his rifle to check zero before starting the class. Afterwards, he shot the rifle again, and it was within a ½ MOA of the original zero even after tearing it completely down. Stock, the folder on his chassis, everything, it was stripped to the lowest possible point.
It was really a great experience and highly recommended, especially for guys who use them in their departments. You can see just how maintenance free the rifles can be when you do it yourself and know how to do it properly.
I want to also thank Diane and Randy Pennington from Mile High Shooting. We had Coffee and donuts in the morning and lunch from Panera Bread in the afternoon. It was a first class presentation.
Trigger Time is an outstanding gun club. Located right off I-25 in Longmont. The facility is brand new and was put together correctly. An indoor pistol and rifle range, plus Pro Shoot and conference area, Paul put together a first class gun club, which is reminiscent of a high end Country Club found at the best golf courses. If you’re in the Denver area, stop by and see Trigger Time.
Stacey moved the class along great; his knowledge of the system is unrivaled as pretty much everything he did was without the aid of reference. He was on top of the systems from start to finish. Never once during their class was it a sales pitch, in fact, everything with new rifle there from both Mile High and Trigger Time nobody even jokingly suggested anything was for sale. It says a lot in my opinion. Could you buy, of course you could have, and I am grateful Lin Schryver bought that 20” AE Mk II so I didn’t, but I have my eye on the new AX series.
The AX series is a really move forward, and definitely keeps with the Accuracy International Tradition of excellence.
For those Lefties, they had the Left handed AW rifle there, I know forever lefties have complained about not being supported, well there was it. If you’re a lefty and always wanted that AW rifle, now you can get it.
I really appreciated the opportunity and the friendship of everyone that attended as well as hosted and sponsored.