Gauging and Services

The U.S. Army gauges and services weapons annually to ensure that they are fully mission capable (FMC) at any given time.

by Stephanie Martz

Recently, someone asked me why Small Arms Repair Technicians service weapons. I answered with a laundry list of reasons. The first reason that always comes to mind, due to being in the military, is safety. Gauging is the main way to ensure that no dangerous issues are seen. Then came the main reason, and the one that gets me up in the morning each day to go to work. That reason is to keep that weapon fully mission capable, or in my terms, keep it functioning to the best of its ability. In doing that we are not only helping the weapon but the Soldier.

Before I continue, in case you’re wondering: Yes, the Army spelled this as “gaging” and “gages” since forever ago, however, the recently-published M16/M14 Unit and Direct Support Maintenance Manual (Army Technical Manual 9-1005-319-23&P) has since changed the spelling to “gauging” and “gauges.”

Annual gauging is done to prevent catastrophic failures. This is your usual headspace, barrel erosion, barrel straightness, and other gauges. There are two tolerances that we look at for most gauges and that is the warning and reject specifications. If a weapon passes the warning line but does not pass the reject, that weapon is good to train with in the States but not to deploy. If it fails both the warning and reject, it is immediately dead-lined and cannot be fired until repaired. While gauging is as simple as putting an object into another object, specifications can change a lot due to type of equipment and ammunition. For instance, M240-series machine guns have different gas port erosion gauges depending on if it’s a short or long barrel. Also, the Army has adopted the new ammunition M855A1. With new ammunition comes new wear limits. As with anything, it’s important to stay on top of information when dealing with a strict entity such as the military.

Services are where a well experienced firearms maintainer makes their money. Within the Army there are two manuals used to go over inspections on weapons. There is a…

Read more in the October 2019 issue.

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