Even retired cops have to qualify for the LEOSA card, so I found myself on the range with a group of cops the other day. At this range session, we were forced to address the idea of regular gear checks.

Humor me for a minute as I digress. When anti-gunners say, “only cops should have guns because police are trained …” feel free to remind them that most cops only qualify twice a year with their weapons and shooting qualification, which is, in my estimation, quite easy. I found the qualifications at Gunsite’s 250 course or the SIG Academy Instructor course much more difficult than the annual police quals.

When Guns Malfunction

It is under the backdrop of this semi-annual qualification that we were all reminded to do regular gear checks. We got to the rifle portion of the qualification and a young officer went to the cruiser to grab a rifle. I should point out that this particular department uses shared vehicles, so this was not “her” squad, it was just the squad she had that day. She grabbed the rifle, and the range safety officer asked her to show that it was clear by removing the magazine and locking the bolt to the rear. Rifles in this department are carried in the squad with a full magazine and an empty chamber. When it’s time to deploy a rifle, the officer must run the charging handle to load the chamber, then engage the safety and head toward the danger.

Well, she dropped the magazine just fine, but when she tried to run the charging handle and lock the bolt to the rear, the handle moved about an inch, made a loud metallic click and would go no further. With a quizzical look on her face, she turned to me and said, “Something is wrong here.”

What Went Wrong?

Indeed. Without going into gun geek mode, I’ll try to explain what happened. The carbine was equipped with an aftermarket end plate with loops for attaching a sling. This plate fits between the buffer tube retaining nut and the lower receiver. It holds the takedown pin detent and spring in place, and the loops on the side allow the attachment of a single-point sling. Well, someone bumped or yanked on that hard enough to rotate the plate so the loop would prevent the charging handle from being pulled to the rear. This also allowed the detent spring to pop out and get bent 90 degrees. I happened to say, “It’s lucky you didn’t lose the detent.”

That’s when the training officer said, “It’s lucky you didn’t NEED that rifle.”

It hit me like a brick. No one had looked at that rifle and run a pre-shift function check in a while. It’s not a policy. It’s not on a checklist. The gun was damaged … and no one knew it. We fixed it, but it took an armorer’s kit and spare parts. That gun was not ready for use and could not be made ready without those tools and a replacement spring. It was useless for self-defense.

Check Your Everyday Carry Gear

So, I ask: How often do you do a function check on your everyday carry gear?

Does everything that you carry every day work as it should? How do you know? Have you checked? Are your flashlight batteries dead? Is your gun clean and functioning? Is your holster in good condition? Do all the snaps work? Are retention screws loose? Have you checked those items with more than just a cursory glance?

Checking your kit doesn’t take long. This is your emergency life-saving gear. Get in the habit of making sure everything works as it should because when you need it, nothing else matters.