Bullet Points: Breaking It Down

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BulletPoints.inddThings worth doing are worth overdoing. This is particularly true when it comes to firearms. One of the things an individual is supposed to know, apart from using firearm efficiently and effectively, is the care and maintenance of the tool.

Just as the race car driver must know the particular nuances of his vehicle, so must the shooter know his weapon, and how it works, at the very least on a rudimentary level. Sure, you can take the weapon to the smith if something feels a little off, or you want to perform a detailed strip and clean, but the weapon isn’t really yours unless you know it at that intimate level. You have to know your weapon, and part of this knowledge is how each part fits into each other one, and how they work together. It’s a finely-tuned machine, and appreciating it as such is part of the whole experience of owning a firearm.

While I would love to do a detailed strip of all commonly used firearms, this is, after all, a gadget magazine. If you do want to learn a little something about taking apart many of the firearms you are likely to come across, technology is more than happy to provide an answer.

Gun Disassembly 2 is an app available for Android devices, and allows the user to detail strip any of a whole collection of firearms, from the iconic 1911 a1 to more exotic firearms such as the Barrett M107, plus weapons from WWII and older. The app itself is free to download from the Google Play store, and comes with a few familiar firearms. Additional ones have to be purchased in-app for a small fee that is well worth the price of admission. The guns and all their individual parts are created and rendered in 3D, in a precision that rivals the real thing.

While you won’t really get the feel offitting the individual parts together, you get to watch a very detailed set of steps in taking the guns apart, as well as putting them together. If you want, you can think oftime with the app as the theoretical, classroom part of learning about how your weapon comes together, with the practical side coming once you take the piece apart.

To use the app, you pick the firearm you want to take apart from a huge rotating menu. You are then taken to a screen with the firearm, and several options. You can then choose to operate the weapon, or watch the app take it apart or put it together. If you’re looking to learn a little about a detail strip, watching a demo might be a good place to start. You can pause the action, move the gun around in space, and even zoom in and out to see the little parts as the app does its thing. After a few runs, you should have a pretty good idea figuring out how to do it yourself. You can then go back to the individual menu for the weapon you want, pick disassembly, and go at it.

Zooming in and out will be handy in this mode, though the process is not that hard to get, since to remove parts, you simply have to tap on them. It won’t teach you that you have to wiggle the safety a little on a 1911 if it starts to bind, but it does a great job at teaching which parts come off in what order. The rest, you can learn in the practical part of dealing with your weapon. You will have to spin the weapon around a fair bit, and needless to say, large-screened phones will have a much easier time with the app, though learning is learning no matter what device you want to use. A thing you might notice is that the app wants you to take particular parts in a particular order, though logically, the order shouldn’t matter. While this might be frustrating at first, particularly to those who know a little bit about the basic field strip on some weapons, it is a pretty good idea to go through a consistent set of steps, as this makes retention much easier.

The app also allows you to fire the weapon while viewing it from different angles. This lets you see how each one works in action, and if you really want to get a solid working knowledge of each of the guns in the collection, the app even allows for different levels of transparencies, letting you see the different sears and how they work in the firing sequence. Another cool feature is slow-motion, which drops the speed down in increments. If you really want to look at each of the guns as the machines they are, this is a great way to do it. Hit the X-ray vision button, zoom in tight, and watch the guns fire in slow-mo, and you’ve taken your first steps towards being a gunsmith. It’s not the only resource you have to learning more about your favorite toy, but it’s a really great one.

Apart from the obvious answer for those who want to learn to take things apart, the app can truly be a lifesaver to those who may have messed up a takedown (myself included.) If you mistakenly or overconfidently took your pistol apart past the suggested point for enthusiasts, this app might just be the thing you need to avoid the embarrassment of having to brown-bag your favorite firearm because you couldn’t take it out to the range during the recently concluded gun ban. For those who have yet to do their own detail strip, taking things step-by-step, with a guide such as this holding your hand goes a long way to building confidence and competence. This app is also a great way to kill a few minutes while waiting in line, your food, or your kids. Any time spent learning is time well spent, and short of taking your pistol apart and detail stripping it outdoors, this is the best way to go about things.

First published in Gadgets Magazine, July 2013

Words by Ren Alcantara