Small Arms Experts Advance Weapons Technology

Team provides expertise to improve weapons systems for the warfighter

To carry out their special missions, U.S. armed forces use small arms that our team rigorously maintains, tests, and refines. It is our job to make sure that every weapon, whether handheld or mounted on aircraft, performs without a hitch.

Our technicians repair, screen, and refurbish 56 different weapon systems and mounts, including:

  • M16, M4 carbine, and 7.62-caliber rifles 
  • 9 mm pistol
  • 12-gauge shotgun
  • 40 mm launcher
  • M240 and .50-caliber Browning machine guns
  • Multiple gun mounts

Testing takes place at both underground and above-ground ranges. Using live ammunition, we conduct these tests to evaluate and gather data on new weapons systems or weapons that have been redesigned. In one day, we may shoot as much as 30,000 rounds.

For weapons that fail test parameters, we recommend design alternatives and can even prototype and fabricate parts.  

Weapons testing in Indiana and beyond

Most of this work takes place at Naval Service Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane in Crane, Indiana, one of the world's largest military operations with a large depot of weapons.  

“Our team is right in the midst of that, providing expertise," said Dianne Wilson, who manages our support for the small arms contract. She heads a highly skilled, passionate team that she describes as "totally focused on bringing the best technology and the best weapons into the hands of the warfighter."

Our field service representative teams provide onsite 30 mm and 105 mm cannon support for AC-130 gunships at Hurlburt Field, Florida, and Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico. Since not all testing can be done at Crane or at these sites, our technician teams often travel to other facilities, ships, and armories in support of the Navy’s worldwide assessment of small arms and mounts.  

Track and maintain every weapon

Warfighters depend on getting the right weapon when they need it. Our logistics team maintains a weapons registry to track assets and locations of weapons used by special operations worldwide. 

Each weapon has a unique identification (UID) code, which helps us keep tabs on it when it leaves an armory and arrives at the correct base. In a typical year, our logistics management specialists will log more than 88,700 entries related to the movement and tracking of small arms weapons within that registry.

When those weapons return to Crane, we break them down, clean them and repair them so they can be reissued.

Our work is personal

As you can imagine, all of our teams who actively support weapons maintenance, testing, and evaluation are certified to handle arms, ammunition, and explosives. 

Our team understands the seriousness of the task, the rules of excessive force, and the importance of professionalism at all times. When military leaders visit Crane, we're usually involved in the tours and presentations, showing visitors how fire to the weapon and ensuring safety. 

Many people on our team are former military who used these types of weapons while on active duty. We have also supported NSWC Crane for 30 years and have formed a tight-knit community. 

Our team recognizes that every task is important, whether it's field-stripping a weapon, writing a test plan, performing maintenance in the field, or tracking a UID. Because if we miss something, then the person who suffers is the warfighter. 

"It's personal to us here," Wilson said. "It's not just a job."

Learn more about our work in Platforms and Weapon Systems.

Photo courtesy of DVIDS. The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.