Evaluating Competence of Your Sales Rep

bad weapon rack

Does your sale rep have any idea what he is doing?

In my 14 years experience designing and building armories I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. Most of the problems related to bad weapon storage systems and armories trace back to inexperienced or negligent distributors and sales representatives.

Weapon storage armories are unique and require specialized knowledge.

weapon-armory_grande
So how do you assess whether the sales rep in front of you knows anything about weapon storage?

If the supplier’s main business is office and filing solutions or focused on industrial warehouse storage, then you need to ask them a few qualifying questions.

To start:
Find out if they know anything about guns. If a rep does not have a good understanding of modern military weapons and weapon systems, how can they be expected to provide a weapon storage system that meets your needs and properly stores your weapons and associated gear?

Simple Questions to ask a sales rep:

Can you explain how to disassemble an M4? This will assess very basic weapon knowledge and give you an idea of their level of understanding of the modern environment. I have seen many storage solutions that do not take into account the modular nature of AR platform weapons. There are locking systems that can be defeated by simply separating the upper and lower receivers or popping open the trigger guard on an M4.

Our sniper rifles have floating barrels. How does your system address this? If they respond “Do the guns go on boats?”, you need to choose a different supplier. Lack of understanding of systems like a floating barrel should be another red flag.

NOTE: When storing a rifle with a floating barrel the weapon must be stored vertically with the weight of the rifle on it’s stock and held in place with an upper saddle at the forestock not resting on the barrel. The scope or optic must be free and clear. You should be able to remove the rifle or adjacent rifles without bumping the scope.

Can you explain how to clean a rifle?
Can you explain how to zero a weapon?

If they have little understanding of basic weapon setup and maintenance procedures, there is little chance they will understand proper storage or armory work flow

Remember, they make the sale and move on. You have to live with the system for a long time. It is important that your system designer have a solid working knowledge of weapon systems, optics and armory work flow.

high-density-weapon-storage

High density mobile aisle weapon storage systems.

see: High-Density Weapon Storage: Basic Understanding
When considering a high density mobile aisle system, a salesman’s experience installing these systems may not be enough. There are many improper or inferior mobile systems installed in armories around the country. There are also many sales reps out there who claim to have lots of experience. Does installing 20 bad storage systems mean you are experienced?

This system (image right) was designed and installed by a company with a background in business office solutions. In the lower image you see a system end panel that has broken off and sits on the floor. This failure renders the entire system ineffective.

The primary cause of the failure was a poor choice in end panel material. The end-panels are a laminate (particle board with a Formica-type covering) in this particular solution. This type of material looks nice and works well in a law office or hospital setting when storing records, but in an armory where people are moving heavy items like MK19s and M2HBs, the panels will break off if accidentally hit with a heavy piece of equipment.

Steel end panels are a must for mobile aisle weapon storage systems.

mobile-sys-broke2_medium
mobile-sys-broke_medium

If a sales rep recommends a system with laminate end panels he does not know what he is doing. You need to consider bringing in a different company to design the weapon storage system.

There are many qualified individuals who can properly design and install an efficient and functional weapon storage system in your armory or weapon vault. There are many more who do not really know what they are doing. Take the time to evaluate, not just the proposed system, but more importantly the person who is representing it.

Save

Save


Weapon Storage 101

Weapon storage armroy

Understanding Modern Weapon Storage.

After 15 years of designing and building military armories all over the world I thought it was time to put my thoughts down and create a series of educational pieces about modern weapon storage.

weaponracks

Why this is important

In the last few years several office and filing storage manufacturers have entered the weapon storage rack market. These companies do not appear to have any real experience in this field. The storage systems they are representing or manufacturing simply do not work well in military armories. In order to make a proper decision, it is critical that armorers, commanders and contracting officers involved in the procurement of new equipment understand the basics of modern weapon storage and the pitfalls of doing it wrong. I have been brought in on many armory redesigns to fix issues that occurred after a new system was installed. While a new weapon storage system may look great on CAD drawings or a fancy proposal, proper armory weapon storage is a function of system design and flexibility matching the armories intended use. Here I share my experience on the basic fundamentals of modern military weapon storage.

History

I got involved in military weapon storage in 2001 when I was running a technology storage company. I received a call from a client who asked if we could store MP5s in one of our high security laptop storage cabinets. I was intrigued, as I looked further into military weapon storage I found that there were serious concerns and difficulties. The military was moving to modular weapon systems. These systems have a wide variety of removable optics and electronics. (AGOGs, PEQs etc.) Weapon storage systems designed for traditional battle rifles (M16, M14, M4) simply were not up to the task of storing modern weapon systems with all their modular components and parts.

It seemed that the companies supplying these solutions did not have a true understanding of the challenges and requirements of a modern armory. Most manufacturers were reacting to military weapon system changes by simply adding new components and pieces to their current rack systems. The net result, most of the weapon storage systems on the market were becoming very complex and difficult to use with the addition of specialty components and system revisions. Lots of components mean more potential problems. Unique and proprietary translates to expensive, difficult to use and hard to adapt during change. They limit future options and force the customer to come back to the original manufacturer when the situation changes. This course of action dramatically increases cost for long-term ownership.

I took a different approach. We were fortunate to be located in southern California with proximity to many military installations. We took every opportunity to visit these facilities talk with the armorers and command about the challenges faced in a military going through a modernization initiative. We rapidly gained a great deal of experience in military armories. SecureIt Tactical was created as a business to address the challenges associated with storage and organization of modern modular weapon systems.

In October 2006 USASFC (U.S. Army Special Forces Command) was facing several big issues in the armories. Storage systems that had been recently purchased simply were not working. A solicitation was put out for an armory assessment program. SecureIt Tactical won the contract. Over the next 7 months we traveled to all CONUS Army Special Forces locations, surveyed the armories, interviewed the armorers and observed the work flow. This level of access to our most elite fighting forces is normally impossible. Our time spent in the armories and our frank discussions with team members gave us an incredible amount of experience.

In our brief to Command, we outlined the need to move to modular, scalable solutions. Most of their armory systems were rigid and inflexible. They had been designed and installed by people with backgrounds in office and filing storage systems. This type of experience by itself does not translate well to military armory storage.

See:
Unique and Proprietary means difficult and expensive
Evaluating Competence of your Sales Rep
Understanding High Density Weapon Storage

SecureIt Tactical has designed and installed weapon storage solutions in all branches of the military in all theaters of operation.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save


High-Density Weapon Storage: Basic Understanding

SecureIt High Density Weapon Storage showing open aisle, cabinets in red storage racks on tracks

High density mobile aisle weapon storage systems.
high-density-weapon-storage
High density weapon storage on a moving aisle system is an effective and popular way to increase arms room capacity.

Proper design, material selection and system configuration is critical to long term performance.

High density weapon storage systems are like cars and trucks

There are trucks and there are cars. Both are very good at doing what they are design to do. A 1-ton pickup truck with dualies will easily carry huge loads and lots of people and/or gear over rough terrain, but will struggle when a mom with 3 kids is trying to park at the grocery store. Vice-verse for the Toyota Corolla.
overload-car_medium
Big problems occur when you start trying to use the Corolla to haul 40 sheets of plywood. The same thing holds true for high density weapon storage solutions. It is critical to purchase the system that meets the performance requirements of the application.

ss-broken_medium
SecureIt has been brought into many armories to fix failed weapon rack systems. Often the cause of failure can be attributed to the installation of a high density system that was not designed for military environments. The fault in cases like these should not be blamed on the system itself, but rather on the shoulders of the people who recommended, designed, sold and installed it.

Lack of experience is the root of all evil in military weapon rack systems.

Real armory design and building experience is not easy to get. Most civilian contractors are hesitant to look at military bases and facilities as a source of knowledge. As a salesperson, if the sales rep is not comfortable with the setting and does not know how to gain access, he or she will simply focus his selling efforts elsewhere. When the sales rep’s phone rings and a military unit needs a new weapon rack system, that salesperson will gladly go write the order. The sales rep will evaluate the need, look at the weight load and recommend a system that seems to fit the requirements, all based on previous experience with office and filing storage. In many cases that salesperson is unknowingly making critical mistakes. See: Evaluating Competence.

Most high density storage system salesmen simply do not know what a military weapon storage armory is.

It is not the same as a hospital, law or records office, where they spend most of their time installing mobile aisle systems.

Consider Military armories as an off road application

In a military armory, it is not as much about weight and total load as it is about impact.
A tractor-trailer rig can move very heavy loads over smooth roads, but will fail quickly on a rocky, off-road excursion.

Consider military armories as an “off-road” application.

Military armories require heavy duty, high density systems with all steel components and end panels.

A proper military grade mobile aisle system should require at a minimum:

secureit-high-density-storage-sys_medium
  • 5″ dual flanged wheels
  • Full length steel drive axles
  • All steel welded carriages
  • All steel end-panels
  • Decking should be rubber or VCT tile – never uncovered plywood.
mobile-sys-track_medium

Understanding how it works

The basics: A mobile aisle system consists of steel rails (tracks) mounted to, or embedded in, the floor. Steel carriages holding weapon racks, shelving, modular drawers etc. roll on these tracks.

Screen_Shot_2014-12-18_at_4.25.16_PM_medium
Shown here is a typical military armory where the growth in weapons and gear exceeds the arms room’s capacity. Here weapon racks are configured in rows with narrow aisles – perhaps just enough space for one person – between them. There is barely room for the armorer’s desk. This is a tight, difficult space in which to work.

Screen_Shot_2014-12-18_at_5.05.39_PM_medium
This is the same arms room where the weapon racks have been mounted into a high density mobile aisle system. By using this system and only creating an aisle where it is needed, there is a great deal of re-claimed space. Now the arms room has two work benches with a modular drawer cabinet between them, and an area with wide span shelving. The drawers may be used for tools, optics, night vision goggles and other gear. The shelving can be used for cases, mounts and other large pieces of equipment.

Electric vs. mechanical assist.

There are two types of mobile aisle systems used in armories; electric and mechanical assist.

Electric systems use electric motors to move the carriages, mechanical assist types use a gear driven system with a manual drive wheel that a person turns to move the carriages.

Electric systems are complex, require programming and regular maintenance. In the event of a power outage the system will not work. Battery backup units can be installed, but these will provide only a very limited amount of extra time.

Mechanical systems are the best choice for most armory applications. They are simple, low maintenance and faster to operate then electric systems. They also do not require any power. If your armory houses a security, rapid response or reaction force, then a mechanical system is the only choice. In the event of the power being cut you will still be able to get to the weapons.

For the most part mechanical assist is the best choice.

Clam Shell or Cube systems.

A cube or clam shell system uses mobile carriages and open weapon racking or weapon storage cabinets without doors. The system is secured by closing the aisles and locking the carriages. The system is set up so there is no gap between adjacent carriages and weapon racks. When closed, the system forms a tight secure cube.
Clam-Shell-or-Cube-systems
Cube systems allow for fast access to large inventories of weapons and gear. These systems work extremely well for security force armories as well as for reaction force and rapid response teams.

There are many options and considerations when evaluating a mobile aisle system. It is very important that the storage specialist with whom you are working has a lot of experience with military weapon storage.
See: Evaluating Competence

Save


Weapon Storage: Unique and Proprietary Equals Difficult and Expensive

SecureIt Unique and Proprietary Equals; disorganized, stuffed cabinet and empty cabinet with a number of proprietary add-ons

Most existing weapon storage systems are proprietary, meaning that they are closed systems and all parts and components must come from the manufacturer or their dealer. Manufacturers like proprietary systems because it forces every customer to return when they need to add to a system or make changes.
Dasco-rack_6df4037b-ead7-4619-80b5-80a336099358_medium
Marketing and sales materials have statements like: “Unique weapon storage systems”, “Combined the extensive components” While this may sound impressive, what is it really saying?

It’s unique, meaning you are tied to this company and will not have access to competing technologies.

It has lots of components, meaning you will have a lot of parts to organize and inventory. If you change the weapons and gear you are storing, you will most likely have to source new internal rack components. See: Lots of Components Means Lots of Problems
secureit-ever-organized

The cost of updating and maintaining a proprietary system can be higher.

In many cases, it is impossible to source the proper components for a proprietary rack system due to time constraints, finance or contracting. Units are forced to make do with what they have and you end up with weapon racks like this.

Long term use and sustainability will be difficult. If you are deploying with a proprietary weapon storage system, it will be impossible to make any changes down range. Careful consideration must be made to assure you have a system in place that allows you to easily source storage components.

COTS – (Commercial off the shelf) products are easy to get and typically very affordable due to retail price pressures and competition. When looking at new weapon storage systems, put a high value on COTS capabilities.

SecureIt Tactical racks are unique in that all storage bins, trays and hooks are readily available from any hardware store. Parts are very affordable and can usually be sourced at down range locations.

In the early 2000s when we were working with the Dasco system (a Canadian import system now sold under the names SEKURE, DLS and a few others), we had several conversations about propriety and compatibility. We pushed for more open architecture and broad compatibility with competing systems. Their view was that it had to be proprietary so that every time a rack was sold the customer had to come back to them for accessories. It was at that time that we started development of the Tactical Weapon Storage Platform.

Tactical Weapon Storage Rack Development

When we set out to develop our weapon storage system, one of our core capabilities was open architecture and compatibility with a wide variety of products. Our view is that the system must be easily reconfigured with readily available materials, especially when working down range. A deployed unit does not have the ability to order new or different brackets. They have to make do with what they have.

The Tactical Storage platform is compatible with most competing weapon storage systems on the market, meaning that you can use their components in our rack if needed.

Gear storage

Proprietary systems have very limited capabilities when it comes to gear storage. Most offer a few metal trays or boxes. These may look good in a company brochure or a cad drawing but in the real world they simply are not very flexible. With proprietary systems your only option is to use what the manufacturer has available. Open systems allow you to use a wide variety of bins, boxes and baskets available at most hardware stores. When using an open system, you will have the ability to quickly and affordably solve your own challenges.

Save