Training Considerations When Selecting a Pistol

I strongly believe anyone who legally can should learn how to employ a pistol to its greatest effect. If you can legally carry one concealed, you should make every effort to do so. Self-defense boils down to controlling your environment. A pistol lets you control more of it when the chips are down.

 There are plenty of articles out there to compare and contrast the differences in various rounds: would the ultimate concealed carry pistol be a 9mm or a .45? There are plenty that compare sizes: should you carry a full size service pistol, or a subcompact? And there certainly are plenty of online flame wars discussing which is the best brand and model. Reliability, accuracy, and features are all points of many lengthy discussions.

 While all of those things certainly do factor into what pistol you plan to entrust your life to, there is something else that I believe is even more important: does this pistol facilitate training? The most important thing you need in a pistol is the ability to train with it. If you cannot train with your weapon of choice, it’s a toss up whether you can actually use it effectively when you need to.

 Can you train with it safely?

 This is a fairly silly question, but it does need asking. Can you train with this pistol safely? Some people decide that an inexpensive Makarov or other inexpensive classic that isn’t drop safe is the best firearm for them. I’ve heard plenty of stories about a dropped pistol discharging and injuring its owner. If you plan on training aggressively, you want something you can safely drop. If you can’t safely train with your pistol, maybe it’s time to go gun shopping.

 Do you enjoy training with it?

 While a carry firearm is a tool, if you do not enjoy training with it, you won’t train with it. Simple as that. If the gun is easy to conceal but is too small to be fun to shoot, you’ll carry it, but you’ll never spend the time with it on the range that you need to.

 Can you find an inert training replica?

 While it isn’t 100% necessary, finding an inert training replica (a blue gun for example) of your carry gun is a great way to be able to train without risk of damage to the gun, or damage to your training partners. If you practice any gun grappling, it is certainly safer to train with an inert gun than a real one. I also find that an inert replica works great for practicing presentation of the firearm.

 Can you find and afford the ammunition?

 If you cannot find ammunition or afford it, then you cannot train with the gun. I prefer a 9mm myself because the ammo is less expensive than .40 or .45 and I feel it still gets the job done. Generally it isn’t too hard to find practice ammunition in these common calibers. Some people decide to carry a small .32 or .380 and find that ammunition is scarce. I would rather carry something that doesn’t require a pilgrimage to find ammo.

 Are there .22 conversions or training models available?

 Regardless of the round your carry gun uses, it’s cheaper to practice with .22 than it is to practice in the caliber you carry. There are limitations to how these conversions and clone models can be used in your training, but they certainly can help to increase the volume of your training. Check out this article by Todd Green on the pros and cons of .22 trainers.

 Are there Airsoft replicas available?

 Another great training method is to use an Airsoft training replica of your firearm. This allows you to practice force on force scenarios without having to shoot your training partner. Training with Airsoft of course isn’t perfect, but availability should definitely be in the back of your mind when selecting a carry weapon.

 Can you dry fire it?

 Dry fire is a great way to practice your skills. It’s the cheapest practice you can get. It can do great things for your marksmanship, speed of presentation, and efficiency reloading. Not all firearms can be dry fired, but just about every modern center-fire can be. Make sure you check when deciding what pistol is right for you.

Of course there is plenty more to think about when selecting a pistol. Remember that no matter how reliable or accurate your pistol is, if you can’t train with it, you may very well be useless with it when you need it.

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  1. […] How easy or hard is it to pick up that pistol and learn how to operate it proficiently? There are other considerations to think about when selecting a self-defense pistol, but here I’m talking mainly about the features of the […]

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