How Much Use Do Your Snap Caps Get?

My snap caps have seen hard use.

About a month ago, as I came back from the dead so to speak with my own training, I found my trusty training tools on the brink of their own demise. My snap caps are probably the most used tool in my training arsenal. They get used every day I dry fire, and they have seen thousands upon thousands of repetitions through my guns.

As I tried to clear one out of my Glock, I had some difficulty with extraction. Upon inspection I found that the snap cap rim was beginning to tear off. If I had owned these for a few days or weeks, I would say that the product was faulty. But after almost a year of daily dry-fire, these snap caps have held up great.

Best uses for snap caps

Using snap caps during dry-fire can be a great way to protect your firearms from unnecessary wear and tear caused by dropping the firing pin on an empty chamber. While this benefit alone is a great reason to use snap caps, I find that their value goes far further.

Malfunction Drills

Snap caps are excellent for malfunction drills. You can easily create double feed and misfire scenarios with your snap caps for practice clearing them.

When combined with live-fire, snap cap utility is fairly obvious. A snap cap can represent a misfired round. When randomly loaded into your magazines, they can create unexpected malfunctions.

In dry-fire sessions the snap caps can take the place of both the malfunction rounds and fresh ammo. When performing a malfunction clearing drill, always make sure a follow-up round gets chambered properly, validating your technique. Create double-feeds by placing a round in the chamber before easing the slide forward on a full magazine.

Reloading Drills

Snap caps are excellent additions to emergency reloading drills. Fresh magazines with snap caps allow you to ensure a round gets properly chambered. Dropping the slide too early during a reload can be a disaster, forcing you into an immediate action drill. Training with snap caps keeps you honest about the timing of your reloads and ensures you don’t drop that slide too soon.

How much use do your snap caps get?

I obviously use snap caps quite a bit in my own training, to the point where I would consider them disposable short-term-use items. Personally I keep a package of spares on hand for the next time the rim breaks off one of my snap caps.

How often do you use snap caps in your training, and what do you use them for?

Don’t already use snap caps? I use and highly recommend the snap caps from A-Zoom. Support small business and Indestructible Training by ordering yours from our friends at WTBGU. (Disclaimer: the preceding link is an affiliate link, and I will receive a commission for anything you buy through this link).

3 Less Than Obvious Benefits to Using a .22 for Training

I don’t think there is a single capable shooter who would claim that the .22LR cartridge doesn’t hold any training value. Just about everyone agrees: the .22 is excellent for training and provides the extra benefit of being great for introducing new shooters to the shooting sports.

Most of the justifications for using a .22 are obvious. Limited recoil means that you are less inclined to develop a flinch, allowing good practice for follow through and trigger control. No matter what round your centerfire is chambered in, .22 is going to be cheaper. The cost advantage is hard to ignore. Ultimately when these two factors are combined, they allow you to build good habits through many solid repetitions.

Beyond the obvious

What may not be so obvious is that a .22 allows for some good training that might not even be possible with a centerfire firearm. When you consider the limited facilities you might have available to you, the .22 opens up even more options.

Trajectory

If you shoot rifles, trajectory is one of the key skills you need to master to really consider yourself a capable Rifleman. If you have a 500 yard range in your back yard, you might be able to practice compensating for trajectory on your centerfire rifles (and if that is available to you, definitely do it!).

For most people getting beyond 100 or 200 yards at their local club is a little hard.

Take for example the average 5.56MM round out of an AR15. With a 300 yard zero, at 500 yards this round might drop approximately 3 feet. At 200 yards the same round is actually about 6 inches high. At 100 yards you are still pretty close to 3-6 inches high. Inside of 200 yards the round requires relatively little compensation.

A .22 at 200 yards on the other hand might drop anywhere between 3 and 7 feet depending on the exact load you are shooting.

In this case a .22 can be a great tool for learning how to compensate for bullet drop. Even better if you can place steel at multiple or unknown distances out on a range. Learn how to measure range to the target with your reticle and compensate to hit the target.

Wind

Wind is also hard to practice compensating for unless you have a lot of wind and a range long enough for it to really have an impact. Your .22 rifle will be impacted far more by wind over a shorter distance than say your .308.

At 200 yards in a 10mph cross wind a .308 round would only get pushed about 4 inches off target. Your .22 on the other hand might drift 15-30 inches in a similar wind. This provides for another great opportunity to practice advanced skills without the heavy burden of an expansive range.

Steel

Reactive targets are certainly fun, but they are also great for building decision making skills under pressure. Unfortunately steel can splash back pretty badly, so it requires more space between you and the target. Paper can be shot at safely with the muzzle on the target, but that is not the case with steel.

A centerfire round, especially a rifle round, will have far more energy than a .22 and therefore it requires far more distance to the target to be shot safely. It is generally not a great idea to shoot steel with a centerfire rifle inside of 100 yards. Shooting steel closer can decrease the life of the steel and increases the likelihood of splash back. A .22 on the other hand can be safely fired at steel much closer. Steel at 7 yards with a .22 is both safe and great for training.

When you also consider that rifle-grade steel is much more expensive than .22-grade steel, you can start to see why a .22 is beneficial. Ever been to a range that doesn’t allow rifles to be shot at their steel? It’s because that steel is too soft to handle repeated hits from a centerfire rifle. These rounds will damage the steel and make it unsafe as ricochets will become both common and unpredictable.

If you have a .22 that mimics your carry pistol or duty rifle, you can practice engaging steel targets safely and far less expensively than you would if you were to do so with your carry pistol or duty rifle.

If you don’t already use a .22LR for training it might be time to start. The benefits of training with a .22 are numerous. You can easily enjoy more practice for less money, and more importantly, you can expand the types of training you can do by taking advantage of the limitations of the .22LR cartridge and treating these limitations as strengths.

What do you use a .22 for in your training?

Toss the Sandbag, Rest, or Bipod

Photo credit: UK Bench Rest Shooting

Recently the club I belong to opened up a 200meter range that used to be for rimfire shooting only to now allow center-fire rifles. As a part of this process, they now require shooters to qualify in order to use the range with a center-fire rifle. Since I love me some long range shooting, I jumped at the chance to qualify. But…

What really disappointed me when I made it to one of the qualification sessions was that everyone was shooting off of a bench. Maybe I’m some sort of rifle marksmanship snob, but shooting off a bench rest or bipod doesn’t really seem like a demonstration of skill to me. I can lock my rifle in a vice and prove my rifle is qualified to shoot on the range, but I would rather demonstrate my ability instead of the rifle’s.

Shooting off the bench seems to be the norm these days. So normal in fact that the requirement for qualification was a 5” group at 200 meters, roughly a 2.3 minute of angle group. Most skilled shooters with a rack grade rifle and surplus ball ammunition should be capable of a 4 minute of angle group (that’s 9” at 200 meters) without the need for a bench (try prone with a sling).

If shooting from a bench was the requirement for use of the range, I think this expectation would be perfectly acceptable. Instead since prone is allowed once you have qualified, it just reinforces the fact that most people just can’t shoot a rifle these days. The majority of people qualifying showed up with some sort of .223 with a high-power scope and a bipod or shooting rest. Partly because that’s what people do these days, and partly because the requirements made it so most shooters who normally could pull off a 9” group at 200 meters from the prone position with a sling were concerned about qualifying.

Rather than play their game of shooting a scoped rifle off a rest, I took my M1 Garand. I got into a solid prone position, adjusted my iron sights based on my zero and understanding of trajectory, and proceeded to put a qualifying group on paper. I say this not because I want to show off (though I am really proud of my group!), but because I think it highlights what is wrong in the shooting world right now. To further rub it in, my wife then used the same rifle and qualified from the seated position… with a better group. I doubt that the majority of the bench rest qualifiers could achieve the same. Many seemed to have enough trouble getting a 5 inch group with their fancy rest and high-power scope.

Once, America was known as a nation of Riflemen. It was said that you would find one behind every blade of grass. Do you really think a Rifleman would need to shoot off of a bench rest? I don’t.

Want to really prove your marksmanship skills with your rifle? Do it without the rest.

Examining My Load-Out

Recently I took a pistol/carbine class taught by Larry Vickers. As this was my first foray into this kind of training, I had a lot of equipment to acquire. Before filling in the gaps and buying equipment, my first objective was to come up with a goal (or theme) for the equipment I was buying.

My mission profile

The gear people tend to bring to carbine classes ranges from a couple AR15 mag pouches on their belt to full on chest and belt rigs including rifle plates and just about anything they could imagine. Most of the people in a class like this don’t have a specific mission in mind. How a cop prepares and trains will differ greatly from how a civilian or a U.S. Marine prepares.

When a civilian comes to a class decked out to the max, it really makes you wonder what exactly they are thinking. Is their equipment logical for the situations they might encounter, or are they in the class to play fantasy camp?

When I set out to prepare my equipment, I started with my mission profile. I’m a civilian and unlikely to be paroling or engaging in any sort of prolonged engagement with a rifle. If I need my rifle it is to fight off armed home invaders or, slightly less likely, to deal with an active shooter situation. In either case what I need differs greatly from what I would need if I was planning on marching off to war.

To meet this mission profile, my goal was to set up my gear in a way that I could easily throw over my existing CCW gear. If it takes me more than 30 seconds to be ready to go then I am doing something wrong.

My gear

This is my rifle

My carbine for the class was a custom build (as are all my AR-15 type rifles). This one was built on a matching set of Essential Arms receivers, Essential Arms LPK, and Daniel Defense Barrel.

Here are the specs:

  • 16” Daniel Defense Mid-length Barrel

  • BCM Full-Auto Bolt Carrier Group

  • Collapsible Stock

  • Magpul MOE Midlength Handguard (green)

  • Troy BUIS

  • Aimpoint Pro

  • MOE Rail VFG

  • VTAC Sling

  • GG&G Sling Thing (Rear)

I found this rifle to be very reliable, running quite well even when it was drier than it should have been.

The VTAC sling got the job done for a quick adjust sling, and it worked fairly well for switch shoulder drills. A few times I missed the adjustment lanyard, but for the moment I’m attributing that to my own inexperience with it. The GG&G Sling Thing makes a great rear attachment point, providing a slot for a QD sling swivel on a standard collapsible stock.

In general the rifle handled very well, and the MOE Handguards I ordered would probably remain on the rifle if it wasn’t for the Troy rail already being bought and working well for me.

Glock 17

For a pistol I used my 2nd generation Glock 17. They sure don’t make them like they used to. This pistol has been through a lot and keeps ticking. The only problem with my Glock is the sights. It still sports the stock sights, and I’m seeing more and more why this is a problem. I carried it strong side in a Comp-Tac belt holster with a spare mag in one of Comp-Tac’s numerous pistol pouch options. I’ve always been a big fan of Comp-Tac, and every holster I have from them does the job well.

The rest of my gear

In order to fulfill the quick gear-up profile, I went with the BCM 03 MSF split front chest harness. This worked well for me for two reasons. Being split front it’s very easy to put on, just like any vest you might wear. It also fits in such a way that my pistol carried in my IWB holster is still readily accessible. If I had to put this on in a hurry all I need to do is tuck in my shirt and I’m off to the races.

On the front of the harness I mounted a pair of Maxpedition pistol mag pouches, one each of single and double mag. These seemed to work fine and mounted pretty easily. The mags are not super easily accessible, but my intent was to use them to back fill my belt pouch – a role they performed superbly.

I’m also a fan of keeping medical gear on the body. I still haven’t found a good way to mount a small kit, but I definitely wanted a tourniquet that I could access easily. I ended up trying the 215 gear tourniquet holder to hold my CAT-T tourniquet. It held the tourniquet well all class without losing it. Experimenting at home, the holder works well for quick one handed access to the tourniquet.

For a dump pouch I tried the Maxpedition Rollypoly pouch. This pouch folds up to be not larger than a fist. I have a few complaints about this dump pouch. To place the pouch where I wanted it, I needed to wear it on my belt. This means I’m unlikely to get it on quickly. I suppose I would just dump my mags or use my shirt or a pocket if I needed to retain them, but it would be nice to be able to throw a pouch onto my belt without taking the belt off. When it is folded up, the pouch doesn’t take much space, and it is almost small enough to really consider for wearing all the time. Unfortunately it is just large enough to be very uncomfortable when seated in a car in the position I like to wear it: 7 o’clock behind my mag pouch.

When wringing out the rifle before the class, I noticed some heat and a few scratches on my hands so I figured I would try out some gloves. I bought some Mechanix “Original” gloves. They worked well and gave me good grip on everything I handled. Like most gloves they made some very fine motor skills difficult, but it wasn’t a huge problem for me. My biggest disappointment was when I realized early into using them that they were already damaged. The seam on the right hand palm near the thumb came unstitched. The gloves still did their job, but I expected more from a 20 dollar pair of gloves. Walmart gladly replaced them, and I have not seen a repeat of the issue on the new ones just yet.

What went right

Some equipment stands alone, but ultimately for a class like this, it’s how different pieces of equipment interact and work together that matters. Did the equipment I selected meet the mission profile I was trying to fill?

For the most part, yes. Everything was placed such that it was accessible. The split chest harness was not very bulky, and I felt like I could move fairly freely with it on. It was also pretty easy to quickly don.

What went wrong

I did have a few minor problems. The placement of my tourniquet caused it to pick up dirt from the range whenever I shot from a prone position. This in itself was a minor problem that became worse as I stood up. My Aimpoint pro sat at just a low enough position when slung that this dirt then would drop off the tourniquet and onto the rear aperture.

Not good.

A little bit of attention solved the problem (knock the dirt off prior to letting the rifle stay slung), and I’m not sure the issue was serious enough to warrant moving my gear around.

The dump pouch was also a huge pain as I had to run my belt through it. Would I really need the dump pouch if I were to ‘grab and go’? Probably not, but I would still prefer some easier attachment for the dump pouch. I’m still on the lookout for a suitable replacement.

Conclusion

My equipment got me through the class and looks as though it will work in the conditions I want it for. I was disappointed that the gloves would start falling apart so soon, so I’m hoping that was a fluke.

Other than the gloves, everything else held up to the class and functioned flawlessly.

Equipment Issue? Three tips to make sure it’s not you

Photo Credit: The U.S. Army

A common experience around firearms is the blame game. Is it the rifle or pistol that’s shooting crappy groups, or is it you? Too often it’s the gray matter behind the gun that is causing the problems, but the blame is put on the equipment.

Still, there are times when it really is the gun that is to blame. Nothing is more frustrating than not knowing if you are the cause of a problem, or if it is the equipment. When you are an experienced shooter, this determination gets easier as you have years of evidence of good shooting to fall back on. For the new shooter, this can be a difficult problem to solve.

There are a few steps you can take to help narrow down the culprit and save yourself some frustration. If you are shooting a new gun for the first time and run into issues, or your groups suddenly open up or move, here are a few ways to help identify the cause.

Check for loose parts

The most likely cause of a moving group or a group that opens up is loose sights. Check the front and rear sight or your scope and make sure they are tight. I have seen shooters not realize their sights were loose until their front sight or scope walks itself off the gun.

If you are frustrated at your performance, double check the sights before you get too upset.

The sights aren’t the only part that can come loose. Check that barrels are secure (on rifles) and for excessive slop in the action on pistols. Some rifles like the 10/22 can lose accuracy if the action screw (or any other mechanism) holding the action in the stock becomes loose.

These are easy things to check and are a good first step if you are having problems.

Have someone else shoot the gun

If the issue truly is the gray matter behind the gun, having another experienced shooter try the gun should prove it. Try to have someone you know is a better shooter try the gun, or just go for an increased sample size and get multiple shooters to try it.

An issue with the gun will become quickly apparent if no one else can shoot it better.

In the absence of other experienced shooters, shooting from a shooting vice or ransom rest is great alternative that takes any issues you may have out of the picture.

Shoot a different gun

Sometimes neither a rest or another shooter is available. When this happens, your best bet is finding another gun to shoot. Maybe it’s a completely different gun, or just another of the same model. If you can demonstrate the skills needed on a different firearm, you can either eliminate yourself as the problem or start narrowing down skills that might be specific to the gun you are having trouble with.

An alternate gun isn’t a perfect test, but whenever I feel like I’m doing horribly with a new gun, I like to go back to a known standard. I pick up something that I know I can shoot well to prove my technique hasn’t taken a vacation without telling me.

Poor results from your shooting can be very frustrating. Knowing how to resolve these issues quickly and calmly not only helps you get back to being productive faster, but it also eliminates unnecessary self doubt.

How do you identify whether an issue is you or the gun? Post a comment below and share.

What Everybody Ought to Know About Preparing for a carbine course

Photo Credit: DrJimiGlide

Next month I am signed up to take my first ever carbine course – a Carbine/Handgun course with Larry Vickers. I have great familiarity with how to get the most out of a rifle, but I really don’t have any true experience learning how to run a carbine properly.

I have taken pistol courses before, but there is a lot more going on in a carbine course. The equipment requirements are much more significant (we are after all running two guns), and the total number of skills that are involved is exponentially higher than just running a handgun.

Making preparations

When showing up to any class, it’s definitely worth investing some time upfront to make sure you arrive prepared. A three-day class like the one I am taking comes with a hefty price-tag, especially when you start adding up the ammo costs. Don’t waste the opportunity by coming unprepared.

Gear

A carbine class has much steeper equipment requirements than a simple pistol class. You need both a carbine and a pistol, some number of mags for each, a sling for your carbine, a huge pile of ammunition, a holster, and some sort of load bearing vest or belt.

When preparing for a class like this, there are four things you need to accomplish when getting your gear together.

1. Identify what you need

Scour the class listing and determine exactly what equipment is required for the class. The class instructor will generally list exactly what he or she expects you to bring. Don’t skimp on meeting these requirements.

It is also a good idea to read after-action reports and course reviews from other shooters who have taken this class in the past. Often another shooter’s insights into what they found to be useful or what they wish they had can save you a ton of pain. This also leads into the next point…

2. Research the gear

Once you have identified what equipment you need, it’s time to start selecting which products you will choose to meet your requirements. The number of holsters on the market, for example, is huge. Not all holsters are created equally so spend some solid time researching what is available and what will fill your needs perfectly.

Gear can be expensive and just adds to the already mounting cost of attending a course like this. Do your best to select items you only need to buy once. Better to spend a little extra money now than to find out your purchases were wasted on shoddy items that will need replacing. If you already have something that will adequately meet your needs, don’t buy something special just for the class.

3. Buy your gear

Now the fun part: spending money. Shop around so you don’t overpay, but definitely get your stuff on order sooner rather than later.

The last thing you want to do is to show up without your kit. The class I’m taking is in July, and I have just about everything I think I’ll need in hand and have had it in hand for a few weeks now.

4. Test your gear

Once you get your gear, make sure you set it up and test it. Don’t show up to the class and put all of your gear together for the first time.

The first goal of testing your gear is to make sure it all works from a basic level. If your gear won’t function together, or you can’t operate it, then you have a problem. Maybe something doesn’t work like you thought it would, or just doesn’t fit (for example a MOLLE mag pouch doesn’t work with the dimensions of your vest).

Once everything is on, you want to make sure the equipment is comfortable. Sure it must be functional, but remember that a three day class is a long time to be wearing uncomfortable gear. Maybe things are too heavy or just dig into you… make sure you identify and fix these issues now while you can.

Once you determine that your gear is comfortable, you want to spend some time trying to use it. Start off with dry fire/dry practice. Can you get magazines out of pouches and into your guns? Does your tactical sling work for you when you try transitioning to your pistol? Can you assume prone and kneeling positions with your gear on? All of these things matter and should be identified early.

The last thing you want is to be fighting your gear while taking your expensive class. You need to be a sponge ready to absorb all the instruction you can get. If you are distracted by failing gear, you won’t be getting the most out of the instruction you came for.

You also need to test your firearms. Don’t show up with a carbine and a pistol that have never been shot before. Put 500-1000 rounds through each and make sure they operate without issue. A semi-functional gun can do a lot to make your experience a crappy one.

Prepare your skills

Gear isn’t the only thing you need to bring with you to a class. You also need to bring some level of skill. Most instructors have a certain expectation of what you are bringing to the class. In any course beyond a basic pistol intro type class, you need to show up safe. If you can’t handle a firearm without putting everyone in the tri-state area at risk, then you need to get some help for that before you step foot on the range for your class.

Most instructors also have some basic expectations for skills. Try to identify what those skills are by reading class reviews and the class listing. Practice those skills before showing up and make sure you have them.

Don’t be that guy

Whatever you do, don’t be that guy who shows up to an intermediate or advanced level class with no skills and an inordinate need for attention and assistance.

Nothing frustrates someone more than having their expensive class squandered because some nitwit doesn’t know the basics or how their gear works.

Skills to be familiar with

Regardless of whether you have taken a class or not, you want to have some basic skills worked out. Many instructors will ‘test’ you to see what you brought to the show. Don’t be figuring these things out for the first time at the class, show up with some base level stuff:

  1. Drawing from your holster

  2. Accessing pouches

  3. Shouldering/shooting your rifle

  4. Operating your sling

  5. Adjusting your sights

  6. Malfunction clearance

  7. Any other topic that you expect to be covered in the class*

*This could be anything from low light shooting to shooting around barricades, etc. Be careful and tread lightly here. The last thing you want to do is ingrain a bad habit before taking a class. You do want to show up with enough competence to not slow the class down and have a good starting point to build from.

All of these things can and should be practiced dry, but also ideally in live fire as well.

Be prepared to enjoy your class

All of this adds up to one thing: enjoying your class and getting the most out of it. Three days (or two or one) is not a lot of time to learn a set of skills. Set yourself up to learn as much as possible and get the most from it.

You are paying for the class, why not take advantage of it?

What do you do to prepare for a carbine class?

Best of the Web 5/18/12

Another week, and some more great posts.  Here are my favorites from the past 7 days.

Mental Performance Blocks (gunnuts.net) – Caleb discusses a topic very near and dear to my heart.  I think most of the time that I perform poorly it has more to do with overconfidence or psyching myself out than a lack of skills.

Don’t Shoot .357 (thetruthaboutguns.com) – Have I mentioned that I don’t think revolvers are a very good defensive weapon?  Sure they can be good in the right hands, but here is yet another reason why you should just ignore the revolver when selecting a defensive weapon.  Many extol the virtues and the power of .357, but it comes down to being a difficult round to shoot.  If you are going to bring a revolver to the fight, at least use .38 special.

Training with a DA trigger (gunnuts.net) – A second good posts from Caleb this week… this one is about the double action trigger.  There are a lot of beliefs out there that a double action/single action pistol makes training more difficult than with a gun that has a consistent trigger pull like a striker fired gun for example.  Caleb tries to debunk this myth.  While he makes some good points, I think most DA/SA guns have a DA trigger pull that borderlines on ridiculous, making DA/SA a liability when you need to hit quickly the first time.

 

 

What Is Your Most Indispensable Piece of Training Gear?

When we train, we often use gear. Some gear is the actual gear that we are training to use – for example our carry pistol and the holster we carry it in. But there are many other pieces of gear we use because they allow us to more readily train realistically in a safe way.

Some pieces of training gear are certainly much more valuable than others. Some pieces of gear I can live without, others I cannot. Here are some examples of gear I have used:

Snap Caps / Dummy Rounds

Snap Caps and Dummy Rounds are invaluable for a number of training situations. They are great for Ball and Dummy simulating malfunctions, and they are crucial for practicing realistic reloads in dry-fire.

Blue Guns

Inert pistol trainers like blue guns are great for working on close quarters techniques and tactics. Being inert there is no projectile to worry about, and they are tough enough to stand up to hard use and abuse.

Targets

Targets aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when you talk about training gear, but whether you are at the range or practicing dry fire at home, having a target is key. Good targets add a lot to your training.

Trainer Knives

Training knives come in two varieties: non sharp replicas of real knives, and obviously fake stand-ins for real knives. The first group is great for working on knife access, especially in close quarters. The second type works well for practicing knife fighting skills. Both decrease the risk of a serious injury in training, as there is no good way to work on knife skills with live blades.

Focus Mitts and Shields

Focus mitts are excellent for working on striking accuracy and power. They can easily be moved to present different targets to your partner, and at the same time they allow you to work at full power without risking injury to your partner.

FIST Helmets

Protective gear like FIST Helmets allow for an improved level of realism in training. These protective helmets reduce the risk of serious injury when getting aggressive in a close quarters environment.

Mats

If you train any grappling art (like BJJ), you spend a lot of time on the mats. Systems that emphasize throwing (like Judo) are also very dependent on mats. Sure, you can train the same skills without them, but much more control is required and greater risk is involved.

Simunitions and Airsoft

Training firearms skills on live people with live guns is generally frowned upon. When a blue gun won’t do, an Airsoft or Sims gun can fill in the gap. They aren’t ideal for practicing multiple consecutive shots due to the reduced recoil, but they are great for scenario training.

These are a few training aids that I find valuable. If there is one I couldn’t do without it would probably be the snap caps, believe it or not. This is the one item I use almost every day, and it provides a multitude of options for training.

What training tools do you find invaluable? Is it one of these, or did I miss an important one? Please post a comment and let us know.

A Casualty in the War Against Unused Guns

An example of wear and tear from hard training.

Ironically enough, last night while I was dry-firing I noticed a casualty of my own.  I spoke yesterday about not letting dings and dents to your firearms caused by training to bother you.  Here you will see that my own Glock 17 lost a chip around the magwell.  I can only assume that thousands of repetitions practicing my emergency reload put some extra stress on that part of the frame.

Stuff happens.  When I noticed, I didn’t cry over spilled milk.  I grabbed a camera to document the occurrence and then went right back to what I was doing.  These things will happen if you use your guns.  The only thing worse you can do to a gun is to not use it at all.

 

Debunking the Revolver Myth (or Why Revolvers Suck)

Image by szuppo

There is a crowd in the armed citizen world that would have you believe that a revolver is the ideal weapon for home defense (or to put in your wife’s hands for home defense, or to carry, etc). They are wrong.

Here is a point by point breakdown of why a revolver is not the ideal gun for home defense, even for the lazy jerk who doesn’t want to invest training time.

Reliability

The majority of these revolver fans will tell you that their revolver doesn’t malfunction. This is mostly true. The only malfunction you can really expect in a revolver is a failure to fire. If this occurs the immediate remedy is to squeeze the trigger again and try the next round. Most revolver malfunctions are going to be blamed on the ammo and not the gun itself.

Most modern semi-auto pistols are plenty reliable. I’ve put thousands of rounds through my Glock 17 with very few malfunctions. Sure there have been malfunctions, but these are rare. If you maintain the gun properly, it won’t be likely to malfunction.

Simplicity

Revolvers are said to be simple. They have no external safety, so there is essentially a single input – the trigger. Aim and squeeze is all you need to do to shoot the target.

I’m sorry to break this to people, but my Glock 17 has a control interface that is just as simple. I too can aim and squeeze without the hindrance of disengaging a safety mechanism. If the lack of external safety is your reason to use a revolver, there are plenty of semi-auto pistols to fill that role as well.

Safety

Revolver proponents are often quick to judge semi-autos based on the risk of injury. It shouldn’t be news to anyone that firearms can be dangerous when used improperly. Revolvers come with their own caveats.

Both types of pistol can hurt you. Semi-autos used improperly can bite you as the slide reciprocates (a bad grip on the pistol where your hand comes too high on the back-strap of the pistol). This type of injury would be unpleasant, but it can be easily avoided with a little training. A revolver on the other hand can take off or seriously injure your thumb if it is placed too far forward next to the cylinder. Also correctable with training, but not as easily. Do you really want to worry about becoming thumbless under pressure? I don’t.

Capacity

Most revolver users will claim that a revolver has enough ammo to get the job done. Most defensive revolvers carry a maximum of seven rounds. What if seven isn’t enough? Do you feel confident that seven rounds could put down multiple attackers? Reloading a revolver requires much more skill than the semi-auto pistol. The motor skills required are also far finer since you need to either load each round or line up speed strips or a moon clip to reload it. When the adrenaline starts pumping, fine motor skills like this will be out the window.

If I want to reload my Glock, I slide a fresh magazine into the mag well and at the press of a button, I’m ready to keep shooting. Its a little more complex than that if you are worried about speed, but it is certainly easier than futzing with rounds in a cylinder under pressure.

Unfortunately, it seems that many revolver fans completely overlook the reloading issue. Maybe you won’t ever need more than those seven rounds, but are you willing to gamble this way with your life? Your family’s lives? Even sillier, if we assume that we will never need to reload, a semi-auto generally carries many more rounds than a revolver. My Glock for example carries 17+1, and with an extended magazine can carry as much as 33+1 rounds if home defense is my goal.

Ultimately revolvers are the lazy man’s answer. Too often people choose a revolver thinking they won’t need to invest as much time and energy into learning how to use it. You are kidding yourself if you think you can avoid putting in substantial time training with any firearm. If you honestly can’t find time to train, I still think a semi-auto offers tremendous advantages over a revolver, and has fewer problems than you may think. If you can’t invest the minimal time to learn the basics of your weapon, should you really be arming yourself at all? A weapon in the hands of an unpracticed individual is a threat to yourself and those you love.

Revolvers may sound like an easy option if you are looking for something you can simply point and shoot, but I think many of us in the self-defense community should have higher goals. I’ll take the capacity of a semi-auto over the purported reliability of a revolver any day.

Do you agree that semi-autos are superior to revolvers or are you a revolver fan?

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