Rangemaster Newsletter May 2015

6-May-15 – 04:01 by ToddG

Check out this month’s Rangemaster Firearms Training Services newsletter for a reprint of the pistol-training.com post All or Nothing: Red Dots as well as some excellent articles by Tom Givens, Chuck Haggard, and Craig “Southnarc” Douglas.

givens-smartTom’s “S.M.A.R.T.” approach to establishing training goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) should be particularly useful to folks who have been following pistol-training.com for a while and understand the importance of goal setting and performance tracking. Guaranteed you’ll read it twice.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

Glock Trigger Pull Experiments

27-Apr-15 – 20:57 by ToddG

twoglocksI’m currently breaking in two Glock gen4 19s. One will eventually become my everyday carry pistol. The other will serve as my primary training gun.

Because of the issues with my arm/grip/finger strength, I am making a lot of compromises regarding trigger pull weight that I wouldn’t have in the past. It seemed like the details may be of some interest to folks.

The two guns are -46 and -58 (serial numbers). Both guns had trigger pulls that weighed 7# out of the box as measured with an official NRA Weight Set using the center of the trigger … as you’ll see later, that makes an important difference.

46 got measured very specifically as I changed parts along the way:

That five pound eight ounce pull, when measured at the trigger’s tip, is only three pounds ten ounces. The configuration is exactly the same, it’s just easier to pull at the tip than the center. That’s important to keep in mind if you’re buying parts that are supposed to give you a two pound trigger pull… because it’s almost certainly being measured generously in the lightest spot possible.

58 was a stock-to-complete one time change.

  • 7# out of the box, standard gen4 dot connector
  • 5# 12oz after the following changes: Apex Ultimate Safety Plunger, Taran Tactical Light Plunger Spring, Taran Tactical connector, gen3 trigger bar (kept striker spring stock)
  • very good rolling break

I added the Taran Tactical trigger spring but the trigger would fail to reset when the slide went home gently. It didn’t seem like an issue worth dealing with, especially as it had provided no measurable benefit on 46. The five pound twelve ounce trigger pull at the center measures three pounds twelve ounces at the tip.

CAPsWhile 58 has a tiny bit heavier trigger — four ounces at the center and two at the tip — the pull is much smoother, has a better roll through the break, and maintains the stock striker spring weight. I may play with a reduced striker spring in it just for the purpose of getting a measurement, but the trigger pull is very satisfactory as is and provides the comfort of stock striker force for breaking primers.

My plan is to convert the 46 gun to the same setup as the 58.

Both guns sport Dave Spaulding’s Ameriglo orange CAP front sights (green tritium) and Pro Operator rears (yellow tritium) and Glock extended slide release levers.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

An All or Nothing Example: AIWB by Darren LaSorte

27-Apr-15 – 16:56 by ToddG

ARM_3551Darren LaSorte is a genuinely good guy. Scratch that, he’s a genuinely awesome guy. He has spent most of his adult life working full time in jobs to promote & protect the Second Amendment freedoms that we enjoy, in particular as a key member of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.

This morning, one of the NRA’s publications posted an article by Darren on its website. The article, called The Appendix Carry Craze, was pretty much a perfect example of the “All or Nothing” issue that pistol-training.com has been discussing for the past few months.

Darren doesn’t like aiwb. He’s tried it and it didn’t work for him. So he’s not going to do it anymore.

So far no problem.

  • It didn’t work for him.
  • He’s not going to use it.

Reasonable. Smart. Totally understandable.

But then he goes on to explain that it’s painful not just for him but for everyone (he refers to aiwb carriers as “masochists“). He also seems to believe that aiwb carriers — again to quote — “are becoming more like a cult than a group of gun owners concerned for their safety and that of others.

Come on. Really?

jmck-aiwb-pouchIf it doesn’t work for you, don’t do it. But don’t be so silly as to tell many of us that it’s not working for us when we seem to go about our days all over the country in every imaginable mode of dress and every imaginable environment carrying every imaginable gun comfortably and discreetly. And if you can’t even manage to carry a gun that way for a day, please don’t tell me about its tactical disadvantages because perhaps those of us who do it every day have a little deeper understanding.

Finally, I’d like to address one particular line from Darren’s article: “The devotees of the relatively recent appendix carry craze disagree with me.

You know all those drawings you’ve seen of people from a gazillion years ago with their black powder pistols shoved down the front of their belts? That’s how old appendix carry is, dude. It literally pre-dates holsters. The first dedicated appendix holster was probably the Summer Special by Bruce Nelson, which was only later modified to be a behind the hip holster. So aiwb is nothing new. People have been doing it basically as long as there have been guns small enough to wear on a belt.

Doesn’t work for you? Don’t do it. Works for me, though. So I will.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

Cleaning Guns by Todd Green

21-Apr-15 – 18:59 by ToddG

I know. Cleaning Guns by Todd Green is like How to Have a Successful Marriage by Tiger Woods. I clean my pistols every 5,000 rounds or so whether they need it or not.

c-cctSomeone at the NRA Headquarters Range turned me on to this little plastic doodad a while back and I have to tell you, it works exactly as advertised. The Channel Cleaning Tool by Calbico is one of those things that looks so simple you won’t believe it really works.

I can’t count the number of q-tips, toothpicks, and other household junk I’ve used up over the years trying to remove the kind of worn in, burnt on residue my guns often see from the abuse they get. There are two different sized ends (one narrow and pointy, the other wider and blunt) intended to handle just about every task you can imagine when it’s time to clean.

And believe me, this thing really works. The first time I tried it on my Burton 9mm 1911 Commander it was amazing how much residue it pulled off the slide rails and how easy it was to reach the little nooks and crannies in the gun without having to take anything apart. One bore patch, a little cleaning solution, and pow … clean gun.

Then I even went so far as to clean a Glock with it and … did you know that Glocks accumulate shooting debris? I never even realized. But in about a minute it was all stripped from the slide and the gun was actually clean. A Glock!

These things are silly inexpensive ($9.95 direct from Calbico, plus actual shipping which for me works out to $2) and available from Brownells, Wilson Combat, and possibly even the local gun shop near you. I keep one on my workbench and one in my range bag.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

To Infinity, and Beyond!

20-Apr-15 – 18:30 by ToddG

Some recent … let’s call them discussions over on my Facebook page have once again reminded me that some people don’t understand what training issue really means. All too often it is used as a catch-all to blame anything and everything on the shooter.

  • Had an accident with a gun with a two ounce trigger pull? Training issue.
  • Can’t shoot a Bill Drill in under two seconds? Training issue.
  • Can’t shoot a clean sub-5s FAST on demand? Training issue.
  • Can’t shoot a perfect 2700 at a bullseye match? Training issue.
  • Took a P7M8 apart and can’t get it back together while blindfolded? Training issue.
  • Can’t win the (insert name of sport here) World Championship? Training issue.
  • Haven’t had every safety rule & issue in the world beat into your skull so hard you’ll never have even the slightest chance of ever making any mistake whatsoever? Training issue.

The problem with calling these all training issues is that, newsflash, not everyone has access to infinite amounts of time, money, and training. Mortals need to balance their resources. That’s true for individuals, police departments, the U.S. military, and every other entity that deals with shooting.

So yeah. It’s a training issue. Every bloody thing is a training issue. But by using that phrase, shooters get to turn their noses up at people who make mistakes they think they’ll never make themselves, or can’t do what (they claim) they can do.

Everyone would benefit from more training. Most people cannot just snap their fingers and make the necessary resources appear out of thin air. Cops cannot make their academies spend a week’s worth of extra time and money on additional firearms training. And so forth…

So the next time someone says “it’s a training issue,” just mentally delete the word training from the sentence and nod politely. “Hey, your imperfection is due to issues!” No duh.

Train issues & stay safe! ToddG

Cleer EDC Pocket Kit

11-Apr-15 – 19:17 by ToddG

Most of my friends (and I) tend to carry a full IFAK — Individual First Aid Kit — or two on our range bags for emergencies that hopefully will never happen while we’re practicing. But as we see new emerging threats like the attacks in Paris and Nigeria, people are beginning to understand that gunshot and similar wounds can happen to ordinary people anywhere, not just on the practice range.

With that in mind, a relatively new company called CLEER Medical, the brainchild of some very established firearms industry experts, has put together a small, easy to carry “pocket” emergency kit.


CLEER_RATSKit_Parts__23438.1421331771.1280.1280While a bit tall, this entire blow out kit can easily fit in the back pocket of a pair of jeans or the chest pocket of a suit coat. It contains:

  • 24″ long Celox hemostatic gauze
  • A RATS one handed compact tourniquet
  • CLEER’s own Medical Easy Tape surgical tape
  • A pair of nitrile gloves (size L)
  • all in a LokSak bag which can be used as a small occlusive dressing if necessary

The kit costs $79 and is 3x6x1.2 inches in size. If you wanted to skip the tourniquet for size reasons, they also sell a mini-EDC kit for $64 that measures a tiny 3x4x1 inches. That’s smaller than a normal packet of the 3×5 cards we all use as targets.

I keep the full size EDC kit in my Uh-Oh bag and intend to add another one or two to my Jeep and my wife’s car. I’ll probably toss one of the mini kits in my range bag to supplement the existing IFAK (or save the weight and space of a second IFAK, depending on how you look at it).

pistol-training.com strongly urges all shooters to get at least basic first aid and gunshot wound care training. But even if you choose not to, remember that having this gear with you at least gives a trained but unequipped bystander a chance to save someone. That someone may even be you.

For the cost of the new gun you were going to buy just for fun & giggles, you can outfit your range bag, every vehicle you own, and your bug out kit with these small, lightweight, and simple to use emergency medical packs. They may not be fun, they may never be used, but they’re the kind of thing that when you need one, you’ll need it right now! As the saying goes, better to have it and not need it…

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

There Are Many Like It

6-Apr-15 – 21:50 by ToddG

I’m in the process of putting together a photo album of the Burton/Heirloom 1911 Commander that shows all the little things that make it different & special compared to all the other Commanders out there.

That got me thinking about the Glock 19 I was carrying. Here’s what makes it different than all the other G19s out there:

2015-04-06 20.38.38

By the way, the Gadget in front of the muzzle is the original test unit, which was made of aluminum, and has over 50,000 rounds through it. The production pieces will be steel, which is what all the other ones in the photo are made of (including the one on my carry gun, which you cannot see).

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

All or Nothing: Red Dots

3-Apr-15 – 12:03 by ToddG

178061_01_lgA never-ending topic of discussion these days is the pistol mounted MRDS (mini red dot sight) that is becoming more popular among shooters. As with so many things, it’s yet another “All or Nothing,” with too many people believing they’re best or worst under all circumstances for all shooters. And as usual, that’s just stupidly wrong.

For those not familiar with the MRDS, it is an optical sight that has no magnification and produces a red dot (usually battery powered) as an aiming point on the lens. The optic is mounted to the pistol’s slide and moves just as the slide does during recoil.

There are some undeniable benefits to an MRDS. The biggest is that it allows a shooter to focus on the target yet still see an aiming reference. There is no need to choose between the front sight and the target. You look at the target and the red dot is just there. For the majority of pistol owners who aren’t going to achieve the level of skill & discipline to choose the front sight under extreme stress, it essentially combines target-focused shooting with aimed shooting.

The MRDS also benefits shooters whose eyesight no longer allows them to get a clear sight picture with iron sights, particularly those who are far-sighted. Any sight is better than no sight.

There are some undeniable disadvantages to an MRDS, also. And the biggest of those is that the sight has a fairly narrow “viewable angle.” When the gun fires, the dot disappears as the slide cycles and rises in recoil. It comes back into view once the slide is back in battery and is relatively level along the eye/target line of sight.

This is a video I was quickly able to find on YouTube that demonstrates the “disappearing dot” quite well. You can skip to the 8m 30s mark to see exactly the problem.

YouTube Preview Image

Advocates of the MRDS often try to compare it to a rifle red dot scope, but that’s invalid. A rifle’s recoil arc is substantially less because the rifle has four (thanks SLG!)  points of solid contact rather than being controlled solely by the arms. Similarly, comparisons to IPSC Open-style guns are wrong because (a) the red dots on Open guns aren’t moving back and forth on a reciprocating slide and (b) the Open guns have compensators which keep the muzzle level during recoil.

For beginning and intermediate-level shooters the “disappearing dot” is no problem because they normally lose track of iron sights in recoil, too. But for more experienced shooters who understand proper sight tracking — keeping visual control over the gun through the entire arc of recoil — the MRDS actually slows them down. Instead of following the aiming point as it comes down from recoil as they’d do with an iron front sight, they must wait until the gun is level enough to make the red dot visible. Only then can they adjust their aim as necessary and press the next shot.

We all agree that blinking every time you fire the gun is bad. But somehow MRDS proponents don’t mind that their sight blinks in and out of sight with every shot. Curious.

The dot also disappears as things other than recoil make the gun move around. The best example of this is, not surprisingly, movement. While it’s easy to keep the gun very level when moving in straight lines (forward, back, left, right) at a controlled speed, it’s a lot more complicated when you’re moving in more realistic and dynamic ways. The drill where I’ve seen students get really frustrated with the MRDS is the Figure-8 Drill:

YouTube Preview Image

When the dot isn’t visible, you have to wait on it before you can shoot. With an iron sight, the front sight is always right there where it’s supposed to be. With the MRDS, the dot is only visible when the gun is relatively level.

The other major issues with MRDS are their visibility under certain weather conditions and their durability. These are problems which are both likely to be addressed as the technology advances.

For the vast majority of shooters, the MRDS is an advantage. It allows them to aim precisely when they’d otherwise get too rough (or no) sight picture for the needed shot. If I were outfitting a large police department or military unit with pistols, I’d want to put MRDS on those guns. It simplifies teaching and delivers acceptable performance with less time & effort expended.

But the MRDS, because it appears and disappears as the gun moves in recoil, has a lower performance ceiling than iron sights. In other words, your maximum potential speed with the MRDS is less than your maximum potential speed with an iron sight. That’s why pistol shooters tend to eschew the MRDS as they get more skilled, at least for close to moderate range shooting where speed is as much a factor as accuracy. (at longer distances, even the best pistol shooters tend to find that they can extend their bullseye range using the more precise, smaller aiming point from the MRDS compared to an iron front sight)

Of course, many fans of the MRDS don’t want to be told that their improved performance is due to a lack of shooting skill. I’ve even had one proponent claim that sight tracking was impossible and made-up! Seriously. They don’t want to hear that they’re not yet in the top five percent. Because as I’ve said before, 95% of shooters believe they’re in the top 5%.

If the MRDS lets you do what you want to do better than an iron sight, than the MRDS is good for you. That doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for everyone under every circumstance. And the reverse is also true. Just because you might have the skill level to eek a little more performance out of iron sights than an MRDS doesn’t mean that everyone is being held back the same way. Find what works best for you and don’t fall into the trap of assuming it’s the best for everyone else.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

(Smith & Wesson M&P C.O.R.E. photo from smith-wesson.com;

Target Accountability

3-Apr-15 – 03:22 by ToddG

typicaltargetThe photo on the left is something we’ve all seen countless times at the range: one target that has absorbed dozens, sometimes hundreds of rounds without any accountability. While it’s fine if you’re just out for a day of making noise and empty brass, from a training standpoint it’s not accomplishing much.

If you don’t know where your rounds are landing during live fire practice, there’s little point in live fire practice.

How do you determine if your last shot was good or bad if you don’t know where it landed? Sure, you can talk about calling your shots but the guy who only hits the bullseye once in a blue moon on pure luck isn’t calling shots. He’s just plain missing a whole lot. And he doesn’t know which shots are good and which are bad. He’s not getting any valuable feedback. And he’s not accountable shot for shot.

Paper and cardboard targets are inexpensive. Target pasters are inexpensive. There’s no reason to launch countless rounds downrange without knowing where they’re landing.

taped-targetPersonally, I typically use what is called “negative taping.” I don’t tape good hits in the scoring zone — because a good hit is a good hit — but I tape up all my misses. That way I’m always aware of a miss and my target is clean every time I start to shoot. The target on the right is an example of what I mean. At the end of an exercise, I can easily count up the misses and know how I did. For example, if I do 10 Bill Drills and six of my shots are outside the scoring zone, I know I got 54 hits and 6 misses, or 90% of my hits.

Leaving the good hits untaped saves me time and pasters; taping the misses means I am always accountable — and counting — my hits so I know when I’m hitting and when I’m not. I get simple quantitative feedback from the target that lets me know how I’m doing.

Some practice drills I want to get 100% of my hits. On others I may be pushing my speed and accept 90%. But if I cannot actually count hits and misses, it’s all just guesswork. And sometimes I want to know exactly where all my shots are landing, so I’ll paste every shot whether it was inside the “zone” or not. For example, if I’m shooting groups then I want to know (a) how big the group was and (b) how well I’m calling every shot.

I’ve been to far too many classes where targets never get replaced or taped. You just launch bullets downrange and get to tell yourself whether that last iteration of a drill was great or not. Worse, sometimes multiple students will share the same target and then it’s even harder to tell how you are doing because someone else’s bullet holes are all over your target. In either case, it’s all just chaos and fantasy. And the messier the target gets, the easier it is to accept lousy hits.

Take a moment between drills so your target actually tells you something about how you’re shooting.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

USPSA and IDPA to Merge

1-Apr-15 – 00:01 by ToddG

arghs-targetAfter more than a decade of rancorous and sometimes hostile co-existence, today the U.S. Practical Shooting Association and the International Defensive Pistol Association are announcing a joint restructuring that will merge the two organizations by the end of Summer 2015.

The combined organization will be named the American Run & Gun Handgun Sport. The sport will utilize an easily recognized target that has the same overall size and shape of both the USPSA and IDPA target, using the lower scoring zones from IDPA and the upper A & B scoring zones of USPSA.

Realizing that the two games had far more in common than most competitors wished to admit, their respective Boards of Directors have been meeting secretly since this year’s SHOT Show to bring a big tent, uniform approach to competitive action pistol sports. Rulebook proposals will be sent out by the end of June to current USPSA members for comment, and the final rulebook will be delivered to IDPA members in July so they can read it.

ARGHS will start with four Divisions:

  • Play; this division is intended for the majority of competitors who simply wish to enjoy a day of shooting in a competitive environment and will accommodate most common sport handguns.
  • Operate; a division dedicated to low profile tactical operations from concealment and/or anyone named Timothy, Operate will require competitors to shoot from behind barricades rather than run past them and perform all reloads while crouching.
  • Race; the Race division is specifically designed for handguns that no one would use for any reason other than an ARGHS match and/or someone who places a loaded magazine in a front pocket, will require all movement to be performed at a full sprint, and shooting from barricade positions must be performed while standing on one foot only.
  • Revolve; the rules for this division have not been finalized at this time because Jerry Miculek hasn’t told us what they will be.

The game’s classification system will be dependent on Division. For Play and Race divisions, shooters will be given a chance to shoot the same stage as many times as they want until they get the score that gives them their best possible ranking. For Operate, competitors will be forced to shoot an extensive course of fire covering skills that primarily have nothing to do with ARGHS matches. And Revolve division entrants will all be ranked Novice except for Jerry Miculek, who will simply be ranked National Champion Again.

Current USPSA and IDPA memberships will automatically become ARGHS memberships on September 1st, 2015.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG