SIG P229-1: When Will It Stop?

1-Mar-14 – 09:17 by ToddG

hillpeoplerunnerskitbag(Riehlized SIG P229-1 and Hill People Gear Runner’s Kit Bag)

When will the P229 have its first stoppage?

We’re going to do this a little differently this time. The gun will be purposely abused by doing no cleaning and no lubrication unit it finally has its first stoppage. And it’s already had 640 rounds through it since it was initially cleaned and lubricated.


  1. One entry per person. You cannot guess again once your number has been surpassed, or before your number is reached, or under any other circumstance. If you pick a number that has already been picked by someone else, you lose; you cannot guess again.
  2. Entries are submitted via comment to this post only. No comments on Facebook or elsewhere will be considered.
  3. Posting anything other than your guess disqualifies you permanently.
  4. The email address you use when posting the comment must be valid. If we cannot reach the winner, the next closest guess wins.
  5. We’ll use Price is Right rules. Whoever guesses closest without going over is the winner.
  6. For purposes of this contest, “stoppage” will apply to the first instance in which the SIG test gun fails to go completely through its normal cycle of operation, except for stoppages which are determined by to be ammunition-induced or shooter-induced. Essentially, anything that earns stoppage, malfunction, or breakage in the tally being kept each week.
  7. Guesses must be numerical, you cannot pick a date or “never.”
  8. No purchase necessary. Contest and offer void where prohibited by law.
  9. Keep in mind that the gun has already fired 640 rounds without flaw.


  • Pick the exact round count at which the stoppage occurs and you win a certificate good for one free complete gun refinish in either silver or black using Riehl’s new next-generation gun finish ($400 value).
  • If no one picks the exact round count, whoever comes closest without going over will win a hat and a gift certificate good for one free application of Riehl’s self-lubricating anti-corrosion finish to the internals of his pistol just like the test gun has ($100 value).

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG


28-Feb-14 – 07:24 by ToddG

For those who haven’t figured it out already, I have succumbed to Facebook and there is now a FB page. You can find it at:

There’s a ton of overlap with this site but the FB page also has a lot of things I find on other folks’ pages and pass along quickly. Consider checking it out and subscribing or liking or twerking or whatever the kids are calling it…

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

Shooting is Easy, Thinking is Hard

27-Feb-14 – 14:27 by ToddG

One of the first force-on-force (FOF) scenarios I ever went through as a student back in the mid-90′s: I walk around a corner and se two guys, one in a camo jacket and one in a red jacket, basically slap fighting. The guy in the red jacket — short, overweight — draws a gun, shoots camo jacket, and runs around a corner so fast I don’t even really process what’s happened.

Then a few seconds later, a guy in a red jacket — tall, skinny — comes running back around the corner with his empty hands stretched out in front of him. I shoot him in the face three times. Because: red jacket.

He rocked backwards enough that I got the mental signal to stop shooting but, instead of doing the typical “fall to the ground dead” role-player thing he just stopped with three blue paint marks on his face mask and yelled, “why did you shoot me?“ I was completely stunned. There he is, clearly unarmed, and I have just made a life-destroying mistake. Actually, I destroyed multiple lives. The guy I shot. Mine. My wife’s.

So I read the following account about Craig “Southnarc” Douglas‘s experiment at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference with more sympathy than surprise.

Polite Society 2014 – Southnarc Force on Force AAR

Read it. And don’t kid yourself into thinking that you’re too good to make the same mistakes.

Huge thanks to Karl Rehn and Dave Reichek of KR Training for taking the time to put this information out for the rest of us to chew on.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

When To Safe

25-Feb-14 – 09:29 by ToddG

One question I get asked frequently in class is, “When do you use the safety?

Now obviously you switch the safety off before firing. I think we’ve all got that covered intuitively. The question revolves more around when should you put the pistol back on safe. There are generally two schools of thought, and I am very deeply encamped in one.

  • School of Never: once the safety comes off, it stays off until you’re ready to holster the gun again.
  • School of Always: whenever the pistol isn’t being fired, the safety should go back on.

If you’ve been reading this website for any length of time, you can probably guess that I’m a huge practitioner of the latter approach. The same rules apply to a double-action gun that is normally carried in a hammer down, “decocked” double action condition. If the gun isn’t pointing toward a target, it gets deocked (or put on safe).

What exactly does that mean, “pointing toward a target?” Essentially it covers two conditions and only those two conditions:

  1. I’m actively firing rounds at a target.
  2. I’m actively driving the gun toward a target that I intend to shoot.

That’s it. Under any other circumstance, if the gun has been taken off safe (or a double action gun has been fired and left in the cocked condition) I’ll safe/decock as part of my return-to-ready ritual. When I dismount the gun, when I’m not aiming it at a target, it gets put on safe (or decocked).

If I’m going to move with the gun in my hand, it gets safed/decocked. If I’m going to scan past the immediate downed threat, I safe/decock. And obviously if I’m going to holster, it gets safed/decocked.

Why wouldn’t you do it this way? If you’re scared that you’ll forget to take the safety off when you need it, what you need is more and better training. If you’re intimidated by the double action trigger pull on your pistol, what you need is more and better training. Running around with a light, short trigger increases the odds that you’ll have an accident if you trip or simply perform a subconscious “trigger check” under stress… something I’ve seen experienced special operations and law enforcement veterans do countless times. You see it all the time in competition, too. This is a Master-class IDPA shooter running between shooting positions at a major match:


That dedicated competition gun probably has a 2-3 pound trigger pull in single action. How little effort will it take to cause an accident? (If you answered “2-3 pounds” you win)

Obviously, not all guns have an option to be put on safe or be put in double action mode. Most striker fired guns such as Glocks and (most) Smith & Wesson M&Ps are that way and people choose them in part because they don’t want a safety and don’t want to deal with a double action shot. That’s a personal choice and I can’t say it’s a bad one. If you look at the endurance test guns I’ve used in the past, the first four (S&W M&P9, HK P30 LEM, HK45 LEM, and Glock 17) made this whole discussion immaterial because they had no manual safeties and they couldn’t be decocked. Of course, none of them had trigger pulls below five pounds. And regardless of what some folks might want to tell you, a five and a half pound trigger pull is substantially different in terms of inadvertent contact accidents than 3.5#.

So if you do decide to choose a cocked & lock or traditional double action pistol, the safety or decocker on your pistol is there for a reason. If you find it a hindrance to your ability to shoot well, the answer isn’t to ignore it or run from it. Learn to operate the gun properly and benefit from the advantages it gives you.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

Are You Too Cool for School?

21-Feb-14 – 08:13 by ToddG

In the comments section of the recent “Lamentations and Hope” post, my friend nyeti said something that really resonated with me: Up until recently we were taking more classes than we taught, and still consider ourselves lifetime students, so we see both sides.

I’m always interested to see the difference between instructors who take classes and those who don’t. The personality types are pretty distinct and, at the end of the day, so are the teaching methodologies. The more “my way or the highway” an instructor is, the more likely he either never trains with anyone else or he only trains among his own core of clone instructors.

I try to take at least one class every year. Sometimes I take something basic, like a level 1 tactical pistol class or something else that’s just a step past “get your CCW here.” Why? Because it’s good to hear how other instructors present material. Great example was July 2012, I took Tom Givens’s Combat Pistol course. Tom had a way of adding a little stress to some drills that I stole immediately because it was bloody brilliant. And Tom is an outstanding instructor who could watch me and find mistakes I was making and make me better. I walked away a better instructor and a better shooter. It didn’t matter that it was a level 1 class. I got the benefit of Tom, not the benefit of a class name.

Then there are times when I’ll go to something more advanced, like Rogers Shooting School. I try to go down there every few years because there’s a level of pressure and performance demand that you don’t see anywhere else in the training world. And every time I go, I get access to a cadre of excellent instructors. I walk away a better instructor and a better shooter.

Probably the best example I can think of, though, is Greg Hamilton of InSights Training based out of Washington State. Greg once took a GOPLAT assault/rescue class. Don’t feel bad if you have to Google that, I had no idea what it was. Greg didn’t take the class because he thought he might get called in to assault an oceanic platform some day. He took the class because he thought there might be one small tidbit they’d figured out operating in complicated spaces that would apply to the broader body of work he cares about… because then he could bring that small tidbit back to his students who’d never, ever, get a chance to take a GOPLAT assault/rescue class. Or probably even want to. 

I always ask instructors where they’ve gone to school themselves, and when. Someone who hasn’t stepped out of his own square range in twenty years might not be as cutting edge high speed as he thinks.

 Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

SIG P229 Test Gun: Fully Riehlized

20-Feb-14 – 23:26 by ToddG


To read about the process to get there: P229 Thoughts by Bill Riehl

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

Ken Hackathorn Signature 1911

20-Feb-14 – 04:06 by ToddG

How much would you pay to have none other than Ken Hackathorn himself personally design your Wilson Combat Government Model?


When asked to develop his dream Wilson Combat custom 1911 pistol Ken drew upon decades of practical experience and his vast collection of custom handguns to develop the “Hackathorn Special”. This model is geared towards the needs of the serious defensive shooter and has “Everything you need and nothing you don’t”. The “Hackathorn Special” is destined to be a Wilson Combat classic handgun selection.

  • Full-Size Carbon Steel Frame
  • 30 LPI High Cut Checkered Frontstrap
  • Concealment Bullet Proof® Beavertail Grip Safety and Hammer
  • Fluted Chamber
  • Countersunk Slide Stop
  • Medium Trigger
  • Ball Endmill Cuts
  • Bullet Proof® Tactical Thumb Safety
  • 3 ¾# – 4# Crisp Trigger Pull
  • Bullet Proof® Magazine Well
  • Bullet Proof® Magazine Release
  • 5″ Carbon Steel Slide
  • Battlesight with Fiber Optic Front Sight
  • 5″ Stainless Match Grade Barrel & Bushing, Hand Fit
  • 30 LPI Slide Top Serrations
  • 40 LPI Serrated Rear of Slide

I know Ken has considered the Wilson CQB to be a gold standard in the 1911 world for many years. I’ve seen CQBs in his holster and in his hands more times than probably any other gun. And now there’s a Hackathorn signature model so you know you’re getting what Ken considers the ideal upgrades to an already incredible gun. Like the Wilson website says, destined to be a classic.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

photo courtesy Wilson Combat, used with permission

Fire For Effect

19-Feb-14 – 09:48 by ToddG YouTube Preview Image

When you practice, how often are you assessing your performance?

Are you looking at the target at the end of the day and saying, yay, I hit it a lot! Or are you shooting one Bill Drill and stopping to write down your hits and splits, rinse, & repeat?

If you read this site regularly, you know I’m a huge proponent of performance tracking. You can’t say you’re getting better unless you can look at data and show improvement. But that doesn’t mean  you have to write down every single detail of every single drill. You’ll end up spending three quarters of your practice time scribbling in your notebook.

It doesn’t mean you ignore your results except for the runs you record, either, though. Every shot I fire has an expectation attached to it. There is a standard I’m trying to meet every drill.

As an example, I do a lot of AMRAP drills. Let’s say I’m going to shoot three mags’ worth of AMRAPs in 2-second runs on an 6″ circle. Normally, my standard is 90% on that target if I’m trying to push my speed. So I fire 45 shots and I expect to see 40-41 hits. If all my shots are hitting the center 50% of the target then I’m not pushing myself to be fast and I adjust what I’m doing. If half my shots are missing the circle altogether then I’m not controlling the gun well enough… and I adjust what I’m doing. But I count them up and see whether I’m making my standard or not.

It means pasting or replacing targets after each set. If I don’t know whether I’m getting my hits there’s nothing good coming from my practice. That’s one reason why things like paper plates and paper cards make such great targets. They cost next to nothing. You can get hours and hours of practice for a couple dollars of targets and you’re pretty much shooting clean targets every drill. A horizontal 3×5 card and a vertical 5×8 card make some pretty decent anatomically correct target zones, to boot.

Of course, personally I use my Q-PTC targets and just paste misses outside the scoring zone I’m using. So again, I see the number of misses each drill. I can usually do a 250-300 round practice session with a single target… though sometimes with a whole lot of pasters. 8-)

Hold yourself to a standard when you shoot. Not just a standard of one great run to remember. Not just an end-of-day standard. If you’re throwing money down the bore, make it count.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

Lamentations and Hope: The Training Industry Today

17-Feb-14 – 18:38 by ToddG

So as my days doing the “traveling instructor” thing appear to be coming to an end, I’ve been reflecting lately on the current state of the training community… and it’s made me a little sad. Then yesterday I met a young instructor from half way across the country and was reminded that there are still genuinely good guys out there who are more interested in teaching and shooting than money and ego.

When I first started training seriously twenty years ago, the first school I went to was a local outfit. You’ve never heard of it. You’ve never heard of any of the instructors. But they were professionals and they were enablers. They never took the “only we can teach it” attitude. They encouraged students to save up and go to Gunsite rather than take a repeat class from them.

If one of the few traveling instructors of the era — like Farnam or the incredible Ken Hackathorn — was going to be in the area they’d call around to their qualified students and say, “You should cancel your Pistol-3 with us next weekend and take this instead!” They weren’t looking to suck every possible dollar out of us. They wanted us to become the best shooters we could be… and they were humble enough to realize that meant seeking other, different ideas and instructors.

When I first started teaching seriously, it was under the auspices of first the NRA at their Headquarters range and then during my time working at both Beretta and SIG. As such, I was pretty much uninvolved in the business side of things and just showed up to teach what I was told, where I was told.

When I started out on my own in 2007, though, things were still the way I remembered them for the most part. There were a lot more instructors doing the high-end traveling road show thing now but most of us knew each other personally or at least through one another. Sure there were some cliques and some now-famous rivalries but for the most part it was still a bunch of guys who’d support one another.

The internet drives the industry now, of course, and I’m the last person who can complain about that. If not for, none of you would ever have known I existed. That site gave me the opportunity to establish myself and it was one of the former senior staff over there who invited me to teach the first open enrollment class back in ’08. This blog was getting about 300 visitors a day before then. Now it sees over 7k on a typical day. I owe M4C 100% for that initial exposure.

But as training became bigger business, bigger business got involved in training. The booking houses (first Grey Group Training and now Alias) got started by one of the guys who runs M4Carbine.

There are some incredible positives to these booking houses. They bring a lot of great instructors into an area where maybe local hosts wouldn’t have the contacts to do it on their own. Instead of seeing one big name locally, now you get a chance to see a dozen. And usually only the best qualified, best vetted instructors get brought into the picture by these bookers because they can afford to be very select in whom they support. If I was going to list ten instructors off the top of my head that I’d recommend, odds are 80% of them are teaching for either Grey Group or Alias almost exclusively.

But there’s also a dark side to some of it. I ran afoul a few years back of the M4C/Alias guy and suddenly all the positive AARs about my classes got deleted from M4C. My account got deleted. Hosts trying to advertise my classes had their posts deleted and were in some cases banned from M4C.

As recently as last year there was a crazy online controversy that arose because one student in an Alias class wrote a class review on M4C that mentioned the instructor endorsed me… and the Alias guy (but not the instructor obviously) went ballistic that my name was mentioned positively. At one big facility where I’ve taught many times, Alias pushed them to stop allowing me to teach there at all! I’m thankful that they continue to invite me back regardless.

The booking houses take a percentage off every student’s enrollment (usually around 20% depending on the booker and the instructor) so they are motivated to get lots of students into classes. The amount of time and effort is pretty much the same whether it’s four students or forty but they make a lot more money with 40. Of course, on class day it makes a huge difference for the instructor… and the students!

I showed up as a guest to one once and there were more than thirty shooters in a class with just the one “name” instructor and one assistant. The booking company made thousands of dollars but the students suffered from lack of personal attention. It’s usually completely out of the instructors’ hands, too. I’ve talked to many of them and they show up amazed that their stated class limit (12, 14, whatever) was just ignored by the booking company and instead there are 20, 25 students standing around expecting miracles. Often the instructor isn’t told until the night before class how many students will be there because the booker is trying to push more students in at the last minute.

Again, that’s not to say everything about these companies is bad. As a matter of fact, just before my recent unpleasantness (see I was approached by one and gave it some very serious thought. It’s very convenient for the instructor, removes a ton of administrative effort, gets you far wider exposure, and puts you in a group of good guys who are generally good at working together and promoting one another honestly and enthusiastically.

But that brings me back to the guy I met yesterday (who will remain anonymous so he doesn’t get dragged into my drama). When I met him, he didn’t act like we’re combatants in the marketplace. We’re not rivals. We’re not competitors. Sure, there may be people who pick between going to him or coming to me for a class some day. But who cares? I’m not crying over his success, nor he mine. I want more, better trained shooters out there because I love hanging out with good shooters. I don’t care how you got that way or whether I made money in the process.

I want more, better skilled instructors out there teaching students to be better shooters. They’re not rivals, they’re partners. They’re part of my community. They’re people whose ideas I can borrow and whose opinions I can solicit, and hopefully the same is true in reverse. And even if I think a guy’s certain technique in one area is stupid, we can still be friends and not talk crap about each other on the firing line in front of students.

And it’s not like any instructor has the time to teach every student available, anyway. Even at my busiest I was teaching less than 20 open enrollment classes a year. That’s about 250 students. If I can’t bring in 250 people out of the 10,000 or so who take classes each year, then I’ve got a completely different reason to hang up my instructor shirt.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

10 Round Assault Course

15-Feb-14 – 23:53 by ToddG

My friend Ethan Johns from SWAT Magazine has come up with a couple of interesting new shooting standards drills. One of them is the 10 Round Assault Course, shown here being shot by Ethan himself:YouTube Preview Image

Target is a standard NRA B8 bullseye replacement center. Scoring is for actual points so a 10-ring hit is worth a lot more than peripherals.

Start from the holster at 25yd.

  1. On the buzzer, draw and fire two rounds (2).
  2. Advance to the 15yd line keeping gun safely in control, fire two (2) rounds.
  3. Advance to the 7yd line keeping gun safely in control, fire three (3) rounds.
  4. Fire three (3) more rounds while advancing forward from the 7yd line.

Score is simply listed as points and time. For example, the first time I ran this I scored 94 points in 13.40 seconds, so 94/13.40. Ethan recommends using 80 points in 20 seconds as a passing score.

This and Ethan’s other new test appeared in the January 2014 edition of SWAT Magazine.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG