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.

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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:

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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;

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


Latest F.A.S.T. Wall Inductee

29-Mar-15 – 18:57 by ToddG

Congratulations to Ballistic Radio host J.M. Johnston for earning his place on the F.A.S.T. Wall of Fame this weekend with a 6.73 run!

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG


25-Mar-15 – 03:11 by ToddG

Every time someone visits my site, I make a few pennies. That’s what those ads on the right do.

After a recent explosive “debate” on my Facebook page I have discovered the fastest way to becoming a millionaire.

Glocks are not perfect. They have some design features which are not necessarily ideal. Some people who choose Glocks should have chosen something else. Glocks are not immune to improper handling. Training is required to handle a Glock safely.

And now I’ll just sit back and watch my words turn into cold, hard cash.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG


When You See It

22-Mar-15 – 04:12 by ToddG


Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

Performance Priorities

19-Mar-15 – 01:50 by ToddG

If you’re more concerned with your previous best than what you can deliver right now cold on demand, you’re doing it wrong.

This evening I spent five hours having “dinner” with a very good friend and dedicated active duty military officer who is directly involved in the training of special operations units. Much of our conversation revolved around why it is far more important to train to a standard than chase after personal records while disregarding all the failures along the way.

You shot a 5 second El Presidente today? That’s great. Was it clean or was it just completed in under five seconds? Was it something you can do every time or was it something you managed once out of 20 tries, with the rest being slower, fumbled, laced with multiple misses, etc.?

Can you step up to the line right now, with no preparation, and guarantee you’ll do it clean in under 5 seconds? Because if not, don’t say “I can shoot a 5 second El Prez.” Say, “I once shot a 5 second El Prez.” There’s a difference.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

F.A.S.T. Coins & Langdon Tactical

7-Mar-15 – 14:16 by ToddG

Langdon Tactical, Inc. ( and are excited to announce a new alliance to preserve the F.A.S.T. Coin test into 2015 and beyond.

F.A.S.T. Coins have been a staple of classes and events since 2007, awarded to only the most highly skilled shooters who have been able to prove their on-demand shooting ability by successfully executing a short but comprehensive test. In those years, only ten people have earned Coins.

Ernest Langdon, owner of Langdon Tactical, was selected for this responsibility not only because he himself earned Coin #4 but for his decades of dedication to teaching tactical firearms skills to military, law enforcement, and private citizens as well as the competition skills that won him 10 national shooting championships and 2 world speed shooting titles.

As Todd Louis Green of stated when the agreement was reached, “There is simply no better choice than Ernest when entrusting this legacy for future students of practical pistolcraft. Ernest’s dedication to teaching and his continuing leadership in the firearms industry guarantees that these F.A.S.T. Coins will be in the most capable hands and awarded only when truly earned.”

Langdon Tactical’s F.A.S.T. Coin responsibility will formally begin at the Advanced Tactical Pistol Skills class starting March 11, 2015 in Chino, California.

You can read more about Ernest Langdon’s professional experience at as well as find more information about upcoming Langdon Tactical classes.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

Damsel in Distress

2-Mar-15 – 15:55 by ToddG

About a month ago on I described a scenario I’ve run in Force on Force scenarios many times:

I used to run a pretty straightforward FOF scenario in which the student was standing around minding his own business when a couple walked around the corner. First the guy started calling his gf/wife/whatever a whore and yelling at her about the way she dressed, wore too much make up, etc. Then he’d grab her by the shoulders and shake her a bit and yell more loudly. If the student still did nothing, he’d hit her and knock her to the ground.

At any point, if the student intervened the guy would draw a gun. When the student drew his own, the GF would then draw her pistol from a position off to the side of the student and burn him down. Then the police arrived on scene and both the abuser and GF said the student tried to mug them. The number of students who couldn’t wrap their heads around that (very realistic) turn of events was close to 100%.

ll2Limatunes (aka Melody Lauer) posted her experience from a very similar FOF scenario (NSFW, printed language) being run by Craig “Southnarc” Douglas at this year’s Rangemaster Tactical Conference. Melody goes through every moment and every thought throughout the entire challenging situation.

If you have ever thought about saving the “damsel in distress” then you really need to read Melody’s post and consider how these things tend to end in the real world.

Thanks for taking the time to share all of that with us, Melody.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG