Posts Tagged ‘.22LR’

Walther P22 perched in crook of a tree

Range Report: The Walther P22

For many years, almost every .22 caliber rimfire self-loading pistol was a single-action design. Most did not use a hammer. Instead a firing pin in a bolt was utilized. An exception was the seldom seen, but very desirable, Walther PPK in .22 LR. While a good pistol, the Walther was expensive and sometimes finicky concerning ammunition and reliability. The subject of this report is a modern polymer frame double-action first shot pistol that is also desirable but affordable. The double-action first shot pistol has many good attributes for general use, particularly for outdoors use and personal defense as a house gun.

Bob Campbell

American Tactical (GSG) .22 Caliber 1911

Recently, my grandson and I enjoyed firing a top grade 1911 handgun. The pistol features a beavertail grip safety, crisp trigger, high-profile sights that are not only excellent examples of the type but adjustable, a light rail, and an ambidextrous safety similar to the Les Baer. The pistol handled well, proved quite reliable and more accurate than we would have guessed.

Open 22rd magazine

Magazine Design Dilemma: Open or Enclosed?

The long-gone, unlamented Chauchat light machine gun of World War One was faulted for many design and manufacture defects. One complaint that had the greatest influence on the subsequent firearm design was the open-sided magazine — an awkward, flimsy mud-trap. Since then, open-sided magazines have been relegated to a few pistol designs. After WW2, even those largely disappeared.

S&W 22a

.22 LR Competition Pistols: What to Buy, What Not to Buy

With ammo costs going up and availability going down, many shooters are turning to the good old .22 Long Rifle cartridge for affordable shooting fun. Rimfire competition shooting leagues are springing up across the country. New shooters are mastering the fundamentals of marksmanship. Experienced shooters are rediscovering that .22 LR competitions are a fun way to hone their skills to a fine edge. So, what should we look for in a competition .22 pistol?

A personal weapon is always a gift of trust

The Great Marginal Utility of the First Gun.

To a person who has no food, even a modest meal is a life-saver. To another, well fed and sated, additional food is of little marginal utility. A pair of pants is a boon to the naked, while a whole closet full of outfits is of minor importance to the clothed. It’s the same with defensive weapons: the first weapon is of utmost importance, the rest merely refine the solution. By weapon, I mean both the object and the mindset required for its use. A knife, a stick, or a rock are all weapons in trained and willing hands, while a rifle unsupported by the will to use it is merely a firearm.


Don’t Use Too Much Gun!

Yesterday, I stayed at a friend’s cabin in the backwoods of Tennessee. In the evening, her cat discovered a mouse that infiltrated from the outside. Three hours later, the cat was still chasing the mouse all over furniture, running through the upstairs bedroom, then along the hallways. Something had to be done to remove the rodent since the cat was clearly not up to the task.

The first range trip -- properly organized -- is usually a lot of fun for the new shooter

How to Introduce New Shooters, Efficiently

My last range trip lasted one and a half hours. The new shooter fired about 140 rounds of .22 ammunition and was able to hit quarter-sized targets at 25 yards on demand. I’d like to share the practices which allowed such progress to happen.

Mossberg 464 SPX

Why the Mossberg 464 SPX Doesn’t Suck

I know what most of you are thinking, why in the name of Zeus’ derriere would anyone want a tactical lever action rifle? We mentioned this strange little lever action during SHOT Show a few weeks ago, and it received exactly the response we thought it would. I have to admit, when I first looked at this rifle, I squinted in agony. I looked at the Mossberg sticker on my cubicle wall and sighed, and then I walked outside, put my hands up, and yelled, “Why Mossberg? Why!” When I came back to my senses however, I began to see the rifle as something different. My immediate disgust and hatred slowly turned to mild tolerance. I began to look at the rifle like an ugly little stray dog, chambered in .30-30.

Cell Phone Camera Theory of Defensive Firearms

Larger camera—and guns—can get in the way of daily activities

Larger camera—and guns—can get in the way of daily activities

Tiny and precisely made, .25 Baby can come in handy as last-ditch defense.

Tiny and precisely made, .25 Baby can come in handy as last-ditch defense.

I am a professional photographer. My main camera with a general purpose lens weighs in at over five pounds. My backup with the most compact lens, at over three. It’s no wonder that these wonderful cameras sometimes get in the way of doing other things, such as shooting guns. I sometimes find myself carrying just a compact camera in my jacket pocket. Much inferior to the pro cameras, it still allows for publishable photos under most circumstances. But sometimes even that lightweight camera isn’t with me and I take photos like everybody else, with a cell phone. The results are no more than barely adequate, but how good do they have to be? The same question comes up in the endless discussions about the minimum necessary sidearm. Obviously, a full-size .45 is usually preferable to the pocketable .38, but what of the mouse guns? Are they like the cell phone cameras, deprecated by most people and just as enthusiastically used on a daily basis?



This low-resolution photo became my best-seller.

This low-resolution photo became my best-seller.

The other use of miniature weapons: defusing yet another anit-gunner stereotype.

The other use of miniature weapons: defusing yet another anti-gunner stereotype.

When it comes to cameras, I have to remember that the most lucrative photo I ever licensed was taken with a sub-megapixel camera in 1999 and published in a major ad campaign in 2010. Having any camera in hand trumped all other considerations. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that having any weapon, be it a small gun, a knife or a pointy stick, is instrumental in beating off attacks. A pocket pistol might not help much against a Beslan-level terrorist group but often suffices to discourage a single mugger or a rapist. And small guns are awesome conversation pieces to bring up whenever somebody claims that people carrying big guns are just compensating!

.22 LR AR-Style Rifles

This .22LR thing is really catching on. Quite a few of the guys around the office had conversion kits for their ARs before everyone and their gun manufacturing mom started making dedicated .22LR AR-style tactical rifles. And of course, with everything like this there are two sides of the fence:

Left side: “Just get a .223 and a conversion kit.”

Right side: “Conversion kits can be problematic. Get a .223 and a .22LR.”

Well. I sit on the right side. Of course. So here are five .22LR AR-style rifles.


CMMG M4 LEP 22 Evolution Rifle

CMMG M4 LEP .22 Evolution Rifle

CMMG M4 LEP .22 Evolution Rifle

CTD Ben built his .223 SBR AR-15 on a CMMG lower. And I know for a fact that CTD Ben doesn’t mess around. He’s not going to build his precious baby on a piece of junk. CMMG makes quality bits. The CMMG M4 LEP 22 uses a standard AR-15 lower receiver and has a patent pending forward assist adapter that functions like their 5.56 model. This CMMG rifle has all the AR-15 accessories that you want like a flash hider, six-position stock, and an M4 heat shield handguard. It also boasts a MIL-SPEC buffer tube, MIL-SPEC fire control group, and MIL-SPEC takedown pins. With a 16-inch barrel and 25 rounds of .22 Long Rifle, the solidly built CMMG M4 LEP is a super fun and super accurate rifle to shoot.

CMMG M4 LEP (Let Every Piece) be mine.





SIG Sauer SIG522 Classic

SIG Sauer SIG 522 Classic

SIG Sauer SIG 522 Classic

I remember when SIG released the 566; I was deeply curious. It looks unconventional, but it was a much-anticipated release and those who were looking forward to it and could afford it, bought it. Apparently, the SIG 556 drew a lot of attention at the range. I wasn’t the only one curious. I shot the 522 and I liked it. It just didn’t feel as good for me as the M&P 15-22 did. But my two shooting buddies I was with that day preferred the SIG to the S&W. So really, it is just a matter of fit and feel rather than function, because the SIG functioned just as well as the S&W. The SIG 522 features 556 parts with the same side-folding stock, polymer forearm, and metal receiver with Picatinny rail, but of course shoots the .22 Long Rifle, not the .223.

I’m not only curious, but convinced.




Smith & Wesson M&P15-22

S&W M&P 15-22

S&W M&P 15-22

Oh hey look! It’s CTD Mike’s AR-15-build’s little sister; or brother. I know I sing the praises of the S&W M&P 15-22 a lot, but it’s because it’s a seriously good rifle. This one is like mine, the MOE version with Magpul MOE stock, grip, and sights. But this one is a little bit more fashionable because it comes finished out in Flat Dark Earth. The S&W M&P 15-22 has the same standard operating parts as the .223/5.56 models, but is chambered for .22 Long Rifle–which means you get S&W reliability, but a lighter and cheaper gun to shoot. Plus, it has a threaded barrel so if you want to, you can add a suppressor. It has a 16-inch carbon steel, match-grade precision barrel with A1-style compensator and holds 25 rounds.

Okay, okay, I’ll get one just to make CTD Suzanne shut the hell up about this thing.





Umarex Colt M4 Semi Automatic Carbine

Umarex Colt M4

Umarex Colt M4

I’ve shot one of these, too, and I was quite pleasantly surprised. Only because Umarex makes air rifles and air soft, so I wasn’t sure about their firearms. However, did you know that the Umarex Colt .22 LR rifles are made by Walther? I know. Right?! Makes you take a double take, huh? These guys are accurate enough to knock down some steel plates for fun shooting and don’t cause you any more problems than any other tactical .22 I’ve shot. The Colt M4 .22 has a 16.2-inch barrel with a threaded muzzle, a removable carry handle with an A2 rear sight, and holds 30 rounds—which is five more rounds than the other .22 LR tactical rifles I mentioned above.

Colt, Umarex, Walther, Whatever… It’s mine.





German Sport Guns GSG-AK47



When we did our Team AR-15 vs. Team Shotgun debate, many of you asked us where Team AK-47 was. Yes, I know this post is about .22LR AR-style rifles, but I decided that I would throw in this GSG AK-47 .22LR rifle to keep all you Team AK peeps happy. I have not had the opportunity to shoot this one yet, but I have shot the GSG MP5 clone in .22LR and I liked it. By the way, when you buy this GSG AK .22LR from us, give me a call—let’s go shooting. So they say that the GSG AK-47 chambered for .22 Long Rifle looks, feels, and functions almost identically to a real AK. It even weighs seven pounds, which is about average for an unloaded 7.62×39 AK. It has a 16.5-inch barrel, a black synthetic stock, and handguard and holds 10 rounds.

Team AK-47. (but in .22LR.)

Quantity has a Quality of its Own

Henry Golden Boy .22 lever action holds 16 rounds.

Henry Golden Boy .22 lever action holds 16 rounds.

Use of a .22LR rifle makes practice easy and enjoyable.

Use of a .22LR rifle makes practice easy and enjoyable.

Not everyone can shoot powerful centerfire guns. For a person with wrist damage, even a mildly  recoiling 9mm service pistol would be too much. A person with little upper body strength would be  hard-pressed to handle an AK or an M1 carbine, though they feel very light to most shooters. Shoulder  damage would make recoil of a .223 feel excessive. Many turn to rimfire guns as the best alternative, counting on landing a greater number of hits to make up for the lower power of the round. Is that prudent?

Let’s look at the home defense application first. The reduction of power from the oft-recommended  12ga or 20ga shotgun to a .22 rifle is drastic. A typical .22LR bullet weighs 40 grains, same as a .30  caliber #1 buck pellet. A single round of buckshot contains 16 of them, more than a typical rimfire  magazine. Penetration is very similar at 10″ to 14,” with 40gr hollow points expanding to about .30  caliber in gelatin when fired from rifles. While rifle bullets retain velocity further downrange, that’s  irrelevant for the typical in-house defensive use. Due to insufficient penetration, 30-grain varmint  rounds are less effective against human size attackers.

By this comparison, we can expect a magazine dump from a sporting semi-auto .22 rifle to have an  effect similar to a single shotgun blast. A rimfire rifle has no muzzle flash and much less  pronounced report compared to a shotgun. Given the minimal recoil of such rifles, good practical   accuracy is actually quite typical in home defense situations. For the same reason, diligent practice  is possible even for those who cannot handle the recoil or the weight of the bigger rifles.

The down sides to using rimfire used to be the reduced reliability of the ammunition, the awkward  rimmed cartridge shape for autoloaders and the limited magazine capacity. Fortunately, these  problems are now largely imaginary. Let’s consider them one by one.

“Everyone knows” that rimfire ignition is less reliable than centerfire. That is certainly evident with  bulk ammo. Some brands and lots may have a misfire every 20 rounds. This lack of reliability is  most certainly not an issue with the higher grade cartridges. A CCI competition shooter has  recently reported a million rounds fired without a single misfire. While not up to a million rounds, I’ve  had zero malfunctions over tens of thousands of such defense-oriented types as CCI Mini-Mags  and Velocitors, or any of the Eley-primed types.

10-round box magazine.

10-round box magazine

32-round box magazines

32-round box magazines

50-round rotary magazines

50-round rotary magazines

Rimmed cartidges are indeed rather tricky to fit into magazines. Fortunately, we’ve had well over a  century to perfect the feeding devices. Straight box magazines can hold up to a dozen, tube  magazines up to 18, curved box magazines up to 32. They all work fine. Some people prefer the  smaller flush-fitting box (or rotary in the case of 10-22) magazines, others like the higher capacity  and the additional leverage at reload time afforded by the extended models. Rimfire drums can  hold 50 rounds but keep only the few rounds in the feed tower under spring pressure. The  remaining 40-odd cartridges are supported by the individual cogs. That solution drastically reduces  the friction inside the rotary magazine and also eliminates possible deformation of the unjacketed lead bullets. 275-round pans for the American 180 submachine guns remain a less practical  curiosity. The plus side of the rimmed design is the simplified headspacing which permits looser  chambers and thus greater tolerance for fouling.

AR15 with a dedicated .22 upper

AR-15 with a dedicated .22 upper

Sig522 with a red dot sight.

Sig522 with a red dot sight.

10-22 with a light/laser and a folding stock

10-22 with a light/laser and a folding stock

AR15 with a .22 conversion kit

AR-15 with a CMMG .22 conversion kit

The sporting background of the traditional rimfire rifle makes it a bit challenging to operate under  pressure, especially when reloading is required. Fortunately, a large number of rimfire clones of  fighting rifles are now available. These mimic Sig 556, AR-15 and SU16 carbines in all but the  caliber and the weight. Most use polymer lower and sometimes upper receivers to shave off a  pound or two of weight, with almost another pound saved by the lighter ammunition. These guns have familiar oversized controls, accessory rails and tend to be fairly robust. When recoil is a concern but weight isn’t, rimfire conversion kits become an option.

Keltec SU22, a very light carbine.

Keltec SU22, very light carbine.

Peter Grant, a friend who has trained many handicapped shooters, favors .22LR in very few  cases, mainly when centerfire is just not an option. He said that the low cost of the ammunition and  the minimal wear on the shooters allowed his trainees to hit a rolling ping-pong ball reliably after  expending hundreds and even thousands of rounds in practice. Three of his students used laser sighted rimfire pistols to fight  muggers, all with the same outcome: dead thugs had their faces  cratered by multiple .22 slugs. With the same rounds being notably more energetic when fired from  rifles, there’s no doubt that they can be adequate for self-defense. A 12-gauge shotgun or a  centerfire rifle may be the choice for most Americans, but the lowly rimfire rifle is far from  inadequate. In many cases, it gets pressed into defensive service simply by being closer at hand than a dedicated fighting rifle. In any case, it’s worth knowing what it can and cannot do in combat.

DIVA WOW AR-15 Clinic Wrap-Up

On Saturday October 8 at Quail Creek Gun Range in Argyle, TX, the DIVA WOW organization held their second annual AR-15 clinic. For women only, the day focused on shooting the AR-15, but we also had the opportunity to shoot pistol, shotgun, and .22 LR rifles.

The DIVA WOW organization is a women’s group devoted to introducing women into outdoor sports, including archery, shooting, hunting, and fishing. Their motto is:

  • Women helping women.
  • Women teaching women.
  • Women supporting women.

They divided the clinic into three different categories of shooting: fun shoot, 3-Gun, and target. The day ended with a wine-down (in my case, a beer), and a raffle for a DPMS AR rifle with leopard print furniture.

Shooting Suppressed AR-15

Suzanne Shooting Suppressed AR-15

My group started out with a “fun shoot” using .22 LR rimfire rifles, the DPMS, GSG-522, SIG 522, and the M&P 15-22. There were three stages set up, all with reactive steel targets in different configurations. We even had a chance to shoot moving steel targets using the Caldwell Shooting Gallery. (I always wanted to know how that thing worked.) Using the DPMS with an EoTech, I classify this stage as more fun than frustrating.

When I first saw the GSG-522 laying on the table, my heart skipped a beat. We’re going to get to shoot the MP5?! Cool! However, no, it was the clone in .22LR made by GSG. This little guy really surprised me. I liked how it shot.

Next up was the bouncing ball targets. The goal was to see which girl could shot it furthest down range. Daryl Parker, Top Shot contestant, founder of the Marksmen Challenge and author, was on hand to help us out. He showed us how to hold the rifle using our thumb and index finger to form a V to rest the rifle’s forearm on. When it was my time to shoot, Daryl had to keep reminding me about “trigger reset.” Once I finally remembered, we discussed how much of a difference it makes for accurate follow-up shots.

Suzanne and Deb Cheek

Suzanne and Deb

My favorite stage on the fun-shoot was a “race” against the other girls in my group to shoot steel targets, using the SIG 522 or the M&P 15-22. The atmosphere was strong in “fun” and less in “score.” I was not a fan of the SIG 522. It was big, bulky, and not any more accurate than any other gun we shot that day. I absolutely fell in love with the M&P 15-22. In fact, I put it in layaway on Monday. It is lightweight, easy to use, and all the controls are close enough for me to use without having to manipulate the gun all around, or take my hands off the grip to reach the safety. I was getting excellent groupings on my headshots during this stage. One of my new friends who had been debating between a .22 conversion or a new upper for her AR-15 also fell in love with the M&P 15-22 and said that getting to shot it had made her decision- she was just going to go with the M&P and scrap the conversion and upper all together!

After lunch, we met up with Iain Harrison, winner of Top Shot Season 1, Deb Cheek, 3-Gunner, and the guys from Lone Star Armory for our “3-Gun” practice. Lone Star Armory custom builds AR-15s and precision bolt-action rifles. During this stage, we shot suppressed AR-15 rifles in .223, a Benelli semi-auto shotgun that holds a whopping 20 rounds (I know. Wow!), and a SIG pistol in 9mm.
I do not particularly like shooting shotgun, they are heavy and kick badly, and so to go ahead and get it over with, I volunteered first. One of the DIVAs helped us with learning the function of the shotgun, and how to hold it properly thus minimizing recoil. I really surprised myself—five steel silhouette targets—all five headshots without a miss! And yes, shooting the Benelli wasn’t horrible. It has a smooth action and is very simple to shoot, but it still hurt so I did not volunteer for round two.

Iain Harrison and Suzanne

Iain Harrison and Suzanne

Deb Cheek gave us a pep talk about situational awareness and then showed us a demonstration of a speed match with her pistol. During her stage, we shot a .22 LR rifle at steel reactive targets. I was spot on with her rifle and when I finished she yelled out, “That’s exactly why I love Texas women!”
Next up was Iain’s stage; six steel targets. Sounds easy, right? I disappointed myself this stage. We shot a 9mm Sig with standard sights. I had never shot a SIG before. It was not much different from other polymer-framed pistols of which I am familiar. My first two targets went down without a hitch, but for the life of me, I could not get that third target down. I ran out of ammo and was unable to complete the stage. While trying to hit that third target I blurted out, “why can’t I hit that damned thing?” Iain told me it was because I was anticipating the recoil, which there wasn’t much, so I don’t think that was it. I mean, I can shoot a Glock 19 quite well if I do so say so myself. But, Iain is cute and in a kilt and I was nervous. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Hey, Iain, call me. Give me a chance to redeem myself with your pistol.

The guys from Lone Star Armory were full of knowledge and very professional. We compared shooting a regular .223 rifle with a suppressed .223. One pointer I appreciated was “Do not look up from your rifle. You will not see your shot. If you look up from your rifle, you will lose your sight.” Andrew Brady, who owns the company, gave me extensive pointers on my stance so my performance wasn’t horrible.

Our final stage was a .223 target shoot using DPMS rifles at 100 yards. Thank God, this stage was sitting at a bench rest, my arms and feet were getting pretty tired. The DPMS rifles had Nikon scopes attached and we were able to shoot three different rifles with 30 rounds each. My second try on the rifle range was a full-dipped camo DPMS and after a few pointers from my range officer (R.O.), such as slowing down my trigger and remembering to breathe, my last 10 shots were consistent hits with great groupings.
This was my first time shooting with the DIVAs and I had an eight-hour day full of shooting, bonding, and fun. All the R.O.s on hand were fun and helpful, yet professional. Anticipating more class time than shooting, I was surprised that the day focused on shooting. I shot about 300 rounds! Getting to try so many different guns was the highlight of my day—that and all the fabulous

Pistol-Mounted Lasers in Combat

Compare this X5L light/laser on a standard M1911 to the movie prop on a longslide .45 pistol!

Crimson Trace red laser on Keltec P32

Crimson Trace red laser on Keltec P32

Ever since the film Terminator brought the pistol lasers out into the public eye, the debate has raged about their utility. With the miniaturization of the actual lasers and development of relatively efficient batteries with long shelf life, laser sighting became available for almost every modern pistol. The opinions on laser sighting range from “unnecessary,” “gives away your position,” “just learn to use iron sights to “wonderful,” “liberating” and “indispensable.” Let’s look at lasers in detail. (Viridian X5L | CTC for P32)






Viridian C5L on a Keltec PF9

Viridian C5L on a Keltec PF9

Crimson Trace laser on a Keltec PF9

Crimson Trace laser on a Keltec PF9. The holster purse is made by Gun Tote'n Mamas.

Red or Green? While the power of consumer lasers is limited by law to 5mW, green lasers are by far better visible than red, especially in daylight. Why doesn’t everyone use green? They are bulkier and require larger batteries for the same runtime, though that also allows the integration of a weapon light into the same unit.. A green laser is very practical as a rail-mounted unit for quite a bit harder to fit into a grip panel or make fit seamlessly with a subcompact pistol. Some pistols, such as Keltec PF9 accept both types. Others, like Keltec P32 or Ruger LCP, are much too small for anything but a red laser. While 5mW is the limit for eye safe weapon lasers, some are available in colors ranging from red to blue and in power from 300mW to 2W, hundreds of times stronger than the standard consumer models. They come as parts kits provided with assembly instructions and used manly for emergency signaling. While some people have improvised gun mounts for them, those lasers lack windage or elevation adjustments and may be less recoil-proof. These lasers are not eye safe when tightly focused. Their beams may be defocused to provide coherent light illumination matching shotgun pattern spread.





X5L light/laser on a Keltec SU16E carbine

X5L light/laser on a Keltec SU16E carbine

Viridian GLK laser on an inert trainer show how subtle the laser actually is

Viridian GLK laser on an inert trainer show how subtle the laser actually is

Doesn’t the laser give away my position? In a fog or a smoked-up room, it can. However, there’s a reason why almost all advertising photos of lasers have the beam drawn in. For the photo on the left, in order to get any visible trace at all, I had to put a smoke grenade behind the shooter. Normally, the laser is invisible except for a small red or green dot at the emitter. At an indoor range, where the light level is low and the air is full of particles, lasers look like colorful wires stretching to the target, especially after you fire a few shots. At which point the muzzle flash and the report of the gun already made you a good deal more conspicuous than the laser beam ever could.

Can a laser be zeroed the same as iron sights? Yes, but with a difference. If a laser is mounted below the boreline, the near zero can be made the same as with the irons, but the far zero will be different (closer). For this reason, some people zero their lasers further, for example at 50 yards. The pistol will shoot slightly high up close but be closer to the aiming point further out. With a side-mounted laser, the parallax is usually not worth correcting. With the laser parallel to the bore but off to the side, the offset remains small and predictable. With pistol, a difference of an inch is seldom critical.

Fireing from supine position

Firing from supine position

First-time shooter uses a laser to verify steadiness of aim

First-time shooter uses a laser to verify steadiness of aim

So what kind of problems do lasers actually solve? Poor eyesight is one. Using iron sights becomes more difficult with age. It becomes impossible if the defender’s eyeglasses are knocked off early in a fight. Firing on the move is another: careful lining up of iron sights is very difficult when trying to move away from a moving attacker or his line of fire. In all those cases, keeping the aiming point on the actual target can be very helpful. Aiming from awkward or compromised positions, such as from behind a ballistic shield or from supine.

Precision shooting is another. The effect is most pronounced with pocket pistols, at least my groups shrink to half or third of the original size when fired using a laser rather than iron sights. The same effect is evident with larger handguns as the range increases. I would be hard-pressed to hit a paper plate past 50 yards with any pistols mainly because the sight alignment error magnifies with range. With a properly zeroed laser, sighting errors are taken out of the equation and the accuracy depends more on the trigger control and on the inherent accuracy of the pistol and ammunition. Much the same accuracy improvements can be obtained by using optical sights.

Lasers are also extremely helpful for training. Keeping a laser on during procedural gun handling helps reinforce muzzle awareness. Instructors can watch the laser dots from their trainees’ pistols to evaluate sight alignment consistency and trigger control. Finally, Laserlyte makes a laser training “cartridge” that makes dry-fire a great deal more useful by flashing a brief light-burst onto the target. The Walther P22 in the photo is my standard tool for training new shooters: it is sound-suppressed and equipped with a Viridian Green Laser to aid in learning trigger control. The light weight and small grip mean that even small kids can operate it without difficulty.

Viridian belt holster for S&W M&P9c with C5L light/laser

Viridian belt holster for S&W M&P9c with C5L light/laser

Sideguard belt holster for S&W M&P9c with C5L light/laser

Sideguard belt holster for S&W M&P9c with C5L light/laser

What are the down sides to laser use? The cost is the most immediate. Recoil proof adjustable lasers run from about $75 to $400. Well worth the money, in my opinion, but upgrading a safe full of pistols can get expensive. Maintenance is another: batteries should be changed regularly when laser is in storage and also after heavy training use. Laser emitter lens has to be kept clean and free of powder residue.

You may also have to get a new holster for your carry gun. Grip and slide mounted lasers can usually use the same holster, but rail mounted designs usually do not. Fortunately, most holster makers offer models designed around specific gun/laser combinations. Popular combinations have many carry options available. Since the rail-mounted  lasers fit in the recess between the dust cover and the trigger guard, the concealability of the pistol doesn’t change much. (Viridian TacLoc | Sideguard)

In actual use, lasers require training, same as any other sighting system. The small laser dot, especially with red lasers, may require some practice to pick up quickly. In highly reflective environments, such as around car windows or glass doors, reflected and refracted light can be confusing. Most shooters use a combination of iron sights and lasers, knowing from experience which works in what situation. A laser may be just another tool for rapid and accurate sighting — but it is a very versatile and useful tool.

What do you think about lasers on handguns? Have you found them useful in a way I have not mentioned? Has training turned up some unforeseen consideration worth mentioning?


Adams Arms Glock Conversion Kit—Practice Makes Perfect

OK, I admit it.  I don’t do dry fire practice nearly enough.  To me, training with my defensive firearms means live fire at the range, which means range fees and ammo costs and cleaning the guns afterwards, and that means I don’t train as much as I should.  And supplementing my training with dry fire practice is boring and tedious and in my opinion has a serious flaw—without a projectile going downrange and impacting a target, I don’t get feedback on whether I’m screwing it up.  Momma always told me “practice makes perfect,” but the truth is “practice makes permanent.”  I need a hole in the target to show me that I’m practicing correctly.

Enter the Advantage Arms LE .22lr Conversion Kit for Glock.  The mid-sized, 9mm Glock 19 is my daily carry piece and therefore the gun that I need the most training with.  Pistol marksmanship and manipulation are perishable skills. I want to train specifically with the trigger, controls, and grip of my Glock 19.  If I substitute my Glock practice with a Ruger MkIII target gun, the trigger is different, the sights are different, the grip angle is different, the magazine doesn’t drop free… you get the idea.  Pretty soon I’m just plinking, not training, right?  The Advantage Arms kit is a replacement .22lr slide assembly that drops right onto my Glock 19’s frame with no modifications.  At a casual glance the slide looks just like the factory 9mm slide, with identical cocking serrations milled into it and factory Glock adjustable sights.  It attaches and detaches just like the factory slide, which means I have to dry fire a .22 to take it off.  That’s normally a big no-no, but the barrel is relieved where the firing pin would normally impact it and get mangled.  The included 10-round plastic magazine drops free like the 9mm mags do and locks the slide back after the last shot like the 9mm mags do.  Shooting the .22 kit uses the exact same manual of arms and sight picture as a factory Glock 19, but firing ammo that costs one-fourth as much as the cheapest 9mm I can find.  Put another way, I can shoot four times as often per dollar spent on ammo.   Or, if I paid $250 for the conversion kit, it will pay for itself in shot-for-shot ammo savings after about 7000 rounds of ammo fired (around thirteen of those 525 round value packs I like to buy).

Shooting the .22 kit is a real hoot.  I was able to get a 2.5 inch group at 10 yards away with supported, slow fire, but the five-pound trigger in my Glock isn’t a target trigger, the sights aren’t target sights, and I was shooting cheap value pack ammo, not match grade stuff.  Honestly, that’s about as straight as I can shoot the gun in 9mm configuration anyway.  I told you I need more practice!  The kit only comes with one magazine, I’ll acquire more since they are only about $15.  A plastic, Glock-style magazine loader is included with the kit, and I’m glad.  Even though the mag only holds ten rounds it has a lot of spring pressure and the last couple of rounds are tiresome to mash into place with my thumbs.  A basic cleaning kit and some oil are also included.  I had some failures to extract spent casings during my first range trip, but they didn’t really bother me. Most .22lr conversion kits are known to go through a problematic break-in period before they “settle down” and become more reliable.  Additionally, the cheap ammo I was using is not on the list of recommended ammo types which is printed off and included in the box with the kit.  Next time I’ll buy some better ammo.

I’m planning on using the conversion to practice realistic drills such as drawing from my concealed carry holster and firing a controlled pair into a target seven yards away.  Why not just dry fire the drill?  When I draw from concealment I’m using gross motor skills (big muscles moving as fast as they can) to get the gun out of the holster and pointed in the right direction, followed up by fine motor skills (little muscles that have to move with precision) to acquire my sight picture, squeeze the trigger, recover from the recoil, find the trigger’s reset point, and squeeze again.  The natural mistake to make in this drill is to mash the trigger hard and skimp on the front sight alignment because I’m in a hurry and didn’t successfully switch from big fast movements to precise movements.  If I’m dry firing, I won’t even realize I’m doing it, but if I’m training with the .22 kit, I’ll know immediately that I screwed up as soon as I see the holes in the target.  And with dry fire I have to cycle the slide myself if I want to feel the trigger’s reset, which means taking my support hand off the grip and… well, its just not the same.  The only place where the conversion kit allows me to really “cheat” in shooting drills is with rate of fire, because the felt recoil impulse is much smaller with .22lr (in fact there is pretty much no recoil).  So I can really blaze away with the conversion kit, putting aimed rounds down range much faster than I realistically could with the same gun in 9mm.  Sure its fun, but again that’s plinking, not training.  I’ll have to keep that in mind.

I’m excited about picking up the Advantage Arms Conversion Kit and my plans to increase my live-fire training time with it.  Of course I will still be putting a lot of 9mm holes in targets as well, but I believe that my shooting fundamentals with the Glock 19 will improve by the extra practice I can afford now.  Hopefully my practice will make perfect, instead of just permanent.

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