There are a lot of tactical trainers to choose from these days. Some trainers are better than others—as are some students, but that is another story. Occasionally, the lesson may have been taught correctly, but as the word (lesson) spreads, each copy gets a little fuzzier. Before long, self-professed experts, well-intentioned neophytes, and keyboard ninjas are parroting once solid tactics, but their version has drifted so far from the original intent, that the lesson has morphed into something that has wandered over the line into being dangerous.
In this video, Rob Latham and Rob Pincus discuss the differences between the assessment of a stage at a competition and a tactical situation. Common mistakes competition shooters habitually bring to a tactical situation, and the correct way to assess your situation during a confrontation. Are you making some of these mistakes? How many of these mistakes have you seen in live training classes or other online videos.
Share the lessons you learned, tips for others, or general thoughts about the video in the comment section.
Concealed carry is on the rise, which means more citizens are able to defends themselves and their loved ones better than ever before. However, that means having the right training, holster, or carry system, and most importantly the right pistol. Handguns are not a one-size-fits-all affair. This makes choosing—or recommending—a handgun rather difficult. However, when it comes to handguns, even men love to shop! Here are 10 top choices for your consideration.
Among the decisions to be made when purchasing a personal defense handgun are caliber, action type, and size and weight. Among the options to be considered is the light rail. A rail gun is common parlance for a handgun with an accessory rail, but some just consider it common sense.
Rock Island Auction Company’s May 2nd, 3rd & 4th, 2014 Premiere Firearms Auction is this weekend and it is not shy about stating that this auction has the finest selection in its entire 20 year history. After looking at its catalog, that claim appears to be spot on.
Concealed carry pistols are coming out in increasingly larger calibers. The trend in the past has been to chamber a concealed carry pistol in .380, or some other smaller pistol caliber. Firearms manufacturers are finding out that many customers were willing to give up a smaller sized carry pistol, for a larger caliber. Many shooters consider the 9mm to be the minimum size round for an effective concealed carry handgun, and gun makers are following that trend. Whether or not 9mm is the minimum effective caliber is irrelevant. Since manufacturers are in this game to make money, therefore, they will make what people want to buy, and lately, people want the 9mm Luger.
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
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
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
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.
Firing from supine position
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
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?