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.