Gun School Gear

I was at Insights Training Center again, this time for their Intensive Handgun Skills class and want to share about the gear you see at gun school.

First off, there are the guns you see —with the most common example being GLOCKs of various flavors.  The instructors at Insights tend to favor the GLOCK 19, much like Jeff Cooper and the Gunsite staff favored the 1911.  The GLOCK 19 represents an excellent combat handgun, and is large enough to be comfortable to shoot for an extended class and yet still be a gun that you’ll actually carry on a regular basis.

As a general rule, taking a GLOCK to gun school is probably a good idea if you don’t want to deal with your handgun going down during class.

The guns I saw at Intensive Handgun Skills represented a pretty good distribution of products; obviously the ubiquitous GLOCKs in a variety of calibers, although other brands and manufacturers were represented as well.

There were two Sigs, a pair of HKs, one M&P and one Ruger SR40, the latter being my personal gun. The SR40 ran very well for those curious about how it would hold up to a high round count, firing exactly 1402 rounds of .40 S&W ammo without a single malfunction.

The Ruger wasn’t the only gun to be malfunction-free; most of the firearms, even the shooter running the CZ-75 compact, experienced zero problems with their guns. There were only a few guns with issues during the class and, from what I observed, most of the issues were operator-induced and not mechanical failures on the part of the gun.

So when it comes to the gun for gun school, make sure you bring a good one. Your gun needs to run for the duration of class, because time spent off the line fixing your gun is time you’re not learning, and that means that you’re not getting the best value for your money.

The same goes for your holster. This is the primary storage system for your gun during class, which means it needs to be a good quality rig that’s not going to fall apart after 300 draws.

I generally don’t like leather holsters for class, although if you have a properly made leather holster, it won’t be a problem. A good holster for a class needs to be something that you can draw and re-holster one-handed, at no time should you have to use your non-dominant hand to assist in the re-holstering process.

In my opinion, the Blackhawk SERPA line of holsters are an excellent “starter” holster, combining the retention of a leather holster with the ease of use of a kydex holster. When used properly, the SERPA also helps you think about your draw stroke instead of just ripping the gun out of the holster.

At the Insights class, every type of holster was well-represented. There were some excellent leather holsters from Galco, polymer holsters from Comp-Tac and Blade-Tech, the Kramer holster pictured and, of course, there were several shooters using the Blackhawk SERPA system as well.

Ultimately, any gear you take to a gun school class needs to be durable and reliable. The point of paying money to get quality training is to improve your shooting skills and if you spend the majority of your class time off the line fixing your broken gun, holster, mag pouches, or other types of gear then you’re not getting the best benefit for your training dollar.

Put a reliable gun in a quality holster and you’re get a good value for your experience and come out of the class a better shooter.

What training courses have you taken? What gear do you use to make sure you make the most of your training time and money? Share your experiences with us in the comments section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (4)

  1. I did notice the Gen4 G19 go down, that would be one of the few mechanical malfunctions that I did notice. I wouldn’t chalk up the errors on the HK45 or my issues with the Ruger mag to be mechanical issues; those definitely seem like user error to me.

  2. Hi Caleb.

    As a fellow student in the class, I did see a few malfunctions in various guns. I have no idea if they were operator induced or not. There was one BIG exception and that was me. As you might or might not have noticed, I started with my HK45. Somehow, in altering my grip to more closely adhere to Holschen’s recommendations, I started dropping mags every time I came up to the line. I would call this operator induced, but it may be the ergonomics of the weapon simply do not work for me. I do find it problematic that it is so easy to hit the magazine release from a shooting grip. I’ve previously not had any issues, but my confidence in the weapon for self-defense is shaken until I know what was happening and I can reliably correct it.

    Anyway, I managed to muddle through day one, but decided for the very reasons you explain above to buy another gun to ensure I was getting the most out of the class. And the Glock G19 seemed a good choice. I picked one up that night, getting a Gen4. I’d heard of some issues with the Gen4, but the sale person at the store said he hadn’t had anyone complain, and I figured, why not get the new, “better” gun. So, I came on the line the next day. Bang, FTE, tap-rack-bang, FTE, tap-rack-bang, FTE. And so on. I borrowed another students G19 for the rest of the morning and at lunch took the gun back for a Gen3 (Major credit to West Coast Armory for handling the situation so well!). After that I had almost no issues. So, lesson is: buyer beward on the Gen4 9mm Glocks. From what I’ve read subsequently, they made changes to fix problems that had been occuring for .40S&W, then ported that to the 9mm resulting issues with lower powered rounds. You may get a gun that works fine. Or you may not. I certainly did not.

  3. That’s a pretty good rule, Gary. I personally don’t worry if Brand X works or doesn’t work in my particular gun. In my 9mm pistols I only carry Winchester Ranger 147 grain JHP for self-defense, and those work 100% in all my 9mm pistols. I haven’t settled on a self-defense load for my .40 S&W pistols, but I’m working on a few different brands right now to see what I get the best performance out of.

  4. I hear many people complain about how different Bullets don’t perform right in their autoloaders they want to carry for self defence.I always say to find the one that works well in their auto loaders and stay with it. Why carry something for self defence that you question if it’s going to hang or missfire just when you need it the most.

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