Category Archives: Shooting Skills

SKILLS: My Caliber Crisis: Do I Need A 10mm?

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Every gun owner at some time is compelled to test the waters with a new cartridge. Here are Tom McHale’s thoughts on his latest pursuit. READ MORE

10mm
The 10mm and the Springfield Armory Range Officer Elite Operator makes for a potent combination.

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life, by Tom McHale

I’m having another caliber crisis.

Over the years, I’ve ventured into cartridge odysseys that include unusual chamberings like .357 Sig and 300 Blackout. More recently, I’m kind of developing a thing for 10mm. I’ve been testing out a Springfield Armory Range Officer Elite Operator chambered in the big-boy version of the .40 S&W and I’m kinda liking it. There are definitely some benefits. Let’s discuss.

Weight and Velocity
We’re going to argue forever about whether the light, small and fast 9mm is as good as the heavy, fat and slow .45 ACP, so why not just choose heavy, moderately portly and fast?

The 10mm, when fired from the Springfield Armory Range Officer Elite Operator, launches 200-grain bullets in the 1,100 feet per second velocity band. That’s the mid-weight of the .45 ACP bullet family and the mid-velocity range of 9mm.

How Powerful is a 10mm?
Many stand in awe of the 10mm, likely because it has a simple, yet badass name. Then there’s the fact that the FBI moved to it (sort of) for a time. It’s hard to argue with credentials like that.

Being the inquisitive sort, I wanted to see how it stands up to all the other common cartridges and a few other kinetic energy-generating objects. So, I dug up my database from all the ammunition and guns I’ve tested over the years and looked up a pile of actual cartridge, velocity, kinetic energy, and momentum calculations for some representative samples.

10mm
The 10mm is the big-boy version of the .40 S&W, and offers a lot of punch downrange.

As a side note, I like to look at both kinetic energy and momentum to tell the whole story of how “powerful” a cartridge is. Kinetic energy is easy — we all know “foot-pounds” as a standard measure of “oomph.” However, kinetic energy emphasizes velocity the way it’s calculated, so a super-light bullet can have huge foot-pound numbers simply because it’s moving fast. The slow and fat projectile crowd likes to take bullet weight into consideration and that’s where the momentum calculation comes into play.

At the risk of insulting physics, you might think of kinetic energy as destructive power, like a power drill. And you might think of momentum as the ability for one object to move another. The more weight the “mover” object has, the more powerful it is. Think wrecking balls. They don’t move all that fast, but few of us would want to be hit with one.

Anyway, I fired several different loads from the Springfield Armory Range Officer Elite Operator pistol you see in the picture above and recorded velocity so I could run the numbers. Just for fun, I did the math on a few other non-shooting moving objects and added in info on several other chamberings.

So, what does all this mean? Here are the important learnings —

The 10mm mostly tops the charts for “rational” handgun power levels. Sure, a .44 Magnum brings half again more kinetic energy, but unless you’re Dirty Harry, it’s not the most practical carry handgun.

If you’re a foot-pounds junkie, 10mm thumps 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP.

The 10mm and .357 Magnum are similar from a kinetic energy perspective. While the .357 Magnum uses a much lighter projectile, it moves a lot faster, hence the high foot-pound count.

A 10mm has about the same momentum as a PGA drive launched by Bubba Watson, although I’m pretty sure the 10mm projectile will win handily in the penetration and expansion tests. Sorry Bubba.

10mm

Capacity
There’s nothing to write home about here. Normal capacity for a 10mm is virtually identical to that of a .40 S&W. That’s because the case diameter is the same, although the 10mm cartridges are longer. Remember, the whole point of the .40 S&W “great compromise” was to offer more capacity than a .45 ACP pistol while launching larger bullets than a 9mm.

While 10mm is powerful, it’s by no means the uncontrollable “hand-cannon” that many have claimed. In a solid gun like the Range Officer Elite Operator, it’s more than manageable.

But What About Recoil?
I think the real recoil penalty (or lack thereof) is what makes the 10mm interesting. While it’s not as easy to control as a 9mm or .40 S&W, it’s not all that different from that of a .45 ACP pistol of the same weight. What you feel as recoil depends largely on the weight of the pistol, so if you’re comparing a steel 1911 chambered in .45 ACP to one packing 10mm, the numbers work out about the same.

I won’t bore you with the common-core math details, but the recoil energy of a .45 ACP 1911 and 10mm 1911 works out to 5.43 and 6.28 foot-pounds. To put those numbers in perspective, the same math on much lighter Springfield Armory XD-S pistols in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP works out to 5.07, 6.92 and 8.15 foot-pounds.

The Bottom Line
Here’s my take. If you want a gun that’s super-duper easy to control so you can deliver rapid-fire strings without the sights moving, buy a steel 9mm like a Range Officer or EMP. If you want more power in a semi-automatic package that’s as carry friendly as a .45, consider the 10mm. You might fit an extra round or two in a gun of similar size owing to the smaller cartridge diameter while fulfilling your need for speed.

10mm

Tom McHale
Tom is a perpetual student of all things gun and shooting related. He’s particularly passionate about self and home defense and the rights of all to protect themselves and their loved ones. As part of his ongoing learning, Tom has completed dozens of training programs and is a certified National Rifle Association instructor for pistol and shotgun. Tom is a professional writer by trade these days and has published seven books on guns, shooting, reloading, concealed carry, and holsters. In between book projects, Tom has published somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,700 articles for about a dozen gun and shooting publications. If he’s not writing, you can probably find him on the range.

Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

SKILLS: Are You Carrying Enough In Your EDC?

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Minimum or maximum? Kit Perez provides some questions for us to answer to find our own solutions. READ MORE

edc

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life, by Kit Perez

The question of what to keep in your everyday carry, or EDC, is a hotly debated one. A simple web search shows that opinions run the gamut. Some claim a minimalist approach is best: a watch, wallet, and sidearm is all you need. Others carry a small backpack with everything from paracord to a rocket stove, and a few even get into hidden tools such as belts and bracelets with concealed blades, handcuff keys, and small saws.

With such a wide variety in both opinions and product availability, how do you know what to carry? What’s necessary and what’s fluff? The answer is much simpler than you might think. The bottom line is that no one can decide for you how much or how little you need to carry — and you shouldn’t decide it either until you understand what you actually need on a daily basis. You might be carrying far too much.

What’s Your Personal Situation?
Before you run off and buy the latest and greatest in must-have survival tools for your rapidly expanding EDC, stop and ask yourself a few questions.

How far from home do you work?
If you work two blocks from home, chances are you aren’t going to need that huge bag with three days of food. If, however, you’re one of the unfortunate souls who’s experienced what it’s like to be stuck on a freeway with no exit for six hours because of a massive accident, you might think that having some food handy on your daily drive is a big deal.

Do you commute via public transport or your own personal vehicle?
Many of us prefer not to draw attention to ourselves. We’d rather fade into the crowd, and we want to be able to move quickly when necessary. Lugging around a big bag that looks like you maxed a credit card at a sporting goods store while you’re sitting on the train might not make you a target, but it definitely makes you slightly less mobile and more interesting to those around you.

If you’re driving yourself to work, you have a bit more flexibility. Perhaps you can compromise and keep a few extra things in your car, but not carry them on your person.

edc

What potential situations could occur?
This is the biggest question to ask yourself. Certainly, anything could happen, but let’s be realistic with our preparedness. Think about a possible pickle you could find yourself in and start asking what you’d need in order to deal with it.

A lot of this has to do with you personally. Do you have a severe allergy or other medical condition that mandates you carry supplies? Do you have a specific level of training that allows you — or requires you — to carry certain things?

What are you capable of or willing to do?
One uncomfortable truth about carrying a firearm every day is that there may come a time when you need to use it — and not everyone is truly comfortable with that, or even ready to deal with the ramifications and consequences that can arise from doing so.

The same applies to those who carry an EDC bag with all kinds of medical supplies in it. Do you have the training to use them? More importantly, are you able and willing to use them if needed? Not everyone is, and that’s something you’ll need to decide for yourself.

Is It Possible to Be Overprepared?
Some would say no; in their opinion, you should be prepared for literally anything. But let’s stop and game that out a moment. Can you truly be prepared for any situation that could possibly arise? Can you, in a practical sense, really haul around anything you might need for whatever comes?

You might carry a small air compressor, a few basic tools, or a can of Fix-a-Flat in your truck, for instance, but obviously you’re not going to have one of every single part your car has. You’re not going to do major repairs on the side of the road, so why have all of that with you?

You’re far better off doing some self-analysis, figuring out what you’re most likely to encounter, and carrying the basics to help deal with that. Prepare intelligently, maximize your available space, and minimize the EDC overkill.

Kit Perez is a deception/intelligence analyst, writer, and homesteader. Basics of Resistance: The Practical Freedomista Book 1, her book co-written with Claire Wolfe, is available on Amazon, with Book 2 due out in Fall 2019. She lives in the mountains of western Montana, where she raises dairy goats and serves on her local volunteer Fire/EMS department.

 

SKILLS: Why You May Want A Laser On Your EDC Pistol

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Great advice from umpteen time pistol shooting champion Rob Leatham. Take it! READ MORE

rob leatham

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life, by Rob Leatham

The fact you’ve chosen to carry a firearm means you want to be prepared to protect yourself. Being able to hit what you shoot at — that’s what it’s all about. However, simply having a gun isn’t enough. You need to, among other things, HIT what you aim at. Otherwise the resulting use of your firearm may create more problems than it solves.

Unfortunately, to be blunt, most concealed carriers are not skilled enough to hit what they shoot at. I know I sound pessimistic, but I have seen it for decades — shooters who do not prepare for the realities of when, where and how real world situations occur.

Are You Ready?
If you want to do this right and have a chance of survival, you have to be as ready as you can be. Being ready is a byproduct of preparation.

Here is the beginner’s list:

First step — you need to have a concealable gun, like the Springfield Armory XD-S Mod.2 9mm.

XD-S Mod.2 9mm

Second step — you have to train and practice. And I mean doing it like it matters. You can’t just shoot 10 shots through the gun to see if it works and say you are good to go. The gun will work. You’ve picked one of the most reliable compact handguns possible. That’s why I carry one. I’m not worried about the gun working, I’m worried about you working!

Third Step — learn marksmanship. To train to protect your life, you need to look beyond just having the gun and knowing some tactics. You have to address the elements of marksmanship that lead to its effective use. If “IT” hits the fan and you have to shoot, you had better hit what you are shooting at. In regards to that, there are two points that standout as being the most important: Fire Control & Aiming.

In this article, I’m going to address aiming.

Front Sight Fiasco
The problem with aiming is that we have taught you all wrong. I apologize. We “shooting instructors” tend to focus on aiming in a clinical sense with little attention paid to how situations might really happen. Let me explain…

Scenario: You are in a fight for your life, things are happening around you fast and the distances are close. Too close. Like the really dangerous distances of contact and just out-of-contact range.

Action plan: You will likely need a better marksmanship goal than the old guidelines of, “Look for that crisp, clear front sight focus.” I have heard it explained far too often that you can’t hit anything if the front sight isn’t clearly in focus. This is absurd.

In a fight you will likely need to watch and monitor what is happening. Your gun may be in your hand. You likely will have it pointed at an imminent threat. You likely will be stressed and nervous. You likely will be scared. You will likely be reacting to events as they unwind. And, unfortunately, if national statistics are referenced, you will likely MISS when the time comes to shoot. Let’s try to avoid this by outfitting ourselves well.

Armed to Aim
You need to stack the odds in your favor. It’s already a day gone bad, so let’s not make it worse. You need to give yourself the best possible chance to not miss. You do this by training and preparing your mind and equipment.

While far more important than your equipment choices, training is a complex subject that needs to be addressed in a personal and physical manor. I just can’t do it very well from across the inter-web. I can tell you about which guns and holsters and calibers to choose. I can tell you what skills to work on and describe drills that test you. But I cannot train you. I need to be able to watch you to correct you.

But I can tell you about aiming:

Aiming is the process of recognizing and causing alignment of your firearm onto the target. This is unchanged regardless of context.

Aiming is simple and yet not easy, especially if you don’t shoot a lot, and especially under pressure or duress. Fortunately, there are products that can help if this is something you struggle with.

The sights that come on something like the XD-S Mod.2 9mm are excellent for quickly aiming that pistol. They are easy to see and allow you to accurately align your pistol on target. Fiber optic and/or night sights, they are as good as iron sights can be. Period.

But are they your best possible choice?

Let’s say you are an experienced shooter who has trained for decades and shot hundreds of thousands of rounds. Like me! You have learned simply by feel how to do most of the aiming/aligning process. You are what many would call a good “point shooter” too. I will likely never need anything as good as the sights that are on the XD-S Mod.2.

But what if you are not like me? And what if it is dark? And what if you have not practiced enough with your awesome new carry gun? How are you going to know where that gun is pointed in that moment of need? You won’t have the feel I do, nor the confidence. You may need something more.

Sharks With Laser Beams
Have you thought about a laser (If it’s good enough for a shark…)? #AustinPowers

A laser aiming device will show you, while allowing you to keep your eyes on your target, exactly where the gun is pointed.

Even if it is dark.
Even if you are not holding the gun in a manner where you can see the sights.
Even if you are knocked down and lying on the ground.
Even if you physically CANNOT see iron sights clearly.

Does that sound helpful? Beneficial? Favorable?

And how about this, do you wear vision correction like I do? While I can put on my fancy DECOT shooting glasses in preparation for a competition, they aren’t my daily wear. They allow my old eyes to focus on the sights, something I can’t do with my daily eyeglasses. And I don’t want to wear them for anything except shooting. Sure, they are magical. They have returned my ability to see standard sights like I did decades ago. They do this by making my eyes focus at the approximate distance of the front of my gun at arms reach. Kinda like if you have to wear “readers” to read, but everything past that is fuzzy. This is perfect in a competition, but in a fight I need to see what is “downrange” much more clearly than “fuzzy.”

So About That Laser…
A gun-mounted laser allows you to see where the gun is pointed, regardless of your vision or the distance or how you’re holding the gun. You can see where the gun is pointed in low light, and/or with the gun in a retention position. The list of benefits goes on. For many, if not most of us, a laser on your pistol solves many mechanical problems you may encounter in a fight.

The Viridian laser mounts perfectly to the XD-S Mod.2 9mm. It is quick to install, simple to use and fast when it comes to aiming. And most importantly, it will likely be a great tool for those who:

Aren’t able to train every day
Don’t have great hand-eye coordination
Have poor/substandard vision

It is by no stretch of the imagination a guarantee of acceptable marksmanship on its own, but a gun-mounted laser can be an excellent solution for your “aiming issues.”

I suggest you give one a try on your EDC gun. I can’t imagine a better compact self-defense combination.

Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

ROB LEATHAM
Rob Leatham, captain of Team Springfield, has been with the Springfield Armory family since the late 1980s. He is a world-renowned competition shooter and firearms instructor who is highly regarded as one of — if not THE — most-winning Practical Pistol Competitor in history. Rob’s sheer number of National and World Shooting Titles make him unique in the firearms industry. He has trained shooters from all walks of life — from IPSC World Champions to Military Special Forces Operators and from Law Enforcement Officers to civilians for Self Defense. In the competitive shooting world of IPSC, USPSA, Steel Challenge, IDPA and NRA Action Pistol, Rob’s competition career has spanned decades.

Keep up with Rob: 
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SKILLS: Cut Your Reaction Time

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Speed is of the essence in any defensive situation, and in most any defensive situation, the fastest solid hit wins. Here’s how to get faster. READ MORE

speed drills

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life

The martial arts offer an age-old perspective on something critically important to your shooting performance — reaction time. Employing a punch, a round kick, an edged weapon, or a firearm in self-defense means that you’re reacting to a rapid and dynamic escalation of force.

Your objective is to stop or gain control of that escalation. The single most important factor in meeting that objective is time.

Tick Tock
In any self-defense situation with or without a firearm, TIME is a double-edged sword — it can be both your dearest friend (when in ample supply), and adamant foe (when turned against you).

Reactionary Gap is a term applied to the amount of space at your disposal in response to a real-world active threat. The greater the reactionary gap, the more time you have. The smaller gap, the less time.

Physical violence that causes you to go to guns in defense of life or limb, usually means a minimal reactionary gap. Relying on precision shooting when fighting for your life at extreme close quarters, may not be your very best bet. However, having true reactive shooting skills in your tool kit will help make optimal usage of time.

Reactive Shooting School
Founded (more than 40 years ago) by former FBI Special Agent and renowned professional competition shooter, Bill Rogers, is a reactive shooting school that trains you to do just that — shoot reactively.

If you’re a student of defensive handgun and you’ve never been, the Rogers Shooting School, located in Ellijay, GA, is a very worthwhile training investment. Reactive shooting is unlike any other, in that, just like the real world, you don’t have much time to react. The Rogers system demands alacrity in both effective gun handling and marksmanship.

According to Bill, we humans have an average “Unit of Human Reaction” (UHR) time measured to be approximately .25 seconds, that’s one quarter of a second. It’s the measurable amount of time your computer (brain) needs to process stimulus response. Although the aggregate may be about a quarter of a second, this is a very subjective measurement and can vary from shooter to shooter.

stopwatch

One way to find your UHR is to use your shot timer. At your next practice session, face down range. Load up. No target required. Point your muzzle into the berm and take up as much slack in the trigger (if any / as possible) without sending the round down range.

Beep, Boom
With the timer set to random (to provide more of an unknown variable — like the real world), have a buddy hold it to your ear. When you hear the beep, break the shot. Beep — boom, it’s that simple. The time registered between beep (stimulus — your sensory input followed by computer interpretation) and boom (response — signal from your brain box down the neural pathways leading to your trigger finger) is your approximate UHR. Run it several times to find your average.

Taking this average as your par time, you can use it to measure that initial critical step (interpretation and processing of life-threatening information) in making rapid and accurate round placement from concealment. Depending upon your skill level, running this drill repeatedly will better familiarize you with operating in fractions of a second and, in the long run, eventually lower your reaction time (UHR).

Reducing your UHR allows you to get to your gun faster because it lessens the amount of time required in decision making — which is a significant and contributing factor in the processing time from initial stimulus to response.

Given that the purpose of defensive shooting is to make combat-effective round placement in a timely manner when reacting to an active threat, time is not on your side. Reducing your UHR by even one tenth of a second shortens your overall time in placing a warranted first round on threat.

Other Opportunities
In addition to using a shot timer at the range, look for and run other “drills” or training opportunities in your day where you may be able to work on reduction of your UHR. Such innocuous training as opening the microwave door during the countdown just as you see the one-second display, but prior to the beep, is a good drill.

Another training opportunity is when driving and sitting first in line at a red light. With your foot on the brake and your eyes on the traffic light – not on your cell phone — the split second you see the light change from red to green, move your foot off the brake pedal, faster than you normally would, but with good control to not stomp on that gas pedal. In fact, you want to make very light placement on that gas pedal. This action is similar to getting on your trigger quickly from the holster, in rapid control, but without disturbing muzzle alignment with the target.

Using these and similar reactionary gap training drills can help you to continually be cognizant of and work on reducing your reaction times. After a couple of months of running these, remeasure your presentation times. You may be pleasantly surprised with the performance benefits of cutting your UHR.

Steve Tarani
Steve is a former CIA protective services subject matter expert who served on Donald Trump’s pre-election protection detail. He is also the lead instructor for the NRA’s new Non-ballistic Weapons Training program offered nationally to 2.3 million members. Tarani, an active protective agent, is a Central Intelligence Agency and FLETC-certified federal firearms instructor who also provides services for the US Naval Special Operations Command, FBI National Citizens Academy Alumni Association, National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) and others.

 

SKILLS: Verbal Skills During An Armed Encounter

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Managing an armed encounter successfully takes more than shooting skills. Put yourself in a better defensive position with these essential verbal skills. READ MORE

INTRUDER

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life

Verbal Strategy
Verbal skills tend to come in handy during an armed encounter. As a police officer, I’ve used the “gift of gab” to great effect on a number of occasions, but verbal skills aren’t just for cops. Saying the right thing at the right time — and with the right delivery — can prompt a would-be assailant to back down. Since voluntary compliance is always preferred to bloodshed, it’s important to give careful consideration to how you can communicate effectively in crisis.

The problem with many well-intended firearms instructors is they offer to their students little more than a few canned phrases such as “Don’t move!” “Drop the weapon!” or “I have a gun! If you come through the door, you will be shot!” While any of these directives could prompt a criminal to reconsider his plan, they could also backfire.

Rather than rely on these phrases, students of the gun must be trained to think before they speak. Let’s say you turn away from the ATM and are confronted by a thug who sticks a gun in your face. Clearly, you’re in no position to issue verbal commands, but the right words and tone could still be of tremendous benefit.

Saying something like this might work well. “Hey, buddy. Calm down. I’ll do whatever you say. Take my wallet, just please don’t hurt me.” This type of submissive verbal response is an excellent segue to you either cooperating or feinting cooperation until it’s more advantageous to counterattack.

Another good strategy when an assailant has the drop on you is to ask questions. While pretending to beg (or actually begging) for your life, ask what the assailant wants you to do. When you ask a question, the assailant will likely consider what you’re asking, and this will likely make him just a bit hesitant.

If you’re planning to counterattack, the time to make your move is when the assailant starts to answer. That’s because it’s hard to talk and shoot at the same time — which is a good thing to keep in mind when you are armed and giving verbal commands.

Body Language
Make sure your body language matches your spoken language. Your tucked chin and raised open hands appear to match your submissive speech, but this posturing actually prepares you to act, if that’s what you choose to do. Your chin down minimizes the likelihood of being knocked out if you are struck in the head, and your hands being up enables you to more efficiently fend or redirect and control the weapon.

So should you give verbal commands if you’re in a position to do so? There’s no right answer. If you catch a burglar attempting to pry open a window screen on your house with a knife, bellowing out clear, unconditional directives like those previously mentioned would make sense — especially if those orders were issued from behind cover. They would likely cause most criminals to either comply or flee.

Now, imagine walking around the corner of a building and seeing an assailant holding someone hostage with a weapon. Should you issue a forceful verbal command? If you’re thinking, you realize that by verbally challenging the assailant in this scenario, you may make an already highly volatile situation even worse.

At the very least, you will have forfeited the element of surprise and put the ball in the assailant’s court. Will he run away? Attack the person he was threatening? Attack you? If you’ve just barked orders at him, you’re about to find out.

Warning Obligations
As the good guy, are you obligated to give an assailant warning prior to using deadly force? Not necessarily. While such a warning may be required in some states, many statues are written so that a warning should be given prior to the use of deadly force “when feasible.”

Laws differ from state to state but typically deadly force is authorized to prevent the imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to yourself or someone else. When an assailant is pointing a gun at someone’s head, that criteria has certainly been met.

What about when someone shatters a window and you and your family move to your “safe room” where you barricade behind the locked door, arm yourself and call 911. Shouldn’t you shout verbal commands from inside the room to advise the intruder that you’re armed and that the police have been called? Not necessarily.

Giving a verbal command alerts the intruder to your location. Then, assuming he enters the room, he has an idea where you are. Heck, he may even shoot through the wall toward the sound of your voice.

Perhaps a more tactically sound plan would be to turn off the lights, get behind cover and watch the door. Should it fly open, you will have a clear view of the intruder because he must come through the doorway to get into the room.

In personal and home-defense situations, verbal skills can be important. But don’t assume yelling forceful commands is always the answer. Sometimes it’s better to speak softly or not at all. It’s up to you to gauge the situation and respond appropriately. You’ve got to think before you speak.

Originally appeared in Handguns Magazine.

SEE THE WHOLE ARTICLE HERE

 

SKILLS: Quick And Compact Drills For Your Carry Gun

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Here are some great tips and training tactics to help improve your skill with a sub-compact carry gun. READ MORE

Springfield Armory XD-S
Springfield Armory XD-S

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life, by Ivan Gelo

One of the old mantras many of us continue to see and hear is that the sub-compact firearm is “Carried often, but shot little.” Let me go on the record stating that I TOTALLY DISAGREE with this old adage. Like many of you, my every-day carry companion is a sub-compact handgun (the dark-earth 9mm Springfield Armory XD-S), and I shoot it on a regular basis.

It seems this adage is often repeated by instructors because, in their experience, many of the subcompacts of the past were difficult to manage and the recoil was harsh. These “cons” resulted in little practice time with the firearm.

With the smaller versions of the Springfield XD series though, I do not find this to be the case at all. I actually enjoy practice sessions with these small pistols.

Special Concealment Assignment
Quite often I get requests from friends in the security business requiring assistance with multi-day protection details. A few days prior to receiving the Springfield XD-S Mod.2 for evaluation, I answered one of these calls. After obtaining some of the specifics related to this executive detail, it was clear that a suit and tie were the “uniform” of the day. Knowing that 1) dress belts are not the best rig when carrying full-sized firearms and 2) blending in and concealment were the high priority, I opted to carry my sub-compact 9mm Springfield Armory XD-S as my primary firearm. My Springfield Armory SAINT was relegated to the trunk of my transport vehicle as the “back-up” weapon. Good choice, I know…

Range Time Required
With the protection detail a short week out, I focused my range training specifically to the XD-S 9mm and the .45 caliber XD-S Mod.2 that I had not yet shot.

drawing from concealment

I decided to drill / practice three techniques:
Movement while drawing, with a concealment garment

Multiple round engagements, more than the traditional 2 shots per target

“Failure drills” – multiple rounds to the body, followed up by rounds fired to the head

1 – Drawing from Concealment with Movement
Practicing the draw, and specifically drawing from concealment if this is your EDC mode, is a MUST. Incorporating movement during a draw is an additional skill set that should be practiced and perfected. Movement makes you a more difficult-to-track target and is therefore worth the investment.

As with all new shooting skills, If you haven’t previously practiced concealment draws or concealment draws with movement, dry draws are HIGHLY recommended first.

When dry drawing / dry firing, the gun is UNLOADED and condition VERIFIED. NO ammo should be allowed in the practice area. And, find a SAFE backstop (that’s able to stop a potential negligent discharge). Dry practice can also be done at the range if your facility permits.

Back to my drill…

There are several methods of drawing from concealment. Some of the more popular are:

Sweeping the cover garment with your strong hand

Pulling back on the garment with your support hand

Pulling up on the garment with your support hand

I personally prefer the “sweep” method. This approach allows my support hand greater freedom to perform any of the numerous defensive empty hand responses, such as a palm heel strike, shielding technique or deflection.

The Sweep Draw
Sweeping the concealment or cover garment involves only your holster-side (strong) hand:

The hand starts with an open palm, similar to your normal draw, however, the fingers are spread apart more than normal and the pinky and ring fingers curve in slightly.

Use these two fingers to hook the front of the garment and sweep it to the rear and behind / past the holster and firearm. Some instructors teach that during this process the cover garment is also “flung” back (which might clear the gun and draw better). Try both approaches and see which is best you, your carry rig, and the concealment garment you most often use.

With the holster area clear of the garment, draw the firearm as you have trained.

Appendix note: If you prefer appendix carry, it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to first practice just the draw portion of this with an unloaded gun! Get that down before you live fire and/or add concealment and movement.

shooting drill

2 – Multiple Round Engagement
This drill does not have to be complex. One target is all that’s needed. I most often use cardboard USPSA or IDPA targets, as I like the zone markings.

Start close — 3 yards — just beyond contact distance. Move the targets out, three yards at a time as your training progresses, and master each distance.

The goal is to draw and fire four rounds in quick succession. Keeping all hits in the “0” zone or top half of the A-zone is what I expect.

At this close range, even a shooter with a moderate skill level should be able to accomplish this with some practice.

Use a shot timer and start with 1 second splits (time between shots). Decrease your split times by .25 seconds when you can repeatedly put all shots in the “center zone” on demand.

Remember, at this close distance a perfect sight alignment is not required. The sight index, “flash sight picture” or whatever term you use, should deliver good hits on target as long as you do your job keeping the gun aligned with minimal grip pressure increase or hand/wrist movement.

When you make it to the .25 second split time speed, you will have to move the trigger FAST. To do this, you will most likely be “banging the trigger,” but that’s okay. Learn to work the gun at this speed in training, especially when the threat is CLOSE.

3 – “Failure Drill”
If you are justified in using deadly force on another human being and body shots are not stopping the lethal threat, then face or head shots could be one of the best ways to put an end to the problem.

Using the previous drills as a base, after firing 4 rounds in the body at 3 yards, move the shot placement to the face or head area and fire 2 more rounds.

Given the limited rounds in the magazines in your carry sub-compact gun, shot placement is even more critical. Work at speed, but have the discipline to hit the center of the head zone area. The A zone on a USPSA target and the “0” zone on the new IDPA target are a good go / no-go standard.

Again, once you have made improvements at three yards, move the target distance out three more yards.

Detail Drills Completed
In my several training sessions through the noted week, I fired over 300 rounds of .230 grain ball and 50 rounds of duty / self defense .230 grain jacketed hollow point .45 ACP ammunition. As I expected, the Springfield XD-S Mod.2 was enjoyable to shoot and had zero malfunctions!

So, “don’t be that guy” who carries regularly but practices irregularly, especially if your EDC is a sub-compact firearm. Practicing with a sub-compact firearm might even assist with your focus on the fundamentals of shooting.

Once practiced up and proficient with your sub-compact pistol, check your local ranges and their match schedules for International Defense Pistol Association (IDPA) matches. The events are set up with defense-minded scenarios and drawing from concealment is required on most stages. Additionally, there has been an increase in the popularity of back-up gun (BUG) matches, directly designed for your carry gun. Either event, IDPA or BUG, is great for confirming your ability to shoot your sub-compact carry gun under a little pressure.

And what could be more perfect? Take advantage of someone else setting up a match, so you can practice your pistol skills, all while enjoying a variety of challenges and courses of fire.

As a matter of fact, I’m one of those “someone elses” (match directors). If you ever visit the Phoenix area, I’d be honored to have you attend one of my events — 2nd Wednesday night of every month at Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club.

See you and your sub-compact carry gun there.

IVAN GELO
Ivan served as a full time police officer with an Arizona agency for 26 years. He spent the majority of his career as a SWAT officer fulfilling 20 years as an operator. He is a Law Enforcement state certified Firearms, Rifle, Defensive Tactics, Active Shooter, and High Risk Stops Instructor. Additional duties with his agency included his work as a detective, Field Training Officer, police academy Recruit Training Officer and Lead Firearms Instructor, Rifle Instructor and Ballistic Shield Instructor.

SKILLS: COVER — A MISSING TRAINING ELEMENT

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When it comes to correct and comprehensive defensive training, nothing, no matter how simple it seems, can be taken for granted. This is a very good example. READ MORE

using cover

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life, by Travis Pike

You would think something like using cover would be easy, and self-explanatory. Just get behind it and avoid getting shot — simple, right? Well, yes, but let’s look at the process of using cover and talk about how to use cover to its maximum potential.

Cover vs. Concealment
Concealment is a barrier that prevents an enemy from seeing you. Cover is a barrier that prevents an enemy from shooting you. Concealment is more common and bullets will often zip right through it. While your average car is mostly concealment, the engine area makes good cover. Things like walls, doors, and furniture are rarely suitable as cover. You need thick wood like a powerline pole, a concrete column, or something made of thick, layered metal.

If you are wondering how to find cover start looking now. Make it an exercise to find and identify effective cover when you are out and about in your normal everyday life. You’ll learn how to identify cover and you’ll be ready in case something pops off.

Step 1: Establish Proper Standoff
Standoff is the distance between you and the barrier you are using for cover. The rule of thumb is roughly two arm’s lengths from cover. There are a few reasons for this. First, the extra distance from the cover allows you to essentially pie the cover, and this keeps the maximum amount of cover between you and your target.

using cover
Establlish proper standoff. Not too close!

If you stick too close to your target you won’t maximize coverage. You could also run into issues with an opponent’s rounds striking the cover and causing splatter from their bullets as well as the cover itself. Catching some of that splatter can result in an easily preventable injury. Additionally, if you are too close and start firing you could send debris and dirt up in the air that can distract and potentially blind you.

Having the proper standoff from your target will also allow you to maintain better situational awareness and to have better peripheral vision. You’ll also have more room to reload and fix potential malfunctions. Using cover to rest your weapon is not advised and works better in three gun competition than a gunfight. Unless your weapon is belt felt you might want to keep it from resting on cover.

In a situation where an opponent is above you, it’s advised to get closer to your cover. This allows you to present less of a target to your opponent.

Step 2: Maximize Your Cover
Cover saves lives, so make use of it. When engaging your opponent expose as little of your body as necessary. You should lean out from the waist, and only lean out far enough from cover to put your front sight on your target. Hide whatever you can possibly hide when trying to take your shot.

using cover
Good use of cover.
using cover
Coming too far out from cover.

If possible, lean out and shoot from around your cover. Shooting over your cover exposes more of your head and makes you a bigger target.

Step 3: Be Unpredictable
Predictability and complacency go hand in hand with each other. If you are dipping behind cover, try to present yourself from a different angle the next time you break cover. Being predictable allows your opponent to simply wait and play whack the gunfighter. Break cover from a lower position, or from a higher position, or from the complete opposite side.

Step 4: Account for Sight Offset
Look at your gun. How high are the sights above the bore? With a handgun it’s just a little above, while with an AR, it’s quite a bit. Regardless, you have to account for your sights being taller than your bore. Ensure your barrel is clearing cover before you fire. This was something we ran into with new Marines quite a bit when teaching the basics of battleground micro cover. Many would be striking something nearly directly in front of them because their ACOG was higher than the barrel.

using cover
This can create splatter, potentially poking your own eye out in a gunfight.

Staying Covered
This is the basics of using cover and from here the next step is getting out and practicing the basics. Your cell phone and its front-facing camera is an excellent tool you can use to see if you are using cover effectively. You can see yourself and obtain real-time feedback. As you utilize that feedback and continue training, you’ll find yourself becoming more comfortable and using cover to its maximum effect.

See the complete article here, plus VIDEO

Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

TRAVIS PIKE is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms based hobbies.

 

SKILLS: Recommendations, Rules, and Essential Skills For All New Shooters, Part 2

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Team Springfield Armory’s Kippi Leatham shares her firearms education experiences. There’s a lot here to learn from! KEEP READING

kippi leatham

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Kippi Leatham

[This is part two of an article started on last edition. Last time talked about the importance of technical and safety education. See it HERE.]

STUDY TECHNIQUE
Being taught the right techniques from the get-go can make learning to shoot so much more enjoyable. Good technique also increases the likelihood that you will progress more quickly. Once you develop bad habits, they can be difficult to break, leading to poor results and possibly frustration.

FIND YOUR NATURAL SHOOTING STANCE
There are many opinions on stance, and what works for one may not feel right for you. What’s most important when you begin learning to shoot is that your balance is forward and you don’t lean back (or get pushed back) as you are firing the gun.

My natural (right-handed) shooting stance is:

Standing with my feet hip-width apart
Left foot positioned slightly forward
Knees slightly bent
Relaxed shoulders, forward of my hip bones
Both arms extended fully toward the target
Wrists firmly locked

GET A GRIP
I cannot stress the importance of a good grip enough. As you’ve heard from me before, I always grip a gun the same way, whether I’m picking it up out of the safe, drawing from my holster or shopping for a new addition to my family of firearms. I am always reinforcing my good shooting grip. If you are not properly gripping the gun, you cannot control the shot or recoil as well as you can with a perfect grip.

For more detailed info on how to achieve the perfect grip, check out our blog Mastering Grip: 5 Ways You’re Holding Your Gun Wrong.

And one more gripping tidbit for you newbies – train yourself to hold onto the gun more tightly with your support hand, as it is the hand that will likely move out of position or loosen as you shoot.

EYE DOMINANCE
Do you know if you are right-eye-dominant or left-eye-dominant? This matters, especially when shooting a pistol with iron sights. You most likely will have to close one eye to see a proper sight picture on the target. Knowing your eye dominance will help you determine which eye to close (your non-dominant eye), if needed.

Note that if you are cross-eye-dominant (i.e., right-handed but left-eye-dominant), you may need to make a slight adjustment when aligning the gun, as it will naturally point under your right eye.

SIGHT ALIGNMENT
You know where your front and rear sights are on the slide, but do you understand how to properly align them? Here is where a picture is worth a thousand words…

sight alignment

When learning to align your sights, this is what you should see:

Front sight centered in the rear sight notch with equal space on each side of the front sight
Top of the front sight level with the top of the rear sight

SIGHT PICTURE AND TRIGGER PRESS
Now, all you have to do is place that perfect alignment of sights on the target where you would like the bullet to impact (that combination is what I refer to as the “sight picture”) and press the trigger without moving the gun/sights out of position. Simple as that, right?

Actually, this is one of the more challenging parts about shooting and the technique that you will probably spend the most time on once you’ve got a good, basic foundation.

 

Recommendations, Rules, and Essential Skills For All New Shooters, Part 1

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Team Springfield Armory’s Kippi Leatham shares her firearms education experiences. There’s a lot here to learn! KEEP READING

kippi leatham

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Kippi Leatham

I wasn’t introduced to firearms until I was 23 years young. But even as a new shooter, I always viewed my pistol as another tool in my toolbox of life skills. It’s a piece of equipment, like my 9 iron, that I want to have the utmost ability and confidence with when it comes to taking that shot, whether onto the green of the first hole or to knock down that 25-yard steel pepper popper during an IPSC World Championship.

Learning to shoot pistols and getting into competitions completely changed my life for the better.

Dedicating an enormous number of my adult years trying to master proper shooting techniques in combination with speed and accuracy has been a challenge and a thrill with highs, some lows and wonderful opportunities for travel and life-long friendships. And, as another bonus, I’ve also learned a skill that could one day save my life, Heaven forbid the need ever arises.

Making the decision to enter the world of firearm ownership and learning how to shoot, whether as a hobby, for hunting or home or self-defense, should not be taken lightly, as it comes with huge responsibility and a commitment requirement. To quote the great Jeff Cooper, “Owning a handgun doesn’t make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician.”

As with any new hobby, craft or martial art, there are rules and essential skills every new shooter must learn. Let’s start with the most important aspect – safety.

SAFETY FIRST
Learn the universal firearm safety rules. And make a commitment to follow them from this day forward:

Treat all firearms as if loaded.

Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction — never point the muzzle at anything you don’t intend to destroy.

Keep your finger off of the trigger and out of the trigger guard until pointed at the target and you have made the decision to shoot.

Know your target, what’s beyond your target and what is in the line of sight.

Always securely store your firearms, keeping them inaccessible to children and other unauthorized users.

GET PROFESSIONAL HELP
I have worked with hundreds upon hundreds of new shooters over the past decade and have witnessed first-hand the challenges that newbies face. Which is why I highly recommend that first-time shooters take a class from a competent fellow shooter or professional firearms instructor as their first step.

There is so much to learn and a lot to actively think about, and the process can be downright overwhelming. So get a recommendation for a good instructor or Google “pistol classes” or “firearms instruction” to get your journey started. (Just try to avoid those Groupon deals with the picture of the woman with the low-cut shirt and improper grip.)

LEGAL UP
The legalities that accompany owning a firearm are complex, are constantly changing and vary by state. As a firearm owner, it is your responsibility to know the laws regarding purchasing, selling, possession, usage, licensing, carrying, self-defense, etc., that are in effect federally, locally (where you reside) and where you travel with your firearm.

A few good resources include:

NRA Gun Laws Map
NRA’s Citizen’s Guide to Federal Firearms Laws
Handgun Laws Website

MASTER THE LINGO
Before you attend your first class, take time to understand the terminology as it relates to your pistol and peripherals. Learning to shoot is a process, and part of the process is learning the nomenclature. You can reference your owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website if you’re not already familiar with the proper terminology.

OPERATION
It’s also extremely important to understand how your semi-automatic pistol operates:

How to properly load and safe/decock it (if applicable)

How to properly unload it and check that it is empty

Next time, experiences and wisdom about getting to the shooting itself.

 

Scoop: New Hornady A-Tip MATCH Bullets! Part 1

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Witness the creation of the ultimate low-drag, high performance match bullet!

Hornady A-Tip Bullets Now At Midsouth Shooters!

After weeks of teasers, we’re finally able to talk about the new projectile from the folks at Hornady. We actually got to visit Grand Island, Nebraska to tour the facility, and get a first-hand look at the new milled aluminum tipped bullets. This thing is beautiful!

“New to Midsouth Shooters and Hornady, the A-Tip MATCH bullets are the latest and greatest from the Hornady Ballistic Development Group! After years of research, testing, and a new advanced manufacturing process with state-of-the-art quality control measures, Hornady has created an all new Aluminum Tipped projectile. This precision machined tip is longer than polymer tips which moves the center of gravity, thus enhancing inflight stability. The aeroballistically advanced tip design results in tighter groups, and reduced drag variability.”

By using some of the most sophisticated tools in projectile development, Hornady created a bullet with a milled tip, 99% repeatable, and a Doppler Radar verified low-drag coefficient (super-high Ballistic Coefficient) with a winning blend of ogive, tip length, bearing surface, and optimized boat-tail within each caliber.

“We wanted to incorporate aluminum tips in a full line of match bullets for years because we can make longer tips than we can with polymer materials,” said Joe Thielen, Assistant Director of Engineering. “This longer tip is a key component that helps move the center of gravity of the bullet rearward, thus enhancing in-flight stability and reducing dispersion. The problem has always been the cost to produce a tip like this, but we’ve developed a cost-effective process for manufacturing these aluminum tips while staying affordable for serious match shooters. The longer aluminum tips are machined to be caliber-specific, and when coupled with highly refined AMP® bullet jackets, aggressive profiles and optimized boattails, the result is enhanced drag efficiency (high BC) across the board. Each bullet design is carefully crafted for minimal drag variability for the utmost in shot-to-shot consistent downrange accuracy.The materials, design and manufacturing techniques combine for the most consistent and accurate match bullets available.”

– Hornady

Right off the press, the projectiles are sequentially packed, for ultimate consistent performance, from lot to lot, ensuring your projectiles are truly YOURS every step of the way. Think of it like shooting clones of your load every time (100 in each box)! Minimal handling throughout the process means there’s less of a chance of YOUR bullet being marred, scuffed, or altered, which is why each box is packaged with a Polishing Bag for you to give the final buff to your beautiful new projectiles!

Hornady A-Tip MATCH Bullets:

6MM 110gr Hornady A-Tip6.5MM 135gr Hornady A-Tip 6.5MM 153gr Hornady A-Tip  30CAL 230gr Hornady A-Tip 30CAL 250gr Hornady A-Tip

Part 2 is forthcoming, with more in-depth analysis from Hornady’s lead technicians. Get ready for graphs, charts, and more! To read the press release, CLICK HERE!