Category Archives: Shooting Skills

SKILLS: Do You Need A Rifle Scope?

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To push the limits of your tactical rifle a long-range rifle scope might just be what you need, or not… READ MORE

rifle scopes
Some shooters romanticize the idea of getting a huge rifle scope so they can shoot a country mile. It is best to find balance in realistic goals for your rifle and the optic.

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life, Adam Scepaniak

In previous articles we discussed the merits of utilizing and understanding the practicality of iron sights as well as when red dot sights can improve speed and awareness and be beneficial to those of us with less than perfect vision.

That now brings us to the topic of more conventional rifle scopes with magnification. There is a novelty in being able to push one’s shooting prowess to its limits and see exactly how far you can connect on a shot. Simultaneously, you don’t want a rifle scope on an all-purpose carbine that is so overmatched for your target that close quarter targets become unfeasible to engage.

There is a certain balance that must be achieved in magnification, weight and other ancillary features to accomplish the mission at hand. In the third part of this series on carbine sighting systems, we will now cover the pros and cons of rifle scopes on your modern sporting rifle.

Realistic Goals
With most people’s modern sporting rifles being chambered in .223 Rem/5.56mm NATO, your effective range is roughly 600 yards (without deep-diving into reloading your own ammunition and some other wizardry performed on your firearm). Understanding this is essentially the practical limit of the cartridge, you then need to ask yourself how far you are actually going to shoot.

Secondly, how close do you want to shoot? If you top off your rifle with a titan of a scope you may not be able to engage anything quickly under 100 yards. Conversely, if the magnification of your rifle scope is too weak, how comfortable are you shooting long distances with low magnification? Identifying your working range, or the distances you intend to engage targets, will lead you to what magnification your rifle scope should be.

rifle scopes
A good quality scope, such as this Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6X, can offer you close range performance as well as the ability to reach out to longer distances.

My answer to that proposed question was potentially 300 yards at a maximum and possibly 10 yards at a minimum. Sounds nearly too close and too far at the same time, right? Well, there are a bevy of rifle scope manufacturers who make optics that could amply cover that range of distance. With a rifle scope that is 1-4X, 1-6X or 1-8X, you have the ability to shoot both near and far while not adding significant weight to your weapon platform.

Real-World Applications
With a rifle scope that can be dialed down to 1X or essentially no magnification, you have the ability to do the work iron sights or a red dot can accomplish. This affords the shooter a greater field of view and better awareness of their surroundings. This can be exceedingly valuable for defense or hunting situations. Also, many rifle scopes offer the feature of lit reticles so your optic could truly do the work of a red dot in close quarters.

At the same time, you can spike your magnification up to potentially 6X or 8X to engage long-distance targets. This makes that example of a 300-yard shot more feasible without sacrificing your ability to shoot something a stone’s throw away in front of you. While some of your friends might boast of their ability to shoot far with little magnification, it is better to make your shots as easy as possible instead of tight-rope walking the limit of your abilities behind a rifle.

Practical Considerations
Another consideration aside from the magnification of your optic is the size and weight. Most modern sporting rifles are viewed as mobile firearms — something someone can easily carry or sling over their shoulder. At a weight of roughly 6 lbs., it really diminishes the mobility of your firearm if you tack on a gawdy 4-lb. rifle scope. While it might appear cool for social media and your range buddies, it will fail a “practicality test.”

rifle scopes

rifle scopes
Something that a rifle scope can accomplish that iron sights or a red dot cannot is to make a long, difficult shot more easily possible.

With a rifle scope that can be brought down to 1X, you get the benefits of greater awareness and field of view with the ability to apply magnification.

So, if you have an AR-15 in your stable like a SAINT and want to turn it into more of a workhorse, a rifle scope can add a lot of value! If you believe a scope will be too overpowering or will ruin your chance of close-up shots, think again. A well-chosen rifle scope has the potential to give you the benefits of iron sights, a red dot, and magnification all in one.

The only thing that might deter some people is the price that comes along with it. Good rifle scopes can start around $200 and easily exceed $2,000 fairly quickly. As mentioned earlier, it’s all about finding that balance of what you wish to accomplish and what will get you there. Be safe out there, and happy shooting!

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.

Adam Scepaniak
Adam is a manager at The Guns And Gear Store in Waite Park, MN. He’s also a writer for the NRA Shooting Sports USA, TheFirearmBlog, Sierra Bullets, All Outdoor, OutdoorHub, and Boyds Gunstocks. He is a Glock and Smith & Wesson Certified Armorer as well.

 

SKILLS: When You Need A Red Dot

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What are the advantages and disadvantages to red dot optics? READ MORE

red dot sight

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life, Adam Scepaniak

While some people who have not jumped on the bandwagon of red dots might view them as a gimmick, I can assure you they offer more than you might think. Red dots can be useful for individuals who may have vision impairments or wear glasses because there’s no need to focus on three points — the rear sight, front sight and the target you are engaging. For some people, having to focus on three varying points can be very difficult. Instead, you can have a singular focus on a red dot overlaid on your target.

red dot sight
A good red dot optic like this Vortex Sparc AR will give you a great sighting option for your rifle.

Real-World Applications
Red dots can be extremely useful for close-quarters target engagement, whether for a competitive league event, recreational shooting or self-defense. Instead of taking the micro-seconds to align a rear sight over a front sight, you can more quickly obtain a sight picture of a singular red dot over what you are shooting. Moreover, wherever a red dot appears, regardless of the shooter’s orientation or symmetry to the target, they will accurately hit.

red dot sight
Combining a red dot and iron sight set up on your SAINT can really amp up its performance.

Red dots may appear to “float” within the optic and that is a result of the red dot correcting for a shooter’s angle or level at which they are aiming. Wherever the dot appears, you will hit. This is a result of the effects of reduced parallax in non-magnified red dot optics. But, putting aside the tech-speak, the end result is that no matter where the dot may appear in the optic, it will be on target downrange. No need to perfectly center it. Simply get the dot on the target and press the trigger.

Another valuable benefit to red dots is their ability to provide good contrast in low-light situations. When iron sights may not be visible during dusk, dawn or overcast conditions, even to an individual with perfect vision, a red dot can create enough contrast to safely and successfully engage a target. Black iron sights on a dark silhouette may make placing a safe shot difficult because you don’t know precisely where on the silhouette you are aiming. A red dot will crisply and definitively show you your reference point.

Pros and Cons
One downside that should be considered for red dots is a need for batteries. The batteries themselves are usually cheap and the battery life of most red dots are improving exponentially to have a working lifespan of one to two years or even more. Even so, you may want to have extra batteries squirreled away in the pistol grip of your rifle or your pocket just in case.

red dot sight
When installing a red dot while iron sights are present, allow for enough space to manage your red dot. Do not block off any buttons you may need to press.

One tactic people will employ if they fear their red dot dying is to co-witness a red dot with their iron sights. The act of co-witnessing is to align their rear iron sight peep through the optic and to the red dot which is covering their front sight post. This triple-alignment assures you are as level and in line with your target as possible. If you happen to break your red dot or its battery dies you simple continue to shoot with your iron sights. This safeguard method is used by a lot of people, and they will flip down their rear sight if that sight picture appears “too busy” to look through.

red dot sight
One option for utilizing your red dot is by co-witnessing (seeing both the red dot and your iron sights) at the same time.

Another advantage with red dots is their capacity to allow the user to have greater spatial awareness around them while shooting. Since you are not tunnel-visioned or intensely focused on a front and rear sight, only the red dot, you can take in your complete peripheral vision and see everything occurring around you. This can be highly valuable in defensive situations so you are not blindsided.

There are lot of benefits to both iron sights and red dots when shooting with your rifle. Be safe out there and happy shooting!

red dot sight
Another co-witnessing option is to fold down your rear sight and align just your red dot and your front sight post.

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.

Adam Scepaniak
Adam is a manager at The Guns And Gear Store in Waite Park, MN. He’s also a writer for the NRA Shooting Sports USA, TheFirearmBlog, Sierra Bullets, All Outdoor, OutdoorHub, and Boyds Gunstocks. He is a Glock and Smith & Wesson Certified Armorer as well.

SKILLS: The Truth About Snub Nose Ballistics

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Which round is the best for you? READ MORE

snubnose revolver

Jason Hanson

Jay L., of Greenbrae, CA was a car collector who had amassed an array of 1970s-era cars in the past, but being 90, Jay had been selling off most of his collection. He dwindled down his cars to owning a 1996 Mitsubishi and a 2005 Ford.

One morning, around 10:45 a.m., a criminal entered Jay’s home, detained him at gunpoint, and searched the residence for valuables.

During this time, the burglar told Jay there was a contract out on him. Jay asked, “How could there be a contract out on me?”

To which the burglar replied, “I understand you’re the guy with all the expensive cars.”

At one point, the burglar led Jay at gunpoint to the bedroom, which he ransacked for valuables while 90 year old Jay sat on the bed concocting a plan.

Next, Jay told the burglar he needed to use the bathroom, which is where his five guns were hidden.

When the burglar refused, Jay pulled his pants down and said he would defecate on the spot.

The burglar let him go into the bathroom but would not let him close the door. Jay then asked the burglar, “Do you like to watch people?”

Then the burglar let him close the door and Jay went for his Smith & Wesson .38 snubnose.

As Jay exited the bathroom, the two men exchanged gunshots, resulting in Jay being shot once in the jaw and the burglar being shot three times in the abdomen.

Both men emptied their firearms and the burglar ran from the home.

The burglary suspect drove away from the scene before calling 911 and claiming he had accidentally shot himself.

He spent nine days in the hospital before he was taken to jail and charged with attempted murder, burglary, robbery and firearms offenses by a felon.

Clearly, Jay did exactly what he had to do that day to make sure he made it out alive.

There is no question the criminal was targeting Jay since he believed there was large sums of money in the home because Jay collected cars.

The thing is, many people who may be similar in age to Jay prefer to own revolvers since they are so simple to use and you don’t need the hand strength to rack the slide like you do on a semi-auto.

With that in mind, I often hear the debate about which handgun caliber is the best between .38, .38+P, or .357.

For that reason, here is a breakdown on the different calibers and what may be best for you and your situation.

.38 Special. The .38 Special is a classic revolver caliber and it’s impossible to go into any gun store and not find a selection of revolvers chambered in this round.

It has a history as a workhorse and gained popularity among law enforcement in the 70’s and 80’s.

Today, .38 special rounds are still carried by some law enforcement as a back up weapon, and are used by citizens who want a small revolver that can still deliver effective rounds. .38 Special rounds are great for new shooters and can be a very effective self-defense round in close quarters.

From a ballistics perspective, the .38 operates at a maximum average pressure of 17,000 PSI, with typical penetration being around 12 inches depending on all the variables.

Of course, the .38 special round is going to create less recoil compared to the other two rounds below.

While the .38 is still effective, it wouldn’t be my first choice for home defense since I would rather have a bit more power in my home defense round.

.38 Special+P. Prior to the development of the .38+P round, there was the .38 Special High-Speed round, which was intended for use only in large frame revolvers.

Nowadays, the .38 Special+P round is suitable for most medium frame revolvers and delivers a maximum average pressure of 20,000 PSI, and typical penetration of 13-14 inches, which is a significant, but not massive increase over the .38 special.

The .38 special+P is a moderately powerful round that is easy to shoot for reasonably experienced shooters.

In addition, the .38 special+P muzzle blast is louder than standard pressure .38 loads, but far less than .357 Magnum loads.

For many years, the standard FBI service load was the .38 Special +P cartridge. Their lower recoil and muzzle blast make them faster for repeat shots than full power .357 loads.

They are also less blinding and deafening when fired indoors at night. This is the round that I recommend for most people who want to carry a revolver.

.357 Magnum. The .357 was the first magnum handgun cartridge. The .357 rounds are loaded to a maximum average pressure of 35,000 psi, and typical penetration is well over 16 inches.

The recoil from full power loads is sharp and the muzzle blast definitely gets your attention. Fire a full power magnum load at night and the flash looks like the gun exploded.

Experienced shooters can generally learn to control the .357 size revolvers and with practice, very fast and accurate shooting can be accomplished with .357 loads.

In a survival situation, the .357 could be effective for hunting game for food.

There is no question that revolvers are still effective for self-defense situations.

While semi-automatics are highly reliable, they still have to deal with stovepipes, jams, and failure to feed issues on occasion. Some semi-autos are also prone to the pickiness of ammunition.

Revolvers don’t care about that. This is why revolvers are and will always be a solid choice for defensive purposes.

Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and New York Times bestselling author of Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life. To get a free copy of his book, visit www.SpyEscape.com.

Why You Need Iron Sights

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This is part one of a three-part series on sighting options for your rifle. This first entry covers iron sights. READ MORE

iron sights

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life, Kit Perez

While the AR-15 (or “Modern Sporting Rifle”) continues to balloon in popularity for competition, hunting, and defense, there is one facet of it that does not seem to get that much attention: iron sights. Why is that? Many people who are enamored with the AR-15 are equally infatuated with optics. Whether it is magnified optics or red dots, both types of sights are tremendously popular compared to iron sights. So, with optics coming to the forefront of shooter preferences, why and when would someone want to still run iron sights? Fully knowing what a basic set of irons are capable of might be half the battle.

Always On
The misperception of iron sights might stem from the various upbringings we have all had with firearms. If you were introduced to guns as a child with a single-shot, bolt-action .22 Long Rifle with iron sights you likely progressed from there to bigger, better and more modern firearms. Other factions of shooters may have joined the arms bandwagon later in life and began with an AR-15 with an optic, or potentially a different scoped rifle. If you initially skipped over iron sights in your start with rifles, it would be admittedly difficult to regress back to “lesser” technology. Unfortunately for that aforementioned group, lacking a rudimentary understanding of iron sights means you’re missing a basic skill of marksmanship.

When the conversation of “should you use iron sights,” or at a minimum understand them, comes up, I immediately think of Murphy’s Law: What can go wrong, will. Moreover, the technology in optics can fail. Whether it’s a battery dying or glass being irreparable damaged, if you have back-up iron sights you can always remain in the fight, hunt, or competitive event.

Old-School Rangefinding
So, removing the thought of Murphy’s Law from your mindset, why else should you understand and deploy iron sights? For one, the width of a mil-spec front sight post (FSP) can be used to measure the relative size and distance of objects. A mil-spec FSP such as the one present on the Springfield Armory SAINT AR-15 is 0.07” wide. Some fast math tells us that is loosely 3.2 mils at 100 meters.

iron sights
The SAINT’s rear sight has two peep apertures you can use — one is for normal aiming and the other for quick, close-quarters shooting.

More people should become comfortable and familiar with this view because if your optics fail this may be all that you have to work with, for better or worse.

The military teaches that a mil-spec FSP at 150 meters is the average width of a military-aged male’s torso (approximately 19” across). So, for example, if a whitetail deer is facing you straight on and your FSP completely covers the deer’s chest, that particular deer should be at loosely 150 meters. While this is a very primitive ranging technique, in the 21st century it’s great knowledge to keep tucked away in your mind. And it always works. No batteries to run out or glass to break.

Even More Options?
With many sets of iron sights such as on the SAINT, you also get multiple rear apertures through which to aim. Sometimes they’re referred to as day-time and night-time peeps (small and large) while more modern shooting manuals identify each aperture as being utilized for normal shooting and faster close-quarters target acquisition. The ability to have two choices in a rear aperture and greater awareness by not being forced into “tunnel vision focus” with an optic can be quite valuable.

iron sights
While you might think you don’t need those iron sights that come on your SAINT rifle, they are actually a highly capable aiming system.

Since iron sights can serve a two-fold purpose in their peeps and there are handy secrets in their dimensions, when should you use them then? Some of the best applications are for hunting and competition. If you’re going to be participating in a 3-Gun competition, an educational carbine course, the Tactical Games or a similar style AR-15 course of fire, then iron sights could be immensely valuable. In regards to hunting, the ranging ability and fast target acquisition could be handy for unpredictable game appearances. Also, when Murphy’s Law finds you, the likelihood of a nearby gas station stocking your obscure watch battery for your primary optic will be abysmally low. When you’re competing or hunting, it’s often better to “have and not need iron sights than need and not have.”

iron sights

So, if you just added an AR-15 to your arsenal and are thinking of stripping the factory iron sights off of it, think again! They offer a lot of value. Possibly consider using them as a back-up and know that you’ll be more informed and prepared. Be safe out there, and happy shooting!

Adam Scepaniak
Adam is a manager at The Guns And Gear Store in Waite Park, MN. He’s also a writer for the NRA Shooting Sports USA, TheFirearmBlog, Sierra Bullets, All Outdoor, OutdoorHub, and Boyds Gunstocks. He is a Glock and Smith & Wesson Certified Armorer as well.

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.

Accuracy In Handguns

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Bob Campbell is the author of Gun Digest ‘The Accurate Handgun.’ Here are his thoughts on this topic. READ MORE

handgun accuracy
The Smith and Wesson M69 .44 Magnum and SIG Elite ammunition are a good pairing.

Bob Campbell

Over the decades I have researched handguns and used the terms practical accuracy, intrinsic accuracy, and absolute accuracy. Firing from the benchrest is important and always interesting. But absolute accuracy isnt as important as the practical accuracy we may coax from a handgun. I think handgunners don’t take accuracy as serious as riflemen. Perhaps most cannot shoot well enough to take advantage of the accuracy in a superbly accurate handgun and don’t bother. Competition seems to place a premium on speed rather than accuracy. In personal defense the balance of speed and accuracy is important. If you don’t think accuracy isnt important in personal defense we have been to a different church. Shot placement is accuracy. The standard of measuring accuracy has come to be a five shot group at 25 yards, This is fired from a solid braced position from a bench. I use the Bullshooters pistol rest to remove as many human factors as possible. There is some compromise with shorter barrel or lightweight handguns and they are tested at 15 yards.

handgun accuracy
This is excellent practical accuracy.

The quality of the handgun, the fitting of the slide, the quality of the rifling, the sights, whether fine for target shooting or broad for fast results at combat range, are very important. The quality of the trigger press is important. The shooter is the most important part of the equation. There are those that may state that such testing of handguns is irrelevant as personal defense use almost always demands firing at less than ten yards. There is much validity to this argument. Not that combat shooting, drawing and firing and making a center hit, are not difficult. It may be reasonable to test an 8 3/8 inch barreled Magnum at even one hundred yards but a personal defense handgun with few exceptions will never be used past ten yards. Just the same those of us that test handguns like to take them to the Nth degree and test firearms accuracy. It is an interesting pursuit that is rewarding although there is some frustration in the beginning.

handgun accuracy
This group was fired with the Beretta 84 .380 ACP at 15 yards- accuracy is relative.

Service pistols, high end pistols and revolvers have different levels of accuracy. A revolver with five, six, seven or eight chambers that rotate to line up with the barrel for each shot is more accurate than it should be. As an example the Colt Official Police .38 and the Smith and Wesson K 38 are each capable of putting five shots into 2.2 to 2.5 inches at 25 yards with Federal Match ammunition. This is excellent target accuracy. When cops qualified with revolvers at 50 yards these handguns were up to the task. The Colt Python is easily the most accurate revolver I have tested and perhaps the most accurate handgun of any type. At a long 25 yards I fired a 15/16 inch group with the Federal 148 grain MATCH in .38 Special. This involved tremendous concentration and frankly it was exhausting. I have fired a similar group with the SIG P220, but this was unusual. The SIG will usually do 1.25 inch with the Federal 230 grain MATCH loading. The Python will group very nearly as well with full power Magnum loads. The Federal 180 grain JHP .357 Magnum is good for an inch at 25 yards, as an example. A much less expensive revolver is superbly accurate and nearly as accurate as the Python. The four inch barrel Ruger GP100 is good for groups about ninety per cent as good as the Python. It is also more rugged. As I have seen with 1911 handguns you pay a lot for the last degree of accuracy.

handgun accuracy
The Nighthawk 1911 is arguably as good as it gets in a .45 automatic.

In self loaders the Les Baer Concept VI is a solid three inch gun at 50 yards. The SIG P220 I mentioned may not run a combat course as quickly as a 1911 handgun but it will prove more accurate than all but the finest custom guns. The Nighthawk Falcon is a well made and reliable handgun worth its price. I am surprised when it fires a group larger than 2.0 inches at 25 yards with quality ammunition. The Guncrafter Commander with No Name is among the most accurate 1911 handguns of any type I have tested. So far the single most accurate loading has been the Fiocchi 200 grain XTP with a 25 yard 1.4 inch group. This takes a great deal of concentration to achieve. However- this pistol is among the most accurate of handguns in offhand fire as well. Firing off hand at known and unknown ranges the pistol is surprisingly accurate.

handgun accuracy
The Smith and Wesson Model 27 is a superbly accurate revolver.

When it comes to modern handguns it is interesting that there seems to be a race in both directions, to the top and to the bottom. Makers are attempting to manufacture the least expensive handgun possible that works. Someone buys it, and some of the handguns like the Ruger LC9/EDC types are reliable and useful defensive handguns. The same is true of revolvers. Even the inexpensive Taurus 450 .45 caliber revolver I often carry hiking will place five shots into less than two inches at 15 yards, reasonable for a revolver with a ported two inch barrel. I am unimpressed with the accuracy of many of the polymer framed striker fired handguns. I think that they are accurate enough and no more, but the trigger and sights are probably the limiting factory. Almost all fire five shots of service grade ammunition into 2.5 to 3.0 inches at 25 yards. High end handguns such as the Dan Wesson Heritage and Springfield Operator are more accurate than the majority of factory handguns of a generation ago. As an example thirty nine years ago I convinced the lead instructor and range master to allow some of us to carry to the 1911 .45. I barely managed to qualify with the Colt Commander Series 70 as qualification included barricade fire at 50 yards. With factory ammunition of the day the pistol would not group into ten inches at 50 yards, the military standard for 1911 handguns. Using a 200 grain SWC handload the pistol grouped into eight inches at 50 yards and I barely made the cut. The sights were small, the trigger heavy, and the grip tang cut my hand after fifty rounds. But the pistol was reliable, fast into action, and it was a Colt 1911. Later I added a Bar Sto barrel and enjoyed much better accuracy. Today a SIG 1911 Fastback Carry will group five rounds into 2.5 inches on demand at 25 yards and sometimes much less, and it is a factory pistol.

handgun accuracy
This is the kind of accuracy we dream of.

Other handguns are more accurate than most give them credit for. While the SIG P series is regarded as a very accurate handgun the CZ75B will give the SIG a run for the money. The CZ 75B is easily handled in off hand fire and very accurate. The Beretta 92 is also an accurate handgun as I discovered in instructors school when a veteran qualified with the Beretta 92. As a rule .40 caliber versions of the 9mm are not as accurate as the 9mm version but there are exceptions. The SIG P229 in .40 is an accurate and reliable handgun that makes an excellent go anywhere do anything handgun. My example will place five rounds of the Fiocchi 180 grain XTP load into 2.0 inches at 25 yards on demand. Accuracy is interesting. There are other considerations such as how quickly the pistol may be drawn and placed on target, and control in rapid fire is important. Reliability is far more important. But accurate handguns are interesting.

handgun accuracy
The handgun must be fired often to master the piece.

 

 

SKILLS: When Your Home Defense Gun Won’t Save You

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Is it enough to simply own a gun? Or is there more you can do to ensure your own safety at home? READ MORE

home invasion
While your home may seem totally secure to you, it could have numerous access points in the eyes of a potential home intruder.

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life, Kit Perez

Many gun owners cite home defense as an important part of owning a firearm. It can be easy to think that because you have a gun easily accessible or even next to your bed that you’re ready and prepared for a home intruder. If an intruder can get into your home at all, however, you’ve already lost the first battle and are now at a disadvantage.

Watch Those Windows and Doors
Of course, we lock all our doors when we leave. But what about the windows? Have you ever come home to find that you left a window open? Make sure your home is secure, whether you’re home or not. No one’s saying that you can’t open a window — just make sure you’re not leaving an easy access point for an intruder.

You can also reinforce your door with a tool like The Door Club that braces your door closed, which provides added security against having your door body-slammed or kicked in. A product like this also helps with the next item on our list: how you should answer your door.

home invasion
Every window in your home is a potential access point. Secure them and block the way of a potential intruder.

Carefully Answer Your Door
Many intruders get into their target home by simply knocking or ringing the doorbell. They may pretend to be door-to-door salesmen, religious solicitors or even neighbors. Their whole goal is to get you to open the door far enough so they can push their way in — or even get invited in.

A product like The Door Club can assist by allowing you to open the door enough to speak to a visitor while still reinforcing it if they try and push their way into your home. And as always, apply common-sense and caution when dealing with anyone who is a stranger that may appear at your door.

Tidy Your Yard
An unkempt and debris-filled property offers places for an intruder to hide. Trees near your house with accessible branches can also serve as an easy way for a burglar to get to the second story of your home, where your children or valuable possessions may be. Tangled, out-of-control bushes, shrubs, and other plants can also serve as a blind for potential intruders who may be waiting for you to leave — or return home.

Fortify Your Castle
Having a gun is a great way to help secure your home, but it is not the only answer. And if you create an environment conducive to a home invasion, you might just unnecessarily stack the deck against yourself in the first place. Following these few tips can help make your home an unattractive target for intruders — creating a safer environment for you and your family, and increasing the chances you won’t have to use that home defense firearm.

home invasion
Safety and security in your home requires more than simply locking your doors. Have you secured all the possible access points?

Kit Perez
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.

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: Too Much Gun For Home Defense?

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Should you consider an AR-platform firearm for home defense, or are there better choices, and why? READ MORE

ar15 home defense
If you find yourself facing a deadly threat in your home, make sure you have enough gun and that you know how to use it.

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life, Tom McHale

According to the media, no one could possibly need something like a “weapon of war” as a home defense firearm. Then again, it was television and movie people who came up with that whole idea of shooting the gun out of the bad guy’s hand.

If you’re reading this, you already know that an AR does not differ from any other type of firearm. It has different pros and cons and is suitable for some jobs more than others. In my view, one area where it shines is in the role of home defense firearm. More specifically, it’s the AR pistol that presents an option worthy of serious consideration.

ar15 home defense

Before we get into specifics, we ought to invest a hot second talking about why an AR makes a good home defense option. Contrary to popular assumption, a standard .223/5.56mm projectile isn’t a penetration beast. In fact, a standard 55-grain FMJ bullet will penetrate fewer walls or pieces of furniture than most any pistol round. The combination of a small and light projectile and high velocity creates a ballistic sweet spot where bullets quickly begin to fragment and tumble. But be prepared; it will be loud.

With that said, let’s consider a few AR pistol attributes that support a home defense role for it.

Ease of Use
The most important factor is ease of use, and I’m not talking about the controls. Of course, any gun requires training to use effectively in a high-stress situation, and an AR-type arguably has more controls to understand and master than a smaller handgun. I’m talking about ease of hitting a target while under stress.

However, longer guns in general are far more forgiving to fire than small handguns thanks to their weight and sight radius. A slight offset from perfect sight alignment just doesn’t matter that much when shooting a longer gun at defensive distances. A slight sight misalignment with a smaller handgun can cause a complete miss and it happens all the time. Note the shockingly low percentage of hits versus shots fired in police shooting statistics. It’s not because they’re all bad shooters. It’s a result of trying to master handgun technique under extreme stress.

A heavier gun, like an AR pistol, is also easier to shoot accurately thanks to its weight to trigger force ratio. A handgun with a 5.5-pound trigger that weighs 2 pounds wants to move during an aggressive, adrenaline-induced trigger press. Thanks to inertia, a 6-pound AR pistol with a 5.5-pound trigger will move a lot less under identical circumstances.

Size and Balance
An AR rifle makes a great home defense weapon. The only real downside is its weight, length and challenge of operating with one hand. The AR pistol, on the other hand, brings the same benefits to a smaller and more maneuverable package. As an example, the Springfield Armory SAINT Edge rifle is 35.75? long fully extended and 32.5? with the stock collapsed. The SAINT Edge Pistol shown here can operate with an overall length of just 24.6? with wrist brace collapsed and 28.5? opened up. Those are just numbers, and they don’t sound like much, but the handling difference in the real world is significant.

Capacity
With standard capacity of 30 rounds, that’s a lot more than even a large handgun like the XD-M OSP. No one who ever survived a self-defense encounter ever complained about having rounds left over in the magazine, right?

ar15 home defense
No one has ever complained about having too much ammo, and a 30-round magazine like this can be very comforting when you need it.

Authority
I hate terms like “stopping” or “knockdown” power. They’re terribly misleading and lead to a false sense of security. However, according to both math and street science, most any rifle round puts the performance of most any pistol round to shame in violent encounters. If your life depends on stopping one or more aggressors quickly, a rifle caliber round improves your odds of success dramatically. Yes, projectiles fired from an AR pistol do leave the muzzle at a lower velocity than those fired from full-length rifles, but if we’re comparing an AR pistol to a handgun-caliber pistol, there’s still a significant energy difference.

ar15 home defense
Short and handy yet powerful, an AR pistol can be a very capable home defender.

Accessories
We have all sorts of reliable options for lights and lasers on traditional handguns, so an AR pistol doesn’t technically bring any additional capability to the table there. What it does offer is more flexibility in terms of how they’re mounted and used. Most, like the SAINT Edge pistol shown here, have rails or attachment mounting points all along the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions.

Additionally, an AR pistol is perfect for optics use. With an “always on” red dot, you’ve got a great sighting option for any light conditions. Dark, daylight, or anywhere in between.

ar15 home defense
Firearms like the SAINT Edge Pistol make mounting accessories like this Streamlight TLR-1 in a variety of locations quite easy.

The Bottom Line
Don’t write off the AR, especially an AR pistol, as nonviable for home defense simply because of the hearsay that gets passed along at gun store counters. They can be a great choice for this role, and offer you a lot of advantages.

Learn more about the Saint HERE

Tom McHale 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.

 

SKILLS: Cold Weather Carry Tips

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Confident and effective concealed carry always demands planning and attention, and don’t forget the broad influence of environmental conditions. READ MORE

cold weather carry

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life, Handguns Magazine

As a native Californian, I sometimes forget the whole world doesn’t walk around in T-shirts, shorts, and flip flops year-round.

Recent trips to northern Illinois and central Pennsylvania reminded me not everyone has it so easy when it comes to concealed carry. Clearing a baggy T-shirt to draw your handgun is a lot different than having to fish your handgun out from under layer after cold-blocking layer of garments. Add a pair of cozy gloves to the mix and getting to your gun in a hurry can be next to impossible. Even worse, if your gun snags on a garment during the draw stroke, it can be dropped with the muzzle pointing who knows where. If moving to a warmer climate isn’t in your plans, here are a few tips for cold-weather concealed carry.

Common Snags
Concealing a gun in cold weather is easy, but drawing it is surprisingly difficult. Obviously, the smaller the gun and the more layers of clothing covering the gun, the harder it will be to get to. On a damp, chilly morning at The Site in Mount Carroll, Illinois, I watched students struggle to draw from under a hodgepodge of garments. They might sweep their heavy unzipped jacket aside — only to fumble with a sweatshirt they try to lift over their holstered gun. This is way too much of a burden.

Whenever possible, wear clothing layers under your gun and a single garment (your coat) over it. Keep in mind your outer garment can present holstering issues. Heavy winter jackets, even those of the “tactical” ilk, have drawstrings that can inadvertently enter the holster after your gun is drawn. If one of these strings gets caught up in the trigger guard and snags the trigger as you holster, the result could be an unintended discharge. To remedy this, take a little extra time before holstering. Closed garments make it a little more difficult to holster, and the problem is exacerbated when your gun is worn behind the hip.

cold weather carry

Holstering Complications
Here’s where many shooters go wrong. While reaching across their body with their off-hand to move aside the concealing garment, they often inadvertently place a hand or arm in front of the muzzle. Safety concerns aside, reaching across your body while wearing a heavy winter coat can be difficult — especially when your gun is worn behind the hip. But with a closed garment you do need to use your off-hand to lift the garment and expose the mouth of the holster. To accomplish this, leave your gun pointed “downrange” and reach under the gun to lift the garment over the holster and pin it to your body.

Take a peek into the holster and, assuming it’s completely empty, holster your gun. If you’re using an open garment, you don’t have to deal with quite as much hassle. One holstering technique, taught by Gunsite’s Dave Hartman and others, is to orient the palm of your hand upward as you bring the gun to your body and hook the garment to sweep it aside and clear a path to your holster. Some instructors prefer to have you holster without looking at the holster, but since you shouldn’t even consider holstering if you have any doubt whether the fight’s over, I recommend taking a breath and a quick glance into the holster to verify there are no obstructions. Bulky clothing isn’t just problematic when drawing or shooting; it can actually induce a malfunction when firing a semi-automatic pistol.

Shooting From Retention
When shooting from a weapon retention position, with your gun held close to your torso, it’s possible for a garment to become entangled with the slide. If the slide can’t reciprocate, your pistol’s cycle of operations is disrupted. In other words, you’re holding a paper weight until you remedy the problem via the Tap, Rack, Assess protocol or something even more time-consuming. To keep the slide from snagging on their garments, many shooters are taught to cant their pistol outboard slightly. The top of the slide would be in approximately the two o’clock or three o’clock position to give the slide room to cycle.

cold weather carry

Alternatively, when shooting from retention, you could simply “flag” your thumb. With this technique your thumb is wedged between your gun and your torso to create just enough of a barrier for the slide to do its thing. Indexing your thumb to the same part of your body also promotes consistent orientation for enhanced close-quarter accuracy. Last but not least on the cold weather calamity list are gloves. Clearly, the thicker the gloves, the less dexterity you will have. This will affect your ability to grab and clear your concealing garment, grip your pistol, and manipulate the trigger. For these reasons, I would opt for the thinnest gloves you can get by with, and I would practice with them extensively. If not, your gloves will probably feel like mittens when you try to draw and shoot with them.

Originally appeared in Handguns Magazine.

Check out Handguns Magazine for more expert opinions and advice on concealed carry. The Handguns Magazine mission, as America’s only small-arms media property, is to emphasize the proper use and selection of handguns for self-defense and sport shooting.

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: 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.