Category Archives: Shooting Skills

Ultimate Reloader: .25-45 Sharps AR-15 Part 6: LEE .25-45 Sharps Dies Overview


By Gavin Gear, Ultimate Reloader

lee .25-45 sharps dies

One of the challenges with picking up a “new” cartridge to reload is finding the right dies at the right price. .25-45 Sharps is becoming more popular with AR-15 shooter and reloaders, and the industry is responding with new products that give reloaders more options. One such example is the new .25-45 Sharps dies from LEE. This “Pacesetter” die set includes a full-length sizer/de-primer, a dead-length bullet seater, and a Factory Crimp Die- everything you need to form .25-45 Sharps brass and reload .25-45 Sharps ammunition for your AR-15. These dies are “Very Limited Production” – but I’ll note that Midsouth Shooters Supply has these dies for ~$35. and they are in stock as of today! That’s about 1/2 what other .25-45 Sharps die sets cost!

If you are curious about LEE rifle dies, I posted an in-depth write-up that covers pretty much every detail you can think of. I also posted the following in-depth write-up that covers .25-45 Sharps precision reloading from start to finish, a great resource if you are going to use these LEE dies to load .25-45 Sharps:

.25-45 Sharps AR-15 Part 5: Precision Loads with the MEC Marksman

As noted in that article, I found once again when testing the LEE dies how critical it is to chamfer case mouths after forming brass as pictured here:

time to chamfer and debur!

The cartridges I loaded with the LEE dies turned out great, and of course I tested my sizing/forming die setup with my L.E. Wilson case gage to make sure dimensions were correct.

time to break out the l.e. wilson gauges

I can’t wait to shoot some of the ammunition loaded with these LEE Pacesetter .25-45 Sharps dies- I’ll keep you all posted with how they work out!


3 Easy Dry-Fire Drills for Handgunners


Don’t let bad weather stop you from improving handgun skills: it’s fast, safe, and easy using these tips from Team Springfield. Learn about them…

Courtesy Team Springfield

Team SpringfieldDo harsh winter conditions or a full schedule keep you from getting to the shooting range as often as you’d prefer? For us too, but that shouldn’t mean you can’t get in a little practicing. Dry fire practice can be an important (and better yet, inexpensive) part of your training. And it’s convenient because you can do it in the comfort of your own home.

As always, unload the firearm (check and double check to ensure it’s unloaded) and remove all ammo and distractions from the room. Close your curtains, and get to work! It’s easy and useful to log some practice reps by dry firing.

Here are a few drills to get you started.

Dry fire drawing from concealment is particularly valuable obviously for people who carry concealed. Quickly and safely drawing your pistol from underneath a shirt, coat or other layers can be more difficult than you might think. Unpracticed, there’s significant potential for snags and fumbling.

Dry fire practicing can help you from coming up short like Fredo in The Godfather.

Don’t move the gun when you pull the trigger! Regardless of the speed you are moving your trigger finger, you need to avoid dipping/moving the muzzle.

How can you tell if you’re falling victim to this bad habit? Set the trigger on your unloaded pistol by racking the slide. Next, place an empty casing on its base on the top of the slide, just behind the front sight. Now, press the trigger without causing the case to fall off.

The speed in which you can do this will be a limiting factor in how quickly you can shoot accurately.

If the case doesn’t fall off, congrats! You’ve pulled the trigger correctly.

Rob Leatham
“The trick is one of visual focus. Try to see a full sight picture (front AND rear sights AND target) before you pull the trigger. Not just the target or the front sight. It’s hard to do quickly and one of the skills all great speed shooters have mastered.” — Rob Leatham, Team Springfield

Another tricky skill is rapidly and precisely transitioning from one target to the next – especially when dealing with recoil during live fire. Since this is dry firing, though, we’ll have to do without the effect of recoil. Pick out three objects or other visual cues (targets), and practice transitioning the gun from one target to the next.

Once you’ve practiced the above three techniques individually and have seen some improvement, practice them together. Again, with an unloaded gun, set the trigger, safe the gun (if applicable) and holster.

Start by drawing from a concealed position, acquire a target, align the sights and THEN perform a smooth trigger pull on each target (yeah, we know the hammer/striker only moves the first time, but go through the motion anyway). Gradually build speed on the gun movements and the trigger pull. Hopefully, the next time you’re able to get to the range for live fire, you will be able to shoot multiple targets faster and more accurately.

Shooting Skills: Shooting The Breeze, 3


Putting it together: follow these suggestions and lose your fear of the wind!

Glen Zediker

Up to here we’ve talked over the influential factors wind brings with it. Here’s how to take it right back to the wind.

First, there are two essential “types” of shooters with respect to how they adjust for the wind on each shot. Dopers and chasers. I’m a chaser. A doper, wind doper, is one who carefully studies inputs and makes what amounts to a unique correction for each round fired. I say unique because it takes more time. They constantly evaluate and calculate the influence and often do much of it using one of the hand-held wind-meters talked about earlier.

I’m a “spotter-chaser,” which is actually a tad amount demeaning term branded on my style by the dopers. Technically I’m not really “chasing the spotter,” which means adjusting based solely on the position of the last shot. No. I’m anticipating a needed change based on observation between shots, but I’m doing it quickly, and I use the spotter location to confirm or modify my setting. That tells me if I’m seeing what I think I’m seeing. (A spotter is an easily-visible disk on a spindle that’s inserted into the location of the last shot hole by the folks pulling targets in the pits.)

Remember what was said last time about wind cycles? Usually there’s between 6-8 minutes before a cycle repeats, a little more or a little less. I want to get all my rounds downrange, if target pit service allows, during one cycle. Shooting into a build-up, watch for indications of a wind velocity increase. If the wind is moving left to right, I don’t want to see anything too close to the right edge of the 10-ring; I hedge a half-minute of angle or so to guard against losing a shot that direction if there’s an increase I missed, but not hedging so much that I’ll be too close to the left edge if I misread and overcorrect for a pick-up.

Pick one indicator, stay with it.

David Tubb
Most good shooters use mirage as their leading indicator to spot changes in the wind. With well-designed stand, the scope can be set it up where you can see the wind with the left eye and see the sight with the right without anything more than a visual focus shift. That gets the shooter back on the trigger with the least chance of missing another change. David Tubb demonstrates.

There are resources that give clues or evidence of wind direction and strength: wind flags, observation of grass and trees, and mirage.

Almost always I use mirage as my leading indicator. Mirage (heat waves) is always present but you’ll need a scope to read it. For 600 yards I focus my scope about halfway to the target. Mirage flows just like water and the currents can be read with respect to wind speed as well, but it’s not clearly accurate beyond maybe a 15 mph speed. The thing is that mirage shows changes, increases or decreases, and also direction shifts, really well.

A couple more things about mirage flow: when mirage “boils,” that is appears to rise straight up, either there’s no wind or the scope is dead in-line with wind direction. And that’s a quick and accurate means to determine wind direction, by the way, move the scope until you see the boil and note the scope body angle. It’s also how to know when a “fishtail” wind is about to change, a boil precedes a shift.

I use a long-eye-relief 20X to 25X wide-angle eyepiece. That setup shows the flow best. And pay attention to where the wind is coming from! See what’s headed your way, because what’s passed no longer matters. That’s true for any indicator. Right to left wind? Read off the right side of the range.

wind zero
Shooting into and through a buildup is a good strategy. My plan is to hedge against losing a shot “out” so I normally have an “insurance click” on to guard against missing an increase in wind value, and also hoping a sudden decrease doesn’t bite me and land one inside the wind. 10s win. Clearly, being able to honestly and precisely call a shot is a huge asset. That’s the only way to get good feedback from the last shot location.

Once I get on target then all I am doing is watching for changes. It’s really uncommon to make a big adjustment between shots. Once a string starts it’s ones and twos, back and forth. The fewer condition changes you are enduring, the easier it is to keep everything on center. That’s why I shoot fast, and that’s why I start at the low point in a wind cycle.

Speaking of getting on target. If it’s an NRA High Power Rifle event, you’ll get two sighters. I put my best-guess correction on before the first sighter, plus two clicks extra into the wind. Example: it’s quartering left to right and I’m guessing 2MOA, so that’s 8 clicks in the “left” direction, so I put on 10. That’s how I find out if I saw what I thought I saw. Then, and this is very important: Make a full correction off the result of that first sighter! Put the clicks on that would have centered that shot. The exception is if there was a notable change sensed between the first and second, but, even so, first sighting shot location lets you know if you got the value (what the wind is worth) under control. There’s one more round to go before you’re on record, so interpret from that and start the string.

sighter correction
Make a full correction off the first sighting shot location! Even if there are minor changes afoot, that’s how to know how well you assessed condition influence pre-shot. Don’t second-guess. After the second sighter you should be on target and then simply watching for changes. Pay attention, correlate visible cues to the results of prior shots, and if in doubt, click into the wind.

If you’re not at an organized event, having a spotter helps! Getting someone to watch for impacts while you shoot is a huge time-saver.

Information in this article was adapted from material in several books published by Glen Zediker and Zediker Publishing. Glen is a card-carrying NRA High Master and earned that classification in NRA High Power Rifle using an AR15 Service Rifle. For more information and articles available for download visit

Shooting Skills: Shooting the Breeze, 2


Adjusting for wind effect first comes from collecting information. There are two main components and one very important key. These three steps are essential. Keep reading to learn more.

Glen D. Zediker

Learning to shoot well on a windy day involves inputs. A lot of inputs.

Pretty much: wind speed and wind direction are the combining key factors that determine how much sight correction or “hold off” (if you prefer) is needed to get to target center. Speed and direction inputs combine to make a decision on the correction amount. Speed and direction, in tandem, have compounding or offsetting influences on the amount of correction. If either changes, the correction changes.

For instance: if the direction changes and the speed stays the same or the speed changes and the direction stays the same, it’s just more or less correction. But it’s imperative to keep in mind that these are linked.

Most shooting ranges, if construction plans made it reasonably feasible, are set up facing North. That helps. Head- and tail-wind components are less influential than the cross-wind component.

1. Estimate Speed
Being a competitive shooter and, therefore, an admittedly unashamed gamesman, employing some sort of short-cut electronic trickery comes first to mind. A wind meter is the fastest and surest way to get a start on a number. There are very good hand-held meters available, and these range in cost, convenience, and complexity levels. Some provide vauable additional information (such as density altitude), the use of which will be talked on another time.

wind meter
Learning to read wind speed comes only from experience, but something like one of these Caldwell-brand units jumps the learning curve way on up in a hurry. It’s simple, accurate, and well worth the less than $100 it costs. This is the Cross Wind Professional Wind Meter. See more HERE.

Visible indicators are simply observations. If it’s a shooting range, and if there are wind flags, look at the angle the wind is standing a flag out to, divide that by 4 and that’s a close approximation of wind speed. Of course, that depends on the flag material, and so on. Wind flags mostly help sense direction.

I know this is a serious cop-out, but experience is really the only teacher. There’s an old-school wind estimation guide first published eons ago that provides some input on guessing wind strength based on environmental clues. Click HERE to download an updated copy of the “Beaufort Scale.”

Stop! The wind doesn’t always blow the same the entire span of the range. Especially in the West, it’s plenty common to see faster or slower velocity areas between the firing line and the targets. Trees, ground clutter, topography, and so on, all create either passages or obstructions to the flow of the wind. Up to 600 yards, wind nearer the shooter should be given more weight; beyond that distance, wind strength nearer the targets is likely to exert disproportionate influence on the bullet. Reason is a matter of bullet velocity at the point of more or less wind impact. To be clear: even if we’re seeing relatively calm conditions at, say 500 yards, but it’s a tad amount gusty up close to the muzzle, early deflection of the bullet compounds to exert a stronger influence the farther the bullet travels.

range wind speed
Wind doesn’t always blow the same across the full depth and breadth of the range. Up to 500-600 yards, give a little more weight to the wind behavior (speed mostly) nearer the firing line. And, keep in mind that you’re shooting down a one-target-width corridor! Pay attention where it matters.

2. Determine Direction
This should be easy. However! Direction can change just as can speed. It’s not normally going to swap, but rather will vary in fractional shifts. A ticklish wind is a “fishtail” that waffles between 11 and 1 o’clock.

range flag
If there are flags on your shooting range, they mostly function to indicate wind direction, but can be a clue to wind speed: divide the angle by 4 and get an approximation of speed in miles per hour. Call this one 18 mph.

3. Find The Pattern
This may be the most important advice I can give on wind shooting. Wind cycles. Rarely does it blow at a constant and steady rate for very long. Wind cycles every 5-10 minutes. It builds, then peaks, then drops, then as implied, it runs the cycle again. That doesn’t necessarily mean it goes from calm to windy; it goes from windy to windier. But it will change, and most often will do so predictably. Watch the wind for a spell, running a stopwatch, and make notes on what you’re estimating for values at the high and low in the cycle.

At a tournament I want to shoot into a build-up, or, in other words, start my string at the low point in the cycle. And I also want to shoot all my rounds within the timeframe of the cycle! We have 20 minutes at the 600-yard-line, so scheduling can be an important part of strategy for this yard-line.

wind cycle
The most important thing I can tell you about wind: It cycles! Pay attention before you shoot and time the highs and lows you see. Chances are this pattern will repeat over and over at least for the next hour or so. This knowledge is also a huge help to varmint hunters.

If you know what amount a 10-mile-per-hour crosswind will (is supposed to) move your bullet at some distance, interpret the initial correction from that. If you guess the wind at 5 mph, take half of it; if the angle is less than full-value, reduce the correction as discussed last time by the fractional value, like half of the estimated amount for a wind that’s moving from 4:30 to 10:30.

clock face
For reference…

None of this is finite. Reading wind is more art than science. Next time I’ll talk about how to put all the inputs to use and keep all your shots on target.

Information in this article was adapted from material in several books published by Glen Zediker and Zediker Publishing. Glen is a card-carrying NRA High Master and earned that classification in NRA High Power Rifle using an AR15 Service Rifle. For more information and articles available for download visit

Ultimate Reloader: New 6.5 Creedmoor Ammunition from Norma


Gavin Gear, Ultimate Reloader:

Norma is known for their high quality brass and ammunition, I’ve used Norma brass for precision reloading in calibers like .30-06 with great results. Recently, I saw that Norma had announced a new addition to their Professional Hunter lineup of ammunition: in 6.5 Creedmoor! I thought I should try some out with the Ruger Precision Rifle, and that’s what I’ll cover in this post.

As you saw in the video, this ammunition behaves more like match ammunition than it does hunting ammunition- I really wish it was deer season! Here’s the chronograph results:

With an SD of 13.7 FPS, this ammunition is very consistent in terms of velocity. It’s not surprising that the first four shots went into a .5″ group. This new ammunition is built around the Swift Scirocco II 6.5mm Bullet, and here’s more info about this precision-oriented hunting projectile:

Technical Information

  • Caliber: 264, 6.5mm
  • Bullet Diameter: 0.264
  • Bullet Weight: 130 Grains
  • Bullet Length: 1.350″
  • Bullet Style: Polymer Tip Spitzer Boat Tail
  • Bullet Coating: Non-Coated

Ballistics Information:

  • Sectional Density: .266
  • Ballistic Coefficient:.571

This is certainly a great choice of ammunition if you are hunting medium game with a rifle chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. I do hope to show more 6.5 Creedmoor rifles here on Ultimate Reloader chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor- stay tuned!

It’s always good to feel the sharp recoil of the Ruger Precision Rifle against my shoulder, and to smell the burnt gunpowder in the air. Can’t wait to sit down again with this ammunition to see if I can get that 3/8″ 5-shot group I know this ammo is capable of! If you are looking for this new 6.5 Creedmoor Professional Hunter ammunition, Midsouth Shooters Supply has it!

Have you been shooting Norma Professional Hunter ammunition? If so, please share your experiences!


Check out the Ultimate Reloader site HERE for more reviews, how-to’s, and much more!

NSSF Applauds Bipartisan Introduction of Target and Marksmanship Training Support Act of 2017


H.R. 788 would provide more money for public shooting range development, read more…

Source: National Shooting Sports Foundation

shooting instruction

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industries, has praised the bipartisan introduction of H.R. 788, the Target and Marksmanship Training Support Act of 2017 in the U.S. House of Representatives, sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif).

“This legislation would provide state fish and game agencies more flexibility to use Pittman Robertson excise taxes dollars raised from the sale of firearms and ammunition to enhance existing public shooting ranges and to build new ones to meet the growing need for additional places for target shooters to participate in their sport,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “Public shooting ranges provide hunters a place to sight in rifles and shotguns before hunting seasons, for people to take firearm safety and hunter education courses and, for recreational target shooters to enjoy their sport.”

Joining Congressman Hunter are 23 original bipartisan cosponsors, including Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Tim Walz (D-Minn.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

Since 1937 almost $11 billion has been raised for wildlife conservation through the Pittman-Robertson excise tax on the sale of firearms and ammunition. States are permitted to use some of those funds for hunter education course and for public shooting ranges under a restrictive formula that has largely discouraged state agencies from building and enhancing public shooting ranges. The legislation would provide states greater flexibility on their ability to use Pittman Robertson excise tax funds by increasing the cap of federal funds accrued for the creation and maintenance of shooting ranges from 75 to 90 percent. This means states could begin work on range facilities with 10 percent matching funds, instead of the current 25 percent. It would also allow excise funds to be made available and accrue for five years for land acquisition or range construction.

In addition, the legislation would limit frivolous lawsuits that might result from the use of federal land for target practice and encourage federal agencies to cooperate with state and local authorities for maintenance of ranges on federal lands.

Target shooters are largely responsible for the funds derived through excise taxes from the sale of firearms and ammunition products. That money is directly responsible for habitat conservation, recreational shooting and wildlife management, making gun owners, hunters and manufacturers largest financial supporters of wildlife conservation throughout the United States.

Passage of H.R. 788, the Target and Marksmanship Training Support Act of 2017, would ensure that the Pittman-Robertson Act continues to maximize wildlife conservation.

The Target and Marksmanship Training Support Act was previously introduced H.R. 2406, the SHARE Act (Title II)  and the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act  in the last Congress as well as a stand-alone bill H.R. 2463  in the 113th Congress.

About NSSF
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 12,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. For more information, visit

Shooting Skills: Shooting the Breeze


Longer-range rifle shooting isn’t easy, and it’s more difficult when the wind is blowing. Here’s a head start on learning to determine and correct for environmental conditions.

Glen D. Zediker

When I very first started up working with Midsouth, I had quite a few folks writing and requesting to learn more about shooting, and, specifically, NRA High Power Rifle competition. It did my heart good to learn that these folks knew my name and associated it with that venue. HPR has been the main focus of my shooting career. That background is the reason I began the “Shooting Skills” portion of the newsletter, and for a few installments upcoming I will oblige to further go a little deeper.


That’s one of the first things that comes to anyone’s mind when High Power is the topic. Describe the tournament course of fire and when you get to “…then 20 rounds at 600 yards…” that one creates a tad amount of anxiety in the imagination.

600 yard shooting
t’s a big, wide, windy world out there. There are several influential factors beyond wind speed and direction, and this series will piece them all together to provide a picture of how to anticipate wind effect on your bullet.

First comment is almost always, “How do you shoot that far with iron sights?” And that’s easy: the target is huge! The aiming black or bullseye is scaled up to a diameter that provides a clear reference to position the sight. And then the next is, “What about the wind…” Well. First, it’s really not that difficult. Second, it’s also really not that easy. You need to know a few things, so here’s where we’ll start.

To be sure, organized competition is not the only venue where learning to shoot in the wind helps. It’s a skill that anyone who fires across more than 200 yards worth of real estate needs to develop. It’s a little easier in a shooting contest because there’s some feedback to work with: holes in the target.

There are two influential components to wind, and, “influential” means the effect on moving the bullet. Speed + Direction. There are good ballistic programs and apps now that provide approximate values: input the points (bullet ballistic coefficient and wind speed) and get a fast answer. That answer is liable to be incomplete, and by that I mean it’s rare indeed to dial in the given solution and hit the target. One at a time we’ll look at other factors which, taken all together, will get you a whole lot closer on that first shot.

The better apps allow also for angular extrapolation, and that is important. Otherwise, if you’re looking at a table the drift amount will be for a “full-value” wind, which is blowing at a right angle or perpendicular to the rifle barrel. Straight crosswind, 9-o’clock to 3-o’clock, or vice versa. If there’s an angle involved, reduce the amount of anticipated drift based directly on the angle: if the wind is angling from, say, 8-o’clock to 2-o’clock we’d say that was a “half value.” From 7-o’clock to 1-o’clock that’s closer to a “quarter value.” So if the drift table says 12 inches, half is 6 and a quarter is 3. At 600 yards it doesn’t really matter if the wind is coming in or going out: head- or tail-winds have little unique influence on the bullet.

And speaking of, there is a different set of “rules” for 1000 yards and more, or maybe I should say different applications or emphases. The reason is because the bullet has slowed down that much more.

At minimum you’ll need to know the advertised BC or ballistic coefficient of your bullet and its muzzle velocity. I wish I didn’t have to continually offer up all the “maybes” and qualifications, but I do because they exist. The actual realized or demonstrated BC of any bullet varies day to day, often during the day. Velocites can also change a bit for varied reasons. However! None of this honestly really matters to the score and that is because the combination of BC and velocity just gets us “close” and finds a place to start from. Ballistics is a finite science, but there are no finite results. With experience you’ll see that BC is really mostly a way to compare different bullets; its value in making truly accurate and finite corrections is limited.

David Tubb 115 RBT 6mm
High-BC profiles are a big bonus, but there’s no magic bullet. The reason better bullets are better is not because there will be less correction on the sight. That doesn’t really matter all that much. Why they are better is because they are less affected by an immediate and perhaps unforeseen change in the wind stats. They are deflected less by, say, a 1 mile-per-hour shift. Shown is a 115 RBT 6mm developed by David Tubb. It’s slick…

All this is affected by air density and that’s a whole other topic for a whole other time. And there’s another list of inputs that each have an influence, and that, again, is why this little series is a series.

Dang. There’s a lot to talk about and I’m pretty much out of space. That’s what “next times” are for. I’ll keep this going long enough to provide some genuine help.

Understand that arriving at a sight solution that keeps the shots in the center involves more input that any “drift/drop” equation can provide.

Information in this article was adapted from material in several books published by Zediker Publishing. Glen Zediker has worked professionally with some of the greatest shooters on the planet, and he does pretty well on his own: Glen is a card-carrying NRA High Master and earned that classification in NRA High Power Rifle using an AR15 Service Rifle. For more information, please check

U.S. Law Shield: Should You Protect Thy Neighbor?


Every Member has to make the decision to intervene in a fight — or not — based on a host of tactical and safety issues. Member Ambassador Sherry Hale interviews Texas Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Michele Byington to learn how Good Samaritans can stay out of legal trouble if faced with these dangerous situations.

Make sure to check your states laws on protecting yourself, and those around you. Every state is different. Some have clear-cut laws defining the shooters rights, some are vague, and some states have no laws on the books at all, but rather court cases by which to stand behind. Ohio is a rare case, where the shooter (person using deadly force to protect him/herself) must prove their justification for defending themselves.

Post in the comments what the law says in your state!

Do You Need A Rail Gun?


Maybe yes and maybe no, but if you do need a rail gun you will need it badly!

By Bob Campbell

rail gun light
Tactical illumination is a great advantage best utilized with the rail gun. When you have a rail gun with mounted light in the home-you can light them up! A rail gun and light can give a homeowner a great deal of confidence, and also avoid an unforgivable mistake… See your target, know your target!

Among the decisions to be made when purchasing a personal defense handgun is caliber, action type, and size and weight. Also now among the options to be considered is the light rail. A “rail gun” is common parlance for a handgun with an accessory rail. The rail is there to mount a flashlight bracket or a laser sight. Some handguns leave the buyer no choice. All modern Glock pistols, save for the very smallest such as the Glock 42 and Glock 43, have light rails. The Colt 1911 may be had with or without a rail, and the popular CZ75 is another available in both versions.

An important part of owning a handgun is pride of ownership. You have to be happy with the handgun.

Some feel that a light rail isn’t fitting on a traditional design such as the 1911. Others feel that the added weight and the possibility of snagging on the holster are real problems. There are also difficulties in finding a proper holster for a rail gun. As an example, the Springfield Armory Range Officer Operator and the Rock Island 2011 Tactical have different light rail designs and demand different holsters.

1911 rail gun
Some don’t think a rail is a good “fit” with a traditional handgun design, but the rail on this 1911 Springfied Armory Range Officer Operator adds great utility in a defensive application, and it’s not obtrusive or awkward in this instance.

But then there are those who like the light rail and some have been in a position where white light has been beneficial to their survival or in situations where they wish they’d had the light. Many handguns feature the technical over the tactical, but the light rail is a tactical improvement. The catch is the pistol is a reactive weapon, when the pistol is drawn in response to an attack. Few, if any, concealed carry permit holsters will carry a handgun with the light attached. They may carry a light in their pocket, but very few will practice quickly attaching the light to the handgun. If you can anticipate a fight, then you had best avoid it or at least get to cover. It is better to have the rail and not need it than to need it and not have it of course. You just have to ask yourself, “Are you are willing to embrace the rail and obtain a suitable light or laser and learn to use it properly?”

rail guns with lights
Rail guns top to bottom: CZ P-01 with Lasermax laser, Springfield Range Officer Operator with Viridian light, and Glock 35 with Insights light.

Practical Concerns
The 1911 pistol balances well. Nothing feels better in my hand. Some 1911 rail guns are neutral.  The new Rock Island 2011 with its monolithic rail is very well balanced. It isn’t quite muzzle-heavy but it certainly dampens recoil due to extra weight out front. The Colt Rail Gun may be an improvement in balance over the Colt Government Model. The CZ 75 is among my favorite handguns. But after a hard test and firing hundreds of rounds of ammunition I find the CZ P-01 a great compact 9mm that is very well balanced. I can fire the pistol more accurately than the full-size CZ. The P-01 features a light rail on its long dust cover. I like this a lot. Keep an open mind when considering a rail gun.

Home defense
The best place for a rail gun is home defense. No handgun is too large to keep at home ready! As an example, one of my personal favorite handguns for “just shooting” is the Glock Model 35 .40 caliber. This long-barrel pistol balances well and it is plenty accurate. The accuracy load, the Hornady 155 grain XTP, breaks over 1180 fps from the Glock 35. The pistol has factory night sights, and with an Insights M3 combat light I don’t think there is anything better as a home defense handgun. This brings us to another consideration.

CZ P-01
The CZ P-01 is a good fit with the Lasermax laser. This stays behind the muzzle even on a pistol this short.

When choosing a combat light make the choice one that is appropriate for the application. A neat compact light such as the Viridian types seem ideal for the Glock 23 class of handguns. No need in having a light protruding past the muzzle. With the Glock 35 this isn’t a consideration but with my compact CZ pistols the smaller lights are best. And it isn’t always lights: it might be the Lasermax Spartan laser for some applications. This is a handy, affordable, and well-designed laser that gives the user a sharp point of reference when the sights cannot be seen. If you do not have a rail gun you would have to purchase expensive laser grips, which are are not available for every handgun.

The rail gun should also be proofed with its attachment in place. On occasion handguns have had their cycle reliability affected with the light attached. I think that this is less likely with steel frame guns. Handguns with frames that give or flex a little in recoil are most susceptible to this problem. This is simply another consideration when you deploy the rail gun, and the answer is simple: test it!

For myself I continue to deploy standard handguns for the most part, usually a Commander .45 or a CZ 75 variant. But I am not blind to genuine progress. I keep a rail gun with light attached and ready to go in the home. Just in case.

Bob Campbell is an established and well-respected outdoors writer, contributing regularly to many publications ranging from SWAT Magazine to Knifeworld. Bob has also authored three books: Holsters For Combat and Concealed Carry (Paladin Press), The 1911 Semi Auto (Stoeger Publishing), and The Handgun In Personal Defense (The Second Amendment Foundation).

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Shooting Skills: Dry-firing Practice, Part 2


Click, Click, Boom. Here’s three ways to get more from indoor practice. Read on!

By Glen Zediker

 Defined: dry-firing is shooting with no ammunition. Cock the gun, hold on a target, break the trigger. It’s a simulation.

Last episode we talked about the essence of dry-firing, the means. Here are more ideas on getting the most from this valuable venue.

1. When to make it “real.”
There are two fundamentally-differing approaches. One way is to use dry-firing as a means for technical or mechanical improvement. That’s main, and that’s the usual focus. Another, though, is as a way to rehearse a course of fire or another orchestrated shooting scenario. Some believe that the more “real” we can make dry-firing the better. I agree, and then I don’t. If the idea is to replicate a competitive event, for instance, that means setting up a firing point, running a timer, adorning all personal gear, positioning all kit items, and so on. I think that is a great exercise for newer entrants because, in NRA High Power Rifle, for good instance, it’s all the “other” things beyond shooting that can get in the way of progress. There’s a lot to remember, a lot to do.

1907 sling use
Something like learning to install a 1907-style sling onto your arm for support is decidedly not something you want to experience first at a shooting match. Such as this needs to be done over and over (and over) to learn. Best way is taking your time at home.

 Away from needs on the firing line, dry rehearsals are way on more than wise. If, for instance, you’ve never fired a gun at night, start experiencing that scenario sans ammo. If you’re a concealed carry person, figure out the smoothest and fastest way to get your pistol pointed. That might “go without saying,” but I just said it because it needs to be done. Anything, for that matter, that has changed or modified a firearm or the means to deploy it should be drilled over and over until you “got it.”

 It takes more than a lot of directed thought and careful planning to get a gun leveled through a car window, for example. Have you ever seen how fast you can get to another room in your house in the dark? If you think that might be valuable to file in the been-there-done-that archives, then be there and do it. It’s a kind of self-made “fire drill.” Doesn’t make much sense to put stock in something that’s really important without verifying that it’s workable… And it’s plenty easy enough. Just make sure the gun isn’t loaded.

When technical and mechanical improvement is the focus, I don’t think it matters even a little bit to attempt to duplicate “real” conditions. Just make yourself comfortable.

2. Do something different.
Once you feel like you’ve honed the skills of triggering mechanics, noticed progress in hold quality, and all-around have attained some satisfying improvement, take a stab now at dismantling the entire thing!

shouldering rifle
Same goes for working on the other essential elements in a shooting position, like learning to position the buttplate in the same spot each time. Here’s me first figuring out exactly where that spot should be…

Dry-firing is the time to run experiments, so experiment! These can be major changes, like a different holding or gripping method, or small things, like nudging the head a quarter-inch farther forward on the rifle stock. Everything and anything that’s not part of the “routine” is an experiment. Backing up: dry-firing gives the opportunity to really tune in to just exactly what your routine is. Competitive shooters often call it the “control” position. When you make a change to that control position, do it one thing at a time. Otherwise feedback might be less accurately reliable. Decide that the big change is worthwhile (even if only for more testing) before incorporating more changes along with it.

Use your imagination. As long as you have a place to return to, any side trip is a no-harm, no-foul experience. Try canting the rifle inward a little more, changing the position of your right foot, gripping more (or less) with the little finger, loosening or tightening a strap on the coat. You name it.

 And do by all means name it. Write everything down! Don’t end a session without making a few notes. State what you tried and then what happened. Add on ideas for next time. Don’t trust memory. It’s right then and there that you have the most keen sense of feedback.

air rifle
This photo is a many years old. If you’re training for competitive shooting, at the least, wear your coat, glove, and ear phones (if you normally wear them). I learned the very hard way to now give that advice. I used to shoot my air rifle without my coat or any other gear but a glove. My idea was to develop a standing position that relied that strongly on skeletal support. (My idea also was to stay cool and reduce set up time.) As a result, I got to where I could shoot really good targets just in a t-shirt. I worked and worked (and worked) on this. Well, then I put my coat on, and my hear-phones, and found out that I couldn’t duplicate my t-shirt position! Oops. I learned a lot but overlooked the future application of why it was that I was learning.

3. Test yourself.
Don’t over-stay a dry-firing session. There’s a time to quit, and that’s so decidedly for your own good. A yardstick for a competition shooter is no longer than the “official” duration of a string, plus 5 minutes more or 5 shots more for a little extra strength. Those among us who tend to be, well, a little hard on ourselves, don’t like quitting until they “get it.” After a point, which varies with us all, we experience a physical and mental breakdown where we then are running experiences through a tired mind and body. I’ve seen this in other sports. Hitting too many golf balls, throwing too many pitches, running too many laps on a racetrack. If you’re trying to teach yourself when you’re tired, you’re learning only how to perform when you’re tired. If you want to build strength and endurance, do exercises where that is the focus. Hold the gun to the point of exhaustion, just don’t drop the hammer! I think you’ll get more from lifting weights.

 Speaking of exhaustion, still considering the cautions just presented, find out how long you can hold on a shot attempt. This is important. Over-holding can kill a score, so can “over-staring” the sight. Pay attention to sight movement, and then, mostly, see when it’s just done with until the next attempt. This is valuable. It’s hard sometimes on a record shot not to continue to hold beyond the point you should have brought the gun down.

Dry-firing is not shooting… We all score more “10s” dry than live. So, point is that if you can bring dry-firing closer to live firing you’ll be hitting a lot closer to center a lot more often. As always, call each shot, dry or live. We learn all this dry-firing and then we hope to remember this on the range. That’s the whole point.

Last: Take all your dry-fring practice to the limit first trip out to the live range this Spring. Here’s how: Have someone load your gun for you. Or not… Right: it might fire or it might not fire. You’ll be slap amazed at what you might have learned. It helps to have a friend with a dark sense of humor. Remember: the idea is to take that dry-fired perfection straight to target center.

 Information in this article was adapted from material in several books published by Zediker Publishing. Glen Zediker has worked professionally with some of the greatest shooters on the planet, and he does pretty well on his own: Glen is a card-carrying NRA High Master and earned that classification in NRA High Power Rifle using an AR15 Service Rifle. For more information, please check