Category Archives: Tactics & Training

SKILLS: Holsterless Handguns — Viable?

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A true packing pistol should be viable if simply shoved in the waistband… READ MORE

no holster carry
Carrying the piece crossdraw in the waistband works well for many shooters.

Bob Campbell

For years most of us have counseled concealed carry handgun carriers to choose a proper holster. A holster keeps the handgun stable and angled for the proper draw. Just the same, who am I to go against two hundred years or more of tradition? Wild Bill Hickock kept his revolvers in a tightly woven sash. Few early holsters were suitable for concealed carry. Even today many folks like pocket carry. I will leave that for another time. Many of us like to shove a handgun in the belt for a quick run to the store or for more casual carry. Among my friends that are retired cops the trend seems to be toward such carry. That’s fine as long as they know what they are doing. The handgun must be tightly sandwiched in between the belt and the body and reasonably secure, not likely to be dislodged. I am not recommending concealed carry with no holster, far from it, but I am also a realist and feel that this common practice should be discussed.

no holster carry
If there were ever a better packing revolver than the Colt SAA the author has never seen it.

Sam Colt designed pocket, belt and holster guns. Each was a different size, for different needs. They generally ran .31, .36 and .44 caliber. Today we have sub-compact, compact and service size pistols. Some are less suited for concealed carry than others. As an example, I usually carry a Commander .45. I may carry a Government Model .45. I have learned after much experimentation that rail guns can be tricky on the draw. The Springfield Operator seems the best of the bunch when coupled with the Galco N3 holster, and a sharp draw isn’t difficult. Sometimes this isn’t true with other designs. If you are going to carry the 1911 in the waistband then the casual outlook probably doesn’t include a rail for mounting a combat light. The rail may snag on clothing. It is important to practice the draw. It is obvious that carrying the pistol cocked and locked isn’t the best idea if the handgun isn’t carried in a holster. The 1911 may reasonably be carried hammer down in relative safety if the pistol features a firing pin block or extra strength firing pin spring as most all modern 1911s do.

no holster carry
A cocked and locked 1911 rail gun, upper, may not be the best choice for waistband carry. The P210 9mm, lower, is long but slim and rides well without a holster. It is also easy to cock the hammer quickly.
no holster carry
This rail may snag the undergarments — practice a few draws to be certain.

The problem is cocking the hammer on the draw. It isn’t that difficult with the modern Government Model with a spur hammer. Some practice needs to go into this draw and making the pistol ready. It is slower than cocked and locked carry. But it is faster than carrying with an empty chamber. If you are carrying a self loading handgun with an empty chamber you really need to be carrying a revolver! When it comes to other single action hammered self loaders we have a mixed bunch. I am not exactly a snowflake, but I find the hammer of the Browning High Power 9mm very difficult to cock on the draw. The hammer is powered by a very heavy spring. The High Power will certainly crack most any primer, which is the design intent, but that hammer renders the High Power much less desirable for holsterless carry. I have to use two hands to rack the High Power. The CZ 75 is another matter. This piece is snug against the body, nearly perfect for carrying in the waistband. While the CZ is a double action first shot pistol it is pretty easy to cock the hammer on the draw. I am very much enjoying the SIG P210A. This is a wonderfully accurate and very well made single action handgun. I find cocking the hammer on the draw quite easy. I don’t feel comfortable carrying any striker fired handgun thrust in the waistband. Neither should you. Some self loaders dont work well based on design. Among my favorite light handguns is the Bond Arms Bullpup 9. The Bullpup 9 is a great shooter and its double action only trigger makes it a safe enough pistol to pack without a holster. The problem is the super compact geometry. The piece just doesn’t fit and balance well in the waistband.

no holster carry
The Model 69 .44 Magnum, top, is a good waistband gun — the Ladysmith, center, is pretty good but the snub .38, bottom, may squirm too much.

For the most part revolvers do not work nearly as well in the waistband without a holster. The snubnose .38, among the most trusted defensive handguns, is too short and squirms in the waistband. A three inch barrel version is a bit better. I sometimes carry the Model 69 2.75 inch barrel Combat Magnum .44 in the front, to the right of the belt buckle, and it is okay for a casual walk. The absolute best balanced revolvers for casual in the waistband carry are the plow handled Single Action Army types. This is among the reasons so many lawmen kept the SAA long past its prime, it is simply well balanced and fast handling. A 4 ¾ inch barrel SAA is about as compact as most double action .357 revolvers and balances well if worn in the front and tucked into the waistband. If you are worried about the revolver slipping into the pants then open the loading gate (crossdraw in the waistband also works as well) as you draw close the loading gate.

no holster carry
Striker fired pistols such as the SIG, top, are not the best choice for carry without a holster. The DAO Bond Bullpup, lower, is a good handgun but the geometry demands a holster. Just not enough real estate to keep the piece steady in the belt.

I think that there are times when holsterless carry works well. It isn’t ideal but then all types of concealed carry are a compromise.

Alabama: We Need Your Help to Pass Lifetime Permits in Senate Judiciary!

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New Bill supports statewide, lifetime concealed carry permits. READ MORE

alabama permits

SOURCE: NRA-ILA

Senate Bill 47, sponsored by Senator Randy Price, creates a new statewide, uniform system to provide lifetime permits for qualified applicants at a cost of $200. For state residents over 65, the fee drops to $150.

Don’t listen to the “fake news” being pushed by opponents of this bill. Most aspects of the current permitting process will not change. Individuals interested in obtaining a lifetime permit will apply at their local sheriff’s office for a background check and to fill out the appropriate paperwork.

We must make our voices heard loud and clear on this bill to get it passed. This is an important change to the existing permitting system that will give law-abiding gun owners the option of deciding which route is best suited for their individual self-defense needs. This choice should be yours!

SKILLS: The Real Deal

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The real deal may not be flashy or exciting but it will save your life. READ MORE

bob campbell
Whatever firearm you choose, practice often and master the pistol to the bet of your ability.

Bob Campbell

In a profession that should be conservative by nature we see a lot of flash, bling, and pie in the sky in the personal defense field. A healthy dose of self respect is sometimes alloyed with ego, but the real deal in training means that the trainer must train for likely scenarios.

bob campbell
Marksmanship is a critical skill.

Personal defense isn’t a tactical operation by any means. It is small scale and most important only to the ones involved. I have trained many individuals. Most were civilians but a number were police and a few were military. Some wanted the paper and the permit and a few genuinely wanted to be proficient. Many showed up for class without enough ammunition, an improper holster, and without a spare magazine. Some had the gear but they left it at home. Quite a few showed up with the cheapest handgun they could find and there were problems with these choices. On the other end of the scale some showed up with tactical gear including tactical vests, a thigh holster and a chest full of magazines. A few showed up with practical gear well suited to concealed carry. None of those showing up with the tactical vests, knee pads and long slide Glock pistols were police or military. There is a big difference between public safety, which I was originally trained in, and private safety, which should concern each of us the most. We may use good tactics but the term “tactical” is sometimes confusing when applied to personal defense.

bob campbell
While a fast reload may not be needed often, it behooves us to practice such skills.

Most of the concerns in personal defense are mental. If your everyday gear is a tactical vest and eight magazines then your agency is most likely providing good training. There is little I can add to that. If it is all a game then get involved in IPSC and shoot against some of the best marksmen in the world. Personal defense is another discipline. Many shooters attend tactical courses, even carbine courses, and may do well but they do not really understand the application of skill. It is good to be all you can be but another to understand which skills are applicable to your likely scenario. If you are serious concerning personal defense you will learn and practice the applicable skills. An observation I have made often among shooters is that many simply cannot recognize quality gear. They come to glass with junk ammo and cheap plastic holsters. I have had to move shooters from the line because their floppy fabric holster demanded both hands to return the handgun to the holster! The handgun should be a quality piece, not necessarily expensive. The Glock 19 or the CZ P01 are good examples of very reliable but affordable handguns. They are not too small or too large. They are just right. The holster should be rigid and supported by a quality gun belt. Carry ammunition isn’t difficult. Hornady Critical Defense is affordable and reliable and offers good wound ballistics. You need a couple of speed loaders for the revolver and at least three magazines for the handgun. You probably won’t need a reload but best to err on the side of caution and carry a spare gunload. High round count battles occur when the police are chasing armed felons. If the threat retreats don’t chase him or the situation becomes mutual combat.

bob campbell
Firing quickly and getting a good hit is important.

The National Rifle Association has stated many times that the presence of a firearm deters crime more often than it needed to be fired. Many battles are over before they begin when the attacker realizes you are armed. The first thought is to get the handgun into action but it is also important to move off the X and get out of the line of fire. Felons motivated by profit don’t wish to be shot. But then some threats are psychopaths bent on causing human pain and suffering or even death. They may be formidable both physically and mentally and they may have been shot or stabbed before. All attackers may not be shaky junkies and you must be prepared to deal with the threat. If no shots are fired you are ahead of the game. The real goal is to escape unharmed without being shot stabbed or assaulted. That is winning the fight. Presenting the firearm quickly from concealed carry and getting a fast and accurate hit is what counts. The most important shot is the first one.

bob campbell
But just because you can get a lot of lead in the air doesn’t mean you should unless they are all on the target.

In a home defense situation you may have a shotgun at the ready for quickly access. You may have a handgun or a rifle. The goal is much the same with a shift in focus to convincing the intruder to leave and break off any conflict. If there are children or other family in the house we have different concerns and will engage room clearing or a search. You must quickly insure the family’s safety. This means moving carefully, taking cover, and making certain you have identified the threat. There are worse things than getting shot and shooting the wrong person is one of these. This is simply common sense. Have illumination handy. The final consideration comes when the situation demands you fire. While a double tap is acceptable, a volley of fire or hosing down the target isn’t. Only accurate fire is effective. You fire to the center of mass of the exposed target. You fire to stop. What the adversary is doing must be so terrible it must not matter morally or legally if they die as a result of being shot — but we never shoot to kill. We shoot to stop.

You are preparing a strong defense against attack. There is nothing wrong with going on the initiative and clearing the house and being proactive in training but never lose sight of the ultimate goal. That is to survive without firing a shot. And if you do fire, that you survive within the law. Concentrate on marksmanship. This doesn’t mean getting a group centered on target but getting a hit quickly and following with other hits. A group of fifty shots with the occasional shot outside the scoring rings isn’t ideal. The important shots are those that that you are firing now, and which hit the target. Fire accurately and if the shot doesn’t take effect fire again. Practice moving. Drawing the handgun and moving may conflict but the balance may be found in practice. Draw as you move off target. Train hard and practice relentlessly. Be aware that you may need your handgun to protect yourself and your family. Be certain that you are willing to use the handgun. The use of the firearm must be justified morally and legally. This is a very narrow range of circumstances.

 

 

 

SKILLS: Training and Re-Training

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There are many considerations in training- but in the end you are responsible for your own safety. READ MORE

training
Any training regimen should include a presentation from concealed carry.

Bob Campbell

There is a lot of discussion concerning training. A lot of it revolves around choosing a trainer. There is much truth in this as the trainer gets you started on the road to proficiency, but it is all your own responsibility in the end.
You have graduated from the public school system good or bad and you are able to read so you survived and perhaps have learned a great deal on your own.  We all remember fantastic teachers who inspired us — and then there were the inept. So it is with firearms trainers.  Some practice by rote and use the training wheel method and then advance to repetition of the same boring drills. A broken record perhaps. You are well advised to never go to the range without learning something new and thinking about it- and never thinking that you know it all. There should be some stress involved in training. Different personalities handle stress differently. Some have stress from peer pressure others want to be all they can be. There are a number of types of trainers just as there are different types in every work place. There are a several types of men. If you have any work experience, institutional or otherwise, you know these men. The “me first” type cares little to nothing for his fellow man. He is out for himself. The “me too” guy is much the same but generally inept and will cause you much grief. The deadwood really cause a lot of trouble and while some mean well and may even be honest they just don’t get it and will get you killed. Then there are the dedicated. They are in the minority and everyone seems to know who they are.  They do things right for its own sake. They master whatever profession they have chosen and will do their best in whatever situation they are thrown into. Trainers of this type understand the physical and mathematical forces at work.

training
Training should be fluid and include movement.
training
Firing while moving is an important skill.
There are things I have learned which may be helpful. Some of you may have experience that makes my own experience no more than light reading, but then battle scars are a form of validation. You learn as you go along the things you need and concentrate on these skills. You can learn to master stress and perhaps even fear. A good healthy respect for the possibilities of combat will serve to make an intelligent person avoid such battles if at all possible. A well trained person will default to training and do what needs to be done and perform as well as possible during a critical incident. Afterwards they may decompress and have the shakes, knocking knees or even tears. True fear is a different thing. There is a type of fear that is a fester. Determination, gumption, self respect and ability are robbed of us by this type of fear. We have all been demoralized by a losing streak and given exuberance by a sense of accomplishment. We must balance the two. One of the ways to balance apprehension and confidence is to move from two dimensional to three dimensional training. Because standing squared to a target and firing for groups is practically one dimensional.

training
Mixing up the targets with targets without a clearly defining scoring ring is a good idea.

The practice of firing at a one dimensional target you are squared to is one that is suitable only for beginners. We were all there at one time and we progress further we hope. Then there is the problem of aiming for center mass or even finding center mass. Where is the center of the target? Hopefully we are able to quickly set the sights in the center of the target we have available. There is a very good chance that such practice by rote will result in hesitation when confronted by a problem we have not trained for. If the assailant is running toward you, running to one side and firing or particularly if the adversary is behind cover you much revamp your expectations and do so very quickly. There is a steep learning curve to be addressed. You may well be conditioning yourself for failure with poor training. Waiting for a perfect shot or for the adversary to present himself in a more likely position for a shot may result in serious death or injury. In real life the threat shoots back.

training
Getting on target quickly is important. The steel plate is a good training aid.
Ok, so you are using the center of mass shot. This is firing for the center of the opponent in order to increase the likelihood of a bullet hitting the target- the whole target, the threat. This is something of a compromise as this isnt necessarily the most efficient area to produce a shut down of the body, but it is a reasonable tool for most situations. There are degrees of wound potential lost by aiming for center mass versus aiming for the arterial region, the area most likely (other than the cranium) to induce a shut down for blood loss. The ideal type of training will involve moving target, the shooter moving off the X and finding cover, and firing for center mass when there is no other opportunity and firing for the arterial region when you are able. Consider the likely problem and keep your training three dimensional.

 

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.

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.