I am often asked about my handgun carry position and the reason for my choice. There are some subtle, yet important, differences in the defensive draw process versus the competitive draw process. There are several crucial steps to performing a lightning-fast concealed draw.
While drawing a handgun quickly under the stress of an attack is important, there are other critical factors in accessing your handgun.
THE CONCEALED CARRY TASTE TEST
In previous years, I always used some sort of strong-side carry method, including belt-type concealed carry holsters in leather gear made by Bianchi and Safariland, as well as duty holsters when I was a police officer in Knoxville, Tenn. I also carried in a custom shoulder holster for a bit of time after I moved on to the Federal Air Marshal Service and spent a significant amount of time in a seated position.
It was during that mission that I began to consider the downsides to carrying a handgun in the typical strong-side position, simply because accessing the gun while seated was so difficult. I began my first experimentation carrying in the appendix position at that time. In the end, I had key reasons I ended up picking the appendix position as my primary carry method.
The appendix carry position offers me more flexibility — the pros vastly outweigh the cons. Whether seated at a desk or in a car, it’s my position of choice. And with shorter, more compact guns like the XD® Mod.2™ Sub-Compact, comfort and concealment are not an issue. Appendix carry allows me to draw the handgun quickly, efficiently and with my support hand if necessary.
Finding the ideal holster that allows for safe re-holstering is a primary consideration when appendix carrying. If safety rules are violated in any way, you will get hurt. Years ago, I took a class with Todd Green that was specific to the appendix carry position. He taught a very deliberate method of re-holstering that stressed keeping the gun pointed in a safe direction at all times. In my own classes, I make students that wish to carry in the appendix position demonstrate safe re-holstering several times with an unloaded gun before allowing it in the class.
The bottom line? The one risk to the appendix carry position is that the gun can be pointed at the lower extremities while re-holstering if the shooter is negligent. This carry position requires attention to detail and training. If you are not committed to both, select a different carry method. Remember:
Select a high-quality holster designed for IWB (“inside the waistband”) carry, and never try the appendix carry position without a holster.
Keep the muzzle pointed away from your body while safely indexing the muzzle in the holster.
Keep your finger indexed along the slide — not in or on the trigger guard.
Use the support hand to clear your cover garment.
Be very slow and deliberate — there’s no rush to put the gun away once it is out.
Not that anyone needs a reason to want a Springfield Armory M1A, but chambering it in 6.5 Creedmoor? Oh, yeah.
SOURCE: NRA American Rifleman Staff
Springfield Armory just announced that it is offering three variations of its M1A rifle in the powerful 6.5 Creedmoor caliber.
“Having a 6.5 Creedmoor caliber in the M1A lineup gives long-range shooters more choices with the precision and accuracy they require,” says Springfield Armory CEO Dennis Reese. “They can choose the round they prefer, and take advantage of the legendary accuracy of the M1A platform to make the most of their shooting prowess.”
The new M1A 6.5 Creedmoor is offered with a choice of a solid black composite stock or a precision-adjustable stock that lets shooters dial in individual fit and feel. A 10-round magazine comes with each rifle.
The M1A’s National Match Grade, 22-inch medium weight stainless steel barrel provides a long sight radius for optimal iron sight accuracy, with a 4-groove 1:8-inch right-hand twist and muzzle brake. The NM Grade 0.062 post front sight is paired with a NM Grade non-hooded 0.0520 aperture rear sight that’s ideal for distant targets and adjustable for 1/2 MOA windage and 1 MOA elevation. The two-stage trigger is National Match tuned to 4.5-5 lbs. Paired with a SA scope mount and the right optic, the new 6.5 Creedmoor M1A can be a “true 1000-yard rifle.”
The long-awaited pistol version in the proven SAINT lineup has been announced by maker Springfield Armory. Here’s what they have to say about it: READ MORE
SOURCE: Chad Dyer, Springfield Armory
With the new SAINT™ AR-15 pistol, Springfield Armory brings the same impact of its SAINT platform to a whole new category. The SAINT Pistol is highly capable and upgraded out of the box but in stock-free pistol form.
Instead of a rifle buttstock, the new SAINT AR-15 pistol features a rugged SB Tactical SBX-K forearm brace to reduce size, stabilize recoil, and enhance accuracy in one or two-hand shooting. A 7.5-inch barrel with a 1:7 twist makes the SAINT pistol small, fast, and ideal for CQB. The 416R stainless steel barrel is Melonite® treated to be harder and more accurate than chrome, and is chambered for 5.56 NATO (.223) so ammunition is affordable, versatile, and seriously capable.
The SAINT AR-15 pistol is built around high-end features that make SAINT rifles so popular. Springfield Armory’s exclusive Accu-Tite™ tension system increases the tension between the upper and the lower receivers, ensuring an ideal fit and reducing slop — no shake or rattle. Upper and lower receivers are forged Type III hard-coat anodized 7075 T6 aluminum.
The SAINT pistol’s muzzle is equipped with a blast diverter that pushes sound, concussion and debris forward towards the target — instead of at the operator or fellow shooters — ensuring a more comfortable shooting experience.
The slender, agile handguard is Springfield Armory’s exclusive, patent-pending free-float design, with locking tabs and features a forward hand stop. The rifle’s crisp, enhanced nickel boron-coated GI single-stage trigger is paired with a Bravo Company trigger guard. The smooth-operating heavy tungsten buffer system, low-profile pinned gas block, GI style charging handle, and Bravo Company Mod 3 pistol grip are all well-proven in SAINT rifle models. Springfield Armory is known for no-compromise design and, as usual, the attention to detail is obvious.
To ensure durability, the M16 bolt carrier group is precision-machined from Carpenter 158 steel, shot-peened and magnetic particle inspected and finished in super-hard Melonite®. For ample shooting capacity, the SAINT pistol carries a Magpul Gen 3 30-round magazine.
The compact frame makes the SAINT AR-15 pistol an ideal choice for home defense. In addition to high-quality engineering, the SAINT AR-15 pistol is just 26.5 inches long, and weighs under 6 pounds. This pistol delivers the punch of a rifle caliber in a small, fast-handling frame. It’s highly accurate and it’s seriously fun to shoot.
We all strive for perfection — but sometimes perfection is not possible. When it comes to shooting stance, a scenario will often force you to use an “imperfect” stance. So how do you train so you can still make your hits?
FINDING THE BALANCE POINT
Expecting to obtain the perfect “training” shooting stance is all well and good. But it’s not realistic. When it comes to real-life fast-shooting or competition scenarios, your stance has to be about getting acceptable hits on target as quickly as possible. It’s always a speed versus accuracy equation. You sometimes have to make “less than optimal” work in order to win.
The fact of the matter is that driving your torso forward while you’re shooting (to accommodate for recoil) helps resist pushing your frame back, keeping you in control and on target.
Don’t let your balance move to your heels. Trying to be comfortable and statically balanced is wrong. You have to absorb and resist the forces of recoil — and that is hard to do standing straight up.
“PERFECT” IS JUST AN ILLUSION
Achieving the perfect shooting stance isn’t a reliable goal. In fact, there are drills you can try that prove that, even in a non-ideal shooting scenario, your body will know what to do to achieve a stance that still maintains accuracy.
Place a target at desired distance.
Put a short obstacle in your shooting area, such as a chair.
Begin moving around the obstacle.
Shoot at the target while continually moving around the obstacle.
Keep moving until the mag is empty.
The beauty of it is, your body compensates for the movement and learns how to move and find balance. So quit trying for perfection in your stance — your body will instinctively know what to do.
We asked Team Springfield™ shooters to assemble some of their go-to tips to benefit the fans out there looking for some pro advice. The first topic we threw out to them was the art of the grip. Let’s dive in.
#1: ROB LEATHAM: WRIST ACTION
The most common email question I get is asking how to correct the low, left shot on the target (from a right-handed shooter). One of the ways to address this problem is:
LOCK YOUR WRISTS, AS IF THEY ARE A VISE ON THE GUN
When instructing, I primarily observe the arm/wrist/hand areas when a student is shooting. I often see prominent movement in the strong-side wrist and hand (and sometimes into the arm) before or as a shot is fired. Even the smallest of movement before or when the shot is fired will cause the gun to move out of alignment, typically in the low, left direction.
I don’t care if you “jerk” the trigger. You can jerk all you want if you are able to hold the gun completely still. IMO, “Do not jerk the trigger” should be replaced with “Do not move your wrists.”
#2: KYLE SCHMIDT: UNSUPPORTIVE SUPPORT HAND
When Rob asked me to explain my No. 1 issue regarding grip, my mind immediately turned to earlier in the day. Less than an hour prior to the text from Rob, I was working with a few struggling shooters. Each one of them suffered from a very common gripping issue that I regularly see:
NOT USING THE SUPPORT HAND PROPERLY
Without proper support (i.e., position and strength) from the support hand, you are essentially shooting one-handed. One of the first indicators of improper support-hand usage is that the primary and support hands separate (partially or completely) when the gun is fired. Many shooters try to correct this problem by continually readjusting their support hands between shots; however, that correction is time-consuming and typically short-lived. The lack of use of the support hand has a significant negative effect on the shooter’s ability to both hold the gun steady when aiming difficult shots and the ability to quickly return the gun onto the target after firing.
#3: KIPPI LEATHAM: GET YOUR SHOOTING GRIP FROM THE GET-GO
I work with a lot of newer shooters, and the No. 1 gripping problem I see is:
PICKING UP THE GUN A DIFFERENT WAY EVERY TIME
One time they grab the gun with their strong hand and the webbing between the thumb and trigger finger is positioned one to two inches below the tang. They immediately have to re-position the webbing higher under the tang/beavertail before they can rack the slide and shoot.
The next time they pick up the pistol with their support hand to seat a magazine with their strong hand, they only to have to switch the gun and grip back to the strong hand before chambering a round to shoot. Or they draw the gun from the holster with all four fingers under the trigger guard, requiring an adjustment of the grip to re-position the trigger finger so it can press the trigger and move the other three fingers under the trigger guard.
My advice is to get the proper shooting grip immediately (if possible), whether picking the gun up off of a bench, drawing from a holster, taking it off of a display rack, etc. Every time I handle one of my pistols, whether I’m loading a mag, unloading the gun, drawing from a holster, just admiring it, etc., I use my strong-hand shooting grip —
Trigger finger rests on the frame (below the slide), visibly above/outside of the trigger guard.
Three remaining fingers are closed and touching under the trigger guard.
Thumb webbing is centered on the back strap of the gun and positioned under the tang as high as possible.
Thumb on the left side of the gun is touching the side of the frame.
If you can do this every time you handle your pistol, you will repeatedly reinforce your proper shooting grip, and, soon, muscle memory should take over.
#4: JASON BURTON: LOSE THE LOOSE GRIP
GRIP THE PISTOL TIGHTLY = HAVE MORE TIME
Whether it is competition such as USPSA, shooting bullseye at Camp Perry, or defensive-oriented pistol craft, time and its effects on the end result are a factor present in most shooting. Time as it relates to competitive shooting can often be categorized in two ways: Expend the least amount of time (or do things as fast as the shooter is capable) or make the most of the fixed amount of time allotted. However, time as it relates to personal defense is neither fixed nor limitlessly expendable, but rather a consideration often used and quantifiable for making decisions. So when it comes to actually shooting the pistol from a personal defense aspect, how can we have more time with which to make decisions and/or react to the evolving situation?
ONE VERY SIMPLE WAY IS TO MAKE THE PISTOL MOVE LESS
Many times in classes (as well as competitive circles) I have seen shooters who wait to move from one target or part of a shooting array to another until they have completely recovered the gun onto their existing problems. While more prevalent in defensive pistol craft, this is not necessarily a bad thing, as it is essentially an assessment of one’s previous actions and the results they had.
However, the sooner you can get to the point of assessing your previous action, the sooner you can move on to the next problem. Herein, the application of proper shooting technique will contribute to the speed at which you can assess problems. Simply put, the better you grip the gun the less it will move, and the less it moves the sooner it will return to the target, which allows you more time to evaluate if what you did worked. My friend Clint Smith has a saying, “You have the rest of your life to solve the problem. How long your life lasts depends on how well you do it.” So grip the gun like your life depends on it, because it just might.
#5: STEVE HORSMAN: THUMBS DOWN
When I taught concealed carry permit classes, we would spend the first day in the classroom discussing safety, state self-defense law, basic shooting technique, and — did I mention safety? On day two at the range, after discussing safety again, I would ask the students to shoot a group at 5 yards and 10 yards, and my primary objective was to observe how the student gripped the pistol. While I would occasionally have students shooting revolvers, most were using a semi-automatic pistol, such as the 1911 or the striker-fired XD® line. So this is the grip I’ll focus on.
What I immediately noticed was that most shooters would place their primary thumbs over the top of their support-hand thumbs, with the thumbs almost pointing down. If you can visualize a good revolver grip, this is what many shooters were doing while shooting their semi-autos.
THUMBS DOWN TO THUMBS DOWN
However, most firearms instructors and accomplished competition shooters grip the pistol with a high thumb grip. Visualize my primary-hand thumb resting on my support-hand thumb, with both thumbs somewhat pointing toward the muzzle of the gun. Thumbs should look like they are in direct line of the slide/barrel.
With this tip, and the others that my Springfield teammates have suggested, head out to the range, give these techniques a try and see if you don’t just notice some improvement…
If you’re looking for higher-end features in a quality 1911, and you’re on a lower-end budget, look no further than the Range Officer: it’s ready to go!
by Bob Campbell
The original Springfield Armory (the very first armory established under authority of General George Washington) started making guns in 1777. Closed by the federal government in 1968, and then privately reopened with a brand new start in 1974 in Geneseo, Illinois, the resurrected Springfield Armory also resurrected its military roots, producing the semi-auto M1A rifles (the first civilian production of the M-14) and soon thereafter the venerable 1911 John-Browning-designed handgun — the “Government Model.”
The 1911 has been produced now by a plethora of different manufacturers, and, holding true to the original design, they all share most things in common. A 1911 is a single-action, magazine-fed autoloader with a sear-blocking safety as well as a grip-actuated safety on the frame backstrap. A well-made 1911 is a hard-hitting, durable, and reliable pistol design (especially hard-hitting in its original .45 ACP chambering). The original 1911 pistol endured a series of rigorous testing trials before being adopted by the U.S. including being dropped in sand, corroded in acid, fired until too hot to handle, and firing through 6,000 rounds without a single malfunction. It was the only design submitted that passed all these tests. (It later passed a 20,000 round endurance test to meet FBI-mandated contract requirements, a contract which was won by Springfield Armory.)
The 1911 safety and firing mechanism is different from most available handguns: its safety can only be applied when the pistol’s hammer is set fully to the rear, ready to fire. Carrying a 1911 in this mode, known as “cocked-and-locked,” makes it very fast getting to the first shot. The single-action trigger helps here too. Unlike the double-action-first-shot, double-action-only, or those using a “trigger-actuated” safety system, all a single-action trigger does is move the sear to drop the hammer. This is an advantage in accuracy and control on the first shot, and for subsequent rounds. The grip safety locks the trigger until the safety is depressed by the shooter’s hand grip.
Springfield Armory offers a wide variety of 1911-style handguns, ranging across frame and slide sizes, weights, calibers, and “levels” of build attention. There is also a wide price range that goes along across that board. The main differences among their various 1911 models are in the attention to details: the component quality, and the level of fitting and tuning, and the finish. At the base level, you can still get an “original” GI-spec .45, and at the upper-end, Springfield Armory can box up a championship-level competition piece ready for you to take to the USPSA Nationals, and win it.
Springfield Armory has used “Range Officer” as a designation for its “value line.” The primary difference between these guns and the higher-end pistols is the finish. The Range Officer line has a parkerized finish (stainless steel is also available). These pistols also have a one-sided thumb safety rather than the more expensive ambidextrous unit. However, the Range Officer lineup still features a match-grade stainless steel barrel and tightly-fitted barrel bushing, two primary keys to good accuracy potential from a 1911.
The Range Officer version tested (the “Operator”) features a light-mounting rail. This rail is compatible with the wide range of available combat lights and lasers. The Operator also has forward cocking serrations on the slide. Its sights are from Novak — a white dot rear and fiber optic front. The contrast is good, and the fiber optic sight provides rapid acquisition. The pistol also features a scalloped ejection port, lightweight hammer, target-style trigger, and a grip-enhancing beavertail grip safety. Trigger compression is factory-set at a clean 6.5 pounds.
Range Testing Working from an Eclipse Holster, speed was excellent. This holster keeps the pistol secure on the belt and offers a good blend of speed and retention. I loaded the supplied Springfield magazines and backed them up with a good supply of other 7- and 8-round magazines. The pistol was lubricated prior to testing. The magazines were loaded with Federal American Eagle 230-grain FMJ ammunition.
Firing “double-taps” quickly at 5, 7, and 10 yards, the pistol produced excellent results. This is a handgun that responds well for a trained shooter. Moving between targets quickly, and getting the fiber optic sight on the target, gave a solid hit when the trigger was properly compressed. The results simply cannot be faulted. While I often deploy lighter, aluminum-frame handguns because they’re lighter in the holster, the extra weight of its steel frame makes the Range Officer easily controllable.
Accuracy I also tested with several defense and service loads. Recoil was greater with +P loads and a decision must be made if these loads are worth the extra effort to master. The wound potential of the .45 ACP is proven. I do not let those with a one-safari resume influence my view. I don’t think anyone can argue against the defensive capability of a .45 ACP.
Among the top loads available for the .45 ACP is the Federal 230-grain Hydra-Shok. An intelligently-designed bullet with a proven history, the Hydra-Shok offers excellent wound potential. The American Eagle practice load fires to the same point of impact, making the two a good combination. Firing for accuracy from a solid bench-rest position at 25 yards, the single best group was a 2.0-inch effort for 5 shots with the Speer 230-grain Gold Dot.
Springfield Armory has taken a great handgun design and not only made it better, but, with the Range Officer, Springfield Armory made it affordable. Compared to even minimum custom-done modifications to a standard-style 1911, the package wrapped around the Range Officer is a great value.
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).
Prior to the 2016 SHOT Show, I was shipped Springfield Armory’s SOCOM 16 Model AA9611PK rifle. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll admit that I am a fan of the M1A platform. My only complaints are the fixed stock and heavy weight. The new AA9611PK not only addresses these issues, it does it in a way we modern shooters expect. We expect to be able to customize our rifles with aftermarket parts. We expect a variety of sight and optic choices. We expect a lot, and the new SOCOM 16 delivers.
Old-school M14 dudes might wince at the non-traditional pistol-grip stock. It is an Archangel chassis that not only trims the weight of the SOCOM, it also trims the overall length. The exterior is flat-black polymer. At the shoulder end is a five-position adjustable CQB buttstock. Part of the issue with the M1A was the fixed stock.
For some shooters kitted up with gear or wearing heavy clothing, the rifle was difficult to fire comfortably. The adjustable stock not only alleviates that situation, it also fits the rifle to a variety of shooter statures. It also features a rubber buttpad and a cheek riser. The cheek riser helps get a solid cheekweld on the stock, which is important for long-range shooting, and you will soon see what the platform is capable of out to 100 yards.
If you want to swap out the stock, you can choose any other aftermarket AR stock. The rear of the chassis is built like a buffer tube. There is no denying that the pistol grip is atypical, and no doubt it is comfortable to shoot. The Archangel pistol grip flares out at the bottom and is serrated on the front and rear straps for plenty of hold when the SOCOM starts barking. It also has a storage compartment for batteries and small tools.
The stock will take any aftermarket AK grip—another plus for shooters who like to customize their gear. The stock has three Picatinny rails attached, two three-slot rails on either side of the forend and one seven-slot on the bottom. Want to add vertical grips, a tactical light, or laser? The new SOCOM can. The magazine well is also a gaping mouth ready to suck in magazines. It ships with a 10-round magazine but is compatible with five- and 20-round mags.
The iron sights on the SOCOM 16 have always been top-notch, adjustable, enlarged military aperture with front tritium. It has a forward rail to mount a magnified, long-eye-relief, scout-style scope. This SOCOM 16 also has a Vortex Venom red dot reflex sight that uses a Springfield Armory clip guide mount, which places the red dot at the perfect height and distance while not interfering when the rotary bolt ejects empty brass. At 25 yards offhand, the red dot was fast and accurate. The perforated muzzlebrake tamed the recoil and muzzle rise. I easily smashed a few magazines of clay pigeons like I had been shooting the rifle for years. Distance, though, is the key.
With an assortment of .308 Winchester cartridges—Hornady Steel Match 155-grain BTHP, Black Hills Gold 168-grain A-MAX and Hornady Match 178-grain BTHP—I put the SOCOM 16 through its paces using a rest. Though aiming a red dot at 100 yards is not exactly precision shooting, at 50 yards and under the 3-MOA dot offers fast, accurate shooting. At 100 yards, the dot is large. I assumed at 100 yards I’d experience different results. The 3 MOA placed on an 8-inch target provided a nice sight picture, a red center with a black donut outside edge.
The Hornady Steel Match 155-grain BTHPs delivered 2,400 fps and shot 1.5-inch groups (three shots) at 100 yards. Black Hills Gold 168-grain A-MAX rounds produced 2,440 fps and 2.25-inch average groups at 100 yards. Hornady Match 178-grain BTHPs hit 2,390 fps at the muzzle and shot 2.5-inch average groups at the test distance.
With the rifle adjusted to me, it all came down to trigger work. The SOCOM 16 has a two-stage military trigger. After taking up the light first stage, the second stage proved to be nice with about a 5½-pound pull weight. The rifle was comfortable to shoot. Nice.
The new SOCOM 16 offers an out-of-the-box rifle ready for defense work or hunting. I can’t think of a better round and setup for feral pigs, deer, or black bears. The adjustable stock means it’s easier and more convenient to take in and out of a vehicle and store. The sight package is a nice setup. The SOCOM 16 adapts to how you want to shoot and the situation you are in and does it with a level of modularity and customization not seen previously in the M1A platform.
Robert Sadowski has written about firearms and hunting for nearly 15 years. He is the author of four gun books, editor of three others and is a contributor to numerous gun-enthusiast magazines, including Combat Handguns, Black Guns, Tactical Weapons for Military and Police, Gun Tests, Personal and Home Defense, Gun Hunter, SHOT Business, and others. He has a personal affinity for large-caliber revolvers and the AR platform.
Owning firearms takes money, which comes as no surprise to anyone here at MSS. So one important question is, when you’re building your collection, what are your must-haves and can’t-do-withouts?
Everyone’s list is different, but here’s one that makes a lot of sense to us for five guns every shooter should own:
.22 LR rifle and ammunition to feed it. What action and brand of rifle? Your pick. How much is enough rimfire ammo to have on hand? We think keeping a rolling stock of 5,000 rounds minimum is about right.
.22 LR handgun. A complement to #1, so it can be semi-auto or wheelgun.
Defensive concealable handgun. Most will prefer semi-autos, but wheelguns are fine. Need to keep on hand at least 500 to 1,000 rounds minimum — and extra mags or speed-loaders depending on your pick.
Semi-auto battle rifle. 5.56 chambering is a mainstay, of course, but 30-cals do more farther away. Again, money raises its ugly head when you’re counting round inventory, but we think 1k is the minimum to have on hand for this.
A 12-gauge shotgun. Pumps are famous for their reliability, and upkeep is minimal. Rounds to have on hand include at least 250 bird-suitable shotshells (#7’s), a similar amout of buckshot loads, and a similar amount of slugs.
If we were to expand the list one slot, we’d next include a bolt rifle chambered in the same cartridge as #4, which would suggest the semi-auto and bolt gun both be .308s. Another way to go would be to co-chamber #3 and #4 in a handgun round, such as the 45 ACP. A handgun-cartridge-chambered carbine has a lot going for it, but you would have to accept reduced range.
What’s your lineup of five must-have firearms? Let us hear about it in the comments section below.