Buying a Comfortable Pistol

I would ask that you don’t disregard this article as another one from a Glock fanboy, I own many firearms and though I love my Glocks, I love many others as well. When I talk about Glocks I simply find them useful as an example. 

The phrase “it doesn't fit my hands” usually aligns with a particular firearm (generally referring to a Glock,) or the converse “this one fits my hands really well.” The latter argument I see a lot with people that bought a poor quality pistol and are trying to justify their purchase to themselves or a fellow gun owner. If you fall into this category, believe me when I tell you, most serious shooters have a literal or metaphorical box of holsters and guns labeled What Was I Thinking.  As an instructor I hear these comments so many times referencing a particular firearm I’d retire if each of them took a class from me. Let’s dissect this a little and figure out what is fact and what falls into the categories of myth and lore.

First, we can start by acknowledging the fact that everyone has slightly different biomechanics. Generally speaking, we all have ten fingers and somewhere in there are two opposable thumbs, but the spacing between fingers, distance from the palm, length of fingers all changes from person to person. I realize this is fairly common knowledge (at least I hope it is). I only mention it to illustrate to the reader that I understand this and admit that it is, in fact, true. This will come to be more important later on.

Glocks have “beefier” grips then a lot of other firearms and that’s where this notion that “they don’t fit my hand very well” comes from. A lot of it began with the FBI trying to utilize the Glock (and to a certain extent the S&W) 10mm pistol as their primary side arm. They ran into issues with both makes because the 10mm is a longer bullet and the guns were bigger and bulkier because of the pressures created by this monstrous round and the inherent size of the bullet. As such, smaller statured people struggled to retain a grip that wrapped all the way around the firearm and they became uncomfortable with it. Thus sprang forth the notion that Glocks fatty grips were difficult to handle for people with small hands. One note to mention is that the perceived lack of grip by those shooters was just that, a perceived lack of grip not an actual failure to grip the pistol.  

When the original Glock pistol was designed it was actually correctly designed to fit naturally into a shooters hand. This was one of the mistakes made with a 1911 when John Browning designed the grip angle after a group of Soldiers, who had been firing the Colt SAA their entire, lives; they had adjusted to an unnatural grip. First time shooters often pick up a Glock and will feel like it melts into their hands. Typically what we see is that people that grew up shooting have trouble transitioning because they have adjusted to a less then ideal grip over their life. 

The answer to adjusting to your preference is in the training. A trained shooter can pick up almost any gun made and be proficient with it. Some will feel less or more comfortable to the shooter but the excuse that “I can’t shoot them very well” is not in their vocabulary. A lack of comfort with any firearm is actually a lack of training with that firearm.

So now we can jump into the biomechanics I mentioned earlier. Ask a shooter where their strength in their grip comes from and they will tell you front to back. Of course every aspect of our grip is important but pressure exerted front to back from our bottom three fingers is the foundation of our grip. So I’ll ask you a question about that gun that just doesn't fit very well, can you exert that pressure? do your fingers reach the front strap of the pistol? The answer is almost invariably “yes” with a few exceptions out there. My only point with this is  that you need to find a better reason not to shoot that gun. You don’t have to like Glocks. Plenty of respectable shooters don’t, but don’t carry a junk pistol because you made a foolish purchase and continue to try to justify it. 

The equal and opposite argument is “this one fits me.” Again we come back to this not being a valid argument.  My brothers corvette fits me but my Jeep performs a little better off road-the right tool for the right job regardless of which one fits better. My framing hammer is my favorite hammer. It melts in my hand but it doesn't work well for finishing work. If the pistol you are using is not a quality self defense pistol then it is a moot argument to use it. 

That’s another one of gun myths we hear spewed out of the mouths of the internet crowd “Shoot what you’re comfortable with.” Though that is true to a point, in the case of an M&P vs. a Glock 17, shoot what you are comfortable with. They are both quality firearms, the Glock is my preference but you would not be faulted in using either one. However, if we take a Kel-tec (pick a random model it doesn't much matter) and compare it to a Glock 19 obviously one is superior for a combat engagement so at that point it doesn't matter which one is more comfortable. Choosing a quality firearm in a respectable caliber is paramount to what is comfortable (I have yet to see a Keltec I felt was built to the standard of a defensive pistol).  

Generally speaking the people that say “shoot what you're comfortable with” have gotten to that point because they are tired of the countless arguments of which gun is better. I’ve met very few that truly believed that this was the right opinion. So let’s move on from this and get back to training.

The grip with which you elect to hold your firearm is the foundation of your shooting and more importantly is the only thing that will likely remain constant. What I mean by this is that we know in an engagement we will never enter a good Weaver Stance. However, the closest we can get to a guarantee is that our grip will be solid. Maybe not perfect, maybe even one handed, but it will still be solid. 

The fundamentals of your grip come from front to back and our strength and power of our hands comes from the bottom 3 fingers. The point being that simply because the grip is fat, double stacked, too large a caliber, or whatever other reason you have, if you have achieved the former mentioned goal of proper pressure it’s only psychological and is not necessarily a biomechanics issue. I once worked with a Green Beret  that was 5 feet tall and 145 pounds wet. The guy was tiny, but he never used the excuse that his gun didn’t fit. He simply trained until it did. 

Others will make the argument that they don’t want to have to train with their carry gun to the point of comfort but that it should be comfortable at purchase. I see this a lot when Mr. Smith buys Mrs. Smith her carry gun, which is a pink .380Auto that looked “cute.” My response is always the same -“quit carrying if you are unwilling to accept the responsibility of training.” As a responsible gun owner you have to be familiar and comfortable with your firearm. Don't shoot what you’re comfortable with but become comfortable with what you shoot. 

I trained a student once that refused to use a quality firearm (in the name of keeping the peace I’ll leave out the particular brand he was using). In so doing, he malfunctioned at least once every magazine-literally this is not an exaggeration. But he refused to listen to logic and reasoning and not have that be his carry gun.  He only continued with the argument that it was comfortable in his hands. Even when I let him use my Glock 19 he used the other excuse that “it  just doesn't fit.” He was a friend of mine and as such I worked with him multiple times over the coming months.  That was really the first time I started to document this issue. What is really interesting about what I found in my experiment was when I made him a deal. 

I made him a deal that for an 8 hour training session I would let him use a Glock 19.  I simply asked him to put his pride aside and give an honest opinion when the training was complete. He began the class uncomfortable with it but it took less then half a day for him to develop his level of comfort with a different weapon. The remaining portion of the day proved extremely successful and he eventually developed such a more lethal shot group and speed with the Glock 19 that he sold his pistol and transferred to the Glock (to be fair he carries an H&K VP9 now, which I have yet to review). 

If you take nothing away from this read I would ask only that you remember training is paramount to initial comfort. The old advice to try several guns and figure out which one is most comfortable to you prior to purchase can be deadly. Get your training, do your research and please buy a quality pistol. 

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Mackay Barr

Battle Drill 6 LLC

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November 12, 2015

Employing and Training a Shotgun

How many times have we heard the same group of Neanderthals mention some comment about racking the slide to scare off the would be invaders, or how they left their spouse with a loaded 12 gauge and all she has to do is rack one and shoot? Though most of us can see the logical pathway in this ill begotten conclusion, the logic is flawed to a dangerous extent. Before we delve into the specifics behind training with a shotgun let’s first look at the many wrong assumptions in the shot group presented. 

First and foremost it is a tactical error to ever force yourself into a situation where you have to give away your position. The snap, crackle, pop of racking your slide and having an empty chamber forces two things; one the intruder can now pinpoint fairly accurately your position; second the would be assailant knows you have a firearm. Though there is some tactical advantage to showing this, depending on the circumstance. We always want to ensure that we have options and that we are not forced to give up the obvious advantages here. One school of thought to consider is when we are attacked we are already at the disadvantage, lets ensure we don’t place ourselves at more of a disadvantage by slowing down our ability to employ the weapon (but we will hit on that more later). 

Second to that argument is that there is no practical point and purpose to keeping a firearm unloaded. Constantly I hear cries of how dangerous that is; I for one truly hope my guns are dangerous when I need them. An unloaded gun is just that, an unloaded gun. If you have children at the house then there are many products available on the market to help keep them safe even when loaded. If you don’t have kids then teach adults responsible use of firearms or to stay away from them period. If you should find it advantageous to reveal your position or the fact you are carrying a gun feel free to rack the slide at that point in time. Though I find it highly unlikely you will elect to do this, you have the option now and have not sacrificed any ammunition than if you had left the gun unloaded. 

More on that, we have now effectively limited the magazine capacity of the firearm. You will ask yourself if there is truly a difference between 6 rounds or 7? the answer is absolutely! “I wish I had less ammo for that gun fight” said no one ever. Get this ridiculous scenario out of your head that one assailant will loudly come barging through your front door with a ski mask on proclaiming that he and his kitchen knife have arrived. We can argue statistics of his demographics, which portal of entry he will choose, and what he will be after. However, the most important statistic to your situation and the one you can affect is that you will miss 70-80% of your shots. More ammunition is always better and one could very easily make the difference. Stop using unfounded logic that if you can’t hit them with 7 you wont with 8. If your crystal ball was that accurate you could have avoided the situation in the first place. 

Before we touch on the training with your shotgun lets first look at the importance of why you need the training. How many times have we heard people give the advice to simply leave a loaded shotgun with your wife so that she is safe while you are out of town.

Disclosure: Many women are exceptional shooters and the numbers range in the thousands for those that could kick my ass in a competition. This is not meant to be derogatory towards the female population but only to address a common situation that is tactically dangerous. 

This is not only stupid and foolish but it is also dangerous! First the obvious, the one time you took her to the range to show her how to use it neither you nor she had any idea what you were doing the entire time. I understand you grew up around guns and hunting but that does not equate to tactical training. If it did you would know better than to do this in the first place.

Secondly lets look to the level of training required to perform Battle Drill 6 (enter and clear a room) with a shotgun. Lights are out: does your shotgun have a tac-light? Does she know how to use it? Stress is high: has she ever conducted a stress shoot? have you ever taught her to shoot at a moving target? There are literally hundreds of questions we could pinpoint to identify your mistake. These questions are why law enforcement and military personnel spend thousands of hours at the range conducting glass house drills and clearing rooms. It is not an easy task nor one to be taken lightly. Before I continue it is important to note that unless you have children in the house both of you should stay in your bedroom with the doors locked and the gun aimed as you dial 911. 

But you have to clear your house; you have to get the kids to safety. So with minimal training, at the most you’ve taken a 2 day combat shotgun course, you have elected that the best weapon to use for this is the one that you intentionally got so you wouldn’t have to aim; is the hardest to maneuver indoors because of it’s length; and is less then ideal for making accurate shots. Now this is not to say that we cannot make hostage rescue shots with a shotgun (take a class with Battle Drill 6 if you want to learn this) but lets be honest, it is certainly not the ideal platform. 

So I’ll ask you, are you sure you want to go forward with this plan? Less gun with a smaller caliber in the hands of someone who knows how to use it, is far more dangerous then the inverse. I hope I have beat this horse enough that you now realize this was not your most intelligent decision. In fact it was up there in stupidity with trading in the Corolla to buy a 2 seat sports car when you have two toddlers at home.  

Lets begin the training! Shotguns are difficult to use indoors but despite my best efforts to get you on the path of the pistol, you have chosen to use it. Lets look at your environment and build the training off of that. You are maneuvering indoors in tight spaces; it is low or no light; you and the would be assailant are moving; and you are presenting your weapon in a myriad of positions as you dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge your way through the house. At most you have taken one course showing you how to use it without committing unintentional suicide, now we need to focus that training to its specific application and continue to build on your skills during weekly range visits.

Quickly before I jump into that it should be noted that typically if you are exploding melons or have involved Tannerite in any way you are likely not training. These make great days at the range and are a good way to introduce people to firearms but they do not qualify as ballistic tests nor as training in any form of the word. 

Selecting your ammunition should be done with care, there are many home defense rounds on the market and their are a lot of gimmicks. Choose wisely and realize that 00 buck is hard to beat. Assuming money was not an object we would always train with our self defense rounds. Since this is not the case we intermix birdshot to offset the cost. To help you “keep the feel” of firing your defensive rounds consider using 5 of them for every 100 rounds of birdshot that exits your barrel. 

Ok so we have have our training ammunition mixed with our live defensive loads, we are at the range with all safety gear, and we have left all melons in the refrigerator where they belong. Where do we begin our shooting? typically I see people at the range take 10 or 20 shots standing still from about 10 Meters (though they claim it’s 50) at a paper target that is demolished after the first two.

Where we should begin is patterning, if that has not yet been done. Go to your local hardware store and purchase a landscaping tape if you want to be cheap. Preferably one that spans at least 100 meters so that you can use it for zeroing rifles as well. Then we can begin by placing markings at intervals. I like to use 5, 7, 10, 15, 20 and 25 meters. These distances can vary based on the maximum distances in your home and perceived engagements. Additionally every load and gun is slightly different and you might find that their is no discernible difference in patterns between between 5 and 7 meters, but there is a large difference between 10 and 12, adjust accordingly. The important component is that we have a reasonable estimation of patterns at estimated distances.

Next, setup targets and fire your defensive loads measuring the patterns so that you can understand where and how you will hit. This is paramount to making precision shots with a shotgun. To train your distance estimation have a range partner place targets at varying distances in this range, then estimate distance and pattern effects prior to shooting, judging results with a tape measure. This is incredibly important, use an actual measuring implement for your pattern results, your estimations is no where near as good as you think that it is. 

We have completed our patterning and some training in distance estimation, this is important to retrain and record results. Bottom line up front is that you will forget your results check, re-check, and verify later on. You have to memorize how your weapon performs and practice range estimation. 

Now we can replace the paper targets for good steal ones and begin the “fun” part of training. Starting with simple moving and shooting drills. Take a step and fire; take another step and fire, take a step backwards and fire. As your skills develop take two steps and fire while moving. These are simply baseline fundamentals but must be mastered for continued success. I’ll reiterate they must be MASTERED! Until you are comfortable with basic moving and shooting principles you cannot advance. That’s not to be confused with not training other basics but you simply cannot advance to harder subjects. You have to master algebra before you can study calculus. 

Learning to shoot behind barriers and in various positions from cover is paramount to success in any gunfight. Forget what you’ve seen on TV about diving over the couch and using the freezer as bullet proof cover. But the point still stands that you will have to move crouch and lay behind obstacles even if it’s only to setup a defensive position while you wait for the police. We often forget about moving around stairwells and “pieing" corners and the necessary body positions to be in. 

To train this we can build a small barrier out of ply wood with various holes and notches cut into it. This allows us to work kneeling, prone, side prone, crouching, and standing positions more effectively. It also has the added advantage of simultaneously working the concepts of shooting around barricades. 

In conclusion, picking the right instructor and getting training from a reliable training center is the only way to learn these fundamentals. Consider that you cannot learn what you need to know by reading articles and trolling Youtube channels. Take a course to establish your baseline, then focus your individual training on the subjects I mentioned so that you can more effectively and efficiently employ your firearm in a home defense situation.  

Remember that the good guy is always at a disadvantage in a gunfight. Don’t place yourself at more of a disadvantage then you have to by lacking in training. That is one of the only things that you can affect prior to the fight!

Mackay Barr

CEO Battle Drill 6

YouTube: Cavintry9mm




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October 31, 2015

Store Opening

I want to thank everyone for their support through the initial phases of our start up! We have had a following of loyal subscribers, friends and family supporting and staying with us throughout all of our trials and tribulations. We are still in the process of range development to continue teaching courses and we will publish more information on that as we close in on an opening date. However, in the mean time please enjoy our store with all your tactical and training needs, and let us know if we can do anything to assist you.

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October 06, 2015