I’ve been setting up complex malfunction drills this way for over 20 years and nothing like this has happened before. I’m sharing our experience so others can benefit from it.

Last weekend we were on the range doing some instructor development training, part of which was clearing malfunctions. We had just done simple malfunctions and were moving on to complex malfunctions (what are commonly called “double feeds”.)

Prior to this incident, here is how we set them up:

1. Remove the magazine from the weapon
2. Tilt the gun so the ejection port side is facing the ground (this is very important)
3. Rack the slide to eject the round in the chamber
4. Lock the slide to the rear
5. Strip a live round out of the magazine and insert into the chamber
6. Insert the full mag into the magwell
7. Release the slide

We now have a weapon with a complex malfunction that the student will have to clear. When the slide is forward, we see something like this:

Based on the number of students and classes we’ve taught I can conservatively say we’ve done this a couple of thousand times without incident. We learned this technique from a very respected and well-known trainer, and have seen it done by many others in classes we’ve attended.

This time, however, when the instructor got to Step 7, the gun discharged when he released the slide.

His fingers were nowhere near the trigger, and the gun was out of battery. The round went downrange and impacted the berm.

We immediately called a cease-fire and had the line re-holster. The instructor handed the gun off to another instructor and then checked himself out for injuries, then another instructor checked him to be sure. Fortunately, all he had was some tattooing on his left arm, likely from unburnt powder from the muzzle (he was wearing short sleeves).

 

If he had not turned the gun sideways with the ejection port facing down, that could have been a lot worse. This is why it is our procedure to always do this while loading and unloading. The arm position has the added benefit of protecting debris from hitting you in the face.   We do this because of the potential for accidents while unloading or loading – you don’t want the gas and debris from the ejection port to blow up in your face.

Orientation of the instructor’s arms when the round discharged.  He was turned “into the gun” and the muzzle was pointed downrange.

 For safety purposes we are demonstrating this with an Airsoft gun in this photo.  

Upon further inspection, the gun had clearly fired out of battery. The magazine floorplate was blown off the magazine body was split.

We found the shell on the ground, split open, further indicating an out-of-battery detonation.

One of our other instructors, who is a Glock armorer, tore down the gun. Most of the lower parts were damaged and will need to be replaced. He wasn’t sure about the frame but thought it should probably be replaced as well. The slide had a lot of tiny debris inside it, including in the breechblock and under the extractor. The barrel looked fine, but of the slide’s internal components were also damaged. It will cost about $200 to fix the gun, assuming the frame is not damaged.

We’re not sure exactly what happened.  The gun was in good mechanical condition and had no modifications other than an aftermarket slide.  We initially suspected that a round had bounced into the ejector, or something like this incident – however, upon closer examination, that does not appear to be the case.  The round went downrange via the barrel, which indicates it was in the chamber when it discharged.  We also could not find any deformation or damage to the gun’s ejector.

Re-creating the conditions with dummy rounds, we discovered this possibility:

After being dropped into the chamber, the round slid back and seated its primer against the nose of the top round in the magazine. When the slide was released, the force detonated the round.

Regardless of the cause, we’ve decided to change how we do this drill in the future.  Our solution is pretty simple; we’re going to set up using two dummy rounds at the top of the magazine. Once we got everything back under control at the range we tested this method and it worked great.

The lesson reinforced here is clear: No matter who you are, and no matter what you are doing, you must always handle guns carefully and responsibly.  

We also recommend wearing eye protection whenever handling a gun – even if you aren’t shooting it.

We’re glad everyone is OK, and hope that sharing this experience can prevent future incidents.

Sunday March 26, 2017 – Sunday March 26, 2017

18832 Lake Drive East

Description:

This class satisfies all requirements for a Minnesota Permit-to-Carry a Pistol. It is guaranteed to be accepted by all Minnesota Sheriffs. This course will also be accepted by any State which accepts NRA-certified training.

What you will learn:
– Avoiding Conflict
– The Law of Use and Threat of Deadly Force
– Deadly Force and its Aftermath
– Everyday Police Encounters
– Firearm, Ammunition and Holster Selection
– Mechanics of Everyday Carry
– Legalities of Minnesota Carry
– Out of State and Airline Travel
– Firearms Safety
– Shooting Exercise
– The Permit to Carry Application and Appeal Process
– Additional Resources

What you need to bring:
– Handgun (rental handguns available)
– 10-20 rounds of ammo
– Pen & notepaper for taking notes
– Photo ID and payment

Cost of the class does not include a range fee of $15/student.  This will be paid directly to the range.

Register

A couple of years ago, I was at a training class out of state.  The final exercise of the class was for two people to fight, one as an aggressor and one defending.  Both participants were outfitted with protective gear for a full contact fight.

During one of the evolutions, when the two participants squared off, the “defender” yelled, at the top of his lungs:

“I AM GOING TO FUCKING KILL YOU.”

Afterwards, some constructive criticism of this choice of words was offered.  The “defender” adamantly denied saying it.  In fact, he went so far as to point out that he was an attorney, and would “never say anything like that.”

One of the observers produced a cell phone and showed a video, confirming that he had indeed said the offending phrase.

When you’re stuck in a self-defense situation, you’re going to be under a lot of stress, and natural fight-or-flight instincts can cause you to say (and unfortunately do) stupid things.  This is why it’s important to develop “muscle memory” and practice proper techniques.

It’s also critical to practice proper verbal techniques as well.  John Farnam calls this a “Tape Loop” – a short phrase that you memorize and practice to use in an emergency.

Tape loops can be used for de-escalating and disengagement; verbal challenges; 911 calls, and even when the cops arrive.

Verbal challenges are one of the areas I see failure to use tape loops cause problems.  I’ve seen people in both live scenario-based training and videos of real self-defense incidents draw guns and scream:

“I’M GOING TO BLOW YOUR HEAD OFF.”

“YOU MESSED WITH THE WRONG GUY.”

“NOW WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO?”

These all have some issues from the standpoint of the “ear-witness.”  You wouldn’t want any of those phrases attributed to you in court.  Even before we get to court, any of these might inspire a bad guy to fight.

Another thing I hear people who draw guns yell a lot:

“GET ON THE GROUND!” 

More likely than not, the bad guy is probably not going to comply with this.  And what are you going to do, shoot him if he doesn’t get on the ground?

The situation will dictate whether or not you use a verbal challenge at all.  It’s not always going to be practical to give a verbal challenge.  If events are moving too fast, you might not have time.  If you are dealing with an armed bad guy who is actively murdering people, a verbal challenge is probably not going to be effective.

The verbal challenge’s purpose is to give the bad guy one last chance to not get shot.

Our preferred “Tape Loop” for a verbal challenge goes like this:

“DON’T MOVE!”

“DROP YOUR WEAPON!”

Let’s break these down.

“DON’T MOVE!”

Not “hands up”, not “get on the ground”.  The bad guy is trying to murder you, and you need him to stop immediately.  Telling him to get his hands up is tantamount to giving him permission to murder you.  You want him the freeze in place.  Once he does that, you can further assess the situation and disengage.

“DROP YOUR WEAPON!”

If the bad guy stops his attack, the next thing we want to do is identify any weapons and get him to voluntarily disarm.  Say this even if you don’t see a weapon – you’d be surprised what comes flying out when you yell it.

Any “ear-witnesses” nearby may take note of this as well, and be willing to testify that you saw a weapon, or at least reasonably believed the bad guy had a weapon.

There’s one optional line to add to your verbal challenge:

“POLICE!” 

When we draw a gun, we are, unfortunately, in the process of becoming a victim of violent crime.  In such a situation, it makes sense to call for the police.

You aren’t claiming to be a police officer.  You’re just calling for the police, the same way that you might yell “FIRE” if you needed the fire department.  It’s not illegal to yell “POLICE” when you need the police!   Any nearby law enforcement who hear this are going to come running.

All things considered, there is certainly very little downside to bystanders and/or the bad guy mistaking you for the police.  This may reduce your chances of being attacked by the bad guy or an attempted disarm from a well-meaning citizen.  The bad guy may choose to run away, which is an ideal outcome.

Despite all this, some folks are not comfortable with that, so if you want to skip it, we’re okay with it.

The complete verbal challenge sounds like this:

“POLICE!”

“DON’T MOVE!”

“DROP YOUR WEAPON!”

It’s important to think about what you are going to say before you say it.  Like any other self-defense skill, your “Tape Loop” needs to be practiced on the range and in scenario-based training.

 

Saturday May 20, 2017 – Saturday May 20, 2017

18832 Lake Drive East

Description:

GSW Banner 980x360

We have received many requests for a trauma medicine class, and here it is!

If there is anything we have learned from watching the news, it’s that you have to be your own first responder. This class is designed to provide students with the knowledge to build and use an Every Day Carry (EDC) trauma kit for emergencies.

Students will learn how to assemble a kit suitable for treating wounds from gunshots, shrapnel, or other penetrating trauma and how to identify and treat the leading causes of death from traumatic injury. A variety of different types of equipment will be provided for students to practice with and try out.

All equipment will be provided for the class, but students are encouraged to bring their own kits to try them out and compare them with our recommendations.

Cost for this class is just $100/person. For a limited time, this class will be BOGO (Buy One, Get One) – sign up for $100 and you can bring a friend for free!

We hope you can join us!

FINE PRINT: BOGO does not apply to Season Pass or Five Pack discounts.  It’s still a great deal.

Register

As I’m sure a lot of you know, Surefire recently released their XC1 weapon light. What you might NOT be aware of it that there is also at least one Chinese knock off or “clone” as I will refer to them going forward.

With the real thing having an MSRP of $300 and a retail price around $270, you might find a “deal” that ends up being a clone, so I’m here to show you how be sure you’re not getting taken.

I have seen clones for sale on Amazon being sold as genuine Surefire at over $200, when they should cost $50-60.

First of all, if you stick to buying directly from an authorized Surefire dealer, you’re pretty safe. However, with the ever growing popularity of online retailers like Amazon, it’s harder and harder to stick to said authorized dealers.

 

OK, now to the brass tacks.

I’ll first go over some cosmetic features that differ, so you can hopefully avoid buying the clone to being with.

Overall appearance:
The Surefire XC1 has a black, slightly glossy, hard anodized finish with laser engraved markings that appear silver/white. The “XC1” marking is just the outline of those characters.
The clone version also has black anodizing with laser engraved markings, but not as deep or “clean” as the real thing and they appear grey.

Most notably, the clone’s “XC1” marking is solid.

Surefire on left

(Surefire on left. Note the color difference in the markings and the switch recess.)

Surefire on left

(Surefire on left. Note the outlined text.)

Activation switches:

Surefire’s momentary switch looks, at first glance, like a “rocker” like you’d commonly find on a weapon light. However, there are, in fact two separate micro switches (one on each side) with a button pinned to the switch posts.
The clone’s switches (also appear to be a rocker, but aren’t) are longer, a different shape, and have no pins.  They also operate differently but more on that later.

Surefire on left

(Surefire on left. Note the differences in switch design. )

Surefire on left

(Surefire on left. Note the pins holding the buttons on to the switches. Also the length and shape of the buttons.)

Surefire’s constant on switch is located further up on the light (slightly rear of center of the body) and has fairly large oval shapes recesses on either side of the body to better facilitate switch operation.  The switch is a cross block switch, similar to a cross block safety found on many shotguns and rifles.

The clone’s constant on switch is also a cross block type and is in roughly the same place as Surefire’s, but with a significantly smaller relief around the switch. It, once again, operates differently and, again, more of that later.

 

Serial Number placement.

The Surefire has a serial number and QR code on the top of the body to the rear of the locking bar.

The clone has no serial number or QR code at all.

Surefire on left

(Surefire on left.  Note the serial number, and difference in length.)

 

If you’ve somehow missed all of these signs and ended up with a light that you’re not sure about here are some things to look for once you have it in your hot little hands.

The “business end” has some more good signs, but they may be difficult to tell from photos.

Most notably the bulb/reflector.

Surefire’s reflector has something of a faceted surface. The lens over the bulb also appears to have an anti-reflective coating (or perhaps just better “glass”) as it is

virtually invisible.

The clone’s reflector is smooth and the lens in quite visible.

Surefire on left

(Surefire on left)

Surefire on left

(Surefire on left. Note the “faceted” reflector.  An astute observer will also notice the depth on the bulb varies between the two.)

 

Size matters.

The Surefire is slightly smaller and lighter than the clone. The clone’s slightly larger dimisions (particularly the extra length) causes some compatibility issues.

Surefire Dimensions:

Total Over All Length =  2.427″(61.66mm)

Length of body w/o cap&/switch = 2.021″ (51.35mm)

Width: 1.06″ (26.93mm)

Clone Dimensions:
Total Over All Length =  2.5 ” (63.55mm)

Length of body w/o cap&/switch = 2.103″ (53.42mm)

Width: 1.101″  (27.97mm)

Unfortunately,  I do not have a scale that will accurately weigh these so I cannot include that data.

 

The Surefire was designed with the Glock 19 in mind but also the capability to fit other pistols with a picatinny type rail, and it does that.

I’ve mounted mine to several full and mid-size guns and none have been an issue.

 

Surefire XC1 on M&P45

(Surefire on M&P45.  Yes, I know it’s dirty.  No, I don’t care.)

I will note that I know that it will not it an M&P 9 compact or a rail framed Springfield micro-compact 1911, but those guns (and most of similar size) were never

intended to use standard lights.

 

The clone on the other hand has some big compatibility issues, and this is where the extra length that I mentioned before becomes an issue.

While it does fit a Glock 19, it WILL NOT fit an M&P.

Clone XC1 on M&P alignment

(Clone on M&P. Note the alignment issue.)

Clone XC1 on Glock 19 alignment

(Clone on Glock 19. Note the alignment difference from M&P.)

Clone XC1 on Glock 19

(Clone on Glock 19)

 

Another problem with the clone that the Surefire does suffer, is the locking bar.  On the clone, you must entirely remove the locking bar to install it on a rail (pistol or otherwise).

The Surefire does NOT require locking bar removal, only loosen the locking bar’s screw.

 

 

Let there be light.  I should note that both units were tested with brand new Energizer “AAA” batteries from the same package/lot.

 

The Surefire is rated at 200 lumens according to Surefire, and I have no reason to doubt that claim.

The clone is also listed at 200 lumens according to the Hong Kong retailer this unit came from.  However, I certainly question that.

While I do not have a proper light meter to measure the output, I can say that testing side-by-side, the clone is simply NOT as bright as the Surefire.

Even if I’m wrong, and the clone is close to 200 lumens, the Surefire DEFINITELY has a better “flood” and covers a wider area.

The photos don’t really accurately capture the differences visible in person.

Surefire XC1 wall ~3'

(Surefire against off-white wall approx 3 ft.)

Clone XC1 wall ~3'

(Clone against off-white wall approx 3 ft.)

Surefire XC1 light in closet

(Surefire in a closet)

Clone XC1 light in closet

(Clone in same closet)

 

Functionality:

As I mentioned earlier, there is some real differences in the way the switches work between the two. The Surefire’s momentary switch works by pressing down on either

switch to activate the light, releasing will deactivate.

The constant on switch can only be activated by pressing it from the right side. Press from the left to deactivate.  I initially didn’t like that, but keep reading and you’ll

see why I now I do.

 

The clone’s momentary switch has to be pushed in (forward) to activate, release to deactivate.

The constant on switch, (unlike the SF) can be activated from either side of the light, and pushed back to center to deactivate.  At first I thought this was a good thing as it

makes that feature more useful to left handed shooters. However, I found that when trying to deactivate it, it’s all too easy to accidentally “over press” the switch turning it

off (very briefly) and then back on.  Not a good thing if you want/need the light off, especially under stress.

 

On a side note, I find the constant on switch to be in a bad place. You have to shift/break your grip on the pistol in order to operate it.

This is a minor issue for me as I rarely use a weapon light in constant on mode, but I though it worth mentioning.

 

Two final give always that you can pretty much only find out in person.
Surefire’s anodizing is significantly harder than that of the clone.  The Surefire easily shrugged off much harder attacks with a steel blade that those that left a void in the

clone’s anodizing. I’m not advocating that you take a blade to your light, in fact don’t do that. It just happened to be the easiest method I could think of to test the finish.

 

The battery cap on the Surefire has a deep recess with a plastic/rubber “washer” inside.

The clone’s battery cap has a shallow recess and no “washer”.

Battery caps Surefire on left

(Surefire on left. Note the black plastic/rubber “washer”.)

 

So there’s pretty much everything I can tell you about how to spot a clone.  Do your due diligence, and buyer beware.

That said, I know some of you might be tempted to purposely  buy a clone to use on airsoft guns for FOF training or general farting around. So let me add one more thing.

The clones do not fit most airsoft Glock replicas (the frames are too wide), M&Ps etc. They only seem to fit full sized 1911 and M92 variants with railed frames.

Saturday March 19, 2016 – Saturday March 19, 2016

17706 Valley View Drive

Description:

During Force on Force, you pit your skills against live roleplayers in situations based on actual self-defense incidents and cases.  Scenarios will include self-defense situations, close quarter encounters, active shooters, robbery, and other situations.

This training event provides a series of scenario-based exercises where you can practice your defensive pistol skills against live opponents in a dynamic Force-on-Force environment. Blue Guns, Airsoft and other training weapons will be used. This law-enforcement training facility features an indoor training space with several different scenario rooms, including a home, convenience store, bar/restaurant, and more.

Because of the challenging nature of this course, all participants must have some handgun experience. We recommend QSI Basic Defensive Handgun or similar training. If you are unsure about meeting the prerequisite requirements, please contact us.

Required Equipment: – Paintball/Airsoft mask with full face protection.  You can pick these up at most sporting goods stores.

The following equipment is recommended. If you have your own, we appreciate you bringing it, but we will have enough “loaner” gear for the class.
– Protective gloves
– Airsoft Gun, BBs and Gas
– Blue Gun/Red Gun training gun
– Rubber training knife
– Long-sleeve shirt (hoodies or sweatshirts work great) and pants
– Knee/elbow pads

This program includes some physical contact and roleplaying with other participants.

We hope you can join us for this unique training opportunity!

Register

Angstadt Arms has an interesting new 9mm carbine based on the AR15 platform.  20150121_154326

Their carbine comes in several different SBR and standard configurations, uses Glock magazines, and is compatible with most aftermarket 9mm AR15 parts.

20150121_154340

The upper and lower receiver are billet machined and fit and finish looks very good.  It’s a promising design and we’re looking forward to seeing more of this gun in the future.

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This was by far the best thing I saw in the Taurus booth, and I find it to be a clever idea.
According to the rep I spoke to, this hammer will soon be standard on all Taurus revolvers, but is currently available on only a few models.
The hammer spur is removable, turning it into spur-less hammer, which is generally better suited for concealed carry.
To remove the spur you simply grab hold of the spur, turn counter clockwise 1/4 turn and pull.  There is a detent pin (and spring) that keep the spur from falling out/off when it is installed.  To re-install simply orient the spur as it was originally, and press it in. The detent pin will click when it locks the spur in place. The rep said that spare spurs will be available as they are aware that people may lose them. DSCN0326 DSCN0327 DSCN0328 DSCN0329

Because apparently Taurus thinks that women need “wings” not only on their feminine hygiene products, but on their pistols too.
As the Taurus rep I talked to told me “this gun is for women”.
It is a standard Taurus TCP with the addition of folding “wings” that can be deployed in order to aid is racking the slide…On this tiny .380…. O_0
I should also mention that the “wings” only aid in gripping the slide if you use the “slingshot” technique, which I do NOT advocate.  Also the wings have to be manually deployed, which under stress is not going to end well if you’re relying on said wings in order to operate the pistol.
In my opinion, f you cannot safely operate/manipulate the slide on a semi-auto handgun, then you should consider buying a different pistol, or buy a revolver instead.  In the case of the TCP (with or w/o wings) you would not sacrifice any capacity and you would gain the advantage of having a caliber better suited for personal defense.

In the interest of not being completely negative, I will add this.
The TCP (w/wings) has an okay trigger, a slide stop, and actual sights (albeit tiny ones). Aside from being way too small for my rather large hands, seems like a reasonable pistol if you like tiny .380s.
I would certainly pick this over the curve if I had to choose between the two.
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While Erik and Gabe have pretty much covered what I have to say about the Taurus Curve, and done so more politely than I’m inclined to.  I will add that in addition to the long list of “features” I find completely asinine on this gun; if I were to actually shoot it (which I would like to do just to be thorough) I would have to adjust my grip a lot.  My off hand thumb ends up extending past the muzzle (my trigger finger almost gets to the muzzle in index position), which would not be healthy for my hand.

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