Tempest In A Red Dot.

Red dot sights will get you killed on the street“.


Uh-Huh, they totes will get you killed“.

Nah, bro, they’re bomb.”


Disclaimer: I’ve trained with Suarez and I’ve trained with Pincus, so I am familiar with two of the people on opposite sides of this debate. I’m also about 1/100th as qualified to talk to about this subject as the guys I mentioned in the above paragraph, so take what I’m about to say with a salt lick or two.

However, I was a crash-test dummy for this episode of Shooting Gallery on red dot guns, and I’m open to the idea that technology can improve our shooting, mainly because advances in technology have improved our shooting ever since we swapped out handgonnes for matchlocks.

The fact is, a red dot is very, very useful on a defensive handgun, for certain situations. I had a completely open mind when I trained with Gabe: My only experience with red dots on pistols was the el cheapo sight on my Smith and Wesson .22, and I was truly curious to see how they worked on a defensive pistol because they seemed to work pretty darn well on all the Open guns I’d see at a match.

At the beginning of Alf and I’s training with Gabe, both of us were chasing the dot at close ranges rather than focusing on our iron sights. Once we realized that the dot was there to augment, not replace, the iron sights on our guns, we settled down, and our groups tightened significantly.

Is a red dot applicable to every shooting situation? No, but guess what, your iron sights aren’t applicable in every situation, either. A red dot really shines (pun intended) when the distance needed to make the shot gets beyond 25 yards. Sight picture is crucial at those distances, and a red dot makes those shots so easy, even a moron like myself can make them. Is it a good thing to know you can make a 50 yard shot on-demand with your carry pistol? I’d say so.

Are red dots an essential must-have tool in your toolbox? No. Are they the future of handguns? Maybe. Are they more beneficial to the average schmo than $1500 worth of ammo and quality firearms training? Probably not. There is a definite niche for the red dot, though, and it’s a niche that will only get bigger as time marches on.

A Feeling of Safety. First.

It’s been percolating in the back of my mind for awhile now that the majority of  “Gun Culture 2.0” isn’t about guns, it’s about what guns do. More specifically, it’s about how having a gun near them makes them FEEL, and what they want to do is “feel safe”.

Look, let’s address the elephant in the room. 99.5% of legal gun owners were safe BEFORE they got a gun, and they’ll still be safe now that the own a gun. This is a good thing, because people who have only a 60% chance (or less) of being safe at any moment are living in a war zone and/or Chicago, and that’s something that nobody wants, no matter how good the pizza is there.

When I got my first self-defense gun, I bought it because my wife and I no longer “felt safe” in our home in the metro Phoenix area. We took steps along the way to make ourselves feel safe, and more importantly, thanks to things like firearms training, increased awareness, first aid kits, flashlights, gas cans, etc, we ARE safer. Buying a gun is just part of a “safe” lifestyle: It’s a waypoint along the journey towards personal security, and thankfully, it’s a waypoint that some, (and quite frankly, probably MOST), will never need.

Let’s face it: If you want to live a longer, happier life, reducing your risks of heart disease and a stroke are probably the  #1 and #2 things you should do. Dying in a shootout with a gangbanger at the local Golden Corral is waaaaaaay down the list, so plan accordingly. Not that gun skool isn’t fun (it is) and not that have a concealed carry gun on you isn’t a comfortable presence when you gas up your car late at night, (it is), and not that there isn’t an increased risk of terrorist/drug mob violence in our country (there is), but it’s a well-rounded plan that focuses on mindset that keeps you safe, not just a pound and a half of metal and plastic on your hip.

Feeling safe by BEING safe is our goal.

After Action Report: Bob Vogel World Class Pistol Skills

The basics: The two day class was held at Altair Gun Club, a private range about 45 minutes east of Naples. The class was nine guys, all older, split about 1/3 each “gamers”, 1/3 professionals (LEO or private security and 1/3 casual tactical learners. All of the students had a lot of previous gun skool, none had any “gamer” classes”.

I was pleased that Bob’s shooting philosophy is similar to mine: Shooting is shooting. Delivering the shot on-time and on-target is the same for tactical as it is competition. The point is to be as fast and accurate as possible in any situation. As for tactics, as Bob says, “Speed is a huge tactic”.
Gear-wise, there were five Glocks, two M&P’s, a Grand Power and me with my CZ’s (Yes, plural. More on that later.). As Bob shoots a Glock and the majority of students in the class shot Glocks, there was at least an half hour’s discussion devoted on how to make a Glock run as fast and accurately as a CZ.

You can’t. Game over. 😀

One thing I did appreciate was looking down the sights of Bob’s competition Glock 34. His sights are a LOT wider-spaced than mine: The rear sight groove is bigger, and the front sight is a mere slip with a small fiber dot. I really liked that idea, as it fits in with the faults I’m finding with my competition guns.

The technique training was solid. As Bob says, “Almost anyone can hold a gun on-target at 25 yds. The trick is keeping it on-target as they pull the trigger”. This dovetails nicely with what I learned from Rob Leatham, so there’s something to be pursued further in my dry-fire along those lines. Bob also believes that “The less the gun moves, the better you shoot”, and that’s what his draw, movement on a stage and grip are based around. He grips the gun with the support hand further out towards the muzzle than most people do with the modern isosceles, and he emphasizes using the meaty part of your thumb on both hands, just below the last knuckle, for controlling the gun movement. He also cants his wrists slightly downwards, allowing for the support hand to grab the gun further out of the frame. That grip, he believes, allows you to get your hands closer to the muzzle and therefore closer to where the recoil is happening.

Also, he believes that people should “pinch” the gun in the holster with the middle finger and thumb versus grabbing it with all three fingers. Pinching relates to a higher grip on the gun and a faster draw, as the complete grip assembles itself as the gun is on it’s way towards the target. Straight left wrist  = low hand on gun, cant wrist down. A strong support hand is an essential part of his grip, because the strong hand has to grip the gun and pull the trigger, and the support hand jus grips the gun, so it’s essential for control during the trigger press. If you notice on the video I posted yesterday, his hands are pressing slightly inwards on each other. Torquing them inward like that creates pressure downwards and from side to side, which helps eliminate side to side motion. This also helps press the gun up and right, which works against trigger jerk that tends to push the gun down and to the left.

Another element of recoil control he teaches is grip strength. Bob is a big proponent of the Captains of Crush grip stregtheners, as they helped him, and I’m getting one sent my way to try it out.

To be honest, that was takeaway #1: The physical reality of being a truly great shooter. I got to see Angus Hobdell, Tarn Butler and Rob Leatham shoot many, many times, and no one would ever accuse them of them of being “svelte”. They’re big guys, but they all can move very quickly and explode out of the shooting box when needed. Watching Bob spring from a dead standstill to 6 feet ahead at the drop of a hat was enlightening.

Takeaway #2 was the Bill Drill. To be honest, I had not practiced this drill a lot, but now I see it’s usefulness in finding what you’re doing consistently wrong. If you have an occasional problem with trigger jerk, it WILL show up when you shoot six shots in a row multiple times.

Takeaway #3 was the importance of dry-fire, and practicing measurable things while dry-firing. To be honest, I’d been dry-firing wrong. Having a double-action gun means I can pull the trigger on each target I point my (empty) gun at, but that doesn’t mean I should pull the double-action trigger every time I need it. I’m switching to a true DA/SA trigger practice from now on. True, I won’t have the hammer fall with each shot, but it will be more like the way my gun actually works and allow me to see issues with trigger press and gun movement.

Win – win – win.

Here’s a video of me working my way (slowly) through some of the drills in the class.

This is not a class for everyone; If you’re new to shooting world or haven’t taken a beginning pistol class, take those first ,and shoot a few matches as well. However if you’re ready (as I am) to get really, really good at shooting a pistol under the artificial stress of the range and a timer, this is a great class to help take you to the next level.

And because this was Florida, we had an alligator show up for some free training. He kept to himself, but I wasn’t going to be the one to tell him he needed to wear eye and ear protection while he was watching us shoot.


Pocket Dump

I’ve been pocket-carrying my KelTec P3AT a lot recently, and decided to get some practice with it. I shot the Step By Step Gun Training “Shoot And Scoot” event last week, and I was reminded how much I hate shooting it. The trigger bite on it, especially with the Crimson Trace laser on it, is nasty and makes shooting more than a dozen rounds an exercise in pain.

Ever shot a Tokarev? It’s a lot like that.

So now I’m looking around. I’m thinking LCP, Bodyguard or P238, or maybe even breaking the model and going with an LCR, maybe even in .22 Magnum. In the mean time, I’m going back to pocket-carrying the Sccy. The new version is a LOT better than the one I purchased many years ago, and it fits into the pocket of my khakis, plus it give me 10+1 of 9mm versus 7+1 of .380.

I’ll take it.

The Middle Child

Tam’s work with the P250 is showing that a locked-breech, subcompact .380 is a great choice for people who can’t handle the recoil and slide manipulation of a 9mm. When I worked behind the counter, I’d recommend the very-similar Ruger LC-380 and the not-so-similar KelTec PMR-30 to people who didn’t think they were up to using a 9mm effectively (and there were a LOT of them here in the well-upholstered corner of Heaven’s Waiting Room).

Which got me thinking: There’s good defensive .380ACP ammunition out there that comes close to the FBI standard of 12″ of penetration through gel and four layers of denim, so I’m quite comfortable carrying a .380 on a regular basis, but a little more oomph would always be nicer.

So why doesn’t someone make a locked-breech, striker-fired compact (or subcompact pistol) that has a little more power than .380 and yet is more controllable than 9mm?

Something in 9×18 Makarov, perhaps?

There’s a wide range of inexpensive ammunition out there for that caliber, and some rather respectable self-defense loads as well. The Makarov round has less pressure and less velocity than 9mm, and yet we still think of 9×18 = blowback action, not locked breech.

Look, if we can make a semi-auto gun in a wheelgun caliber like .357 Magnum, we can make a locked-breech gun in a blowback caliber like 9×18 and sell the crap out it to the people with physical limitations that make their need for armed self-defense more urgently than the rest of us.

Ok, Kel-Tec, you’re not afraid to break the rules, let’s make this happen.

All They Want From You Is Your Death

Michael Bane (and others) are doing a bang-up job of helping us interpret what the new reality of active terrorist cells inside North America means to the armed citizen. The thing is, though, we’ve seen something like this before: To quote from an article I linked to four years ago:

Generally, violence can be broken down into two very broad categories: social and asocial. Social violence is what, in the natural world, would be the types of violence common within a single species. This intra-species violence does not follow the dynamic or use the same tactics as violence against other species.

The dominance game of snakes wrestling or bears pushing and mouthing is not the same as the way the same species hunt prey. Asocial violence does not target the victim as a person, but as a resource. Asocial violence is the domain of the predator and the humanity of his victim does not enter into the equation.

The resources those perpetrators of asocial violence we call “muggers” are looking for is your money. The resource an active shooter is looking for, whether he’s motivated by a twisted God or the voices in his head, is your death. A mugger might be placated by handing over your wallet, but there is literally nothing on this world you can give to the active shooter that will make him end his rampage.

Well, aside from a headshot, that is.