Monday, April 29, 2013

Second Amendment argument sources

I have a few anti-gun liberal buddies who will send me some BS anti-gun link once in a while.  For reference, here are some good links for sources for refuting a wide variety of anti-gun arguments. This is basically an encyclopedia of pro-gun arguments.  I like this because I can look up some info to refute a wide variety of anti-gun arguments. This is a regularly updated list of defensive gun uses in the media.  When an anti-gunner sends me a link about some idiot doing something stupid with a gun, I can send him 3 links about people defending themselves and their families. This is a nice infographic that covers a wide variety of topics. This site by photographer Oleg Volk is great for more open minded people who are relatively neutral.
This article debunks some of the common gun control myths.

Some links refuting the concept that gun ownership is in decline.

On '10 rounds should be enough for anyone':
Bad guys were hit many times and continued to fight for minutes.
"Whatever is keeping some crime suspects fighting after police shoot them five to 10 times, the problem isn't with the ammunition, Pittsburgh police said on Monday."
"At the core of his desperate firefight was a murderous attacker who simply would not go down, even though he was shot 14 times with .45-cal. ammunition — six of those hits in supposedly fatal locations."
Police Officer Jared Reston was shot in the face with a .45 and continued to exchange gunfire with the suspect and killed the suspect after being hit by multiple additional rounds. The bad guy was hit seven times and only stopped after receiving multiple head shots.
On "There are no new gun owners":


Monday, December 31, 2012

'Price gouging' in the firearms market

Currently, prices are going crazy for guns, ammo, and accessories like magazines due to the possibility of new gun control legislation.  See for example

When this happens, without fail, I see a lot of commenters calling for the boycott of 'gougers' who raise prices in the face of demand.
This is counter-productive. Prices should increase as demand increases until supply equals demand. This is better for everyone.

A good link that explains this is "'Price gouging' in Florida" by Thomas Sowell.
Forbes has a nice infographic if that's your thing.
Even the leftist blogger Matthew Yglesias agrees.

I don't think that increasing the price on bottled water in a hurricane is wrong.  But, outrage at those price increases is more understandable, since water in a true physical emergency could be immediately necessary for one's health.  At this point, no new federal gun control laws have been passed or are close to passing, so this is much less of an emergency.
It's kind of weird to see a bunch of people who are supposedly capitalist conservative/libertarians to be economically ignorant and to get so emotional about businesses changing prices in response to a change in demand, which is what every business does everywhere all the time.

Bottom line: if you don't like the price, don't buy it.  If no one buys it, the price will come down.  If someone does buy it, blame them for the high prices, not the store.  The store is rationally responding to customer demand.  If the customer demand is irrational, that is the customers' fault.

P.S. This is not a defense of Cheaper Than Dirt in particular.  I have nothing against their price increases, but they are a store that has always had bad prices and bad attitudes about customer service.  At various times they would refuse to ship AR-15 accessories like pistol grips into California despite these being totally legal.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

AAR: Bob Vogel 2 day handgun class

I just took Bob Vogel's 2 day handgun class at Chabot Gun Club in Castro Valley, CA.  The class was arranged through Grey Group Training.  Bob Vogel is a multiple time world champion in IDPA and USPSA, and was a LEO for years.

The class had a mix of competitors and people who train for defensive handgun use who wanted to get better at shooting. Vogel's opinion on competition shooting as it relates to tactical shooting is that competition shooting is a good way to test your skills in a stressful situation, and that fast accurate shooting goes a long way towards winning fights.

At the beginning of the class, while we were waiting for the range to allow live fire in the morning, he gave a lecture on fundamentals of shooting.  A big focus area he had was grip and stance, which don't matter much for slow fire marksmanship, but which are critical for being able to shoot fast and accurately. His grip technique especially is fairly unique. It involves pinching at the top of the frontstrap and backstrap with the strong hand, rather than gripping evenly all around, and the support hand is a little farther forward than most people have it, with the support hand's index knuckle almost even with the front of the trigger guard. And most importantly, both hands apply torque inwards, i.e. your right hand applies rotational force counter clockwise, and your left hand applies force clockwise.  This causes the elbows to rotate outward and applies a static force high and inward on the gun. One of his Panteao Productions videos, "Building World Class Pistol Skills" also shows this grip technique. When he demoed various drills, the gun barely moved at all when he was firing very fast.
He checked each individual's grip and stance and offered feedback and what they were doing differently from him.

He said he dry fires at a ratio of 10 to 1 dry fire to live fire, and that dry fire is very important.  For speed shooting, he recommends pressing the trigger and hearing the click, and then continuing to press the trigger more times even though the gun doesn't reset. He gave some more tips on dry fire training. He talked a lot about seeing the sights while shooting and tracking them during transitions.

Aside from grip and stance, some techniques that were covered include the draw, trigger control, strong and weak hand shooting, tracking the sights and shot calling, reloads of various kinds, and seeing what you need to see to get the hit at various distances.

The live fire portion of the class was a lot of different shooting drills.  For most of the drills, he had everyone on the line do the drill a few times, then came by each person and had them do it individually on the timer and gave individual feedback on the person's performance and any issues he saw.  This was nice compared to some other classes where the instructors run the whole line every time and don't give as much individual attention.  If we did some drills twice on the timer, this allowed us to try to incorporate the feedback and see if there was any improvement.  There were also some longer, more complicated drills that were like small USPSA stages that could only be run one at a time.  There was down time for the other people who weren't shooting, but they could observe and watch Vogel feedback and see if some of that feedback applied to themselves.  Drills included strong and weak hand only shooting, reloads (slide lock, speed, tactical, or 'with retention'), shooting on the move in various directions, shooting from cover, Bill drills at various ranges, transition drills between different targets at various ranges, El Presidente, and some drills that involved random dice rolls which required quick thinking to determine which targets to shoot in what order. 

Vogel said that a lot of practical shooting is the ability to think fast under time pressure and that doing drills that force you to do that helps to build that skill.

He talked about some of the mental issues in competitive shooting. He recommends two books, Lanny Bassham's "With Winning in Mind" and Saul Kirsch's "Thinking Practical Shooting".

I think that competitive or tactical shooters can both get a lot out of this class.

Another AAR of this class is at

Southnarc ECQC AAR

 I took Southnarc's Extreme Close Quarters Combat class in Sacramento CA in October 2012, and this is a belated AAR.  I normally don't go to Sacramento for training since there is a lot of quality instruction already in the Bay Area, but Southnarc does not come to the Bay Area since there isn't a host here who's set up for him. It was well worth the trip, and I would have to say it was probably the best shooting related class I've ever taken.

Craig Douglas, a.k.a. Southnarc, was a SWAT team leader and did undercover narcotics work as a LEO.  ECQC focuses on defending yourself in a weapons based environment where the attacker is within arm's length.

Self defense situations most commonly start within arm's length. Having the fastest draw or Bill Drill or El Presidente time in the world doesn't matter much when the attacker can grab your gun arm and get in a tangle with you and take the gun away. Also keep in mind that one or two handgun shots may not be enough to stop an attack.  It's important to be able to deal with a determined attacker who continues to press forward and crash into you even after taking some hits.

This situation is underexplored in the civilian shooting training world.  Most shooting courses have most of the training take place at 5 yards or beyond.  To the extent that they do cover close quarters work, it typically involves shooting from the retention position on a paper target, and practicing some disarms and retention techniques with a non resisting partner. ECQC is very different in that a lot of the curriculum involves going against a resisting partner who is trying to accomplish a goal of his own. When you are wrestling with someone over a gun, you need to know wrestling techniques and training methods; the gun isn't automatically going to solve the problem for you. This training with resistance is _crucial_ for getting the right feeling when it comes to wrestling with someone over a gun. 
To understand why, I refer you to the video "Matt Thornton on Aliveness in martial arts".

ECQC is the only open enrollment class for civilians that I'm aware of that combines shooting and combatives with resistance. This is for several reasons.
- Many shooting instructors don't have a deep combatives background
- Many instructors may be concerned about liability due to injuries
- Many shooting students are not willing to get dirty and get sweaty wrestling around and getting beaten up and shot with Simunition rounds.

Friday night started at a martial arts gym in Rocklin with a 4 hour block on Managing Unknown Contacts. This went quickly but was some of the most valuable part of the curriculum.  Southnarc covered a little bit about how criminals think and how they choose their victims, and how best to handle encounters with suspicious people, without necessarily overreacting or being rude unless they cross a certain threshold. He described common pre-assault cues that are a hint that someone may be about to attack. He taught a basic defensive posture, 'The Fence', and a defensive move to protect your head when someone punches you.  Each of these were followed by unscripted improvised role playing training with a partner, where the technique was put into context.  We finished the night with some drills to teach fundamental wrestling concepts, including the mountain goat drill (see the pictures in the Calguns AAR linked at the end) and a pummeling drill.

See for a taste of what MUC is about. Reading the PDF and actually practicing it in person is a very different experience. Knowing it in your head and actually doing it are very different.

Training days 2 and 3 were on the range at Sacramento Valley Shooting Center.
Both days had live fire shooting in the morning, then being thoroughly scrubbed for live weapons and training force on force with Sims in the afternoon.  One major takeaway from the live fire drills is that most people were doing 'retention shooting' from the #2 position(#2 count in the standard 4 count draw stroke) in a very lazy way.  At close quarters, a few inches can make a big difference in whether or not the opponent can get their hands on your gun.  So it's important to pull the hand as far back and as high as possible, to the point where it's uncomfortable to your shoulder.  This also makes it more consistent, since it's at the limit of your range of motion.  The consistency is important when shooting in a tangle since you may be moving around in circles while wrestling the opponent and shooting and it's important to know where your rounds are going to go.

The force on force training had a lot of basis in wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. There wasn't much material on striking due to time and safety limitations. Some key concepts are
- Don't try to access your weapon in-fight until you have a dominant position where the opponent can't grab the weapon. Pulling your gun out when the opponent can grab it is generally causing more problems than it solves. Generally you want to get to your opponent's back or side.
- It's not over until it's over. Getting a few shots on the opponent did not end the scenario, so we had to develop the mentality to continue fighting until Southnarc called the scenario over.
- Controlling the arms is more important than controlling the head, since the arms can access weapons.  This can be tricky for people with prior experience with grappling in a non weapons based context since they may be more used to going for head control.
- On the ground, it's preferable to disengage rather than to dominate position, since a second or third opponent could attack you while you're winning the fight on the ground. Of course, if the opponent that's with you on the ground has a gun, maybe disengaging is a bad idea until they have been disarmed.
- Some techniques that were used standing up include underhook, whizzer, arm drag, and on the ground included bridging and shrimping to escape a pin, and some open guard work against a standing or kneeling opponent.
- Having more weapons on you, such as a gun and a knife, can be very useful, but it's also more things that the opponent can take away from you and use on you.

- Knives are actually more scary than guns at contact distance because they're much harder to disarm. When you go to disarm a gun, you can grab the gun itself, but grabbing the blade on a knife is very difficult in a live situation.

 Southnarc is very smart about adult education and how to get someone to learn something.  Each technique was drilled first with no resistance, to learn the basic mechanics of the move.
Then it was drilled with a resisting partner who was attempting to accomplish his own goal. But the drill was isolated so that each person could only do a very limited set of moves.
Then it was drilled in a more open ended context where many moves were available.
Finally everything was put together in very open ended scenarios where almost any move was available. 

The students who came to the class were all very cool about training at an appropriate level of resistance, and no one got hurt. The type of person who shows up to this kind of class can keep control of their ego and not care too much if they win or lose.  Big ego types typically don't show up. Also, not everyone that showed up was young / big / strong / experienced in martial arts. Far from it. Many of the guys were older or smaller or less fit or had no experience and may have had a hard time 'winning' the scenarios but I saw them all learn a lot and improve greatly compared to the start of the class.  They came away with a realistic understanding of what they can or can't do.  The videos you see on YouTube of ECQC are of the scenarios which are the culmination of the day's training.  Most of the training is at a much lower intensity. So if you are out of shape, or old, or small or weak, I wouldn't worry about it.  Just go to the class and you will get a lot out of it.  Winning or losing doesn't matter, it only matters if you got better.

Highest recommendations for this class.  It is as far as I know the only class of its kind in the whole country open to civilians. I won't name them, but I have taken 3 other shooting classes that were meant to be for close quarters, and ECQC is head and shoulders above them.  This class is more applicable to civilian self defense than any other shooting class I can think of.

There is another AAR with pictures at

Southnarc's website is and a class schedule can be found there.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Using your barrel as a gauge to determine case overal length for reloading

I always have a hard time finding this image, which very clearly shows how to use a barrel to determine the optimal COAL (aka OAL) for ammo to be loaded into your specific gun.

I'm not sure who made it, to give them credit, but I found it at

I'm mirroring it here in case it ever goes away from ImageShack.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Review: Manticore Arms Nightbrake for AK style rifles

This is a review of the MantiCore Arms Nightbrake for AK (Kalashnikov) style rifles.  The one I got uses the 24mm threading which is commonly used with AK-74 pattern rifles, but they also make one with the traditional 14mm threads.
I have an Arsenal SGL-21, which shoots 7.62x39, but has the AK-74 style(which usually shoot 5.45x39) 24mm threads. So there are not very many options for muzzle devices.  The Nightbrake is nice because it will work on both 5.45 and 7.62 rifles.  The SGL-21 comes with a AK-74 style brake which works very well for muzzle rise control, but gives off a somewhat loud blast and when you shoot from prone it kicks up a LOT of dust, especially from urban/rollover prone.  I wanted to try a device which would lower the amount of muzzle blast but still give a reasonable amount of control of muzzle rise.

I ran the Nightbrake through two carbine courses. I found that with the Nightbrake, recoil drove the muzzle slightly up and to the right, which took some small amount of time to get back on target. The blast was somewhat less than the 74 brake.  When I shoot the 74 brake, it's relatively easy to keep the sights on target when shooting at a pace of 2 rounds per second.  With the Nightbrake, I found I had to really focus on a strong stance and pulling the gun into my shoulder firmly when shooting even moderately fast, or the sights would start wandering up and right.  I think the Nightbrake does accomplish its goal of trading off blast for muzzle control, but I have put the 74 brake back on.  To me, the tradeoff was not worth it, especially since I don't do any team tactics stuff with a carbine indoors, where reducing muzzle blast would be more important.

Using the 74 brake, the muzzle control is very good, and the blast isn't really objectionable when shooting outdoors. I will stick with it for now.
The AK BattleComp sounds promising, but as of this writing it is not available with 24mm threads, and even when it is, I'm not sure if it will work with a 7.62 rifle with 24mm threads.  Also, it's 200 bucks which is pretty steep.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Kytex mag pouches

Kytex shooting gear makes some really nice mag pouches. I have a few for Glock 17 mags, which I've had for about a year and have run through a number of classes. Compared to other mag pouches I've tried, they're inexpensive, they ship fast, and they can be clipped on without taking off your belt. They're still very secure despite the fact that they clip on.

What makes them really stand out is the fact that they're very compact, light, and thin, and made out of one single piece of kydex with no additional hardware like screws, etc, so you can fit more of them on a given area of belt line, and they hold very tight to the body for concealment with a loose shirt.

The only downside is that I would say that they are a little flimsier than some others just based on the fact that they're made entirely out of thin Kydex.  One of mine developed a small crack from when one of my mags got hooked on something and was pulled hard away from my body.  It was still usable and probably would have been okay with the application of some duct tape.  Brian, the owner of Kytex, offered to send me a replacement. I only had to send him a picture of my cracked one; I didn't have to ship it back.

Also, the retention may loosen up a little over time since the retention comes from the form of the Kydex and there aren't any screws or rivets.  If you are at all handy with a heat gun or blow dryer, that is easy to fix.

I probably would not use these in some kind of austere situation overseas where gear must be super durable because you don't know when you're going to get a resupply.  But for any normal use, they're great and backed by great customer service.
Kyle Defoor is a fan of the AR-15 mag pouches as seen on his blog here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

AK vs AR

Here is my take on AK (Kalashnikov) style rifles vs AR-15 style rifles.  For simplicity's sake, I will consider AKs in 7.62x39 and ARs in 5.56x45 NATO. I own both, and I like both, and I have experience running both in carbine classes, for whatever that's worth.  AKs and ARs have different design decisions.  In general, the design decisions that give one its strength, also give it its weaknesses.
That said, ARs are more reliable than people think and AKs are more accurate than people think, and it's really just a matter of preference.

AR advantages:
- Lighter, in part due to having an aluminum receiver and no piston and a lighter, hollow bolt carrier.
- Lighter and smaller magazines and ammo.  Since the magazines are more or less rectangular, they are easier to stack and fit into boxes or dump pouches compared to the curved AK mags.
- More accurate, in part due to tighter tolerances and lack of a heavy bolt carrier and piston slamming around.
- More ergonomic controls, especially the safety which can be manipulated very quickly with the thumb, and the charging handle which can be run with the left hand easily.  The AK has the charging handle on the right side of the gun, which makes it a little awkward to run with the left hand, and it has the safety forward on the right side of the gun, which requires breaking the firing grip at least somewhat to manipulate it.
- The bolt locks back when the mag is empty, which lets you know when you're empty and enhances the speed of emergency reloads.  AKs do not have this feature, and with an AK you usually know you're empty when you hear the click of dropping the hammer on an empty chamber.
- The bolt can be locked back manually.  There's no way to lock back the bolt period on a stock AK, although aftermarket selectors with a cut out to allow locking the bolt back are available.
- The sight radius for iron sights is much longer, since the rear sight is at the rear of the receiver. On an AK, the rear sight is relatively far forward in the middle of the receiver, leading to a shorter sight radius. Also, an AR's aperture style rear sight is generally considered more accurate than the AK's notch and post sights.
- The process of reloading the AR is a little bit faster than that for reloading an AK.

AK advantages:
 - More intrinsically reliable and low maintenance. Here are some factors that play into the AK's reliability:
    - The bolt carrier and piston are heavy, and the system is 'overgassed', i.e. the amount of gas that is transmitted through the gas tube to the piston is significantly more than is strictly needed to cycle the bolt.  These factors help the bolt smash through friction due to dirt or lack of lubrication, but also hinder accuracy.
    - The stroke of the bolt is significantly longer than what would be needed to extract and eject the empty case and feed a new round from the magazine.  So weak or erratic ammo is tolerated.
    - The 7.62x39 and 5.45x39 cartridges are both tapered more than 5.56, so extraction is enhanced.
    - There is a lot of room in the receiver.  Dirt, blown primers, or cases that fail to eject have enough room to generally not get stuck and cause problems.  Compare to the AR, where there is exactly enough space above the bolt for an empty case to get stuck, and exactly the amount of space in the gas key for a small rifle primer to get stuck.
    - The extractor on an AK is large and beefy compared to that on an AR.  The ejector on an AK is a fixed piece of metal integral to the receiver which is simple and robust.  The ejector on an AR is an assembly of little parts in the bolt which includes a pin, the ejector, and a spring.

- The recoil spring is in the receiver, unlike the AR which has the recoil spring in the stock.  So AKs can have folding stocks.
- An AR's bolt carrier has holes in it that can allow dirt and grit to get inside the bolt carrier if the dust cover is not closed. An AK has a solid bolt carrier with no dust cover needed.
- Some malfunctions on an AK are generally easier to clear.  In a double feed, the magazine can be removed without needing to lock the bolt back, so the procedure to clear it is to simply remove the magazine, rack the bolt a few times, and reload. Clearing a 'brass over bolt' malfunction in an AK is made much easier by just removing the top cover and then picking out the piece of brass.
- The rock and lock magazine mechanism on an AK allows easily seating a full magazine when the bolt is forward.  On an AR, many users load their mags to 28 or 29 rounds to ease seating the mag when the bolt is forward.
- Ammo is generally cheaper for the AK, especially if you can find military surplus ammo.  AKs run well with cheap steel cased ammo, which can be hit or miss in an AR.
- An AK is less expensive than a comparable AR.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Tourniquets for emergency trauma to extremities

First, let me say that I am not a medical professional and am not qualified to give medical advice. I do have some very basic training in trauma medicine.  I am posting this to get you thinking about this subject, but you really need to do your own research and ideally get some professional training.  Tourniquets can be dangerous and should only be used by those with basic training in their use.

Why tourniquets?
It's best to have a well rounded medical kit for your range bag, and probably on your person while undergoing firearms training.  But tourniquets have a special place in emergency trauma, and I would recommend having multiple tourniquets on your body while training.

Some advantages they have:
- They require relatively little training to use properly.  Note: it is very important to at least have some training and a firm understanding of where to place the tourniquet given different locations of wounds.
- They can be applied very quickly to one's self even with only one hand(since you may have lost the use of the arm that got injured).  Using bandages is relatively difficult and slow one handed, and may not stop the bleeding with large wounds.  Also, bear in mind a gunshot wound usually has an entry wound and an exit wound.  It would be very difficult to bandage both wounds properly and quickly, especially with one hand. With a tourniquet, it doesn't make much difference that there are two wounds.
The speed with which you stop the bleeding is very important.  I couldn't find a reputable citation with a quick search but with femoral arterial bleeding it seems generally accepted that it's possible to bleed out in under 3 minutes, and to lose consciousness well earlier than that.
- They are effective in preventing blood loss in most extremity wounds (wounds to the arms or legs).  Extremity wounds comprise the majority of traumatic injuries in US armed conflicts.  See
Extremity wounds are easier to self-treat than torso or head wounds.
- They are very light and compact (about the volume of two fingers, and weighing about two to five ounces)
- They are inexpensive.  The CAT or SOFT-T can be had for about 25 to 35 dollars.
- You can train with them to some degree without using them up.  You can practice putting a tourniquet on without worrying about wearing it out or getting it un-sterile. Obviously if you put a tourniquet on 100 times, that might start to wear it out, but a certain amount of training is fine. For fast access, you can easily connect it to the outside of your gear or rifle. See the "How to carry tourniquets" section below for more.   Compare this to bandages; they must be kept in their sterile packaging so to take one out for training or leave one exposed outside of a pouch would ruin it.

But what about the risk of losing the limb?
The old school of thought was that tourniquets should be a last-ditch solution, and that use of a tourniquet would necessitate amputation of the limb. Recent military experience has shown that modern tourniquets can be in place for at least two hours with a very low risk of losing the limb as a result of the tourniquet. See the links at the end for references.
"A series of studies have looked at the efficacy of prehospital tourniquets and their safety.(16–18) The conclusions are overwhelmingly in favor of applying tourniquets to control severe extremity hemorrhage. In addition, they highlight the near-total absence of significant complications attributable solely to the use of tourniquets. ... Instances of effective tourniquets being placed for up to 20 hours have been recorded with complete viability of the limb and return to full duty."

Which tourniquets?
Specific tourniquets I recommend are the CAT or SOFT-T Wide.
Between the two, the CAT is lighter because it has a plastic windlass, but the windlass is less durable for the same reason.  The SOFT-T has an aluminum windlass.  I would take the SOFT-T unless you are very concerned about a few ounces of weight, or if you're going through a lot of metal detectors.
The SWAT tourniquet has its place, but consider that it will be difficult to apply one handed, and since it has no windlass, you can't fine tune the pressure that is applied.  See also "Risks of Rubber Band Tourniquet Use"

If you're going to carry one tourniquet, you probably should consider carrying two.  Your legs are very close together and if someone's taking multiple shots at your legs, if one leg is hit there is a pretty high likelihood that the other will be hit as well.

How to carry tourniquets:
- In a pocket.
- In a medical kit pouch
- On MOLLE: The Blue Force Gear Tourniquet Now! or the Mayflower tourniquet holder.  Or you can rig your own using shock cord:
Any closed-top single pistol mag pouch would probably work as well.
Thinking about making sure you can access the tourniquet with either hand in case the other arm is injured.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Shooting left with a Glock, FAQ

For a while after I got my Glock 17, I was shooting consistently about 2 inches to the left at 7 yards, with a decently small group.  I had never had this problem with any other gun, including an XD, M&P, 1911, and SIG.

Q: Is it the sights?
 A: Probably not.  A right hander shooting left is a common issue with all handguns, but especially Glocks.  And if you're noticeably off, like 2 inches at 7 yards, that's equivalent to about 8 or 9 inches at 25 yards.  If the sights more or less look centered, there's no way you would be off that much. To check, shoot from a sandbag rest if possible. Also, shoot left handed and see if you now start shooting to the right.

Q: Should I drift my rear sight right to compensate, even though the sights aren't the problem?
A: I don't believe in drifting the sights over to the right to fix the issue.  For one thing, if you ever had to shoot left handed, you'd shooting way off to the right due to both the sights being off and whatever the original problem is. Also, you're incentivising yourself to use whatever bad technique you're using.  When you start doing the correct technique, you'll hit to the right, so you'll naturally try to avoid that.

Q: Should I use "Kentucky windage" by aiming to the right of the target?
A: This is not a good idea because under stress, you will be more likely to aim directly at your target.  Also, you'd need to calculate how much to hold right at various distances. e.g. if you hold right 2 inches at 7 yards, you'd need to hold right about 4 inches at 15 yards.

Q: On the assumption that the trigger is the problem, should I monkey around with different connectors and trigger springs?
A: If that's your thing, it's fine, but I don't think it will fix it.  I've tried a few various connectors and the NY trigger spring, and haven't found it to make any difference with regards to this problem.  I don't think for most people that the length or weight of a Glock trigger pull is the real problem.  The trigger is not terribly long or heavy. I think the reason that Glock users tend to have this problem more is the size and shape of the grip.

Q: Should I just shoot a ton of rounds and assume I'm going to get better?
A: This is probably a bad idea because you are doing something wrong now, so doing it more is just going to ingrain bad habits. I think it's important to actively try to find and fix the problem.

Q: What about the handgun correction chart that says the problem is "too little trigger finger"?
A: As I mentioned before, I don't think the handgun correction chart has that much benefit.  There can definitely be more than one cause for this issue.  This may certainly be one of the causes, and it's worth trying to put more of your trigger finger through the trigger guard.

Q: What are some other things to try?
A: Note: I would try isolating each one of these techniques to see if it makes any difference.
- Obviously getting a good instructor to try to diagnose you would be good if feasible.
- Use either closer to the tip of the finger, or closer to the knuckle to touch the trigger.  Either way might help.  One thing you can try to determine optimum trigger placement is to dry fire the gun, so the striker is down, then repeatedly press the trigger. You'll notice that the sights move in different directions depending on what part of the trigger finger you use.
- Use a harder or softer grip, with either or both hands.  Your other fingers sympathetically 'milking' the grip along with your you trigger finger is used can move the gun left. 
- Stiffen your shooting wrist, as though you were trying to prevent someone from bending it sideways.  This is NOT the same as just gripping harder.
- Try to avoid touching the frame of the gun with your trigger finger.  The trigger finger should only be touching the trigger.
- Make sure you always take up the slack in the trigger before beginning your press.  If you start with a heavy press while there's still slack in the trigger, it will smash through the slack with momentum and disturb the alignment of the gun.
- Don't let your finger come off the trigger during or after firing.  Taking your finger off too fast after firing can disturb alignment of the gun.
- Don't hold the trigger all the way to the rear during or after firing.  As soon as the trigger breaks, reset it forward while maintaining contact on it.  Letting the trigger finger slam all the way to the rear with momentum can disturb the alignment of the gun.
- If the problem might be flinching, then ball and dummy drills, or just mixing in dry fire with live fire can help. For example, every time you throw a shot to the left, unload the gun and do 5 good dry fires.
- Think about pressing the trigger straight to the rear, and adjust your grip so that can be done to the extent possible. Your trigger finger can't actually move straight back since it describes a curve as it moves, but ideally the tangent to the curve would be straight back at the moment the trigger breaks.
- Try pressing back through the center of the trigger, i.e. through the trigger safety, instead of just contacting the whole trigger in general.  Since the trigger face is rounded, it's possible to pull sideways through the trigger, which is obviously undesirable.

- I eventually fixed the problem by putting the Grip Force Adapter on it. 
I don't know how to explain it, but my guess is that by increasing the trigger reach, it forced my hand into the right position to pull the trigger straight back. I'm not saying that this solution would be right for everyone, but with my hands, it solved the problem.  In general if you didn't want to spend money to try this, you could try altering the size and shape of the grip, maybe with temporary methods like tape to see if it helps.

Some additional references:
 - Discusses trigger "milking"
OpSpec training on using a looser grip to avoid this problem
ssdsurf on shooting a Glock well.
ssdsurf on advanced trigger placement.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Safety glasses worn over prescription glasses for shooting

I've always worn safety glasses over my prescription glasses for shooting. My prescription glasses are thin and don't provide much coverage, especially coming from underneath. Also, they cost a lot of money and I really don't want to deal with scratches on them due to getting hit by brass or jacket ricochets off of steel.  

This link provides a good overview of the need for real safety glasses as opposed to cheap plastic sunglasses or glasses with glass lenses:

An alternate option is to get prescription safety glasses, which I'm looking into, but from what I've seen in my searches, it's rare to find any that are made in my prescription, which is very nearsighted.  Also they are expensive, and I'd need to get both clear and dark versions, or figure out some kind of clip on sunglasses system.

What I've been running so far:

Escort safety glasses:

They also make these with smoke colored lenses for bright outdoor shooting:

These glasses work well but the black frame obscures peripheral vision a little.

Another alternative that I've found to work well is Pyramex OTS safety glasses:
which also come in clear or dark.

Both options above were comfortable, gave good coverage, and seemed optically clear to me.  But I have been thinking that perhaps a more expensive set of safety glasses would have better optical clarity which could come in handy.
Cocoons Eyewear seems to fit the bill, although I have not tried them yet.
Note that the lenses are not advertised as meeting any safety standard such as ANSI Z87.1.

Finally, a tip from experience: if you leave your safety glasses in your shooting bag, make sure to put them in a separate compartment, or in a bag or case. Left loose in the bag, they will get scratched up by other things in the bag, even though they're supposed to be tough and scratch resistant.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Firearms training class preparations

Here are some things I do before going to a firearms training class.  I just leave the small items in my range bag all the time.

- Verify functionality of the gun by shooting it for at least one session before the class.  In other words, don't come to a class with a gun that I've never shot before, since the gun might be messed up.
- If I haven't run this set of gear before, try it on all together. For example, I try on my holster, mag pouches, belt, and pants that I'm going to be using.  Even if you have experience running each individual piece, you need to make sure they all work together. You don't want to find out too late that your belt is too big for your belt loops on your pants, or the belt loops on your holster, or the belt loops on those particular pants are positioned poorly for the location that you want to run your holster or mag pouches.
- If I have adjustable sights, especially on a carbine, make sure they're zeroed before the class. Often the zeroing process on the first day of carbine class takes 2 hours or more, which is time that could have been spent learning. Bring the necessary tools to adjust the sights, even if they are already zeroed.
- Load all the magazines that I'm going to bring to full(check your local laws and make sure you're transporting them legally).  It saves a lot of time when the class starts if you're already loaded and ready to go. I've never seen an instructor that minded the student coming in with loaded mags, although it is possible you may have to unload one or two for some drill that the instructor wants to do. 
- Check that I have extra batteries for ear pro, optics, flashlights, etc.  Check that the batteries currently in those accessories are not dead.
- Label everything, including mags, loading tools, ear pro, even your holster and mag pouches if they are common.  I use a paint pen for this purpose.  Certain gear, I engrave with a cheap hand engraving tool. If you do enough training, eventually someone will grab your stuff if you leave it on a table or in a common area, not because they were trying to steal it, but just because they thought it was theirs. Having labels settles the matter if there is any dispute. I have had this happen to my mags, Uplula, and ear pro.  All mags are labeled with a number as well, to keep track of any mags that are malfunctioning.
- Check tightness on all screws/bolts, including any mounts on guns, lights, sidesaddle, optics, holster, mag pouches. I just kind of poke the screw with my finger in a turning motion, to save the effort of finding the appropriate bit for each screw, and to avoid breaking the Loctite if it was there.
- Pack an allen wrench set and a multitool which has needle nose pliers and flat head and philips screwdrivers just in case they come loose.  I just leave these in my range bag all the time. 
- Pack water and food if needed. Always more water than you think you need.  Sweets like candy and cookies are good for a burst of energy.
- Pack an extra holster if I have one.
- Pack lube and spare parts for the gun. Generally a recoil spring and an extractor will solve most problems on a semi auto.  For Glocks, a trigger spring would be good.  For ARs, a full bolt carrier group would solve the vast majority of problems. If shooting a carbine, always bring a cleaning rod, not so you can clean it, but so you can knock out a stuck case from the chamber. A magazine makes a good hammer for this.
- Duct tape and zip ties can be useful for field rigging a fix for holsters, slings, etc.
- Pack a baseball style cap, even if shooting indoors where sun isn't a concern.  This is mainly for keeping brass shells out of my face from the guy standing to my left.
- If it's going to be hot, don't wear a cotton shirt.  Once you get soaked in sweat, cotton gets very uncomfortable and takes a while to dry. If the temperature cools down as the sun drops, you can get cold very quickly.  Synthetic UnderArmor type shirts, or merino wool shirts are preferred.  Similarly, synthetic or wool socks are preferred over cotton socks.
- Consider bringing sunscreen and/or a shemagh or other neck scarf if it's going to be at an outdoor range. Sunburn is no fun and is distracting.
- Consider packing an extra gun if I have one, ideally the same caliber, and really ideally one that can use the same holster and mags. Note a G19 can use a G17's holster and mags, but not vice versa.  Depending on logistics it might not be worth it to pack a totally different gun with its own holster, mag pouches, mags, and ammo.
- Consider bringing a folding chair. Depending on the range and class size, there may or may not be sufficient seating.
- Consider bringing a bucket for brass. Most classes will let students keep brass that they pick up at the end of the class. People who reload or who think they might get into reloading would be silly to miss the chance to save some money and get free brass.
- Consider packing allergy medication or taking it in the morning if it's at an outdoor range.
- Depending on the range facilities, if running water isn't available, some wet wipes and/or hand sanitizer would be handy for wiping your hands prior to eating or after using the porta potty.  Don't underestimate the importance of this; I've gotten sick at least twice after shooting on ranges with no plumbing and using the portapotty without washing my hands.

Gear for carbine classes

The purpose of this post is to describe how I set up my gear and why.  Everybody's needs are different, so it's not to say that this is the best way to go, just what works for me.

 I just took a class today using a VTAC Brokos Belt with VTAC Cobra belt for the inner belt, with 3 HSGI taco mag pouches on my left side and three handgun tacos attached to them, and an Atomic Dog holster on the right side, and a dump pouch in the back that I use to hold my gloves and empty mags. I think this setup is ideal for someone who doesn't need more than 4 rifle mags, and who doesn't wear armor. If extra mags are needed, they go in the left cargo pocket. It's relatively comfortable even with all the weight on the hips since the belt spreads the weight over a large area. And you can put on and take off the whole rig in about 1 second using the Cobra buckle. I don't have to change anything to switch to a different rifle system since the tacos can hold any rifle mag. This is very nice for me because I usually run an AK, but sometimes I run an AR. My dump pouch is a cheap 5.11 one. As far as I can see, there is no need for anything fancy in a dump pouch.   The gloves I run are Mechanix MPact, which have been working well for me. I would recommend at least having gloves on you if you're going to run a carbine, since the handguard and barrel can get very hot after rapid fire.  A quad rail AR handguard can be sharp, and an AK especially has lots of sharp edges all over it.

The HSGI tacos are expensive but really nice. They fit any rifle mags, the retention is adjustable, you can attach a pistol mag pouch to it, you can run bullets forward or backwards as you wish without changing anything, and they're fast since there's no retention device like a flap or bungee strap.

The Brokos belt is a lightly padded MOLLE belt that uses an inner belt to provide the tension around your waist and a buckle. It buckles around your waist over the top of your pants belt(which is not the same as the inner belt). The Brokos belt has the nice feature that you can expose the inner belt to the outside and use your existing OWB holster or other belt mounted accessories. It's also light and comfortable. The downside is that it isn't really anchored to your pants belt, so it can ride up a little bit. I found that it only rides up on my hips when I drop to prone, but then when I stood up, it automatically went back down to its normal position without me having to adjust it in any way. So it wasn't really a big deal.
On sizing: the inner belt should be a little bit longer than usual, since it has to go outside your pants waistband and your pants belt. The Brokos belt can be quite a big longer than usual, since that just means that the MOLLE extends closer to your centerline.
I wear 34 or 35 inch waistband pants, and I have the Brokos belt in XL, but the inner Cobra belt in Large. I originally tried the XL Cobra belt but it was too long and the excess was getting in the way of my holster. The Large Cobra belt is almost a little too small, but is workable. If I were to do it again I would probably go with the XL and just trim it down.

I don't like chest rigs because they can be uncomfortable when you go prone.  Also, if you're training in the rain or cold, if you have a chest rig, you have to take it off and on when you want to add or remove layers of clothing. You may or may not need to do the same thing for the battle belt, but a battle belt comes off and on much easier.

I would avoid any double(meaning two mags in one compartment, like this: mag pouches because if you take one of the mags out, then the other one is loose and can fall out, unless you remember to reapply the velcro or other retention device. Each mag should go in its own compartment that has its own retention.
Kydex mag pouches are great but if you have too many of them with fully loaded mags on your belt, the weight becomes uncomfortable and most designs don't have any way to attach pistol mag pouches.

Some people would say that you should 'train as you would fight'.  I would agree with that, except for the fact that in my lifestyle, I wouldn't really ever use the carbine in a fight unless it was a serious SHTF where anything goes and more gear would be appropriate.  I leave my carbines in the gun safe and I have a quick access lock box with a handgun in it for emergencies.  That said, I do think that beginners to carbine training should keep their gear simple and inexpensive so they can look at what other people are running and get an idea of how it works.

For a relatively slick setup, I'd probably just go with one or two kydex Ready Tactical mag pouches and then run the rest out of pockets, and have one dump pouch for empties.  The Ready Tactical pouches are relatively inexpensive and you can run your AR mags bullets pointing forward or to the rear.  I prefer pointing to the rear, but that's something each individual has to decide for themselves.  The 'operator pants' have two pockets that are just the right size for AR mags and will fit AK mags too. They're the horizontal slits right below the plastic D-rings on the belt loops.

For info on carbine legality in California, see
Between featureless carbines and bullet button carbines, I would definitely go for featureless. Being able to use the mag release normally is well worth not having a flash hider or collapsible stock or the other evil features.  On the negative side, I have found that not being able to wrap my thumb around the grip makes it harder to do rapid fire consistently.  Also, on an AR, you're going to want to install an ambi safety if you're right handed, since your thumb will be on the right side of the rifle.  Featureless rifles can also be used with legally owned pre-ban magazines, while bullet button rifles can not.  I like the Solar tactical grip wraps, which bolt on to a normal pistol grip and therefore can be easily removed if you visit or move to a free state.

If you go the bullet button route, the gpik works reasonably well:
You stick it on your middle finger and can use it to drop the mag. It does require you to be fairly precise to poke the bullet button in exactly the right place.  One caveat: if you have to draw your pistol, it really messes with your grip.

If you are running 10 round magazines, I would recommend getting 10/30 magazines, which are 30 round magazines that have been internally blocked to only hold 10 rounds and then permanently fixed so they can't be disassembled.  The reason I recommend 10/30 mags  this is that they will fit in normal pouches, and you can get a much better grip on them for malfunction clearing and tactical reloads, compared to short 10 round magazines.  Solar Tactical has 10/30 mags or the kits to make them.  If you want to make them yourself, you'll need disassembled mag rebuild kits, which can be had from Solar Tactical, or,, or, among others.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Training scars: "Cruiser ready" with hammer down on a pump shotgun

A lot of people advocate leaving one's pump action shotgun in 'cruiser ready' or 'cruiser safe', which means that the chamber is empty, the mag tube is fully loaded, and the trigger has been pulled, so that you can just rack the shotgun to get a round into the tube and fight.

In my opinion, the step of pulling the trigger while the mag tube is loaded is unsafe and unnecessary. It eventually could lead to a negligent discharge if a round somehow found its way into the chamber due to inattention.

Regardless of the potential safety issues, I think it's preferable to train always hitting the action release lever the first time that you rack the bolt.  That way, the bolt will come back whether or not it was locked forward.  It doesn't take any significant extra time and is more reliable.

I had long had this opinion, but I was reminded of it recently in a Magpul Dynamics shotgun class where Chris Costa said something to the same effect.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Quick and easy cleaning after shooting corrosive ammo

I shoot a lot of Yugoslavian 7.62x39 ammo in my AK.  It's corrosive, so I do make sure to clean the gun afterwards, but I think a lot of people spend way too much time and effort on it.  The entire cleaning process shouldn't take longer than about 10 minutes.

Key concepts:
The primers in corrosive ammo contains salts that attract and hold water, causing rust.  The salts are water soluble.   The best way to get rid of them is to wash them away with water.  The idea of 'neutralizing' the salts with ammonia or other chemicals is not necessary, and is dubious as to whether it works at all.   Heating the water or adding soap would help in the cleaning but is more effort and is unnecessary.  We want to make sure that the water we use to clean the gun doesn't get trapped in any nooks and crannies and cause rust itself. So we either displace it with WD-40 or use Ballistol which will protect the gun until after the water evaporates.

Ballistol is a gun oil that emulsifies in water.  When you use Ballistol diluted with water, the water component can dissolve the corrosive salts, and then when/as it evaporates, the oil component is left behind to protect from rust.

I have 2 different procedures that I use, depending on how dirty it is.

Procedure 1, for when it's really dirty:
1) Field strip the gun, and spray everything dirty in the gun with water from a hose, including the bore.  If you can get hot water to come out of your hose, that would be desirable, but if not, cold water is fine. If there are patches of crud that aren't coming off, brush them with a bronze brush while spraying them with water.
2) Run a boresnake through the bore a few times with a light coating of CLP or similar oil on the brush part.  Wash the boresnake later with the hose to get rid of any residual salts.
3) Spray everywhere that water was sprayed with WD-40 to displace the remaining water. This does not include the bore, since the snake + oiling should have taken care of that.
4) Wipe everything down with paper towels.
5) On parts of the gun that need lubrication, add gun oil or grease.  I wouldn't consider the WD-40 a good lube in itself.

Procedure 2, for when it's not that dirty:
1) Field strip the gun. With a spray bottle full of Ballistol diluted 1 part Ballistol to 9 parts water, spray everything dirty in the gun, including the bore.
2) Run a boresnake through the bore a few times with a light coating of CLP or similar oil on the brush part.  Wash the boresnake later with the hose to get rid of any residual salts.
3) Wipe everything down with paper towels
4) Lubricate the gun as needed.

Neither procedure should take more than 10 minutes, and you can probably get it down to less than 5 with practice.

On an AK, the key parts to clean are the chamber and bore, the gas tube, the bolt and bolt carrier, the muzzle brake and the threads on the end of barrel.

I've run my AK during training days where shooting started around 9 am, it was raining the whole day, and I cleaned the gun at about 7 pm, with no rust or corrosion.  I've shot about 1500 - 2000 rounds of the Yugo ammo total. I could probably get by with less cleaning, but this is a level of cleaning that I have found to be fast and effective.

Some other links that you might find useful and are sufficiently lazy for me:

Shooting and cleaning after corrosive ammo (Box of Truth)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Comment page for the list of San Francisco Bay Area firearms trainers

This is a placeholder for comments about the trainer list which is at

I made this because static pages can't receive comments, but blog posts can.

Training scars: no-look holstering

This one is probably somewhat controversial.  See for a disclaimer on my qualifications or lack thereof.

A lot of trainers focus on always holstering without looking.  I think this is overrated in terms of importance.  Remember, you only holster once you are fairly certain the situation is over.  One should always holster slowly and reluctantly, for safety purposes.  So, it's a relatively safe time, when looking down for one second is not that big of a lapse in awareness.

It has happened before that a piece of someone's shirt or various straps or other pieces of gear get snagged on the trigger as a person goes to holster, causing an unintended discharge even though the person was keeping his finger straight and away from the trigger.   This is especially likely with concealment holsters that hold the gun close to the body.  Holstering slowly and carefully would also help prevent that, and the shooter should pause if he feels any resistance while holstering. 
But taking a quick peek would certainly help prevent this issue as well.

Practicing holstering without looking is a useful skill that people should practice, that could be useful in some limited situations.  But I think it is overemphasized sometimes.

Edit- FYI, I recently took a class from Kyle Defoor, who advocated looking at the holster as you holster, for pretty much the same reasons as above.

Training scars: fast scan and assess

One common practice in firearms training is to scan and assess after finishing a firing string.  The purpose is to break tunnel vision after focusing on the target, and to maintain awareness of your surroundings. This is a good idea, but in practice it's sometimes done in a way that's less than optimal. 

A lot of people swivel their heads to the left and right really fast.  The problem with this is that if you turn your head that fast, it's hard to actually see anything.  It would be better to turn your head relatively slowly, enough that you can pick out distinct details.  If you actually can see things while moving your head that fast, that's fine, but make sure you can.  It's good to try to actually pick something to the side of or behind you that you see and take note of, just to force yourself to look for real.

Another common practice is to only look left and right.  It would be better to make sure to look behind you as well. 

 There's also some small controversy over whether or not the muzzle should move with your eyes.  I think that obviously if you're going to look to your sides or behind you, you can't keep the muzzle pointed in those directions, so it's better to keep it simple and keep the gun pointed at the original target or straight down while you look.

Center Mass Group on Habits of highly effective shooters

Center Mass Group is run by retired Navy Seals, and they have an excellent blog.  I especially like their series "Seven habits of highly effective shooters", which is about the fundamentals of marksmanship.  Articles so far:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

handgun correction chart

From time to time, on a forum someone will ask about shooting problems that they're having, and someone will post this chart, or one like it:

 It's fine for what it is, but realize that 
a) It was made for shooters shooting one handed bullseye style
b) There can be many causes for shooting errors in any given direction, so don't take the chart as gospel. 

I like this one better: (seen on at