Tactical Firearms Training
We often get requests from students to put together a recommended equipment list to save time and money. Most of these recommendations are through trial and error. Quality equipment will cost a few more dollars up front, but in the long run save you money over time. Some restrictions might apply depending on your Agency or Operational needs and/or requirements. This is a guideline not a rule. If you have any questions feel free to contact me.
These are just that, Recommendations. For those who are looking for new gear to make your job easier, hopefully this will guide you in a fitting direction. We welcome all modern firearms and equipment to our courses. This is not an equipment list for our courses. These are simply recommendations based on trial and error. We are confident our trials, prevent your errors.
Choosing A Defensive Handgun
We receive many questions in reference to “What is the best Defensive Handgun?” There are so many handguns out there being manufactured by numerous companies choosing what is right for you can be very challenging. Here are our recommendations to help you with a difficult choice.
There are two primary considerations to keep in mind Reliability and Efficiency. Our primary recommendation for a defensive firearm is a modern striker fire or “safe action” pistol. All modern striker fire type handguns have a consistent trigger pull that is short, consistent, and light compared to other models. There are no additional safeties, buttons or levers to worry about. The design of the lower bore height helps with lowering the felt recoil as well. There are three manufacturers’ we’d recommend that fall into this category Glock, Smith & Wesson M&P, and the Springfield XD line of pistols.
To narrow the field down the next step is to get your hands on these pistols. You need to “get a grip” pun intended. Finding the handgun that has the best fit and fell for you is very important. Gripping the handgun, do you have the ability to reach the controls? Does it feel good in your hand? The size depends on your intended usage. If you’re looking for a handgun for Home Defense then you should choose something in the Medium to Full Size Frames. If you’re considering getting something for Concealed Carry you might like to have one in the Sub-Compact to Compact Frame size. The trade off between the Mid-Size and Compact and smaller is going to be recoil management.
The least important but something else to consider is the price? In the long run one of these will save you money over time. Don’t settle for what you can afford purchase a quality firearm.
Other Alternative Models:
There are other models out there and we’ll cover each type along with pros and cons.
Double Action Only, we rate as acceptable. These have long heavy trigger pulls that create problems with maintaining effective hits. The long trigger pull increases the time between shots along with increased bore height which in turn increases the felt recoil.
Double Action/Single Action, is the most complicated of all the different types as they have two distinct trigger pulls. Along with the addition of buttons and/or levers to decock these. They also have increased bore height, resulting in more felt recoil.
Single Action Only, we’re going to consider these as a poor choice as they have an unacceptable failure rate, coupled with the complexity of the manual safety, and the majority have a lower round capacity.
Double Action Revolver’s, these are a viable option, they have all the disadvantages of a double action pistol, they have a lower capacity, and are more complex when it comes to reloading. However, they are easy to carry, especially the compact models and are easy to operate. The optimal caliber would be in 38 special, recoil is easy to manage, just like the 9mm.
What Caliber should you choose?
A viable caliber should be some were between a .380 to 10mm. An acceptable caliber is in the 38 to 45 range. Our preferred choice in caliber is a 9mm for a couple of different reasons Capacity (California excluded), Recoil Management, Cost, and Wounding Capacity. Recoil management and wounding capacity work hand in hand, if you can control recoil better, having the barrel lined up on target quicker gives you the ability to put more rounds on target. More rounds on target provides the ability to inflict additional damage when firing “Combat Efficient” shots. Through medical empirical evidence from doctors the difference between one caliber to the next is negligible after examining the aftermath of a critical incident through autopsy. Lastly, when we look at the cost of shooting the 9mm has a much lower than the other calibers.
Choosing Defensive Ammunition:
There are so many choices in ammunition out there these days as well, choosing an effective and reliable round can be a nightmare. Our recommendation is to use a Modern Heavy Bonded Hollow Point. “Heavy” meaning for the caliber’s bullet weight is the heaviest offered. Examples of the different calibers: 9mm 147 grain, 40 S&W 180 grain, 45 auto 230 grains, etc. “Bonded” means through a process of electro and/or electro chemical bonding of the bullet jacket to its core.
After selecting your defensive round you’ll need to put that round through a Defensive Ammo Reliability Test in YOUR firearm. The test is simple, fire 50 rounds of defensive ammo through your gun with ZERO malfunctions. If you encounter one malfunction choose a different round or manufacturer and put it though the same test. Once you find the best defensive ammo that works the best in your firearm you should fire at least 200 rounds annually to be able to know the difference, as training ammo with have a much different feel than you defensive loads.
Glock’s are a “Safe Action” pistol which employs innovative safety features that make the pistol easy to operate. I prefer both the standard and compact versions. A compact version allows you to wear it concealed, for duty and with a light attached. Compact versions will take the full sized magazines, but will extend out a tad. The 9mm G17 and G19 are the most universal guns in my opinion.
Pistol: Springfield XD
XD’s combine safety with quality and ease of use. Their new Ultra Safety Assurance (U.S.A.TM) Action Trigger System, the polymer framed pistol is as comfortable as it is safe. Available in Sub-Compact 3”, Service Model 4”, and the Tactical Model 5”. All come in black some models are offered in an OD Green finish. All models offer the same trigger safety, a grip safety, and a visible striker status indicator that enables the shooter to verify that the striker is in the cocked position either visibly or by touch.
These firearms have a small overall grip circumference for those with smaller hands. This feature is a nice benefit to these firearms is you’re able to have better control by establishing a positive master-grip. They are offered in 9mm, 40, & 45ACP.
Pistol: Smith & Wesson M&P
The versatile M&P puts optimal performance in every hand with uniquely designed, ambidextrous features. The flat profile slide stop operates easily for both left and right handed users without protruding for inadvertent catch or engagement. The magazine release can be reversed from left to right side simply and quickly. Models with the thumb safety are not recommended.
Unfortunately for those of us who live in California there is only one model left in the semi-auto line up left on the “Roster of Safe Handguns” that’s the M&P Shield. The Shield in 9mm is a single stack that is one of the best concealed carry firearms available today. It is available in 9mm and 40 S&W, we highly recommend it in 9mm, as the single stack profile is a handfull in .40 with 3 times the amount of felt recoil.