Consider getting a copy of Tiger Mckee’s The Book of Two Guns. You won’t be disappointed. (I happened on it quite by chance and it’s been on my what-to-get-for-the-shooter-who-has-everything list since.)
With respect to “injured shooter drills”: The slide on a 1911 may be racked using the rear sight and your belt, provided you’re not equipped with Novaks. Hook the rear sight on the upper edge of your belt, strong side, and you’ll find you can actuate the slide very rapidly and without difficulty.
Novaks are, IMAO, a nice fashion feature, but little else. (Heresy!) If you consider how you draw a pistol, and the manner in which you’re likely to snag it, you’ll immediately see that Novak sights are designed backwards. If ramping the rear sight is to have utility, it should be inclined from the rear toward the muzzle. As it is, Novaks provide a bit more surface area for slapping the slide shut with the heel of your hand, but contribute little more. Add to this the confusing “3-dot” pattern and you can see why I don’t like them.
I much prefer XS Express Sights. They are robust, intuitive and highly visible. If tritium isn’t your thing or cash is an issue consider a set of King-Tappan sights. (BTW, the “Tappan” in the name is the survivalist gun writer Mel Tappan.) They have a simple yellow dot front and a white “block” rear (for a “dot the i” sight picture.) They also feature a handy 100-yard index line that aids in long-distance shooting with the 1911.
In sum, it remains as Jeff Cooper pointed out long ago: “…all the 1911 really needs is a trigger that you can manage, sights that you can see and a dehorning job.” K.I.S.S.!. Regards, – Moriarty
On the subject of the 1911, I consider it the finest pistol a survivalist can own, as it is accurate, reliable and easy to repair PROVIDED on has the knowledge and parts. Too often however people spend a lot of cash getting custom fitted parts which make it impossible to use replacement parts without hand fitting them. If you use a 1911 you must have one which accepts mil spec parts, even if you have to have the guts replaced. When mil spec parts are used, you can carry just about all the replacement parts you will need in a life time in a medium-sized pill bottle. If your weapon is a custom fitted super gun, then you had better be a gunsmith or all the parts in the world won’t do you a bit of good.
As for the Glocks (and the Steyrs, H&Ks, Taurus and a bizillion other polymer pistols), they are fine for what they are, inexpensive, disposable firearms developed for modern military organizations. You have to understand, militaries don’t buy one or a dozen handguns, they buy thousands and tens of thousands. Nor do they buy them with the idea that they are to last for (more or less) a lifetime, but for twenty or twenty-five years. The military wants a huge number of bullet-throwers, they don’t really care if they are not particularly accurate or if they don’t fit the average hand well, or whether they can be easily repaired by the average grunt. A Glock to me is like a Bic lighter, it will start a fire and it’s easier to deal with than a Zippo but a Zippo won’t explode if it get too hot, nor can you replace the flint in a Bic. I’ve seen a Glock whose frame was warped by sitting in a car (admittedly in a desert area, and I suspect there was more to the story, like something heavy laying on it), I’ve seen cracked frames on Glocks, and I’ve seen more than a few that were damaged in incidents that a 1911 would have shrugged off. Once the polymer frame is damaged it is nearly impossible to repair, while steel can be repaired and is a heck of a lot harder to significantly damage in the first place.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t see the advantages of polymer weapons, I’m planning to get a Taurus 24/7 soon myself, but I’m willing to bet that 50 years from now my 1911s will be going strong in the hands of my grandkids, will the Taurus (or a Glock)? I’m not willing to bet on it. – Warhawke
Beach mentioned the Clint Smith / Thunder Ranch doctrine that you should ALWAYS rack your pistol slide to chamber a round because:
(a) you get an extra .25″ of spring energy, to chamber a dirty round or in a dirty gun
(b) it works on all guns, e.g., battlefield pickups , or after disarming an opponent
(c) it is a gross motor movement less likely to degrade under stress
Thunder Ranch is a great school (I have taken a lot of their training) and the 3 points are valid as insofar as they go – but this portion of their doctrine really loses sight of the big picture…
If your pistol is set up that you can easily release the slide lock lever with your thumb, you should train that way because it is significantly faster than racking by hand. Shooting your gun empty in a gunfight is an extremely HIGH probability – and that extra time to rack the slide with the support hand will be one of the longest moments of your life! Don’t sacrifice your speed of reloading – that you need almost all the time – for hypothetical what-ifs that are a very low probability.
I wholeheartedly agree that you should also train extensively to “Tap the Mag / Rack the Slide / Trigger – Bang” to clear malfunctions, and ingrain the support hand slide racking motor movement. In fact I even recommend you seed your practice mags with dummy rounds so you get surprise chances to practice, and see if Tap / Rack / Bang really is an automatic reflex for you. If you are really serious, put dummy rounds in your mags for competition, and see what happens under competitive stress and time pressure.
So, in the very low probability event of a dirty gun about to malfunction, or a battlefield pickup, the correct movement to make it work will be ingrained in you. But don’t sacrifice your standard reloading speed for low probability what-ifs. (And if your pistol actually needs the extra .25″ of spring compression to chamber reliably, well, it’s time for a barrel with a looser chamber, as is standard on Glocks.)
What about the theory of your fine motor movements degrading under stress? A great theory – but think about it… To empty the gun you first had to perform 6 to 15 fine motor movements of your trigger finger! Then to get the empty mag out, you had to use the SAME slide release thumb to hit a small button to drop the empty mag! So this theory says you are good to drop the mag with your dominant hand thumb – but then you can’t handle hitting the slide release with the same thumb?!?! Yeah, I guess an overwhelming adrenaline dump could hit you, in the second between dropping the mag and hitting the slide release – but what are the odds? 😉
Funnily enough, the same “fine motor skills” argument is NOT made when it comes to hitting the bolt release button on an AR-15, vs. racking the bolt from the charging handle. Again – the best bet is to practice both ways – but make the SOP method the one that is faster and more reliable for YOU.
To top it off, as you pointed out – what if your support hand is injured? That is a very common place to get hit when you do Force on Force Training. In that what-if scenario, the racking the slide method may not work, but the thumb release of the slide will.
A bigger moral to the story is: always learn from different schools, as no one instructor is right 100% of the time. They all have strengths and weaknesses in what they teach. Furthermore what is taught as “best” is appropriate in some situations, but not in others. Always remain flexible and adaptable, and focus your training so you have SIMPLE tools and procedures that work under pressure, And now we are right back to the previous martial arts discussion! 😉
I agree with all the writers that you never want to reduce equipment reliability for a speed advantage. And I can’t speak for 1911s, but for Glocks the unobtrusive EXTENDED slide lock lever (to release the slide with your thumb) is standard on Glock 34s and 35s, and has caused me no malfunctions in many thousands of rounds of training, tactical schools, and competition. Very inexpensive and simple to install, see: Glockmeister.com Regards, – OSOM – “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”
The point, ( as it was explained to our class by Clint Smith,) in using the non-dominant hand cupped over the rear of the slide to put the weapon back in battery, is to train with a UNIVERSAL method of handgun function. Chances are, in an emergency situation that you will end up with a sidearm other than your favorite “baby” . So…..you run it dry, or there is a failure to fire or feed……WHAT NOW? Those who have spent many hours training with the universal methods of TAP, RACK, ETC. will be back in the game a lot faster, no matter what weapon is in their hands. A favorite drill that will illustrate this point is one that is standard at many fine shooting schools: With several students at the firing line, have each student set up their weapon with a malfunction (stovepipe, double feed, etc) and then set down on the ground in front of the line. Then announce that all on the line should move two spaces the the right , or one space to the left. On signal , the shooters are expected to pick up the unfamiliar weapon, clear the malfunction and shoot at the target. Once everyone is comfortable with this drill, you can up the ante by replicating it in low light or NO light situations. The simplicity of universal technique will produce both speed AND confidence….and as it has been stated here before, you WILL fight how you train. – Tom M.
P.S.: I love the “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course. Good Job!
I could spend quite some time discussing the failings of the Glock series of pistols I have seen here at the shop but I won’t. The Glock is a fine pistol but it is far from perfect. I have a strong preference for single action autos for a whole host of reasons and I have found the Browning Hi Power fits me better than anything I have ever tried. If someone out there feels that is an antiquated piece then fine, I too intend to have my heirs fight over who gets to keep mine when I have passed. Find what works for you and stick with it.
Now, on to my intent with this letter, one hand drills. I have trained a few people to shoot with one hand, some because they saw the need and some because they only have use of one hand and I too believe it is an important skill to master. If you look at the data of the FBI shooting in Miami on 11 Apr 86, more than one agent was shot in the hand/forearm and one had his pistol struck by fire. In any fight that lasts more than a few rounds it is likely that someone may well be struck in the hand or arm. If a shooter is using a two hand grip he has both hands and arms between his opponent and the center mass of his own body so it makes sense that they are likely to be hit. I will not try to explain the mechanics of one hand drills in a short letter, only to explain the importance of training for it. I will leave with one last thought and that is my hatred, yes absolute hatred, of the Novak style sights and all they have inspired. A rear sight needs to have a vertical front face to allow for many one hand drills. To charge the weapon my preferred one hand drill is to catch the rear sight on my belt and push, works quite well. I simply refuse to own gear that works against me and the Novak style sights do just that.
– Jake at The Armory www.dominionshootingrange.com