Three Gunning for Home Defense?

Two of the pistol choice contenders: Springfield Armory TRP 1911 (left) and Beretta PX4 Storm (right)

Two of the pistol choice contenders: Springfield Armory TRP 1911 with Crimson Trace Master Series Laser Grips and Lightguard (left) and Beretta PX4 Storm with Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro (right)

In a rare fit of advance planning and organization, I’m starting to think about what gear to use at this year’s Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational match. The event takes place August 12th through 17th in the high desert outside of Bend, Oregon, so I’ve got a little time.

As the event title implies, I need to pick, you guessed it, three guns to use – one handgun, shotgun and rifle. Stages are designed in such a way that you must always use at least two, and usually all three guns. Some targets require use of a specific gun type. For example, you might have to obliterate targets 1 through 9 with your pistol and targets 10 through 17 with your rifle. Other targets are optional, meaning that it’s the shooters choice whether to use a shotgun, rifle or pistol.

The event is more fun than should be legal, especially as it takes place in the absolute dark of night. Last year, shooting started sometime after 9pm and finished up some mornings near 5:30am. Who needs sleep?

This year, I’ve already decided to use the Midnight 3 Gun event as a home defense equipment trial of sorts. Rather than picking guns that are perfectly optimized to three gun competition rules, I’m going to pick guns that are reasonable to use in my home for protection of self, family and my ABBA vinyl record collection.

What does that really mean? If I was choosing to optimize for the competition and game the rules, I might select the following:

Tweaked out “competition optimized” guns like the shotgun mentioned above are obviously are not necessarily well suited for home defense. You wouldn’t want to be navigating your home in the middle of the night with a six foot long shotgun complete with magazine tube extending into the next room. A short and compact model would almost certainly be more appropriate – even if it had lower capacity.

With all that said, here’s what I am considering for each gun category:

Pistol

Last year I used a Glock 17 with rear activated laser and front activated light.

Last year I used a Glock 17 with rear activated laser and front activated light.

I’ve got a number of contenders going for the perfect home defense / M3GI pistol. Last year I shot a Glock 17 equipped with Crimson Trace Lasergrips and Crimson Trace Lightguard. It’s certainly no slouch for a home defense gun. 9mm is acceptable as a defensive round, capacity of 17+1 is solid and you can find a holster to fit a geared up Glock. But it’s a new year and a new match. I’ve been there and done that with the Glock, so I’ll be trying something different. Perhaps one of the following:

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

Try Competitions To Become A More Effective Shooter

Competition shootingThere’s a big difference between good and effective.

If you are involved in shooting purely for recreation and the joy of punching holes in paper or tin cans, then being a good shooter is, well, good enough.

If you intend to use your gun for self or home defense, then you need to think about how to become a more effective shooter.

What’s the difference?

When you’re enjoying a range outing with family and friends, you can be really, really good. Your shots impact where you want and they’re all impressively close together. When it comes time to reload or change magazines, no worries, you can chit chat about that new gun you want while leisurely preparing for the next round of shots. Hurrying or running around while trying to shoot would put a real damper on your ability to make pretty target patterns. You’ve got all day, and when time isn’t a factor, you are one impressive shooter!

That’s good, as long as you aren’t planning to use these “impressive shooter”qualifications for self-defense needs. If you intend to have a gun for personal protection or home defense, then you need to be effective, not just good. You need to safely operate your gun and get shots on target when the conditions are the worst imaginable—exactly the opposite of those fun days at the range.

One way to become a more effective shooter is to introduce a little bit of pressure and stress into your shooting routine. In this issue of First Shots News, Barbara Baird talks about various types of competitive shooting, so I’ll focus on what those competitions can do to make you more effective.

Even though some shooting competitions, like International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) mimic self- or home-defense situations, they won’t help you much with specific defensive tactics. They will, however, help you master core skills that can contribute to your ability to use a gun in a defensive situation. Let’s consider some skills you can improve by shooting competitively.

Read the rest in the National Shooting Sports Foundations First Shots Newsletter!

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

How To Get Started Trap Shooting

Trap Shooting-1-2
Recently, I wrote The Rookie’s Introduction to Clay Shooting to help new folks get a handle on what the various clay shooting sports are all about.

Now, let’s get serious and take a look at how to get started.

Although you can start your clay target shooting career in any of the primary disciplines – trap, skeet or sporting clays, I might encourage new shotgun shooters to take a run at trap shooting first. It’s not a hard and fast rule, just an opinion from some guy on the internet. (That would be me.)

Here’s why I tend to favor starting with trap shooting first. Because I did. But seriously, while my first foray into the shotgun sports was on the trap field, it was by pure coincidence and not a result of deliberate effort. That turned out to be a good thing.

Here’s why.

In American Trap, you shoot at targets moving away from you at predictable angles. This means they’re easier to hit – especially for beginners. In the singles version of trap, you only get one shot at each target.

At the big regional and national competitions, you will see top shooters hit several hundred targets without a single miss. The competition might only be 200 targets total, but when the tie breakers start, competitors might shoot hundreds more targets before someone misses.

Lest you think becoming a trap shooting expert is easy, think about the mental voodoo games your brain does when you’ve hit 20, 50 or even 100 targets in a row. There’s some serious jinxing going on about hitting the next one. The top trap shooters are absolute masters when it comes to handling pressure and keeping focus on one thing only – the next target. People describe a trap competition as 200 consecutive one-shot competitions.

We’re getting ahead of ourselves talking about serious trap competition, but I only mention that as an illustration. It’s easy to get “sorta good” quickly. After a couple of rounds, with some basic instruction, you’ll be breaking more targets than you miss. That’s satisfying and will keep you coming back for more.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!
Be sure to check out our latest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition 2nd Edition 2014. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Introduction to Shotgun Sports

Trap Shooting: Competitors fire at targets moving away from the shooting line.

Trap Shooting: Competitors fire at targets moving away from the shooting line.

When I first expressed interest in the shotgun shooting sports, I was completely confused.

In their enthusiasm to share the sport, all my shotgun friends started right into detailed knowledge and tips and tricks. For example, they talked to me about how to aim a shotgun, how to get ‘classified’ and how to lead clay targets. All good intentions aside, no one stopped talking long enough to appreciate how little I knew. Without a basic understanding of the games, how was I to know what these things meant?

Imagine a lifelong resident of, oh say, Gardone Val Trompia, Italy, asking about American Football. If you started talking about safeties, chop blocks and intentional grounding rules, they’d likely be confused. It’s the same situation for someone new to competitive shotgun sports. What are shotgun sports? Is trap shooting the same as skeet or sporting clays? What are the differences? Which one might I like? What are clay pigeons? Are they remote-controlled? Do you have to feed them?

If you’re new to shotgun sports, or clays shooting, you might enjoy this quick and practical guide.

All shotgun sports have one thing in common. You blast hunks of clay out of the sky.

To expand on that just a bit, all use targets called clay pigeons. No, they do not look like pigeons – they look like little Frisbees about four inches in diameter. Instead of plastic, they’re made of clay. Launching machines, called “traps” fling them off into space in different directions depending on which clay shooting discipline we’re talking about. With all clay shotgun sports, the idea is for you to hit this rapidly flying clay target and shatter it to bits. It’s ridiculously fun and addictive in a healthy way. The first time you break a target, you’ll be hooked. I guarantee it.

Now let’s take a quick look at the three major shotgun sports. Each has variants within that we’ll cover in upcoming articles.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

 

Grab a copy of Tom’s free eBook, A Fistful of Shooting Tips. It will help make you a better shooter and the envy of your range in no time.

Shooting Myth: Competitive Shooting Will Get You Killed On the Street

Competitive Shooting is not only fun, it can help you build basic skills.

Competitive Shooting is not only fun, it can help you build basic skills.

Why is it that Internet opinions are so binary? Black or white, right or wrong, my way or the highway – it’s kind of like politics in the real world.

  • 45 is the only caliber! Because you only need to shoot once!
  • 9mm is fantastic – if you want to shoot balloons.
  • Competitive shooting skills will get you killed on the street!

As with anything in life, there is rarely all right or all wrong. I tend to think in terms of better, better still, and even more better. Or on the flip side, I like to consider worse, way worse, and worse than Piers Morgan’s ratings.

Listening to Internet arguments about the merits of competitive shooting, one might think that if you practice competition skills, you’ll instantly burst into flames and self-immolate should you find yourself in a self-defense situation.

A few weeks ago, I was watching an episode of Shooting USA with my college-age son and his roommates. We were having a great time – me feeling young, hip and cool, and them looking at their watches every few minutes.

Anyway, this particular Shooting USA episode included coverage of the IDPA Indoor Championships. If you don’t know, IDPA stands for International Defensive Pistol Association. In their words,

IDPA is the use of practical equipment including full charge service ammunition to solve simulated “real world” self-defense scenarios using practical handguns and holsters that are suitable for self-defense use. The main goal is to test the skill and ability of an individual.

In other words, it’s a competition structured to partially mimic potential real-life defensive encounters. In the interest of making competitions fun and stimulating, the “real-life” part tends to get a little stretched now and then.

For example, at the IDPA Indoor National Championships, one stage in particular appeared immensely fun, but just a tad outside the bounds of reality. It was an example of duck hunting gone horribly wrong. The shooter is placed in a duck blind, when suddenly a band of terrorists (or maybe hunting thugs intent on duck-jacking) makes their way across the front of your blind in a tactical rowboat. You have a short window of opportunity to deal with them as the entrance and exit of the “battle boat” are obscured with weeds or some form of aquatic plant life. Oh, there’s a hostage in the boat-jacking scenario that you can’t shoot. No word if that’s supposed to represent Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty.

Your mission, and you WILL accept it as you’re competing in the IDPA Indoor National Championships, is to take out the Duck Commandos as quickly as you can, without shooting Uncle Si, and before the boatload of doom escapes into the weeds.

Lest you think this sounds easy, the Duck Commandos planned in advance and had sniper over watch. When you start perforating the rowboat, the accomplices pop up all over the place from their hides, and you have to take them out too. You have to reload at least once in the process of filling the room with smoke and that delicious powder smell. Yum! I love the smell of what bad and uninformed novelists call cordite in the morning!

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

How To Install Flash Hiders Or Muzzle Brakes on the M1A or M14

One of the ongoing tinkering projects around here has been customization of a Springfield Armory M1A Standard, which we reviewed a while back. One of the first things done to this rifle was installation of a tritium sight post for low-light capability with the iron sights. We chose the Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sight (TCCS) and mounted that front sight assembly on the standard front sight dovetail.

So far so good!

I need (OK, want) to mount the Smith Enterprise Vortex and Good Iron Muzzle Brake on a standard M1A, but there are a few steps to complete first...

I need (OK, want) to mount the Smith Enterprise Vortex and Good Iron Muzzle Brake on a standard M1A, but there are a few steps to complete first…

But now it’s time to get crazy with flash suppressors and muzzle brakes. Yeah, I know, those are contradictory things, but as this is a tinkering project, we’re going to try both at different times and report on the results. We’re going to compare the Smith Enterprise M1A / M14 Direct Connect Vortex and the Smith Enterprise Good Iron Muzzle Brake. Not to each other, but to a factory standard configuration. Stay tuned for separate articles on how well they control flash and compensate for recoil compared to the default setup.

But, like many of those Saturday honey-do projects, this one also has somewhat of a domino effect. If you remove the standard flash hider from an M1A or M14, you lose the front sight dovetail. As I really like having iron sights on this rifle, it’s time to figure out how to keep a front iron sight while being able to swap out the standard flash hider with other options.

Enter the Smith Enterprise Gas Lock Front Sight.

Smith Enterprise offers a couple different options that allow installation of a front sight on top of the gas lock instead on top of the standard bird cage flash hider. For flexibility, we’re going to install the Smith Enterprise GLFS-D-22, which is designed for standard 22″ barrels. It’s really more of a front sight platform as it features standard male dovetail. This allows you to reinstall the factory front sight on top of the gas lock or use an upgraded version like the Smith Enterprise TCCS or match sight models.

Let’s get busy:

Before we can do anything with aftermarket flash hiders and muzzle brakes, we need to relocate the front sight back to the gas lock. This assumes you want to keep iron sights. If you don’t, you can just remove the default flash hider and not worry about the gas lock.

An easily overlooked step is removal of the retaining screw which prevent the castle nut from moving!

An easily overlooked step is removal of the retaining screw which prevents the castle nut from moving!

You’re going to want to remove the barreled action from the stock to make things a bit easier. It also helps to put the barrel in a padded vise, as the castle nut can be tight. You’ll need a pair of castle nut pliers which you can get at Brownells for about $15.

Use the castle nut pliers to loosen the nut. Looking from the breech end, the nut will turn clockwise.

Use the castle nut pliers to loosen the nut. Looking from the breech end, the nut will turn clockwise.

Once the bond is broken loose with the castle nut pliers, loosed the nut a little bit. Then slide the flash hider forward. Then loosen the nut some more. Then slide forward. And so on. Eventually it will come off.

Once the bond is broken loose with the castle nut pliers, loosen the nut a little bit. Then slide the flash hider forward. Then loosen the nut some more. Then slide forward. And so on. Eventually it will come off.

Voila!

Voila!

Since I’m going to keep my front sights, I need to move the base to the gas lock. Loosen the gas plug and remove it. This should be fairly easy. Remember, this is a dry area, so don’t slop gun oil all over it!

When you remove the gas plug, you can clean it off, but keep it oil-free.

When you remove the gas plug, you can clean it off, but keep it oil-free.

Now it’s time to remove the gas lock. This should also be fairly easy. Just unscrew it until it slides off the barrel.

Just unscrew the existing gas lock and remove.

Just unscrew the existing gas lock and remove.

Now just screw the Smith Enterprise Gas Lock Front Sight dovetail into place.

Now just screw the Smith Enterprise Gas Lock Front Sight dovetail into place.

When the new GLFS is lined up correctly, reinstall the gas plug.

When the new GLFS is lined up correctly, reinstall the gas plug.

Now, just mount your front sight on the new GLFS dovetail.

Now, just mount your front sight on the new GLFS dovetail.

Since you’ve moved the front sight post to a new base, you’ll need to head to the range and re-zero your rifle. Bummer, time to go shooting!

Job completed!

Job completed!

After relocating the front sight to the Smith Enterprise Gas Lock Front Sight dovetail, I reinstalled the standard flash hider, but only because I want to try to get some nifty before and after muzzle blast photos when we go to the next step – installing the Smith Enterprise Vortex Flash Hider.

Shooting At Night Photos From The Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational

The Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational was a dual purpose event. The first two nights provided shooting industry media an opportunity to shoot the match before the pro 3 Gunners arrived for the Friday and Saturday night competition. Sponsoring vendors also set up demonstrations at the range during daylight hours to test out some of their latest gear.

Here’s a look:

Why not hold a 3 Gun match in the middle of the night? It works for match sponsor Crimson Trace!

Why not hold a 3 Gun match in the middle of the night? It works for match sponsor Crimson Trace!

It looks so easy in the daytime, doesn't it?

It looks so easy in the daytime, doesn’t it?

These targets are about to get perforated by a full-auto FN SCAR.

These targets are about to get perforated by a full-auto FN SCAR.

Getting ready to shoot! Note the LED shoes!

Getting ready to shoot! Note the LED shoes!

A horde of targets...

A horde of targets…

The Central Oregon Shooting Sports Association range facility was fantastic.

The Central Oregon Shooting Sports Association range facility was fantastic.

The business end of a Colt Competition Rifle.

The business end of a Colt Competition Rifle.

Jawin' with Ryan from GunTalk Television.

Jawin’ with Ryan from GunTalk Television.

Colt Competition shooters providing some spotting assistance. Wyatt Gibson, with the binocs, toop top Junior honors.

Colt Competition shooters providing some spotting assistance. Wyatt Gibson, with the binocs, took top Junior honors.

Lot's of really sweet rifles were on hand at Media Range Day.

Lot’s of really sweet rifles were on hand at Media Range Day.

Will you see Ryan Gresham working the MGM spinner target on a future episode of GunTalk Television? I guess we'll see.

Will you see Ryan Gresham working the MGM spinner target on a future episode of GunTalk Television? I guess we’ll see.

Caleb Giddings and Chris Cerino in a little long-range snubby revolver shooting challenge.

Caleb Giddings and Chris Cerino in a little long-range snubby revolver shooting challenge.

Just a little bit of muzzle blast...

Just a little bit of muzzle blast…

Jerry Miculek waiting for the match to start.

Jerry Miculek waiting for the match to start.

The Nosler stage had a variety of short range targets and some long range rifle plates in the distance.

The Nosler stage had a variety of short-range targets and some long-range rifle plates in the distance.

Kay Miculek tries to break daughter Lena's concentration prior to the start...

Kay Miculek tries to break daughter Lena’s concentration prior to the start…

A good pre-match omen! The weather was perfect throughout.

A good pre-match omen! The weather was perfect throughout.

A pre-match stage briefing. No, it's not dark enough yet!

A pre-match stage briefing. No, it’s not dark enough yet!

Kind of creepy?

Kind of creepy?

Belt-mounted chem lights were used to identify competitors and range officers. A brilliant safety precaution!

Belt-mounted chem lights were used to identify competitors and range officers. A brilliant safety precaution!

Note the last two popper targets falling to a barrage of 12 gauge shot from a box-magazine Saiga.

Note the last two popper targets falling to a barrage of 12 gauge shot from a box-magazine Saiga.

The Stage planners had a great time hiding shotgun targets behind barrels. Twice as hard to find in the dark!

The Stage planners had a great time hiding shotgun targets behind barrels. Twice as hard to find in the dark!

Stage walk through.

Stage walk through.

House clearing with a light and laser-equipped AR-15.

House clearing with a light and laser-equipped AR-15.

Highly-visible green lasers were popular.

Highly-visible green lasers were popular.

Note all the brass in the air from the full auto PWS Diablo. This side match was during daylight hours.

Note all the brass in the air from the full auto PWS Diablo. This side match was during daylight hours.

This car got pretty beat up by by four straight nights of grenade catching.

This car got pretty beat up by four straight nights of grenade catching.

Nope. Not quite dark enough to start the evening events.

Nope. Not quite dark enough to start the evening events.

Jerry, Kay and Lena Miculek gearing up.

Jerry, Kay and Lena Miculek gearing up.

A Primary Weapons System Diablo and an AAC suppressed Glock - some of the required gear for a house clearing stage.

A Primary Weapons System Diablo and an AAC suppressed Glock – some of the required gear for a house clearing stage.

Gearing up before sunset.

Gearing up before sunset.

Top Shot winner Chris Cheng strategizing for his first stage of the night.

Top Shot winner Chris Cheng strategizing for his first stage of the night.

Taking aim at some handgun targets in the dark.

Taking aim at some handgun targets in the dark.

Note the path of the light and laser. The green one at left shows the path of the shotgun laser.

Note the path of the light and laser. The green one at left shows the path of the shotgun laser.

Nothing quite like a little machine-gunning in the dark!

Nothing quite like a little machine-gunning in the dark!

Getting ready to unleash the SAW, which of course was equipped with night vision optics!

Getting ready to unleash the SAW, which of course was equipped with night vision optics!

A time lapse view of a stage in the event.

A time-lapse view of a stage in the event.

Top Junior Shooter Wyatt Gibson of Team Colt Competition receives his award.

Top Junior Shooter Wyatt Gibson of Team Colt Competition receives his award.

Lena Miculek took the Top Ladies Prize.

Lena Miculek took the Top Ladies Prize.

Once again, US Army Marksmanship Unit shooter Daniel Horner took top overall honors.

Once again, US Army Marksmanship Unit shooter Daniel Horner took top overall honors.

 

Crimson Trace’s Midnight 3 Gun Invitational: Enlightened in the Dark

How does a company prove that they have absolute faith in their products?

Unloading an AR-15, in the middle of the night, as fast as you can acquire targets, looks kind of like this. Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Event

Unloading an AR-15, in the middle of the night, as fast as you can acquire targets, looks kind of like this. Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Event

If you’re Crimson Trace, and your products were designed to help our warfighters, peace officers, and armed citizens protect themselves more effectively, you might…

  • Invite a bunch of folks to the middle of the desert.
  • Tell them to be sure to arrive in the middle of the night.
  • Encourage them to bring not one gun, but three. And plenty of ammunition.
  • Ask them to use your light and laser products.
  • Then, after all that, have them run around and shoot stuff as fast as they possibly can.

In today’s risk-averse society, that sounds kind of crazy doesn’t it? Somehow I can’t see the gutless leadership teams of Fortune 500 companies having that much faith in the capabilities of their products–and their customers. But that’s what I love about the shooting industry. Not just the sense of absolute faith and pride in the products, but the inherent trust that individuals involved will assume personal responsibility for safety and fun–in that order. Hats off to Crimson Trace for putting their money where their mouth is!

For the second year in a row, Crimson Trace invited members of the media and some of the best 3-gun shooters to participate in the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational. Set at the Central Oregon Shooting Sports Association in the high desert about 30 miles outside of Bend, Oregon, this match is a back to the basics affair. Electricity? Nope. Running water? Nope. Absolute darkness? Yep.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub.com!

Anatomy of a Stage at the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational

I just finished shooting and covering the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational in the high desert miles and miles from Bend, Oregon. It was an enlightening experience, and I’ll write about that in my weekly column on OutdoorHub.com. Shooting at night was also ridiculously fun. More fun than should be legal, perhaps. To give you an idea of what it was like, let’s look at just one of the 9 stages of the event. Keep in mind, this all happens in the pitch dark between 9pm and 3am. 

It almost looks easy. In the daylight.

It almost looks easy. In the daylight.

Hey, the following scenario could happen in real life. Right?

First, pick up your fully automatic SCAR, equipped with light and laser of course, and engage two, two-dimensional (cardboard) bad guys. That’s an easy one, problem solved!

There are not too many problems a grenade launcher won't solve.

There are not too many problems a grenade launcher won’t solve.

But wait, as you’re putting down your SCAR to celebrate your success with a post engagement cookie, you notice a car full of evildoers intent on doing you harm. Fortunately, you have an FN grenade launcher loaded and ready for action. From about 50 yards away, using a Crimson Trace RailMaster green laser aiming system, lob a 40mm grenade through the driver side window. Problem solved.

But hordes of evil two-dimensional dudes are called hordes for a reason. You see more headed your way. You notice 8 of them about 20 yards away. Drawing your Glock 17 equipped with Crimson Trace Lasergrip and Lightguard, you sprint in their direction and hit each twice while on the run. Good thing you have a pistol mounted light as they’re blending into a sandy berm, and hard to spot. 

These evil d00dz are about to get SCARed in full auto mode.

These evil d00dz are about to get SCARed in full auto mode.

But, as you can probably guess, there is no rest for the weary. 8 ground-dwelling DHS drones, looking deceptively like steel plates set in the ground, are headed your way. As you continue to move towards the threats, you take out a couple of them with the remaining rounds in your Glock.

And that’s when the real trouble starts. Your Glock runs dry, and there are still drones to engage. 

No worries, just grab your Lightguard equipped shotgun. While heading down the dark path, whack em’ with some bird shot loads. and take them out.

It’s only then that you spot 8 NSA disk drives with recordings of all your most personal online conversations, cleverly disguised as 4 inch clay targets. These are scattered across a wide area in the sand, so it’s a good thing you have a tac lite to spot them. 

This is how the stage looks in the dark. You can easily see the need for lights and lasers!

This is how the stage looks in the dark. You can easily see the need for lights and lasers!

After you deal with those you can take a brief rest, until the next stage. 

And so it goes. 9 different stages designed to force reliance on lights, lasers and skill. Just for fun, there’s a daylight hours side match, where you clear six buildings with a fully automatic PWS Diablo short barrel rifle. As you have daylight on your side, that seems easy in comparison. 

Running around the desert shooting all night long is exhausting. But given the chance, count me in to do it again!

Gearing Up for the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Event: Handgun Selection

The “lots and lots of 9mm” vs. “a handful of big .45’s” debate is about as likely to be settled as Michael Moore speaking at the NRA 2014 Annual Meeting.

While most discussion focuses on real-life pros and cons of a magazine full of 9mm ammo vs. seven or eight big and fat .45 ACP’s, I have an opportunity to consider the tradeoffs in a less threatening manner.

Hmmm. Tough choice. Both pistols have compatible light and laser features.

Hmmm. Tough choice. Both pistols have compatible light and laser features.

This August, I’ll be shooting in the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational competition and I need to start thinking about equipment choices. The only constraint I am placing on my decision is the use of Crimson Trace only light and laser gear. Other than that, I’m open to possibilities.

I’m competing in the Range Officer and Media pre-event, so my decision on gear won’t have any impact on the big prize potential. I’m not that fast anyway. So I’m looking at this event as an opportunity to explore viable options for home defense setups and get some dead-of-night practice with light and laser equipped pistols, rifles and shotguns. During the actual competition, I’ll be free to cover the real competitors and report on their gear selections and match performance.

So far, I am strongly considering two handgun options. There’s a third possibility, but it’s a little bit silly. Fun, and certainly dramatic, but silly. I admit it.

Option 1:  Springfield Armory 1911 TRP with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Master Series Lasergrips

Does it make sense for 3 Gun? Not really, but it's SO sweet!

Does it make sense for 3 Gun? Not really, but it’s SO sweet!

This is a high-quality .45 ACP 1911 – we reviewed it a while back and found it to be lacking, well, nothing. With standard factory magazines, it offers 7+1 capacity. Granted, that’s not ideal for the high round count sport of 3 gun shooting.

Right now, I have a set of rosewood Crimson Trace Master Series Lasergrips on this gun. This set features a traditional red laser, which will be fine for nighttime use at the match. However, I just got a set of LG-401G green 1911 Lasergrips. These have black polymer side panels, so they won’t look quite as spiffy as the rosewood grips. On the other hand, the Springfield Armory TRP has a black frame and slide, so there would be that trendy black on black color combination…

This gun also features the Crimson Trace LTG-701 Lightguard for 1911 pistols. While also front-activated, the button is on the underside of the trigger guard. This means that it’s compatible with the Lasergrips. The bottom of your middle finger activates the laser while the side of the same finger activates the light. Nifty.

While I would be severely handicapped by necessity of more frequent magazine changes, isn’t there some benefit to the really satisfying sound that .45 bullets will make hitting those steel targets? And of course, the holes in the paper targets will be impressively large compared to those wimpy 9mm perforations made by my competitors.

Option 2: Glock 17 Gen 4 with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Lasergrips

The safe choice? A Glock Gen 4 with Crimson Trace light and laser?

The safe choice? A Glock Gen 4 with Crimson Trace light and laser?

This one is the safe option. A 17+1 standard magazine capacity, means hardly any, if any magazine changes. I guess that depends on my panic under the clock miss-rate performance though.

I’ve got the Glock 17 Gen 4 configured with a Crimson Trace Lightguard and Crimson Trace LG-850 rear-activated laser. As the Lightguard is front-activated and the Lasergrip rear-activated, these two components are made to work together.

Clearly this is the safe choice. Even now, 9mm ammo is available and (relatively) cheap compared to the other options. Capacity is grande and recoil is minimal so even a moderate shooter like me can do fast follow-up shots. As the steel targets just need to “clang” and not get knocked over, so 9mm has plenty of oomph.

Option 3: Glock 31 Gen 4 with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Lasergrips

Ok, this option really makes no sense at all, as it has less capacity than the Glock 17 9mm and a lot more recoil to manage. I just have a fetish with the .357 Sig cartridge for some unexplainable reason. And it’s my nightstand gun. Remember when I said earlier that one of the goals was to run some realistic home defense gear through the match course?

Although there is one potential benefit to shooting the Glock 31 with its .357 Sig cartridge. The gigantic fireballs and muzzle flash just might temporarily blind the other competitors, allowing me to coast to an un-contested victory. Here’s hoping.

Given my goals for the match, what say you?

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