Sig Sauer’s Single Action Sensation: The P226 Elite SAO

That's right, there's no decocking lever on this Sig P226!

That’s right, there’s no decocking lever on this Sig P226!

I like action. Who doesn’t?

Single action. Traditional double action. Double action only. Striker-fired action. I like ‘em all. But I especially like single action handguns. Having only one thing to do, release the hammer, single actions tend to be easier to shoot accurately. Repeatable accuracy leads to confidence, and confidence is something I want in spades if I’m carrying a gun for protection.

With that goal in mind – a carry gun that inspires confidence – I checked out the new Sig Sauer Elite SAO. Unlike most traditional Sig Sauer pistols, this one is a single action – kind of like a 1911. Its got an ambidextrous safety lever. You carry it cocked and locked. In fact, outside of cosmetic differences, one of the few

The safety levers on this model are ambidextrous and of equal size on both sides.

The safety levers on this model are ambidextrous and of equal size on both sides.

observable things different from a 1911 is that the Sig has a hinged trigger while the 1911’s trigger moves straight back like a sliding door.

OK, so that’s some gross over-simplification. The Sig P226 Elite SAO has classic Sig internals – not the hinged recoil action and barrel bushing we’re accustomed to seeing in a 1911. Yet it offers the benefits of a constant, light trigger to aid in accurate shooting. Unlike the 1911, it offers a double stack magazine so you get 15 rounds of ammo, plus an extra in the chamber. Oh yeah, and it’s chambered in 9mm, not .45 ACP.

I keep mentioning 1911’s as a comparison, but if you want to get more specific, you can think of the Sig P226 Elite SAO as a combat version of the P226 X-5 Competition. While the X-5 Competition models are built as elite pistols for professional competitors, they’re not necessarily suited for defensive or combat use. You’ll find allen screws all over the place on a competition X-5 model as the design allows specific adjustment to nearly every aspect of the gun’s operation. Trigger weight, trigger travel, trigger over travel, trigger shape, magazine well style, compensators, flux capacitors and so on. You can also find similarity with the P226 X-5 Tactical model, but the Elite SAO has a 4.4 inch barrel instead of 5 inches. Corresponding overall length dimensions are shorter and weight of the Elite SAO is about one ounce less.

Read the rest at GunsAmerica!

Thinking about getting a gun for personal or home defense? Or maybe for recreation or competition? Then you need to read this first!

Shooting the Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun in the Dark

The business end of the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun, shown here with a Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro light and laser and two-round magazine tube extension.

The business end of the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun, shown here with a Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro light and laser and two-round magazine tube extension.

Recently I wrote about my first experiences with the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun. I love the “shotgun carbine” idea of a short, light and handy defensive shotgun. What I didn’t get into before was the idea that if you ever had to use a defensive shotgun, it would probably be in the middle of the night, meaning in the dark.

I decided to take a shot at gearing up the Beretta 1301 for night time use and testing it in dark conditions. The perfect opportunity was the recent Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational competition. If you’re not familiar, it’s a three gun event with one important twist of the rules. The competition takes places in the middle of the desert outside of Bend, Oregon, but the shooting doesn’t start until after 9pm. If you haven’t been in the middle of the high desert in the middle of the night recently, I can tell you, it’s dark. Really dark. No residual light from nearby towns. No street lights. Heck, the range doesn’t even have electricity or running water. When the International Space Station passes overhead, they have to pause the match because of the glare.

Anyway, in preparation for my midnight rendezvous, I added some goodies to the Beretta 1301. 

First, I called the nice folks at Crimson Trace and politely explained to them that since I was risking life and limb to compete in this match, they should loan me a light or laser for the shotgun. They sent a Rail Master Pro, which offers both 100 lumen light and a red laser that activates with a simple paddle switch. You can configure the light and laser to operate in different modes – a strobe light, for example, but set mine up so that movement of the paddle would turn on both light and laser until i hit the paddle again to turn them off. I mounted this on the barrel with a Nordic Components magazine tube extension and barrel clamp with rail so that I could reach it with my support hand. As I’m right-handed, I put it on the right side of the barrel, so it’s out of the way of my support hand grip, but easily accessible with my support hand fingers when I want to flip it on.

Next, I called Kristi at Aimpoint. Like my Aimpoint PRO, Kristi has never let me down when it comes to good advice about optics. She loaned me an Aimpoint Micro H-1 optic. I guessed that it would line up perfectly with the iron sights on the. Beretta 1301 and it did. I could see the iron sights through the bottom half of the Aimpoint Micro. If my optic ever failed, then I would have a backup option of using the iron sights. This seemed like a good idea until Kristi reminded me that the whole deal about Aimpoint optics is that the batteries run 75% of forever. In this case, you can leave the Micro on for about 5 years non-stop. I figured I could remember to change batteries every couple of years or so to avoid any risk of downtime. 

Aimpoint_Micro_H1_Beretta_1301_Tactical-1

The Aimpoint Micro H1 mounted on the Beretta 1301 Tactical’s rail.

Now, when I turn out the lights, I have a compact shotgun with a forward-looking tactical light and I see two red dots out yonder – one from the laser and the other from the Aimpoint. 

For ammo, the choice was easy. I needed something reliable with shot size with a dense enough pattern to break stationary and flying clays at high speed, but with enough “oomph” to knock down steel targets with one shot. I chose Federal Premium Gold Medal Target loads with 7 1/2 shot

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

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Shooting In The Dark: Reports From The Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational

Everybody knows siblings shouldn't share toys! Here Lanny (left) and Tracy (right) are politely discussing who gets to use the Beretta 1301 Competition shotgun next.

Everybody knows siblings shouldn’t share toys! Here Lanny (left) and Tracy (right) are politely discussing who gets to use the Beretta 1301 Competition shotgun next.

As I write this, I’m coming down off a major high. I’m sitting on an airplane on the way back home from the high desert miles outside of the beautiful town of Bend, Oregon.

I’ve been out there all week at the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational competition. Like last year, the event was held at the COSSA range which is located miles and miles from nowhere. This works out pretty well as neighbors in more populated areas might get a bit upset about hearing gunfire all night long for four straight nights.

The event runs most of the week with two consecutive matches. Wednesday and Thursday, media members and the volunteer range officer staff shoot together. This allows the range staff to shoot the whole match, yet be available for dedicated range safety and logistics duties when the professionals shoot Friday and Saturday nights. All results from the two matches are consolidated into a single overall results tabulation, so everyone is eligible for the same prizes regardless of which nights they shoot.

As the name implies, shooting doesn’t even start until it’s fully dark. Competitors, range staff, media and visitors are all required to illuminate themselves with chemical glow sticks. One on the front and one on the back ensures that anyone still downrange from a target refresh will be clearly visible. As a result of the range staff’s care and attention to detail, the event boasts a perfect safety record.

Crimson_Trace_M3GI-32

Lanny Barnes blasts a clay target with her Beretta 1301 Competition. Or is that Tracy’s gun?

As a media hack, I shot the Wednesday and Thursday match. One of my goals was to really kick the tires of the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun I’ve been evaluating. In my next article, I’ll go into detail about how I configured it for nighttime use, but for now, I’ll note the following. I chose the Tactical version even though there is a 1301 Competition model that offers competitive tweaks like higher shell capacity and larger loading port. The environment was great for really exercising a defensive shotgun – dirty, dusty and dark. Three of us shared the Beretta 1301 Tactical as wanted to run as much ammo through it as possible during the match. Since receiving the gun, I haven’t cleaned it, nor did I do any maintenance during the match. No matter, it ran like a champ with zero malfunctions of any kind. The super compact design of this gun made shooting and moving very easy. I chose to run first rate shotshells through the gun as a prize table was on the line. I used Federal Premium Gold Medal Target loads with 7 1/2 shot. I could stuff seven shells into the magazine tube plus one more in the chamber. More importantly, the 1 1/8 ounce shot load knocked down steel with authority. The pattern from the Beretta 1301 Tactical’s cylinder bore was even and blew up the clay targets consistently.

One of the benefits of shooting the pre-match was that I could focus on following the big shots during the main match. Big shots like Tracy and Lanny Barnes. You know them, right? Yeah, they are (now retired) Olympic biathletes, so they know a thing or two about shooting under stress and conditioning. You might also recognize the name as Tracy is a writer right here at Beretta USA. Tracy and Lanny both used the Beretta 1301 Competition shotguns. I’m convinced that my deliberate choice to use the 1301 Tactical, with its lower shell capacity, is the only possible explanation for Tracy and Lanny blowing right past my scores in the first few minutes of the competition. But let’s move away from that topic. At least I got some great trigger time with my home defense gun.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

 

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Top Shooting Gear Finds From The Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational

The Smith & Wesson 929 Performance Center revolver is a 9mm. Moon clips make the rimless rounds work.

The Smith & Wesson 929 Performance Center revolver is a 9mm. Moon clips make the rimless rounds work.

One of the highlights of the annual Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational is schmoozing time with the match sponsors. With more than 40 different companies present, I had many company reps to pester. Unlike chaotic events like SHOT Show or the NRA Annual Meeting, the M3GI has plenty of daylight hours (shooting is only at night remember), and the folks are captive at the remote location. Sponsors can’t run or hide; they simply have to tolerate my endless questions and make the best of it.

Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting finds at this years Midnight 3 Gun Event.

Smith Wesson 929 Performance Center Revolver

Look at the lead photo in this article. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Got it? Now tell me how anyone can pick that up and not immediately try for the 50 yard steel plates. That’s exactly what I did. I’m not the world’s best shot, but I hit it from a standing position nearly every time.

Too. Much. Fun. To. Shoot.

Too. Much. Fun. To. Shoot.

The Smith & Wesson 929 Performance Center is a 9mm revolver with 8 round capacity in the wheel. Since it uses rimless 9mm ammo, you use moon clips to load the cylinder. Weighing in at a hefty 44 ounces, the 929 is plenty stable for offhand shooting. The 6.5 inch barrel and corresponding long sight radius makes steady sight picture a snap. It’s a Performance Center model and Jerry Miculek signature design. I want one.

I2 Technologies and Systems Integrations Binocular Night Vision System

The helmet requires a counterweight to balance out the dual monocular night vision system.

The helmet requires a counterweight to balance out the dual monocular night vision system.

I2 (pronounced eye-squared) brought about a billion dollars worth of leading edge night vision gear. They are innovators in complete, integrated night vision systems. Their primary wares at the M3GI were helmets equipped with dual PVS-14 mounts. Two PVS-14 Gen 3 night vision monoculars are configured into an adjustable, quick-release helmet mount. This gives the wearer broader peripheral vision, and more importantly, depth perception. Competitors had the good fortune of cleaning a “house” in the pitch dark with a Gem-Tech suppressed Glock and suppressed, full-auto PWS 300 Blackout SBR. After that, one had to clear the “back yard” with a shotgun. A truly awesome stage.

One of the neat little details I learned was that, due to the weight of the gear, you have to configure the helmet with a one pound counterweight on the rear, else you’ll be staring straight at the ground. You can get your own ready-to-go rig like this for just over $7,000. Got a birthday coming up?

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

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10 Reasons the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational Is My Favorite Shooting Event

Jerry Miculek of Team Smith & Wesson looks on as a competitor blasts an aerial target (upper left)

Jerry Miculek of Team Smith & Wesson looks on as a competitor blasts an aerial target (upper left)

I had the good fortune to compete in, and cover, the shooting community’s coolest adventure, otherwise known as the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational. As the name implies, this is a full-blown outdoor 3 Gun match.

The third annual Crimson Trace event was held at the COSSA shooting range located in the high desert about 7,394 nautical miles outside of Bend, Oregon. The remote location and match schedule ensures several things: it will be dark, as in black hole kind of dark; your equipment will have to perform in exceptionally dusty and dirty conditions (drop a magazine in the dirt here and it will sound like nails on a chalkboard for the rest of the match); and, you will not sleep for several days.

A look down at some of the shooting bays in use.

A look down at some of the shooting bays in use.

1. Sleep

More accurately, lack of sleep defines this event. Shooting begins around 9 pm and continues until four or five in the morning. The first night of competition, I rolled back into my hotel room after sunrise – exhilarated but tired. Lest you think you can catch up during the day, busses leave for the range before lunch for training, safety briefings and sponsor range demonstrations. Next week, I’ll get into some really neat new products demonstrated at the range event.

2. Safety

As safety is the number one concern, range officers are more plentiful than fake ID’s at a Justin Bieber concert. As all of the range officers are avid 3 Gun Shooters themselves, there is a full match for them the two nights prior to the pro match Friday and Saturday nights. We media weasels squad up with the range officers and shoot the full match with them Wednesday and Thursday nights. This is a great win-win solution. We media hacks don’t have to shoot with the pros and face total humiliation, the range officers shoot the full match, and we all work the bugs out before the pros start Friday night. As you’ll see from the photos, every person on the range wears glow sticks front and back for absolute visibility. A big hat’s off to the professionalism and dedication of all the range staff. They preserved the perfect safety record while adding plenty of fun.

Nope, not dark enough yet. A pre-match briefing at Stage 7.

Nope, not dark enough yet. A pre-match briefing at Stage 7.

3. My Sig Sauer P226 Elite SAO

I wrote about this gun prior to the match. Hard use in the dusty match conditions confirmed my early opinions. Dumping mags in use dry dust all week got the gun plenty dirty, but it ran like a champ. The best part was comfort of high-volume shooting. I used American Eagle 147 grain 9mm ammo that clocks in around 950 feet per second. The recoil impulse was light and smooth – perfect for high-speed competitive shooting.

4. Live entertainment

During the awards ceremony, Crimson Trace founder Lew “Joe Cocker” Danielson stopped mid-speech, ran to his truck to retrieve his guitar, and broke into a rousing rendition of “Leaving On A Jet Plane.” As a special tribute to the ladies’ present, he followed with an a capella encore performance of “You Are So Beautiful.” Lew explained lack of guitar accompaniment to the fact the song requires seven chords and he only knows four so far. An inspiring moment from one of the industry’s finest individuals. It was epic.

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A Look At The Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun

The Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun is all business.

The Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun is all business.

I recently got my hot little hands on a Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun. After checking out the floor model at the 2014 NRA Annual Meeting, I decided I had to have one. Why? Because it handles like a shotgun carbine. If you’ve shot short, light weight and compact rifles, then you know exactly what I mean. Now envision those attributes in a shotgun and you’ve got the Beretta 1301 Tactical.

The Aimpoint Micro H1 optic fit perfectly and allowed for co-witness of the ghost ring sights.

The Aimpoint Micro H1 optic fit perfectly and allowed for co-witness of the ghost ring sights.

Right out of the box, it’s just under 38 inches long, which is right in line with other famous carbines like the Ruger 10/22 and World War II era M1 Carbine. Beretta ships this gun in its shortest configuration. The butt stock has removable spacers included in the box that allow you to add ½, 1” or 1 ½ inches to the stock length to arrive at the length of pull that you want. Me? I loved the short and handy configuration, so I left the spacers in the box for future use in the event my arms grow longer.

The 1301 Tactical is offered in 12 gauge only at this point and features a 3 inch chamber. In a small, lightweight shotgun like this one, you really don’t want to shoot 3 ½ inch shells anyway – it’s not intended to be a turkey hunting gun.

Differing from it’s 1301 competition sibling, the 1301 Tactical model sports some differences. First, it has an 18-inch barrel as compared to the Competition choices of 21 or 24 inches. It’s also got adjustable ghost ring sights. Both the ghost ring in the rear and sturdy post up front are protected with metal “wings” to save your sights from getting knocked around in the back of the SWAT wagon. More importantly, the 1301 Tactical model has a receiver-mounted rail just in front of the rear sight so you can mount optics. For me, this just screamed for an Aimpoint Micro H1. With a 2-MOA red dot and compact size, it turned out to be the perfect solution. The quick-release mount on the Aimpoint positioned the optic at a perfect height so the iron sights are just visible in the bottom section of the glass. If your battery croaks, you’ve got iron sights ready to go without need to remove your optic.

Beretta_1301_Tactical-15

Magazine capacity on the 1301 Tactical is a bit less than that of the 1301 Competition due to its shorter length. In mine, I can stuff 4, and sometimes 5, shells into the tube depending on the shell. Be aware that Beretta ships this model with a magazine plug in place, temporarily limiting tube capacity to two shells. No worries, just pop out the plug and you’re good to go.

Beretta_1301_Tactical-26Speaking of magazine capacity, I felt compelled to add a Nordic Components extension tube to my test model. While I could have chosen a longer tube, I opted for a 2 shell extension. This makes the overall length of the magazine tube just a hair longer than the barrel. I get two extra shells with no sacrifice of the compact handling qualities. Now, my total capacity, at least using Federal 12 gauge Gold Metal Target loads, is 7 in the tube plus one in the chamber. If you’re a 3 gun competitor, you might notice this sets this shotgun up nicely for…

The Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Event!

While I was itching to try this shotgun anyway after seeing at the NRA Annual Meeting, I really wanted to test it in such a way as to give it a total workout. The idea was to configure this gun as a useful home defense model and the midnight 3 gun competition is a great way to test gear to see how it performs in the dark. In addition to the Aimpoint Micro H1 optic, I added a Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro up front on the right side. A Nordic Components tube / barrel clamp with rail segment gave me the perfect spot to do that.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

 

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How To Clean A Beretta Px4 Handgun

Px4-Cleaning-Instructions

These detailed instructions are for a Beretta Px4, but if you have a 92/96 series, you can take advantage of this article too. There are a couple of different details, like how the takedown lever works, but everything else is pretty much the same.

The gun I’m using for this demonstration is a .40 S&W Beretta Px4 with a Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro. That’s a combination light and laser unit that works with virtually any gun with a rail – like this Px4. The good thing is that it’s completely out of the way for cleaning and maintenance, as you see here.

First you have to take it apart, or field strip your PX4. There is no need to completely disassemble your pistol unless something is obviously wrong with its function. And even then, full disassembly and inspection is best left to a qualified gunsmith.

When you’ve field stripped your Px4, you will be left with six major assemblies:

  1. Magazine
  2. Frame
  3. Slide
  4. Barrel
  5. Recoil spring
  6. Central block

Beretta_Px4_Cleaning-6

All necessary cleaning and lubrication can be done with this level of takedown.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN

Even before step 1 of the field stripping process, you need to make sure that your pistol is empty. Remove the magazine. Most importantly, rack the slide multiple times to remove the cartridge in the chamber. Now visually check the chamber. Now do it again. Lock the slide open by pressing upward on the slide lock lever while retracting the slide. When you look through the top, can you see daylight through the magazine well? Can you see that there is no cartridge in the chamber? Good. Now you’re ready to proceed.

How to field strip your Px4

Step 1: Remove the slide.

Your Px4 should be decocked with the hammer in the “down” position. Using one hand, pull down the disassembly latch on both sides of the frame. Now move the entire slide assembly forward and it will come completely off the gun frame. Yes, it’s that easy.

Beretta_Px4_Cleaning-2

Step 2: Remove the central block and recoil spring.

The nice thing about a Px4 is that the recoil spring is captive, meaning it won’t go flying off across the room when you remove it. Turn the slide upside down and pull the central block and spring out. These two parts will separate easily as the spring is inserted into a hole in the block.

Beretta_Px4_Cleaning-4

Step 3: Remove the barrel from the slide.

Another easy step. With the central block and spring removed, the barrel will lift out of the slide.

All done! With the Px4, you want to be careful with the slide lock / slide release lever. With the slide removed, it’s fairly easy to knock off the frame, and the spring that holds it is a little bit tricky to reinstall. Just be careful and you’ll be fine.

How to clean your Beretta Px4

First you’re going to need some basic supplies. The Px4 includes a cleaning rod with a slotted end for patches and a brush, so technically all you need is cleaning solvent and lubricant.

otis-kit-only

My favorite cleaning rig: OTIS Technology

There are dozens of gun oils and cleaning solvents on the market. Fortunately, it’s pretty hard to go too wrong with any gun-specific cleaners and oils. Notice we say gun-specific. What you don’t want to do is use a general purpose penetrating oil like WD-40. We love WD-40 and it’s wonderful for many things, like getting bubble gum out of your hair. You may even use it to clean gun parts. Just don’t rely on it as a preservative and protectant for post-cleaning use. Guns tend to get really hot, hence the need for special oil and lubricant formulations that are designed to stand up to intense heat. Since the Px4 has a polymer frame, be sure not to use solvents than can damage plastic. Generally, only degreasing products will have this issue.

We’re going to pause and put in a plug for what I believe to be the best cleaning system on the market. It’s called the OTIS Technology System.

It’s well worth the money and the kits are designed to accommodate rifles, shotguns and pistols of various calibers. Their most basic kits will handle 9mm, 40 S&W and .45 ACP – all you need to clean the Beretta Px4.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

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Transforming A Basic AR-15 To A Home Defense Rifle

The "after" version of the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 OR. It's all geared up for the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational and home defense use.

The “after” version of the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 OR. It’s all geared up for the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational and home defense use.

A few weeks ago, I discussed my plan of using the upcoming Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational to choose, equip and practice with guns I’ll use for home defense. Since then. I’ve decided to use a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 OR for the rifle. It’s a standard AR-15 design with a notable exception. Instead of the classic A2 fixed front sight and gas block, it comes equipped with a rail gas block. And as a home defense choice? Absolutely. M&P 15’s run – reliably – and are cost effective to boot.

The before photo.

The before photo. When doing gun work, you’ll want a proper set of gunsmithing screwdrivers like this

Gearing it up for both the night 3-gun competition and home defense use requires some tweaks. Here’s what I decided to do.

Rail for lights and lasers

Installation of the quad rail was easy - I didn't need any tools.

Installation of the quad rail was easy – I didn’t need any tools.

The Smith & Wesson M&P 15 OR comes with the standard round plastic handguard. It’s comfortable and does a good job keeping your support hand cool when the barrel gets hot, but doesn’t have attachment points for rail accessories. I chose to replace it with a Blackhawk! AR-15 Carbine Length 2 Piece Quad Rail Forend. It offers rails on top, bottom, left and right and has great ventilation in between to let the barrel cool. You can also get it in rifle length if your gun is longer than mine but enough about that.

Installation is a snap. You don’t need tools, not even a hammer. Just remove the existing handguard by pulling down the delta ring in front of the receiver until you can pry the existing handguard halves out. The new Blackhawk! handguard also comes in two pieces, so put them in the same way. After they are pressed in place, you bolt the two halves together. It’s not a free-floated solution, but it’s rock solid and you don’t have to do any serious construction work to install it on your rifle.

A little detail that makes a big difference

I also chose to install a Blackhawk! Offset Safety Selector. This is one of those “oh duh why didn’t I think of that” inventions. It relocates the safety lever itself 45 degrees so you can easily reach it with your thumb without shifting your grip. A great aid for safety and usability, and for competition, it might just help you avoid a procedural penalty for not engaging the safety on your rifle.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

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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:

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Turn Your Handgun Into An Effective Home Defense Tool

Why not add a light and laser to your nightstand gun?

Why not add a light and laser to your nightstand gun? This Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro gives you both.

When it comes to home defense, cheating is an acceptable, and desirable, strategy. If you’re ever forced to defend your loved ones in your home, and you find yourself in a fair fight, you tactics suck, or so the saying goes.

Put into practical and actionable terms, when preparing your home defense strategy, it makes sense to identify all reasonable advantages and put them into action.

One big advantage you can easily implement is the addition of lights and lasers to your home defense gun. Neither of these tools replaces good gun handling technique nor are they designed to. They are designed to give you more options in a bad situation.

Benefits of a weapon mounted light

Should you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of hearing the proverbial bump in the night, it will be dark. Funny how that works isn’t it?

Darkness and handguns don’t work well together, even if you have fancy tritium night sights on yours. While you might see your sights glowing, you really don’t have a clear view of what you should or, more importantly, should not shoot at. A weapon-mounted light gives you the ability to see clearly what’s in front of your muzzle, and that’s crucial information to have before you pull the trigger. Even though a weapon mounted-light faces forward, it will help you see regular (non-tritium) sights too.

A pistol-mounted light is not intended to replace a handheld light. A handheld light is for searching and a weapon mounted light is for shooting. It’s as simple as that. Remember Rule 3? Never point your gun at anything you’re not willing to destroy. If you’re using your weapon light to look around, you are, by definition, pointing your gun at unknown things. Since they’re unknown, you’re not sure if you’re willing to destroy them, right?

Benefits of a lasers

A laser gives you more aiming options. It’s as simple as that. Especially in low light or dark conditions, you will see exactly where your shot will impact, assuming you pull the trigger correctly.

Use of a laser supports the natural tendency we have to focus on the danger when we’re threatened. Yes, lot’s of training will teach one to revert concentration back to the sights when ready to fire, but the brain’s desire to focus on a threat is a powerful habit to overcome. When using a laser, you can focus on the threat and aim at the same time.

A laser also provides flexibility in shooting positions. When using standard sights, the gun must, by definition, be up high and right in front of your eyes. Using a laser, you can safely and accurately fire from more unconventional positions where the gun is lower and not blocking your direct vision. In night training exercises I’ve done, I’ve found that ability to search, with your gun held lower out of your sight, makes a big difference in overall situational visibility.

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