The Impossible.

DA/SA guns are too hard to shoot

“.40 Caliber Sucks

High Bore Axis is Bad

Lots of haters in the gun world, eh?


There’s my novice self mag dumping a .40 S&W , high bore axis, stainless steel DA/SA 4006 at five yards.Don’t let anyone tell you proficiency with a quality pistol can’t be achieved because of some arbitrary feature.

Grab your Dot Torture targets and get to it! What counts is end user performance, not the finish, national origin, or caliber of your chosen firearm. Even Quentin Tarantino movie fans can train to proficiency.

The Chronicles of Derp.

The following is a catalogue of events i’ve witnessed during my last range officer shift. Unfortunately, these events are not just based on true events…they are true events.

-Logged into the range. Discovered range management purchased rental guns. One of them is a Bodyguard .380 with a laser. In all fairness, the administrators don’t know much about guns specifically so this error can be excused. Impressed fellow RSOs and customer when I could disassemble the rental AK and put it back together.

-Customers arrived with a SW1911 equipped with a laser grip and a Springfield TRP. Hope turned to sorrow as the shooters reeled their targets out to seven yards and proceeded to put their patterns low-left of the bullseye. I felt sorry for the inanimate Springfield Armory pistol. It was built to do so much more.

-Discovered rental M&P 40 was missing a magazine. It was located in the Sig P229 9mm box. The magazines look nothing alike. Thou art confused.

-Spotted a customer shooting with his offhand thumb behind his Ruger P94, equipped with a laser/light combo. It is entertaining to see trigger flinch in real time as the laser dips from center to the low left position right before the bang.

-I took apart and cleaned the 9mm 1911 rental gun. Fellow RSOs were awed by my ability to disassemble a 1911 without scratching the frame. At this point I discover one of my coworkers carries a compact Kimber 1911 with a 3″ barrel-Chamber Empty.
Let us hope he never needs to use it under defensive duress.

I point out these events for a singular purpose. If we don’t point out bad behavior , we don’t stand much chance of correcting it. Insert trite quote about the definition of insantity here____.

You Can’t Buy Skill.

Two summers ago, I used to be a big 1911 acolyte. For those who’ve not seen such a pilgrim, here’s a primer for what they look like.

-They disdain anything made after 1935.
-Colonel Jeff Cooper is their prophet.
-Every trigger made , especially striker fired and DA/SA, sucks compared to the 1911.

I bought into the ‘3.5lbs, crisp’ hype-because I didn’t know any better. I shot and kept my 1911 because it was the only gun in my collection I could shoot competently well. While my ego said it was because the pistol was a superior shooting instrument, the reality was that I was an inferior shooting instrument and the lightweight trigger of the 1911 allowed me to shoot the pistol before my piss-poor grip and trigger control could ruin the shot. No such margin of error using a striker or hammer fired trigger system.

Ultimately the lesson I had to learn the hard way running a 1911 on the clock vs a borrowed Sig was this: you can’t buy skill. Trigger springs and lightweight connectors can’t cover failed technique, and the more money a shooter sinks into hardware the less skilled they become at shooting. Worse , the “light trigger” pursuit tends to have no bottom. If 3.5lbs is good, wouldnt 0.00lbs be better?

Case in point.

The above link is for a trigger modification to the Walther PPQ, which already ships from the factory with what is likely the lightest and crispest trigger in the industry as it is. The trigger is so light that it actually can’t qualify for Law Enforcement use in Germany, where the pistol is made .
Speaking of Germany, lets look at why that is. Years past the German government couldn’t figure out why their officers despite serious disciplinary consequences kept ND’ing their Sig duty pistols.

After commissioning a scientific study using sensors on the pistols and training scenarios, the staff discovered a worrying statistic-almost 30% of German police officers touched and engaged the trigger without conciously realizing it. The working theory was that stressfull events -like drawing a gun in the line of duty-caused certain people to instinctually trigger-check their pistols despite being conciously trained otherwise. In light of those results, the German government specified LE trigger standards for pistols to have. Standards the PPQ already doesn’t meet, and now there’s options to modify them further.

Untrained people with light trigger guns is a recipe for ND’s and other safety disasters. My newbie self two years ago didn’t need a 1911, he needed a class. Using modified parts to cover up bad technique only wastes money and delays the inevitable and necessary investment in a proper shooting course.

When I was active duty, I used to get weekly Air Force-wide emails on the Afghanistan/Iraq campaign events. Without fail there would be double-digit ND’s recorded with the M9 service pistol, a handgun used by military personnell with at least moderate familiarity with the gun. A weapon which also has an external safety, two internal safeties, and a heavy DA trigger pull.

Now picture a subset of untrained gun owners who might shoot twice a year, sticking the above part into their PPQ and using it at your local range-or even imprudently deciding to carry it. Again, we know from science that a certain group of folks WILL check the trigger of their pistol under stress. That doesn’t get into reckless changes like people intentionally using non-factory spec parts or cutting factory springs to lighten the trigger weight further.

Given the above it is likely we’ll start seeing ranges and classes stenciling signs like this on their bulletin boards:


A Man’s Got to Know His Limitations.


Not pictured: Limits.

The title contains one of Dirty Harry’s more memorable lines.It also has real-world relevance to firearms- and i’m not talking about oversized S&W revolvers.

The Beretta M9A1 in the above picture is the handgun equivalent of a rescued stray. I strolled into the local big box store-in my area, a Scheels- and noticed it in the used case next to a lime-green cerakoted Glock 22 with a Punisher slide cap. Between the two guns, the Beretta was actually the one worse off.

I took it out of the case-WHOA. That’s a LIIIGHT double action trigger. I suspected the previous owner changed the spring. I hoped it was a proper D spring or Wilson Combat setup.
Further inspection turned that hope quickly into a pipe dream.

The front sight was painted pink. Wonder what class the previous owner took to decide that was the best color? /sarcasm.

The magwell was beveled to a mirror sheen. Bubba didn’t have steady hands-the grips have gouges where his Dremel overran the magwell area. He further decided to polish the frame clearance underneath the barrel , an area not directly involved with feeding rounds into the pistol. Fortunately , unlike a 1911 where dremeling the frame-clearance area is a death knell for the pistol , it only poses a cosmetic problem for this design.

Unfortunately ,since bare aluminum is exposed in the magwell and part of the top of the frame the pistol is only fit for range duty until I can send it off for professional refinishing.

Given those “improvements” this Scheels store , normally comfortable with pricing used guns $50 more then the prevailing market value ,discounted the Beretta heavily.

I felt i’d be doing the universe a favor , taking this abused gun and using my Beretta fanboy knowledge to give it a great home.


I took it to the range. After repainting the front sight orange, I loaded my third magazine and discovered my worst fears. Bubba indeed cut the factory spring to lighten the trigger weight. He also cut the odds of the pistol functioning without multiple light strikes.

The photo above is my personal installation of a set of Wilson Combat Battlesights, reviews soon to come. I include it to make the simple point that as people all of us have various degrees of knowledge and experience. I’m comfortable installing sights on a pistol. I’m NOT comfortable or trained in perfecting trigger jobs or modifying fire control parts on a pistol while still preserving safe function. For those tasks, i’ll box up my gats and take them to a professional gunsmith.

By taking on firearm modification jobs which are beyond our skillsets, not only do we risk damaging the end product (see above story) but we put ourselves and others in danger as well. Assume for a moment I didn’t buy my M9A1 and left it in the case. Some poor soul could have read all about the bulletproof reliability of the M9 series, spotted the discount price (easily $100 less then the price of most used M9A1s locally) and decided it was time to try out a new home defense gun. He would have bought an unsafe, poorly modified pistol which could have choked on him at some inconvenient point.

Like using it to defend their home, or shooting a competition.

Further ;unless the buyer was a Beretta geek such as myself, they’d have to spend probably $100 in parts and labor at a gunsmith desk to fix the trigger spring /light strikes problem. Had it been a 1911 and it was treated the same way, the frame polishing would have ruined the pistol and the poor guy/gal would be the owner of a beautiful paperweight.

There’s no shame in knowing your limitations. Even Dirty Harry endorses that message.

Training Stumbling Block 2 : Gender & Discrimination.

Its a frequent sight at my range. Whenever a male-female couple or mixed friendship group arrives at my range to shoot, two things are going to happen.

The male(s) will brag about being a good shot, usually with a lame John Wayne one-liner.

Said braggart will then be hilariously outshot by the female(s) in attendance.

I’ve listed this as a training stumbling block , because us men in the shooting and training community need to get our collective act together. What’s the point of discussing ninja self defense techniques if we can’t even treat our students and customers right from the get go, or rely on our neighbors in the business to do the same ?
I’m also higlighting the matter because as a minority shooter I can identify with how women feel in terms of being pidgenholed at first sight.

I’ve visited gun ranges and shops where the proprietors assumed I was some sort of well-dressed straw purchaser or other category of urban felon by nature of my skin color. Cue surprised look and “OMG, howyadoin” after I reveal my Active Duty service and NRA membership. There’s been several instances where i’ve gotten a VERY cold reception at the display case until i’ve established those bonafides.

By no means is that experience a common occurance everywhere in the shooting world , but it’s happened enough to be discouraging. All it takes is one experience of being treated like a cretin to sour someone on the whole idea of the shooting sports. With folks like Hillary Clinton running for office, that’s not a recipe for long term preservation of the 2nd Amendment.

Being categorized like that takes the fun out of going shooting and participating in the shooting sports. Most male & Caucasian shooters are ignorant of this state of affairs, and how could they know -not many gun shops will look at a white male customer walking in and immediately assume he’s either a criminal or an incompetent. When was the last time you’ve seen a white guy get handed a .380 and told he can’t handle anything bigger?

If other businesses were run this way, they’d be sued into oblivion a long time ago. Can you, dear reader, imagine your spouse being told by the Internet Utility company that they cant handle the high-speed data plan on account of being female? Picture how fast Ford would be in court if a dealership told a female shopper she couldn’t handle the HD F250 truck because she’s a woman.

Most of the rest of society has figured out discriminating against customers based on external characteristics is bad for business and reputations. That’s an example we in the shooting world would do well to emulate.

I should walk onto the shooting line of my range, clock in, and put on my RSO vest knowing female shooters at my range are treated and welcomed in the same manner as the tacticool ninja with his AR and OperatorBeard. I should be able to bring a date to the range and not worry about her being told she cant handle a full size weapon. I should be able to bring my mother to a gun shop i’ve never been to before and not worry about her being treated like a felon for asking about their products.

By no means am I beating the drum for extra regulation or some sort of #BLM revolt , but of all the industries in America we really cannot afford to treat minorities and women poorly. They’re the future political majorities of this nation , and we should act as such if we plan on our grandkids enjoying the same freedoms we do.

Training Stumbling Block One: Ego.

Good afternoon folks,and welcome aboard Range Safety Officer Airways. The first destination today in our multi-part travels through the airpsace of Handgun Performance Stumbling Blocks is Ego.

Conveniently located next to the river Denial, Ego is a regrettably popular destination for many gun owners.

I should know, as for too many months I was a resident of Ego. Every time I hit the range I’d fire two mags at the 7 yard line, hit mostly center, and felt like a rockstar.

Then I took this drill called Dot Torture. How hard could it be? Heck, i’ve shot 25 yards before and hit the paper! Offhand! Tiny dots at 5 yards?! Pffft. I got this.

This video ably sums up what I felt like shooting Dot Torture for the first time.

My first Dot Torture target looked like someone blasted it with a shotgun.I’d built this massive Ego building of lies and self deception , and it took an objective test to demolish it. I went from being this 116 meter tall Tower of Gun Awesome to the Ground Level of Suck before i’d even made it ten rounds into the drill. I actually quit when the paper directed Left Hand Only shots, as i’d never fired a gun left handed prior to that day.

Ego is one of the largest, most visible stumbling blocks any of us will face on the line.

It makes us feel nice when we suck. Ego says you don’t need to be any good with your offhand. Ego says occasional malfunctions with your $1000+ gun are OK, because you’re not deploying to Crapsackistan. Ego says its the gun’s fault why you can’t get centered groups at 5 yards.
Ego says you’ve been shooting for years and know what you’re doing. Ego says you were ex military, so you don’t need additional instruction. Ego says your gun is the best and everyone else’s choices are inferior.

Ego builds up this huge building of lies, stacked on top of each other like floors. One lie built on top of another , until one day Reality brings it down explosively. On an individual level this can be painful. On an institutional level, ego-based policies put lives in danger.

Until we individually acknowledge that no true skill can be built without both professional instruction and hard work, all that happens is more layers get added to the Building of Ego. Take it from me, the higher it goes the harder it goes down. Until the existing structure of lies and self-deception is levelled, no true progress building skill with a firearm can be made.