The Drill That Dare Not Speak Its Name

The Drill That Dare Not Speak Its Name

There are very few drills that incite more conversation than the tried and true El Presidente drill.

The drill itself is deceptively easy:

  • Set up three USPSA targets 10 yards away, with about one yard in between them
  • Load your pistol with 6 rounds, and have a reload with 6 rounds standing by
  • Turn so your back is facing the targets and wait for the beep of the timer
  • Turn and draw your gun, and shoot each target twice, which will empty your gun
  • Reload, and shoot each target twice more
  • Only hits in the vital area (either the center-chest area or, if you’re good, the head box) count for score

Seems simple, right? The problem is, most of the early classification drills for USPSA use something similar, so the El Presidente is forever tied to the “gaming” scene, and its detractors say it’s nothing but a one-way ticket to training scars that will teach you to shoot just two rounds into a target and move along.

But what does this drill actually teach?

  1. Quick target acquisition. Standing with your back to the targets means you have to seek out your first shot as you turn, and then do it again after your reload.
  2. Quick target transitions. Two shots and the moving on forces you to learn to see the target with your eyes first, then bring the gun to bear. Think this applies to hitting a moving target? I do.
  3. Gun manipulation. While I don’t see the value in learning a fast reload to the average person who carries concealed, the fact is, the motions needed to reload your gun quickly are pretty much identical to the motions needed to clear most, if not all, the various malfunctions you might have with your gun.

Sounds pretty handy to me.

The biggest drawback I see with the drill is that it requires a pistol bay and three target stands to shoot, something not every shooter is going to have lying around. Is the El Prez the be-all, end-all of drills? Heck no. Is it an outdated relic that is of little use to today’s pistol owners? Also no.

Product Review: MK Machining Etched AR500 Steel IPSC Target

Product Review: MK Machining Etched AR500 Steel IPSC Target

AR500 IPSC Etched Steel TargetI love shooting steel targets: There is just nothing like the “ping” you get when you drop a shot onto a steel target. The weekly match at LouLand that I shoot quite often is pretty much 100% steel targets and is just a hoot to shoot.

So when I was contacted by MK Machining to review some of their products*, I was eager to try out a unique product they offer, a scaled-down AR500 IPSC Metric steel target that’s etched with the scoring zones for IPSC competitions.

Cool.

The scoring lines on the 1/2 scale target I was sent are cut in with a water jet cutter, and they are clear and well-defined. Scoring them in a match might be a bit of challenge, however: Steel splatter does NOT leave a grease ring, so your overlays are useless with this target**.

In order to see how those scoring lines held up under fire, I set up the target on the firing line at Step By Step Gun Training‘s “Shoot and Scoot” event this month, and I, along with 20 or so other students shot at it to our heart’s content.

I didn’t watch the target like a hawk, so have no idea on the total number of rounds, but I know I myself put 100 round of 115gr 9mm FMJ and 50 rounds of 220gr .45 ACP FMJ into it, and I saw other students in the class plinking away at it as well, so let’s say we put at least 200 rounds into it over the course of a Saturday morning.

And here’s what the target looked like after we were done.
AR 500 Steel Target for USPSA
The etched markings held up great: They were straight and none of the lines showed any dents or collapsing from the impact of all those rounds.

I didn’t repaint the steel after the shoot was over, but I did chat with a representative of MK Machining about the viability of applying layer after layer of paint on top of the target after each shooter is done with the course of fire, and he said that was never a problem with their testing. Apparently, it takes a LOT of paint to clog up those etched scoring lines, and if it ever gets to be too much, a few minutes worth of effort with a flathead screwdriver will clean them up nicely.

If you love shooting steel but want to work on getting valid hits beyond “anywhere in the C Zone” or you run a steel match and want to add in an element of IPSC/USPSA scoring into a stage, check out these targets from MK Machining.

* They sent it to me for review… get it, FCC?
** And having shot on squads that were chock-full of rules lawyers, that’s probably not a bad thing…

The Enthusiast’s Gun

The Enthusiast’s Gun

“When man becomes preeminent, he is expected to have certain entoosiasms…”

My article on going back to Single Stack is up at Shooting Sports USA, and it really only scratches the surface on my feelings for the 1911.

Is it the most efficient self-defensive gun on the market today? No. Is it an ineffective self-defense firearm? Oh heck no. Is the 1911 a gun that I’d recommend as a starter gun? Also no.

But.

There is just something about the certainty of the click of the safety going off and the crispness of the trigger break and the firm but smooth recoil of the .45ACP in a heavy metal chassis that tells you “Yep, you shot a gun.” The 1911 almost demands that you wax poetic about it, that you understand how it shaped American gun culture and what it has meant to the gun owners that have came before you.

It’s an enthusiast’s gun, but then again, I’m an enthusiastic kinda guy, so it’s a gun that works well for me.

“My Dad Was A Cop. He Taught Me How To Shoot.”

“My Dad Was A Cop. He Taught Me How To Shoot.”

Oh really?

Cops have a lot of jobs to do, and shooting people is only one (very small) job among many. I’m ridiculously happy that the cops are around and they should be celebrated for what they do, but chances are “firearms instructor” is not one of the jobs they perform on a regular basis.

Speaking of trust icons, let’s talk about the “I know how to shoot, I was in the military” canard. Yes, you may know how to lay down suppressive fire with an M240 Bravo, but that skill (thankfully) doesn’t have a whole lot of application in the civilian world.

Pistols? Pistols have a LOT of application in the civilian world, and the standards for excellence in the military for pistols is not so excellent.

The new Marine Combat Pistol Program Qualifier is designed to be a more “real world” qualifier than their previous one which was pretty much just a bullseye match in olive drab.

Here’s the course of fire for the new qualifier.

Yes, you have FIVE SECONDS to draw and shoot two rounds into center-mass of a target that’s seven yards away, and the rest of the par times are equally ridiculous. If you’re any kind of competition shooter (like D Class or better) or have taken a decent two-day pistol course, you should have no trouble qualifying as Expert on this course of fire.

And it’s not like the target they use is extra-small, either. The 10 Zone, the highest-scoring part of the target is bigger than the already generous scoring area of a USPSA target, and compared its a veritable broad side of a barn compared to the IDPA target in the photo to the right. Heck, I’d bet that 3/4ths of my friends on social media could qualify as Expert using half the allotted time for the drill, and more than a few of them could easily do it in half the time and at double the required distance.

Are their good, nay, great military and law enforcement shooters? Of course there are. Does being in the military or law enforcement automatically make you a great shooter? Probably not.

 

 

 

Colt Competition .45 ACP 1911 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 601-700

Colt Competition .45 ACP 1911 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 601-700

I started this test with the intent to prove that a budget (sub-$1000) 1911 in .45ACP could stand up to a 2000 Round Challenge, and so far, so good. Something I didn’t know before I started, though, is that Greg Ellifritz has a list of the best 1911’s out there, and Colt is on the list.

This gives me hope.

One of the things that’s probably helping the reliability of my test gun is that I’m using nothing but Wilson Combat magazines in the test 1911. It’s fairly well-known that magazines are the Achille’s heel of the 1911, and I made the decision early on to use top-quality mags, and so far, so good.

I went shooting with Jeff Street last week and put 100 rounds of Remington UMC .45 ACP through the Colt Competition. Nothing happened except a big, ragged hole appeared in the target. This is getting boring. Boring is good.

Colt Competition 2000 Round Challenge

Rounds Fired:
100 Rounds Remington UMC .45ACP FMJ

Results:

No issues.

Thanks to Lucky Gunner for providing the ammo for this test.

Flash Site Pictures – Monday Edition

Flash Site Pictures – Monday Edition

Went on a family trip up to Orlando for my birthday over the weekend, so here’s some content I queued up for you all. Some of it written by me, so not.

An evidence-based approach to knife defence. I’m not the most-qualified guy to comment on this, but I found it interesting.

First Look: Savage B22 FLH. Really liked this little rifle. It’s a keeper.

A quick flow chart to help you stop bleeding.

Some really good advice on pocket pistols. When in doubt, go with a Failure To Stop Drill.

Five Skill Drills For The Indoor Range, because not everybody has access to a pistol bay.

Comparing an A Class vs C Class run on the same stage. I’m sucky and I know it.

Colt Competition .45 ACP 1911 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 451-600

Colt Competition .45 ACP 1911 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 451-600

I went to another one of Step By Step Gun Training’s Shoot N Scoot’s events last weekend to do two things: Shoot a bunch of qualifiers to gauge my progress and get them on record, and put more rounds through the Colt 1911. We’ll talk about that first thing at a later date, so let’s move on to the Colt.

One of the nice things about the Shoot N Scoots is that each weekend, the first two bays are set up identically to what was used the previous Thursday in the pistol matches they run there, so I get to compare my performance from one day to next. The matches are Louland are alway lightweight, run and gun affairs that are good skill builders and not too challenging and primarily use steel targets. Here’s the setup for Stage 2.

Shoot N Scoot

And here’s one of my runs with the Colt.

My time on that run was a skooch under 18 seconds, with three reloads. My time on that stage last Thursday using a Beretta APX and a 21 round mag (so no reloads)? 21.28 seconds. Yes, I missed a shot with the 1911 that the RO let slide in this run, but on my first run, I shot it 18.9 secs. So there.

So why the over two second difference between a softer-shooting 9mm with no reloads and the thump of .45ACP and three reloads?

Two reasons:

  1. Familiarity. I’m at over 500 rounds with that 1911, and I’m starting to learn how to run it. I’ve just under 200 rounds with the Beretta. I know where things are set up on the Colt, but the Beretta is the first full-sized striker gun I’ve shot over a long period of time.
    No, really.
  2. Sights. The Colt’s fiber optic sights, while large, are nothing compared to the Beretta’s sights. There is literally no gap between the front sight and rear sight on the Beretta, making precise aiming a bit of a challenge. In addition to that, the Beretta uses three dot sights, a setup that just does not work well for me… Gimme fiber optics or Trijicon HD’s any day over three dots.

Colt Competition 2000 Round Challenge

Rounds Fired:
100 Rounds Sellier And Bellot .45ACP FMJ
50 Rounds Remington UMC .45ACP FMJ

Results:

No issues.

Thanks to Lucky Gunner for providing the ammo for this test.

Colt Competition .45 ACP 1911 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 351-450

Colt Competition .45 ACP 1911 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 351-450

In addition to calling an end to the Ruger LCP2 test, I also put one hundred rounds of Lucky Gunner’s .45ACP ammo through the 1911 during that same trip to Shoot Center, working on one-handed shooting and reloads. Not much to report here: Everything worked, nothing blew up, the gun just ran.

Bor-ing. So far, this entry-level 1911 is doing what you want a gun to do: Shoot, shoot accurately and shoot all the time.

My reloads are noticeably slower than with my double-stack guns, which I attribute to a combination of the smaller mag opening in the grip of the 1911 and the forgiving triangular prism shape of the top of a double stack mag. I’m going to work with a timer a bit to see which is faster for me on my reloads: Hitting the slide stop release with my thumb, or going over the top and reaching the slide. I suspect that as it stands now, they’ll be pretty much the same, but hitting the slide stop faster will be better for my times in the long run, although running the slide is the more useful of the two as it applies to just about every gun out there.

Colt Competition 2000 Round Challenge

Rounds Fired:

100 Rounds Sellier And Bellot .45ACP

Results:

No issues.

Colt Competition 1911 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 226 – 350

Colt Competition 1911 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 226 – 350

I brought the Colt out to one of Step By Step’s Shoot N Scoot events last week to work on shooting in a match without the pressure of placement and to re-shoot stages where I screw up. I’ve written before about how the Shoot N Scoot is a good on-ramp for new gun owners,  but it’s also a great way for more advanced shooters to learn from their mistakes in a short period of time.

The stages are all-steel, easy to shoot and the longest stage was 22 rounds, making them easy to shoot with an eight-round mag. I concentrated on muzzle control with two hands and one-handed shooting with the 1911, and while much more work is needed, at last I understand the scope of the problem now.

Colt Competition 2000 Round Challenge

Rounds Fired:

250 Rounds Remington UMC 230 Grain FMJ
100 Rounds Sig Sauer 230 Grain FMJ

Results:

No issues.

I also put my first 100 rounds through the Beretta APX I have on loan, and it’s a nice little service pistol. While it’s about the same size as a Glock, it’s got better sights (3 dot night sights*) and a better trigger. Looking forward to putting this gun to more use.

 

* Note that I said “better,” not “optimal.” I’m not that big of a fan of three dot sights, but they are better than what Glocks ship with.

Colt Competition 1911 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 1 – 225

Colt Competition 1911 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 1 – 225

Let me state upfront that I do not have a zillion rounds through a 1911. I grew up in Western Canada, so pistol shooting was completely unknown to me before I moved to the U.S. Before getting in this gun, I had maybe a hundred rounds or so through a 1911 in my entire life, so I am not comparing this gun to other 1911s, I am comparing it to what I know, namely DA/SA guns both metal and plastic, and striker-fired service pistols

So here are my initial thoughts on the 1911, and this Colt Competition in particular.

The trigger is fantastic: A surprise trigger break is easy to achieve even with this entry—level gun, and I can see why people like the 1911 so much. Recoil is more than with my all-metal CZ75, but it easy to manage in a  full-size 45 like the Colt, and it was super easy to punch out the center of a target 7 yards away, even under rapid fire. Coming from the CZ, with its skinnier slide, I’m used to riding my thumbs up high on the frame because there’s room there to do so. This is not going to work with a 1911.

The front sight on the Colt Competition is a little thicker than what I’m used to, but that larger front sight definitely helps me acquire it faster at speed. The ergonomics on the gun are terrific… seriously, why did gun designers see a need to screw around with this design? The slide stop is right where it should be, the safety is super easy to activate or deactivate, and everything just FITS.

I picked up the pistol from my FFL, and lubed it with some Tetra gun grease on the slide and some Brownell’s gun oil everywhere else, then headed out the range to break it in. I fired off 100 rounds of Remington UMC 230 grain FMJ from Lucky Gunner just to get used to the gun and how it handled, and also to practice with my new holster for the gun, a Red Hill Tactical Kydex holster in a nice rich shade of brown.

One thing I have to consider in this test is that I’ll be shooting USPSA matches quite often with this gun, and that means dropping magazines into the fine sugar sand we call soil here in SW Florida. Add in the fact that the reliability of the 1911 is closely tied to the magazines than just about any other pistol out there, and you can see the quandary I’m in. The point of the 2000 Round Challenge is to test the reliability of the gun under average conditions, and I’m not sure that dropping mags into sand, reloading them and then using them again is “average” conditions. As such, when I shoot a match, I’ll let you know, and I’ll be cleaning the magazines (but not the gun) after every match.

Speaking of which, I shot a match last week, the Thursday night USPSA match at Hansen Gun Club, and I used the Colt to shoot it. And I sucked, of course. I was slow, but the interesting thing was, because I was dealing with a lot of eight shots per port shooting locations, I was paying a LOT more attention to accuracy than if I was shooting it with my ten rounds per magazine Production gun.

An example.

Yes, my splits are glacially slow, and yes, you can time my movement on the stage with an hourglass, but I was in the top third on total stage points on every stage in the match.

I’ll take it.

In the mean time, here’s where we stand after the first 250 rounds through the entry-level Colt Competition 1911:

Colt Competition 2000 Round Challenge

Rounds Fired:

125 Rounds Remington UMC 230 Grain FMJ
100 Rounds Sig Sauer 230 Grain FMJ

Results:

No issues.