GO­ING THE DIS­TANCE

KNOW THE RE­AL­IS­TIC EN­GAGE­MENT RANGES TO EX­PECT WITH YOUR CARRY HAND­GUN

Concealed Carry Hand Guns - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - STORY AND PHO­TOS BY LEROY THOMP­SON

Know the re­al­is­tic en­gage­ment ranges to ex­pect with your carry hand­gun.

By Leroy Thomp­son

Iwas train­ing with a cou­ple of friends a few days ago, and we started dis­cussing some­thing that one of them had no­ticed at the in­door range he vis­its two or three times a week. Vir­tu­ally none of the other shoot­ers were fir­ing their hand­guns past 10 yards and most were prac­tic­ing at 5 or 7 yards.

Ad­mit­tedly, we live in the city where the like­li­hood is that a gun­fight will take place at close range, but “like­li­hood” doesn’t mean that it re­ally will. Thought needs to be given to where the armed cit­i­zen goes dur­ing his daily busi­ness or plea­sure, how the weapon is car­ried (thus de­ter­min­ing weapon choice), level of skill and train­ing, and po­ten­tial threat.

POCKET GUNS UP CLOSE

Pocket hand­guns are most eas­ily car­ried by ur­ban dwellers and I will dis­cuss choice of a pocket gun in an­other ar­ti­cle in this is­sue. Con­ven­tional wis­dom is that a pocket gun is only in­tended for close range—that’s why they have been called “belly guns,” based on the as­sump­tion they will be shoved into an at­tacker’s belly while pulling the trig­ger.

Ac­tu­ally, that is a fal­la­cious way of view­ing the pocket gun. Shov­ing the weapon against the op­po­nent of­fers him more op­por­tu­nity to wrest it away and, in the case of an au­to­matic pis­tol, in­creases the like­li­hood of a mal­func­tion if the slide is pushed out of bat­tery.

“...THE LIKE­LI­HOOD IS THAT A GUN­FIGHT WILL TAKE PLACE AT CLOSE RANGE, BUT ‘LIKE­LI­HOOD’ DOESN’T MEAN THAT IT RE­ALLY WILL.”

When the at­tacker is close, dis­tance is your friend, which is why I train peo­ple to back ped­dle, move lat­er­ally, turn side­ways or go for cover if pos­si­ble.

Let’s dis­cuss ef­fec­tive dis­tances for the pocket pis­tol, though. I carry pocket re­volvers or au­tos quite a bit of the time. Lately, my pocket au­tos have been a Kahr PM9, Glock 43 or HK P30SK. I nor­mally train with each of these au­tos at 7, 10, 15, and 25 yards. At 7 and 10 yards, espe­cially, I train in bring­ing them into ac­tion from the pocket (safely) and do­ing dou­ble taps.

At 15 yards I some­times do Mozam­bique drills in which I do a dou­ble tap to the cen­ter of mass and a sin­gle tap to the head. At 25 yards I usu­ally shoot for cen­ter of mass, though some­times prac­tice head­shots. At 7, 10, and 15 yards I also prac­tice tak­ing head­shots on a hostage taker tar­get just so I stay con­fi­dent I can take one if nec­es­sary.

STRETCH­ING THE RANGE

Nor­mally, I do not prac­tice with these three au­tos past 25 yards, with one ex­cep­tion. The Kahr PM9 is so ac­cu­rate and easy to shoot that I do prac­tice with it at 35 and 50 yards. At 50 yards I can nor­mally keep all of the rounds from a mag­a­zine cen­tered on a sil­hou­ette tar­get, though I may drop a round or two some­times. As a note on its ac­cu­racy, the PM9 was au­tho­rized as a backup/off duty gun for the St. Louis Po­lice De­part­ment, where I had friends who shot a 100 per­cent qual­i­fi­ca­tion with their PM9s, of­ten out­shoot­ing most of the oth­ers on the line who were shoot­ing their duty Beretta 92s.

My wife also car­ries small au­tos. She doesn’t train as of­ten as I do, but I still want her to be able to ef­fec­tively en­gage past point-blank range. She trains on sil­hou­ette and re­ac­tive tar­gets at 7, 10, and 15 yards with her Kahr P380 and S&W .380 Body­guard.

Both have lasers, which she uses well, so speed and ac­cu­racy of en­gage­ment is stressed in her train­ing. She does also prac­tice on plates at 25 yards, at least par­tially so she stays com­pe­tent us­ing her sights should the laser fail.

I’m “old school” and still carry a pocket re­volver some­times: ei­ther a S&W

638 or 438 or a First Model Colt Agent with a ham­mer shroud. I prac­tice with them to 15 yards us­ing DA and at 25 yards us­ing both SA and DA. I have to ad­mit that I don’t do well with ei­ther at 50 yards, even when cock­ing the ham­mer and fir­ing sin­gle ac­tion.

How­ever, I do have one snub re­volver that I shoot well at 50 yards. With my S&W Model 60 Tar­get, even though it only has a 2-inch bar­rel, I can of­ten score five hits from its fiveshot cylin­der on a hang­ing plate at 50 yards. Its ad­justable sights are a huge plus for longer-range shoot­ing. On the neg­a­tive side, those same ad­justable sights re­quire a pocket hol­ster that shrouds the rear sight.

POINT BLANK RANGE

In a few cases, a hand­gun is cho­sen for use at very close range. For ex­am­ple, where I live, I know two in­di­vid­u­als who carry an S&W Gover­nor re­volvers with the first three cham­bers of the cylin­der loaded with .410 Winch­ester PDX1 loads con­tain­ing three “De­fense Discs” and 12 BBs. The other three cham­bers are loaded with .45 Colt. The Gov­er­nors are car­ried in their ve­hi­cles specif­i­cally to use against car­jack­ers at close range.

BELT GUNS FOR MEDIUM TO LONGER RANGE

Larger belt guns are gen­er­ally ef­fec­tive at longer ranges, though am­mu­ni­tion choice, hav­ing the sights reg­u­lated, cal­iber and the shooter all com­bine to af­fect ac­cu­racy. The like­li­hood of a close-range en­gage­ment still re­mains high with a belt gun, so drills should be shot at 7, 10, 15 and 25 yards reg­u­larly.

If I’m us­ing a DA re­volver or a DA auto, I al­ways fire in that mode. With DA re­volvers, I fire all rounds DA at 7, 10, and 15 yards and of­ten at 25 yards. With DA/SA au­tos, first rounds are DA and sub­se­quent rounds SA. How­ever, I do drills at close ranges in which I draw and en­gage with a dou­ble tap— first round DA and se­cond round SA.

Af­ter each two-round string I use the

de-cocker to drop the ham­mer, re-hol­ster, and re­peat the drill. I usu­ally ex­pend 50 rounds on this drill when I do it. If train­ing with a sin­gle ac­tion auto, I draw, re­lease the safety and fire a dou­ble tap; then re-ap­ply the safety, re-hol­ster, and re­peat the drill.

With most of my au­tos I some­times shoot at plates at 50 yards, nor­mally us­ing SA on the DA/SA au­tos but some­times fir­ing the first round DA and the rest of the mag­a­zine SA.

The SA au­tos I carry—Spring­field Ar­mory Pro­fes­sional Model (HRT Spe­cial), Wil­son Com­bat LW Light-Rail, Garth­waite Brown­ing High-Power or SIG P210—are all very ac­cu­rate. So, any­time I train with them I do some shoot­ing at 50 yards, usu­ally on plates but oc­ca­sion­ally on sil­hou­ette tar­gets. With any of them I am con­fi­dent I can ef­fec­tively en­gage at 50 yards.

100-YARD CARRY GUNS

At least par­tially be­cause I used to work on pro­tec­tive de­tails where the pos­si­bil­ity of fac­ing at­tack­ers armed with AK-47s at longer dis­tances ex­isted, I trained—and still train—with some pis­tols at 100 yards. The flat­ter shoot­ing 9x19mm pis­tols nor­mally per­form best at that dis­tance, espe­cially the SIG P210. To be most ef­fec­tive at 100 yards, it is gen­er­ally best to train in fir­ing prone for a more sta­ble shoot­ing po­si­tion (which also makes it less likely you’ll be hit by one of those spray-shoot­ing ter­ror­ists with an AK-47!) I also use the kneel­ing po­si­tion or a stand­ing or kneel­ing rest for fir­ing at 100 yards.

“...BE­CAUSE I USED TO WORK ON PRO­TEC­TIVE DE­TAILS WHERE THE POS­SI­BIL­ITY OF FAC­ING AT­TACK­ERS ARMED WITH AK-47S AT LONGER DIS­TANCES EX­ISTED, I TRAINED—AND STILL TRAIN—WITH SOME PIS­TOLS AT 100 YARDS.”

I can usu­ally get a cou­ple of hits per mag­a­zine fir­ing off­hand at plates

100 yards away with my P210, but I get more us­ing a rest. An al­ter­na­tive pis­tol use­ful at longer ranges is the FN Five-seveN, which also of­fers high mag­a­zine ca­pac­ity for long-range “sup­pres­sive fire.”

I still oc­ca­sion­ally carry a belt re­volver as well. Nor­mally, it’s a Ma­nurhin MR73 with ei­ther a 3- or 4-inch bar­rel, a S&W Model 57 .41 Mag­num with 4-inch bar­rel or a S&W Model 66 with 3-inch bar­rel.

I do the same ba­sic drills with these re­volvers at 7 to 25 yards as with the au­tos. I draw, do DA dou­ble taps, re-hol­ster and re­peat. Some­times I in­cor­po­rate a reload. Any of these four re­volvers al­lows ac­cu­rate shoot­ing at 50 yards when fir­ing SA. My carry Model 57, for­merly the cus­tom-built carry gun of gun writer Frank James, is a DA-only, but the trig­ger pull is so good that I can use it ef­fec­tively at 50 yards.

One of the real ad­van­tages of the

.41 Mag­num round is that it is very flat shoot­ing. As a re­sult, I do train with the Model 57 at 100 yards, as

I do with the two Ma­nurhin MR73 re­volvers. I’ve never been ef­fec­tive at us­ing the seated po­si­tion while lean­ing against a tree or other back­rest at 100 yards so I nor­mally use prone or a stand­ing rest. On a typ­i­cal day I can usu­ally score one or two hits from the MR73s or the 57, though I fire a full cylin­der some­times without a hit and other times with as many as three hits.

Most read­ing this will prob­a­bly not see a rea­son to train with their carry hand­gun to 100 yards. That is prob­a­bly cor­rect, but I would rec­om­mend train­ing at least oc­ca­sion­ally to 50 yards and fre­quently to 25 yards.

I saw an in­ter­est­ing il­lus­tra­tion of the em­pha­sis many shoot­ers place on fast close-range shoot­ing. Some years ago, I was at Black­wa­ter North along with a group of very ex­pe­ri­enced shoot­ers. We were do­ing a drill where we had to en­gage plates start­ing at close range and mov­ing back af­ter each string. At the closer ranges, where speed and close-range ac­cu­racy counted, many were out­shoot­ing me. As we moved to 25 yards I was do­ing much bet­ter and as we moved to 50 yards I was among the ones do­ing very well. That’s be­cause I train at vary­ing ranges. CC

Top: Although the S&W J-frame snub is not nor­mally con­sid­ered for use at longer ranges, the Model 60 Tar­get with ad­justable sights is an ex­cep­tion. Even at 50 yards, Thomp­son can of­ten score hits with all five rounds on hang­ing plates.

A fa­vorite carry gun of Thomp­son’s is the Ma­nurhin MR73 re­volver, which shoots very well at 50 yards and with prac­tice may be used at 100 yards.

The Kahr PM9 is an ex­cel­lent pocket 9x19mm for pocket carry, but it has also proven ca­pa­ble of ac­cu­rate shot place­ment at 50 yards, mak­ing it a ver­sa­tile self-de­fense pis­tol.

Left: Com­bin­ing a rest with cover Thomp­son fires at plates at 100 yards with his fa­vorite long-range hand­gun, the SIG P210. Right: SIG P210-6: Ex­cel­lent trig­ger pull, pre­ci­sion bar­rel, Swiss crafts­man­ship and good sights make this pis­tol su­perb for longer range shoot­ing.

Be­cause the .41 Mag­num is a flat-shoot­ing car­tridge, the S&W Model 57 .41 Mag­num of­fers a combo of knock­down power and range.

A round of Winch­ester PDX1 .410 ammo fired at 7-feet from the S&W Gover­nor.

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