14 Ways to How to Combat Ready (Tactically Prepare) Yourself With a Pistol

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Wanna get into tactical shape? Go for broke.

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  • How to How to Combat Ready

    (Tactically Prepare) Yourself With a

    PistolChoosing a Good Sidearm Select a Caliber Practice Reloading Your

    Pistol Malfunctions Point Shooting and Flash Sighting Train Yourself Human

    Targets Quick-draw Rapid Fire Firing Positions and Cover and Concealment Other

    Drills Notice About Bullet Consideration Choose a Type of Bullet Pistol Accessories

    A common desire with a pistol is to use it as a self-defense weapon or in a

    combat scenario. Even though there are better weapons for certain situations,

    the handgun's portability and accessibility make it the frequent choice in cases

    of self-defense or combat. Thus, it is a good thing to prepare yourself for

    combat or self-defense using your pistol.

    The primary purpose of this article will be practicing with the pistol to be

    used in a defensive manner, but many of the techniques can easily be

    translated for offensive use.

    While revolvers are a common handgun selection, this article will focus on

    semi-automatic pistols, since they are more widely used in tactical

    situations. It is true that revolver reliability is unsurpassed, but when all

    factors are considered, semi-autos are the weapon of choice of police

    forces and armies around the world.

    Before you prepare for the possible situation where you may need to use

    the information and techniques in this article, you need to understand that

    a tactical mindset is important and is arguably more important for

    preventing or prevailing in a tactical situation.

    Finally: this article assumes you already have a fairly good knowledge of

    firearms and handguns (specifically). If not, there are some articles here on

    wikiHow which can get you more acquainted.

    The choice of weapon can seriously limit your ability to protect yourself with

    lack of accuracy or, more importantly, reliability. Here are some generalities to

    look at when purchasing a weapon for this specific use. None of these are

    absolute as there are exceptions to all of them, and a pistol that fits you

    personally is always the best choice. Below are some important points to

    consider when choosing a pistol.

    Larger pistols may be more accurate than smaller ones, due to their fit to

    the hand, weight (reduced felt recoil), and longer sight plane.

    Smaller pistols are easier to conceal and are lighter to carry.

    Smaller calibers mean less recoil, which in turn means faster and more

    accurate follow-up shots, but generally, less energy and force.

    Larger calibers inflict more damage per bullet.

    Reliability is more important than accuracy and many other attributes of a

    pistol. Purchase a high-quality pistol and make sure it is maintained

    properly.

    Revolvers are more reliable and simpler than semi-automatics.

    Method 1 of 14: Choosing a Good Sidearm

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  • Point-shoot accuracy is more important than sighted accuracy when

    considering self-defense tactics (this is a controversial point in modern

    pistolcraft; there will be more on this later in the article).

    Determine basic point-shoot capabilities of the gun. With an unloaded

    gun, close your eyes and point the gun in a safe direction with your

    finger next to the trigger, but not on it, at a makeshift target. Open your

    eyes the sights should be lined up exactly where you wanted it. At

    five yards, it should be no more than a couple inches off center-target.

    If the handgun is pointing high or low, this can be compensated for

    with practice. For example, almost everyone who has never used a

    Glock before has a high point-shoot location by 6-10 inches at five

    yards. But with practice, you will find that you can compensate for that

    quickly. But, if you then pick up a better-fit gun, you will find that it will

    point low. If the point is too far off, you might want to consider a

    different handgun.

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    This is another quandary which will often pit some of the best and most

    knowledgeable against each other.

    Remember that no cartridge is perfect, so consider both the benefits and

    drawbacks. Most people who study handgun bullet ballistics and tactics such as

    Jeff Cooper ("the father" of what is known as "the modern technique of the handgun")

    have concluded that, comparatively, handgun rounds are weak, and bullet-placement is

    a much more reliable fight-stopper than the round itself. Not to say that there aren't

    some advantages to one round over another, and in a fight, the advantage should

    always be on your side.

    There are a few major features which should always be considered in caliber

    selection.

    Penetration is extremely important. If a bullet does not penetrate deep enough,

    vital organs and the nervous system are less likely to be damaged. In the late

    '90s the FBI conducted extensive studies which suggest a bullet should

    penetrate at least 14-16 inches to be reliable. This allows for bullets to enter a

    body at less than optimal angles and still have enough energy to reach vital

    organs or the spine.

    Permanent cavity is the resulting "void" in a fleshy target where the majority of a

    bullet's energy was transferred and tissue was destroyed. The larger the

    permanent cavity, the greater the chance of vital organs or the central nervous

    system being damaged.

    Recoil is something that is often not talked about in bullet ballistics because it is

    a very subjective and weapon-specific characteristic. Low recoil allows you to

    place more shots quicker and more accurately. Each person will have a different

    feel for the recoil of a bullet, and each handgun will transfer the recoil to the

    user in different ways.

    Bullet energy is an over-emphasized feature of a round. In handguns, the

    energy of bullets is extremely low. "Knock down power" is a fable born of

    Hollywood action movies; stories of people being "knocked down" after being

    shot have been proven to happen because of a preconceived notion that when

    shot, you are supposed to fall down. People shot with a .22 LR in non-vital

    Method 2 of 14: Select a Caliber

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    areas have fallen down because they assumed being shot is synonymous with

    falling down and possibly dying.

    "Bullet energy" is a rebuttal against people bragging about a bullet's energy

    without other considerations, but the amount of energy will also contribute to the

    first three points positively and negatively. The first three points on the other

    hand are all competing against each other in the search for a perfect bullet. If a

    low-recoil round with deep penetration and a massive permanent cavity were

    available, no other handgun bullet would be needed.

    A comparison of the most common semi-automatic handgun rounds:

    9mm Parabellum is the most common pistol caliber. Its relatively low recoil

    allows for quick, accurate follow up shots. The magazine capacity is usually

    much greater than other larger rounds. Cost is low and availability is excellent,

    making the 9mm an attractive choice for extended practice. Finally, there are

    excellent higher pressure (+P rated) loads available, producing excellent

    self-defense characteristics (make sure your handgun is rated to shoot +P loads

    before you use them).

    .45 ACP uses heavier, wider bullets than the 9mm at somewhat lower velocity.

    The caliber lends itself to use with sound suppressors due to the fact that a

    standard round (230 grain) is subsonic under almost all circumstances. The

    permanent cavity (on ballistics gel) of a JHP .45 ACP is about 40% larger than a

    JHP 9mm. Recoil is more severe than the 9mm, and the magazine capacity

    tends to be much lower. Most law enforcement officers will say (referring to a

    point-blank gun fight), if you don't hit them in the first three bullets, you aren't

    going to hit them. So, large capacity magazines mean less than you may think.

    .40 S&W is another common caliber with performance characteristics

    somewhere between the 9mm Luger and the .45 ACP. It has gained a large

    following in law enforcement agencies and elsewhere. Among other benefits of

    the round, the flat nose of the round has shown to create larger temporary

    cavities and also to allow the energy to transfer at a quicker rate to create a

    sizable permanent cavity.

    There are many other calibers which have not been mentioned here. .38

    Special, .357 Magnum, and .44 Magnum are common revolver cartridges. The 357

    SIG (a 9mm bullet in a necked-down .40 cal casing) and 10mm Auto are also somewhat

    prevalent autoloader calibers. Another specialty round is the 5.7x28mm, made by FN,

    (Fabrique Nationale) designed to defeat Class III body armor with this ammunition. Such

    steel-core ammunition is not widely available to civilians, but the advantage of the round

    as a very low-recoil, high-velocity round cannot be denied. Additionally, due to its

    tumbling effect in soft targets it creates a considerable permanent cavity (for its size)

    while still penetrating deeper than 14 inches. The 4.6x30mm, which has the same

    characteristics as the 5.7x28mm, is made by Heckler and Koch.

    There is more information on the actual bullet choice (not the caliber) later in

    this article.

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    Though it may be good to be familiar with a wide spectrum of firearms,

    defensive practice should primarily be done with one or two pistols (allowing

    for a primary and "back-up" pistol). This allows your body to store procedural

    memory about the weapon's operation. So instead of thinking is the slide

    locked back? press magazine release magazine is clear grab new

    magazine insert new magazine with correct orientation release slide. If

    you practice enough, the procedure will become second nature, and just

    thinking is the slide locked back? reload pistol will get it all done while you

    are able to think about your current situation.

    You should be able to load your gun quickly 100% of the time without

    looking at your pistol, your hands, or your magazines.

    Emergency reload is the reload in which you have spent all the rounds from

    your magazine and your slide is locked back. This should all be done while

    keeping your gun pointed at your target. Psychologically, lowering your gun gives your

    intended target an advantage over you and keeps you focused on your gun rather than

    on your target.

    The technique is as follows: when the slide locks back, you want to grab

    another magazine (likely from a magazine pouch). As you move the fresh

    magazine toward the gun, eject the empty magazine letting it hit the ground

    (they should essentially pass each other during the drill). Place the rear of the

    magazine against the rear of the magazine well of the gun, align the two, and

    with some force (though there should be little resistance) seat the magazine

    using the heel of your palm; then depress the slide release.

    Tactical reload is the reload in which you encounter a lull in the gunfight

    and are able to place yourself behind cover. You know you have spent some

    rounds from the current magazine and want to prepare for whatever may come next.

    This drill can be done at the ready, since it should be done from behind cover

    and the other shooter (target) may be visible, but not an immediate threat.

    Reach to your magazine pouch (or other magazine holder a pocket perhaps

    and grab a magazine with your thumb, index finger, and middle finger. Move

    back to the gun and eject the partially depleted magazine into your hand,

    grabbing the ejected magazine with your ring finger, pinkie, and the palm of your

    hand. Insert the fresh magazine into the gun and tug on it slightly to make sure

    that it is seated in the magazine well correctly. (This is especially important

    when loading a magazine that is topped off.) This reload doesn't require

    manipulation of the slide release.

    This reload should be executed before you re-holster your pistol so if you need

    to draw again you are fully prepared.

    You should be practiced enough that when you are shooting (no matter how

    many rounds are in the magazine), you should be able to feel when the

    handgun is empty.

    The slide has two separate actions every time a round is fired; after the last

    round is fired you will only feel the first action, ultimately there is less muzzle

    Method 3 of 14: Practice Reloading Your Pistol

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  • flip. The quicker you are able to reload the magazine, the better. After this, you

    execute an emergency reload.

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    Malfunctions (often erroneously, known as "jams") are a way of life in

    semi-automatic handguns. Though most modern guns are relatively reliable, it

    is always a good idea to be prepared because malfunctions seem to happen at

    the most inopportune times. (Murphy's Law prevails.) Learn how to practice

    clearing malfunctions by reading Reload a Pistol and Clear Malfunctions.

    Type-1 malfunction: this is a failure-to-fire (FTF) malfunction. You pull the trigger

    and you get a "click" instead of a "boom." This is the simplest type of malfunction,

    the most common type, and the easiest to fix: just tap, rack/flip.

    Type-2 malfunction: a failure-to-eject is a common problem on older 1911s and

    other guns with shorter ejectors. This type of malfunction is affectionately known as

    a "stove pipe."

    The symptom of this malfunction is a "dead trigger" (no click, just a little bit of

    movement), and most likely some brass sticking out of your ejection port (but

    not necessarily), and the slide is not completely in battery (all the way forward).

    Fix it using the same method at a Type-1 malfunction: tap, rack/flip.

    Type-3 malfunction: this is known as "the Mother Of All Malfunctions" (MOAM) by

    some. This is a feed-way stoppage, which means that too much brass is in the

    chamber at the same time.

    If you do get a type-3 malfunction under fire, many pistol masters will tell you

    just to grab for your back-up. Of course, if that is not an option you should find

    cover before executing the clearing.

    To clear: grab your slide and lock it back (this is optional on many handguns).

    Press the magazine eject, grab the magazine and throw it to the ground ("strip"

    it). Grab the slide again and rack it hard three times. Reach for a fresh

    magazine, put it in the gun (same as the tactical reload) and rack the slide one

    more time to load a round into the chamber. You can also learn to keep the

    magazine you have in your gun, read this.

    Some pistols, notably the Glocks, may be cleared of a Type 3 malfunction

    simply by dropping the magazine far enough to allow the slide to go forward and

    then re-seating the magazine with authority. If the slide goes completely forward

    into battery, the pistol is then mostly l...