KR Training 2016-05-07 – Pocket Gun / Skill Builder Quick Hits

Saturday May 7, 2016 was a different day at KR Training. In the morning was the “Pocket Gun Class” and in the afternoon was Skill Builder. I say different because these are two classes we don’t run often, but they are so important.

Why don’t we run them more often? People don’t want to come out for these classes, and we’re honestly mystified as to why.

The Pocket Gun Class is that class for all those little guns that no one admits to carrying yet you all do. The little snub revolver, or the micro semi-auto that you throw in your pocket to run to the mailbox or the grocery story. The smaller gun that you carry because it’s a hot Texas summer and you don’t want to strap on your “heater” with the tank-top and flip-flops attire du jour.

I guess you think that if you can do it with your big gun you can do it with your small gun?

Not necessarily.

And this class was a perfect example.

Note: don’t take the following as picking on students. It’s more that the results of class were a perfect illustration of the importance of this class. I know from speaking with these student afterwards they were thankful for taking the class because it was exactly the eye-opening “get this sorted out before it’s truly relevant in my life” experience they needed.

Skills may not translate

So you think that all guns are the same? That if you have skill here it will translate over there? That if I can shoot this gun, I’ll be able to shoot that gun just as well?

Well, perhaps.

The closer the two platforms are to each other, the more things will translate. So for instance, if you were shooting a Glock 17 then switched to another Glock 17, chances are you’ll shoot just the same. If you switched to a Glock 19, you’d probably shoot just the same. A 17 and 19 aren’t 100% alike, but close enough that skills will transfer. Switch to a Glock 26 and chances are you’ll shoot pretty close, but there’s more difference between the 26 and the 17 that some issues will creep in.

Now let’s try a more radical difference. We had this in class: a student shooting a snub-nose revolver. So a very small gun (and he had very big, meaty hands), with a long, very-heavy trigger pull. Plus, snubs like this have a different “point of aim” to them. Then he switched to his normal gun: a proper 1911. So this very large frame, a short and sweet trigger pull, and that “natural point of aim” 1911’s are so famed for. You can’t get more different in the two platforms than this, and it manifested itself in the student’s performance. In fact, towards the end of class we shoot the “3 Seconds or Less” drill with the pocket gun, then shoot it again with your normal carry gun, and every student sees marked differences – generally how much better they are with a full-sized gun. Is that because of the gun itself? or because they just don’t practice enough with the small gun? Either way.

There was another difference manifest in this experience. That sudden switching was difficult! Another student was shooting a snub revolver, and I don’t recall what his normal carry was (I think a M&P9), but when he switched from the snub to the normal  he was yanking the trigger terribly because he had been used to this long, heavy-trigger and his body was still expecting to have to shoot that way.

With another student, he was working with a Ruger LC9, then switched to his normal which was an M&P9c. The difference was dramatic. He has the skills, he can certainly shoot. But that long, heavy, trigger press on the Ruger he was working so hard to overcome every time that was slapping the trigger to a high degree. Switch back to his M&P and he was shooting great.

So what are some take homes?

To me, this is one reason I gave up on carrying a snub as a back-up gun or even as a “small gun” when I needed a small gun. When the platforms are too different, I don’t find advantage. There’s no question different tools can have different advantages (and disadvantages): there’s certainly things that a snub revolver can do that the smaller semi-autos just cannot. But trying to switch between my primary M&P9 and a S&W 442 as a backup? It just grew to have more problems than benefits. Instead, I opted that when I need a smaller gun, pick something of similar setup: like an M&P Shield.

So that whole Glock 17/19/26/43 setup works really well. You can have the different sizes, and the skill transfer between them is pretty close. You still need to work with the different sizes because it’s not a perfect 1-to-1 transfer, but it’s a LOT better than wider swings like a 1911 to a J-frame.

Another take home? Long, heavy, trigger presses suck. What advantage do you gain from them?

Another? The more the dohickies, the more complicated the machine is to operate, the more you must practice – and ensure you put manipulation of the dohickies into your practice. If it’s too annoying to always manipulate in practice, then that’s a clue.


I particularly enjoyed this instance of class because we had a variety of carry methods. We had fanny packs, appendix holster, pocket carry, a SmartCarry/Thunderwear, ankle rig. There’s all sorts of “non-traditional” methods out there.

Stupid me forgot to bring some of my usuals, like my Maxpedition bag or my ITS Tactical messenger bag.

Bottom line: practice with it.

This is one of those things that you can most certainly do in dry-fire practice — and you should. Work these methods. Work on accessing your gun from them, because generally they are slower methods or methods with a higher chance of fumble.

Case in point: for giggles I carried my NAA Guardian .32 ACP in a pocket holster for this class. The particular shorts I was wearing have very deep pockets and a very wide pocket mouth, but the way the pants then ride the pocket mouth “closes” very tight against the body, which makes drawing a “fist” out of the pocket a little difficult. Every pair of shorts is different (unless you only wear one brand of clothing, I guess). If you are going to pocket carry, make sure every day when you get dressed you do a dozen dry reps drawing from that pocket to make sure it will work (else maybe change shorts, or buy new ones, or get these tailored, etc.).


Blending into the afternoon Skill Builder class, we transition from talking about gear to talking about skills. I don’t always talk gear so much, but so much of what the “small gun” class is about is the gear. But in Skill Builder, it’s all about you. 🙂

We had a good group of students, progressing really well. As a result, Karl went a little “off script” and taught some extra things – you weren’t there, so you missed out on these extra gems. 😉

One take home from me dovetailed well into my own practice from a few days ago: Going Faster.

There’s the old Ball-And-Dummy drill that everyone knows about. Well, Karl uses a variantion from the Rogers School where you set up a magazine: live-dummy 5x. When you shoot you should shoot the live then immediately shoot the dummy. Yes, you know the dummy is there – but it doesn’t matter. See, when you do other flavors of the drill, far too often you start to game it (I was doing this a bunch a few days ago), you start to anticipate, and you do more of a disservice to yourself. With this, believe me: the problems will come out. You will be forced to do better. But the better thing here is to move “at speed” into that second shot. As I watched Karl explain, as I watched the students execute I was like “Man, this is exactly the drill I need right now”. So this will move into my live-fire practice. It will help you get faster, it will help you flinch and slap less.

For the students in class: that 3M Drill? You can read about it here.


All in all, a good day. Classes were small, which was a bummer because these are two classes well worth taking. But it wound up benefitting the students because class could run a little faster and we certainly took advantage of that working in extra things where we could.

Weather was great. It’s warming up to Texas summer now – wear sunscreen, drink water, eat well, take care of yourself.

Afterwards, Karl and I spent a little time looking at my M&P Shield. I’m honestly still not 100% sure if it’s a PEBKAC issue or a mechanical issue, and if there’s still actually a problem or not. But given what Karl and I did yesterday we’re both starting to lean towards: no, the gun has been fixed, but this is just the level of accuracy you’re going to get. We did drift the sights a little bit, which helped with a few things. But even shooting Karl’s Shield well… we are starting to lean towards these are just “combat accurate” to use a slight eye-rolling term. Jury’s still out, I still want to do more work with it to really see what’s what and if I’m willing to entrust to this particular gun or not.

But bottom line: I was outside, enjoying a wonderful day, with a good  group of people.

Life is good.

To the students: thank you all for coming out and spending your day with us. We’ll see you again soon. 🙂


12 thoughts on “KR Training 2016-05-07 – Pocket Gun / Skill Builder Quick Hits

  1. i mostly see an argument for only using single-action weapons. i detest double action and see no use for it. well, there are exceptions, but those mostly don’t apply to me.

    does that mean i don’t have double action guns? unfortunately no. the folks (customers) who can’t figure out how to juggle hammer, safety, and trigger wanted things dumbed down nearly all the handguns over the last 15-20 years so that when someone asked them how to fire a weapon all they’d have to remember is ‘pull the trigger, duh’ . and they have dictated the marketplace.

    this is why my very favorite handguns are the h&k v1’s (Variant 1:
 Double action/single action with “SAFE” position. Control lever (manual safety/decoking lever) on left side of frame.) which have hammers, safeties, and de-cockers, yet can be shot in ‘stupid’ or ‘lazy’ mode. for my use, these are ideal handguns, but are priced out of reach of many people. thus their new vp9 line. and i do have a vp9, but only because i trust hk to do double-action-only right–i had a m&p for about two weeks and i wouldn’t have had it that long except i kept blaming myself for how badly it operated and i threw $150 at the trigger and it was still bad.


    • So you’re saying simplification is a bad thing? (given you referred to it as “dumbing down”).

      The engineer in me says that things should be as simple as necessary, but no simpler. Are all the extra gizmos and levers and buttons and so on truly necessary? I’d argue not.

      That said, what matters most with a trigger press is consistency. That the press is the same each press, each shot. So if that’s DAO, or a single-action 1911, or the “hybrid” of whatever striker pistols have (since they aren’t strictly SA nor DA). Consistency works better.

  2. i forgot one of my main points. revolvers got the quick/good equation right long ago. if you want quick, just pull the trigger. if you want good (i.e., accurate), cock the hammer. i suspect there’s always the exceptions who can be just as accurate using /da/ as they are using /sa/, but i doubt it’s very many people.

    i can only hope the /dumb down/ folks don’t get started on rifles. we’ll be measure groups in feet of angle instead of moa! [g]


    • There are exceptions, like Ben Stoeger. But again, exception.

      Of course you can be both good and accurate with a consistent trigger press. Works well for many many people with Glocks, M&Ps, etc.

      • i take your points, but i maintain that there’s far far more chance for inconsistent pull and release when you have a pull that’s like, what?, 10x, 20x, 30x as long and 3-5x as heavy. unless your hands are as strong as the hulks or you get as much practice as you do, you’re automatically going to rotate your grip to complete the pull (and some pulls are very long). as you say, consistency is key and inconsistency is the death of accuracy.

        i might note here that i’m a target shooter first and foremost and it’s basically a convenience that i can take some of my skills, although few of the same weapons, and apply them to my personal defense. i admit i’ve learned nearly all i know about defensive and tactical shooting from assab and i used to read every word he wrote.

        the most accurate handgun i ever owned (and you have to realize i discarded dozens for not being accurate enough for me) was a s&w 686 revolver .357 mag with the 5 or 6′ barrel. bearing in mind that although i target shoot–i have many obstacles in my way. i shake like a hummingbird and i can only see out of my left eye and thus i’m uncoordinated shooting left handed. but i still have a target with a 25yd, 6-shot, 1″ group from a casual rest shot with the s&w. i kick myself every day for giving away that revolver when i moved long ago.

        but the point is that when i got the gun (i bought it used) it had a 1.5-2.0lb trigger (in single action, natch!) which i strongly suspect came from the factory that way. long ago, the poor man’s way to reduce trigger pull was to add a shoe to it and since all the factory triggers were so narrow as to cut your finger, people used shoes for that use as well. i remember going into gun stores and seeing a 6×6′ or larger display with only trigger shoes in it. so i added a trigger shoe to the already light smith and that brought it down to about 3/4lb and i had to go to the gun store to get a figure that low measured as back then there weren’t any methods available to casual shooters to measure that low.

        but the main point is that i firmly believe the trigger pull on that revolver was a huge factor in it’s accuracy. thus, i can’t use a 6-8lb trigger pull without calculating the accuracy loss in the back of my mind.

        and yes, i realize that’s a totally different world than the one you’re writing about. you only need accuracy good enough to hit a 7″ plate at 7 yds or whatever. and you can’t afford the time necessary to perform the accuracy rituals like breathing and stance &c.

        i just came back from the gun shop with a brand new fn15 (not a lot of love for this one on the internet reviews–it’s not ‘sexy’ as it’s 100% milspec–fn has made military small arms since colt lost the contract in 1989) and without even trying the trigger i knew it was unacceptable because it was milspec and that means a creepy, crawly, 6.5lb trigger. i had them drop in a geissele 2-stage model (g2s) while i waited. the specs say it’s 2.5lbs first stage and 2.0lbs release, but i find it more like 0.25-0.50 first stage and 3.0-3.5 lbs release. this is my very first two-stage trigger and i was enormously impressed.

        so yeah, i’m way too anal about triggers! [g]


        • Indeed — pull weight is a big factor. When you have this 2-3 lb. object in your hand and have to activate it with more force than the thing weighs — sometimes 2-4x more (or more!) force — then yeah, it’s going to cause the thing to move and accuracy can suffer.

          This is part of why 1911’s can be so sweet — you can get excellent pull weights, very minimal movement, and a straight press (as opposed to the “rotating hinge” that every other trigger brings).

          Triggers matter, no question. I will say, a lot of factory guns are getting better about it. I’m more and more impressed with what’s being produced. Like the PPQ really does have a nice factory trigger. It still can’t match a good aftermarket trigger, but for a factory job it’s far and above what has come before it.

  3. I could have used the skills class. Boy can I use a class like that presently.

    The little gun class… well, I have a little Walther PP and a CZ70 but neither really get carried… My current “small” carry is a CZ RAMI.

  4. Thanks for linking the 3M drill. It’s a nice short drill that one can practice on his own even without a timer. The ability to learn to move, shoot and reload is invaluable.

    What’s the name of the target that has the different shapes, colors and numbers? That was one of my favorite drills during the class.

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