Combat Focus Shooting Class – A novice women’s view

Cassie Larsen submitted this article.

I had the privilege of being invited by Rob Pincus to attend a Combat Focus Shooting (CFS) class with my husband. I went to the CFS class with a lot of excitement and a lot of nervousness. I knew I was in for a long day of many new firsts. Here’s a list of some of the firsts, this day would bring; My first professional shooting class. First time wearing a gun belt, wearing a mag pouch and holster. First time moving while shooting. First time drawing from a holster to fire and first time shooting more than 200 rounds in one day. With all those firsts you would think this was a horrible day for me. But it wasn’t, it was a blast. I can’t wait to take another class. I learned so much and I feel much more confident in my ability to defend myself or my children if needed.

Favorite Training Phrases directed to me, by Rob Pincus:

“Cassie is there a reason you can hit box A but not box B?”

“Cassie we have established you can shoot low and to the left, now stop!”

“Cassie if I don’t see those hands up in a startle position, I’m going to throw a rock at you!”

“What box were you told to hit? …..Left….. Ok then why did you shoot the right one?…..Um I have no idea…..Yeah me neither, now stop!”

“Cassie, I don’t know what happened during lunch, but you’re shooting better than your husband”.

"Did you get me yelling at Cassie on video"
“Did you get me yelling at Cassie on video”


The day started out with some classroom training about the philosophy of Combat Focus Shooting. The reasons why continued training, beyond getting your conceal weapons permit, is important. We also got to see a little preview of Rob’s personality and passion for what he teaches. We were only in the classroom for about 45 minutes. Part of which we also discussed range rules and filed out waivers. Also, we got to wait for a team mate who was so excited to come to the class, he jumped a curb and crashed his car.

During the classroom portion, I learned out of the 10 students in the class, I was the only one who had never been to formal gun course, either military, law enforcement or other professional class. With this knowledge I was even more nervous. “Great, now I was going to hold the whole class back.” Rob did help me feel a little better by telling the class that the only person we were competing against was ourselves. We needed to improve our best during the class. I was also the only female in the class.


In the class of 10 students, we had two instructors, Rob Pincus and Barret Kendrick. We also had a CFS Instructor that had just finished his instructor class and was observing. I was surprised in a group setting like this that we actually had a lot of one on one instruction. I was teased a lot by Rob, but it was all to help me improve. I could really feel the passion Rob has for what he is teaching. He really impressed me with how much he seemed to care about all the students improving their techniques in the class. To me it felt like he carried about us.

Rob was very articulate with his explanations, examples and instructions. Every instruction given had a reason behind it, as to why it worked and why it was more efficient than another technique. I liked being told why I was doing something, not just being told to do something. It helped me to understand the reasoning for the specific training we were doing. No matter what questions you asked in the class, both Rob or Barret were very helpful and would give multiple different suggestions or tips to help you. Both Rob and Barret would stay with me during the breaks to help identify my problems or help with additional instructions. I saw them do that with several other students as well. For me they were outstanding and I would highly recommend this class and these instructors to any shooter.

Rob Pincus front, Barret Kendrick back
Rob Pincus front, Barret Kendrick back


We began with shooting center mass, drawing from the holster. We were given no instructions except to shoot center mass. For me this was stressful. It was the first time I have drawn from a holster and gone through the steps of the draw on my own. Let alone not having my husband by my side, telling me step by step, what to do. I am very proud to say that I hit center mass. I also didn’t have a negligent discharge or drop my gun. After my first 20 or so rounds, I was feeling pretty confident. I was doing well, getting faster at drawing from the holster and firing fairly accurate on the target. Then Rob came over and said, ” Cassie we have established you can shoot low and to the left, now stop!” Okay, now defeat time, but not really. That is the purpose of the class though, to improve on your shooting techniques. I had many more times during the class that I was called out for the purpose of improvement.

I actually preferred that my husband and I weren’t shooting next to each other. In the beginning of the class we were next to each other and I noticed I was watching him and looking to him for confirmation that I was doing what I supposed to. After he moved away from me, I didn’t have him as a crutch and I was able to improve in my confidence. I suggest to other women taking training classes with their significant others, to think about separating from them during the class.

Cassie w/ one of her CFS targets
Cassie w/ one of her CFS targets

Startle Response:

The Startle Response is responding to threat stimulus, then drawing and firing. The Startle Response improves with practice or repetitions, that’s why you train with it. The easiest way to explain a Startle Response without you seeing someone do it, is to have someone scare you. What you usually do is focus your attention towards the stimulus, lower your center of gravity and put your hands up to defend yourself. I initially had problems with the Startle Response during the class, it was a foreign concept for me. Even though I understand the reason behind the training for it, it was still odd for me to act startled and then draw and fire. After talking to my husband, he also had difficulty with the Startle Response, due to years of previous law enforcement training and instructing.

Startle Response
Startle Response

We went through many different drills, shooting at the A box and B box , different numbers and colors, all while using the Startle Response and movement. We were now at the portion of the class, where we were running hard from different positions and firing at different spots on the target. We were supposed to do all the techniques taught to us throughout the day. That included the Startle Response, and moving while drawing and reloading. I patiently watched the first group go through the drill and felt confident that I too, could do the drill well. I was able to stay up to speed with the guys, running from spot to spot, drawing and firing. I however was not doing my Startle Response well enough for Rob, “Cassie if I don’t see those hands up in a Startle Position, I’m going to throw a rock at you!” Rob then picks up a handful of rocks. I think I had five or six rocks thrown at me before I threw my hands up in the air like the cops were yelling at me, “Show me your hands!” I did get a good chuckle from the group behind me.

Out of all the tips and help Rob gave me during the class, I think this one was my favorite. He really was pushing my personal limits, he wanted me to improve. The truth is, if I don’t practice the Startle Response, I won’t be prepared to defend myself. I’ll have to think a lot more about what I’m doing, where my hands are and what I need to do next. I might lose those important few seconds, that could save my life or more importantly my children’s.

Rob watching me
Rob watching me

Other Learning Moments:

I learned so many more things in this class. I enjoyed shooting with one hand and found it really interesting that I could hit a target without keeping my hands still. I liked that I didn’t have to line up my sights every time I shot, I could still hit the box without them, at a close distances. I learned, even in a stressful situation, I could hit the target. I realized I needed to simplify things more, I have a habit of over complicating things. Many times during the class I was thinking too much or added additional steps that weren’t needed. I was not moving as efficiently as I could be. All of the new things I learned really helped my confidence level with handling a handgun.

Funny Moment:

During the day I shot about 450 rounds. While I was loading a magazine with new ammo, my thumb locked. For over 15 minutes I was teased by Rob and Barret, trying ” field acupuncture” (poking my thumb with various non-helpful things). My lesson and advice to you is to stay hydrated on a hot day. What finally unlocked my thumb was a very cold Gatorade placed on that hand. From that moment on, I didn’t load my own mags, I had my husband do it.

Combat Focus Shooting
Combat Focus Shooting


I truly loved this class. I enjoyed meeting Rob, he was very nice, sincere and took the time to really help you one on one. I would not hesitate to take another class taught by him.

The biggest thing that came out of the class was related to my firearms confidence level. I now feel more confident in using my firearm in a stressful situation. I feel more comfortable manipulating the firearms in my home, especially when my husband is away from home.

Thank you Rob and Barret for all the information given, time spent helping me to improve my skills and my best effort.

Rob Pincus w/ Cassie & Duncan Larsen
Rob Pincus w/ Cassie & Duncan Larsen

If you want to learn more about the Combat Focus Shooting class or take one of your own visit Rob Pincus ICE training website.


Q&A on the AR15/M855 at 1,000 yard post.

A  few weeks ago, I posted an article where I fired at 1,000 yards using  as close to an as issued M16A2 as I can get. I used MK262 ammo and M855 to make hits while shooting iron sights only and from prone with just as sling as support.   The  Article has been popular and has had a lot of views, but with it came a lot of questions and the inevitable  uneasy feeling from people who have given advice to others for years about how near useless the 5.56 is.   Almost to the point of being offended.

A lot of people who emailed me, or commented on the subject wanting to know how it was done and my procedures etc.  After talking to a friend about it, I re read the article and realized that I should have been more clear in some parts. While the majority of people know what the point I was trying to make, some others seem to think I was trying to say something between the lines. So I am going to answer the question that have popped up from a few people since the article.

First is the assumption that I was making any claims about the terminal performance of the 5.56/M855 round or even the MK 262 at this distance.  I was not.   I simply shot  the drill as a way to demonstrate that the AR15 is capable of  accuracy and accomplishments a lot of people do not bother to imagine or try out.    I never said the 556 would knock a man down at 1K or penetrate X amount of inches.   But, a hit is a hit.   I doubt few would volunteer to be shot at 1K with a 556 to prove how wrong I am.   In the 6os a man was knocked off a bicycle from a stray 22LR shot that escaped over a range berm in Ohio.  It was over a mile from where the shooter was setting.   That does not prove a thing.  But a hit is still indeed a hit.  Even if it feels like a hornet sting, if some one is nailing you at 1,000 yards, that would demoralize me and seriously make me rethink wanting to get closer.  The SS109 was meant to fired at longer ranges in LMG use. So to claim it would not put some kind of hurt on a person is absurd.  How effective that hurt is, is another matter and not the convern of the article.

How did I see the target and what aiming point did I use to be able to hit such a target ?  That is the next common question.   It is simple.  I adjusted the front sight to account for more  elevation. I did not go out with a military 25Meter zero.   Elevation was adjusted using the front sight for the most part and I refined it with the rear since I had plenty left over to play with.   I zeroed the sights at 1,000 yard to the point I used a so called “6 oclock hold”  But actually I adjusted the sight to the point where I held the front site about 5 foot below the target.  That is why I had the steel gong painted neon orange.  I got on the steel. then moved to the paper.   It was not some impossible thing to do or a miracle.  Nor was it “flinging lead down range” ’till I got lucky

You can not get lucky if you don’t do everything right before hand.

Having the hold so far below the point of impact gave me plenty of room to see the target and light. I also could see any impacts into the dust to make windage changes or any other change I needed.  Also a spotter with a 60x spotting scope to help.

How did you do it without 80 grain  bullets with a OAL that required you to single feed?   That was where the gross amount of sight manipulation comes into play and a shooting lane between two hills blocking all but a head wind.   The 80s are great, and if you are trying to hit a X ring at perry, you will need them or the 77 grain HPBT. But with enough adjustment in your sights, you can get just about anything on target. If it is a decent weight.  Careful reading will show I shot the heavier match 77 grain load to get on target initially and had  doubts about the M855. I never said that the M855 was a wonder bullet.

What enemy did you expect to prove the M855 would kill at 1,000 yards?   A cardboard target is all I set out to prove the round would hit. Though few would really let some one shoot them at 1K with the 556 no matter how much the claim other wise.  Also when I said “lethal” hits,  I wrongly assumed people knew that most hits in the “black” of the target are considered solid hits, not anatomically correct. So yeah, my use of lethal was a slang term used in the context of the too large scoring area of military targets. And people have bled to death from groin and lung hits.  So I guess I would consider them lethal depending on the abilities and medical expertise of the enemies you are engaging.  But draw your own conclusions.  My point was to show that the AR15 in stock form will hit at 1,000 yards with good and issue ammo if you know what you are doing. Nothing more.  Furthermore, it was not just luck getting the M855 on target. It is certainly not match accurate ammo. But it is within reason to expect a decent lot of M855 to be able to hit a man.

If the article gave you more confidence in your weapon that was my goal. It does not matter if the average Marine or soldier can or can not do it. It matters what you can do with it when it is in your hands.   It does not matter if you can not imagine needing to take a shot like that. Having the skill builds your confidence and it is there on the off chance you ever need it.  Why does anyone even bother shooting at anything?

According to The Complete Book of US Sniping by Peter Senich,  confirmed kills were made in Vietnam with the M16A1 and 55 grain M193 at 800 meters.  That does not make the combo a sniper rifle or the last word on the subject, but it does show what the right combination of marksman, weapon and skill, can achieve.  Crazy long shots have been made with weapons people never dreamed  of since before  Billy Dixon  knocked and Indian Chief off his horse at the battle of Adobe Walls.   The test was done to show that no matter what you are using, you should always be confident in your skill being able to make hits that are beyond what so called experts say. And, to the limit of what the system is capable of and beyond if possible.Improved marksmanship is something to always strive for, no matter what the weapon and ammo is.  It hurts nothing to have the ability to shoot this far. Oddly enough some people are just out right offended that I did this.  As if hitting your target at such a long range is offensive to them.  It is never a waste of time to be able to hit as far as you can on a realistic sized target.


Any further  questions can be sent to the looserounds  Q&A email address or posted on the facebook page and I will try to answer them.

Skeet shooting With The 1911



PROBABLY SHOULD NOT TRY THIS AT HOME unless you have an entire mountain as a back stop like I did.


While this is a completely useless skill, other then winning bets ( which posting this picture now did) and making cool looking pictures, it is  proof of how familiar and you can become with a specific weapon after 28 years of almost daily practice.  I don’t recommend practicing this unless you just have a lot of time and ammo on your hands.  After en0ugh practice and skill is gained with any weapon, one day you may find that you can do this fairly easy having never tried it before.   Living with  your gun and being intimate with it, will give this skill level.   Constant correct practice is always the way to gain true skill with a fire arm.






Plates and PLate Carriers

When it comes to plate carriers and plates, I like to use the smallest I can get away with.  Of course this doesn’t give the largest amount of protection, but it does cover the organs that matter the most.  I like to be able to keep as much mobility as possible.  Like everything, it is a trade off.

Here are pictures of my friends PC on the left and mine of the right.



He uses the Diamond Back Fast attack PC for work doing entries and other duties  as an officer in his states SP SWAT team.    Mine is the Shell back  TAG Banshee.    My friend uses Level 4 plates that are “stand alone, while I use the ESAPI plates with soft armor backers to keep weight down. The Level 4 plates are too heavy for my tastes.   Mine are size small to allow as much movement as possible as well as trying to keep the weight down. his is the medium sized  stand alone plates.  Both PC has as little on them as possible with most relegated to belts.

This picture gives a good view of how the plates fight in the respective plate carriers.


Remember, you can not just throw on plates. It is important to make sure the PC fits correctly and the plates cover the area they need to and not set too low on the body.

Selecting a Home Defense Firearm

The topic of what firearm should I use for home defense is a question that people get a million answers on. Most of the time, your local gun store, unknowledgeable friend or people who have little training experience, will tell you a shotgun because you can’t miss. Sometimes you even get some of these same people telling you never a “high powered rifle round”, mostly referring to 223/5.56mm, it will over penetrate. And yes, always the classic answer of, whatever you feel comfortable with. In most cases all of the above answers are wrong.

When approaching the topic of what firearm you want to use for home defense, you need to be thinking about several things. Most importantly: (1). Your specific home layout. (2). Other people in the home, specifically children. These two important topics will help you answer several questions, on what firearm you are going to choose as your primary home defense weapon. When thinking about these two topics, you can answer specific round selection, accuracy, handling/ease of manipulation, important defensive accessories, (i.e. lights and sights) and accessibility. All of this will point you towards what firearm(s) will need to be selected.

Colt LE6920
Colt LE6920 / AR15

The Clear Choices:

There is no doubt that we are talking about three specific types of firearms here. These firearms are the standard for defense and have a proven track record in Law Enforcement, Military and Civilian use.

(1). A reliable full size semi auto Handgun, (Glock, S&W M&P, H&K, Sig, 1911 and others).

(2). A (Reliable) AR15 type rifle in 223/5.56mm, (i.e. Colt, BCM, Daniel Defense).

(3). A Shotgun ( i.e. Remington 870’s, Mossberg 500’s or Winchester Defender).

Now out of these choices you can probably eliminate one choice, the shotgun, right away in my opinion. I say this because once you start to answer a few of the questions stated earlier, the Shotgun is clearly the bottom of the three. The shotgun is larger, heavy, harder to maneuver in a home and impossible to fire multiple rounds one handed. I could keep going, but you get the idea. Also, racking it does not have the effect people believe it to have. Don’t get me wrong I love a good Remington 870. It’s an awesome weapon and very effective, but it has a specific place/role and you can miss with the 00 buck pellets. Contrary to what most people believe, you still have to aim with a shotgun. Modern Duty buckshot has a tighter pattern than the buckshot of 10 and 15 years ago. You will be accountable for those rounds if you miss because they will enter other rooms. Depending on the number of buckshot, it can range from eight to nine 25 cal. pellets to 32 cal. pellets, flying out of the barrel. They will pass through drywall retaining most of their mass.

Now let’s talk about why the semi-auto handgun and AR15 are arguable the two best choices. As we delve into them further, you will also see more reasons why the shotgun is the last choice, possibly not really a choice at all. My opinion is the handgun and the AR15 would serve most people the best. They are only separated by your particular home needs.

GunVault, Glock, Colt LE6920
GunVault, Glock, Colt LE6920


If you have to grab a firearm in a defensive situation and you have little ones at home, you most likely will need the use of one hand. You may also need a free hand to call for help, open doors, lock doors or pick up a little one. The handgun makes perfect sense in these situations. The handgun is the most compact and maneuverable firearm you can use. Once you rack it and its ready to go, you have the ability to have one hand free if needed.

You can move throughout your home in a high ready position, keeping the firearm close to your body. This will help avoid someone grabbing your firearm or pushing the muzzle down while coming around corners in the home.

One thing to keep in mind about a handgun is the rounds are larger and slower moving than a rifle round. Large slow moving rounds tend to retain more mass when going through barriers in the home, especially drywall. You do not want to be frantically shooting towards a loved one’s room, missing your target. Very good personal defense rounds for handguns (i.e. Federal HST, Winchester Ranger and Speer Gold Dot) are designed to penetrate auto glass, for law enforcement agencies. These are also some of the best rounds for personal defense in handguns. They will retain almost all of their mass, especially when passing through dry wall.

Glock High Ready
Glock 17 High Ready
Colt LE6920 / Negotiating Corners.
Colt LE6920 / Negotiating Corners.

Any good modern firearm will most likely have a integrated rail on the frame. This allows you to attach various weapon lights on the handgun, giving you the ability to identify anyone in the home. You will be able to manipulate the light controls with one hand on the handgun as well. Target identification is paramount in these situations. You do not want to shoot a family member because you could not see them and thought they were the bad guy.

The handgun also allows you to store the firearm in a quick access safe, like a Gunvault safe. This insures others in the home, that you do not want getting a hold of the handgun, cannot access the firearm. A quick access safe can be stored, discreetly, anywhere in your home and gives you the ability to place several handguns in key areas of the home.

With all of these options you can see a reliable full size handgun is a very good choice. I feel it is the number one choice in most cases. I utilize several quick access safe throughout my home.


A reliable AR15 is also a very good choice for a home defense firearm. Keeping in mind those two key topics, the 223/5.56mm round is one of the best rounds you can use for home defense. Terminal performance of the 223/5.56mm round is also going to stop a threat more effectively than a handgun round. It’s a fast moving small round and is more likely not to over penetrate or go through multiple barriers, (with the right round selection). M855 is not a home defense round.

The AR15 is a compact shoulder fired weapon and is going to be more accurate than a handgun. You will find that a handgun at full extension comes close to the extended muzzle of a 16″ AR15. With some training and practice you can move throughout a home very effectively. The AR15 is going to have a larger ammunition capacity than either the handgun or shotgun. You have the ability to use the support hand for brief periods of time, opening doors, moving something or dialing for emergency help. But, when it comes to firing rounds you will need both hands on the rifle. Also you will need to use the support hand to activate your light.

Colt LE6920, Aimpoint, Streamlight
Colt LE6920, Aimpoint, Streamlight TLR-1
Handgun at Extention
Handgun at Extention

With the AR15 you will be able to add accessories to mount, a weapon light and a red dot optic, (i.e. Aimpoint, Eotech or other). This will allow you to identify your target and get fast accurate shot placement.


I took no pictures with a shotgun for this article because I currently do not have a shotgun. I sold my 870 and my Mossburg 590 long ago. I feel the shotgun does not have the advantages of a handgun or AR15 in the home, especially when you need to think about your family response plan. I currently use both an AR15 and handguns throughout my home, in the previously mentioned quick access safes. As my young ones grow older the rifle will slowly be fazed out and locked away.

Think long and hard about what role you, your wife or others my play in a home defense incident. Things are different when mom and dad are home, vs. only mom is home. Look at the layout of your home, are your kids upstairs or are they down the hall from you? Choosing the right firearm to move quickly to their rooms needs to be considered as well as possible scenarios, you may have to hold a child in one arm. Look at the support gear you will need, lights, optics and ammunition selection. Don’t buy something because the guy at the local guns store said it was the best or your buddy uses a particular firearm. Your needs and family makeup may be very different.

Either way, once you choose your dedicated home defense firearm(s), training and planning for your family will be key to an effective home defense. In the end, the only rounds that count are the rounds on target.


Should You Really Just Carry What is Comfortable & You Shoot Best?

When it comes to the eternal( infernal?) question of , “what is the best gun for CCW” , there are a few standard responses. There are a couple of typical type of answers. Some will say to carry a certain type of gun, others talk about the round fired and the most common answer is, “whatever gun  you are the most comfortable with”. They are all used in the various gun  magazines and on gun boards or even the old boys club at the local gun store and we will likely hear the question and answers  until the heat death of the universe.

While most of those responses are not even worth  talking about,  the last one is worthy of addressing.  Because, it is the one used the most lately and is just stupid.   Sure, it makes sense a little when you first hear it. But it is idiotic to the point of being harmful.

The justification is always some version of ” use what you are comfy with or otherwise it will be left at home”.   I have always found this to be so stupid, it makes my head hurt.   This is the one thing you can say to give people the justification of not bothering to train or to carry something so ineffective that it is just slightly better then nothing.  People will of course tell me the gun you have is better then the one you don’t have.  Sure, but the guns that are the kind being talked about in this case, are small and light and of small caliber.  A 22 LR will kill a man if used right. But  who the hell is going to be able to make that eyeball shot at 20 feet while being robbed/shot/raped/chased/stabbed at?   To add to that, small guns that are actually “comfortable” to carry, are not reliable the vast majority of the time.

To over come this  bad advice, I think it needs to be looked at as a training issue.   Some will make the argument that some would not carry anything if they did not have those tiny or sub compact guns to carry and its best to let them.   But I submit that if you are going to seek out training, and practice, you can also train and practice to get use to a larger less comfortable gun.  the actual “carrying” and getting use to a change in life style that comes with an effective gun, needs to be a part of your training as well.   This of course does not mean training on a range by walking around all day with a bigger gun, but mental training.    This goes along with training to shoot a larger gun more effectively and operate it.

Telling some one to just use what they like and are comfortable with is what they need is just a bad idea.  Its a lazy trainers way of not dedicating enough time to work with the person who thinks they can not use a large gun or can’t shoot them well.  Bullshit I say.  There is always a gun that is large enough and reliable enough that can be found to fit almost any hand size.  I have seen 12 year old kids shooting 1911s in IDPA, a guy with one arm working a glock, and tiny asian women who shoot better then most of the local shooters I know.   How can a trainer just let some dainty lady use a jennings 380 as her only means of saving her self from a serial rapist just because she thinks it easier to carry?  laziness? Not really carrying?  I never tell some one to carry whatever they are the most comfortable with in that context. And by that I mean the small guns or the useless stuff. Clearly if a woman is comfortable with a  FN 45  that is wonderful. but how often is that the case when you hear the above advice given?

To those people, I say.  Get use to it.  It is your life we are talking about here, not something just to shove in your pocket just to make you feel better.  Everyone has heard the old line about  you don’t wear a gun because its comfortable, you wear it because its comforting.  Absolutely.  Chose an effective tool. That doesnt always mean a cannon, but it does need to be something you can use easy and has a proven record.   If you cant squeeze into your extra tight designer shirt to show off your muscles. too bad.  Those muscles are not going to be of much help in a situation that requires a gun.  Change your clothes a little to hide a more effective tool.  Its traininga nd discipline.  If you have enough discipline to go to the gym every day and work out and run and diet and all that stuff, then you should have no trouble training yourself to deal with carrying a little more weight on your belt and choosing appropriate clothing to hide it.   Also this means actually getting a proper holster that  you can retain the gun with, draw from easily and better abillity and hiding the gun. Not a cheap nylon el jeffe special from the bargain bin or walmart.   Its going to be real nice when the piece goes sliding across the floor of applebeese when you bend over to tie your shoes because you are such a tight ward or dumb ass that you would not buy a proper holster.   A good holster is a must have. No way around it.


Now as far as the gun goes, the debate rages on. It can be a tricky question and emotions and loyalty plays a big part when it comes to who is giving you advice.  A lot of people will give great reasons to carry this model or that model and caliber and be willing to fight over it.  That is why the “carry what is comfy” came to be.  It is like talking religion or politics to some, and some trainers don’t want to step on the toes of  their industry peers.  Sorry to say, I dont have the magic bullet answer, but I will give some thoughts on it I feel are solid thinking,

When picking or deciding what gun to carry, forget all that crap about if its comfortable and easy to shoot. I can shoot a 25 ACP great, its light and easy to carry as well!! Is it what I should carry? No.  Unless I think all I will ever need it for is scaring birds reliably.   As I said above, you can get use to the comfort or slight lack of, and you can, and should, learn to shoot any round to the needed standard.  So that leaves the rest.

the qualities to looks for are deadly simple.  It has simple controls that you can use, better if its ambi, sights you can see, a trigger that is easy to work with and consistent with enough capacity to work with and a round big enough to work. Modern bullet technology is no excuse to cop out and try to use a tiny round. Pistol rounds are not rifle rounds and you can not count on any hollow point from a pistol to always  work,  I always assume the worst and pick a round that would still be effective if rendered as effective as a non expanding ball round.

A lot will say the glock meets this list, and it does, and you can get them pretty small and they still work.  the S&W MP line is also a good choice. They are simple and accurate and light.   I am a 1911 guy, so of course I feel it is a great choice. But not always the best choice for everyone.  But to me, it is. Some do not like the manual safety and feel it slows the user down. I could not disagree more, and I like the extra safety.   The striker fired pistols and the 1911s  are great choices.  I do not think the revolver is a good idea. Some want to foist it on to women because they feel it is so simple to use and safe.  that is just crazy. The  revolver DA trigger is like bending a nail, has a very low capacity, is a death trap if you have to reload with any real speed and if it is in a caliber big enough to be very effective , its going to be a huge gun. And if it is thrown in a purse or front pocket with no holster, it is just as dangerous as a semi auto.  And usually the choice of the revolver is put off on women  because who ever gave this advice figures the person using it will not or does not want to buy a holster.

As bad as I think revolvers are, in my opinion, nothing is worse then the double action/single action semi autos.  They offer up way more controls then really needed. Especially for some one who has limited training time operating the gun, when they could have bought a glock.  Getting that first double action round off accurate, is very very hard indeed for a large amount of people.  I would argue that is the round that could mean the most..  Usually it means two different grips as well.  When training with them, the person has to start form hammer down and decocked or hammer down and safety on, or whatever cockamamie system most european semi autos have, ( worse if the mag release is on the bottom of the grip) then draw and taking off the safety( that is usually moved in a counter intuitive way for us in the USA) if its on, then starting pulling a very heavy trigger.  When the shot breaks, most people have to re adjust for a new grip to be able to work the now single action trigger.   Not all people will have this to deal with, but most will.  It can be mastered, but it takes a lot of time and ammo.  Why bother when the glock or MP and other striker fired pistols have one type off pull.  Same with the 1911.  Flick off the safety in a natural motion, then depress the trigger about a 1/16 of an inch to fire then gun.   The truth is, the DA/SA autos are not a good idea.   The DAO semi autos theoretically are better, since the trigger is the same every time, but its still a long heavy pull when the last thing you need to be doing in a defensive encounter, is fighting a trigger that feels like trying to bend a nail.

I am not going into caliber very much but I will say, I would not use anything less powerful then a 9x19mm.  I prefer the .45ACp.   Guys who “no better” tell me the 9mm is better because its faster. but a pistol is not a rifle.   The 9mm is not a 5,56 and it does not work the same way.   Hollow points do fail all the time, and all things being equal. the 45 is still going to make a 45 caliber hole even as a ball round.  It is heavier and it is bigger.  I will give up a few rounds in my mag before reloads in a 1911 for this performance or just carry a glock in 45 and have  the extra. Either way, it is a 45 caliber bullet .  You can still get great terminal effect from smaller rounds,  the 10mm and .38 super for example.   The 9mm is most likely the best “everymans” choice.  You get a lot of ammo in a round that is effective and you can put a lot of rounds on a target in a short time while being able to control the guns light recoil for fast follow up shots.    Like all things though, training makes  you better, and the better you are, the better you can control larger rounds and guns.  If you have the time to train and master the 9mm like a pro, then use it. If you can not dedicate enough time to master the 45 or larger and get the same performance as you got from the 9mm, then do not use it. Stick to the 9mm.  I have been using the 1911 for 28 years now. I can use it fast and effectively at speed. it is what I prefer and not just because it is light and comfortable, because it is not.    Use common sense and select an effective gun of the right size and power with easy to use ergonomic controls.  Not just something small and light.  The idea people should just carry whatever they shoot on paper best is something the industry needs to move on from. It is bad advice and it could end in horrible results.



Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 MOE

I have been using the Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 MOE for several months now.  I initially purchased this firearm for my two young boys to start shooting and because of the crazy price on ammunition in recent months. I also wanted a fully functional .22lr AR for supplemental training/trigger time.  As I have been shooting this with my boys, I have found it to be useful in several areas. Before getting to technical, I have to say this is one fun rifle to shoot. My boys love it and have had so much fun shooting the M&P15-22, it is worth the money alone for that purpose. Our friends at Herd Tactical hooked me up with the M&P15-22 MOE at a very nice price. When I was able to handle the rifle at home for the first time, I realized the M&P15-22 was going to be very versatile, for me and my boys.

Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 MOE
Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 MOE


The Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 functions just like an AR15 in 223/5.56mm and is basically the same size as its full power/center fire counterparts. Takedown is almost identical to AR15 variant rifles. Simply push out the takedown pins, pull out the carrier group and charging handle and your done. The charging handle, bolt release, last round lock back, magazine release and fire control function the same as a standard AR15. The M&P15-22 also has a built in 9″ picatinny rails system. With most .22lr conversion kits or dedicated .22lr AR’s, the bolt release and last round bolt lock back do not function. Although the weight of the M&P15-22 is light, once you start adding a few accessories the weight starts to add up, but it will still feel lighter than your 5.56mm AR15.

If you are going to purchase the M&P 15-22 make sure you purchase the MOE version.  The MOE version is outfitted with Magpul furniture and sights. This is really the best bang for the buck as you are getting the Magpul accessories at a significant value. In most cases I found you get the Magpul accessories for only 50 to 100 dollars more.  If you were to purchase these items separately, they would cost you close to or over 200 dollars. The MOE version also comes with QD sling points on each side of the lower receiver/buffer tube area.

M&P15-22 Field Strip
M&P15-22 Field Strip

When considering buying the M&P15-22, I was also looking at bolt carrier drop in conversion kits, for my AR15.  When I started looking at prices, the Smith & Wesson was only about 100 dollars more. To get a drop in kit to function with all of your AR15 controls, you have to buy additional drop in parts.  For example: the CMMG kit with all the functional upgrades was pushing 400 dollars. The S&W made sense, cost wise and it is a dedicated fully functional platform.  With a dedicated .22lr rifle, I would not have to deal with changing parts in and out of an AR15 upper. Also, you get better accuracy at longer distances with a barrel twist of 1:16″ on the M&P15-22 . I have not pushed the limits of accuracy on the M&P15-22 but it is very accurate, probably more than I am. I bought it as a plinker for my boys and trainer. I have had very nice groups at 75 yards with el chepo ammo and I will push the accuracy/distance in the future.


The Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 will take all of the same accessories that your AR15 can take. I did some small modifications with a dermal, to small portions of the front and rear rail sections, so the KAC rail panel clips would mount properly. I recently purchased a set of LaRue Index Clips and they also worked on the picatinny rails. The LaRue Clips were just as secure as on my KAC RAS rails and Colt LE6940 rail systems. I had no problem mounting optic mounts, rail panels/ladders, i.e (KAC,Tango Down, Magpul and LaRue), lights, hand stops, vertical grips and other 1913 picatinny rail accessories to the M&P15-22.

Multiple Accessories
Multiple Accessories

Due to the rail system on the M&P15-22 being polymer,  I would suggest adding a rail panel system more robust than the soft ladder covers. This will protect the polymer rail system from being damaged inadvertently during fun range time/training .

I used several different slings (Tactical Link and Gear Sector) with QD swivels, with the M&P15-22 MOE QD point.  I had no issues with the QD point, pulling on it as hard as I could.  This really should not be an issue at all, as the M&P is very light.  Even with numerous accessories on the rifle it is still going to be much lighter than your 5.56mm AR15.   From what I understand you can drop in any replacement trigger system you would like as lower is .154 pin compatible. I don’t think spending a lot of money on a nice trigger system is really worth it on a rifle like this.

Fire Control Group
Fire Control Group

For Supplemental Training: 

While only full power 5.56mm training can give you the real feel, the right .22lr can supplement your training at a substantial lower cost. The Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 does this very well as it functions exactly like your 5.56mm counterpart. I think one big benefit is in movement drills, where you want to improve your moving fundamentals and weapons handling, with some feedback at the lower cost of .22lr.  I found that you lose no weapon manipulation skills while running and gunning with the M&P. I transferred all the accessories I use on my defensive 5.56 AR15’s to the M&P15-22.  This gave me the feel of my full power counterparts.

I’ve had a few malfunctions with the M&P15-22 but I could not fault the rifle. In every case the firing pin had a good strike on the round, the round just did not fire. This was with Federal Champion Bulk ammo and I’ve only had three (3) that I remember. I had no failures to extract or failures to feed in the M&P. The .22lr rounds is inherently problematic when it comes to reliability.  No .22lr is ever 100% reliable and I have never had one that was. I found that the occasional stoppage helped in a training setting, for malfunction drills and sidearm transitions. An actual stoppage in a quality 5.56mm AR15 just does not happen very often. Most of the time you have to set them up with dummy rounds in training. With a .22lr you are just going to have them time to time, no matter what.

The trigger is nothing special. It feels close to a Mil Spec. trigger break. It does have a long spongy pull before it breaks. You are getting a trigger pull the feels close to your AR15 trigger, definitely not better.

Training w/M&P15-22 MOE
Training w/M&P15-22 MOE

Plinking Fun:

One of the best things about the Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 is how much fun the little ones have plinking with it. This was my main purpose for purchasing the rifle. I thought a lot about whether to go with a Ruger 10-22 for my boys first firearm. I went with the Smith & Wesson for several of the reasons stated above.

Loading Mags
Loading Mags

With my supervision, it is easy for my boys to hold and manipulate the controls. They have so much fun with the rifle that is just like, “daddy’s big guns”. The whole family can spend an entire afternoon shooting the M&P15-22. With the low price of .22lr, hundreds of rounds of quality plinking can be had by all. I find we simply lose track of time, we are having so much fun. The kids seem to be picking up the Magpul sights fast and were on target after the first few rounds.

Fun Teaching Rifle
Fun Teaching Rifle
Teaching Sight Alignment
Teaching Sight Alignment


I really like the Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 MOE. It has become one of the most enjoyable all around plinking rifles I have every owned. As I said before, this thing is just fun to shoot. I can only remember a few malfunctions (Failures to Fire) with the rifle. All of which I determined to be ammunition related as they had good firing pin strikes. Other than that the rifle has function flawlessly. The M&P15-22 can fill a supplemental training roll to offset the cost of 5.56mm training. When using the M&P15-22 for training, I would suggest starting the training and ending the training with your center fire rounds. Also, make sure you are incorporating the .22lr in the appropriate areas for training. You do not want to rely on the .22lr as a primary training tool.

If you are just looking for a super fun and accurate .22lr plinker in an AR platform, the M&P15-22 more than fills that roll. Pure fun for everyone is what the Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 MOE is all about.


Guest Submission by Mark Stanfill On Self Defense And The Folly of The Shotgun Myth


After an open invite on the looserounds facebook page, this opinion piece was submitted by Mark Stanfill. 

The Myth of the Shotgun
I have asked many times, what is the best home defense weapon. Over the years the universal answer always seems to be the shotgun. I, like many that have had “professional” time behind the trigger, tend to disagree.

The explanation always stays the same for those that have never been in a close quarters battle. The wide pattern of the shotgun, the less demand for accuracy, the simplicity of the weapon, the unmistakeable sound of a pump shotgun, and the universal fear of facing a shotgun at close range. While these may all be reasonable beliefs, they do not make the shotgun the answer.

Here are a few little tidbits of info that many people seem to overlook. In a self defense situation an individual’s visual acuity begins to decline along with a rapid increase in heart rate and blood pressure. The body is releasing adrenaline by the ton (so to speak) and fine motor skill and dexterity becomes almost none existent. Well, you may think that these are even more reasons to use a simple weapon that does not require aiming. Here is the truth of the matter, however. When you pick up a shotgun, it is nearly three feet long. Now, you must navigate dark hallways and rooms with your muzzle leading you by 36 inches. Add in the fact that you are losing fine motor skill and dexterity as well as bubbling over with fear and adrenaline, and you now have a bumbling, clumsy nightmare. You simply CANNOT effectively clear a corner with a shotgun because of the weapons length.

So, now you are asking how a pistol is any better, right? The answer is quite simple. Most people shoot their handguns regularly. They shoot them often and are intimately familiar with their operation. This alone is the short answer. When your brain starts to shut down, it will revert to doing what it “instinctively” knows how to do. Many people have practiced the self defense battle over and over, that is what their brain knows how to handle. Even without a “love” of firearms and familiarity with dozens of different weapons, people know their pistols.

The truth of the whole matter is simply when faced with a gun battle or deployment of lethal force, we stop thinking. Our brains generally cannot handle the massive data overload that it is facing. The truth is most people cannot effectively fight with a firearm. At least not without hundreds if not thousands of hours of training. I can tell you from experience that the first time you find yourself engaged in a gun battle you get scared. You forget everything you have learned and you fight ONLY for your survival. There is no technique or form that you will employ, only any means necessary to win.

On that note, when you are seeking out schools or firearms training classes, look for ones that will teach you about real life situations. You are not a private security contractor, or a Navy SEAL, or a hitman. Leave the fantasy camps to the wannabes. Train for situations that you may actually find your self in one day. Also remember that one class will not teach you how to win a gun fight. The class will merely give the foundation and basics of what you must continually practice once you leave the class.

Helpful Hint for Nalgene Bottles and Water Purification Tablets

This is not a new idea, and it certainly was not my original idea.  But, it is a pretty nifty tip anyway in my opinion.  I have no idea where it started from, but I know where I saw it.  During the Vietnam war, SOG  Recon Team , Green Berets would tape water purification tablets to their canteen lids.  Of course the canteen covers had pouches for the tablets, but on long missions behind enemy lines, you may use them all up if that was all you had.  SO carrying more is always a good idea.   Plus they are right where you can get to them easy and in your face so you can not forget to add them.

I don’t use the USGI plastic canteen anymore, I like a camel back or, as you can see, the Nalgene bottle.


I use the OD green military duck tape to tape the purification tablets to the lid.  The bottle will still fit in the pouches made for it with the bottle taped on.  If you are camping and run out of water you trust, you have them ready. They are not in a pocket getting crushed, they are not lost in the bottom of a pack.  If you wear the bottle on a pouch on a belt, its always with you.  If you got lost or separated from your pack or gear and still have the bottle on you, you got a safe way to make water drinkable.  You can also  use heavy duty rubber bands to strap a signal panel to the bottle.    You can surely think up plenty of scenarios where you got lost, even if just for a day hunting, and only had the bottle with you because you thought you would not need more water then what it holds.  Use your imagination.

I think it is a good idea and is worth sharing. It is not the only way, but it is a way proven by SF soldiers being hunted and out numbered sometimes 100 to 1, so if it worked for them, it may come in handy to some of us one day.