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Colt 6940 Piston Carbine Test & Review Part 1

The  idea that the piston operated AR15/M4  would be an improvement that fixes all of the perceived short comings of the weapon has been something that has gained ground in certain corners since the dubious “dust tests” and H&K marketing from a bit over 10 years ago now. Miss-use by users in the GWOT and careful lobbying by certain companies has put the idea that the DI system is sub-par in the minds of some of the lesser educated.   In fact ,if you did not know better you would think the piston operated AR15 did not exist until HK came out with the 416.    Truth is Colt had already developed a piston operated AR15 since the 60s and had been playing around with it ever since. If you look close at the front sight, you will see some details that pop up a lot later.

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Later Colt, in 2005-2006 colt started showing pictures of another piston gun they called the LE1020. It was a monolithic railed upper very close to the current 6940 uppers. It lacked the QD sockets,and some other small refinements but it was clear the idea was being refined. All this before others had started with their piston campaign.  Yes, colt had been making and refining piston AR15s for a long time. Getting it the way they wanted it before deciding to offer it.  We did not see the LE1020 hit the market back then because it was found the market and the Military was not that interested in a piston gun.  It took ignorant gun writers and HK marketing to convince a lot of people that they could not like without a piston operated M4.  Never mind some of those early piston ARs chewed up receiver extensions, suffered from carrier tilt, weighed a ton and were not very easy to modify.

If you are new to AR15s you may have missed the bright spike that was the peak of people wanting piston guns because so many believed a little dust caused a M4 to malfunction and History channel documentaries that were more or less HK 416 advertisements.  That has craze has evened out now a days and while some SOF use piston M4s, the rest of the army found out the M4 with its DI worked just fine witht some oil and not trying to use the M4 as a SAW.  But in that time, companies had some time to tweak the piston guns to get them to work right.  Among those was Colt, who refined their piston model from all those years ago before any one else had even thought about making a piston AR15.

With that, we come to the present day. A few weeks ago, Colt once again was nice enough to send me a shiny new Colt 6940Piston for my grubby little hands to test and abuse for other peoples amusement. We will take a look at it in this first part of a longer review and test. just to get to know it a little. stick our nose in its nooks and crannies and put on the old rubber glove and tell it to bend over so we can get to know it a little deeper….

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The Colt 6940P ( Piston) is essentially a regular 6940 from the outside. The lower is standard Colt milspec minus the full auto FCG of course. The buffer that comes with the P is the H2. This is standard issue with the gun as it comes with the the heavy SOCOM profile barrel we talk about in a moment.  The SOCOM profile M4A1 barrel is always combined with the H2 buffer in Colt models. Piston guns with standard A2 flash hiders will have a bit more felt recoil than DI guns, and the H2 buffer can smooth that out, Though to be clear that it not why it is in the gun.  As I said, with colt, the H2 buffer always is paired with the SOCOM barrel, but it is a nice side effect.

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Looking at the picture of the buffer you will note there is no shaved metal from carrier tilt or eaten up lowers which was common on some other companies piston conversions.

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As mentioned, the barrel is the SOCOM profile, which was  made for the use on M4A1 full auto carbines.  The cut flats a few inches from the front sight are for the M203 to mount around. The barrel is free floated in the monolithic upper. The free float 6040 uppers will give you every bit of accuracy the barrel is capable of. I have never seen a Colt monolithic upper that has given mediocre accuracy when using good ammo, but the piston parts may make a difference. We will see in part 2 with accuracy testing.

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The upper rail is standard 6940 and the lower rail removes the exact same way.  You can see just like the DI guns, this one has the QD sling points. The piston parts are hidden under the FF rail.

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The piston comes out very slick  and is retained neatly with a push pin much like those used for the lower. You simply push it to the side and slide the piston out.No muss no fuss.

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The piston is Colt’s design with the articulating link. Not much to say about it since its a piston. Very robust.

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Since we have a piston, we don’t need a gas carrier key.  The early Colt P guns had a bolt on part, just like the gas key, this was changed to the current model. It is machined out solid on the carrier . No bolts or staking to worry over. Not that you ever really had to worry about a colt stake job in the first place.   The Bolt carrier group fields strips for cleaning just like the standard non-piston   BCG

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The rear of the carrier has rails machined on it to make sure you get no carrier tilt. No tilt means your lower will not get chewed up like some of the early HK416 and conversion kits rushed out on the market.  The truth is, the AR16 was not meant to be a piston gun, so careful changes had to be made for it to work out in the long term. With the rails to the rear of the carrier and a steel block added to the upper receiver, tilt is a non issue on the 6940P.  In the picture below,  you can see the part added to the upper.  Buyers of even DI guns will notice this on newer 6940 DI guns and the 901 as there are plans to make piston 901 eventually and it simplifies production to make them all the same.

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Above is the upper with lower rail hand guard removed with piston and bolt carrier.

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From the outside, it looks like the regular 6940 until the educated eye looks at the front sight. The gun handles and balances no different, thought the SOCOM barrel adds a little more weight.  To get ready for long term hard shooting, accuracy testing and full auto torture tests, I have added my favorite TD grip and Colt factory ambi safeties.  For drills and general use it now has a CompM4 a B5 stock and a Knights  600 meter BUIS.  Part 2 of the review will be the accuracy testing for group, long range to the weapons extreme limit and more.  Full auto fire may be in part 2, or it may be moved to a part 3 for torture test and taking a look at cleaning the piston gun. Less fouling is often touted as one of  a piston gun’s biggest advantages so it is possible I do a part devoted to that.

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A rare failure, the broken AR15 forward assist.

Broken AR15 Forward Assist

Pictured above is the broken forward assist from my Colt 6933.

I’ve see a few forward assists break. Every time it has come as a surprise to the shooter. Usually what happens is a shot is fired, and the action ends up locked closed, and no one is able to open it using normal clearing techniques. In my case the action locked open after ejecting a shell.

It can be hard to diagnose a jam caused by a broken extractor simply because you can’t see that is what is preventing the bolt carrier from moving.

The best procedure we have found to free up a stuck bolt carrier from a broken forward assist is to:
1. Remove magazine, keep muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
2. Hold rifle with the ejection port down, barrel parallel to the ground.
3. Shake rifle while attempting to move bolt carrier.

Then usually it wont take much to get the action moving again. Immediately clear the chamber and remove the bolt carrier group from the action and remove any loose parts(like the forward assist pawl shown above).

Over the years, I have come to believe that the forward assist should be reserved for emergencies. In practice or on the range if a round does not chamber discard the round or inspect the firearm. I have met many(most former Army) that hit the forward assist after every reload. If your rifle isn’t chambering the round under its own power, there is something wrong with either the rifle or the ammo. Forward assists very rarely fail, but there is no point in slapping it around unless it is an emergency.

Designated Marskman Instructor Comments on the AR15 at 1,000 yard Article

This is from the comment section from the article about shooting the AR15 at 1,000 yards. The commenter offered some insight into the Army’s marksmanship levels and attitude.  I have offered the commenter a chance to elaborate and post more on the subject.  hopefully this will be expanded and he will come back to share his thoughts and experience in greater detail in more posts.   Below is the original post from Jose

Original post Jose was speaking about here

http://looserounds.com/2013/06/10/ar15-at-1000-yards-can-a-rack-grade-ar15-and-m855-make-1000-yard-hits/

Good on you Shawn. I’ve coached the last three consecutive All Army Small Arms champions. Before that I taught SDM for s number of years, still conduct the occasional course.
I’m not a distinguished rifleman (yet) but I’ve produced a number of them.
The M16A4 and M4 are woefully misunderstood by nearly all Soldiers. There are less than 200 Soldiers in the Army that I would consider “Riflemen” even the “multiple tours, combat arms NCO” is not a guarantee of any real skill at arms AT ALL. Soldiers are universally poorly skilled with their rifles. It’s appalling. But for such Soldiers, first you’d have to admit you have a problem. If they “qualify expert” they believe *that* somehow equals skill. I’d call that “familiarity.” 40/40 is easy, nothing to brag about, and is a ridiculously low standard. Most Soldiers never achieve even that embarrassingly low standard. If an NCO can’t get all of his squad to shoot “expert” he’s untrained.
My point is that most (but I’d wager closer to all) the criticism you may have received from Soldiers ought to be dismissed out of hand. They really are overconfident amateurs. Even in “Special Forces” units, that’s no guarantee of skill at arms.
That about sums it up. If I offended someone, good. Outshoot me.
The thing is that the M16/M4 is an EXCELLENT weapon and there are excellent 5.56mm cartridges. A Soldier doesn’t have to be a superhero to shoot really well with it either. We trained many female Soldiers that had no problem striking a steel silhouette target, 14″ wide and 40″ tall, at 760 meters, with iron sights on her M16A2. I can drop names, ranks, class dates. With the M4 and ACOG, SDM Students routinely hit the same target at 800 to 830 meters – 1st round hits.
In our SDM classes, we spent so much time at 500 and 600 on the KD range, that 300 was a welcomed and easy target engagement for them. Yet in units many Soldiers will not engage the 3 exposures of the 300 meter target, preferring to save those three rounds for the closer targets when they miss the first shot, so they can re-engage the ‘easy’ targets. They’re all easy!
I want to share a couple of things, there’s somebody out there reading this that will heed this advice, I promise it can make you a dramatically better shooter.
When shooting for precision with rack grade Army M16’s or M4’s there is one method that works. DO NOT EVER USE A SLING OF ANY KIND TO “LOCK IN” “SNAP IN” OR OTHERWISE PULL ON THE SLING SWIVEL. The AR in a rack grade condition does not have a free floating barrel. The upper receiver is made of a zinc and aluminium alloy, the barrel is hard steel. Pulling on the sling is like making a giant torque wrench, moving the strike if the round several inches just at 100 yards! Any weight or pressure on the handguards moves the barrel.
Don’t touch the handguards or use a sling if you want the most out of a rack grade rifle.
Use the magazine, preferably a 30 rounder, as a monpod. Place the palm of your non firing hand (not your fingers) on the flat front face of the magwell. Spread your elbows and get nice and low and stable. The non firing palm exerts firm rearward pressure on the rifle.
There’s more to it, but that’s the biggest challenge you’re having now. Great job on the test
Enjoy.

SCAR-L Review And Thoughts

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A test and review of the SCAR-L by us has been long in coming. Over the past few days, we did finally got a chance to test and evaluate a SCAR. I shot it in some drills and did accuracy testing of it in my normal manner or off of a bench using sand bags.

The SCAR probably needs not introduction at this point in time. It was developed by FN to be what they hoped would be the replacement for the M4 carbine. Well. That did not happen, turns out it was not all that much better as claimed and the 5.56 guns issued out to certain elite units, were turned back in for M4s.  That does not mean it is a bad gun or unreliable, just that it was not considered to really be much of an improvement over the excellent M4 family of weapons.  Thought the 7.62 model has had more success.

So, to see for ourselves and those who may be thinking about getting one, lets take a look at it.

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One of the bigger hyped things about the SCAR is the folding stock and the reciprocating charging handle. The gun came to me with the charging handle on the right side. I found this intolerable. If you are a lefty it would not be bad at all. But most of us are not.  The charging handle was swapped to the left side where it was much better for handling. Then I found out that it was in the perfect place for me to tear the skin off my knuckles when charging the weapon if it had any optic mount on it.  I had to be careful about this after a couple of times learning the slow way.

The Stock folding to the side does make it very compact, and unlike the AK type. it is also adjustable for length. I found it not to be bad at all. But not really all that great either. In the past there has been people reporting the stock to have some durability issues, but I had since heard that was over come on newer models.   The stock also had a adjustable cheek rest I found marginally useful while I had it.  Though I am sure it would be of benefit with some optics.

One thing to remember if you buy one, is that it will not take a military standard spec AR15 grip. So if you want to use something else you have to do some fitting with the grip or gun….

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The optic that came with the gun is a Elcan Specter.  I am not going to review it,since this is mainly about the gun. but it had a a max power of 4x and could switch to 1x and a red dot along with a few other  gem jams.  It was mounted with the ARMS throw levers that excelled at skinning my knuckles when using the charging handle on the left side.

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I shot the SCAR at 100 yards using my usual method.  First used 77 grain match ammo.  You can see the results above.   I have no explanation for the left side flyer.   The gun’s barrel has a 1/7 inch twist. so it can stabilize the heavy rounds.

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The above target it labeled both dots as 55gr Tactical Urban Rifle ammo, but that was a mistake on my part. I was talking to a friend while doing it and made a mistake.  right side is 55gr. and the left is M855.

Notice the gun fired the 77 grain ammo high and a little to the right and shot the lighter stuff a little more to the left.  007

In rapid fire drills, I was surprised by it.  The guns muzzle break is very effective. It is very flat and mild in recoil. Though it has plenty of unpleasant blast like any brake. After the first magazine I remarked it felt almost like a 22LR.  The gun with that brake was calmer and flatter in recoil than any surefire brake I have used on a weapon of like size and barrel length and contour.   Speaking of the barrel contour, it is thin. Thinner than I would ever want. Especially on a gun meant for heavy use.  It got hot very fast and stayed hot.     In addition to the pleasant recoil mitigating brake, this gun has a really good trigger.  I have forgotten the make of the trigger but will get the info and update this with it as soon as I can.  But the smooth match trigger and the muzzle device made the gun something easy to shoot.  I can see why some use it in 3 gun type events.      With the grip provided on the gun though. it was impossible for me to work the safety without changing my grip with the firing hand,

A few other points and opinions that may be unique to me.  The rail section of the gun as is, is not enough. If you need more than a weapon light on the the stock gun, you are going to need a VFG.    It is no wonder that companies came out with rail extenders for the weapon so fast.   Another thing is, I was not a fan of the way it field strips as compared to the AR15.  Also the front sight was not as intuitive as I would have preferred. Of course all this is probably due to me having much more time with AR15s and the hear set up for them.    A warning to the “fit and finish ” and ” I want my guns to look good!” crowd.  The color of the finish does not match. You will have about 3 different shades of FDE. so if you cry yourself to sleep at night because you have brass marks on your case deflectors, then you better not buy this one.

I enjoyed shooting the SCAR-L.  But in my opinion, it is certainly not better than or more easy to use over an M4. I do not feel it to be more accurate than a good Ar15 either ( at least this model).  I thought the stock left a lot to be desired. Reloading it was not much different than on a M4  thought the safety has a shorter arc to travel from safe to fire.  Sad to say the grip used on the gun did not allow me to see for myself if it was really an advantage, I am doubtful it really is a huge advantage even if it seems like it would be.    If you want to be different or want one for whatever reason and have the money and think you will  love it. then you are probably right.   but it is not for me.

If I had to make a recommendation on the SCAR weapons, I would suggest following  the Army Rangers example and get the SCAR-H in 7.62 instead

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One last detail. I used an ATLAS bipod on the gun over the 3 days time with the gun.  I thought it had some nice features, and was certainly well made, but I do not consider it as handy as a decent Harris Bipod. I would not buy one with my own money. And if given one, I would not use it for anything that  needed to be able to deploy it fast.

Front Sight – 2 Day Defensive Handgun and 1 Day CCW Class – My Experience

Guest writer and friend to looseorunds Lila recently went to the Front site gun school and wrote an AAR detailing her time there.

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I recently attended Front Sight’s 2 Day Defensive Handgun class and before I went, I searched all over the web for forum and blog posts in order to get prepared for my visit to Front Sight. The most recent detailed posts that I could find were a couple of years old, so I thought I would post my experience, with the best tips I have found. Front Sight is a place in the desert of Pahrump where you can receive training for a multitude of weapons such as handguns, rifles, machine guns, edged weapons, etc. When I realized I would be moving to Las Vegas, I bought a Diamond membership from a Calguns forum member for a really reasonable price (whereby taking one class would be worth the price of the membership). With a Diamond membership, you can take any class you want (that you qualify for), for your lifetime. You can also find discounted memberships from other gun enthusiast websites such as Nevadashooters and AR15. You might as well buy a membership rather than pay the full price of each course on the Frontsight web page.

I anticipated a grueling and hot weekend and it was – with temperatures as high as 102 in the afternoon. You will need to use strong sunscreen a couple of times at least, to make sure you don’t burn. Don’t worry if you forget to bring sunscreen – they provide several bottles of 50 rated UVA/UVB sunscreen for your use and encourage you to reapply as needed. I applied sunscreen at least 2-3 times each day and did not get sunburned.

Here is a list of the equipment/accessories that I brought:

H&K USP 9mm with 8 mags (bring high capacity if you can, to avoid having to reload as often)
Holster (non Blackhawk Serpa) – I used a Safariland 568 holster and it worked great
Uncle Mike’s Tactical Kydex Double Stack Double Magazine Case
Maxpedition Rollypolly folding dump pouch – medium sized – is really helpful to carry extra mags, ammo, gloves
ESS Ice eyeshield sunglasses
250 rounds of Remington UMC 9mm – I had a few left over, but if you only bring 200 you might be short
Bianchi velcro belt – got this from a law enforcement supply store. The velcro belt worked great – easy to remove and put back on and was very sturdy.
A baseball hat
Electronic ear muffs – Howard Leight R-01526 Impact Sport Earmuffs
HKS Speed Loader
Isotoner unlined driving gloves with leather palms
Hex tool to adjust my holster if necessary
Range bag to carry the gear

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gear

I read a lot about how you might need hiking boots, long pants, long sleeves, etc, but I also read that some people were fine with shorts, short sleeves and sandals. So, because of the weather, I decided to wear medium length shorts, short sleeve shirts and running shoes. This gear worked out fine for the 2 days. You do get hit by some brass, but it was not a big deal. There are lots of gravel to walk on, but I didn’t have any problems. Running shoes are lighter, have more air flow (mesh sides) and are more comfortable than hiking boots, but wear what you prefer.

I didn’t know how bad the drive would be and how exhausted I would be after each class, so I rented a cottage from Wine Ridge RV Resort at about $75/night with a Front Sight discount. The drive from the cottage to Front Sight (FS) was about 25 minutes. If you are coming from out-of-town, I would highly recommend staying here. The cottage is spacious, with a living room which had a recliner, small sofa and cable tv. There was a small dining table with 2 chairs, a kitchen with microwave, toaster, oven/stove, and good sized refrigerator. The bed was a queen size. The bathroom had a standup shower, but the water flow was not very adjustable, although adequate. I didn’t have time to sit on the attached porch but it looked nice. My friends rented an RV and were a couple doors away. They tried to book too late and they ran out of cottages. So, book early!

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In regards to food and drink – I brought a rolling cooler each day with at least 4 bottles of water, a couple of juices and a soda. I brought snacks of dried nuts/fruit to keep me going throughout the day. I also brought my own lunch, which consisted of a sandwich, fruit, and chips. You can pre-order the boxed lunches for $13.95, or get food from the trailer. My friends ate the boxed lunches and thought they were good. They do provide big containers of water and cups for you to drink from, but I preferred to know where my filtered water came from.

The first day, we arrived at 6:10am and the line to the gate was not too long (see below). The gates opened at 6:30am and you need to have your gear on and i.d. ready. In the photo you can see people getting their gear out of their trunks. After the gate opens, they will point you to where you need to park – it is very organized. First thing you do is go to Sign-In; they will assign you to a range and then you go to another area and have your weapon and gear inspected. You need to be wearing your belt with holster, empty gun in the holster, your 2 mag holders, and a box of ammo. After that, you can find your seat in the classroom for the first half hour lecture.

line to the entrance

The classroom lectures were done in a huge room that held probably 300-400 people and they get filled up, so try and get a seat early to choose your spot. The room was air conditioned so it was nice to get a break from the hot sun. For the 2 day course, you will have lectures on “Welcome, Signing of Liability Release, Dry Practice Release”, “Color Code of Mental Awareness and the Combat Mindset”, “Moral and Ethical Decisions Associated with the Use of Deadly Force”, and “Problems 2 and 3: Criminal and Civil Liability”.

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After the half hour lecture, you then proceed to the range that you were assigned to. We were assigned to Range 6, which is fairly close by. Range 4 is where the bathroom facilities were, so that was convenient. On the blogs there were lots of mentions of port-a-potties but those were for the ranges that were further away. You don’t need to worry about those in the 2 day and 4 day defensive handgun classes.

From 8:30am – 12:30pm, you are on the range listening to lectures and practicing. Topics were the 5 steps of drawing a weapon, weaver stance, check, load, unload, fire, and using front sights. One thing I liked about the structure of the class was that you were paired up with someone for the entire 2 days. Your partner would always watch what you were doing and tell you if you were doing something wrong or if you forgot something. First, they had veterans of the class stand up on the line first. Then they had newcomers stand behind them. I was paired with a guy who has had a CCW since 1985 and I felt comfortable knowing that I was with someone who knew what they were doing.

From 12:30pm – 1:30pm was a lunch break. You did have the option of shooting some full-auto’s like the Uzi, Mini Uzi, Thompson MP-5 and M-16, where you just have to buy the ammo to participate.

From 1:30pm – 2:00pm there was a classroom lecture “Color Code of Mental Awareness and the Combat Mindset”

From 2:15pm – 5:00pm there were range activities. We covered being at the ready position, shooting, stepping to the side, clearing the area and going back to the ready position. Also reloading and shooting in controlled pairs, among other things. The people with Glocks had the easiest times because they didn’t have to worry about messing with the Safety (like on my USP). The guns got really hot in the afternoon due to the extreme heat and shooting, so I was glad I had my gloves with me. When it came time to pull the slide back with my hand to eject the round in the chamber, the slide was too hot to touch with my bare hands.

From 5:15pm – 6:00pm there was a classroom lecture “Moral and Ethical Decisions Associated with the Use of Deadly Force”

I brought my own folding chair because I like having arm rests and somewhere to put my drink. I asked and they didn’t mind if you want to bring your own chair. Otherwise, you will sit on a hard plastic armless folding chair for hours each day. There were about 40 people on each range. The second day there were less people as some decided not to come back for one reason or another. They missed out though, because we covered a lot the second day with much more shooting practice.

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These two guys in the back were part of the 3 instructor team for our Range 6. The instructors were friendly but made sure everybody followed proper safety procedures.

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On Day 2, the front gate opens at 7:15am. I didn’t arrive until about 7:35am but still made it on time to the range at 8:00am. (No need for sign-in or weapons check today.)

From 8:00am – 12:30pm – there will be range activities including dry practice, tactical reloads, clearing malfunctions, thoracic cavity and headshots, and shooting from a holster.

Lunch is 12:30pm – 1:30pm.

From 1:30pm – 2:15pm there is a classroom lecture “Problems 2 and 3, Criminal and Civil Liability”

From 2:25pm – 5:00pm there are more range activities with lots more shooting practice. At the end of the day, you will receive your Certificate of completion of the course.

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I signed up to come back for the One Day CCW Course, which is the Tuesday following the 2 Day course held on Friday and Saturday. I decided to just drive in this time and from Las Vegas, it was only about a 45-55 min drive. The schedule was as follows:

7:15am – 7:45am Sign-In and Weapons Inspection

7:45am – 9:00am Range Activity: Shooting the Nevada CCW Qualification Course

For the CCW test, you are required to shoot 30 rounds from 3, 5 and 7 yards. I hit 3 outside of the thoracic cavity, but I did pass the CCW test.

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9:00am – 10:30am Classroom Lecture on State Statutes covering Nevada, Utah and Florida

10:30am – 12:00pm Classroom Activities: Applications, fingerprint cards, and Nevada Written Test. It takes a while because they go over each of the 3 State’s application forms.

12:00pm – 1:00pm Lunch (but nobody took a lunch break, we just waited in line to get our test scored and the applications signed off)

I was out of there by 1pm but there were still about 10 people behind me. Tip – get in line while you’re finishing up your paperwork.

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In summary, I was really glad that I finally made it out to Front Sight to take the classes. The only thing I regret was taking it in 100+ degree weather. I feel that I learned a lot from the classes that I would otherwise not have learned on my own or from friends. Everything they taught us was in a well structured manner, so that those with no experience at all, would feel comfortable learning each step of the way. There were many veteran shooters and law enforcement people attending, and they wouldn’t come back if they felt the instruction was not worth the trip. I personally feel that everybody who owns a handgun, should take at least the 2 day class, in order to be safe and know how to properly handle the weapon. All of the personnel at Front Sight were very friendly and helpful when you had questions. I definitely plan to go back for more classes.