New to you handguns

Posted: August 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

TINLEY PARK, IL - JANUARY 19:  A customer shops for a gun at Freddie Bear Sports sporting goods store on January 19, 2012 in Tinley Park, Illinois. Gun rights supporters have proclaimed today Gun Appreciation Day and encouraged gun owners to visit local gun shops, gun ranges and to rally at their state capitals.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Acquiring a firearm for personal protection doesn’t have to be an expensive undertaking.  Gun shows and almost every gun store keep a stock of firearms for sale that are on consignment, or trade ins, etc.  It is worth your time to take a look at some of these pieces.  Just because they are labeled as “used,” you’ll find most of these firearms have very little wear or in some cases brand new and unfired, but previously owned.

For example, I was looking at lever action rifles but did not have the $800 to spend.  On the consignment rack I found a .30-.30 Winchester for half the price.  Looking it over carefully, I couldn’t tell if the gun had ever been fired.  There was not a single mark on the stock, all the bluing finish was in place and there was no signs of wear anywhere on it.  Used guns on consignment usually have a story as well.  The lever action I was considering was purchased by an older gentleman who never fired it.  After sitting in his safe for a couple years he decided he needed money instead of the rifle and put it up for sale.   It was a win for both of us, I got an excellent gun for half the cost and the gentlemen was able to pay off some bills.  The dealer also got paid a percentage for providing a service.

About 30% of my current collection were previously owned firearms.  Besides the WWII era rifles that show considerable wear, all of the used guns I’ve purchased have performed exceptionally well and saved me money.  If you do decide to purchase vintage rifles, be prepared for some extensive wear and or abuse… especially old military models.

There are some things to check when considering a used handgun, so I’ll go over with you a few things to check or watch out for so you can buy with confidence.

First of all, do a little research and be familiar with the gun you want to purchase.  Knowing the features and how it operates are key when evaluating it using the steps below.

When looking at a used gun, I like to ask the store owner the back story.  Why is someone putting it up for sale and if they know any history about the gun.  Most people who sell a firearm do so because they don’t want it for some reason, want the money from the sale for a new gun, or want to dump a problem gun on someone else.  A reputable dealer will not take the latter handguns for resale and if they are an experienced dealer, they will likely have weeded out the junk pieces.  Their reputation as a business is on the line so your local gun store will not risk liability, or bad reviews from customers over the resale of a junky or unsafe gun.

Also, used guns typically have an asking price and an actual price.  Profit margins on used firearms are usually a bit higher than new models so there may be some room to negotiate.  Consignment pieces also have an asking price, and the bottom price the seller is willing to take.  When I sold a handgun recently I set my asking price, and told the dealer my bottom number.  Since the dealer gets a percentage they will try to get the higher price as well because it means more money for them… but having some flexibility can make a sale happen rather than a long wait for top dollar.

Negotiations are diplomatic so be polite, build rapport and you may save a few bucks on the gun you’ve always wanted.  An additional advantage is when you purchase a used handgun, some of them will include accessories like holsters, spare magazines, additional barrels, etc.  Used guns do not typically come with a case or owner’s manual, but a good store will print one out for you upon request.  I have never had a problem finding an owner’s manual on the manufacturer’s website.

Most firearms dealers have not test fired the used guns.  If you are seriously considering a purchase and our dealer has a range associated with it, you may be able to ask for an opportunity to test fire it to make sure it functions.  If there is no range, perhaps ask if the dealer has a qualified gunsmith on staff who has or can look at the gun.  If not, ask permission to have a gunsmith come in and look over the gun for you if you suspect a problem.

Now start with the exterior features of the gun you can see.  For a semi-auto:  Look for chips in the finish, excessive wear or bent rails.  The overall fit and finish should be in good condition.  Check the sights to make sure they are securely mounted.  For guns with bluing, you can easily see wear marks which will give you an idea how much the gun has been fired.  A quality firearm from a major manufacturer should get you tens of thousands of rounds of reliable performance, so even if the gun has a couple of thousand rounds through it, it is just getting broken in and has a long service life ahead of it.

Make sure the mechanical features work, for example (if equipped) the de-cock lever functions.  Some guns have multiple safety features so be familiar with them and check them all to make sure they all work.

Pointing it in a safe direction, press the trigger, hold the trigger to the rear and cycle the slide and check the sear reset.  Once the hammer is cocked back, push on it and make sure it does not fall when pressure is applied.

Don’t forget to check each magazine.  The main reason semi-auto handguns malfunction is due to the magazines.  Make sure the follower engages the slide stop to ensure the slide locks open.  Make sure the follower is not tilted and there is not rust on the body or floor plates.  Push down on the follower as well to make sure there is good tension in the spring.

For a 1911 you could check to make sure the slide stop will actually prevent it from moving and the grip safety prevents the trigger from being fully depressed.

For any used firearm I also recommend you look at the crown on the barrel and if you have a flashlight, look down the barrel.  For safety and with the permission of the gun store salesperson, you may want to take the handgun apart when checking the barrel.  Make sure the rifling is tact and there are is no pitting or other interior rust or damage.  If you can disassemble the handgun, this is another excellent opportunity to check the internal parts for wear or damage.  Pay attention to slide rails, and recoil springs.

For revolvers, you will check many of the same things.  On a revolver however, open the cylinder and make sure it is securely anchored to the frame and smoothly opens and closes.  If it is a single action, open the gate and half cock the gun so you can rotate the cylinder.  Check each and every cylinder and use a flashlight if you can so you can get a clear look.  You want to make sure they are smooth, free from rust, pits and debris.  With the cylinder still open push the ejector rod and look underneath to make sure it is also fully free of rust and that is actuates smoothly.  As mentioned, check the barrel the same way we discussed above.

Close the cylinder and point the revolver in a safe direction.  As you press the trigger, make sure the cylinder rotates properly, it locks up firmly and that each cylinder lines up with the barrel.  Check the double and single action trigger.

Finally ask the dealer if they offer any kind of a short term guarantee, or if you find any worn parts, ask the dealer if they will repair or replace them prior to purchase.  After a thorough inspection you should feel confident about your purchase and will be able to get a good quality Home Defense Gun.  With the money you save do not hesitate to sign up for a course and get some training with your new to you handgun. Happy shopping.

Be safe-

Scott S  Also look for us on Facebook:  One Weapon Any Tool

Clearing Malfunctions

Posted: August 17, 2015 in Uncategorized
Sierra Exif JPEG

Sierra Exif JPEG

Clearing Malfunctions

Greeting my friends!  I want to apologize for the long delay between articles.  I’ve had quite a bit of personal turmoil recently and that has derailed business a bit.  Overall everyone (including myself) is healthy and safe and I have time to focus on the One Weapon Any Tool blog, Facebook page and more classes this fall.  But for now, a new article:

At some point in your shooting career you are going to experience a malfunction with your handgun.  Be it a semi-auto style or revolver, both with occasionally experience problems and knowing how to clear a jam under stress is an essential survival skill.  When talking about malfunctions we are talking about these catagories:  1) Failure to feed, 2) Failure to fire, 3) Failure to extract, 4) Slide obstruction, and the worst for last, 5) Double feed.

Revolvers have a much more reliable track record since the only malfunction they are likely to experience are 2) Failure to fire, and 4) Obstruction that prevents the cylinder from rotating when the hammer is cocked or when the trigger is pulled.  A revolver will never experience a Double Feed and the cure for most revolver malfunctions is to simply pull the trigger again.  Unless the cylider locks up or there is something external that prevents it from turning, a well maintained revolver will provide you with tens of thousands of rounds of reliable operation.

A semi-auto is a bit more finicky when it comes to operations and even the type of amunition you use can affect reliability.  The tighter the tolerances on the handgun can also affect consistent operations.  One example I can give you is 1911 style handguns.  These works of art are finely tuned precision machines that I liken to the Formula 1 of handguns.  As a result, the ultra tight tolerances sometimes make them malfunction more frequently than a Glock or Sig Sauer which have a bit of play in them to allow for rougher handling.  Afficienados will tell you there is a difference between a combat 1911 and a collector or carry 1911… but I do not want to digress into a debate about 1911 pistols.

The good news about clearing a jam in a sei-auto handgun is that unless you are experienceing a Double Feed, all of the other clearing methods are the same quick series of actions.  The method I teach and use is the “Tap, Roll, Rack, Ready,” method. (T3R)  This is a slight variation on the two more common drills you’ve probably heard of the Tap, Rack, Ready or the outdated and irresponsible Slap, Rack and Fire.

The method I teach is only a minor variation of what you are used to, but I’ve added the “Roll,” part to allow gravity to assist me.  When you handgun does not fire, simply “Tap,” the bottom of the magazine well to ensure the magazine is seated firmly in place.  Now, “Roll,” the handgun inboard (towards you) until the ejection port is facing downward as you, “Rack,” or cycle the slide.  By rolling the gun over I’m using gravity to act with me instead of against me.

In the standard method where we simply “Tap, and Rack,” gravity is pulling downward on an object we are trying to expel upward and away from the chamber and ejection port.  By adding the “Roll” action we are assiting the mechanical operation of the handgun with the expulsion of the empty case, or round with the bad primer, or the stovepipe that got caught in the port.

When you conduct the roll, you will need to transition from a two handed grip, to a one handed grip.  If the gun is in your right hand, turn the handgun towards the centerline of your body or towards your left hand as your support hand moves backwards towards the grip serrations on the rear of the slide.  You’ll find that with a little practice, as you let go with your support hand, you will begin to roll the slide into the support hand naturally.

Once you have cleared the obstruction, simply roll the gun back to firing position, reestablish your two hand grip, assess, and fire if necessary.  After a few repetitions you will find this additional roll technique takes no longer than your standard / traditional clearing method.

To clear a slide obstruction malfunction, you will first need to assess what is causing the obstruction,  I typically see these when shooters practice firing from the withdraw position (near the hip.)  As they shoot the student sometimes fail to account for the actuation of the slide and it strikes thier ribs, body armor, or catches a piece of thier shirt as the slide cycles.  Whatever is in the way, you need to remove it (tear the shirt free) and then conduct the Tap, Roll, Rack and Ready drill mentioned above.

The reason we do the T3R drill is to ensure the gun is in battery and a round is chambered.  If the slide actuates and strikes something, there is a high probability that the slide did not lock into battery, the empty case did not eject since there was not enough room for the ejection port to open, or the next round may not have been pushed all the way into the chamber.

The last and worst obstruction is the dreaded double feed.  A double feed occurs when the empty case is not expelled as the slide cycles and the next round is stripped out of the magazine and fed into the case already occupying the chamber.  The recoil spring cannot push the slide back into battery since it is braced open by the new round, and the magazine spring is applying vertical (upward) pressure causing a lock up of the handgun.

When you initially experience a Double Feed, it may not be instantly apparent.  When the handgun doesn’t fire you should immediately begin your Tap, Roll, Rack, and Ready drill.  When you return to the ready position this is typically when you notice hte gun is still out of battery and there is a bigger problem.  If you need to diagnose and you are in a shooting situation, take (hard) cover, and follow these steps.

To begin clearing a Double Feed we need to relieve the spring tension.  The first step is to lock the slide open using the slide stop.  This will eliminate the recoil spring tension and allow you to remove the magazine.  You may find, magazine is hard to remove due to the round still being stuck partially under the feed lips.  You may need to apply pressure to the magazine release button and strip or forcefully pull the magazine free from the handgun.  If you have a spare magazine, discard the magazine you just removed from the gun… if you do not carry a spare magazine, then retain the one you have and beware.

The number one cause of semi-auto handgun malfunctions is usually the magazine.  I recommend you number all the magazines you own.  As you experience a malfunction you will know which magazine is causing the problem and you can test, repair or replace it.  The numbering prevents you from mixing the defective magazine in with your other spares.  If a magazine fails, stop carrying it!

Now that the spring tension is gone and the magazine has been removed, cycle or rack the slide at least twice and then visually inspect the ejection port to make sure the chamber is clear of the empty case and the blocking live round.  Now simply insert a fresh magazine, charge the handgun and get back in the fight.

To be competent at the T3R drill and clearing malfunctions, you have to practice and build good neural pathways that make these actions nearly automatic.  For the majority of malfunctions, there is a very simple way to train.

Next time you go shooting, after you fire a few rounds during practice, collect a few empty (spent) casings from the ground in the same caliber as the gun you are using.  When you reload your magazines to continue live fire practice, randomly mix in 3 or 4 of the empty cases in with the live rounds.  As you continue to practice shooting or running drills you will pull the trigger and nothing with discharge.  The random mix will cause a bit of suprise and will be your cue to begin the T3R, Immediate Action Clearing Drill.

To practice clearing a Double Feed, you will have to set up the handgun for this particular malfunction.  You can do it by locking the slide open, dropping a spent casing into the chamber and pushing it into place, and then adding a fresh magazine and charging the weapon.  As the slide goes forward it will strip the top round off and bury it into the rear of the empty case creating a double feed situation.  Once you clear it, you’ll have to set it up again so these are fairly labor intensive to practice… but that does not mean you shouldn’t.

Until next time, stay safe and train hard.  For more training articles visit our friends at Home Defense Gun and check out the One Weapon Any Tool Facebook Page.

Your mind is the weapon, everything else is just a tool.

Scott S


I’ve seen shooters at all levels that struggle to some degree with “flinching,” or what we commonly call anticipation. This is evident when you look at a target of a student and see the rounds striking the lower left area because just a split second before they fire, they “flinch” and the final aiming point and muzzle dips and turns resulting in a low hit or miss. (Opposite for left handed shooters)

New and less experience shooters, or those who do not practice regularly struggle with anticipation. The primary causes of anticipation are: Fear or uncertainty, improper grip, and lack of practice or training. The good news about “flinching” is that it is curable with a little bit of work.

Fear or uncertainty is usually the first thing we need to address. Everyone has an aversion to pain and new shooters and those who are inexperienced or do not shoot frequently enough are afraid of being hurt by the handgun when it discharges, cycles, or both. There is also quite a bit of anxiety or uncertainty that also needs to be overcome. To be a good shooter you have to tolerate a bit of discomfort, but that can be minimized and managed by a little bit of practice and confidence.

I tell all of my students that the “scary” noise and the mechanical actions happens faster than they are able to perceive it, and none of it happens until micro-seconds AFTER the bullet leaves the barrel of the gun on its way to the target. So getting the perfect shot in the right place happens before any of the things we are uncertain or afraid of, actually take place. So getting the round to hit what you are aiming at is a simple application of the fundamentals… and then the “scary stuff” happens.

I know this information is not comforting to the timid shooter, so let’s analyze the second part of this problem. More gun than you can handle! You need look no further than Youtube for endless videos of idiot boyfriends handing their girls or guy friends extremely large caliber hand cannons, offering no training or advice and then laughing hysterically when they get hurt. These videos breed stereotypes and fear among potential new shooters. Hollywood doesn’t help either when they wrongfully depict a handgun discharging and sending the shooter flying backwards. If you are a timid, new or inexperienced shooter, start with a small caliber handgun and build confidence before picking up something larger. A defensive caliber does not have to start with a point four (.4-) to be effective. (Uh oh… I just said calibers less than .40 are good for defense… Brace yourself for the hate mail)

I have handguns available to rent for my courses and they are usually .22LR or 9mm. I also use steel frame handguns that are a little heavier to help mitigate some of the recoil. Starting off with something manageable helps assuage some of the fear or uncertainty. When they are expecting a civil war cannon bang and all they get is a sharp pop, shooters realize that handling a firearm is not that difficult after all. It only takes a couple hundred rounds for confidence to soar and after seeing how well you can shoot a small gun, most shooters are eager to step up to something bigger. So if you are learning to shoot start small.

The second part of the flinch equation is an improper grip. I teach and strongly advocate the 100% or thumbs forward grip. Shooters of all sizes, strength and skill levels have had great success using this grip. Using your Google-fu you can find dozens of articles on this style of grip and its numerous advantages. This two handed grip style will give you the maximum skin to surface contact on the handgun as well as the best position to manage the cycling of the slide during recoil. If you page through the Home Defense Gun (.net) site you can find an excellent video that demonstrates this grip. If you are improperly holding the handgun, the recoil you are absorbing will be felt to a much greater degree than necessary, which will cause pain or extreme discomfort and cause you to “flinch” unconsciously.

The best way to fight the flinch is to seek out quality training and practice on your own. I recommend a lot of dry fire practice if you have a problem with anticipation or flinching. Dry firing means that you develop strong neural pathways (muscle memory) without any of the “scary” stuff happening. By focusing carefully on the fundamentals of proper trigger press, sight alignment and follow through without having to worry about the noise or mechanical action will allow you to grow comfortable and confident. When you do finally hit the range you can apply the skills you acquired during dry fire practice. With a solid foundation to build on, the right grip, and a manageable caliber handgun you will be well on your way to ending the “flinch” or anticipating.

To end the fight against the flinch once and for all you will need practice. Here is a drill I recommend to anyone struggling with anticipation or “flinching.” Take a handful of empty casings and as you load your magazine or cylinder, randomly place an empty casings into the magazine interspersed with live rounds. (Or have someone else load your magazines randomly). As you shoot on the range, you will not know when your gun will go bang or click and if you have a problem anticipating the recoil or flinching, you will catch yourself doing so as the hammer falls on the empty case. When you pull the trigger and there is no bang, no mechanical reaction and you still flinch and drop the front sight down and left in anticipation… you’ll feel really silly. After a few bouts of this behavior your concentration level will increase, and since you do not know when the gun will really fire, you’ll fight the flinch, stay on target and start making good hits. Try this out and post your results, I’d love to hear your feedback.

Once you master the smaller caliber and the fear and uncertainty fades, challenge yourself and pick up the next larger caliber available. Confidence comes quickly with a little practice and training. Once you grow accustomed to the motion, mechanical action and the noise, you’ll start to relish the discomfort you feel and after a while, you’ll enjoy it… from there you’ll be well on your way to being a top notch shooter.

Train hard, stay safe.

Scott S

Your mind is the weapon, everything else is just a tool! For more information please visit our website at: or find us on Facebook. For more firearms, safety and personal protection articles, videos and sound advice visit my friends at or search for Home Defense Gun on Facebook.

Firm Fundamentals

Posted: March 30, 2015 in Uncategorized



No matter how great of a shooter you are… or think you are, the one common thread that determines success on the range is a solid understanding and practice of the 7 Firearms Fundamentals. One drill I practice when there is range space is the “Moon Walk,” or “Distance,” Drill. Load up your magazines and pockets (about 50 to 100 rounds) and start at the 10 yard line. I recommend a steel target for this drill so you can get instant audible feedback when you make hits. For new shooters use a steel torso target and more advance shooters, use a 9” steel plate.

Starting at the 10 fire one shot until you make a hit and get the audible ring. Then take a step backwards and shoot again. Continue “moon walking” backwards firing one round at a time keeping all your rounds on the plate. If you miss, stay where you are and shoot again, if you miss a second time, step forward… you can’t move backwards until you make a hit. Keep going until you reach the 100 yard line.  (See Blog picture above)

I know that 99% of gunfights occur within 10 feet and most shooters believe it is impractical to try and shoot much past the 25 yard line, but being able to do so allows you as a shooter and potential gun fighter to build confidence in your abilities and to fine tune or iron out the fundamentals.

When talking about the fundamentals I break them down into the following categories:



Sight Picture

Sight Alignment


Trigger Control

Follow Through

When shooting at close range (>10 yards) you can almost ignore the basics and still get good hits on a silhouette or man size target. Being a bit off balance or nit breathing at close range will result in very little variance against a man size target. When you increase the distance, the fundamentals are indispensable. To make sure the crucial skills necessary to win at close range are at your disposal, you have to step out of your comfort zone and start increasing the distance.

You’ll start to notice at the 25 yard line that trigger control, breathing and sight picture really start to effect where you hit. If you are 1/10 of an inch off at the 25 yard line you could be almost a foot off target after you fire. As your distance increases, your sight alignment becomes important because now a level rear sight which is often ignored on a handgun at close range can mean shooting over or under the target if misaligned. Past the 25 yard line your front sight will likely start to cover the target and past 50 yards, you will have to start adjusting your aim slightly so the tip of the front sight is at the top of the target.

When you finally start making hits at longer ranges you’ll start developing your follow through. Follow through is nothing more than maintaining the fundamentals you used prior to shooting, after the round goes off. Just because the firearm discharges, you should not abandon any of the 7 fundamentals. After the shot goes off maintain your stance, grip, and breathing, reestablish your sight picture and alignment and control the trigger to the reset point (taking up any slack).

Once you start making good and consistent hits at distances I guarantee you will notice an improvement in your shots at close range as well. Next time you hit the range load up your pockets and start “moon walking,” and applying the 7 fundamentals. Not only will this improve your shooting over all, it will also increase your confidence in case you end up in the 1% of gunfights where you have to make a long distance shot. You might have to use deadly force to save a life that is not close to you and when seconds count, the bullet will close the distance faster than you can.

Have fun, start training and build a good foundation!

Scott S – One Weapon Any Tool  Also find us on Facebook and Twitter @1weaponanytool


I think a lot of people who carry a concealed weapon are under the false pre-tense that if they actually have to draw their handgun, it will be a certain shooting situation. Firearms are used for personal defense hundreds of times a day in the US alone and out of those situations less than 1% actually end in an exchange of gun fire or fatality. Chances are highly likely that the introduction of a handgun into a tense situation can bring a resolution. It does not always, and that is why we train to shoot and practice weapon retention and martial arts.

In the cases when your bad guy realizes he is out matched and that today is not a good day to die, you will need to give verbal commands that are simple, clear and will not come back to haunt you in a courtroom if you say them. Using verbal commands may still result in you pulling the trigger, but challenging your suspect at least creates witnesses out of those around you, and you gave the bad guy a chance to surrender.

Not every situation will provide you with enough time to give a verbal warning, so, as you read this run through the various scenarios and apply the warning as you see fit based on your training and experience. Also in a worst case scenario when shots are fired, you should also train yourself to give verbal warning and instructions to the downed bad guy.

I train my students to use a short phrase that is easy to remember, general and minimizes liability. I want to keep it simple so under stress so we are focused on the problem in front of us, and not trying to string words together. The verbal challenge should begin with a sharp attention getting statement, like, “Stop!” If you are in law enforcement this would be replaced with the words, “Police,” or “Sheriff’s Office.” As a civilian, I do not advise you identifying yourself as a member of law enforcement.

Once you have a sharp and loud attention statement, follow up with a command, “Drop the weapon!” Notice I use the word weapon instead of gun or knife. Weapon is generic, simple to say and remember. It covers a large variety of objects that could be used as a weapon. A crossbow or screwdriver are equally as deadly as a firearm but under stress, you dont want to divide your focus by trying to identify the object and search your higher brain for the matching word. You want to get your point across quickly and the word weapon sums up everything in a concise manner.

Finally I include what I call the plea, or my witness statement. “Don’t make me shoot you!” While it may sound odd to plead with your suspect, what you are actually doing is creating witnesses of the people around you. If you shoot someone, there will be a police investigation and possibly a trial. When that occurs, I want the people around me, the nearby neighbors, etc. to tell the investigators that it sounded like I really didn’t want to shoot. While your state of mind is irrelevant under the 4th Amendment test of Reasonableness, (Graham v Connor) we want to create a situation that works towards our advantage.

If a shooting does occur, the words, “Don’t make me,” give the strong impression that you as a shooter had no other choice and the bad guy forced you to pull the trigger due to his overt actions. The suspect could have surrendered and you gave him an opportunity to do so during your verbal challenge, but he declined to comply, forcing you to fire.

When we are talking about home defense I recommend a verbal warning as you defend your home, especially at night. While you should have a good flashlight or weapon mounted light (I recommend both) issuing a verbal challenge to someone in your home gives a family member the opportunity to respond or identify themselves and avoid a tragedy. Imagine this situation,” Stop! Drop the weapon! Don’t make me shoot you!” and hearing the words, “Dad, it’s me! Don’t shoot.” Anytime there is uncertainty a verbal warning might be in order.

Not every situation will give you time to provide an audible warning, and a challenge should only be used when the opportunity arises. Just like giving the recommended warning above, the mere fact you did so also bodes well under court scrutiny. By issuing a verbal challenge, you tried to minimize the risk to the suspect. Anything that helps you on scene and during your court defense is certainly worth considering.

Even if you begin to give the warning and have to shoot, complete your statements and repeat them. For example, “Stop, drop the weapon -BANG, BANG- Don’t make me -BANG- shoot you.” Then repeat the statement even if the suspect goes down. In most circumstances pistol calibers do not kill outright unless you target the electrical system of the body (brain or spine) and your bad guy could still be alive on the ground after being shot. Continue repeating the warning to also let everyone know that even on the ground he can still be a threat, and if you have to make follow up shots, you are again justifying your actions on scene and later in court. Just because a suspect is down, does not mean the threat is over and you can still be hurt or killed by someone who is on the ground and injured.

Whether you borrow my challenge or come up with one of your own, make sure it is clear, simple to say and understand and train it!

Be safe, Godspeed!

Scott S

One Weapon Any Tool

Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @1weaponanytool

Basic Pistol Course – Sunday, April 12th

Instinctive Fire- Unsighted Fire

Posted: February 4, 2015 in Uncategorized


Point Shooting – Unsighted Fire

Shooting a handgun without using your sights may seem like voodoo magic to a lot of shooters. While it is a difficult skill to master it is not really magic or difficult if you apply your fundamentals of handgun shooting and allow your mind to fill in the gaps where you sights should be. Instead of calling it Point Shooting, or Unsighted Firing, I prefer to think of it as Instinctive Fire.

Your mind is an amazing super computer that can fill in the gaps in a series of events in such a way that you will have a complete picture of events. For example, try to recall the last conversation you had with a friend or spouse. I bet you can’t recall the actual words used, but your mind get the gist of the topic and that is what you can recall. A better way to think of it might be when you re-watch a favorite movie. The first time you saw it, there was several things occurring and as a result your mind filled in what it missed using logic to give you a complete story. As you watch it again you know the story so it frees up your mind to notice more details that were glossed over the first time.

Due to your supercomputer nestled between your ears, you do not always need a perfect sight picture to get fast and accurate hits. By applying good fundamentals, pointing your handgun at the target and looking directly at your target, your mind will compensate for the missing pieces of the picture and you will naturally make good hits. Lets go through the steps to clarify the process.

Instinctive shooting without using sights is a skill that is developed after you spent some time building a solid foundation shooting with your sights and practicing good fundamentals. Without a foundation to build on, you will not be able to obtain consistent and accurate hits when point shooting. Once you have a solid understanding of the basics, it is time to push yourself and start unsighted fire.

What you will find is that point shooting is a very quick way to get the gun on target and get hits. When we are discussing accuracy there is a trade-off. Using your sights, you can easily get the rounds to touch on a target, unsighted you will achieve slightly larger groups but pick up a lot more speed. In a self-defense situation being the first one to get effective hits is the best way to win!

When you are learning unsighted fire I recommend you begin at the five or seven yard line and as you progress, start moving backwards. Starting with your stance, facing your target with your feet slightly offset in a boxer’s stance with your toes pointed towards your target. Your chest and head should also be square to your target and your eyes looking directly at what you want to hit. Draw your handgun and punch out driving the gun towards your target as fast as you can safely control the gun. I want you to literally picture yourself throwing a punch since this a very natural motion. Staying focused on the target with your eyes, press the shot using good trigger control. Holster and assess.

The reason I use the punching analogy is because your hand eye coordination makes hitting something with a fist easy. When you punch you are looking at your target and your mind fires all the neurons to complete the action with very little conscious thought. The same occurs when shooting except you are driving the handgun towards the target which creates a natural alignment putting you right on target. With your feet, chest, eyes and arms all focused the same direction your mind fills in anything missing allowing you to make hits.

Point shooting or unsighted fire is typically done one handed, but that is not always the case. I recommend you start off using your standard two handed grip. As you punch the gun out, about half way between your chest and full extension, your hands should meet and form the two handed grip you are familiar with. Once you achieve solid results drop the support hand and try it one handed. For some tips on one handed shooting, refer to my previous article, One Armed Man.

This will take some practice in the beginning since you will have to apply good trigger control and break the shot at the right moment. When learning and teaching I find most students initially press the trigger too early and the round goes low, very similar to someone who is anticipating recoil. Like everything else when you are training start slowly and pick up speed until you find the sweet spot where you can push out with the arm (your gross motor, large muscle movement) and your pull with a finger (a fine motor, small muscle move).

One aid you can use to find that sweet spot is to start off with an unloaded handgun and dry fire. Draw, punch out, and as you press the trigger “peek” at your front sight to see where your point of aim is. After a few reps, insert a full magazine and do it live.

As you get faster, now it is time to improve the accuracy. Once you have developed strong neural pathways, start moving back and / or decrease the size of your target. When really trying to push myself on the range I usually shoot 9″ circles. If you can quickly put rounds into a small circle target or plate, you’ll have a very easy time hitting a larger person or silhouette target.

So this weekend, get out there and start developing a new skill. Be safe, train hard. Remember, your mind is the weapon, everything else is just a tool.

Scott S Find us on Facebook!

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Despite what I’m doing it always seems like I have something I need to carry. Be it a folder, grocery bag, holding a door, holding a phone or my daughter’s hand, I usually have something in my non-gun hand. If you carry a concealed weapon, you should take great care and practice making sure you always have your primary or gun hand free in case you need to access your weapon. Keeping your gun hand free limits your options on how much you can carry and usually means your off hand is occupied. For the article I’m going to use the phrase off hand. I know the more common description is “weak hand,” but I prefer to keep the work weak out of my vocabulary. You may be less skilled, but you are not weak!

I bring this topic up because I want you to think about how much time you spend shooting one hand only? Very few instructors offer courses where you are required to shoot your handgun with your primary hand only, not to mention your off hand only. Most training course emphasize good marksmanship which is achieved by a solid stance, grip and the other applied fundamentals. This is a great way to learn, but how you learn to shoot is going to be very different from when you have to shoot to survive. Outside of some advance police pistol training I do not see one handed shooting in very many curriculums.

Whether you attend my basic handgun or one of my more advanced courses, I make all of my students shoot with one hand for several reasons. The first reason is to show them it is possible. You should see the looks I get from students when I tell them to let go with one hand. After some initial apprehension, the student always shows intense concentration and they shoot exceptionally well with one hand only. Just when confidence starts to increase I have them put the gun into their off-hand only. Again, more looks of horror and doubt followed by encouragement, concentration and success.

In my Offensive Pistol course we up the ante a bit by giving the student a life size doll which completely ties up one hand, forcing them to access, withdraw and shoot the target with one hand. This is important because like I mentioned at the beginning of the article, we are always carrying or holding onto something. In a real life encounter we may have our off hand occupied, or if we are with a loved one they may be latched onto one of our arms in panic. In the event you are involved in a gun fight and become injured and lose the ability to fight with one hand, having a skillset you have trained will make a life-saving difference.

While shooting with one hand usually requires a bit more concentration when practicing, you will find that over time you can make very accurate hits. In practical or defensive pistol training we need to remember that we are not looking for the same level of accuracy as someone who is participating in a marksmanship competition. While we should always strive to shoot faster and try to make our rounds touch each other, in a real life environment we should strive for, “Combat accuracy.”

There are varying definitions of combat accuracy so let me explain my perspective this way. When shooting I want my students to get their rounds into a soccer ball size area of center mass. When shooting with one hand, and shooting quickly this is not difficult to achieve with a little practice. As your skill increases you will be better able to control the recoil and get those rounds closer together, but if you can put your shots into a soccer ball size area you will be effective against a lethal threat.

To close out the article I want to give you a tip you can try that may make shooting with one hand a bit easier. Sitting or standing where you are shake your arms to loosen up a bit. Now raise them up in front of you and notice how your hands are naturally pronated or angled towards the center line of your body. This is the common way you rest your hands on a piano, or computer keyboard.


This is a very natural position for your body. Now, keeping your hand in that position, simply add the handgun. You will notice that the handgun is also pronated or angled slightly inboard towards your centerline. This should feel natural and comfortable, but be careful not to over pronate and end up going full gangster as you hold the handgun. The gun should rest naturally at a 45 degree angle. (See photos)


From this position you can easily see your front sight and achieve a good sight alignment and picture. Shooting one handed from this position also allows you to stand square to your target instead of turning sideways and exposing your vital organs.

The other thing to avoid is over rotating your hand the other way so your handgun is sitting straight up and down or about 90 degrees. If you rotate you’re the gun you will feel additional tension in your forearm and wrist which will cause you to fatigue faster and will make mitigation of recoil more difficult. If you notice with your hand in the pronated position, the grip panel is facing downward, allowing gravity to assist you in by counteracting the rise of the handgun during recoil.

Next time you head to the range, make sure you spend some time outside your comfort zone. Spend some time shooting with one hand and apply some of the techniques I’ve mentioned above. When you have adequate control, shoot faster but maintain accuracy. Build your skills and confidence and then shoot with your off hand as well. If you carry a concealed handgun, make sure you carry in such a way you can access and draw your handgun with one hand as well. This skill is vital to your survival. It pays to be one armed man!

Be safe, and remember: Your mind is the weapon, everything else is a tool!

Scott S

Founder – One Weapon Any Tool Firearms Training

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2014 in review

Posted: December 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 20 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Carrying a handgun in a daily basis is one of the surest ways to guarantee your personal safety. A concealed firearm gives you a tremendous advantage in surprise and as a force multiplier when confronted with a threat of death or great bodily injury. Having a firearm gives you options and puts you on equal footing or gives you an advantage against an armed attacker/opponent.

One disadvantage to concealed carry is having to downsize the amount of ammo available to you or when carrying a small or more compact firearm, the number of rounds are now limited. When in a training environment or on duty, carrying around 3 full magazines (or more) is quite common. Even though I carry 37 rounds of handgun ammunition with me, it was still a limited amount when you look at some of the sustained gunfights some law enforcement officers have been engaged in. While I hope to avoid a gun battle which requires me to reload, or reload more than one time, the possibility exists so we carry at least a pair of magazines. Some of my staff who work in one of our most dangerous inner city areas are now carrying 5 full magazines or a combo of the standard 3 mags with a backup gun.

While off duty or in civilian life, carrying 3 to 5 magazines is just impractical, uncomfortable and probably difficult to conceal. The question becomes, how much extra ammo (magazines) should I carry and why? Like choosing a gun to carry this is a personal choice and does not come with a blanket answer, though I will give you my recommendations. First of all it starts with the gun you carry… allow me to explain.

The first gun I carried concealed was a Glock 17. A single standard capacity magazine holds 17+1 rounds of 9mm ammo. When this was my daily carry gun, I rarely felt it necessary to take an additional 17 round magazine with me. Overtime as I transitioned to the smaller Sig P938, which has an optional 7+1 round magazine, I always carried a spare magazine to bring my total up to 14 rounds… and I was always nervous that maybe I should be carrying two additional magazines for the little thing.

Now that I have standardized on carrying my duty weapon at work and away from it, I have found that the 12+1 capacity is a good balance. Should I have to engage a threat I will have a sufficient supply of ammo already in the handgun, however, I do carry an additional magazine (sometimes two) at all times, but not for the primary reason you might think.

Okay, so the primary reason to carry a spare magazine is to have more rounds available, there is an additional reason you should consider carrying a spare. Reliability! When working with quality semi-auto handguns, the primary reasons they fail to function or fire is typically caused by the magazine. More than any other reason, almost every failure I’ve experience has been to a faulty mag, with the poor quality of design being secondary followed by a broken or worn extractor and lastly by a worn out recoil spring.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need your firearm to save your life or the life of another, it has to work. If you have a faulty magazine that does not seat properly, or have sufficient spring tension to feed the handgun, you will be using a single shot firearm with an immediate action drill between shots. If there is a function problem right away, consider dumping the faulty magazine and inserting a different one. When proverbial excrement hits the oscillating device, you need a gun that functions and having a spare magazine with you, might be the difference between longevity and terminal lead poisoning.

There is one more primary thing to consider when contemplating how many rounds you need to carry. Ability! Probably more important than Reliability, your Ability to make hits with the rounds you have will stop the threat faster.

Wyatt Earp who carried a single action revolver (and won gun fights with it) said it best, “Fast is fine, but accurate is final.” Despite the old west movies we see on TV, cowboys and gunslingers weren’t throwing volumes of fire across town. Having only 6 rounds in a single action revolver back in a day where ammo was unreliable or reloading meant packing powder and balls into individual cylinders, one’s Ability to get good accurate shots on target first was more desirable than more capacity.

When I teach my Defensive Handgun courses I spend a lot of time emphasizing the holes on the target that fall outside the lines. I do this for two reasons: The first is the liability side of the training. You are going to be accountable for each and every round that leaves the barrel of your handgun. Each round that strays from the target is going to hit something, and I ask my students write me a check for $10 million dollars for each “miss.” While this seems silly, it is a teachable moment that allows me to explain to them that they were shooting faster than they were capable, and as a result, are going to incur at the minimum some financial loss… and if the stray round hits someone unintended, the financial loss will pale in comparison.

It is very important to emphasize that a fast draw speed and rapid shots are important skills to develop, but not at the expense of accuracy. I’d rather be the slower gunfighter that strikes my opponent and begins delivering debilitating injury first than be quick on the trigger and wind up as a bullet trap.

As a trainer I will push my students and simulate stress to the best of my ability because I need to know and my students need to know where their failure point is. They need to know that three rapid shots are good hits but a fourth shot is more than they can manage and results in a miss. This is a performance threshold that must be established.

Do you know what your performance threshold is? If you do not, you need to seek out a competent handgun trainer in your area and find the limits of your ability. If you know your performance threshold, how are you training to overcome it and raise the bar higher? Is it time for you to also seek some training? While you are training, you may also discover the capabilities and limits of the handgun you have chosen to carry and find out if the round count and spare magazines you have chosen are sufficient for your perceived needs.

Whatever you decide, spend some time contemplating the questions I have posed. I applaud you for taking personal protection seriously and I firmly believe more armed citizens make society safer. Carrying a handgun is not a decision that is to be taken lightly and equipment selection and set up should be well thought out.

With 2015 just around the corner analyze your Ability and plan to take at least one course in the new year to maintain and increase your proficiency.

Merry Christmas, I hope you have a safe holiday season.

Scott S – One Weapon Any Tool


When we talk about personal defense, self-defense and shooting situations, most of the discussions I read online or conversations with people rarely include the possibility that you will be injured or severely wounded as a result of an encounter. Whether it be a physical altercation, or a gunfight the odds are you will not walk away from either unscathed. Dynamic confrontations require a plan, good fitness, and the ability to maintain the initiative. We’ve talked a lot about these aspects in previous articles (and will do so again I’m sure), so the focus of our discussion today is what to do in the immediate aftermath.

When the fight ends, everyone in the personal defense world begins calmly talking about how to call 911, identify yourself as a friendly citizen, and what to say to attorneys. What really happens after a dynamic confrontation is that you slowly start to regain your senses as your parasympathetic nervous system reasserts its authority and begins to mitigate the adrenaline, cortisol and the other chemicals dumped into your system to prepare you for the life threatening encounter you were just involved in. While you should call 911 and prepare for long hours of interviews, that is an unrealistic immediate response.

After you are certain the threat has ended, the first thing you are going to be concerned with is a self-assessment. Are you okay? Are the people around you (loved ones) okay as well? To conduct a thorough self-assessment you will need to do so physically, not just visually. You may be fighting the effects of tunnel vision and a quick scan of yourself or loved ones may not be enough to detect injury. Once you are safe and if shots were fired then you need to holster your weapon, take the palm of your hand and sweep it over each quadrant of your body. After each sweep, hold your palm up to your face and check for blood. If you are shot, there is a strong possibility that you may not even know it due to your body’s stress response.

As you all know, handguns in particular are not effective at killing, and you can be shot with a handgun caliber (several times) and survive. Case in point: While working in our corrections division I met an inmate who was shot 8 times and left for dead by a drug dealer she had robbed earlier, yet she survived and was one of the toughest fighters I’ve ever met in the county jail system. Yes, I said she… a female.

In 2006 there was another suspect who engaged the police in a gunfight and was shot 17 times, 11 of which exited his body. He had a broken arm from a .40S&W round but was still able to resist arrest even after the shooting stopped.

Shot does not equal dead and when you are training, make sure that you emphasize this, especially during force on force training encounters. Also make sure that when you are training practice shooting more than 1 or 2 rounds each time you draw. It may take a lot of rounds to stop a threat.

Shot means keep fighting and in the real world pain = life = ability to fight on! Never give up!

So in your immediate aftermath if you find that you are wounded, it is time to begin addressing your medical condition and taking action to make sure you are around to tell your side of the story. If you are hit, what do you have as a part of your Every Day Carry (EDC) to address trauma and to stop hemorrhaging. The leading cause of death on today’s battlefield is uncontrolled hemorrhaging so getting the bleeding stopped is top priority. Unless you carry a backpack or purse you might not have your trauma kit handy so improvisation is key.

How much medical expertise do you possess to diagnose and render basic first aid or trauma aid to yourself or a buddy? When was the last time you attended a training course that supplemented your firearms training? Shooting course are great but you need to be well rounded when it comes to personal protection and self-defense. While I hope the plan you worked out in advanced is successful we cannot ever overlook reasonable contingencies.

One of the simplest ways to be sure is to add a small Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) to your everyday carry items. A backpack is part of my daily carry and I’m never far from it, so keeping an IFAK handy is simple. Women can easily add a small kit to a purse but not everyone has the luxury of a backpack, purse of briefcase so a pocket kit might be an option.

You can keep it as simple as an Israeli or H&H bandage, a SWAT-T tourniquet, a pair of gloves and some Quick-Clot gauze, which will all fit easily into a pocket and will cover you for a short amount of time if you are significantly injured. A lot of companies are making small kits that fit on your belt and are easier to conceal than your firearm. Whatever kit you choose, make sure you are familiar with the contents and how to properly apply them. If you have never heard of any of the items I’ve listed above, perhaps you should consider taking a training course on First Aid / CPR and some Tactical Medical training.

Whatever you decide make sure the kits and contents you buy are from a quality source and manufacturer. If you have some medical training you can assemble a kit yourself to better customize the size and contents suited to you as long as you remember your life is on the line, so make sure you have good kit!

As a disclaimer I want to make sure you are qualified and capable of administering the level of care you are providing. Medical negligence occurs when you exceed the scope of your knowledge and training when applying treatment so I cannot emphasize the importance of training. When you attend a course take your kit with you and have it evaluated by the instructor. Several of the courses I have been to give you a kit to take with you as well as use the contents found in that kit during the training.

As we close, I also want you to consider one more thing. In the aftermath of a shooting, if you come out unscathed and use lethal force to stop someone who is an imminent threat of death or great bodily injury, you might need to use your medical training to save the life of the suspect. While it may be hard for you to help someone who was trying to hurt you, it is a possibility you may encounter. In the investigation and review of the shooting by a District Attorney, it may bode well for you if you rendered aid. There are a lot of variables that go into rendering aid to a suspect after an incident so think through the possibilities on your own and develop a plan now.

When the fight is over, the immediate aftermath is about saving lives.

Be safe,

Scott S

One Weapon Any Tool –

Your mind is the weapon, everything else is a tool.

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