Monday, August 30, 2021

Review - Savage 110 Scout Rifle - Evaluation Review


I picked up my 110 Scout in March of this year.  I then chose and mounted the “furniture” and did a preliminary range trip to zero it.  That, and the purpose of choosing this particular rifle and it’s “job” were covered in my post -  ” Review – The Savage 110 Scout Rifle in 308”.    Since that time I’ve spent time becoming comfortable with it and coming up with a course of fire to fully evaluate the 110 Scout for its real job – that of a Designated Marksman.

Let’s work through my overall impressions first.  This is probably the “lightest” shooting .308 I’ve ever handled.  Much of that is due to its weight – 9.72 pounds.  That’s well over LtCol Cooper’s desired weight of 6.6 to 7.7 pounds for a Scout Rifle.  And to Savage’s “AccuStock” with an adjustable comb and a “plush” butt plate adds to its ability to reduce the recoil of the 110.  The trigger breaks consistently and cleanly at 3.5 pounds.  While it’s adjustable, I’ve left it at its factory setting.

I installed the Vortex Crossfire II 2-7x32 Scout scope, a forward mounted, low power variable optic.  While I did notice the oft complained about blurring on full power along the outer edges of the image, it did not affect the effectiveness of the optic at all.  The longer eye relief enhances the ability of the shooter to keep both eyes open to evaluate their immediate surrounds while still being able to quickly and accurately engage a threat.

The bolt was smooth and easy to run and the top mounted safety immediately below the rear of the bolt was simple to operate and allows quick confirmation of the condition of the rifle.

I’ve employed VTAC slings for a number of years and it felt “at home” to me on this rifle.  While most Scout rifles seem to be carried either American or African carry, I carry it slung over my head and with my support side arm through the sling.  My reasoning is that should you need to transition to a sidearm you can simply “drop” the Scout and get on with business.  If a person would choose American or African carry you would either have to engage a threat dominant side only or you would literally have to drop the rifle.  Neither represent a good choice in my opinion.

Next has been simply sending “rounds down range” and getting familiar with “running the gun”.  It has operated flawlessly though admittedly I am just nudging 500 rounds.  Not too high a volume but enough for me to begin to get a feel for the 110 overall.  Frankly, I like it!  It just feels nice in my hand, on my shoulder and it’s just satisfying to experience its accuracy and how it runs.


I’m not much for putting holes in paper.  My only exception is my 50 yard “working” target to work on my fundamental shooting skills with my .22 trainer, a Ruger Precision in .22 long rifle.  A box of quality .22 ammunition is always part of a range trip with a goal of around 150 rounds per month.  My main argument for this is that if a shooter can’t shoot a ½ inch-ish group consistently (5 rounds on each 2 inch target) then why waste a $1.50 round for your .308?  Master and maintain the fundamentals and then send a couple 20 rounds boxes of quality .308 downrange per month to maintain the skillset with your .308 – be it a scout rifle or a precision rifle.  Obviously that dynamic can change by going all in on reloading . . . but you can get a tremendous amount of good work done with a good .22 long rifle.  For range work I shoot either Eley Club or Winchester T22 with good results.


The use of a .22 trainer is, in my opinion, a great use of time while you continue to refine your position, your use of bags, your use of various support, your standard positions, how you grip your rifle, where you position your trigger finger, your trigger press and follow through.  All the little things that go into making an accurate shot.


But, but . . . does all that work transition to a larger caliber rifle?


The only way to resolve that is to, again, do the work on the range. 


I put together a 40-round course of fire to evaluate just where I am shooting wise with my rifles.  I do this against a LETarget’s SEB target and my primary distance is 50 yards.  Why?? Because a study of police involved engagements by LEO Snipers found that the average distance of their shots was 51 yards.  I did push this COF out to 100 yards as well, I’ll discuss that separately in a bit.  So the following is my recommended COF.

Evaluation Course of Fire

1:  5 Rounds - #1

2:  5 Rounds - #2

3:  6 Rounds - #3 Accelerated Pairs

4:  5 Rounds – Head

5:  15 Rounds – Failure Drill x5

6:  4 Rounds - #4

Total Rounds = 40


The limited round count is simply because of expense.  Obviously reloading can greatly reduce these costs yet to simply work on raw mechanics it’s very hard to beat $11 for a 50-round box of Eley Club ammunition.  That allows me to get considerably more range time while keeping my costs down – provided that the skills transfer from the .22 Trainer to the 110 Scout.  Do they?



While I varied the mix just a tad you can see that for 40 rounds, I was down zero.  In my scoring approach you need to be within a defined target element or touching the element’s outline.  This specific target was my very first “formal” range trip with the Scout 110.  Honestly, I was quite pleased.


Again, due to simply the cost of ammunition, I have also integrated a .223 “trainer” into my rotation in the form of a Ruger American Rifle – Predator in .223.  For both the Savage and the Ruger I am fond of PMCs X-TAC round in .308, 147GR and .223 62gr.  I push that rifle out of 100 yards regularly and the following target with the above COF yielded a range trip score of 90%.  I find it’s a nice intermediate step up between the .22 and the .308.  I use the same SEB target for the .223 that I do for the .308.


So . . . how did it go with the Ruger Predator in .223?

All of the rounds went to their desired location with the exception of 4 rounds of the head shots.  So, dropping 4 rounds yields a 90% - right at where I want to be.

So how does this 50 yard work with the .22 trainer, the 50 yard work with the Savage Scout 110 and the 100 yard work with the Ruger Predator in .223 translate to 100 yard work with the Savage 110 Scout Rifle?  Let's take a look.

The first 5 rounds went into #1.  The Cold Bore shot and its follow-up are labeled.  I do this on each and every trip.  All 5 rounds fell within a 3 ½ “ circle at 100 yards.  After that, the misses are strictly on me.  I threw two on #2, two on the Accelerated Pairs box - #3 and then five on the head box.  The most difficult rounds on the head were five from the Failure Drill (two rounds high center mass, one head shot) though a photo taken between the original five to the head and the Failure Drill show that I missed three of the first five and two from the Failure Drill.  Total misses – 10 for a score of 75%.  80% is passing from my POV so not real good for my first 100 yard range trip.  Heavy sigh.


However, as an evaluation of the rifle, I am afraid I need to split the “fault” at about 1% rifle and 99% shooter which I find is typically the case.  The accelerated pairs and the Failure Drill took their toll which comes down to continued work on my gun handling skills regarding the Savage 110 Scout Rifle.


That said, since the data would indicate that the majority of the work that would be done by a Designated Marksman happens at around 50 yards, the first 50 yard target would indicate that the Savage 110 Scout is more than capable of getting the job done should the need arise if it’s in the hands of a trained officer.


Am I satisfied with this rifle?  Absolutely.  As I said earlier it’s the “lightest” shooting .308 I’ve encountered.  Its trigger is VERY nice and when combined with the Vortex Cross Fire II LPVO it makes a potent package.  Does it fit my parameters as a rifle for a Designated Marksman for Law Enforcement – again, I find that a firm “Yes!”.  A post from that particular POV is upcoming.


Final lesson – there is simply no substitute for range work – realistic, consistent and rigorous range work.  I’ll roll my methods into my DM post that I am slogging through right now.  But, it doesn’t do any good to take coursework, learn a skill and then simply assume that since you “did it” once, you can do it on demand when the need is great.  Do the work.  Every month.  And, score yourself against a consistent Course of Fire so you can pick up any deficiencies that may arise and get them corrected.


Simply put . . . Do The Work.


Saturday, May 1, 2021

Review - Ruger Wrangler .22LR


There are many things that, in my mind, I NEED . . . another gun really isn’t on the list.  Yet, there it was, in the case sitting atop its box.  A brand-new Ruger Wrangler .22LR pistol. 

 “WALK AWAY!!!  WALK AWAY!!!”  My mind yelled . . . as I filled out the paperwork and passed across my legal tender . . . going out the door the proud owner of what has quickly become one of Ruger’s most popular firearms, the Wrangler.


Its specs are solid and listed below.  It’s fit in my hand was very comfortable and satisfying.  And it’s suggested  MSRP of $249 puts it within the range of virtually anyone.  The pricing I am seeing in stores in my area is right at $200. 

 Grips - Checkered Synthetic

Capacity - 6

Front Sight - Blade

Barrel Length - 4.62"

Cylinder Frame Finish - Plum Brown Cerakote®

Cylinder Frame Material - Aluminum Alloy

Rear Sight - Integral

Overall Length - 10.25"

Weight - 30 oz.

Twist - 1:14" RH

Grooves - 6

 If you compare the finish of the Wrangler to Ruger’s Single Six you’ll notice that rather than a polished and blued frame the frame of the Wrangler - as well as the barrel -  has a Cerakote finish and is made of and aluminum alloy.  This reduces weight as well as cost.  That said, the cylinder and the cold-hammer forged barrel are still made from a carbon steel alloy ensuring the Wrangler’s accuracy and durability. 

 A transfer bar safety and a loading gate interlock ensures a high degree of safety if the Wrangler is dropped and does not allow the hammer to be cocked if the loading gate is open.

 The Checkered grips provides a great surface that provides a solid surface for a reliable grip on the Wrangler.

 There are no adjustable sights.  The rear sight is a groove milled down the top of the frame and the front sight is a simple blade.  The surface of the milled groove and the front sight are the same color and that made picking up a solid “sight alignment” and “sight picture” difficult for me.  It became easier as I worked through my range session simply because I became used to the firearm – but it took real focus to pick them both up.  I’ll see how that goes as time goes on.

 Loading was simple and easy though the fit of the cartridge was snug.  When ejecting spent casings, the ejector rod was necessary for each chamber.  In one chamber for one round, I had to tap on the rod a bit with my Leatherman Juicer to dislodge the casing.  In looking at the casing it was a bit deformed along a part of the rim.  No idea why and it was not repeated during this session.

 The size of the Wrangler is the same as the Single Six so the same holsters can be used.  For me I purchased a DeSantis “Wild Hog” holster and am very happy with the fit.

 So how does this little fella do on accuracy??? 

 I posted one of my custom targets.  It has three 4” targets with a 1” center dot on each.  I shot a total of 24 rounds on each target.  One set of 24 was from 3 yards, one for 7 yards and the final set was at 10 yards.  A “hit” was within or touching the target’s edge.  A total of 72 rounds.  I dropped 2 rounds for a score of 97% . . . I’ll take it.


So where does this SA pistol fit in the scheme of things??  I would put it solidly in the “plinker” category.  I don’t believe there would be real value in it for hunting small game – say squirrels or rabbits.  I do not see it as a defensive firearm either though as the saying goes . . . “Any gun is better than no gun!”.  But, if you just want something to plink with – steel, cans, different target shapes, spinners, blocks across the ground – I think the Wrangler fills that square just fine.  In fact, I had originally though I’d just run one cylinder on each target.  But the darn thing was just so much fun to shoot I ended up running 4 on each target.

 It’s a fun and satisfying pistol to shoot.  If you’re looking for just such a handgun, I will gladly point you towards the Ruger Wrangler .22LR

Friday, April 9, 2021

Review – The Savage 110 Scout Rifle in 308

 So just what is a “Scout Rifle”?? 


Well the short answer is something like . . . “If you could pick up just one firearm as you were going out the door – a firearm that can do everything from defending your family to putting food on the table – what would it look like?

 Past that . . . just what is a “Scout”?

 Over history these were the trail blazers, the person that went first, evaluated what was coming and informed those that were following him just what to expect.  What kind of firearm would a scout use? 

 And in military organizations these were people who spent most of their time in the field, evaluating the enemy, evaluating the route that was being taken.  They could be operating in virtually any type of terrain, for long periods of time and may well need to act decisively to defend themselves should the need arise.  What kind of firearm would a military scout use?

 In the early 1990 Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper took up the task of bringing such a firearm to life.  It was one of his passions for the remainder of his life.  In general, it had several characteristics:

·        Overall length of 39 inches or less

·        Unloaded weight – including optic and sling – 6.6 to 7.7 pounds

·        Magazine fed

·        Bolt action

·        Forward mounted low power scope

·        Ghost ring auxiliary iron sights

·        A “Ching” Sling

·        Chambered in .308 Winchester or 7mm-08 Remington

·        Accuracy of 2MOA at 200 Yards for a 3-round group (4 inches)

So why did I go in search of one??  Honestly, I’m not a “gun guy” in that I purchase a firearm for a purpose and not because of the “coolness factor” or as an item for a collection.  I had a specific purpose to look for a Scout rifle.  During a conversation with a fellow trainer I was asked if I thought I could put together a “Designated Marksman” set of coursework.  My response was . . . sure, depending on what you mean by the words “Designated Marksman”.  In this particular case it meant coursework for a small core of officers that would be able to respond quickly with a firearm that was a larger caliber than a handgun or the typical 5.56 patrol rifle that had more stopping power. 

 The Designated Marksman fits – at least in law enforcement IMHO – between the patrol officer that is trained on a patrol carbine and a SWAT Sniper.  The job was recently demonstrated to me by a video of an officer intervening in the taking of a child from a car.  The officer  exited his vehicle, took a supported position behind the squad’s door with the window down and quickly and accurately engaged the threat, ran to and rescued the child and took them to safety.  Quick, smooth and decisive.  It implied much about the training of the officer and his ability to respond with his patrol rifle.

The SWAT sniper is typically trained for a much broader range of tasks and at greater distances.  The reality though is that per a 2005 study of 897 law enforcement SWAT sniper engagements over a 20-year period the average range of engagement was 51 yards.  The typical round used was a .308 with a 168-grain Match King bullet.  The longest engagement that was documented was 187 yards.

 Given this data, could a Scout Rifle with Cooper’s designated specifications provide a viable option for officers tasked with the assignment of Designated Marksman?  Answering that question became my reasoning for the purchase of a “Scout Rifle” that closely matched Lt. Col. Cooper’s specifications. 

 During my research I narrowed my search to two versions – the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle and the Savage 110 Scout Rifle.  Availability made my decision for me.  After months of finding empty shelves across the country a friend of mine who owns a gun store in Texas found a fellow dealer who has a single solitary Savage 110 Scout Rifle in .308 in stock . . . SOLD!!!

Of course there is always “furniture” that goes with this kind of purchase regardless of which rifle I purchased.

My scope of choice was the Vortex Crossfire II 2-7x32 Scout scope.  What sets it apart from traditional scopes is its long eye relief – nearly 10 inches.  Contrary to Cooper’s standard it is not fixed but provides a smooth transition from 2 to 7 power.  It has a simple V-Plex reticle.


To mount the scope, I used Vortex’s Pro Series Rings in MEDIUM height . . . and that’s important . . . medium height.  To tighten the rings to the scope and the picatinny rail I used a Wheeler Firearms Accurizing Torque Wrench.  16 inch/pounds on the scope mount side and 30 inch/pounds on the rail side.  It’s worth it to purchase this type of wrench to ensure that you scope is securely mounted.  I’ve just seen a bunch of folks that zero their gun only to discover that their mount is loose at some point.  Spend the money, do it right.

For a sling I am very fond of Larry Vickers slings.  His quick adjust slings just can not be beat.  He has a couple different configurations but for this rifle I chose the Viking Tactics VATC 2 point sling.  This allows for a quick adjustment to tighten it to your body should you need to transition to your sidearm.

The swivels I used to attach the sling to the sling points were a pair of Braudel 1.25 Tri-Lock Sling Swivels.  On an important note, make sure you use some BLUE LocTite on the threads.  If you don’t, I absolutely promise they will come loose, and you will find yourself with one end of the sling swinging in the air.

Let’s see how the Savage 110 Scout Rifle matches up with Cooper’s desires.

·        Overall length of 38.5 inches

·        Unloaded weight – including optic and sling – 9.72 pounds

·        Magazine fed

·        Bolt action

·        Forward mounted low power scope

·        Ghost ring auxiliary iron sights

·        Viking Tactics VTAC Original 2 Point Sling

·        Chambered in .308 Winchester or 7mm-08 Remington

·        Accuracy of 2MOA at 200 Yards for a 3-round group (4 inches)

We’ll chat about the accuracy in a bit.  We meet the specifications with the exception of weight – we blew that by nearly 2 pounds on the high side.  And, what I found was that none . . . absolutely none of the “Scout Rifles” met them all.  Lt. Col. Cooper never found one that fully met all his expectations – even the one developed for him, with him by Steyer.  Such is life, compromise is all things.

 The Savage 110 Scout has a couple of very nice features – an adjustable Comb on the stock and an adjustable length of pull via butt plate inserts.  Both are easily installed.  For me I left it as is out of the box.  These are known as their AccuFit and AccuStock feature.

It also comes with a 10 round AICS-style detachable box magazine.

 It comes with the Savage AccuTrigger that is adjustable from 2.5# to 6#.  The pull weight measured 3.5# out of the box and I have left it there.

 A Williams rear sight is provided giving the shooter either a small diameter hole as a peep site or a larger diameter opening providing a rear ghost ring.  The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation.  The front site is a crisp center post with protective wings on either side.


A large and effective flash hider is mounted via 5/8x24# threaded muzzle making it suppressor ready.  The design also offered a fair amount of recoil relief as well.

Zeroing the Savage 110 Scout proved fairly simple.  I am fond of an initial 10y zero.  I bagged the Scout with Armageddon Gear’s “Game Changer” in the front and a small bag in the back.  The round I was shooting was a PMC 147gr X-TAC .  BC 0.402  2800 fps.  Running it through the JBM ballistics calculator the drop at 10 yards for a 200 yard zero is right at 1 inch.  When doing a 200 yard zero on a 100 yard range with this specific cartridge, the scope needs to be adjusted to impact 1.9 inches high on the target. 

 I placed the target, removed the bolt, bagged the rifle and sighted down the barrel.  I positioned the center of the target in the barrel and then adjusted the windage and elevation to put the crosshairs in the center of the target.  I reinstalled the bolt and sent the first round down range.  As you can see by the target, by the 4th round I was 1 inch “low”.


Pushing out to 100 yards I polished the zero and then shot two more rounds of 5 each to confirm.  At this point I called the Scout 110 “zeroed”.

I shot a final box of 20 rounds on 5 targets, each 3” in diameter, 4 rounds per target.  These were my “official” evaluation rounds to see how well the Scout 110 was shooting.  The average group size was right at 2.5” – which I’ll lay in my lap.  I expect that once I am more comfortable with the gun and the scope, these groups will tighten up.  That said, the gun is rated as a 2MOA firearm.  Other evaluations I read, depending on the ammunition they were using, ran around 1.5”.  So I’ll take what I got and then work on my mechanics as well as finding a load that will shoot better.


Just a quick though on accuracy and precision.  Precision revolves around small, consistent sized groups.  Accuracy revolves around putting those groups where you want them.  Being able to be precise and accurate is dependent on the gun, the shooter and a very consistent round.  The most commonly used sniper cartridge is the 168 grain match grade round.  Regardless of the round, it is incumbent on a Designated Marksman to fully understand how his/her weapon responds to the specific cartridge and bullet weight.  That chosen round, and that chosen round alone is what the shooter should practice with.  I’ll do another post addressing the mechanics of actually shooting which I consider to be essentially the same regardless the rifle or round.

 So, to sum things up, I’m pleased with the performance the Scout 110 so far.  I’ve not sent near enough rounds down range yet, but first blush it’s very promising as a solid choice for a DM role in the law enforcement community.  I’ll have more thoughts by the end of the summer.

 Comments and questions are always welcome, just leave them below.

Links that may be of interest to you . . . 

A Brief History Of The Scout Rifle - AmmoMan School of Guns Blog

Cooper's Scout Rifle - A (Literally) Fantastic Gun -The Firearm Blog

A History Of The Steyr Scout

110 Scout | Hunting and Target Rifle | Savage Arms

History of Lt Col Jeff Cooper - Gunsite Academy

The Scout Rifle Home Defense Gun

SWAT Snipers - Special Units - POLICE Magazine

Shooting Illustrated | Review: Savage Arms 110 Scout Rifle

GUNS Magazine Savage Arms 110 Scout - GUNS Magazine

JBM Ballistics Calculator


Saturday, January 16, 2021

Training - LEO Proficiency Review

 I’ve chatted a couple of times about “Proficiency” . . . the links are here . . .

 Range Trip -  Maintaining Proficiency

 Training – Are You Proficient

 So what more can be said . . . well, how about some thoughts on how to go about a fairly rigorous review of either your own proficiency . . . or the review of the proficiency of an organization.  And that is the focus of this particular post – the proficiency of our local PD in the use and deployment of their duty weapon. 

 It’s that time of year for “Qualification” . . . the trip to the range to shoot the ILEA handgun course of fire.  It’s roughly equivalent to the old FBI handgun qualification and is the standard for officers in Iowa.  The dirty little secret about cops, training and range time is that it is last on the list for a typical officer.  Frankly, they simply don’t have the time while filling all the other training squares to meet a very long list of civil training requirements.  Add to that the fact that their training ammunition budget is very, very slim – the average officer sends less than 500 rounds down range each year – and about 20% of that is shooting up their carry ammunition in preparation for the qualification shoot and shooting the actual qualification COF.  Anything over this is done on the officer’s own time and at the officer’s personal expense.  There are some regions of the country where the round count falls to 200 or less – including the officer’s qualification round.

 The point is not to bang away on the officers or their agencies – but just to point out that with low round counts – proficiency suffers and suffers badly.  And an officer may not even realize it until “that moment” arrives – and they struggle to meet the threat.  Honestly, that’s a hell of a time to find out they need to spend more time on the range.

 I was contacted by the local training officer to see if I could conduct a couple half day range seminars to work with officers prior to this fall’s qualification round.  So, over 2 days I conducted 4ea, 4-hour “Proficiency Reviews” with a total of 14 officers attending.  In the context of the review the word “Proficiency” meant could they run their gun, get both rapid, multiple round hits AND very precise hits as well.  Were their fundamentals solid – stance, grip, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger press and follow through?  Were their emergency reloads solid?  Was their muzzle discipline good?  Did they make good use of both high cover and low cover?  Could they move rapidly and engage a threat from multiple distances?  Could they quickly and accurately engage a target from 5 yards to 25 yards?  And could they do all this in their full duty gear – they wore either a fully kitted out duty belt or plate carrier.  All officers wore a Level 3 vest.

 This was NOT a training course . . . but an evaluation course.  I made a few tweaks throughout for officers struggling with precise shots that typically revolved around either adjusting their grip or their sight alignment.  There was a fondness for not maintaining the “equal height” between the front sight and the rear notch.  This resulted it the “windage” of the round being fine, but the “elevation” was typically low.  As soon as they dialed in “equal height, equal light” . . . all was fine. 

 I evaluated their stance, how they drove their weapon to the target, their follow through, their ability to draw during movement, their movement to cover and use of cover.  Honestly, for some they had not actually done any of this stuff since their academy days.  So, it was well past time they take a hard look at themselves – and that’s what we did.

 Let me review my expectations of the officers.  I have a true fondness for LETargets SEB target.  It allows for a wide range of drills, from rapid multi-round engagements to single round precision engagements.  It allows for cognition drills calling out either individual numbers and shapes.  You can get a tremendous amount of good work done on these targets and it is my go-to choice for individual practice as well as coursework.  It is also an unforgiving target.  Let’s talk about scoring individual drills. 

 For the individual officer used to shooting their ILEA course of fire – the target of choice is a “Q-Traget” – a single silhouette with a “Q” where the heart is imagined to be.  Any round that is touching the outline or within the outline of the silhouette is considered a “hit”.   A round touching the outline where the threat’s right ear would be . . . carries the exact same weight a center mass direct hit on the “Q”.  I take a significantly different view.

 On the SEB target you must be touching or within the shape you are required to engage for the specific drill.  So, while you have an entire silhouette, within that you have an “Ocular Cavity” triangle, a “High Center Mass” box and a “Pelvic Girdle” box.   Add to that two numbered circles, two numbered squares and two numbered triangles . . . you end up with a real playground for challenging the officer.  I like it!!!

 As for the officer load out, each of their three magazines are loaded to 10 rounds each.  This provides a larger number of emergency reloads and allows me to evaluate the officer’s technique.

 So let’s put it all together – the full evaluation through a set of 20 drills.  Yeah, this is going to be a long post, take what value from it that you wish.  I use a lot of these posts as a reminder of what I did, why I did it and how well it worked – my After Action Report if you will – my AAR.  So here we go . . .

Drill 1 – Drive, Touch, Press . . . 7-yards, 10 rounds . . . Single round engagement

This drill begins at the High Compressed Ready.  On the command “DRIVE! the shooter drives the front blade to the designated target – in this case the Circle with a #1 in it.  At this point I am evaluating their stance, their grip, how their arms are extended, the position of their head, are they leaning slightly “into the gun”.  This process allows me to see all of this in a static position rather than trying to catch it all on the fly.

On the command “Touch!” the shooter touches the trigger.  This allows me to evaluate how their finger is placed as well as reviewing the overall stability of their stance.

 On the command “Presssssssss!” I ask them to smoothly press the trigger straight to the rear, complete their follow through and then return to the High Compressed Ready.

 This drill is the foundation of shooting to me.  It covers the entire physical process from bottom of foot to the return to High Compressed Ready.  It is the ideal drill to fine tune, detect problems, to teach and explain little tweaks it their stance, grip, evaluation of their sight alignment and sight picture, their follow through process . . . just a ton of basic, foundational pistol shooting information.  For me as a shooter it is where I return to fix any problems that creep into my performance as well.  Or if I change shooting platforms or evaluate a new platform.  This is “Home” and it needs to be as perfect as it can be before you move forward to the next drill.

 Drill 2 – From High Compressed Ready . . . 7-yards, 10 rounds . . . Single Round Engagement

 The drill begins from the High Compressed Ready.  On the “UP!” command the shooter drives out, places a single round in the Circle with a #2 in it, completes a follow through and returns to the High Compressed Ready.  With this drill I am evaluating the whole flow of the shooter’s engagement.  I’m checking shot placement, grip stability (does the shooter reset their hands between rounds), muzzle discipline – does it remain straight and level for the whole engagement, is their trigger press smooth (no slapping the trigger), are they consistently doing a deliberate follow through after each engagement. 

 Drill 3 – With a Draw from the holster . . . 7-yards, 10 rounds . . . Single Round Engagement

 The drill begins with a loaded weapon in the shooter’s holster.  On the “UP!” command they draw and fire a single round on in the Square with a #3 in it, they complete a follow through and scan and holsters their weapon.  This allows the shooter to evaluate their engagement in detail and do a self-evaluation of things they may need to work on.  The instructor can also use this time to fully evaluate the shooter’s draw stroke and engagement as well as their follow through and scan and offer suggestions if needed.

 Drill 4 – With Movement and a Draw from the holster . . . 7-yards, 10 rounds . . . Single Round Engagement

 One survival technique is to simply move “off the X” as you draw – forcing the threat to try and follow your movement.  The drill begins with a loaded weapon in the shooter’s holster.  On the “UP!” command the shooter takes a giant step left or right while drawing and extending towards the threat.  As they “plant” they engage the threat with a single round in the High Center Mass box.  This drill allows the shooter to evaluate their draw-stroke during their movement as well as how rapidly they can plant and engage a threat as well as their accuracy and precision.

 Drill 5 – “Hammer” . . . 7-yards, 10 rounds

 A “Hammer” is a two round engagement just as fast as you can pull the trigger.  The drill begins with a loaded weapon in the shooter’s holster.  On the “UP!” commander the shooter draws and places a “Hammer” in the High Center Mass box of the threat.  This enables the shooter to see how reliable their follow-up shots are and allows them to make any adjustments to their grip and stance they might need to increase their accuracy and precision.

 Drill 6 – With Movement - “Hammer” . . . 7-yards, 10 rounds

 The shooter adds movement to the “Hammer” by taking a large step either left or right as they draw their weapon on the “UP!” command.  They then plant and engage the threat.  This allows the shooter to evaluate their performance as dynamic movement is introduced to the drill.

 Drill 7 – Failure Drill . . . 7-yards, 15 rounds

 The “Failure Drill” is comprised of a “Hammer” followed by a single round to the Ocular Cavity.  It began life as the “Mozambique Drill” at Gunsite but became known as the “Failure Drill” after it was adopted by LA SWAT.  It pushes the shooter on two fronts – the first is pure speed, getting two combat effective hits as quickly as possible and then it demands an immediate switch to a precise shot.  It allows the shooter to evaluate their ability to handle both the requirement for speed as well as extreme precision.

 Drill 8 – With Movement – “Failure Drill” . . . 7-yards, 15 rounds

 The introduction of Movement with a large step left or right during the draw and then planting and delivering a Hammer and a precise head shot allows the shooter to evaluate everything from their movement to a fast and smooth draw, their accuracy of a very rapid pair of rounds and then a precise headshot.  This is probably as close to an actual response to a gun fight as you can get . . . “moving off the X”, a rapid 2-round engagement followed by a single precise shot.  This allows you and the shooter to evaluate their ability to quickly and accurately neutralize an active threat.

 The use of cover is an important skillset – both the shooter’s actual movement to cover and then their use of cover in an effective manner.  The next five drills cover the review of this skill set.  Three drills evaluate the movement to low cover and its use both to the right, the left and over the top.  The drill starts 5 yards or so rearward of cover.  On the “UP!” command the shooter moves to cover and engages the threat using a “Hammer”.

 The next two drills has the shooter repeat this engagement but through the use of high cover, first to the right and then to the left.

 These five drills allows the shooter to evaluate their ability to move to cover, take a solid shooting position and then quickly and accurately engage a threat.

Drill 9 – Movement to Low Cover . . . Hammer . . . Right Side . . . 7-yards, 10 rounds

 You begin this drill about 10 yards behind the “Cover”.  On the “UP!” the shooter moves to cover and then “rolls” out to the right to engage the threat with a “Hammer”.  Things to evaluate are their movement to cover, their final position behind cover – make sure they don’t crowd the cover, there should be enough distance to for easy movement, firearm manipulation and that they can fully extend towards the threat.  When they “roll” out to the right it should expose a minimum amount of their body to the threat.

 Drill 10 – Movement to Low Cover . . . Hammer . . . Left Side . . . 7-yards, 10 rounds


You begin this drill about 10 yards behind the “Cover”.  On the “UP!” the shooter moves to cover and then “rolls” out to the left to engage the threat with a “Hammer”.  Things to evaluate are their movement to cover, their final position behind cover – make sure they don’t crowd the cover, there should be enough distance for easy movement, firearm manipulation and that they can fully extend towards the threat.  When they “roll” out to the left it should expose a minimum amount of their body to the threat.

 Drill 11 – Movement to Low Cover . . .  Hammer . . . Over the Top . . . 7-yards, 10 rounds

 You begin this drill about 10 yards behind the “Cover”.  On the “UP!” the shooter moves to cover and then rises above the cover to engage the threat with a “Hammer”.  Things to evaluate are their movement to cover, their final position behind cover – make sure they don’t crowd the cover, there should be enough distance for easy movement, firearm manipulation and that they can fully extend towards the threat.  When they over the top it should expose a minimum amount of their body to the threat.

 Drill 12 – Movement to High Cover . . . Hammer . . . Right Side . . . 7-Yards, 10 rounds

 You begin this drill about 10 yards behind the “Cover”.  On the “UP!” the shooter moves to cover and then “rolls” out to the right to engage the threat with a “Hammer”.  Things to evaluate are their movement to cover, their final position behind cover – make sure they don’t crowd the cover, there should be enough distance for easy movement, firearm manipulation and that they can fully extend towards the threat.  When they “roll” out to the right it should expose a minimum amount of their body to the threat.

 Drill 13 – Movement to High Cover . . . Hammer . . . Left Side . . . 7-yards, 10 rounds

 You begin this drill about 10 yards behind the “Cover”.  On the “UP!” the shooter moves to cover and then “rolls” out to the left to engage the threat with a “Hammer”.  Things to evaluate are their movement to cover, their final position behind cover – make sure they don’t crowd the cover, there should be enough distance for easy movement, firearm manipulation and that they can fully extend towards the threat.  When they “roll” out to the left it should expose a minimum amount of their body to the threat.

 Drill 14 – Combat Effective Hits . . . Single Round Engagement . . . 7-yards, 10 rounds

 A concern of many shooters revolves around not being able to hold their handgun perfectly steady.  Of course that is a near impossibility and attempting to accomplish that while dealing with a lethal threat moves it to the fully impossible arena.  So, how can a shooter be shown that they can accomplish Combat Effective Hits (hits that diminish a threat’s ability to do you harm) even though their handgun isn’t completely stable?  This is the drill I’ve come to rely on.  

With a 10-round magazine have the shooter draw, extend and get a good sight alignment/sight picture on the high center mass box.  Then have them move their firearm in a figure 8 pattern with the cross over in the entire silhouette.  Have them continue to do this until their magazine runs dry.  While moving in the figure 8 each time you call out “UP!” they press off a single round as they cross the high center mass box – but the handgun never stops moving . . . never.  As they continue their figure 8 movement continue to periodically call out “UP!” and they will engage the target with a single round.  Continue for all 10 rounds.

 Typically the shooter will place the majority of their rounds will within the high center mass box.  This will help them see that even though their weapon is moving, they can still attain solid combat effective hits on their threat.

 Drill 15 – Balance of Speed and Precision . . .  7-yards, 30 rounds

 Begin the drill with three magazines, each loaded with 10 rounds.  Remember, you are shooting on an LE SEB target.  This drill forces you to balance speed against precision as well as being a cognition drill – shoot exactly what is asked of you.  On an “UP!” command the shooter moves, draws and delivers a “hammer” to the high center mass box.  On the “HEAD!” command the shooter moves, draws and delivers a single precise round to the ocular cavity triangular box.  On the “1!” or “2!” or . . . . “6!” command the shooter moves, draws and delivers a single precise round to the designated shape.  On the “Circle! Or “Square!” or “Triangle!” the shooter moves, draws and delivers a single round to designated shapes.  The shapes within the silhouette are ignored for these commands.  Besides the obvious purpose for this drill, balancing speed and precision – it also brings out the importance of being a thinking shooter. 

 The next few drills are used to have the shooter evaluate their overall marksmanship at three common distances – 10 yards, 15 yards and 25 yards. 

 Drill 16 – 10 Yards . . . Draw, With Movement . . . Hammer . . . 10 rounds

 On the “UP!” command the shooter moves, draws and engages the threat with a “hammer”.  This begins to push the marksmanship element of the shooter’s skillset.  At 10 yards the speed of the 2-round engagement should approach the speed of a “hammer” but getting the hit takes precedence.  The 2-round engagement is repeated 5 times.

 Drill 17 – 15 Yards . . . Draw, With Movement . . . 2-round engagement, slow fire . . . 10 rounds

The evaluation of the marksmanship element of the shooter’s skillset at 15 yards.  The speed of the 2-round engagement should such that it insures the shooter “gets the hit” as rapidly as possible but accuracy is the primary concern.  The 2-round engagement is repeated 5 times.

 Drill 18 – 25 Yards . . . Movement to Low Cover . . . 2-round engagement, supported, slow fire . . . 10 rounds

Finally, at 25 yards the shooter moves to cover and uses it to engage the threat from a supported position with a slow-fire, 2-round engagement.  This should be repeated 5 times.

 At the end of these three drills the shooter should have a better understanding of the area of his marksmanship that needs more attention.

 Drill 19 – 7 yards, 10 yards, 15 yards . . . 2-round engagement . . . random distance . . . 10-rounds, slow fire

Rapid movement is a very common element of a lethal engagement.  This drill begins at the 5-yard line with the shooter facing the threat.  A distance of either 7, 10 or 15 yards is called out and the shooter moves as fast as they run to the called distance and then engages the threat with 2 rounds.  The speed of the engagement should be as fast as possible yet one that insures a solid hit.  This 2-round drill is repeated 5 times.

 Drill 20 – Figure 8  . . . 2-round engagement . . . 10-rounds

 The final drill is one that brings the whole review together.  I first experienced the Figure 8 drill in coursework I took from Rob Pincus.  It is a way to simulate a 360-degree range on a traditional 90-degree-ish range.  My drill for this overall evaluation has been modified so the shooter only shoots their own target.  It is run one shooter at a time. 

The shooter walks a figure 8 around both a high-cover element and a low-cover element.  On the “UP!” command the shooter moves to the closest cover and engages their target with 2 rounds.  Should the shooter run “dry” it is expected that they will use cover while reloading.  Should a malfunction occur, it would also be expected that cover would be used while the malfunction is cleared. 

 Their three magazines start with 10-rounds in each magazine.  The drill is run until all three magazines are empty.

 The total score possible is 220 – meaning that all rounds are within the designated area called for the drill.  The expected score is 80%.  If the shooter is an instructor, the expected score is 90%.  So how did the department do??  There were 17 officers . . . the high score was 90% . . . the low score was 57% and the average for the entire department was 70%.  That said, at the end of my portion of the day the officers each shot their qualification round using the ILEA COF as defined by the state of Iowa.  As stated earlier, a “hit” is a round inside or touching the outside of a silhouette of a standard Q target.  Passing score is 80% and all officers easily passed their qual course. 

 So what to take away from this all.  First and foremost range time is a necessity if you plan to remain proficient.  My recommendation is a MINIMUM of 1000 rounds a year, roughly 100 rounds a month.  Taking coursework annually is should also be considered a necessity.  One day coursework at a minimum . . . multiday if at all possible.  There is always something to learn, to improve, to finetune.

 So, take the challenge – shoot the 20 Drill evaluation and let me know how it went.