Range Day 2: 2023

Round Count: 46 shots fired, 0 malfunctions/ Uncleaned from previous when 56 shots fired with 0 malfunctions. Going back over my records, my weapon hasn’t malfunctioned since the summer of 2020–a span that has included at least 142 consecutive shots fired with 0 malfunctions. At least two of the range session featured the pistol without having been cleaned prior. One range report from late 2020 read:

My pistol seems to run more reliably when a little dirty. I haven’t decided whether that’s a good thing or not yet.

Opening Salvo

One of my New Year’s Resolution was to get into the shooting range more to reclaim the proficiency I had achieved by mid-2020. Since then, the Pandemic & related consequences like ammo scarcity & elevating prices–along with just the business of adult life–have limited my practice sessions to around five sessions since then. Luckily, two of those four occurred in rapid succession; those two being today’s session & another one last month. As with any physical skill, like a martial art or playing a sport, successive practices are a critical component to building onto the gains of the previous session as opposed to starting over again.

I laid out my goals for today as follows:

  • Increase range out to 25 yards ideally, 20 yards at minimum
  • Improve rapid fire (double taps at least) aptitude even out to range, 15 yards at minimum

I realize that gun ownership is a polarizing topic. But I came into the sport twenty years ago before that was even an issue, especially in rural America. Like any interest, it’s a solid way to meet people who share a common interests; and, in my experience, has served to create community more than to divide it. I know different people with different experiences will harbor correspondingly different feelings. I bring it up today because, for the first time since 2019, I actually got to shoot with a buddy. From 2018-2019, shooting with one or more friends was more the rule than the exception & it was nice to get back to the practice of maintaining friendships around this common interest.


One of last month’s goals was to come into my next session ready to start shooting at my normal 7 yards instead of the abbreviated 5 that I had been starting out with since the world reverted to normal (post-Pandemic). Another one was to assess my “cold shot” accuracy out of the gate. Cold shots are my initial shots without prior practice.

Why? Because–Heaven forbid–but if I’m ever forced to use my handgun to preserve my life–it will be my first 3 shots out of the gate that would determine my fate.

Results were good. Two of the 3 shots were close to center with one outlier falling outside the intended circle. However, in a real life situation, this bullet would have probably struck an adult-sized attacker somewhere on their body.

The first 6 shots out of mag one were a pass: nothing special, but adequate. Most importantly, 2 of my first 3 were right on. I had passed my own test with an above average score.


While my mag 1 results were promising, I knew that I had given myself a slightly unrealistic advantage by using the extended 8-round magazine which features more gripping area for the hand to enhance accuracy. In a real world situation, I’d be much more likely to have my 7-round flush magazine loaded.

To add this layer of realism, I attempted the same feat from the same distance of 7 yards with the smaller magazine. As I suspected, the results were less impressive but still adequate.


Wishing to rectify the potential problem revealed from mag 2, I reeled in the target to the more rudimentary 5 yard distance & used my 2nd 7-round/flush magazine. For today’s session, I had one 8-round/extended magazine along with two 7-round/flush magazines. In general, I try to rotate evenly through each magazine in order to evenly distribute the wear & tear in addition to ensuring proper function of each magazine. I take such great care to uncover any problems during practice so that if & when the time comes to use my gear in real life, I can have full faith in its functionality.

To jazz up my goals for mag 3, I decided to introduce 2 double taps. I believe I fired 3 sets of double taps & am happy to report two hits on bullseye under the additional stressor of rapid fire.


Satisfied that my performance at 7 yards was no fluke, I pushed the target out to that magic number of 21 feet. I believe I returned to the 8-round mag which is admittedly an advantage. I decided to double tap 3 times though to perhaps offset that advantage, thereby gaining a real world assessment of how ready I am for a real world defensive situation.

I am happy to report the following:

  • 1 hits on bullseye at 7 yards
  • 3 of 6 shots, even when fired in rapid succession, landed in the small circle which is the size of a small saucer; even shots a couple of inches or more outside of this range would more than likely strike a potential assailant somewhere on their body

Mag5 (10-yards)

I didn’t mark it down in my notes, but I’m sure I used my 8-round mag to tackle my first target at 10 yards–an entire THIRTY FEET! I loaded the customary 6 bullets into my magazine (although it holds at least 7 or 8 I just like to keep a set number in them during practice). I fired slowly to give myself the best opportunity to assess my aptitude at this distance under ideal circumstances.

To the left you can see the results. Two of the four shots proved ideal; the other two were passable for this distance.

On to the next objective.

Mag6 (15-yards)

And now–to address the day’s NUMBER1: OBJECTIVE–“from DOWN . . . TOWN!”

I don’t know what size mag I used, but I did make an effort to rotate the 7 round mags in for some of these tests at distance. That way, my test would give me confidence that I could perform in real world conditions as I generally carry the smaller, flush magazines.

I directed an acceptable three of six shots into the small square at a serious distance for a short-barreled pistol: 15 yards.

Mag7 (20 yards/60 feet)

“Here comes the BIG BOY!”

At this distance, the large rectangular paper target looks barely a centimeter in height. Keep in mind, that these sheets contain THREE small circular “targets” down both its right & left side. Aiming is a relative term for a small, concealable, portable handgun at this distance. However, in a real world scenario: if facing down a maniac with a rifle, this is probably what a potentially life-saving shot would look like. I aimed for the middle target on the left side & let fly four slow, deliberate shots.

Once I reeled the target back to “HOME” on the touch screen control system that adjusts the target’s distance, I was happy to report that I managed to impact the intended, miniscule circle once in four tries. The other three were all in a straight horizontal line just below the circle. At this distance, for a civilian who is not a police officer–for some “dumb American, reckless gunowner,” as the media would label me for owning a humble 9mm pistol, & not an “Elite Operator Navy SEAL”–this is damn good shooting.

Left: Observe the three bullet holes running left to right just below the red outer line of the target circle.

Right: Here is a view of the entire target circle including the area directly below it. One of the 4 hits within the circle occurred in the four shots fired from this magazine. This circle is about the size of both of my outstretched hands side-by-side & took place from 60 feet out.


For my last magazine, I loaded my customary 6 rounds. I had come to the range with a box of fifty 115 grain, FMJ Winchester “white box” bullets. These are the ones that are notorious for jamming, especially in a small single stack pistol like mine. Even more likely to do so since I hadn’t cleaned my weapon since my last session a month earlier–a deliberate dereliction of duty in order to assess the firearm’s reliability. I experienced 0 malfunctions in the 46 shots that I fired on this day; the other 4 bullets I had given to my friend who had run down to just two bullets on his last magazine.

I performed 2 shots at 20 yards slowly, connecting on one. At that distance, this is good.

I then performed two separate double taps after reeling the target in to 15 yards. I connected on one, which is acceptable considering the double tap is not a beginner’s move.

Final Takeaway

I realize that gun ownership among civilians is a controversial topic, both internationally & within my own country; hell, even within my own family. Now I understand the concerns of my average fellow citizen, especially if their only experience with firearms comes through the news media’s presentation of the issue.

Here’s what I believe:

For the most part, every household in a free country should be afforded to right to own a firearm. That said, not every household should own one. Moreover, there are certain individuals who definitely should not be allowed to own a gun. However, the fact that a handful of individuals should be denied this right doesn’t mean that the rest of us should be denied a right that we did nothing to warrant losing.

I believe that gun ownership is a responsibility. I believe in formal training & regular practice as well as secure storage. I encourage responsible ownership. Guns combine my interest in history & warfare as well as play on my interests in practical pursuits like physical fitness & the study of martial arts or other sports. Yes, I am aware that worse case scenario, guns can cause death; but they can also save lives. We, the people, dictate how the tool is used. I hope to do my part as a responsible advocate for legal gun ownership while I continue to enjoy sharing my time, experiences, & stories with people of a similar mindset.

Regarding my assessment of today’s practice, I’m doing a pretty good job. Regarding my aptitude, I’m not as good as I was in mid-2020. I’m so proud of the level I achieved then. I had taken formal on-hands training with a 1-on 1 certified instructor at the range. I had made numerous trip to the range with a retired Command-Sergeant-Major in the US Coast Guard. I had fired numerous shots at the range under the watchful eyes of a dutiful Range Safety Officer.

I’m not as good now as I was then; but I’m still good enough. And I the foundation to be that good again & even better, provided I put aside a little more time to do it. I’m happy to have the opportunity to pursue these goals safely & legally. It’s nice to have dreams, goals, & a community to share such things with.

And it’s nice to have a handgun that I can trust as much as I can trust my own aptitude to use it effectively should the need ever arise. I pray to God it won’t.

Range Day 1: 2023

Round Count: 56 shots fired, 0 malfunctions

The day was Thursday, February 2nd. I am writing this entry five days later based on cursory notes that I took onsite along with memory. My phone was out of storage was I was unable to take photos of the results this time, which is unusual for me. If memory serves, I had last practiced on October 30th of last year; and a four month gap in sessions isn’t bad. However, it’s been been more like sixteen months since I shot my sub-compact 9mm, which is the firearm I shot on this day. On had fired my .38 Special revolver on October 30th. Since the pandemic & corresponding slow down in practice, I’ve discovered that I can go a full calendar year between practice sessions without a noticeable drop off in performance. Since it had been sixteen months since I last shot the 9mm, I guess a bit of a drop off was to be expected–which I did notice, unfortunately.

First Impression

I started out at 5 yards out, aiming for the middle target on the left side. I was true on my first 3 shots without even the benefit of draw firing. This was encouraging, because if I need to use my weapon for self defense, it would be a cold shot–without the benefit of a practice dry fire. This trend has held true over the cast couple of years. My first shots are typically my most accurate. I should try cold shots out at 7 & then 10 yards next time, which is more what I did before Covid19 took such a bite out of my practice sessions.

Still Needs Work

Sadly, my form became sloppier the longer the practice session went. For the record, I fired off 62 rounds in a about 44 minutes of range time. Keep in mind, this wasn’t a race; I adjusted distances between magazine changes & took notes when needed. Still, I had an hour to complete everything I set out to do for the next few months, so I was aware of the clock. Perhaps I began to rush or it was just fatigue that revealed the resurfacing of a few bad habits–not on every shot, but here & there.

  • Muzzle drop when anticipating recoil.
  • Forgetting to recoil upwards.
  • The hand over hand grip felt a bit awkward at times & sometimes required extra time to set properly. This is probably attributable to my overwhelming dependence on my revolver for every day use, which requires a different grip.

I spent the second half of my range session concentrating to weed out these bad habits as well as a) assess rapid fire scenarios & b) long distance accuracy.

Final Takeaway

  • Self defense distance is still proficient as I was accurate at medium speeds out to fifteen yards.
  • Accuracy dropped significantly outside of fifteen yards but was still acceptable. I hit a torso-sized target twice in seven tries at a distance of 20 yards; striking the right shoulder once & the left bicep once over those seven shots.
  • For comparison, I used to be as proficient at 25 yards as I am now at 15–meaning I hit the circle (a target about the sizer of a small saucer, a bit larger than my outstretched hand, about 40% of the time (typically twice in five shots).
  • Follow-up shots need more work as well as re-developing accuracy out to 25 yards.
  • It would probably help to practice with this same weapon within 90 days.
  • RELIABLITY–part of this day’s assessment once in this department, as shooting a single stack 9mm semi-automatic, especially a sub-compact one like mine, requires consistent grip discipline in order to ensure reliability. I had noted over the years that most of the malfunctions that I had experienced with this pistol were 115 grain, FMJs–primary of the Winchester “white box” variety. I experienced no such issues on this day with a variety of bullet types.
  • 115 grain Winchester white box–30/30 with no failures; 115 grain Fiocchi (gold tips) –10/10 with no failures; 124 grain Remington Target in Green/White box– 16/16 (ok’d to carry); Sig Crown-V 124 grain HPs (look like Gold Dots)–6/6 (ok’d to carry).

Calibration: OCT 30, 2022/S&W 642

The last time I fired this revolver was less than a week following the 2020 Presidential Election; nearly 2 years ago. As this is my primary EDC/home security tool, I wanted to a) assess my current aptitude/accuracy & b) ensure proper function of carry ammo & all stand-by ammo. By stand-by ammo, I mean the handful of rounds that I had out of the boxes in speed strips either in my car or in my night stand for emergency re-loads. All my other ammo I keep mostly stored in the original boxes with dates of purchases (to ensure that I expend oldest rounds first) & properly stored in waterproof/airtight steel cases locked away.

I had heard some scarce complaints about my top tier Self-Defense load–Hornandy Critical Defense FTX, standard pressure–that the primers went bad after two years or less after purchase. I read this on a forum, but other than that, most of the user reviews were positive regarding this cartridge. Nevertheless, I had to see for myself whether or not I could trust this ammo given my storage situation. It’s possible the plaintiff did not store his ammo properly.

Bypassing any suspense, I’ll say now that all 5 loose rounds performed flawlessly. I will continue to trust this bullet design as my top tier SD round. There’s no reason to mistrust it’s shelf life given my storage habits. These 5 bullets were loose, in ammo cars in cars–in a small box near by bed stand with the windows opened nearby during the summer, etc–for two years–& no ignition problems for me.

Here is the firearm I used in the day’s session. It’s a Smith & Wesson 642 Centennial J-Frame. It weights about 15oz unloaded. That featured, combined with its completely enclosed hammer, make it a very safe & attractive option for carry. However, it’s light weight & sub-2 inch barrel require practice to achieve accuracy past “contact distance.”

Key Facts

  • Range time was 1 hour for $20–online reservations only, a hold over policy from the Covid-19 era which caught me off guard
  • Accustomed to purchasing 30 minute sessions during the Covid-19 era, I came only prepared for a 30 minute session which I extended to 35 once I realized I had paid for an hour. While the small .38 special was reasonably comfortable to shoot, it would have been less enjoyable to continue shooting far beyond that. Still, I would have taken advantage of the rare range trip had ammo scarcity not been such a concern (.38 Spcl bullets are almost NEVER available post the supply shortage & ammo shortage during the Covid-19 era).
  • In 35 minutes, I fired 42 shots–a record for a single range session with my small J-frame. I typically consider 35 shots a full days work for that firearm.
  • Bullet Manufacturers used: 158 grain LRN “gold tips” were MagTech that came in a blue & white box of 50. After my range session, it looks like I’m out of this particular ammo now. The manufacturer doesn’t use the term “gold tips;” it’s just a way for me to distinguish between those & the Armscorp bullet of the same weight & design.
  • Armscor 158 grain LRN “dull tips” are actually my newest bullets, purchased around spring of 2022. I usually like to shoot the old ones first but I wanted to run a few samples of this ammo at the range before trusting it anywhere else to assess reliability & accuracy. They performed identically to the MagTechs.
  • The 130 grain FMJ were mostly Remington UMC. I left the remaining 20 rounds in the original box in my range bag. It had been opened for a while & I didn’t expend all 30 of the 50 rounds during this session. I don’t think I have another box but the 3 boxes of AE in the same weight & bullet design should work just as well.
  • The aforementioned Armscor ammo is listed as “FMJ” on the box but looks more like LRN. (Note to Self) Look for 158 FN as an option for deep woods carry.
  • (Note to Self) Look for another box of Hornady CD FTX & purchase even as high as $30/box–just one box.

  • First shot with this firearm in almost 2 years to the day
  • Distance–5 yards
  • Target: Pumkin at Top Left
  • Aimed just above the nose, struck slight right
5 yards5 yards5 yards
Cylinder1: 158 grain LRN Gold TipsCylinder4: 158 grain Dull Tips
Cylinder2: 158 grn LRN Gold Tips X4, Dull Tip X1Cylinder5: 158 grain Dull TipsX4, 130 FMJX1
Cylinder 3: 158 grn LRN Dull Tips

BOTTOM: This was my first shot at 7 yards. I aimed for the nose & struck just above at the bottom of the pumkin stem. It looks like two shots in the same hole but it as just one; I guess the way the paper crumpled just bade the hole look like it came from 2 bullets.
Cylinder6: 7 yardsCylinder7: 7 yards
130 grn FMJ X 3, Hornandy 110 grn FTX (std) X 2158 LRN Dull Tips X 3, 130 FMJ X 2
Cylinder8: 10 yards

Final Takeaway

  • My proficiency had not fallen off much inside of 21 yards, which is typical purely self-defense range.
  • All the ammo that I had been keeping loose for potential re-loads performed flawlessly, even the ones I had kept in a speed strip in my car during all manner of weather conditions.
  • I shoot the 130 grain FMJ the most accurately with the 158 grain LRN the next most accurately.
  • I shoot the 110 FTX least accurately but still well enough for self-defense proficiency.
  • At distance, I managed a 9.5″ group in a straight vertical line during my very first shots at 15 yards, which I consider reasonably proficient. However, two years ago, I was able to place a group of that size out to about 20 yards with this same handgun–reaffirming the trend that the first skill to go to distance shooting.
  • The next skill to go is trigger control.

Looking Ahead/Still needs Work

  • Work on accuracy at distance: as I lost accuracy, I had to remind myself of two fundamentals that have helped improve immensely over the last 4 years: a) sight picture-trigger pull-bang (keep a consistent, smooth trigger pull) & b) allow the weapon to recoil straight up/don’t fight the recoil after the shot
  • Regain consistent accuracy out to 20-25 yards; although I can retail self-defense proficiency within 8 yards or so even after 2 years of zero practice. This is encouraging to know. I depend on 2 different handguns chambered in two different calibers. With ammo prices increasing, ammo scarcity common, & the busyness of frequently working 50-60 hour weeks–I often go longer than desired between practice sessions with the same handgun. At least I know I can still responsibly defend myself within the common self defense distances as long as two years after practicing. I don’t plan to let that much time pass, but there will be times when I’ll have no chance. For the record, I have been to the range twice since November of 2020 including Sunday’s session. But the previous session, I used my compact 9mm, which is much easier to shoot accurately than the .38 Special. Ideally, I’d like to go once every 3 months on a good year & rarely go more than a year without at least on practice session moving forward.
  • I will use 130 grain FMJ as my general purpose round confidently, which is a benefit because it’s the easiest design to find & most economical.
  • I will use the 110 grain FTX as my top tier SD design; which seems poised to thrive in the role in indoor home defense. The bullet design consistently fully expands while penetrates rather shallowly (10-12 inches max). While the lower penetration would make this gun a fail for FBI field agents, it makes me feel safer about using it indoors to avoid over-penetration into the next room or worse.

Overdue Calibration

It was election day in my state. I hadn’t been to the range since the Presidential Election of 2020; over a year ago now. My absence from the range was not politically motivated–Covid-19, protests that hinted of civil unrest, & growing popular support for the Democratic party had all conspired to render ammo difficult to find & expensive when found. My decision to avoid the range was a fiscal, not a political one. Nonetheless, I believe in the responsible exercise of the “Right to Bear Arms”–meaning, I believe in “exercise.” I wanted to assess proficiency with my primary defensive weapon–a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield. This handgun is a 9mm pistol carrying a maximum number of 8 bullets. It is not an “assault weapon;” but provides an honest man a reasonable chance to defend his life if need be, especially give it’s suitability to carry concealed with appropriate license if legal to do so in your area.

I was sent to the hybrid lane. Given the long layoff, it took me more time to readjust to this lane’s touch screen controls vs the old-fashioned switch in my usual pistol lane than it took for me to rediscover my aim. Although my first shot was low, it was still straight center & in the target. This would have been an effective self-defense hit. My sight picture & trigger control had not fallen off much.

My very first shot after a year-long layoff at 5 yards was slightly low but still passable for self-defense.

Mag 1

I was using 3 of my 4 magazines today–my two extended 8-rd ones & 1 of my two 7-rd ones. The other seven rounder I was holding out of practice as I like to keep at least one loaded for a just-in-case self defense situation. Despite its 8-round capacity, I only had it loaded to 6. I was using an already opened box of Remington Range 124 grain ammo that I purchased during the Covid summer of 2020. Early on, my pistol tended to malfunction with 115 grain Winchester “white box” ammo. After talking to some RSO’s (Range Safety Officers) & a couple of friends who were retired police, I decided to focus on my grip & use 124 grain bullets when possible. The weapon has proven much more reliable since then, & today was no exception. Today would feature a malfunction free performance.

Despite a couple of low shots I was satisfied with the results from my first magazine.

Mag 2

A bit prematurely, I decided to test how well I had retained trigger reset discipline . I loaded my second 8-rd magazine with 7 FMJ bullets this time. I fired one slow shot as I had done all throughout my first magazine but over the next five rounds I managed to perform two separate double-taps. Results were decent but were nothing to get excited about. I was only shooting at a target 5 yards out.

Mag 3

I pushed the target out to a more serious 10 yards. I used my smaller 7-round magazine & chose the target at the top of the left column as it had not yet been punched. I noticed that I had to focus a bit more on my grip, initially at least, after dropping down the the shorter magazine featuring barely any space for my pinky to grip. Nonetheless, I managed two sets of double taps & two slow, deliberate shots over the course of the 6 rounds I’ve loaded. AMMO CHANGE: Since I knew the Remington Range 124 grain tended to cycle well through my pistol, I didn’t want to burn through the entire box. I took advantage of the opportunity to buy a new box of target ammo for a reasonable $23.99. (Because of the ammo shortage, many gun dealers/ranges only sell ammo if you are renting a lane for practice or buying a firearm.) I bought a box of Fiocci Line Classic at 123 grains. While I liked the bullet weight, I had not cycled this bullet through my weapon before. I wanted to test it for proper function. Starting at Mag 3, this is the ammo I used until I choose to fire off a single Speer GD hollow point that I found loose in my range bag.

Mag 4 & 5

Back to an 8 round magazine. I aimed for one of the bottom circles at 10 yards. I go back to double taps. I’m a bit low. (no picture). Dissatisfied, I reload the next 8 round magazine with 7 rounds. I use six Fiocci FMJs & the one loose Speer GD.

Here is a lower target following an assortment of drills from between 7 & 10 yards.

Mag 6

I loaded another 8 round magazine to six or seven then moved the target closer to the common self defense practice distance of 7 yards & practice double taps. I didn’t photography for accuracy as I was more concerned with trigger reset & quicker follow-up shots. While my accuracy at self defense ranges had not fallen off much over the last year without practice, the speed of my follow-up shots had. I wanted to redress that situation quickly m, if possible.

New Pistol

By this time, I had run through 6 magazines with my subcompact 9mm pistol. I had expended between 36-40 rounds using primarily 124 gr FMJs from Remington & Fiocci plus one lone Speer GD HP, also at 124 grain. Satisfied with the reliability of my ammo as well as my residual proficiency, I wanted to try some rounds through my “deep cover” pistol. In a post from November 2020, I reported that my beloved Kel-tec P3AT pocket pistol, which had served me dutifully since 2007 with barely any malfunctions, suffered a catastrophic failure that made me consider retiring the old warrior for good. But over the layover, I decided I didn’t want to give up on such a faithful companion so soon. I purchased a factory replacement recoil spring & guide rod thinking changing them out would most likely solve the problem. If not, I could at least try this $12 solution myself before contacting the manufacturer for a possible warranty repair.

My first shot with my little mouse gun was promising. Sadly, the promise would soon be broken.

Old Gun

I don’t remember if I was shooting from 5 yards or 7. But my first shot was decent considering how dramatically smaller this .380 ACP pocket pistol was compared to my “subcompact” 9mm. I was optimistic with my first shot but not yet satisfied. Over the next 5 shots (I had my 6 round magazine loaded to the max), I would try to dial in my aim. It wasn’t meant to be. On my 5th shot, I noticed the round failed to expel. I thought I had experienced a common jam when I racked the slide to examine the issue. What I discovered was well worse. I experienced the same catastrophic malfunction that I had witnessed back in 2020. Even with the new springs & guide rod, I was still hanging on to an old gun.

Oh well. This Kel-tec was no Colt. It didn’t have legendary status. It didn’t cost a fortune. But for what it was meant to be, it had done it’s job. I still plan to call Kel-tec about it for any warranty options I may have. But either way, I’m hanging on to this old gun for the memories of nothing else.

Notes & Observations

Since I had shot a little low at 5 yards to start & then a little high at 10 yards later on, I didn’t bother testing my proficiency at distance. For my primary CCW pistol, I want to see about half my shits strike the intended circle for a distance of 25 yards. That assessment would have to wait until next time though.

When I go through a layoff from the gym, the first thing to go isn’t my strength but my stamina.

When it comes to shooting, the first thing to go isn’t my accuracy but speed.

Moving forward. I know I can go a year without practice & still remain competent with my weapon; but that’s pushing it. A more reasonable time frame would be nine months max between sessions if I am to retain my speed with follow-up shots.

My overdue calibration was now complete. I passed.

RANGE: Friday, Sept 18

This day marked my second range session since completing the holster draw class. I would be shooting my M&P Shield 9mm, drawing from a Blade Tech IWB holster. I planned to shoot 30 rounds of Sig Elite Performance FMJ left over from my previous session as well as 36 of the 50 rounds of Remington Target FMJ that I purchased at check-in for a total of 66 rounds. All bullets weighed in at 115 gr. I hadn’t cleaned my pistol since last week’s session but I did lube it prior to dry firing at the target downrange. I always practice sight acquisition & dry firing before I fire my first live round at every range session. My pistol tends to run more reliably when it’s a little dirty; I haven’t decided yet whether or not this is good or bad.

This is a view of my pistol & the target set at 10 yds, which is a typical practice distance for a self defense pistol.
The results from my first live magazine of the day from a distance of 7 yds.

START TIME, 6:02PM–MAG#1: I began the live fire portion of the session the way I always do; no drawing from the holster, no rapid fire sequences. I used the flush 7 round mag. I was satisfied but not thrilled with the results. The group could have been tighter but it was adequate; and my sight picture was solid as I essentially left a pattern of a vertical line. I moved on to 10 yds with my (mag#2) extended 8 round magazine & produced satisfactory results (no picture provided).

Results from mag#3: The purple snow flake is much smaller than the blue one targeted on my first magazine. I essentially shot at a palm-sized target from 10 yds, scoring 3 direct hits & 2 near misses.

Mag#2: Mag#2 results left much to be desired. I was low & to the left on 1/2 of my 8 shots with one outlier landing way left. Angered, I reloaded the same extended mag for a do-over, aiming this time for the even smaller target at the top right corner of the rectangle: the purple snow flake! I even double tapped on I believe my last 4 rounds for good measure. The results (pictured above) were much better so I felt confident about moving the target out to 15 yds from mag#4.

Mag#4: I at least want to know that I can hit a target out to real world, less than perfect, crucial self-defense ranges. My ability to hit a plate-sized target at least 1/2 the time at 15 yds out is a must-do have any handgun that I will depend on for defense. I aimed for a clean snow flake, the light blue one on the bottom right corner. Satisfied with the results (pictured below) I wanted to assess my ability out to 20 yds; after which time, I would move on to the holster draw portion of the day’s practice.

Mag#5/Hail Mary: To save bullets for my holster draw practice, I only loaded the extended mag to 4 rounds. Bear in mind that this light blue snow flake (#19) is MINISCULE! Landing any of my 4 rounds in the vicinity of said snow flake while simultaneously avoiding any horrible miss would constitute a success. I passed (see below).

From 20 yds away, I aimed for the small, light blue, “19” snow flake at the bottom right. My four shots all landed in that vicinity with only one outlier to the left.

HOLSTER DRAW/ STAGING THE DRAW STROKE–6:16PM: Everything I covered so far took less than 15 minutes. I spent the next 8 minutes practicing the draw stroke, breaking it down into 3 major stages. At first I focus just on gripping the pistol firmly in the holster, without even drawing it. I later progress to pulling the weapon out, meeting both hands on the grip around chest area, then punching out to a shooting position while quickly acquiring good sight picture. I even dry fired once or twice towards the end of the 8 minutes. Well, once you’ve made your way up to the high dive at the pool, you have to jump some time. I was ready for live fire.

LIVE FIRE HOLSTER PRACTICE, 6:24PM–MAG#6: On my last 4 shots from mag#5, the ones from 20 yds out, I broke into my 2nd box of ammo–Remington Target FMJ. I actually had one flush mag filled with my last 7 rounds of Sig Elite Performance. I choose not to use the flush mag from distance because the extended mag of 8 would give me a better grip to help precision. Moreover, I like drawing from the holster with the flush mag because I am more likely to carry the pistol with the flush mag to enhance concealment. No big deal to start out; 5 yds out, no rapid fire. My focus was on safely & consistently drawing the weapon up to a shooting position, firing a shot, then re-holstering. The draw felt good all the way through the trigger pull. I was happy with the results except for one outlier. I think it was towards the end when I got greedy & double tapped. (See picture below.)

MAG#7: Still using the flush mag, I moved the target back to 7 yds. To maximize my holster draw/re-holster opportunities, I promised to outlaw double taps. From this point forward, I chose to load each mag to only 5 rounds.

From my notes (I’m writing this journal entry 2 days after the fact), it appears as if I fired 2 more mags loaded to 5 rounds. If memory serves, it believe I fired a 3rd mag with a total of 10 total mags used. On my last two, I backed the target out to 10 yds & drew from the holster to engage the target. I even captured video of my last or 2nd to last mag; my notes indicate the target was set to 10 yds.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I was pleased with the progress of my holster draw/re-holster technique. Oddly, it seems easier when I’m live firing then it does when I’m practicing with an empty pistol. The less I think about it, the smoother the operation seems to go. I felt vastly improved from the previous week, when I would complete a decent draw stroke but then pause to acquire target before I could squeeze off a shot. My practice of drawing the weapon then acquiring sight picture without taking the shot earlier seemed to help. The only thing that didn’t show vast improvement was my accuracy–which was adequate for self defense but nothing that would wow anyone. I want to “wow” everyone. In my defense, my groups with the 9 have been extremely tight both this week & last when not drawing from the holster. In addition, I had the target out out to 7 & even 10 yds for the majority of my holster draw practice & the group still looked a bit tighter than last week’s, when the target was only set to 5 & 7 yds. All in all, the day was a success. (66 shots fired, all fmj, all 115 grain: 30 Sig Elite Performance + 36 Remington Target.)


Date: Monday, Jan 27th/ Day 2, 3rd session of 2020

Brought: nothing

Rented: Browning 1911-380 & Glock 42

RSO: unknown

I made the mistake of procrastinating after this range session. As a result, I never wrote down my observations & only remembered to mention this session when I came across the time stamped pictures in my phone. However, I do know that I was in the middle of a tug-of-war trying to decide between the .38 Special & the .380 ACP to power my next CCW. On this day, I rented the Glock 42 & the Browning 1911-380.


I used the most economical FMJ ammo; I know this because the range where I go requires that if you rent one of their firearms that you run their store bought ammunition out of it only for quality control purposes. I remember that I fired all shots at either 7 yards or 10 tens, but nothing in-between. These are my standard self-defense practice distances except in the case of a DAO revolver, in which case I will often start at 5 yards until I can adjust to the heavy trigger pull.



I remember thing that the Glock 42 would be a real keeper but the Browning, although all steel & beautiful, would serve as more of a collector’s piece than a day-to-day defensive tool. After shooting so many striker-fired pistols & DAO revolvers, I just don’t feel comfortable with a 1911 inspired cocked & locked pistol.

My Winner: Glock 42 hands down.

Click Here for results of S&W 642