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How To Practice at the Gun Range

by Andy Rutledge 0 Comments

If you own a firearm, especially if you carry one at home or in public, responsibility requires that you train and practice with it on a regular basis. The alternative?…

Imagine that you’re suddenly called upon to give a public piano concert. If you’ve never been trained to play the piano well and never practiced a complex concerto over and over and over—or even if you’ve practiced sporadically—how well do you expect that would go? The answer is: you would flop. If your public concert is with your pistol, your lack-of-practice failure could mean that you or innocent bystanders get hurt. The human toll aside, that will get very expensive for you in both a financial and legal sense.

Continue reading the whole article at the Eagle Gun Range blog >

pistol and ammo

My Gun Collection Records

by Andy Rutledge 4 Comments

I keep meticulous records on my firearms, especially with regard to rounds fired and parts replaced. I have never been a fan of any of the commercial apps for keeping track of these things and have always used my own solutions. This week I built a new system for keeping my collection and shooting info online. Not beautiful, but it’s quite serviceable and very handy. I highly recommend that you keep good records for shooting and maintenance for your guns.

Here’s the main tab for my original Glock 19:


gun info screenshot


And here’s the second tab, for component replacement info for frame and slide components.


gun info screenshot


There’s more to it than this, of course, but this gives you the basic idea. Whether it’s paper, an app, or something you build, you should keep accurate records for your gun or gun collection.

Run Your EDC Weapon System

EDC weapon system

You carry concealed: pistol, holster, mag pouch, extra mags, weapon light. You carry every day without fail and train so that you can hit what you’re aiming at should the situation require it.

I maintain that this is not enough.

Your EDC rig is a complement of components that you HAVE to know how to run and manipulate given any circumstance and under all sorts of conditions. Ideally this means:

  • Knowing without a doubt—without thinking—what condition your weapon is in at every given moment should you have to draw and engage (Should never vary. Ever.)
  • Ability for immediate draw from concealment and first shot(s) on vital target in less than 2 seconds (less than 1 is better)
  • Ability to exchange magazines (reload) and fire accurately again in under 2 seconds
  • Doing all of this after your strong (or weak) arm has been incapacitated
  • Ability to manage your weapon light and place rounds on vital target under duress in darkness while maintaining tactical advantage
  • Ability to immediately manage any malfunction and get back into the fight in under 2 seconds: one-handed or two handed
  • Ability to hit small targets (eyes & nose) at 25 yards quickly (less than 2 seconds is best)
  • Ability to do all of this while running oblique towards or away from your target, while being shot at, while seeking or from behind cover
  • Knowing what your holster feels like when there is the slightest obstruction while re-holstering

The times referenced here are optimal. They’re what you should work toward. Regardless of the strict times, If you cannot do these things like a boss, you need more training from qualified instructors and heaps and gobs of practice. Continually.

Or what was it you thought you were doing, carrying a gun?

Harsh? Not near as harsh as what’ll happen if you’re ever required to depend on these skills you in no way possess.

If you’re in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, hit me up and I’ll try and direct you toward proper resources to set you on the right path. Happy to help!

Required Glock Modifications for Everyday Carry

Required Glock Modifications for Everyday Carry

I believe that a Glock is the perfect fighting pistol. I do mean “a” Glock because individuals have varied preference with regard to pistol size and caliber. With a specific size and caliber, though, I hold that Glock is the best pistol to have at hand when self defense against a deadly threat is necessary.

glock logo

However, while the manufacturer’s promotional phrase is “Glock PERFECTION,” I can agree only in part. The out-of-the-box Glock is by no means perfection. My opinion is that Glock doesn’t so much make the perfect pistol as they make the perfect pistol hobby kit. Specific alteration is required in order to achieve perfection.

While I’d argue a Glock is head and shoulders above any other EDC-candidate pistol, I believe it is very unwise to carry any Glock pistol without a few necessary modifications.


There is nothing wrong with Glock’s stock sights with regard to sighting. If you can’t shoot quickly and accurately with the stock sights, the problem is not with them, but with you. That said, plastic sights are beyond useless to the point of liability when it comes to running a fighting/defensive gun.

Glock’s plastic stock sights should immediately be replaced with iron sights, of whatever configuration works best for you. I’d recommend that the rear sight not be of the sloped variety, but instead have a squared-off profile that is perpendicular to the slide in order to facilitate one-handed slide racking on a belt or table or tree or whatever is at hand when the need arises.


Avoid the sloping rear sight popular with some models. The slope makes 1-handed slide racking more difficult.

Frame and Grip

There are some who find fault with the finger ridges on the front of the grip of most Glock models. I’m not one of them, as these finger ridges perfectly mesh with my hand and I like that. What is problematic, however, is the fact that only the Gen 4 model’s (and the now-discontinued RTF frame) grip offers sufficient texture for good hand purchase while firing. More disappointing and especially dangerous is the fact that with wet hands (if it’s raining, if your palms are sweaty, or if your hands are bloody from fighting), it’s quite difficult to hold onto and manipulate a Glock pistol in defensive action. Even with the rougher Gen 4 grip.

I therefore hold that it is very unwise to carry a Glock pistol (or any pistol, for that matter) without either sandpaper grips or a stippling job. And I think adding adhesive grips is the wrong way to approach this issue. I stipple the frame of every one of my Glock pistols, as I have found anything added to the grip will come off in a very short time with any significant amount of training use (you do train, don’t you?). Some see stippling as a stylistic embellishment. I find it’s a required functional modification; a deal breaker for EDC. Stippling results in a frame that you can grip wet or dry without fail.


The Glock frame made perfect: Stippling to add the required texture and a Dremmel job on the right side of the frame where the grip meets the trigger guard.

Another necessary modification is rounding off the right hand side (for right-handed shooters) of the area connecting the grip with the trigger guard. This is where the strong hand middle finger is held firmly against the frame and vice-locked even tighter by the force of the support hand. Out of the box, this area is quite squared off and very un-ergonomic and it requires remedy in order to avoid severe discomfort after shooting more than ~20 rounds (if this doesn’t hurt your finger, you’re not gripping your pistol tightly enough).

The Dremmel-driven modification here is not so much an undercutting of the trigger guard as it is a rounding of the side transition, where the middle-finger’s first knuckle will go. The result is a fantastic boon to grip comfort.


I find the Glock trigger to be decent, but by no means great. Some models tend to have better ones, like the Glock 43. The 43’s trigger is perhaps the best Glock trigger I’ve ever felt, but it is still a bit too heavy for my taste. Generally, though, a Glock’s trigger needs some work.

I’ve tried various trigger mods on various Glocks, utilizing connectors, springs, and plungers. What I find is best is to simply replace the stock connector with a 3.5 lb. connector. This replacement brings the trigger weight to around 4.5 pounds, which I prefer (you’d need to install the related trigger spring and striker safety plunger spring in order to get a 3.5 lb. trigger, which I do not recommend). More importantly, though, it gives the trigger a smoother take up and cleaner break and reset.


One caveat: 3.5 lb. connectors are not created equal. Glock’s 3.5 lb. connector is pretty decent, but there are better ones. My favorites come from Ghost Inc. and I favor either the Rocket or the EVO Elite connectors. I prefer the Rocket connector, but either requires fitting with a file, along with several assembly-test-disassembly-refit cycles.

Connector or spring replacement aside, I recommend NO polishing or grinding or other modification whatsoever to the trigger/striker system.

Popular Mods to Avoid

The wide and varied availability of aftermarket components for Glock pistols makes it easy for folks to go overboard and turn their perfect hobby kit into a silly caricature of a fighting pistol, often greatly reducing its practical functionality.

Avoid extended side-lock levers
The extended slide-lock lever was born of the mistaken idea that it’s a “slide release” lever. This mechanism was never meant to function as a slide release, which is why its external component is properly almost flush with the frame. It’s only purpose is to allow for the occasional need for the knuckle of your thumb to press upward on it to lock open the slide. One need never press down on the external lever. An extended lever gets in the way, often preventing the slide from locking open with the last round of the magazine. Moreover, it encourages the bad habit of using the lever to release the slide—which should only ever be accomplished by gripping the slide with the support hand and powering the frame forward with the strong hand to send the slide home.

Avoid titanium striker safety plungers
Titanium striker safety plungers are light and smooth and, therefore, valued by some as an upgrade for their Glock pistol. The opposite is true. These plungers attract carbon buildup which adheres easily and strongly to the top of the plunger, obviating any smoothness that was there. Moreover, they tend to deteriorate quickly with use, turning a vital safety mechanism into a liability.

Never, ever use a slide-plate “safety” device
One of the most important features of a Glock’s superiority to most other pistols is the lack of external mechanisms beyond the flush slide-lock lever. The Glock has three vital and redundant internal safety features that make the Glock perhaps the safest pistol one could carry. External/thumb safety levers on pistols only ever endanger lives because they mislead people into dangerous habits and into believing that safety is enabled or disabled by a lever. This is a fatal fallacy.

A person is safe or unsafe. No pistol is ever safe or unsafe because, quality and internal mechanisms aside, gun safety is a willful human volition. Only the operator can be safe or unsafe with a firearm. Assumptions to the contrary are the cause of every negligent gun death and injury ever inflicted or sustained.

Adding an external “safety” gadget to a Glock is the worst possible modification a Glock owner could make. Doing so transforms the mechanically safest, best-quality firearm available into one that invites irresponsible and negligent assumptions and extra, needless considerations to those manipulating their pistol.

Never rely upon or utilize a safety gadget on a pistol. Adhering to the 4 rules of firearm safety is the ONLY way to avoid killing or injuring yourself or someone else. No external lever can make a negligent person safe. Safety is 100% on people. When people forget this fact, people die.


So there you have it: what I deem to be the required modifications for any EDC Glock pistol, along with a few to definitely avoid. I’m completely serious when I say that every one of them—both the ones to get and the ones to avoid—is a 100% deal breaker.

If you own and carry a Glock pistol, I recommend without reservation that you make all of these required modifications to your carry gun and avoid all of the bad ones. Until the day Glock Inc. decides to do them at the factory, these mods are how you get Glock perfection.

Your First Time at the Gun Range

by Andy Rutledge 30 Comments
Your First Time at the Gun Range

I first published this article at my Gun Path blog. Republishing here as that site is no longer in use.

Your first time visiting a gun range can be a bit intimidating. Even if you’re an experienced marksman and hunter, a lack of familiarity with basic shooting-range etiquette can make your first experience there daunting. Well, I’d like to make it less daunting. In this article I’ll address a few of the unknowns first timers might worry about, as well as offer some advice on things every shooter must take into account when going to a gun range.

Note that most of this information is applicable to any gun range, but some is perhaps more specific to indoor ranges. Let context be your guide.

Inexperience doesn’t matter. Safety does.

Both the staff and the shooters at a gun range love to see beginners there; it warms the heart to see someone decide begin their firearms education or hone their skills. So don’t try and hide the fact that you’re inexperienced and ignorant of many gun-range conventions. Embrace and be open about your ignorance; it’s the surest way to endear yourself to the people there. Pretending you know things you do not will produce the opposite response.

On the other hand, they do care very much if you are unsafe or unaware of basic firearm safety. So the most pressing concern for a first timer to the gun range is a solid familiarity with basic gun safety and handling. So before you go to a gun range, you should either take a gun-safety class or seek some comprehensive safety instruction from an experienced friend. Then you should spend ample time practicing the physical conventions of safe firearm handling so that they become habitual. The fastest way to draw the ire and suspicion of people at a gun range is to display unsafe behavior and gun handling.

At check-in the staff will probably ask you…

Have you shot with us before?
Basically, they’re interested to know whether or not you’re familiar with their range and its specific rules. Since you’re not, you’ll likely be asked to read their rules. Do, and read them carefully. Then ask any questions you may yet have; that’s what this first step at check-in is all about.
What are you shooting today?
They’ll want to know if you’re shooting pistols or long guns (rifles and shotguns), for a couple of reasons. First, ranges often have separate bays for pistols and long guns, since long guns are usually louder and often require longer lanes and perhaps a different backstop. Also, if you’re shooting a rifle, they’ll often want to inspect your ammo. Because of this, if you’re shooting a rifle and using a magazine, don’t load your magazines before you get to the range since you’ll probably be asked to unload them all for an ammo inspection (so they can make sure you’re not shooting ammo they don’t allow).
Do you have eyes and ears?
They’re referring to eye and ear protection. Glasses or shooting glasses and either ear plugs or earmuffs (or both in combination!) are required at all times in an indoor shooting bay or around the outdoor range. Make sure you bring both or are prepared to purchase them there. Many smart shooters wear ear plugs with their earmuffs when at an indoor range.
Do you need any ammo today?
Most ranges sell ammo, so you can choose to bring your own or just pick it up there. Note, that many ranges have limits on how many boxes you can buy and/or when you can buy (some will sell you ammo only if you’re about to shoot, but not when you’re about to leave).
Do you need any extra targets?
Some ranges will give you one free target, but will have targets for sale, too. You can choose to bring your own or purchase targets there.

General Advice & Etiquette

The range safety officer (RSO) is your friend and is there to help
Don’t be afraid to ask the RSO for help or advice or general questions! You will have questions. Heck, I’m at the range a few times a week and I still have questions sometimes. Just speak up! Unanswered questions can compromise safety and enjoyment and the RSO wants to answer your questions; that’s one of the main reasons he or she is there.
Get a range bag.
It’s useful and efficient to bring your gun(s) and accessories to the range packed neatly in a durable bag of some sort. This might be a small sports duffel bag or it might be one made specifically as a range bag. Unless you’re shooting several guns of various types, it is unlikely that you’ll ever need anything more than something large enough for 1 to 2 pistols, eyes & ears, 2-5 boxes of ammo, a rag/towel, some masking tape, a multi tool, notepad, and a pen (I happen to use a shoulder bag made for a laptop computer). The style and brand of your bag doesn’t matter. What matters is that your guns are protected and the bag’s construction can bear the weight of your equipment.
Wear a ball cap.
When you’re in a shooting lane with a semi-auto pistol or rifle, your ejected brass will often bounce around a bit before hitting the ground. It is not uncommon for ejected brass to bounce into your face and if you’re not wearing a hat it can lodge between your eye protection and your face. Trust me when I say that you do not want this to happen, as that brass is extremely hot. The last thing anyone holding a ready-to-fire weapon needs is to convulse madly in an attempt to deal with a hot shell casing burning his/her cheek or eyeball. The bill of a hat keeps that from happening.
Trust me on this, as I speak from direct personal experience!

Shooting bench in a lane

Take your lane and hang your target.
Many first timers are unsure what to do once they step into the shooting bay, but it’s really pretty straightforward. Walk to your assigned lane, put down your stuff, hang your target and unpack your gun and ammo. You may quickly be approached by the range safety officer to ensure you know the basic rules—or share them if you don’t—but other than that you can just go about your business.
Unpack your gun, magazines, and ammo – but only 1 gun at a time, 1 box of ammo at a time.
Unless your range requires otherwise, don’t unpack several guns and lots of ammo and spread/stack them all over your shooting bench. That’s a messy and dangerous situation and just asks for weapons and/or ammo to get knocked onto the floor. Make a habit of having only the weapon you’re firing and the 1 box of ammo you’re using on your bench at any given time. keep the rest in your range bag(s) on the floor. Replenish individually as needed.
When your gun is on the bench, lock the slide open or, with a revolver, have the cylinder empty and open.
Most ranges will have this requirement in their rules, but it is a safe, smart, and reassuring practice to maintain regardless. A gun range is not a place for uncertainty. A gun resting on a bench is an uncertainty unless it is open for all to see that it is unloaded and/or disabled.
Keep your gun pointed downrange. Always.
Again, most ranges will have this as a requirement, but a firearm pointed in any direction other than downrange is, by definition, unsafe. Note that downrange means straight downrange and not up or down in the general direction of downrange (the range does not consider it safe that the floor or the ceiling is targeted by your muzzle). Failing to keep the muzzle of your loaded or unloaded weapon downrange is one of the surest ways to get yourself asked to leave the range.
Mostly, mind your own business and let others mind theirs.
No one will be watching you, except the RSO to ensure you are safe. So don’t worry about doing well or looking experienced for the rest of the people there. They’re doing their own thing.
Note that when a person puts on earplugs/earmuffs and steps into a walled shooting bay lane, s/he tends to descend into his/her own world. Just as when someone is driving alone in their car, they’re in what they consider to be a private space. This will be true for you and it is true for the others in the lanes nearby. It can be a delicate matter to invade that private space, even with a friendly message or request. If you have a request or question of one of the other shooters that you don’t know personally, it is usually best to ask the RSO to be your proxy.
Note that this admonition is not to say that the gun range is an unfriendly place. Quite the contrary, in fact. When folks are just standing around in the bay, conversations among strangers are commonplace. It just means that when someone is in a lane shooting, interruptions are not so innocuous as they might otherwise be.

an indoor gun range

Shooting Etiquette

Make sure you understand your range’s firing-rate rules.
Many ranges, indoor ranges especially, have maximum-rate-of-fire rules. A common standard is, “no faster than one shot per second.” Whatever the rule at your range, be sure you know what it is. If it’s not listed specifically in the range rules, ask the RSO.
Mind your ejected brass.
Semi-auto firearms eject their brass with each shot, typically to the right. While most range lanes have walls that block your brass from hitting nearby shooters, some lanes’ walls are positioned such that it is possible for you to stand too-far forward in the lane and eject your brass into the lane next to you. This is very annoying and even dangerous for the person in that lane, so be mindful of where your brass is going and how your position in your lane affects that.
Malfunctions happen.
Hopefully not on your first trip, but you will eventually experience a malfunction at the range. Before you go to a gun range, make sure you know how to deal with various types of malfunctions calmly, sensibly, and above all safely. Call your RSO to your bay if you have any question about the malfunction (but be sure not to compromise safety in doing so).
Load your magazines with only five rounds at a time.
Five is an arbitrary number, but it is a good idea for several reasons to make a habit of loading a specific, small amount of ammo in your magazines every time at the range. Firstly, keeping count on your rounds fired with a specific magazine can help in determining if you’ve had a malfunction. For instance, if you pull the trigger and it goes “click”—or—if it fires and the slide locks back, does that mean the gun is empty or does it indicate a misfire or failure to feed? Knowing your shots fired vs. your magazine round count helps you to be sure of what’s going on. Also, most ammo boxes (especially those for handguns) are configured in rows of five, so loading five rounds in your magazine is useful in managing your shot sequences for specific drills.
Clean up.
Shooting at the range necessarily means that brass gets strewn about on the floor. Your range will have a way of dealing with that, which may include you cleaning up your own brass or the RSO may do it for you. If you’re not sure which is the proper policy, ask. Or better yet, offer to clean up for yourself using the broom or squeegee that is in the shooting bay for that purpose. If you’re saving your brass (for reloads or resale), be sure to tell the RSO before you begin shooting. In any case, be sure to clean up your brass before you leave the range.

After Shooting

Record the number of rounds you fired.
It’s a good practice to keep an accurate count on the number of rounds you’ve put through a gun. This helps with maintenance schedules and when attempting to diagnose a functional problem. In the event you decide to sell your gun, potential buyers will want to know how many rounds the gun has fired in its lifetime. I recommend you keep detailed records for each of your guns.
Maybe let the barrel cool.
After you’ve put 50 to 300 rounds through your gun, the barrel is likely quite hot and you should wait before packing it away in your range bag. When you’re finished shooting, lock the slide or bolt back, place the gun on the bench, and chill for a bit. Maybe watch other shooters (discretely) or have a brief chat with the RSO or other shooters who are hanging about. After a few minutes, check the slide/barrel for temperature and when it’s not so hot as to melt/burn your gun rag/bag, wipe it down and pack it away.
Wipe down your gear.
Before you put them away, wipe down your magazines and gun with a rag or towel. They’ll have gunpowder residue on them and even though you’ll clean them later, you don’t want to pack dirty gear away in your bag.
Wash your hands and face with cold water.
After shooting, especially if you shot a pistol, your hands will have visible gun powder stains on them, but what’s not necessarily visible is that your hands, bare arms, and face will have gunpowder residue on them. If you’re done, hopefully before you leave the range, go and wash your hands and face in cold water to remove the residue.

I hope this helped

When you’ve internalized your gun-safety habits and have acquired the minimum equipment, don’t wait—go to the range! Go alone or go with a friend, but go…and have fun. Then maybe share here in the comments how things went.