Category Archives for "Self-defense"

Tom Givens interview

This past weekend I had the opportunity to be a range help to the legendary firearms and defensive tactics instructor Tom Givens from Rangemaster Firearms Training Services

It is a field interview (half of my head is not in the frame..). The interview was recorded at the end of the second day of his Combative Pistol II class after all his graduate students were dismissed.

Tom was gracious enough to agree to sit down with me for about 10 minutes and answer three questions.

The questions I asked were:

1. Do CCW courses sufficiently prepare civilians to defend themselves in an actual violent encounter?
2. Are revolvers more reliable than semi-auto guns?
3. How important is it for women to be able to defend themselves?

I asked these questions because I believe that they are very relevant to our age and time. Moreover, one of them – the revolvers vs. semi-autos – is an age-old question and a topic for a heated debate on the Internet even today.

If you haven not ever gotten the chance to take one of Tom’s courses, and if the questions above seem interesting to you – and are relevant to your situation – then I highly recommend that you watch this interview.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Flying with a firearm

I recently started a new blog. My first article there is on the topic of flying with a firearm.

Flying with a firearm


Flying with a firearm isn’t as intimidating as I though – and I think as many think – it’s actually rather simple and straightforward.

All you have to know is the rules… and of course you have to abide by them.

If you have researched the topic and have prepared well flying with a firearm will be a very painless process.

Read the article here

Firearms Instructor Development Course by Tom Givens

My latest training in firearms was the 3-day Firearms Instructor Development Course taught by Tom Givens – one of the top firearms and defensive tactics instructor in the US and the owner of the Rangemaster Firearms Training Services.

What an experience!

I am glad I did it!

Firearms Instructor Development Course with Tom Givens

With Tom Givens at “graduation”

Although I had previously attended the Combative Pistol 1 again taught by Tom Givens, and although some of the material overlapped the added material and the level of training under stress really took us all to the next level.

In just three days my level of confidence in my knowledge and skills increased dramatically.

Just to give you an idea…

At the end in order to become certified as Firearms Instructors by Rangemaster we had to successfully pass two exams: a shooting exam and a written exam.

The shooting exam consisted of two parts:

  1. The New (from 2013) FBI Qualification Course of Fire – passing score 90+ (FBI agents need 80+ to pass and FBI Instructors need 90+). Tom Givens calls this “the warm-up” for the real test, which is…
  2. The Rangemaster Firearms Instructor Qualification Course of Fire – a course of fire that is quite a bit more difficult than the FBI course of fire. It requires hits in the vital zones (thoracic box and ocular box, using the QIT-99 target), sidestepping at 3 and 5 ft distances. Passing score – 90 percent or better.

QIT-99 – FBI Modified QIT Qualification Target

The written test consisted of 80 questions with mostly fill-in-the-blanks sentences and a few true/false questions. Time constraint – 1 our.

For the passing of this exam we had to read a 200+ page manual, supplied by Rangemaster, basically after class on the first day, after class on the second day and one hour during the third day while half the shooters were doing the shooting exams.

My scores:

— FBI Qualification Course of Fire – 100 percent (hard to believe, but that’s what it was – I saw my target)

— Rangemaster Firearms Instructor Qualification Course of Fire – 97.6 percent

— Rangemaster Firearms Instructor written exam – 89.4 percent


No wonder why my confidence went up quite a bit..

There is a two-day advanced Firearms Instructor Course by Rangemaster, which I intend to take as well – if not this year definitely next year.. I hear next year it will be taught here in Austin, TX area. This year it is in Oklahoma.

That’s it.. It’s been two weeks already and I’m still processing what happened..

What firearms courses have you taken and where? Share your experience!

Interview: Massad Ayoob on concealed carry and politics, women carrying

Exclusive for – Interview with Massad Ayoob – on concealed carry and politics, women carrying, CCW holders who don’t carry, and more.

Ivan: This past weekend I had a chance to study under the legendary Massad Ayoob. I took his MAG-20 Classroom course and I also had a chance to take a short interview from him – he was gracious enough to agree to spend a few minutes with me after class on the first day to give me that interview and answer my questions.

But, let me introduce quickly Mr. Ayoob. Massad Ayoob is an internationally known firearms and self-defense instructor. He has taught police techniques and self-defense to both law enforcement and private citizens in numerous venues since 1974. Mr. Ayoob is the former director of the Lethal Force Institute and now directs the Massad Ayoob Group.

Massad Ayoob has appeared as an expert witness in many many trials and serves as a part time police officer in New Hampshire and has served as a part time police officer there for more than forty years.

Mas, he would like us to call him, has written several books and more than one thousand articles on topics such as self-defense, combat techniques, firearms, and law issues. His latest book came out in late 2014 and it’s called “Deadly Force – understand your right to self-defense”. I cannot recommend it highly enough to you. But, let’s go to the interview now..

Massad Ayoob and Ivan Nikolov in Giddings, TX - May 2015

Massad Ayoob and I – May 2015

Ivan: I understand Illinois was the last state to vote concealed carry last year and now all fifty states allow concealed carry. Is that correct?

Mas: In all fifty states have a provision for concealed carry. You have some – Hawaii for example – while it’s in the law that the issuing authorities “may issue” a permit there, you can count on your fingers how many have actually been issued. Maryland, some other jurisdictions, New Jersey for example, are extremely tight with them. In many jurisdictions, I’m afraid, the “may issue” comes up where it’s up to the discretion of the issuing authority turns to turn into “We’ll give you the permit if you’re a white, male, rich and politically connected”.

Ivan: That’s pretty sad that this is the situation in United States…

Mas: There’s still a lot of work to be done.

Ivan: Well, my question is this: I understand Florida was the first state to an act conceal carry?

Mas: It was it was the first in what some call “the new wave” going back to 1987. Some states, Vermont for example, has never required a concealed carry permit. State of New Hampshire has had it since about 1923. Washington has had concealed carry for a very long time. Up until about 1987 in Florida it was “may issue” and it was only good for the county were it was issued. Marion Hammer and her group “Unified Sportsmen of Florida” pushed through what I consider to be landmark reform legislation with “shall issue” and that began the wave of the “shall issue” concept – instead of it being up to a politician whether you got your permit now any citizen they had to give the permit or show good cause why not. So that was the principle that really opened the door to what the modern ordinary law abiding citizen has now and the “shall issue” states. And that created the wave that followed. Back at that time there were seven states that did not even have a provision of law for legal concealed carry.

Ivan: …And, one of them is Alaska, I think…

Mas: No, Alaska was in pretty good shape. One of them actually was Arizona. Arizona had allowed open carry without a permit but until recent decades concealed carry simply was not legal there unless you were a police officer. First they pass a “shall issue” then they pass permitless carry. They were the third state to do it. Vermont had already had it of course longer than any living American. Arizona, I believe, was the second and Alaska – the third, and I think that is also a coming wave of the future.

Ivan: So, is it fair to say that we’ve had pretty much a quarter century of experience with states who re-enacted concealed carry laws, like Florida for example?

Mas: Yes. So, as I said I consider it reform legislation – egalitarian law that lets any law abiding citizen have the same privilege that was once reserved for the rich and powerful.

Ivan: So here is my question. For all this data accumulated over almost a half a century – no – a quarter of a century, I should say, twenty five.. almost thirty years, in many states we now know that in every state that has the concealed carry laws the crime rates have stayed the same or even gone down. And, if we account for the increase in population over all these years we could pretty much safely make the argument that the crime rates have gone down everywhere. My question is: Why is it that so many people today still oppose concealed carry laws?

Mas: Many people are still locked into the old paradigms. Many people practice what I’ve come to call pigeon hole politics. Let’s see.. I identify as a Republican. What are the Republicans saying about this? Okay, my position on issue “X” is whatever they say. And, in a world with the Democratic party platform and accomplishes gun control. A whole lot of folks who identify as liberal and progressive seem to feel that to be worthy of the label they must automatically be anti-gun. The fact is we have a lot of genuine credentialed liberals and progressives who are on our side of this issue. People like Don Kates who who marched with the Freedom Riders back in the sixties, certainly Charlton Heston who marched with Martin Luther King and later became the iconic president of the National Rifle Association. Trying to remember the name… A former head of Amnesty International Marc Benenson in New York has been one of over the decades one of our strongest advocates for a Second Amendment freedoms. So I hope the public won’t fall into the media trap of assuming that if you identify as a liberal you must be anti-gun.

Ivan: So, is it an issue of conformity with younger people who are involved in politics?

Mas: Well, it tends to be conformity, it tends also to be – we are the most media-driven nation in the world. And, probably right now we have the most media-driven generation of Americans. We’ve also had a couple two or three generations now of vehement anti-gun – feeling wanting strongest friends through very powerful media groups – both entertainment and news. We can’t be surprised that the propaganda has had its predictable effect and propaganda has those who listen to those outlets.

Ivan: Data from 2014, I believe July, shows that there are almost 4.8 percent of the population of the United States – that’s more than 11 million people – who have been issued concealed carry permits. And if you count.. We don’t know the count of states like Vermont and Alaska where open carry is permitted because they don’t have these numbers, but it’s probably a lot more than 4.8 percent – it’s probably over 5. I don’t even.. I can’t even guess what the numbers are. But, my suspicion is that a lot of the people who have been issued concealed carry permits do not carry and some of them never intended to carry in the first place. Why is that?

Mas: I think there were some who didn’t feel that right now they needed to carry but were practical enough to realize that things change overnight. If tonight I suddenly find out that I’m a stalking victim I don’t think I want to wait ninety days or six months for somebody to process my permit. I’d like to be able to start protecting myself tomorrow. There are a great many people who carry sometimes. Well, Gee, if I’m going out at night I’ll carry but I feel safer during the day. If I’ve got the kids with me to protect I’ve got to be the protective daddy-wolfs so I carry my gun. But if I’m going all by myself I don’t have to worry about that. It’s not my place to proselytize but I tell folks like that, okay, if you carry the gun to protect your children how about carry the gun to protect your children’s father. How about you do that? The bottom line is I can’t make everyone carry every day. There are a lot of people who are in occupations where they can’t carry or situations where they can’t carry at some time during the day. For example, a great many attorneys spend so much time in the court house they’d be constantly taking the gun on off on off. So, I can understand the “sometime carrier”. I feel anybody who is carrying is going to be safer than if there are not, and the more good people there are out there capable of providing the protection… It’s just like if I ever have a heart attack the more people who know how to do C.P.R. the safer I’m going to feel and the more AED’s there are in the building the safer I’ll feel about that too.

Ivan: True. But, have you heard this… You’re a police officer and I want to know this. Have you heard somebody say, “Go and get your concealed carry permit because a police officer, if you ever get pulled over, will look at you with different eyes. Have you heard that argument?

Mas: Some people make that argument and there is some truth to it. The convicted felons can get a license to drive an automobile. Convicted felons cannot get a license to carry a gun. Now, I’m not going to look at your concealed carry permit and say oh you’re automatically a good guy. But while it’s not proof positive it’s a darn good clue. A government very much like my own, maybe if you’re in my jurisdiction it was the same issuing authority, has check you out, has said, “okay, no criminal record, nothing frightening on the character background that would make us have a hearing and say look you may not have a criminal record but, trust us, we know this guy you don’t want him to have a gun in our community. So it’s a sign of being a good guy. But it’s certainly not proof positive.

Ivan: Now, we know that… I’m going to different question.. We know that men are a lot stronger than women. But I feel that there is some..

Mas: With all respect I’m a father of daughters. I can’t confirm that, but..

Ivan: …Also, there is some notion that because men are a lot stronger they tend to get into conflicts because that’s their biological role, they tend to get into conflicts a lot more often. Therefore men should be those who are ready to protect and they should be those who should be caring if somebody should be caring. Women don’t need to carry because they usually don’t get into physical altercations and they don’t usually get into these kinds of situations. Is that a valid argument for a woman to decide not to carry?

Mas: No, I don’t think so at all. I don’t think women should be dependent on their husbands for the checkbook, for deciding how to vote or deciding how to protect themselves. And, as a general rule in our society the mom will be spending more time with the children than the dad. So, for him to be able to protect them I guess he is going to have to quit work, quit any personal hobbies and contacts outside of the immediate family, and be in the house 24-7 but then what happens when he goes to sleep for eight hours? That could be a problem too. So, in a word, I would say that theory is bullshit. The female being more physically vulnerable I think is probably more at risk of attack and if anything needs the “equalizer”, if you will, more than does the 6’4” – 220 pounds husband.

Ivan: So, your personal advice is equally strong to both men and women. If you feel the need to carry – carry.

Mas: Carry!

Ivan: Fantastic. And, last question. I’ve been wondering this myself as I’m learning more and more.. What do you think is the more appropriate shooting stance for defensive shooting is the modified Isosceles or the Weaver stance?

Mas: It depends first on the individual. We found certain body shapes will work better with one, certain will work better with the other. We teach the original classic Weaver with both elbows bent and asymmetric push-pull. And, the modified reverse – specifically the Chapman modification with their shoulders forward, gun arm locked, bent arm pulling the whole arm tight. And, the Isosceles – squared with a threat, arms extended. And, the reason is whatever your favorite stance is you’re not going to be able to step on to the ideal foot position if the night you need that gun you are safety belt-in on the front seat of a car, you’re standing on ice, you are standing up to your knees in snow, you’re standing on a stairway – you’re not going to be able to do your cute little range pivot and execute your perfect technique. But, if your body knows that it can flow from three o’clock and Isosceles for a right handed shooter to literally behind your back 180 degrees with a classic Weaver to break free one handed and get on this side 180.. or another complete 360 degrees, as well. You’ve essentially got 360 degree coverage. To think just the Weaver or just Isosceles to me is like teaching a boxer just the jab or just the cross or just the uppercut. Every fighter is going to have a favorite punch – a best punch – but a one-punch fighter is not going to last too long in the arena when the movement starts.

Ivan: So, let me see if I understand that correctly. First, you have to find out for yourself what works better for you, and second, you have to be trained in both, because in a dire situation you don’t have the time to think about it – you have to leave it to muscle memory or even availability of space. Is that correct?

Mas: That’s correct. The more your body knows how to do the more your body is going to be able to do it reflexively when the stimulus to do that comes.

Ivan: Final question. How important is a class like the one that we are taking today – like the MAG-20.

Mas: Well, it’s important to me because I do it for a living.. Thank you for coming. But, I do not want to see mandatory training as a full time trainer I’d be one of the greatest beneficiaries of that, but mandatory training means mandatory expense. And, a great many of the people who most need the ability to protect themselves with a gun are at an income level or a time in their life where they simply cannot afford that. And, that’s going to become an elitist thing where only the rich and powerful are going to be able to qualify. I do think where ever you got the training – whether it’s from a friend in the family who’s gotten out of the military or police or commercial sector, and he trains you, or whether you come to one of us in the private sector – the key thing is know what you’re doing. I don’t care if your dad taught you to drive on the farm or you learned to drive at day A.B.C. driving school – if you’re on the road behind a wheel I care that you know how to drive. I’d have really liked you to have gone to the Scotty School or the […] school, and, if your current skids, for you to know how to control that skid and steer out of it instead of spinning into my car with my grandchildren on the back seat. But, I can’t mandate that. And, I don’t think it would be fair to mandate that. All I can say is Knowledge is power. Whether you got it from me or somebody else the key thing is that you get it and apply it judiciously.

Ivan: I have to make a little confession on closing: What got me started on this road and what brought me to this class today was your “Deadly Force” book. Thank you very much for this interview, Mas.

Mas: Thank you, brother. It’s been a pleasure. Good luck to you and your viewers.

Ivan: Thank you very much, sir.

Defensive Handgun Skills: Combative Pistol 1 taught by Tom Givens

It took me a couple weeks to process what happened and what I learned at the Combative Pistol 1, taught by the legendary Tom Givens. And, frankly, I’m still processing..

In just a few words: this was the best defensive handgun course I’ve attended so far!

Combative Pistol 1 - Tom Givens

Combative Pistol 1 at KR Training in Texas – Tom Givens facing the camera

What I learned – insights:

  • Two absolute rules: 1) Muzzle discipline, and 2) Trigger finger discipline – 97 percent of all success is trigger discipline
  • “Press the trigger! Don’t pull or squeeze on the trigger! Press it like you’d press a button!”
  • Main causes of problems: Ignorance and Carelessness
  • You have to drive the gun – not ride the gun!
  • The sites are there as a reference point to where the barrel is pointed
  • Learn to move the index finger independently (if you try to flex the index finger and keep the other fingers straight you will find out that the other fingers want to flex along with the index finger – learn to flex the index finger without flexing the other fingers. It helps with pressing the trigger – not squeezing or pulling)
  • From 3 yd all you have to have in the target is the front sights. You can’t miss!
  • Sidestepping only works (and should be done) within the length of a car – but 92 percent of all confrontations happen at this length (so, train holster draw with sidestepping)
  • 86 percent of all shootings happen at 3-7 yd distance
  • Confrontation and communication distances are the same in our culture
  • The person who starts the fight wins!
  • Hesitation and confusion will kill you faster than anything else!
  • Handgun – reactive; long gun – proactive (You only carry a handgun because you don’t know for a fact if you are going to need a long gun that day! Handguns are more convenient to carry every day.)

Other gems of defensive skills wisdom by Tom Givens:

[blockquote quote=”Hit the target! Don’t shoot at the target! Shooting AT THE TARGET implies that you are simply shooting in that direction.”] [blockquote quote=”Unprepared victims (read sheep) are in denial loop when they get victimized. Their last thoughts (before they pass out… and later get resurrected so they can tell us) are, I can’t believe this is happening to me! or Why would somebody want to hurt me??“] [blockquote quote=”We don’t have misses – we have unintended hits!”]

On the range we trained extensively:

  • 4-stroke holster draw
  • 4-stroke holster draw and side-step
  • Draw to low ready
  • Shoot with one hand – only dominant or only support
  • Tap-and-Rack – the most common two-step process for malfunction clearing (not including Double Feed)
  • defensive shooting under stress: Casino Drill, 9-round drill and more – all including 1) the need to use cognitive power along with operating the gun; 2) several skills into one drill; 3) dummy round/malfunction clearing; 4) speed re-load and tactical reload
  • Trigger finger discipline drills

The emphasis was on hitting the target every time! And, by target I don’t mean the human silhouette – I mean the vital zone 6×8 inches between the diaphragm, the line that runs from both armpits and between both nipples. Everyone who missed had to take the “walk of shame” and patch up the holes outside the vital zone while everyone else watched and waited!

In the classroom we studied extensively:

  • Firearms safety rules
  • Proper handgun grip
  • Shot cycle
  • Steps of Draw Stroke presentation
  • Shooting incidents over the years – common factors
  • Case study: “Deputy Dinkeller and Lance Thomas” (google it – it’s important to study what happens if you are not prepared to use your firearm.. but, be warned – it’s not easy to watch)
  • Case study: “The Miami Massacre”

Mr. Givens recommended only one book – “The Deadliest Men” by Paul Kirchner and said, “Read it!”. I just started reading it and I’m fascinated to be able to study remarkable people of almost inhuman courage – from years, centuries and even millennia back.

Other details:

The entire Combative Pistol 1 course was taught in two days – Saturday and Sunday. It lasted about 16 hours in total.. or a bit more.

For the live fire lessons I used my new Walther PPQ M2. I fired more than 700 rounds and didn’t have a single malfunction!

The most important thing about the Combative Pistol 1 course was that Mr. Givens taught only what works in most situations and nothing more! He knows very well that 1) stuffing a lot of less useful skills into a shot time will only confuse his students, and 2) there is no real need to study skills that may be needed in only a few percent of all possible scenarios. I totally agree with this approach.

In summary: I am very happy and highly satisfied by this course. If you asked me what I learned, I’d say 1) I picked some new skills (mainly the skill to function under pressure. I’d already studied a lot of the mechanical skills in defensive pistol classes before this class), and 2) I found out where my weak points are so I can go back home and work on them to improve. This last one is of the highest importance, IMO, provided there is willingness to work on weak links in the skill set.

Mr. Givens will be back in Texas later this year to teach his Combative Pistol 2 class and his Instructor Development Course. I’d love to take both.. The only deciding factor is the resources..

By the way, earlier today I registered for his 2016 Tactical Conference in March next year – and I truly can’t wait!

So, this was my experience so far as a student of Mr. Tom Givens. How about you? Have you studied under him? If yes, what is your experience? If not, would you like to study under him? Let me know in the comments below.

Oh, and by the way, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow I’m attending 20-hour course taught by another legend in the self-defense world – Massad Ayoob. I’m taking his MAG-20 classroom..


Breaking in my new Walther PPQ M2

Alright. I’ve had this baby for almost a month now.. And, as much as I was itching I couldn’t find the time to take it to the range and try it out. Well, that all changed yesterday..

Walther PPQ M2

Walther PPQ M2


So.. I set out to go to the local indoor range and put about a 100 rounds through it to “Christen” it in battle… and to find out for myself if what I had been reading in forums and blogs (all rave reviews and opinions) is true about the Walter PPQ M2 (in 9mm).

Well, it is!

Let me be a bit more specific..

First of all after taking a few courses – beginners and intermediate from the local KRTraining – I’ve been feeling a bit more confident about my knowledge but I can’t still say that my skills are there yet. So, I had this 100-round range practice drill, which I got from the KRTraining website and which I’ve been using at home for the dry-fire practice parts only. I wanted to take this full drill sheet with me to the range and start at No. 1 and go down to the end. I did.

Here are the results… (and I’m no marksman, I swear.. just an average guy who wants to get better at all this..)

100-round range practice

First image shows exercise No. 2 – three 5-round groups from bench rest. Mine wasn’t seated by the way and instead of sand bags I had a tightly wrapped phone book – courtesy of the range.

Walter PPQ M2 at 25 yd - 15 rounds from (crappy) bench rest

Walter PPQ M2 at 25 yd – 15 rounds from (a crappy) bench rest.. leaning over but not sitting

All 15 went in. A bit high and to the left and one way down, but considering that this was my very first time ever shooting from bench rest, not sitting and using phone books as the rest for my gun (and not being a marksman… just wanting to be) I think I did fine. All I can say is that I am absolutely sure in more experienced hands the Walter PPQ M2 would have done much better. I know I was the limiting factor in this instance.

Walther PPQ M2 range

Walther PPQ M2 range – taped phone book serves as my bench rest support

Below is exercise No.3 results – Standing, two-handed grip, Weaver stance at 25 yards, 10 rounds. All went in. Again the limiting factor was me.

Walter PPQ M2 at 25 yd - 10 rounds standing - Weaver stance - two-handed grip

Walter PPQ M2 at 25 yd – 10 rounds standing – Weaver stance – two-handed grip

Still all 10 went in. So, me.. happy.

Exercise No. 6 results below…

Walter PPQ M2 - 7 yd 25 rounds

Walter PPQ M2 – 7 yd 25 rounds from Weaver stance, two-handed grip

This was 25 rounds (5 rds x 5) at 7 yards two-handed Weaver stance. The things to practice in this exercise were: break the shot, see the gun recoil, release trigger to reset point (and no further), break the next shot, repeat. The shots should have been spaced out equally and not spastic (see the original 100 round practice – link above). Mine were exactly as I was instructed.

As it becomes evident the Walter PPQ makes even a bad shooter look like a decent shooter. Most of the rounds went right in the center. Good group altogether. A couple hit the target borderline between 9 and 8 and two fell in the 8 zone – I’m sure I flinched here.

And, this below is from exercise No. 9.

Walther PPQ M2 at 7 yd alternate shooting at left and right target.

Walther PPQ M2 at 5 yd alternate shooting at left and right target.

My assignment in this exercise was to set two 6-inch plates (I used the same target I initially used for the 7 yd center-mass exercise, but instead aimed at the elbows) at 5 yards distance and shoot from left to right and back to left as I maintain the same trigger control as in the above exercise (break shot, see bang trough, barely reset trigger, break shot).

I set out to do 6 shots in each side alternating between left and right. It’s kinda obvious that I missed one of the right hits – it clearly went out… but I’m happy with myself – I managed to maintain the smooth bam-bam-bam every second or so instead of the spastic bam……. bam..bam………..bam, etc.

I have to say that one of the assignments I had for myself was to learn to “see the shot through” – in other words to learn not to close my eyes in the instant the shot breaks. I can’t say that I succeeded, but I was getting close at the end.

I think I’m steady on my way to become an average shooter (smile).. especially with a such a fine hand-held lead-blasting tool like the Walther PPQ M2.

About the pistol…


I’ll just say this: All I read and saw in forums, blogs and videos about the PPQ’s trigger is true… and more.

This is the experience… This is exactly how it feels.. don’t worry about the actual lbs of pressure. It’s just a representation of how it feels..

You begin pressing on a trigger that sits rather past the center formed by the trigger guard. The pressure feels something like 2 lbs. It is smooth and light. All of a sudden at around 6-7 mm of the take up you feel a very well pronounced tightening. You can easily double the pressure at this point and the gun won’t fire – that’s how it feels. It’s a very distinct tactile feedback point! If you do exercise No. 5 where you take up to prep point (right before the break point where the gun fires) and back and do that continuously you will be able to do as many reps as it takes to get tired in the trigger finger but you will NOT break the shot! That’s how good the tactile feedback is!

Pressing on..

At the prep point it takes probably what they say in the literature about the PPQ – 5.6 lbs of pressure – to break the shot. The reset is very short – 2.5 mm only! And, there is a very well pronounced – audible and from a tactile standpoint – click where the trigger resets.

So, you can easily fire this baby tons of times without ever going beyond the point of trigger reset.. forget about trigger slapping! (This trigger slapping, by the way, happens to me no matter how hard I try when I do fast shooting with my Ruger LC9S Pro. The reason is the trigger reset of the Ruger is all the way close to the beginning of the take up and when fast shooting just to make sure that the trigger resets I actually slap it.. all the time! Not the case with the PPQ. Not even close!)

In summary, the trigger is the best I’ve ever tried.. in my short time I’ve been into guns. And, I own a few and have tried a few of them – in 9mm S&W M&P, Luger LC9S; Glock and HK in 40 S&W and a couple of 1911s in 45 ACP (one of them is mine).

Ammo likability

This is in no way a review of the Walther PPQ M2 much less an extensive review. All I’m doing here is I’m documenting and sharing my experience with it. That’s it.

That said, I want to mention about the ammo likability of this gun. I tried several different (mostly cheap) brands of brass ammo – Tulammo Maxx (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Federal, Perfecta (Italy) and I even tried a few rounds of Spear Gold Dot 124 gr +P (man, that hurt – those are about $1.50 per piece… I could see the dollars flying out the muzzle with every shot I took with them!).

I had to try the Spear Gold Dot 124 gr +P because I wanted to know if these will be good as my “social” (concealed carry) ammo – whether the gun will like them. It did like them!

Out of a hundred rounds the only hiccup the gun had was with one round of the Tulammo – it was a miss-fed where the slide didn’t come back all the way to front position – there were probably 5 mm left to lock completely. I did what I was trained for a double feed (although it wasn’t a double feed) – gave the mag a tap (that didn’t fix it), then dropped the mag and cycled a few times to eject the miss-fed round. From there on (and before that) not a single problem.

So, I don’t know what to make of it. I want to attribute this to the specific ammo – the Tulammo Maxx is somewhat shorter may be a mm or two. See the images below – one side by side on the counter and one image where the two rounds are fed into my Ruger LC9S magazine. You can clearly see that the Tulammo is visibly shorter. I have to say that one of my instructors told me that the length of the round doesn’t matter that much for hand guns but it does matter a lot for long guns. That’s how much I know about that.

Any way, I don’t know.. I want to believe that it’s the ammo. That’s how much I like this gun!

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Tulammo Maxx next to Federal practice ammo - 9mm

Tulammo Maxx next to Federal practice ammo – 9mm

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Tulammo Maxx and Federal practice ammo - 9mm - side by side in my Ruger LC9S magazine

Tulammo Maxx and Federal practice ammo – 9mm – side by side in my Ruger LC9S magazine

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This is one truly ergonomic piece of equipment! I have to tell you from all the guns I’ve ever handled in my life (not only shot but also handled in gun stores… so many!) this feels the best in the hand. It just becomes a part of the hand.. and you can’t ask for anything more than that!

The gun is light, but not too light where the 9mm rounds get to throw it around. It is comfy. The grip glues to the hand. It has that checkering that’s so fine that you don’t feel at all, but in the same time it prevents the gun from moving in your hand. It has the finger grooves at the front and side – they are there but they don’t interfere.

The backstrap is replaceable. It comes with two extra – one for large hands and one for small. I use the small one – I have small hands and that one provides the best fit for my hands. What I’m saying is you can adjust the handle thickness to the size of your hand – another great feature!

In summary

The gun is pretty, too! I mean by know it must have become evident that I like it A LOT!

Easy to operate, easy to break down and put back up, easy to look at. What’s not to like! I know some people only go for Glocks, some only for US-made guns, some only for 1911’s. Whatever your case, if can’t convince you if you are one of these people… and I don’t want to. Again, I’m simply documenting and sharing my experience and my personal opinion.

To me Walther PPQ M2 feels like a Mercedes.. The fact that both are made in Germany is a coincidence (or not!).

When I came back from the range my wife asked me how it went. This is what I told her: “Comparing the Walther PPQ to the 1911 and the LC9S (my other two handguns) is like comparing an automatic car to a stick shift car” (she can relate to that analogy – she can’t drive a stick shift).

And, honestly, the 1911 is a classic and it’s a charming tool in its own way. It’s like loving to ride a motorcycle for the simple reasons that it’s more difficult than driving a car, it’s more dangerous and it requires more/different skills. It’s just like that.. for me.

I like my 1911 in my own special way.

But, I like my Walther PPQ in all possible ways!

Tomorrow (coincidentally enough) is my first day of the two-day Combative Pistol 1 with Tom Givens. And, guess what? I’m taking the PPQ as my main gun there.. How will 900-1000 rounds trough it feel over two days? We’ll find out soon enough..

Update: 700+ rounds shot (“Perfecta”) and not a single malfunction or miss-feed on my PPQ!

Defensive Handgun Skills: Defensive Pistol 2, Force-on-Force, Low light shooting

This past weekend I attended a 13-hour course at KRTraining, which was comprised of three separate defensive pistol skills courses: Defensive Pistol Skills 2, Advanced Training 2: Force-on-Force, Advanced Training 1A: Low light shooting.

Defensive Pirstol 2 at KRTraining

Defensive Pistol 2 at KRTraining: Training getting the pistol off a flat surface without the risk of it sliding out from underneath your fingers… when you need it most.

For this day of courses I used my new Ruger LC9s Pro sub-compact pistol.

I have to say that out of all the previous courses I’ve taken at this defensive shooting training school these three were the most impactful. More specifically the Force-on-Force scenarios.

Here are the main things that struck me the most:

  • If something is happening somewhere and you are in an adjacent place (could be another room in your house or the main building of a gas station – somewhere where you are not at the moment but you can hear or see things happening): “If there is nothing worth dying for don’t go in!”
  • Do not provoke! Do not start conflicts! Do seek to deescalate conflicts! Watch your body language and tone of voice!
  • If you are in a convenience store (coffee shop, movie theater, etc.) as a licensed CHL/CCW holder your job is NOT to be the policeman. Your only responsibility is to protect yourself, wife/children from imminent danger of losing life or limb, or to prevent a mass-murder. In any other case stay put.
  • If you are in a situation in which you were legally justified in drawing your weapon do not hold the weapon when the cops come! They don’t know who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy (that’s assuming the bad guy is not a threat any more)! Identify yourself as a legal CHL/CCW carrier.
  • Draw your lines mentally as to what you can live with in case something is happening near you and you are not legally required but are legally justified to protect others from something horrible happening to them. What is morally the right ting to do? What can you live with if you do or not do what is morally expected of you?
  • Do not give full statement when first responders arrive, but state that you will comply fully as soon as you consult with your counsel. Provide the most necessary information without going into great detail. You need to make it clear that you were in fear for your life but you don’t want to say something that is not accurate at the moment that goes on record and can be used against you later (adrenalin spill, inadequacy, profound stress can all be a cause of that).
  • Train yourself to be in constant Condition Yellow (relaxed alert) when outside “your castle”. Train your situational awareness. Don’t miss clues! Don’t ignore when the gut’s telling you something doesn’t feel right! (in Force-on-forece role playing I got robbed at an ATM – I ignored the clues!)
  • Legally carrying REQUIRES of you to ALWAYS be at your best behavior, knowing the consequences if you are not! In my view, well-educated CCW holders, by deciding to carry that day, require of themselves to avoid situations that they or other people would normally not care too much to avoid. In other words, legal carrying when combined with the required education, makes for a very safe and highly responsible person (contrary to common belief).
  • All men are genetically predisposed to aggression – and that appears to be normal. But when aggression is combined with lack of empathy – the result is a sociopath! (this comes from an excerpt I was given to read during class from the book “On Killing” by Lt. Col David Grossman)
  • On adjusting to low light: Full adaptation of the eyes to darkness can take up to 40 min. It takes an instant to adapt back to full light. It is pointless, therefore, to wait to adapt to low-light. That’s what tactical flashlights are for. And, it makes perfect sense to flash in the eyes of an adversary to momentarily and completely take away his being adapted to low light conditions. Being directly flashed in the eyes is something you must avoid for the same reason.

I also learned that although sub-compact handguns may be okay as a part of your EDC or minimally uncomfortable for concealed carry, they are definitely not okay for defensive handgun courses. The low capacity (7 + 1 rounds in my case) makes it very stressful and difficult to complete drills. As one of my instructors stated near the end of the day, “You are fighting the small gun syndrome”.

Now, almost a week later I’m still processing the information received that day. And, I know it will take a while to fully process all that happened and all that I was exposed to.

In the mean time, I look forward to my continued education in the area of self-defense with firearms – Combative Pistol 1 with Tom Givens and after that MAG-20 Classroom with Massad Ayoob.

Defensive Handgun Skills: Defensive pistol 1

This was the second official defensive pistol skills course that I attended. (The fist was Basic pistol 2)

We trained the 4-stroke draw from concealment. All drills had to be done in 3 seconds or less – that’s how much time max one has before an adversary can close on him/her from a distance of 21 feet.

4-stroke pistol draw

That’s me at step 1 of the 4-stroke draw – hand firmly pressing on the gun to get the best grip possible

We did a lot of hands-on training involving “hardware” but like the instructor said this was not a hardware class – it was a “software” class. In other words, our goal was to get the 4-stroke draw from concealment, re-loading if needed, and do that flawlessly so we don’t have to think of our hardware in a situation.

In a situation our hardware skills have to be perfect so that our mind is focused on analyzing and handling the situation rather than on how to execute each motion.

I also learned about the OODA loop. The OODA loop turned out to be an extremely powerful concept, which I learned even more about later on on my own.

Other incredibly important new knowledge:

— “In a real situation, expect that the best you will be able to do is 75% of your worst day of training” – Paul Ford, APD SWAT

— You operate in a 360 degree world. Continue to scan the environment and immediately adapt to a changing environment. It’s not over until it’s over!

— Vital zone is high-center 6 inch diameter, not center-mass

— Attacker is close and moving, not stationary

— Opponents could be more than one. They could be 2,3 or more.

— Average distance in defense shooting – 14.6 feet (about the length of a car)

— Average number of shots fired – 5

There is a lot more and I can’t mention everything I learned here (neither I should). I highly recommend that anyone, as a part of his/her self-defense training and situation preparedness, attends a defense pistol skills course (or two or three..). There should be a school in your area. If not, I have heard great things about InSights, courses of which I plan to attend myself in the near future.

Next, Defensive pistol skills 2, Advanced Training: Force on Force Scenarios and Advanced Training: Low Light Shooting.