Front Sight 4-day class, need a handgun


August 26, 2011, 08:35 AM
So, I was working the other day and I got a text from my father-in-law. He said he bought three spots for a four-day handgun class at Front Sight and he wanted me to join him, along with his brother. He's going to be paying for everything (flight, car, hotel, food) except for ammo, which I'll have to pay for.

Obviously, I was pretty pumped about this. Ever since serious talk of a CCW law passing in Wisconsin we've been talking about doing some training, including a one day class we'll be taking here in September (along with my wife).

The only issue is that I don't have a handgun. I've been saving for awhile now and I am finally at a place where I can buy one.
The main thing I'm concerned about is that on the Front Sight website they say that they don't allow "pocket guns", which is understandable, and you need to bring a full sized pistol. Does anyone know if they consider something such as a XDm 3.8 with the larger magazine a compact or a Ruger sp101?

I've been heavily eying the SP101 with 3" barrel and would prefer to get that. But I'm not sure if they would allow it. Since this is probably a once in a lifetime chance for me, I'd prefer to do the class with my personal handgun rather than one of my Father-in-Law's or a rental from Front Sight. I don't care if I'm a little slower than other people with automatics because I have a revolver.

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August 26, 2011, 09:50 AM
First, call front Site and ask about the requirements for the hand gun.

Second, I assume you've been doing your homework as to which gun you like. Pick a couple autos and a couple revolvers and narrow it down from there. If Front Site allows revolvers, and that is what you prefer, go that route.

Third, don't buy a gun you on impulse. Odds are, if you rush into a purchase, you'll end up regretting the decision in the end.

Lastly, if you have to borrow or rent because you can't find/ use the gun you chose, all is not lost. You're getting a wonderful oportunity handed to you, a free 4 day class at Front Site. I'm jealous.

August 26, 2011, 10:07 AM
FrontSight doesn't have any specific handgun requirement or prohibition other than caliber size. They recommend a Glock. They love Glocks. But you can bring whatever you feel comfortable shooting.

August 26, 2011, 10:32 AM
I have made more mistakes on handgun purchases than anything else. Personally, I'd just use a rental gun from FrontSight. My favorite pistols are Sigs but that is just due to the way it feels in my individual hands. Its virtually impossible to get a CCW where I live (something like 10 issued for 1 million people in the county). If I were to have a CCW, I would go with a Glock. Again that is based on lots and lots of shooting different things and lots of consideration to other things besides how they shoot. You will have a great time.

August 26, 2011, 10:40 AM
That three-inch SP101 you're considering is a good choice-- good shooter, not too hard to carry, and solidly made. If in .357, you can carry serious rounds for defense and practice with less-pricey .38. Might want to pick up some speed-loaders for the training sessions!

August 26, 2011, 01:06 PM
If you don't have a lot of experience with handguns, I think using a rental or loaner is a good route to go. If the instruction is good, what you learn will be directly applicable to whichever gun you finally purchase.

Finding the handgun that is optimal for you is a process that should not be rushed. I have a variety of loaners for my students to try during instruction. What fits your hand or your idea of what is right isn't always the same as what will work best for you. I have a cabinet or handguns and drawers of grips and holster that stand in testament to that fact.

August 26, 2011, 01:54 PM
I would take the class with whatever you intend to carry, and I agree that a carry gun is not something you rush into buying.

The XDm3.8 is going to carry about the same as the SP101 3" weight and size wise they are very similar.

Neither is a "pocket gun". You'll definitely need about 3-4 magazines or speed loaders for the class.

I have both the XD-40 4" and the SP101 2.25". I would hands down do the class with the XD.

I will tell you that, being your first gun, the DA revolver is much more difficult to master than the semi-auto.

[flame on] People talk about the simplicity and the reliability of the revolver being much better for new handgunners, but I can tell you from experience and from teaching NRA Basic pistol for the last 5 years, that isn't the case.

Most new shooters with a full size 9mm will put all their shots on the paper plate at 15 feet almost immediately, and get better very quickly. Shooting a 4" .357 loaded with .38 SPL -- and shooting double action -- they will have a hard time hitting the plate at all.

Correct trigger control on a DA revolver takes A LOT of dry firing practice. For someone serious about a DA revolver I would recommend dry firing at home 100 times every night for a week, using proper grip sight alignment and trigger control, then go to the range on Saturday and shoot a box... then repeat for several weeks until you "get it".

Loading and reloading drills on the revolver complicate the issue. As "simple" as the revolver is, most new shooters fumble with the controls, can't seem to understand or follow the seemingly "simple" process. Also while dry firing it's good to have a couple sets of speedloaders and dummy rounds to practice correct techniques of loading, dumping empties, and reloading, between every five shots.

Masaad Ayoob makes it look easy. It's NOT easy to do it as smoothly a quickly as he does it. It take A LOT of practice.

August 26, 2011, 02:45 PM
Training is a great start. As has been mentioned, putting together a carry setup that works for you will take time and experimentation.

Personally, my carry setup is very much in line with what most instructors would like their students to have when they show up for class: a semi-auto pistol, extra mags, strong belt and a good holster. I don't want to train one way, then have to fight for my life with a significantly different setup.

Trainees will be lined up next to each other, shooting at their targets at the same time. The instructor usually takes into consideration ammo capacity of trainee's guns. According to their website, they only require two reloads. So students with revolvers will run out of ammo on their body long before the students with 9mm larger capacity semi-autos.

But, there's more to it than bringing a gun.

Front Sight's equipment list:

I haven't been to Front Sight, but I noticed they mandate electronic hearing protection.

I wear tough soled boots, 5.11 pants with reinforced knee area and a billed cap (like a baseball cap). Their website "suggested" a hat, but you'll want to keep your brass and the brass from the person next to you from winding up behind your glasses or down your shirt. My cover garment is what I usually wear, an untucked Polo-type shirt (I live in a place where it's never cold). Or sometimes, I'll wear a something like an "UnderArmor" shirt tucked into my pants with my gun outside it and use a vest or a heavy untucked shirt at the cover garment. You'll want to practice like you'll carry in Wisconsin.

I also bring a range bag with cleaning equipment, extra mags, small parts, wooden dowel and small first aid kit. I bring bottled water and energy bars.

Congratulations to every law abiding citizen in Wisconsin!

P.S. If you still want to buy a gun before attending the class, here's my best suggestion:

- Go to a local range and rent semi-autos in calibers in 9mm, .40S&W and .45ACP. Note the one that feels the best in your hand and that you shoot well with.
- Buy a stiff belt.
- I want my gun concealed well and be accessible, so I use IWB holsters. Comp-TAC will ship you a Kydex CTAC or MTAC IWB holster that will arrive in a few days.
- Buy a two-mag carrier that fits mags for the pistol you decided to buy after the range rental.

I'm sure you will get other suggestions on a setup that is in a practical sense, nearly optimal.

August 26, 2011, 04:00 PM
Most new shooters with a full size 9mm will put all their shots on the paper plate at 15 feet almost immediately, and get better very quickly. Shooting a 4" .357 loaded with .38 SPL -- and shooting double action -- they will have a hard time hitting the plate at all.
That's pretty harsh, either that or the ability of some instructors to teach revolver technique in Indiana needs a hard look. We're only taking about hitting within an 8" circle at 5 yards.

Over the last two weekends I've taken out a Sig shooter and a Glock shooter and, following a little instruction on trigger stroke and grip technique, had them placing shots, in DA, on a plate after a couple of cylinders through the gun...this was with a 2.5" S&W M66. After getting them comfortable, we moved onto shooting at a 3"x5" card.

I often use a DA trigger to help students overcome their tendency to snatch at the trigger (flinch)

August 26, 2011, 04:03 PM
Thanks for all the suggestions!

I was able to get a hold of someone at Front Sight and they said that the smaller XD(m) or SP101 would be fine.

This won't be my first handgun, but I don't have as much experience with them compared to rifles and shotguns. I used to own a Walther P99 in .40, it was my first handgun and I bought it on a whim because I though it was cool. BIG mistake.

I don't have a place to rent handguns around here, but when I used to live in San Diego I had the opportunity to try a bunch of different guns.
I've shot the different sizes of 9mm glocks, plus the .45 full size, a couple of 1911s (springfield operator and kimber pro carry 2), the p99 I used to own in .40 cal and a Ruger mk 2.
For revolvers, I've shot a GP100, 6 inch in .357, their super redhawk in .44 and single six, and a S&W 686 snub.

I couldn't stand any of the Glocks, the grip was just really uncomfortable to me. I love the 1911 style grip, but can't afford a higher end one now. Revolvers have been my favorite to shoot and I haven't noticed any difference of my accuracy. With most handguns I can easily keep the rounds inside a man sized target at 5-10 yards shooting around 1 round per second or a little faster. Paper plates are a little challenging, but aren't too hard if I shoot slower.

I've been looking at different handguns for over a year now while I've been waiting for the money to become available, so any purchase I make in the next few weeks won't be rushed. I'm planning on going to a few places in the area to see who has the best price now and which gun feels the best to me.

As far as carrying, I think Wisconsin will be difficult with just one type of holster and will take some trial and error on what works when.
We have everything from 100+ and humid in the summers to -30 in the winter. Rain, sleet, and snow, sometimes in the same day.

August 27, 2011, 01:48 AM
Over the last two weekends I've taken out a Sig shooter and a Glock shooter and...

I'll stop you right there. Very very few of my students have ever fired a handgun or even a .22 rifle.

I often use a DA trigger to help students overcome their tendency to snatch at the trigger (flinch)

True, DA revolvers magnify the effect of trigger problems. But if you can master the trigger of a DA revolver, everything else is cake.

Regardless, after starting with .22s, most of them hit the center on the first shot with their first centerfire, whether auto or revolver (in single action). The second and third shots, not so much. We spend the rest of the time time helping them to apply the fundamentals of stance, grip, breath, sights, press, follow through with something that recoils and makes noise... and letting them try as many guns as they like.

After a couple hours of shooting (we divide into two groups, so one can rest and watch while the other is shooting) all of them are scoring solid hits with both revolvers (single action) and autos, but few progress to the point where they can keep their hits in DA on the paper plate. We dry fire, we do ball and dummy so they can see and feel what effect a flinch/jerk/slap has. Sometimes we go back to the .22 to get a better foundation of the mechanics.

Sorry for the threadjack...

CmpsdNoMore... Yes the 1911's can get expensive, There are a few Springfields on Gunbroker in the 4" for under $850. The XD has the same grip angle as the 1911 and that was one of the main selling features that I liked. I've shot the Glocks, M&P's, SR9's, they all work, The XD just fits better. The only reason I don't own a Ruger SR9 or SR40 is that the grip is a bit thin for me. If you like the feel of the 1911, check out the SR9/SR40 or the SR9c/SR40c. I've had the XD about 6 or 8 years now and the XD 3.8" is calling me.

My SP101 is with me for good. Just a little gunsmith work on the trigger and it's got about as good a trigger as I can ask for in a carry piece. (BTW, probably any new revolver these days that I intended for carry would have some 'smith work.) The SP101 or a S&W K-frame will carry about the same, and I would buy a .357 over a .38 J-frame just for the versatility. A 4" is too long for me to carry but 2"-3" doesn't make a difference to me. Also I would get steel over aluminum or a lightweight alloy, only because it's much nicer to shoot. In fact the SP101 with .357's feels to me that same as a S&W Airweight with .38SPL+P's. I'd also take a 3" or less Ruger Security Six, Speed Six, Service Six. My 4" Service Six is a bit long for CCW for me.

August 27, 2011, 02:28 AM
I often use a DA trigger to help students overcome their tendency to snatch at the trigger (flinch)
True, DA revolvers magnify the effect of trigger problems
I think you misunderstood what I posted.

I don't use the DA trigger stroke to magnify the effect of poor trigger management, I use it to cure the tendency to jerk through the SA trigger press. I don't let my students shoot DA revolvers in anything but DAO. When they are focusing on the longer DA trigger stroke, it removes the temptation to slap the trigger when the sights are perfectly aligned on target. I've had many new students who were much more accurate shooting DAO than SA

If a student can't place rounds inside a 8" circle (I have them shoot at a 3"x5" card) from 5 yards away, after a couple of hours instruction, they aren't following the correct technique or they are misunderstanding it. I just successfully taught a 12 year old girl to do that this last weekend...with a Kahr CW9 (DAO, polymer frame)...5 rounds inside of 3"

August 27, 2011, 02:31 AM
I was able to get a hold of someone at Front Sight and they said that the smaller XD(m) or SP101 would be fine.
Sounds like everything is going to work out.

Be aware that with the 5 round capacity of the SP-101, you'll likely need some extra speed loaders to keep up with the class

August 27, 2011, 07:35 AM
kludge, pretty much everything you mentioned is why I decided to look into the XD lines and, though I didn't mention it, I've just recently starting researching the Ruger SR line because of the slim grip.

I'm going to go and see how each feels in my hand sometime this weekend or next. As long as the SP101 feels good in my hands I think I'm going to get it. If the SP just doesn't feel good to present and dry fire and I like the XD, I'll rent an XD for the course.

I consider myself a practical person and I don't foresee myself in a defensive situation needing to unload 20+ rounds from an auto, where as having a .38/.357 revolver (or two? :D) matched with a carbine in the same caliber would be much more useful. I considered the same when thinking about building an AR-15. As cool as they are, I don't NEED a battle rifle or to put a hundred rounds down range in a few minutes. It just wouldn't suit me the best.
Maybe some day when I can afford it, I'll have every handgun mentioned in this thread, but for now being frugal is important.

August 27, 2011, 09:33 AM
I think you misunderstood what I posted.

I don't use the DA trigger stroke to magnify the effect of poor trigger management, I use it to cure the tendency to jerk through the SA trigger press.

No, I understood.

August 27, 2011, 04:57 PM
Front Sight can rent you an handgun there, and sell you the ammo. That is what I did when I went there a few years ago, and seemed a lot easier than trying to travel with the handgun and LOTS of ammo (your going to need like 800 rounds or so I do believe... maybe more)

After your first day you'll spend just about every spare moment loading mags. :evil:

August 27, 2011, 10:03 PM
My wife passed her ccw test using a S&W 686 a 4", at 15 and 25 she placed all on the target (8.5x11) with a 6" bull, both slow and rapid fire. While I don't disagree that a auto may be easier to master I do find fault in the remark that the revolver is a hard study. There are many shooters that "limp wrist" autos both male and females which causes a jam (smoke stack). We have 3 daughters all shooters and they have no problem with a 9mm 92 fs, the wife is unable to overcome this problem. I started her out with a S&W 617 (22lr) shooting DA, when her 686 arrived it was like a duck taking to water. In her class she was the only wheel gun shooter and unlike many others had no malfunctions. I shoot both and a 4" 357 Colt Trooper will sting with 158 g, compared to a 4" .44sp with a 200g or a .45 acp in 5" with 230g. Shoot the biggest cal you can carry, you will become conditioned to the recoil as you practice. I now carry a .45acp 3" and a .44sp 2" at times.

August 27, 2011, 11:18 PM
If you can't stand the Glocks, check out the 1911 Trojan on Dawson Precision's site. It is imported but the reviews are really good and the price is well within reason. The other suggestion I would make is to find a good used Browning Hi-Power. A little pricey these days but a great gun.

August 28, 2011, 12:19 AM
Thanks for the gun suggestions, but I already stated what guns I'm interested at this time and the order of interest.

August 28, 2011, 11:35 AM
My advice - Arrange for Front Sight to supply the gun for the class.

Brian Williams
August 29, 2011, 09:37 PM
If you take the SP-101, you will need a lot of speed loaders, I would suggest between 5 and 15.
Rent the gun.

August 30, 2011, 09:55 AM
I haven't read the thread yet.

Keep it simple. Buy a CZ P01 and tell them that if the Czech national police and NATO both aprove it, it is gun enough. :D

August 30, 2011, 10:06 AM
You can do the Front Sight course with a compact sized handgun or bigger.

They frown on subcompacts, but you can use it depending on what it is.

They won't let you use a pocketgun.
They use to have a "mousegun" course, specifically for pocketguns.

What you do need is a quality OWB or IWB holster and about 1000 rounds of ammo.

August 30, 2011, 11:56 AM
If you go with the revolver I hope you have very tough hands.
I've seen revolver shooters get blisters during similar courses.

September 3, 2011, 07:26 PM
I decided to go with the sp101. I'm going to be picking it up on Monday around 3:00 and hopefully will be at a friend's breaking it in not too long after!

I'm going to get a few different speed loaders (HKS, Safariland and speed strips) and depending on how things go with that I MAY just rent one of Front Sight's guns. I was able to get my hands on an XD at the store and they feel a lot better than Glocks to me. The rental price at front sight isn't too bad, considering ammo is included.

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