Dec 29

Rifle vs Pistol training, what’s your ratio?

An old saying on the golf course goes like this: “drive for show, putt for dough.” Being able punch a golf ball 300 yards down the fairway while swinging a $500 carbon fiber driver with the head the size of a toaster on it does take skill (or luck), but the beer money is won or lost around the green while chipping and putting. Similarly being able to knock down steel while running a tricked out AR15 with expensive doo-dads attached to every piece of available picatinny rail is quite sexy, but if you can’t pull your pistol in 2 seconds and put a round into an 8 inch circle at 10 yards how skilled of a shooter are you really? I see it all the time while shooting at various ranges, people who spend lots of time putting lead downrange with their sexy combat rifles. Five minutes before their range time runs out they set a bulls-eye target (or paper plate) up at 10 yards, run 2 mags through their pistol and call it good.

I know what you are thinking, but Soldiers overseas in combat use their long gun as their primary weapon. We are not Soldiers conducting combat operations overseas. While the vast majority of us do enjoy shooting long guns I would wager a bet that many of us choose not to (in a purely civilian capacity) carry an AR15/AK47 while out in public. On the contrary many of us do have valid concealed carry permits and choose to legally carry a loaded pistol whenever possible. It seems to me, absent of a total SHTF scenario, there exists a much greater probability of a situation unfolding where a pistol might needed for self defense versus a long gun. Realizing this, why do so many people shun their pistol work in favor of constantly working tactical rifle employment techniques?

I am not trying to subvert the importance of training with all available weapons systems. I greatly enjoy using my rifles and training so that I can remain proficient with them. I am quite confident that if T-SHTF and I had to use any of my rifles for hunting or self defense I would be able to do so. However I also realize that because I carry a pistol in public there exists a much higher probability that I might have to use that pistol to defend myself or my family against a real threat, maybe even in a crowded environment where speed and accuracy could mean all the difference in the world. Recently in Oregon a shooter with an AR15 opened fire in a crowded mall during which a brave concealed carry holder is credited with stopping the situation from escalating. He ran towards the sound of the shots, pulled his Glock and pointed it at the shooter, who then retreated and committed suicide. If he did indeed have to fire in order to stop the shooter, would he have been able to at a distance greater than 5 feet and with innocent people running for their lives? Not quite like shooting a bulls-eye in a controlled environment or plinking cans off the top of a fence post.

Take a look at how much time you spend shooting and how much emphasis you put into training on your long guns versus EDC pistol. Try to quantify the time spent at the range, record as much data as you can in order to measure your progress.  Remember that unless things get really, really bad there is probably a much greater chance that you might have to employ your pistol in order to defend yourself versus your $3000 AR15.  I know for a fact that my pistol skills need work and so I choose to focus on that platform, my pistol to rifle ratio is probably 70/30.  Your experience may be different than mine, either way happy shooting!


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  1. Good point about handgun training. New the blogging myself but one of the first things I’ve written about is defending oneself, especially with a handgun. It’s very important.

      • PJ on January 4, 2013 at 9:45 PM
      • Reply


      Appreciate the comment, and yes handgun training is very important and often overlooked.


  2. Excellent article PJ, handgun skills deteriorate very fast, so constant training is needed. Rifles and even SMGs are a lot easier to shoot, as they provide you with a much stabler platform (4 points of contact, 2 hands, you shoulder, and your cheek, versus 2 hands only for the handgun), have lighter trigger if you look at it from trigger pull to weapon weight ratio, and their recoil is more manageable even if you use a less-than-optimal shooting grip and posture.

      • PJ on January 12, 2013 at 8:56 PM
      • Reply

      Great points about the platform differences, pistol work is very important. Thanks for the comment Georges.

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