Lets try this article again but without the April Fool’s absurdities….Ammo is scarce so keeping your skills sharp is a challenge. Here are some options that are popular for training (The LE crowd uses many of these) along with the Pros and Cons for each option.
Mouse Gun option
Lots of training weapons are available that feature controls identical to field weapons but take advantage of low-cost rimfire ammo like 22LR (current supply shortage not withstanding). A particularly sexy option is the 10/22 Troy Industries Chassis or a Smith & Wesson M&P-22. These are sold as plinking guns and and the high quality ones are sold as training tools.
There are also several ‘training’ mods/conversion kits for AR-15 and pistol platforms that use nearly standard mags. These also can be nice because they allow you to use same rifle and sighting system as your standard weapon system because it IS your standard rig.
Mouse Gun PROS:
- Live fire beats dry fire every single time
- With high-quality trainers or kits you can use your typical rig or realistic weapon controls to minimize training scars
- Accuracy is similar since the trajectory on 5.56 and 22LR is similar
- When you can find it, ammo is cheap and abundant
Mouse Gun CONS:
- Follow-up shots are unrealistic because the recoil of live fire can’t be simulated
- 22LR Ammo can be unreliable (especially when you go cheap like I do- I love buying 22LR at $.04 per round)
- Speaking of 22LR ammo, nowadays you can’t find ammo unless you pay $.015-$.040 /rd when $.03-$.06 was going rate 6 mos ago
- 22LR is a dirty round! Cleaning becomes a mandatory event after each session due to all the fouling caused by this round.
Verdict: Mouse guns can be very effective but should be supplemented with live fire on your primary weapon system- think of it as extra reps while conserving that AR fuel.
Air soft option
It sounds ridiculous at first mention- how could airsoft be a suitable option for live fire simulation? Actually, it is pretty feasible. In fact Tatsuya Sakai won the 2004 Steel training at home in Japan with an airsoft pistol. Pistols are illegal in Japan so this was the only option. Tatsuya came over to California about a month before the match, bought a real pistol and that was all it took to rocket to first place and become the new World Speed Shooting champ. A growing number of LE trainers are using airsoft for their sessions. Despite the new technology the police still won’t arrive in time to stop a violent crime…better take responsibility for your own self-defense.
The KWA PTR (pictured above) or PTS seems to be the weapon of choice for realistic airsoft trainers. I couldn’t find many other options that weren’t too much like toys for my liking.
- ammo is cheap, abundant and even reusable if you have a trap or sticky target
- training rigs offer same controls as real weapon systems
- a decent number of drills can be executed with an airsoft
- Need to either transfer existing sights from your weapon system or buy additional sights for consistency in training
- Weight not the same between airsoft & the real thing
- Mags can be different and different can lead to training scars
- These rifles are not exactly cheap:
- Even farther from live fire experience than 22LR options (no bang, no recoil)
Verdict: They are expensive and while the y do offer value you still need to mix in live fire to effectively train. If ammo remains scarce this could be a feasible option…it depends on how you feel about the cost of entry into a good airsoft rig.
Dry Fire/ Laser Training system option:
A firing pin/striker-activated laser that makes a sound and shines down the bore of your weapon system to illustrate the point of impact from the “shot” using a special target that registers your hit. From LaserLyte’s website :
“The interactive system works in two modes; reaction and training. The reaction mode features random LED signals in intervals of three to seven seconds that can be shot with any of the LaserLyte® Trainers. When a hit is made the target celebrates with two beeps and a LED flash. The training mode allows the user to practice trigger control and accuracy with an always-on and ready-to-be-shot mode. When a hit is made, the target sounds two beeps and the LED flash…The LaserLyte® Reaction Tyme Target allow for new and experienced shooters to gain increased levels of confidence and skills in the comfort of their own home while saving money on ammunition.”
Laser Trainer PROs:
- it’s cheap to feed- batteries are likely to remain abundant and unregulated for the foreseeable future
- You can see the point of impact
- Target offers several modes, can use multiple targets – versatility is good
Laser Trainer CONS:
- For semi-auto weapons you have to rack charging handle to reset trigger EVERY SINGLE TIME- this could quickly become a training scar
- Buy-in is around $300-$350 for the equipment
- Another step away from live fire: no bang, no projectile/reloading exercise, no recoil
Laser Trainer Verdict: I am convinced that the training scar problem is a serious deal-breaker. How do I know? I racked my slide after a live shot at the range a few weeks ago and watched a live round fly out. The reason why is because I had been practicing 50+ dry fires per day for the previous 10 days. Training scars are real boys & girls…avoid them.