Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Rifle versus Pistol



I love stalking gun owners on Facebook and Instagram.  While I'm sure that sounds plenty creepy, I love to see pics of people out enjoying the right to keep and bear arms, and I love that people are taking time out to do some serious practice.  More and more, though, I notice that a lot of pictures are full tactical gear with a carbine.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing (carbines are an important part of your tool kit, as is your tactical gear if you choose to own it), but I sometimes wonder if the emphasis in recent years on the "combat carbine" has skewed our collective perception of practical training/practice needs.

The vast majority of my practice time is devoted to the pistol.  There are two main reasons behind this: 1) pistol skills are harder to maintain than rifle, and 2) probably greater than 75% of the time I may need a firearm, I'll have a pistol on me, not a rifle.  I base reason (1) on my own personal observations as well as discussions with professional trainers (both the NRA kind and the funny green beanie kind).  I went almost a year and a half with no rifle practice other than zeroing two carbines.  After only two days of dedicated practice, I had my rifle up to about 80% of where it had been at the MSRT, and I think I could have gotten it back up the rest of the way with another day or two.  I contrast that with my pistol skills, which noticeably degrade after about a month off the gun.  Also, if you've ever been through specialized firearm training that involves both pistol and rifle, they usually start with pistol and once you have a good foundation, they move you on to rifle.  The pistol is simply less forgiving and harder to run effectively (for most people) than a rifle.  Reason (2) should be fairly obvious for most people in the continental US.  Very few locales allow you to carry your carbine when you go out for lunch.  More and more allow you to carry a pistol though.  Unless I am somewhere that prohibits concealed carry, I have a pistol on me.  The only time I pick up a carbine is to go to the range.  It therefore stands to reason that we should devote the majority of our training time to the firearm that we will be the most likely to use.

Now, most of my concern regarding the focus on carbines is anecdotal, I'll admit.  My Instagram stalking is hardly scientific.  It could be that full kit and carbine just makes for a sexier pic (which it does, I'll agree).  And I'm certainly not going to argue with people that choose a carbine for home defense and want to stay proficient, or people who just want to blow off some steam and have a good time with friends at the range.  I just wanted to throw it out there: in my opinion, it is far more important to train with the firearm you are most likely to use (including immediate action, reloads, and flashlight work) than it is to spend a lot of time training for a zombie full kit and carbine apocalypse that is far less likely.

My $.02, feel free to disregard.


X Echo 1 is a 10 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team.  He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer.  He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US.