Make Ready Instructor Viewpoint: Gear That Survives Tough Training


Over the years of training police and civilians, I’ve learned a few things about gear that works over the long haul. Let’s explore some common elements and a few things you can do to ensure your gear doesn’t let you down.

Knowing precisely where and when to lube goes a long way toward ensuring reliability.

Service Reputation

With so many new companies coming and going, stay with those who have proven they are a consistent quality company that will back up their product.

I remember qualifying an officer on his off-duty S&W J-Frame. Halfway through, the officer raised his hand and said, “Something is wrong. The front sight is gone.” I walked over, ensured his revolver was clear and safe and asked to see it. Sure enough, the barrel was rotated around, and the frame was cracked. Thinking a good company will not have problems with a product produced every day is as bad as believing the world is a safe place. Knowing S&W backs their products, we called our representative and had a return label that day. I am not saying to ignore “new” gun manufacturers; just understand they may be here today but gone tomorrow.

Regular inspection is critical. Perhaps a crack was visible before
the complete failure of this gun.

You Get What You Pay For

The old saying “you get what you pay for” rings true. However, you do not have to buy a $5,000 gun to get quality. On the contrary, I have seen those guns fail on day one of a class, and the $500-$600 guns run all week with no issues. So, how do you know what to buy? Do your research on quality companies, go to a range or gun shop that will allow you to touch and handle the guns you are interested in, then rent and shoot all the ones you “like” to see what best fits you and your mission.

I do not list any brands here for the same reason that I do not say my Chevy truck is better than your Ford or Dodge. A brand is specific to each person and their intended use.

Don’t just maintain parts like magazines and springs; recognize they
may need to be replaced from time to time.

Maintenance and Rotation

Knowing how to clean, inspect, and lube your gun is key to its functional longevity. The same holds for gear. Cleaning and inspecting your holsters, magazines, and illumination tools will keep the screws from falling out, the leather from cracking and failing to hold shape, and flashlights with corroded or dead batteries.

One of the most common gear issues we see on the range is screws falling out of Kydex holsters. No thread locker was applied after proper tension was set. Repeated presentations and reholstering will loosen the screws and the user will have poor retention. In the worst case, the holster will rotate on the hip, and the gun will fall out. Small details like this are commonly overlooked.

Contrary to what some may think, leather wears out and does not hold its shape after years of use. There is a time to retire that favorite old holster and buy a new one. Buying used gear may seem like a great deal, but you might buy twice and spend more money after receiving someone else’s worn-out or broken gear! If you buy used, inspect and touch it before buying.

Magazines are another area new shooters think are everlasting. We need to consider magazines like tires on our vehicles — they have a limited life. The more we drive, the faster tires wear out, just as magazines wear faster the more you use them. Always buy quality magazines! I would suggest magazines from the same manufacturer as your weapon.

Remember, do your research on what fits your mission! Seeing what your local, state or federal law enforcement officers carry may help you decide. Most of the time, those guns have been thoroughly tested and have worked “over the long haul.” Budget for quality holsters, magazine carriers and cleaning kits for your weapons. Learn where and how to apply lubricant. If you look, the gun will tell you where it needs lube! Lastly, understand that all weapons, gear and ammo can and will fail at some point. Magazines, heavy wear parts and gear have a limited life!
Regular inspection is the most important way to ensure your gear works long-term.

Gunsite Academy is the world’s oldest and largest firearms training facility. Originally known as the American Pistol Institute, Gunsite Academy offers firearms training to elite military personnel, law enforcement officers and free citizens of the U.S. For more info:

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