Read it, here. And then get your comms up. While your at it, see if you can schedule yourself into his RTO classes.
A word of explanation for the light posts: I’ve been invited to be part of the crew over at American Partisan , so if you have a mind to, check it out. We’ve got a team of folks who, when combining what we know, cover just about all the bases survival, prepper, and liberty minded folks would like to see. I’ll continue to post here as well, but on a less frequent basis.
See this post for background on my M9.
So, after yet another range session and very good results with the M9, this time out to 50 meters, I was doing some reading to see if there were any internal parts upgrades available. Apparently, not having a M9 for several decades, and therefore not really paying attention to product improvements, I’m about the only person in the free world that didn’t know they were out there. <insert eye roll here>.
First thing I did was get a ‘D Hammer Spring’, which is basically about 4 links shorter than the standard. You can see the difference in the image below. The idea behind it is to lower the double action trigger pull from somewhere around 13 pounds or so down to 6 to 8 while still providing the force necessary for the hammer and firing pin to penetrate hard primers. It also lowers the single action trigger pull down to something near 4 to 5 pounds. Ok, I spent $11.
Man, does that make a difference!
Second upgrade: Wolff black steel op rod & 15 pound recoil spring (fits over the op rod if you’re not familiar with it) Factory is 13 pounds. The factory plastic (and fluted) op rod just did not provide the confidence I want for a SHTF pistol. When it comes to the recoil spring, personally, I like just a bit more power, especially when I’m shooting rounds like Federal’s HST +P. Cost: $8.50 for the spring and $24 for the op rod.
After that, I picked up a Wilson Combat Recoil Buffer. Another $10. This fits over the recoil spring and sits up near the face of the slide. It doesn’t change or interfere with operations; it simply acts as a pad between the violent rearward movement of the slide and the front of the slide when it hits the face of the locking block. These are worthwhile; I put them in every pistol I own. Makes the pistol keep operating as new for a long, long, long time. And I like that.
At this point I’ve got $53.50 invested.
Then I’m seeing this Wolff Trigger Conversion Unit also sold by Wilson Combat under the same name. I chose the Wolff version for two reasons: I’m very comfortable with Wolff’s quality and customer support (should it be necessary). The Wilson Combat version was $7 less expensive, but they’re out of stock, a LOT, and Wolff has a good supply.
Sooooo, I purchased the ‘Extra Power’ model. It’s simply a pound or so more than the standard, and it’s designed to eliminate trigger return spring breakage and ‘spring stacking.’ It’s Np3 coated, and is drop in both design and application. $25.
Now I’m up to just about $79. Last, but certainly not least, was getting some more aggressive grip panels. My hands are average, and I can handle the M9 very well, but I wanted just a tad more purchase on the pistol when holding it. So, I found a pair of ERGO hard rubber grips with medium abrasion (meaning you can hold it well when your hands are slippery) for $20 shipped.
$99 to put everything I want on the M9 to have it continue to look like a service grade and shoot like it’s almost match grade.
I’m toying with putting on the adjustable rear sight; back in the day in the Air Force, we were always provided adjustable sights until the M9, and then, after I retired, I assumed there would be that upfit. I don’t know, but the sight itself looks a lot like the old S&W M15 adjustable that I was weaned on. No decision yet; I’m not sure if I want to pay between $75 and $100 for this upgrade when the issue sights and my eyes still seem to work pretty good. 80% hits in vital areas at 50 meters ain’t too bad, so for now, this is on the shelf.
All the improvements above have countless YouTube videos available to demonstrate, from the home grown to official Beretta versions. I was able to do each operation without too much trouble (meaning it was me and not the pistol or the instruction) and get everything done in minutes.
If you’re a Beretta 92 or M9 owner, check the upgrades out; it might be worth your while. It certain was mine – this M9 SINGS on the range!!
To determine what might work for you when it comes to going to the range to practice the fundamentals with live fire, a presumption must be made that you’re doing dry fire a couple times a week for at least 10 minutes a session. Yes, boring, repetitious, and tedious, but you need to accept this as a minimum if you want to master your weapon of choice and become very, very good at applying the fundamentals you practice in live fire. And truly, that’s all renowned shooters are doing when you see them performing very fast and very accurately on the range:
They are simply applying the fundamentals in a quick, effective manner. Nothing more, nothing less. No secret techniques, just mastery of the fundamentals.
So, how much range time? I’ve found that for me to ensure personal proficiency, I’m expending at least 50 to 100 rounds of whatever I’m primarily carrying every 4 to 6 weeks. If it’s monthly, a box of 50 is fine, if it’s every 6 weeks, 2 boxes of 50. I might even go as often as every 3 weeks, but that’s because I’m stoked, but it’s not all the time, and no matter what, I do the dry fire as often as I can. It’s all based on balancing my schedule (personal and professional obligations) and checkbook (even bought by the 1K round case, ammo gets expensive!), and need for simple relaxation.
So, what’s the take away here? Simply this: Make the practice of handling/shooting your weapons part of your normal routine. The skills you pick up are perishable by nature, and if you aren’t careful, life has a way of overcoming your practice, and the next thing you know, you haven’t touched a pistol, rifle, or shotgun in months! Do not let that happen!
Minimally, if you dry fire routinely (twice a week, 10 minutes each session), you can get away with every 6 weeks. For self-evaluation, every other range session put yourself through a 50 round ‘qualification’ course. With a pistol, at 25 yards/meters; with a rifle, do an AQT or NRA High Power type course. Doing so will have you ‘qualifying’ every quarter, which is much, much better than 95% of all shooters will do. Your skill mastery will show it, too!
Discipline is key here, because if you’re like me, dry fire gets to be very monotonous. However, without it, those perishable skills you’ve picked up will deteriorate to one degree or another. I’d prefer disciplined monotony to suffering regret when or if I need to employ those skills. Just sayin’. One way I keep it interesting is only doing dry fire with one platform a session. One day I might be using my M-Forgery; another a pistol; another, a bolt gun. I also add different miniature targets any time I can.
One thing in my dry fire that is not negotiable is the application of safety practices:
- NEVER MIX ALCOHOL WITH DRY OR LIVE FIRE! It should go without saying that if you’re going to drink, do it after your practice or live fire shooting.
- ALWAYS remove any magazine before dry firing to ensure it’s empty.
- ALWAYS check the chamber to ensure there isn’t a round hiding in it (Remember, ALL weapons are ALWAYS loaded until you ensure they’re not!!)
- NEVER point your weapon at another human being you don’t intend to shoot, even in dry fire practice (tv/movie characters are different – it’s a projection).
- THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN ‘ACCIDENTAL’ DISCHARGE – IT ALWAYS COMES DOWN TO NEGLIGENCE!
See you on the range.
Old School becomes ‘New School’ after a fashion.
I carried & qualified with issue M9’s on active duty when our S&W M-15’s were replaced in the late 80’s (the Smith was a great revolver, but not up to tactical employment…just sayin’). We immediately liked the M9 it a lot – had a lot more rounds, more powerful than the .38 Special the USAF seemed to be enthralled with for so many years, was magazine fed, could be field stripped in about 3 seconds, and was accurate as the Smith (which was very accurate) give or take (the M9 has fixed sites; the Smith had adjustable) for qualification to 25 meters, and if you were serious, you could practice and hit to 50 meters on a human silhouette target to 50 meters. The decocking lever caused us a bit of anxiousness until we found out it worked, and the safety lever was easy to learn, though reversed from a 1911 (the 1911 safety is pushed down to go to ‘fire’ and the M9 is pushed up).
Liked it so much I had a Beretta 92C (Compact) POW (Personally Owned Weapon) from 85 until I sold it before I returned home in 92. I didn’t want to go through the paperwork to have it added to my orders, and then stuck in my ‘hold baggage.’ In hindsight, it was a bad decision, but I digress.
Years flew, and then I started looking at them again a couple of months ago. Mostly because the M9 is being phased out of the service, and I’m thinking ‘CHEAP MAGAZINES and PARTS.’
Found a safe queen with a purported use of less than 2 boxes of ammo on gunbroker almost new for about $200 less than retail, and it was a M9, not the 92FS. Basically, the civilian M9 is a military copy (because it’s not property of the US Government) though everything else down to the lanyard loop, (including the markings) are the same, and was sold around the 20th anniversary of the pistol’s service use. Came with 4 original mags to boot, so how could I lose? The only thing Beretta did that really isn’t good is the op rod is now plastic (steel replacement already on the way).
After inspection, the round count was probably right; not a bit of wear internally. It was like taking a new pistol out and looking it over. It is really sweet, too, except for that famous looooooooooong first trigger pull if shooting double action. But I can get used to that again.
So, the first thing is to break it down and clean it (and that’s where I was able to see the lack of wear internally). Especially if it’s a used gun, even though it was a safe queen. Then, after about an hour of refamiliarization with dry fire, mag change outs, and such, made sure it was lubricated to specs, and ready for the range. Everything is functional, so it’s off to the range this morning to wring it out with a couple hundred rounds.
That’ll be part 2 of this post. Until then, here’s what she looks like:
Now, don’t think for a second I’m giving up my Glocks or Kimbers; just adding this to the stable of proven ‘go to’ sidearms.
Get yourself some range time.
Ok, didn’t have a lot of time today, but in 45 minutes I was able to check the inherent accuracy of this pistol pretty well with both deliberate aimed fire as well as some 1 & 2 shot drills. I fired at 10 meters, indoor range, Winchester 124gr FMJ finishing up with some Federal 124gr HST. The first two pictures are to simply show the distance and the first 15 rounds. The pistol is worth having, especially if you’re just getting started and want a reliable pistol. The offset group to the left of center is not the weapon; it’s my poor vision. The last picture demonstrates why the M9 eats anything. The magazine puts the rounds almost perfectly in line with the chamber, so there’s no worry about ‘bullet bump’ that can cause failure to feed.
The indoor range – 10 meters, 50 ft small bore target augmented with a 3 inch Shootnc target.
From, ‘The Vulgar Curmudgeon,” here.
Check it out at, ‘Full 30‘ !
The video is really well-done, but here’s a chart as well.
Originally posted on 12 Dec 2014.
Today, NPT members learning or practicing land navigation have so much more going for them in the way of map accuracy than those of us who learned some years back (like in 1974 for some folks….). Back then you took what they issued you, and dealt with it. Declination off? Oh, well, deal with it. Contour lines deceptive? Too bad, deal with it. Symbols inaccurate? Ditto previous answers.
No, the snow wasn’t deeper, and we didn’t have to walk the entire route up hill. However, unless you really paid attention, you could find yourself disoriented very quickly, because of the quality of maps needed wasn’t always there.
Thankfully, today map quality is a quantum leap better than they used to be. Map studies done before taking to a route or a land nav course can save the navigator a lot of time because what he or she sees on the map will more likely reflect what is being traversed. Especially if one gets themselves one of the more expensive, up to date satellite maps with MGRS grid and contour lines superimposed on it. The declination is always the latest available, symbols match what you see on the ground, and the terrain features and contour lines are accurate.
Sure, it costs much more than the basic topographic maps on hand, which are fine for practice, but if you’re serious about your AO, you might consider saving your pennies for an up to date satellite map in 1:25,000 scale. You can also choose the size of map you wish, which equates to how much territory is covered. Again, you can get whatever you want to pay for.
My personal, ‘go to’ place for maps is, www.mytopo.com. I’m sure there are other places out there just as good, but I’ve been very satisfied with mytopo’s offerings, so I stick with them. So much so that when I teach land nav, the maps I get for the class are from there. I don’t recommend the satellite version for a beginning class, because the student will be plotting coordinates and azimuths on it, and that’s a lot of cash for practice. But, to each his own. You have the scratch? Go for it. Otherwise, for a beginner or even an intermediate skilled land navigator, the topographic maps with or without relief shading will do you fine. Just make sure you get the MGRS lines (option available).
An aside, if you’re watching videos from you tube, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you don’t need to attend a good course or join an orienteering club to learn land nav well. All the on-line courses or blog posts in the world can only do one thing: Familiarize you with the concepts, principles, and techniques. You need time under an experienced instructor to make sure you really gain the skill. I highly recommend reading/learning everything you can before attending a course. Doing so makes the class much more enjoyable for the participant, and learning kicks into high gear.
Originally posted on 25 March 2016
Original definition, here; our modification immediately below.
Fieldcraft is a set of tactical skills and methods each NPT member requires to operate stealthily, which may be applied in various ways in hours of darkness or inclement weather throughout the year.
For NPT members, fieldcraft skills include camouflage, land navigation, knowing and being able to apply the difference between concealment from view and cover from small arms’ fire when choosing fighting positions, using the terrain and its features to mask NPT movement, obstacle crossing, selecting good firing positions, patrol base positions, effective observation, detecting enemy-fire direction and range, survival, evasion, and escape techniques. Expertise in fieldcraft is only possible by spending the time, effort, and attention to detail in long hours of training and practice on a consistent basis.
That said the first skill in the fieldcraft family we’re going to address is Land Navigation. It’s a popular subject right now on various blogs, such as ‘Weapons Man’ (former SF soldier – you might consider making his site a daily stop), here, and for good reason: Your expertise as a navigator will have a direct and relational impact on your life expectancy in a SHTF/WROL situation. Further, learning to use a map and compass in and of itself will not suffice: you will need to learn how to travel by terrain association. This skill involves map study and interpretation, and the ability to use the features of the geography you’re in to provide your navigational guide. In essence, your map and compass will become your ‘go to’ reference when you need to verify your location. You’ll have to know the map and compass inside and out before you can effectively terrain associate. Understanding declination adjustments, grid, magnetic, and back azimuth conversions, plotting 8 digit grid coordinates, intersection, and resection in addition to understanding the symbolism used on a map to illustrate various terrain features that will impact your travel are all essential before learning terrain association.
Also understand that learning land navigation is not a daunting task that will take months or years to get the basics. You can learn general land navigation in a two day course (like those we and others offer) over a weekend. The rest of the time is on you – how much you may or may not devote to practice, especially if you’re just starting out on your path to learn this vital skill. Sure, you can go to YouTube and find hundreds of videos on ‘how to’ do land navigation. They’re really great ‘ice breakers’ and overviews. 3 of them are embedded below. The bad news is that, with very, very few exceptions, you’re not going to be able to learn the skill without the guidance of an instructor. So, get a cup of coffee, and watch the below 10 to 12 minute videos for a superb introduction to land navigation, even if you’re familiar with the subject, these are great refreshers and will most likely bring to mind things you may have forgotten over time.
Then, once you’ve done that, if you don’t own one, choose a good compass. If you choose the USGI Lensatic, great! Get the tritium model; you won’t be sorry. Or, if you don’t want to spend nearly $100, get either the Brunton TruArc 20, SUNNTO MC-2 or MC-3. All are superb land nav compasses and won’t break the bank. The Brunton is a bit less expensive than the SUUNTO, and comes with a few advantages you can read about here. In our classes, we teach all three. To be truthful, the USGI Lensatic is the most accurate (1 degree or less) best, but it requires the most expertise and practice to use effectively when attempting precision. The other two are geared more to orienteering, but fit the NPT navigating requirement very, very well. The advantages over the USGI Lensatic is the built in declination adjustment which makes them faster to use for map work because the user isn’t required to convert magnetic azimuths to grid and vice versa. All azimuths are measure on the map as magnetic (again, this is ONLY because of the built in declination adjustment capability – if you don’t adjust the declination to what is on the map, you MUST do the conversion!) We haven’t found any better when it comes to function and price points. Your mileage may vary.