Part of evaluating a small gun has amounted to doing handling tests better suited to larger guns. Now we have a pair of tests that are meant more for small guns that service-grade heaters.
To start with, with have the Snub "Super" Test from Hardwired Tactical Shooting
. Taken from "The Test," an exam of autopistol competency from Ken Hackathorn, this version is a little different. The Test is 10 rounds in ten seconds at ten yards from a ready position (but not muzzle-on-target). It's fired on the NRA B-8 (25 yard Timed and Rapid Fire) bullseye target and the objective is to keep them all inside the "9" ring and better.
To test snub competency, HiTS came up with this test:
10 yards, from low ready (muzzle directed at the deck below the target frame): fire five rounds in 8 seconds.
5 yards, from low ready, five rounds in five seconds.
3 yards, from low ready, five rounds in three seconds fired dominant hand only.
The Snub Super Test also uses the B-8 target. Scoring the target as marked, 150 points are 'possible.' As I had the Ruger LCRx 357, I elected to shoot this course to see "where I was." I loaded with Hornady Critical Defense .38 Special 110 grain FTX +P. I only carry .38 Special ammo in this gun and another fly-weight Magnum that I've carried for years.
While I have fired .357 Magnums out of this hand-howitzer, the split times could be appropriately measured via sundial. The Critical Defense +P hits close to point of aim in this gun: in running this course of fire, having point of aim-point of impact figured out in advance is critical, just like it is on the street.
I scored the target and recorded the time for each string. Without having a benchmark in place, I'm not sure how I could improve. The course was fired cold – first exercise out of the gate on arriving at the range.
There's clear room for improvement on the Snub Super Test. As a diagnostic, record time and score for each stage before shooting the next one.
At ten yards, I scored 45/50 fired in 5.7 seconds. I had one "8" high left and one "8" just outside the 9-ring at 8 o'clock. From five yards, I shot a 47 in 3.6 seconds. At three yards, firing right-hand unsupported, I got in a hurry – 2.5 seconds – and had a disastrous low hit that just cut the "7" ring. The good news for me is that there were 2 – "Xs" and 2 "10s." I ended with 139/150.
This was followed by the bad news. I shot Hackathorn's Wizard Drill, a holster intensive situation that's problematic for guns that are difficult to get a grip on in a hurry. The LCRx is not terrible in that situation, but it was not quick enough. When shooting the Wiz with a Commander or a Glock 19, you can find it's doable.
The "cheat" this time was using the DeSantis Speed Scabbard
. I thought this open-top leather holster sat too high on the belt – until I tried it. It's actually at just the right place for me. Access to the gun was indeed quick – getting my hand properly around the Hogue Tamer was a bit slow. I was 'recovering' the grip when I got a two-hand hold on the gun – something that didn't happen at the close stage of the Wizard Drill.
What is the Wiz? It takes all of five rounds of ammo, needs a target with a scoring ring in the head box and a center zone on the 'upper chest" and is fired in four stages. The par time for all stages is 2.5 seconds – very appropriate in the combative environment. Using much more time than that results in taking more incoming rounds. Stage 1 is one hit to the brain housing group, one handed, from the holster from three yards. The next two stages – 5 yards and 7 yards – are the same drill except you can use two hands to deliver the hit from each distance. From ten yards, it's two hits in the main scoring zone, fired two handed, in 2.5 seconds.
The DeSantis Speed Scabbard (left) was used in the (failed) Wizard Drill. The Galco Hornet (right) was used crossdraw on a road trip.
For each head shot out of the "ring," deduct 1 point. For a hit outside the main scoring area – but still on the target -- deduct one point. You can lose up to two points and pass. Any shot over time – or any complete miss – is a BOLO.
I started out with a miss – failing the test. Finding that problem, I began working on correcting it. That's the proper way to use any of the qualifications or drills you see out there: when you foul something up, work on it. After correcting the issue, I didn't quit, but sought to continue, using the Wizard Drill as a learning tool.
I had no other misses, but went over time at ten yards – like I said, it's not easy.
To continue to develop with this gun, I need to work on cutting time to the first hit from the holster – reshooting the drill over and over won't help. Only by correcting the deficiency will allow success on the Wizard Drill – or anything else. The hits are relatively easy to make with the LCRx using the +P ammo. The need in this case is to be able to quickly gain that firing grip in the holster – shooting from guard or high ready was already worked out.
I use snub revolvers and small autos as utility guns: they meet certain different needs very well. I'd received a rig from Galco called the Hornet
. Like the Speed Scabbard used in the handling test, the Hornet is nicely made of natural materials, in this case steer hide. It's configured for butt-rearward appendix carry or as a crossdraw. That's how I used it on a short road trip.
Having the holster placed at about 10:30, the holster held the butt close to the body but quickly accessible. As it was with the DeSantis Speed Scabbard, getting the firing grip on the gun was not an issue for the holster – it's an issue relating to the shortness and roundness of the stock.
It's a training issue.
After many years of carrying strong side, I find that having a front crossdraw is still pretty handy when one spends some time behind the wheel. I don't forget it's there because it's still a novelty.
These are a pair of neat holsters and they'll help me get past the draw issue with the LCRx – which continues to work extremely well.
-- Rich Grassi