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Selecting Your Training Pistol

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Our coase loaded with the BUL Armory SAS II TAC and SAS II UL, Canik METE SF and METE SFT
Our case loaded with the BUL Armory SAS II TAC and SAS II UL, Canik METE SF and METE SFT

As Teya and I packed up for the 2023 Guardian Conference we had the luxury and burden of selecting which pistols we'd be training with. Over the years, with training at ITTS, Front Sight (now Prarie Fire), CENTER-T, Thunder Ranch, VerTac, and Sentinel Concepts we've tried a few approaches that might help you select what you train with depending on your personal training goals.

I understand that not everyone has the option to select one pistol over another for training, I've been there too. That's ok, and has some advantages, but in my thought processes below you may find benefits to picking up a second pistol of similar design. Here are some potential paths and outcomes.

  • Focus on Your Carry Gun: The ultimate in training effectiveness. Taking your carry gun to a training course is a great way to learn the gun and find its strengths and weaknesses. Do it with your carry holster and you'll get good with your draw too. I've done this at Front Sight and believe it significantly improved my competency not only with my carry pistol, but also with my ability to adapt as I had many a draws and shots that were not perfect. The downfall for this is that chances are your carry gun was chosen for it's size and weight. As a result smaller carry guns tend to be harder to control and have lower capacity. Reload training is great, but loading magazines over and over can get old. Higher-capacity magazines can offer more grip and fewer reloads, but also defeat some of the value of training with your carry gun if it means changing the grip size. Fatigue from a single range session is one thing, fatigue from multiple full days of training is completely different.

The the challenges of a below-freezing course at Thunder Ranch we took pistols we knew.
The the challenges of a below-freezing course at Thunder Ranch we took pistols we knew that were comfortable to shoot.
  • Focus on Learning the Course: If you feel competent with your carry gun and would like to push your performance and focus on what's being taught at the course, then bring either a pistol you know well, or something larger than your carry gun. Longer slides mean softer recoil (in general), and a longer grip means better handling and higher capcity. This option should keep pistol frustrations out of your mind and let you focus on what is being taught and learning techniques.

  • Focus on Learning a Gun/Platform: If you'd like to learn a new pistol or style of pistol and are confident in your general shooting skills, take something new to the course. This can be the most difficult if it happens to also be a new course. For example I took the same Front Sight 4-day Handgun course several times and each time brought a different gun (Glock 19, Glock 34, Springfield XDm, Walther P99AS, Grand Power K100). If you're already familiar with the course, running a new or different gun will really show you how you perform differently with that gun, or how that gun's unique characteristics make a certain drill easier or tougher.

Sometimes the course dictates the platform. Teya's tactical/competition training with VerTac made teh Canik METE SFT a good choice.
Sometimes the course dictates the platform. Teya's tactical/competition training with VerTac made teh Canik METE SFT a good choice.

The Size Factor: This time both Teya and I are taking larger-format versions of our carry guns. The advantage with this is it's sort of a combination of all three angles mentioned above. As mentioned, larger guns generally shoot softer and offer superior handling as well as increased magazine capacity; enabling you to stress less over the pistol and focus more on the course material. If you construct the right pairing, a larger variant will let you learn the platform and the course so you can work on skills at home with your smaller gun in shorter sessions. This is especially relevant with today's "micro compacts" that are fine for shorter shooting sessions, but not necessarily much fun for a full day or three of shooting.

The BUL Armory SAS II TAC 4.25 and SAS II UL 3.25
The BUL Armory SAS II TAC 4.25 and SAS II UL 3.25

Graham's Picks: BUL Armory SAS II Tac as primary and BUL Armory SAS II UL as a backup. This time I'm bringing something different, looking to learn both from the course and the firearm. I've been carrying the SAS II UL as a summer gun and the SAS II TAC offers a little more capacity and a slightly softer-shooting experience. I have attended a course before with a 1911 (ITTS Intermediate Handgun with a GI 1911), but that was literally decades ago and with a gun that handled completely differently.


The Canik METE SF and METE SFT.
The Canik METE SF and METE SFT.

Teya's Picks: Canik METE SF (with Shield RMSC) as primary and Canik METE SFT as a backup. These are laarger versions of her carry MC9 and will offer a more comfortable shooting experience as well as higher capacity. Teya has used Caniks at CENTER-T (TP9 Elite Combat), Thunder Ranch (METE SFX), and VerTac (METE SFT). The move to the compact METE SF is as compact as the line gets without going micro.


What Have You Run? I'm curious to hear form you how you've selected your training pistol and if you've considered the approchaes mentioned here. If you haven't been to training yet I hope this helps you make a wise decision to help you get the most out of your training. It's not an inexpensive endeavor, but neither is defensive use of a firearm.

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9 Comments


Scott Heath
Scott Heath
Nov 12, 2023

I've taken 3 one day courses in my area. The first with a Ruger Security 9 compact, then an M&P compact 4" and finally a CZ P01.All 3 were absolutely serviceable but the CZ (as they all are) was a cut above.

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Donny Muraco
Donny Muraco
Nov 11, 2023

BUL-armory products are Bul-crap. My uncle worked in their Miami office. The owner is a child molester. His name is Gal Gadan. He told employees that he might have to travel to Israel if the case doesn't get dismissed. The case got dismissed from the help of high power lawyers. But it doesn't erase his pedophile tendencies. Please DO NOT SUPPORT this foreign company. Buy American. And make sure it's truly American because several gun makers have corporate offices in the US. I noticed that true American arms and parts are better quality and service is better. My uncle worked for BUL in Miami and he even said he would never own their products because they are defective.

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Graham Baates
Graham Baates
Nov 12, 2023
Replying to

You spam has been fact-checked and found false. Take your garbage somewhere else or be banned.

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Peter Argyropoulos
Peter Argyropoulos
Sep 16, 2023

Sorry if I'm causing any confusion. When i use my phone it looks me in via Google, my desktop uses the forum password and it looks like two different users are posting. They're both me.

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Al Gonzo
Al Gonzo
Sep 13, 2023

I'm a dude with small to medium hands, so hearing you and Teya talk about the range day experience is valuable information to me as a consumer. I really like Canik (got 3), but I gravitate to other brands like S&W, because of their reputation--how long a company has existed as a firearms brand. I've wondered if I'm shooting myself in the foot for not showing greater fidelity to the young Turk--(Hip-Hop reference 😉)


I've been thinking about acquiring a Mete SF...something that is optics ready for EDC, so this article is also relevant for that reason and more--I'm gonna do a Bul Armory something in the future.


Shout out to your "What's for dinner" tests for helping me appreciat…


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Graham Baates
Graham Baates
Sep 13, 2023
Replying to

Thank you, that 9mm 115gr ammo test was a LOT of work. A point to trying younger brands is that they have something to prove and so tend to try harder than a company that can sit on name recognition alone.

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Peter Argyropoulos
Peter Argyropoulos
Sep 13, 2023

I only had my Masada when i took a course. I'd like to get a Masada Slim at some point and if i were to do a similar course I'd holster the Masada OWB and the Slim appendix for practice from both draw styles.

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Replying to

The class I took was a two-day Pistol I course run by IWI across the river from their Middletown PA headquarters with Tom Alibrando. I live about 30-40 minutes away from there, so it was super convenient. I was able to try the Slim at the course and overall it's a very comfortable pistol to shoot, even for my XXL hands. I don't know how they did that, to be honest. There was at least one participant who came with a Slim in addition to his second pistol but he didn't make the impression on me that he was super comfortable with either of the guns he had. I can't say how different the trigger is from my Masada, since…

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