Tactical Tailor

Gunfighter Moment – Frank Proctor

Gun Handling etc…

What’s up, shooters!

Today, I want to talk about safe gun handling and some of the valuable tools I have taken from competition, back to my world as a tactical shooter. Some of those main tools are aggressive vision, efficiency in movement and very safe gun handling under pressure. There is a video clip attached to this showing me running a stage in the shoot house at my range. This is a stage from my monthly 2 gun (carbine and pistol ) match. This is NOT CQB. But, some of the things it takes to do well at this game translate to tactical shooting. Aggressive vision and efficiency play a huge role but what I’m going emphasize in this article is safe gun handling under pressure.

In some other articles and videos, I have seen some push back about putting the rifle on safe during a reload with some folks even having an SOP of leaving the rifle on fire because “it might be too difficult to take the rifle off safe under stress”.

Well, I live by some simple gun handling rules and I find them very easy to do with just a little training. Rule number 1 is to keep the pointy end of the death machine (AKA the muzzle) in a safe direction at all times. Rule number 2 says that if your eyes are not connected to the gun then your trigger finger is connected to the frame of the gun with some positive pressure. For rifles, the gun is on safe with some positive pressure up on the selector lever using your thumb or finger, based on whether you’re a right or left-handed shooter. Those things are super easy to do and I have long said they will not cost you anytime in an engagement.

If you watch the video, you will see my firing hand moving every time I disconnect my eyes from the gun. I’m putting the gun back on safe. The movement you see is the firing hand grip loosening to allow the firing hand thumb to go forward and hook the selector lever and sweep it back to safe. Historically, I didn’t always do this in a competitive shooting environment.

Around 2008-2009, I shot some 3 gun and I did get into the habit of leaving the rifle on fire during a stage like all the other 3 gunners did and still do. It bugged me that I did that but was easily able to switch techniques come Monday morning when it was time to be a tactical shooter to train and teach CQB again. In 2012, I started my training company where I emphasized my 2 easy gun handling rules. I didn’t have time to compete, which hurt my soul a bit, but when I started again, I noticed that I was putting the rifle on safe every time my eyes disconnected from it and it wasn’t slowing me down! You can see that for yourself in the video. I had the fastest stage time against some pretty dang good 3 gun shooters and I was putting the gun on safe during every transition.

As mentioned earlier, this is NOT CQB and NOT TACTICAL shooting. It is a game or sport requiring fast processing, control over the gun, efficient mechanics, efficient movement and a strong mental game. ALL of those things translate to tactical shooting. This is also Competition Speed as opposed to CQB Speed. In my opinion based on my experiences, CQB Speed is 25% of Competition Speed so it’s much slower. If we can manipulate the selector switch at Competition Speed, we can certainly do it at CQB Speed.

In summary, I truly believe that it won’t cost you anything to put the rifle on safe every time you disconnect your eyes from it. It does take training to make it a habit but it is easy and fast to train it, if you train right. For many years, I kept the rifle on fire during bolt lock reloads. One day, I watched a video with Pat McNamara talking about putting the rifle on safe during reloads. I immediately saw the value in it and trained my hands to do it in about 30 minutes!

As always, I want to thank you for taking the time to read what I have to say about shooting. I hope that some of the things I have figured out, through experience and trial and error, will help you reach your shooting goals!

– Frank Proctor


Frank Proctor has served over 18 years in the military, the last 11 of those in US Army Special Forces. During his multiple combat tours in Afghanistan & Iraq he had the privilege to serve with and learn from many seasoned veteran Special Forces Operators so their combined years of knowledge and experience has helped him to become a better operator & instructor. While serving as an instructor at the Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Course he was drawn to competitive shooting. He has since earned the USPSA Grand Master ranking in the Limited Division and Master ranking in the IDPA Stock Service Pistol division. He learned a great deal from shooting in competition and this has helped him to become to become a better tactical shooter. Frank is one of the few individuals able to bring the experiences of U.S. Army Special Forces, Competitive Shooting, and Veteran Instructor to every class.

All this experience combines to make Frank Proctor a well-rounded shooter and instructor capable of helping you to achieve your goal of becoming a better shooter.

Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and each week they bring us a different trainer to offer some words of wisdom.

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17 Responses to “Gunfighter Moment – Frank Proctor”

  1. james wood says:

    If I have lead flying at me the safety is off. Seems like common sense to me

    • PNWTO says:

      I could type a lot to this statement, but my coffee is brewing so I’ll just urge you to let us all know why you are much more “gooder” than Proctor, McNamara, Pannone, Defoor and all the TTPs of their units, as well as long served TTPs of major LE and .mil commands.

      • JKifer says:

        yes I second the above…

        proper selection lever manipulation and trigger finger placement are paramount…

  2. Chuck says:

    Frank Proctor is the most natural and fluid shooter I have ever seen. His DVDs are very informative and helpful.

  3. Lasse says:

    I was hoping that people would just keep their shit on safe this year without anyone having to mention it or explain why it’s a good move.

    Maybe one day those people will find the hidden gem known as common sense.

    • Diddler says:

      From the first statement above, not everyone’s common sense is the same.

    • Mr.E.G. says:


      • Greg says:

        Lasse, you seem to be saying that as an end all be all rule with no exceptions. No one puts the gun on safe with ANY other weapon system. No one does this with handguns or any other rifle for that matter. So basically he’s creating a safety rule that for some reason is important on an m4, but not any other weapon. Also, you are gaining nothing by putting the gun on safe during a speed reload. Show me one other trainer besides him and McNamara that do this. There are many occasions the gun should be on safe, during a speed reload is not one of them.

        • Lasse says:

          Yes, I am saying that if your weapon has a mechanical safety. I don’t care if it’s an M4 or an MP5 or long gun or a pistol.
          Why use the safety on speed reloads? Because you got a rifle/pistol pointing forwards and upwards that you’ve just put a fresh mag in and it’s a loaded weapon- You’re not on target any more.

  4. Ross says:

    I greatly appreciate all the time and effort Frank puts into his Gunfighter Moments. He’s a total stud shooter and I hope to train with him someday!

  5. Benzin says:

    Frank is the best damn gun instructor I’ve ever seen. But I disagree with this one for a few reasons.
    -Frank, myself, and nearly everyone carries safetyless sidearms with no troubles.
    -It does indeed slow my reloads because switching on the safety physically prevents me from pressing the mag release or reaching for a new mag at the same time.
    -When reloading, the entire reason you’re disconnecting from the sights is because your gun cannot go off. No matter what you do, an empty gun will never fire.
    -When transitioning from target to target, the safety is only actually on for mere miliseconds. For most of the transition it’s being put on or taken off safe, but not actually there. I don’t see that as being more safe than having your finger off the trigger when you’re aiming downrange at another target.

    All other scenarios, yes, safety goes on. And before others chime in, yes Frank is more skilled and experienced than me. Attack the argument, not the man.

    • Terry Baldwin says:


      I don’t think anyone manufactures a “safetyless sidearm”. I know you mean that there is no safety that you have to manually manipulate on many of the modern pistols. But the fact is that you are therefore relying on the internal safeties on pistols like Glocks to work as designed instead.

      Since I like to carry a 1911 I do manipulate the safety as Frank describes during various transitions. Not for slide back reloading of course. If I am carrying a Glock or similar pistol I too have to rely on the internal safeties.

      But for every gun I have that has a safety that is engaged manually like ARs I use it – and recommend using it – between any transition or reload. As Frank mentions, if you practice doing it for awhile it will become your new “normal” and ultimately won’t have any negative impact on your reload times.

      Reference your 4th point, I’m pretty sure Frank wasn’t talking about engaging your safety between each shot on a series of already visible targets. That is not the “transition” I’m talking about and I don’t think he was either. FWIW


      • Terry Baldwin says:


        One last thing. Way too many people have had ADs, shot themselves or been shot by “empty guns”. Especially when the adrenaline starts pumping during a competition or two way range event.


    • HK says:

      Sidearms are secure in their holster; the AR trigger is always exposed. Glocks are intentionally drop safe, ARs are not. If you reload with safety off, there’s a moment after hitting the bolt catch where your eyes and sights are not on target but rifle is hot. This moment is drawn out if you’re behind cover and on the ground – imagine inserting a mag, letting the bolt fly, and then having to swing the muzzle around as you come up over or around cover. If you’re with a team, you owe it to them to keep the safety on. On reloads you flick safety and then press the mag release button. Reloads are slowed by 1/4 second, which is inconsequential in real combat, which as Proctor says is slower than competition.

  6. PTMcCain says:

    Common sense like Frank is espousing is not common enough.