Tactical Tailor

Posts Tagged ‘Canipe’

Canipe Correspondence – Buying Gear versus Buying Skills

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

Last night at a Halloween party with my kid, I ran into a good buddy who had just returned from a carbine training course with his brother. He has had a career in Special Operations that is measured in decades, and has seen more than his fair share of gunfire, on the range and in the field. We got on the subject of a couple of fellow participants who fit what I like to call the “tactical tuxedo” mold. The Tac Tux is not an endearing term, and came from my old job where the guy that spent more time on gear than skills usually couldn’t exploit it to it’s full advantage. All show, no go. Anyways, the topic at hand ran around a couple of fellows who showed up in full ninja kit, the best of everything as professed by internet forums. They had seen all the most ninja youtube videos, had all the BTDT stickers, and bought the finest hardware money could buy. Everything possible to make a gun cycle faster, make a trigger lighter and shorter, to negate the negligible recoil as much as possible. They only forgot one thing: the skills required to use it and the effort to gain them. This is not at all uncommon, unfortunately. While they were at a class, getting good training, it always strikes me as odd that they put the tens of thousands of dollars into equipment before seeking their first instruction on it’s usage. What if it sucked?

There is nothing at all wrong with buying nice gear, don’t mistake what I’m going for. I don’t use cheap shit. I don’t go without to prove I’m hard, or that I don’t need all the help I can get. Not taking advantage of something that allows you to perform better isn’t a badge of honor, it’s cheating yourself. The problem comes when folks buy into a mindset that this equipment will solve a deficiency in skill or knowledge. Frankly, getting trained before getting outfitted is the only way to make this happen. I had a guy in class last week shooting a bone stock Glock 19. Good choice. I asked him why he didn’t put some decent sights on it and ditch the plastic ones. He said he was going to, but he wanted to take some classes first, look at some different stuff, evaluate his needs, and then buy some. As opposed to wasting money on the latest fad and find it wanting or not applicable to his needs. Eureka! That young man was on to something.

The shame of it is, the ability to improve is free. Dry fire, weapons manipulations, exercise, etc. Buying $500 in 9mm ammo is likely to pay a much better dividend than buying another gun “that’s easier for you to shoot.” Being able to grip and drive a gun better is cheaper than a new upper that shoots softer. The equipment costs money. Once you have serviceable gear, learn proper fundamentals and employment to get better instead of spending another $150 on the newest compensator, $400 on the newest plate carrier you don’t wear outside of class, or $100 on that new scope that will only let you see how much you’re actually jerking that $250 trigger job. While it might embarrass you to be the hobo at the range, it can’t be as bad as being the guy who shows up looking like a storm trooper and failing to make hits at 7 yards. With almost boring regularity, the guy who dresses like he stepped out of Call of Duty is the guy who performs like all he does is play video games.

Run what you got, guys. Make your gear chase your skills, not the other way around. Don’t rebuild your gun today, build your trigger control. Don’t buy running shoes to help you run faster, go run to run faster. Perfect practice makes for perfect execution. That saying has been around forever for a reason.

Canipe Correspondence – Seller’s Market

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Seller’s Market
The internet has been abuzz about the potential for new legislation which could violate our Second Amendment rights. After the second debate between Presidential candidates, the current Commander-In-Chief answered this question: “What has your administration done or planned to do to limit the availability of assault weapons?” Obama said this:

“My belief is that, (A), we have to enforce the laws we’ve already got, make sure that we’re keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, those who are mentally ill. We’ve done a much better job in terms of background checks, but we’ve got more to do when it comes to enforcement…But I also share your belief that weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theaters don’t belong on our streets. And so what I’m trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced. But part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence. Because frankly, in my home town of Chicago, there’s an awful lot of violence and they’re not using AK-47s. They’re using cheap hand guns.”

Yes, we need to keep criminals from getting guns. But let’s look at places where you can’t carry a weapon readily as a law-abiding citizen. The UK, Australia, DC, Maryland, California for the most part, and the President’s home state of Illinois (the only state in the country with NO provision for Concealed Carry whatsoever) are good examples, but not all inclusive by any means. Then ponder this: “Because frankly, in my home town of Chicago, there’s an awful lot of violence and they’re not using AK-47s. They’re using cheap hand guns.” How is that gun control working out, Mr. President? Outlaw forks to combat obesity in America, outlaw cars to stop drunk driving, and then we’ll talk. Hardware solutions rarely solve software problems.

As a byproduct of these comments, and a frankly disappointing answer by Governor Romney as well, we’re in the midst of another panic buy. I expected a little of a rush, but as the last one in 2008 was mostly unfounded I hoped the administration would skirt it again, and as an unintended byproduct lessen a gun-buying panic. They didn’t. I’m taking your guns, said the President. Folks, the Second Amendment isn’t so we can hunt, or shoot paper. It’s so we can defend ourselves from tyranny. As a result of these comments, gun enthusiasts are stocking up in anticipation of legislation attempting to take our rights away. I didn’t pay too much attention to it last time, and got smoking deals once supply exceeded demand again a few months later. Frankly, I’m more worried about it myself this time as Obama has nothing to lose if he’s re-elected. It’s not like continuing to screw America is going to cost him a third term…

The night of the debate, we were in the middle of a 3-day Carbine 1 class in Lynchburg, VA. After we wrapped up a night shoot, I caught the buzz on the net about Obama winning meaning losing our guns. Our host happens to own a local gun shop as well as the range, and the next morning his dealer prices on everything had jumped from his distributors. Ammo, guns, you name it. Stripped lowers went from $99 to $160 in some places I found on the Google machine here. Big props to some people (Legion Firearms comes to mind) for saying they won’t jack up prices to take advantage of the potential sacking of the Constitution. It would be nice if some others would follow suit. I don’t begrudge someone for making a buck, but preying on the fears people have against their own government is pretty low. If the last one was any indication, prices on guns and ammo are going to skyrocket again for a few months. If all goes well, hopefully it will go back down. If not, and we face a permanent ban on assault weapons, it’s likely they’ll skyrocket up and in a few decades buying a nice Colt 6920 will be similar to transferrable NFA territory. That’s not something I want to chance, so if you need me, I’ll be ordering more stripped lowers and hi-cap mags. Don’t forget to vote, and join the NRA. Without their support of the Second Amendment, we would already have been left with only 90% of our Bill of Rights.


Canipe Correspondence – Girls and Guns

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

Between the booth girls, calendars, advertisements, and the average chick in an action movie, a lot of us guys have an image that pops into our heads when we hear “girls” and “guns” in the same context. Guilty as charged. When I go into my “man cave” it’s a gun room, totally devoid of anything feminine other than a 9mm 1911. Because of my background in male-only military units and a male-dominated industry, I think of the Hot Shots calendar or Kate Beckinsale in Underworld. Gun culture is a predominately male endeavor. Guys, that’s something we need to strive to change. I’m sure a lucky few have a wife or girlfriend who wants to go blaze away. For the rest of us, here’s a few good reasons to get your better half out behind a gun:

1. PROTECTION: I’m pretty comfortable with a gun. I’m pretty comfortable with the idea of taking someone’s life in legitimate self defense. I generally feel pretty good about my abilities to defend those I care about as well. However, I can’t always be around, and I bet a lot of the SSD readers can’t either. I’m gone 50% or more of the time personally. A couple of nights ago, my girlfriend had a shady looking/sounding person start beating on the door. At 3:45AM. In the country, in a really sweet house in the middle of a very large nursery. Most of us knuckle draggers would be thanking God that our prayers were answered while we try to decide what blaster to grab. My much better half was not as amused. Home alone with two kids and two dogs who were absolutely going bonkers, she was freaked out. Luckily, she did the right thing and consolidated the family in the back bedroom, got out the Glock 19 and Surefire light I gave her, called 911, and waited for someone to come through the door. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. 60 minutes later when the Deputy arrived to a call of someone beating down a door and screaming to let them in (3 miles from the station…ponder that for a minute), he said they found a dazed person walking down the road claiming their car had broken down. Think about that response time. An HOUR to get to a call of someone breaking into a house while acting deranged. Had they busted through a window with the intent to harm, the cavalry was a long time out. Whether it’s your wife, girlfriend, daughter, mother, neighbor, friend, cousin…if you have the ability to help them defend themselves in the world we live in today, why wouldn’t you?

2. WOMEN VOTE: There’s no doubt that we’re in a politically tumultuous time in America. I personally feel that if the current administration gets re-elected, gun rights will be on the agenda for them as they continue their assault on the Constitution. Women have voted more than men by 3-5% in every election since 1980 according to Rutger’s University’s Center for American Women and Politics. When I vote this year, make no mistake of what I am voting for. I am not voting for a political party. I am not voting for Romney as a person. I am not voting for taxes, entitlements, big corporations, small business, war, peace or anything else. I’ve got my own uber-conservative views on all that stuff. But when I cast the ballot, I am voting for my guns, and my right to buy, own, and sell them. My 2nd Amendment RIGHT to keep them. I believe gun control only punished law-abiding citizens, and I exercise my right to vote to keep that removal of my ability to defend myself and my family at bay. We need all the help we can get with that, and while I don’t have any statistics I’d bet males make up the majority of the staunch 2A advocates. As we try and use the system to protect our way of life against the liberal/socialist agenda every vote counts.

3. QUALITY TIME: We all make concessions in a relationship. I spent a lot of time in malls, shops, wine tastings, cocktail parties and other absolutely miserable crap like that in the past to try and make girls happy. I spent most of that time wishing I was at the range. I spent tens of thousands of dollars on purses, shoes, jackets, little dresses, and jewelry. I swiped the debit card for all of that stuff thinking about how I’d rather give Shooter’s Supply that money. It would have been pretty cool to have been able to do something with the significant other that actually involved anything I cared about. Just imagine for a moment your wife or girlfriend wanting to go shoot instead of whatever else. Imagine not having to hide the new guns you bring home, but having that new Glock or AR welcomed into the household. Pretty cool, huh?

There are a lot of reasons for gun guys to encourage their girls to become gun girls. These three stuck out for me, but no matter your reasons I think getting more women involved in shooting sports and defensive training is a great idea. Northern Red and Stoic Ventures offer female-specific shooting courses that come highly recommended, in addition to your local Concealed Carry class that everyone needs to take. Also, there is an increasing number of women’s shooting organizations popping up around the country, check and see if there is one local to you. Just don’t be mad when your guns start disappearing into her safe.


Canipe Correspondence – The Fitness Debate

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

I didn’t have a good title for this. I still don’t, and the one above this line kind of sucks. Sorry folks. I say this because I am not sure how there could ever be a debate. I regularly talk with guys who are weak, overweight, lazy, or make lifestyle choices that limit their lifestyle and performance. These guys don’t work at Best Buy, they’re not executives in an office, they’re Military and Law Enforcement “professionals.” I always get the same line at some point in the conversation, “I see a bunch of skinny guys that can’t do their job” or “You’re telling me you’d rather have an unmotivated stud that a motivated fat guy?” Well, I don’t know about that. Yeah, some fit guys suck at work. That dude can probably summon up some effort on demand if he had to. You can’t summon up a 6-month fitness program on demand though. Plus, I have to assume if a guy has a job protecting the public, his buddies on his flanks, our Nation and it’s way of life he should take that seriously. I’m not really sure what a motivated fat guy is, unless he’s injured. An otherwise capable guy with those responsibilities wouldn’t let him self be a poor physical performer if he had all that heart and motivation he speaks of. That logic bomb is pretty much a JDAM on the argument in most cases.


Why is physical performance important? Well, we (Military and LE) work jobs that at their fundamental level are physical. When the dispatch calls up that shots have been fired, or some dirtbag starts lobbing indirect fire on your platoon, it’s time to do your job. All the mandatory Equal Opportunity training or additional details you picked up probably won’t be at the forefront of your mind at that point. All those things used as excuses to not work out, or train combatives, or eat a decent meal that didn’t come in a bag, won’t seem that important. You’ll remember that you are a cop, or an infantryman, or whatever got you on the middle of this shit show. You’ll begin to move, and do what you know what you need to do. For the first few steps everyone will most likely feel like a world-class sprinter. And then, something magical will happen. All that hard work you put in at the gym, on the trail, on the bike, will allow you to stick to the plan and perform your job to the maximum of your potential. Or conversely, all those skipped training days, missed opportunities, and upsized value meals will come up and assist you in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Which one are you?

I know guys with legitimate reasons (not excuses) to be out of shape. Guys get injured, it’s common in these fields of endeavor. In my day job all of the 5 guys I work closest with have had on the job injuries while they were still in the military that took over 6 months to recover from. That was just to get functional again, and most aren’t 100% and may never be. Broken backs, shattered knees, gunshots, dislocated hips, all kinds of gnarly stuff. I know guys that get stuck in truly austere locations that don’t have access to equipment or proper nutrition, or work a schedule where they literally don’t have time to work out often. Guys attend schools or training programs that literally run 20-24 hours a day for 8-12 weeks. This stuff is legitimate, it takes away the opportunity to stay fit, and it’s not a reflection of an individual decision to let yourself go.


There are limitations during everyday life that can make this a difficult task. There aren’t a lot of 9-5 jobs in the military or law enforcement. It’s a tough sell to work 12-16 hour days in the rear or on shift and then take 2 more away from the family to go run or go to the gym. It helps me out to just plan on that being a part of my work day, to mentally accept that I don’t exercise before or after work, I work out as a part of work. I don’t go to the gym after work, because work isn’t over until my workout is complete. There are also a number of good programs that aren’t as time consuming. I’m not a huge Crossfit fan because I think Olympic lifts for time are a recipe for disaster, and that their benefit is in proper execution rather than rapid execution. That said, the concept of group workouts, competing against yourself and others, and a culture of striving to gain higher levels of performance is pretty motivational and it warms my heart to see all the formerly fat people outside my local Crossfit gyms. Most of these workouts from Crossfit, Gym Jones, or similar programs aren’t that time consuming and there is usually a facility and good coaches to support them in every town. It’s fun, like going to the bar with your friends, only instead of Miller Lite you get kettlebells and pull-ups. My buddy Pat McNamara at TMACS, Inc. offers a great functional fitness class in addition to his firearms and tactics classes. For a military or LE guy wondering what direction to go to improve, that’s a great place to start or refine you current routine. He’s a beast, and is proof that after destroying your body for over two decades, getting older, and getting opened up by ortho surgeons a bunch of times that you can still crush 20 year-olds in the gym daily if you understand the importance of physical performance and apply yourself accordingly.


Try eating right also. I live on the road now, and that’s the hardest thing of all for me. Sometimes, it’s just easier to eat a cheeseburger and go to bed and I fall victim to that more than I’d like. All calories are not created equally. Get yours from the foods your body needs for function, not what it needs to get rid of to function. Fortunately, most restaurants are good about offering healthier choices now. If they don’t advertise them, just ask and they can usually help you out. If they can’t, go somewhere else. Check out the Paleo diet, or the Eat This, Not That books for some easy ways to improve your diet. You’re giving up performance in your diet that no amount of exercise can replace. Take some time to do the research and eat healthy. You’re buying food anyways, you might as well buy good food.

I know starting a plan to workout and sticking to it is pretty demoralizing initially. Get over that initial discomfort and check the ego of not being the baddest dude in the gym. The improvement happens so rapidly that after a couple of weeks you’ll be recovered by the next day and ready to shoot for that next goal, max rep, 5K time, or target body weight. Utilize a coach or partner as your honest broker, sanity check, and motivator. Most importantly, get out there an do it so you can be ready when it’s time to perform on the job. It’s something we can all do, and it improves your quality of life in every aspect.


Jon Canipe served on Active Duty with the US Army as a Special Forces Weapons Sergeant at 5th SFG(A) and was a Senior Instructor at the JFKSWCS, training SFQC students in planning, unconventional warfare, small unit tactics, CQB, and advanced marksmanship. He is a veteran of multiple combat tours, and still serves in the Army National Guard’s 20th SFG(A) in addition to working as an industry consultant and small arms instructor.

Canipe Correspondence – Why Measure Performance?

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

I recently started following an online debate about performance related to shooting, where one group of high-performing individuals (serious USPSA shooters) were conversing about a training philosophy that doesn’t use any set, specific metrics for performance. There were a number of interesting thoughts on the topic, most everyone being in agreement that you need to be able to track your level of proficiency, work to improve it, and measure it to see how that level has risen or fallen. The arguments piqued my interest because I come from a background strongly rooted in tactics versus competition, but I personally found that the methods used for improvement among that crowd carry over nicely, even if some specific things don’t work for my uses. I like what they had so say, and likewise had a fair amount of negative feelings over the notion of not working towards a measurable goal or standards in my training. This isn’t a rant against a specific organization or trainer, because frankly I’m not going to worry much about people or organizations who are unconcerned with quantifiable performance. It’s mostly just because I find the notion of not using performance standards in general preposterous.

I am not sure why we would fall into some category in a gunfight that is unlike other forms of competition in terms of the level of preparation and performance tracking helping us out. What do pro football, motocross, ultramarathon running, or even golf have in common with fighting? Easy: there is a clear cut winner and loser, and there are tremendous penalties for screwing up the details. I challenge you to find a quarterback in the NFL who the coach sends out onto the field because the player felt he had to confidence to prevail, without ever measuring his ability to perform the tasks required to do so. I challenge you to find a Badwater winner who just trotted around the neighborhood a little bit and said “I’m ready to win this. What the hell is this stopwatch I keep hearing about?” Golf would be even more boring if we didn’t keep score. Nobody who just goes out and swings clubs around until it feels right wins a green jacket at Augusta. So why would we not use a performance-based system of improvement to meet out full potential when the difference in a win or loss isn’t a championship, a trophy, bragging rights, or a personal record, it is being dead? There was an argument made that if someone failed to meet a standard, then they would not have the confidence to perform in a real-life fight. When someone decides to kill you, you’re in the big leagues now, whether you want to be or not. Sure would be nice to have big-league skills right around then, wouldn’t it? I don’t need someone to tell me I’m ready, I want to know I’m ready because I can do (insert task) to (insert standard)!

I have been fortunate enough to attend a number of schools and a selection process, and then work in them later in my career. I’ve also trained with most of the reputable tactical trainers in the industry as well as some top-level competitors. There is a common bond between all of these places and people that I’ve encountered: they have all had a set of performance standards you are measured against and then you know whether you’re as good as you think you are. If you don’t know where you’re at, you have no idea where to go from there. Like one of my partners says, “It’s not hard to be the fastest motherf**ker in a one man race.” I shudder to think at the state of the force had I passed people on their confidence to perform rather than their abilities. I would have had a 100% GO rate. Fortunately, it was never a floating set of standards based on one guys individual potential or my intuition. I’m not some master educator, I’m more of a knuckle dragger. But I know we could afford to hire people that were, and they all dealt in standards. You stand in the hallway with a list of #1-150 for all of your peers to see, and nobody other than #1 feels good about it. Lesson: It’s important to know if you suck or not. Feeling like you can win something that you can’t isn’t “confidence”, it’s stupidity. Working to meet that standard is where the greatness comes out.

This little piece has been pure opinion, experience, and a little bit of a rant. Everyone else is welcome to theirs as well, but I doubt anyone is going to change my mind, that you can’t reach your full potential in anything without tracking your progress and seeing where you stack up against yourself and others. You have to be measured in training, because when the time comes for real you’re going to be measured, whether you’re ready or not.

Jon Canipe served on Active Duty with the US Army as a Special Forces Weapons Sergeant at 5th SFG(A) and was a Senior Instructor at the JFKSWCS, training SFQC students in planning, unconventional warfare, small unit tactics, CQB, and advanced marksmanship. He is a veteran of multiple combat tours, and still serves in the Army National Guard’s 20th SFG(A) in addition to working as an industry consultant and small arms instructor.

Canipe Correspondence – New Ways to Blind People from SureFire

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Today is a happy day. It’s sunny, 75 degrees, and I shot all day. After a few years of wishing it would happen and a few months of waiting, I got a small, lightweight, efficiently operated weapon-mounted light that that is almost as bright as the sun. SureFire recently released a couple of very practical lights that offer 500 lumens. I remember the day when I got my first 6P, at a whopping 60 lumens and 60-ish minutes of runtime on 2 CR123 batteries with it’s incandescent bulb. Drop in a P61 bulb and get a “scorching 120 lumens for 20 minutes of runtime” as SureFire’s specs state. If that’s scorching, they’ll have to come up with something pretty good for the lightsaber they just released.

We’ve come a long way since those revolutionary 6P lights from SureFire. The lights got brighter shortly after they released them, but they got bigger as well. You could squeeze 700 lumens out of the M900 Turbohead, but the light is 1.4 pounds and is integrated into a very large vertical foregrip housing. Now, we’re able to get a lot of light out of a small package with the P2X Fury series handheld and X300 Ultra weapon light. Each one operates on 2 CR123 batteries and offers a high-efficiency LED emitting 500 lumens of white light. Each one also gives you 1.5 hours of runtime, which isn’t too shabby for that much light.

The Fury series is roughly the same size as the 6P or G2 that may people are familiar with. There are a four current models, the functional difference of them being dual-output for the Fury and a single-output for the Tactical, Defender, and CombatLight models. Pushing the Fury tailcap alternates your output between 15 and 500 lumens, while the other three models give you a constant 500. At a suggested retail of $155, the light is a bargain. 500 lumens in such a small package is a LOT of light for the money. They’re built to SureFire’s usual quality standards, made of precision machined aluminum with a Mil-Spec hard anodized coating. They’re shock-resistant and fit in standard 1” ring mounts for weapon light usage. For around $175 MSRP, even less at street price, that’s by far the best value on the market in a light of that output level for your rifle. They’re also waterproof to boot, and can be found for a little over $100 at many online retailers. For that price, everyone should own a few.

The X300 Ultra just started shipping in the last couple of weeks and should start showing up at your retailer soon if they haven’t already. Almost everyone is familiar with the Surefire X200 and X300 series of lights. They’re the best pistol lights on the market, hands down. Released in 2007, the X300’s current form gives off 170 lumens, which is pretty respectable. Until now. The X300U pushes of almost 3 times that amount in a package roughly the same size. This really opens up the X series lights for use on a long gun as well, I never felt the standard X300 had the right beam shape or throw on a rifle. SureFire’s specs list them at 3.6 inches in length a piece, but the Ultra is about ¼ inch longer at the bezel, the main body being the same size. The diameter of the bezel is slight increased as well. The good news is that it will still fits all of the Safariland ALS/SLS holsters I tried in the holster bin. The bad news is that hard-molded kydex from many manufacturers will no longer slide in to their retention point. Raven Concealment Systems is already offering their holsters for the Ultra, and I’m thinking standard X300s will fit in the Ultra holsters just fine. Retailing at only $25 more than the X300 at $299, the Ultra is worth the price. Many retailers will sell them for considerably less as they come in stock I’m sure.

Bravo to SureFire to putting forth the effort to get these to the market. With the prices in the industry steadily climbing year after year, the Fury represents shows tremendous performance specs while keeping the price in the grasp of military and law enforcement users. The price increase of only $25 for the X300 Ultra means a huge performance boost at a relatively small price. I hope they continue this trend across their product line, I’m excited to see what comes up next. (cough 500 lumen Scout cough…)


Jon Canipe served on Active Duty with the US Army as a Special Forces Weapons Sergeant at 5th SFG(A) and was a Senior Instructor at the JFKSWCS, training SFQC students in planning, unconventional warfare, small unit tactics, CQB, and advanced marksmanship. He is a veteran of multiple combat tours, and still serves in the Army National Guard’s 20th SFG(A) in addition to working as an industry consultant and small arms instructor.

Canipe Correspondence – Just Spend The Money

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

Imagine this for a second: you’re a pretty successful person financially, you work hard, you save money, and you occasionally invest some of that cash in your hobbies. Your hobby for the purpose of this hypothetical situation is skydiving. You spend tens of thousands of dollars on a container, wing suit, helmet, camera equipment, automatic deployment device, as well as many hours of training. You buy the best equipment money can buy. Then you go into the closet, take an old king size bed sheet, and attach it to your suspension lines instead of a real parachute. You buy the best stuff money can purchase, except for one area where you for some reason insert an unmitigated piece of crap into your stable. I know this sounds preposterous, but gun people do the same thing all of the time. Cops, military, civilian shooters, no group is exempt.

At a recent training course I had what might have been the most enjoyable group of students so far. I wish every class could have the same group. No egos, no safety concerns, no complaining, no bad attitudes, I couldn’t have asked for a better group. Because of this, we were able to get a lot of stuff done, passing the usual scope of the class we were teaching. We could have done more except for the one little issue in the room: equipment issues cropping up regularly. We regularly had to take a little time to wrench on guns or optics, which held up the students individually as well as collectively in some cases. I can’t travel with a full tool kit but I have a Multitasker AR tool and a tube of loc-tite that usually takes care of any carbine issues I run across. We ditched two optics altogether and the shooters moved to iron sights, catching back up quickly. One NcStar brand ACOG knockoff was so cloudy you could not make out the silhouette target at out 50M zero distance. A $40 optic doesn’t really belong on $1200 duty rifles. All in all it’s no big deal on a range, but I hate to see people spend a lot of money and not be able to get as much out of it as possible due to a preventable circumstance. One of the common AAR comments by students at the conclusion of the course was to “stop being cheap” and “don’t buy shit scopes for nice rifles.”

Training and equipment is a significant purchase in today’s economy. A basic AR with a light and quality optic is going to run you around $1500 on the low side with suitable components for duty or defensive use. Chalk up another $500 for a handgun and $350 or more to miscellaneous holsters, mags, ammo carriers, eye and ear pro. Tack on $750 in ammo for a 3-day course. Then you pony up $400 in travel costs, $300 for a hotel, $150 for food, and a few days of vacation from work. Then throw on top of it the $675 for the course fee. For a guy starting out, it’s almost a $5,000 investment to get a gun and get trained on it. Off of the range, if you need to employ your firearms for self defense you want to make sure you’re not endangering your life or that of others by choosing non-functional equipment. Whether you’re a civilian, service member, or LEO we all want our tools to be ready for use when we need them.

That seems like a big number, because it is. That is not to say however, that you need to buy expensive equipment. You need to buy good equipment, some of which can easily be found at a bargain if you’re willing to look around, buy used, and be a little patient. Used Aimpoints can be found for $300-350, or $400 for a new PRO model with mount from the same manufacturer. Magazines are another item that gives us fits. Old USGI aluminum mags are throwaway items if they don’t work. They’re $8-12, buy 10 new ones and call it a day. For now at least, they’re available in large quantities for little money. It wouldn’t hurt to stock up on some whether you need them or not right now. Also, guns themselves are not created equally. Many larger brands come with a price tag that would indicate quality, but not necessarily with the specs to support that. Pay attention to the actual technical specifications, not what they look like. When in doubt, do the research to find out what you don’t know. You can Google any number of internet resources to explain these but as always, there’s no license needed to post on the net. Check out M4Carbine.net for a great source of firearms technical data. When you can get a Colt 6920 for under $1100 at Wal Mart now or a BCM carbine from many online retailers, there’s no need to buy a substandard rifle for more money. It’s not about name brands, but that’s how you know what you’re getting in a market where many products look the same, cost the same, but don’t have the same manufacturing processes to back it up.

Buy quality. There is any number of clichés you can ponder, “How much is your life worth” or “buy once cry once” kind of stuff, and it’s probably a good thing to do when you make a purchase in this business. If you’re going to rely on something for the purposes of duty or defense, make sure it’s up to the task. If you’re serious about it, make sure you are up to the task as well. Just spend the time money, that extra $200 or so or couple of hours of research won’t seem like much when you need it.

Jon Canipe served on Active Duty with the US Army as a Special Forces Weapons Sergeant at 5th SFG(A) and was a Senior Instructor at the JFKSWCS, training SFQC students in planning, unconventional warfare, small unit tactics, CQB, and advanced marksmanship. He is a veteran of multiple combat tours, and still serves in the Army National Guard’s 20th SFG(A) in addition to working as an industry consultant and small arms instructor.

Jon Canipe Joins Magpul Dynamics as Director of Carbine Operations

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Magpul Dynamics isn’t the same company that it was even a year ago. They continue to adapt to advances in training methodology, weapon employment and equipment development. Today, as part of that continued improvement process, they officially announced that Jon Canipe has come on board as the Director of Carbine Operations, “in order to support the training schedule as well as support the development and testing efforts.” Canipe should be no stranger to readers of SSD. His weekly “Canipe Correspondence” series leverages his 12 years of military experience serving in US Army Special Forces. He will now offer his combat experience and time as an instructor at USAJFKSWCS to students of Magpul Dynamics. Congrats to Jon and Magpul Dynamics!


They are building a great team over there. Make sure you check out their philosophy at www.magpuldynamics.com/mission.