View Full Version : Pt III - Course Review: Gunsite 260/SATP Defensive Shotgun

August 8, 2002, 04:23 PM

It was a very serious (and strenuous) week and a half, but before I stop, a couple of more comments on the lighter side. The teaching staff seemed very in tune with the fact that the program is a tough one, that people typically invest a fair amount of money in attending, and that even with such deadly serious subject matter, a sense of humor is in order as long as it doesn’t compromise safety.

At one point a case of clay pigeons appeared and the instructor started pitching them up in front of the line. Eight people with short barrel, ghost ring set-ups blasting away at clay pigeons….not particularly pretty, but we were warned there would be no lunch break if any of the birds “got away”.

After dropping a shell during a reload , picking it up off the ground, ( as opposed to pulling from my sidesaddle ), and loading it with the wrong hand, one of the instructors walked up calmly behind me and said “That was just about the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen….if you can list all the things you did wrong…we’ll leave it at that” I did…and he kept his promise, never losing his smile.

One student, after bracketing his pepper popper at 100 yards with shots left, right, high, and low was asked by an instructor: “Let me guess, when you were in the Marines you were part of a morter crew?”.

One student was reported (allegedly) as being so Gung Ho during a simunitions exercise that after repelling the initial assault, he was last seen chasing his assailant out of the compound, ….(this would explain the code word that is agreed upon to signal when the simulation is over…). I don’t know if this is actually the way it happened…but it’s not hard to imagine.

In a demonstration of the flexibility of this weapon from an ammunition standpoint, samples of all kinds of non-conventional shells were brought out and offered to students to fire. Bean Bags, Rubber Buckshot, Water charged breeching rounds, Mini-Slugs, a Tear Gas Round ( which was absolutely not implicated in the sneezing fit suffered by the student who was closest to the downwind point of impact), and a diversionary firecracker round which I was asked to send skyward (finally, ... a target I couldn’t miss).

On the last day of the advanced course, students were invited to participate in a “Counter-Terrorist Assault”, involving teams of four shooters working out of the back of a pick-up truck. We drove through a large berm enclosed compound, taking on various groups of hostile targets as we went, using buckshot and slugs (around hostages). It was carefully orchestrated and supervised by two instructors (also in the truck bed) to preserve the safety of the participants. At first this seemed to be more improbable than most of the scenarios we’d faced, but when it was over I realized how many of the principles we had learned were being put to work, with the added complication of a moving platform. This sequence generated some of the most amusing commentaries from students I’d heard all week, and a lot of smiles. Despite that, I couldn’t help but be impressed by what a formidable challenge even a group of reasonably trained and motivated citizens could present to an aggressor who chooses to bring the fight to one’s own backyard.

Overall, two important lessons come to mind when I think about all that was covered during these courses. I remain humbled by the capabilities of a pistol as a defensive tool in the hands of an experienced user. However, nothing had prepared me for versatility and power presented by the shotgun. I’m not sure who to give credit for the statement, but I’m now a believer!…”A pistol is a marvelous tool…. for fighting your way to your shotgun!”

My second overwhelming impression is that the best tools in the world really are a smaller part of the survival equation than the training and skill of the user. For sure, get the best tools you can….but don’t neglect the training, and if possible, make sure it includes some experiences that will give you insight on how you will likely react in a fight. Gunsite isn’t the only choice you could make on this point, but it’s hard to imagine anyone being disappointed by what they have to offer.

August 8, 2002, 05:06 PM
Great job! Thanks.

Al in Md.
August 8, 2002, 05:25 PM
Great post, thanks for all the info. Got a question, aprox. how many rounds of buck and slug did you expend in each course? I am also curious about the pistols/ammo used? Al in Md

August 8, 2002, 06:03 PM
What a fantastic review! Thank you for that.

- Gabe

PS: And welcome to TFL!

August 8, 2002, 06:48 PM
Thanks for the reviews. They sounded like great classes.

9mm, thanks for setting up the links to the next part.

Dave Williams
August 8, 2002, 08:48 PM
Thanks for the time you put into your review. I'm torn between Gunsite and TR next year for shotgun school, and this doesn't help.
Did you use an 870 for the courses? Any mods? Sighting system?



August 8, 2002, 11:49 PM
Thanks Retriever.
Well done Sir.


August 9, 2002, 01:11 AM
Nice write-up. Thanks.

Lots to be said about "only" having a decent 12 gauge as that only one gun.

Dave McC
August 9, 2002, 03:52 AM
Good job, thanks.

Once again, NOTHING beats training for pure D effectiveness. And training is much more important than which shotgun one picks....

August 9, 2002, 02:09 PM
First, Thanks for the Feedback!....I wasn't exactly sure what the audience might deem relevant. It helps to hear folks are finding it useful.

On the questions:

Dave W. - I used a Rem 870. 18" Vang comp barrel, MMC Ghost Ring, Oversize Safety, TacStar Side Saddle, SureFire Dedicated Light, Giles Tac Sling, Pachmyar Recoil Pad.

Al - The course counts on ammo were:

260 Course :
400 rounds 00 buckshot, 200 rounds birdshot,
150 rounds slugs, 50 rounds pistol

SATP Course:
400 rounds 00 buckshot, 200 rounds slugs,
200 rounds pistol

Most of the students bought additional ammo toward the end of the class (available from the pro shop). Slugs were Remington Low Recoil, Buck was Federal LE low recoil, pistol and birdshot were PMC.

Pistols were mostly .45's (1911 and a couple of others represented)...I ran a Glock .40, and I believe there were a couple of Glock 9's as well.

Dave Williams
August 9, 2002, 03:08 PM
Hard to beat an 870.

For me, one of the reasons your review was so good, was that it was "software" oriented. You focus on the training, not the gun. It's the person and the training, not the gun, that carries the day.

Thanks again,


August 9, 2002, 10:22 PM
Was your barrel ported? If so, what , if any, difference in muzzle flash at night did you notice compared to non-ported barrels?

Very good review. Thanks.

August 11, 2002, 05:54 PM

The barrel was not ported. Most of the night work was done with a dedicated light. This tended to wash out any noticeable flash from my perspective, although I do recall some flash when shooting low light without it.

August 11, 2002, 06:08 PM