View Full Version : Sub caliber combat training

January 15, 2008, 11:28 PM
The late great Jeff Cooper emphasized training with duty or service guns, ammunition, equipment, insisting that using "training" guns and equipment was
unrealistic and led to bad habits. On the other hand I've Massad Ayoob suggest using "training" guns-i.e. the S&W M-18 as a sub caliber counterpart
to the M-15 or M-19, and I have found using a conversion unit on my Colt
Mark IV a good way to get cheap practice while getting familiar with the
feel of a full size handgun and one of the selling points of the full size CZ pistols is the factory conversion unit. I note that at present I am not an instructor nor involved in IDPA, but "those in the know" almost always state
that a new shooter's first handgun should be a 22, and it seems to me that the 22 is a good way to master the essentials of combat shooting.

chris in va
January 16, 2008, 01:13 PM
When I start developing a flinch with my Sig or anything else, I switch over to my Kadet which calms down my nerves.

Then again, I've been using my Kadet almost exclusively lately with the ammo prices.:rolleyes:

David Armstrong
January 17, 2008, 09:05 PM
I think it is a matter of what you are training for. For gunhandling type of traiinng, yes, you should probably use the actual gun. But when I used to teach rifle tactics, for example, it didn't matter what kind of rifle you used, as the emphais was on tactical deployment, not the shooting itself.

January 20, 2008, 01:24 PM
Not an instructor or any kind of expert. After a quarter century in the sport and the "life" of being a shooting enthusiast and paid gun carrier you do form some opinions.

I don't think small caliber practice has ever hurt my skills.

Enjoyment of shooting and ammo price means that the .22 is a valuable source of recreation and practice for me.

Rim fire handgun hunting - mostly squirrels with a .22 will make you a better shot.

OTOH I consider practicing with duty/SD/HD loads mandatory.

Hard Ball
January 20, 2008, 01:43 PM
I think its a good idea I have a S&W K22 Combat Masterpiece for general practice and a S&W 2 inch Kitgun for a J frame trainer.

January 23, 2008, 05:15 AM
I started shooting .22 conversion units almost 30 years ago, when I was a poor student. About the same time Jerry Usher had an article in (I think) the American Handgunner Annual advocating the use of what he called "understudy" guns for economical practice.

During my military service I used an M-16 (three different models, actually) and carried (in order) an S&W 15 revolver, an M1911A1 and then an M9. I have personal examples of all of those guns.

Over the years I acquired a S&W 18 (.22 cal combat masterpiece), a Colt Ace (.22 on the O frame) and a Ciener and then later a Beretta conversion unit for the M9. And a Ciener and then a Colt conversion unit for the AR-15.

(I also have a S&W 650 in .22 to go with my S&W 60 HB 3 inch, and an argentine .22 conversion unit for my Browning P35).

Back in the 80s I was a Law Enforcement Specialist in the ANG. We had access to the 50 foot indoor range at the local ARNG armory, which had a mild steel backstop and was limited to .22s.

I've done LOTS of shooting with all of them. I find it works best to do accuracy drills with the .22s. They don't have much recoil, but the balance and trigger pull and sight picture are all the same.

For practice with the bigger guns I usually use an IPSC or IDPA target or an NRA B-34 (1/2 scale) target.

For the .22s I usually use a B-34 or a B-29 or TQ-20 (both 1/3rd scale). I basically do my same set of drills at the same distances, but on a much smaller target. It helps a LOT to keep in tune and not spend as much money doing it.

February 13, 2008, 12:26 AM
By Col. Jeff Cooper
From Cooper on Handguns (1st edition) (Los Angeles, Calif; Peterson Publishing Co, 1974)

"As a trainer, the .22 is quite efficient, though it does not entirely suffice for a full course of instruction, as the student must become accustomed to the greater recoil and louder report of a full duty load. Several good service auto pistols may be fitted with a .22 caliber attachment which permits practice and sport shooting with the small cartridge. This is an excellent idea, in view of the high and increasing cost of center-fire ammunition." - Page 32
"The use of the .22 as a trainer is often recommended. If the objective is target shooting, this is an excellent idea. Most target shooting is restricted to the old fashioned, one handed dueling stance, and encourages a limp grip. Recoil is a definite consideration here, and by starting a beginner out on a .22, he can be taught sight alignment and trigger control before he is introduced to bounce and blast. However, if one starts a student out directly with the Weaver Stance, this is not a serious matter, except with those few individuals who are simply demoralized by shooting. I have encountered some of these in teaching (interestingly, all were men) but I could do nothing with them with the .22 either, so it was no help in such cases."
--Page 101
"The .22 caliber Combat Masterpiece (S&W 18) is essentially a 4 inch K-22. It is useful primarily as a sub-caliber trainer for users of the service revolvers of identical configuration (S&W 15 & S&W 67)"
--Page 170
"Several of the more prominent service autos of the world may be fitted with attachments that permit them to fire the .22 long rifle cartridge. Examples include the U.S.45 Government model, the German P38, and the Swiss Sig 210. This is a splendid notion, as it permits inexpensive practice with the duty weapon, and further qualifies it for use in situations where the center-fire cartridge is overly noisy or destructive, as on some indoor ranges. I think a .22 conversion kit should be available for any service auto, and that the lack of such an attachment is a very serious drawback, which should be given much weight in the choice of a sidearm. Practice with the .22 conversion device does NOT take the place of center-fire practice, but it helps, and center-fire ammunition is so expensive and hard to procure that many people simply give up the idea of a proper training program. The .22 converter is a good solution to this problem."
--Page 179

February 13, 2008, 11:13 AM
Training with a .22 is helpful if it augments training with your primary gun. Where you would run into a problem would be if you trained exclusively with a .22 then went to a match or whatever and used a major caliber gun. The timing would be totally different. Your brain would be used to the recoil of the .22, so follow-up shots and transitions would be different. If your motiviation is purely economics, you would do well to do most of your practice with the .22 but fire 50 rounds at the end of each practice session from your major caliber gun. It depends on your purpose too, I suppose. If you are just plinking, then it is a non-issue. But for SD, IDPA, IPSC or other action shooting, you should use it in conjuction with your primary gun, not instead of.