An Alarming Trend – Women Are Shooting

Women Shooting Alarming TrendA couple of years ago, a news reporter at a Detroit television station announced that people using guns to defend themselves from marauders may be the beginning of “an alarming trend.” Brace yourself, as the state of the Union may have further deteriorated since. In a related conversation, one of my training industry colleagues asked me if I had also noticed a similar trend – an increase of women in participation of more-than-cursory firearms training.

The answer is a resounding “yes!” The professional firearms instruction community is indeed witnessing more and more women of all demographics arming themselves in America. As a personal security educator, whose job it is to transform his clients into hard targets, this brings a tear of joy and inspired me to dig deeper. Inquiring of other professional educators plus a little snooping around the net for more detail, this turned out to be quite the hot topic. Although many reasons were suggested, the three most common out there seem to be: the need to independently defend oneself (self-reliance), current events, and the fact that it has never been easier to get involved.

Edged Weapons Defense at Aegis Academy by Steve TaraniBut why now? It makes sense that more women seek to be individually armed as they become increasingly independent, but the number of female shooters has skyrocketed in just the past decade. The “Changing Gender of Permit Holders Data” for seven states shows a general upwards trend in the percentage of permit holders who are women. Florida: the percentage of permit holders who are women rose from 18% in May 2012 to 23.1% in June 2015. Indiana: from 18.0% in June 2012 to 22.7% in March 2015. Louisiana: from 18.3% in 2009 to 24.8% in 2014. North Dakota: from 11.2% in 2010 to 24.9% in 2014. Tennessee: from 23.3% in 2008 to 29.3% in 2014. Texas: from 17.26 in 2004 to 26.7% in 2014. Washington State: between 2005 and 2014 with the growth rate for women getting new permits is twice as fast as that of men. Assuming that these changes in the shares of permits held by men and women for these seven states is similar, the number of permits since 2007 has increased by 270% for women and by 156% for men. (Source: Crime Prevention Resource Center )

Most of us are familiar with the 19th century quote “God made men, but Sam Colt made [them] equal.” Firearms are the great equalizer. The average woman is not as physically strong as the average man. In a violent hand-to-hand physical struggle against one or more male attackers, even if she goes to the gym five days a week, pumps iron and runs marathons, the woman is probably going to lose – unless she has a gun – and knows how to use it. According to Jason Hanson, a former CIA Officer and the author of “The Covert Guide to Concealed Carry,” the bottom line is, “a gun is without a doubt the best way for a woman to defend herself in a worst-case scenario.”

Women ShootingArmed and well-trained women are a predator’s worst nightmare. As such, it may be no coincidence that between 2007 and 2014, murder rates have fallen from 5.6 to 4.2 (preliminary estimates) per 100,000. This represents a 25% drop in the murder rate at the same time that the percentage of the adult population with permits soared by 156%. Overall violent crime also fell by 25 percent over that period of time. (Source: Crime Prevention Resource Center )

It’s important to approach this topic from the bottom line: in a life-or-death defensive situation, a firearm operated by a qualified user is the most effective hand-held protection tool available to immediately stop a physical attack – bar none. This same premise explains why the majority of my clients – male and female military, law enforcement, and armed federal agents, are required to carry firearms and why they are also required to qualify with them regularly.

Shotgun Course Firearms TrainingEven for those who don’t carry a weapon for a living, owning a gun satisfies only one aspect of personal protection with a firearm. Quoting another of my colleagues (USMC Colonel and competitive shooter) “The belief that owning a gun makes you safe is as absurd as believing that purchasing a scalpel makes you a qualified surgeon.” In both cases, the blind act of owning these tools alone without professional firearms and defensive mindset training, and preparation for their use, actually makes you less safe. The two other critical requirements for personal protection with a firearm include professional training and weapons maintenance as you are responsible for safe handling, accurate round placement and appropriate storage.

It seems that this “alarming trend,” as gleaned from interviews with female graduates of defensive firearms training from all over the country, provides a means of leveling the playing field, ensuring personal safety, and a sense of being in control. That sense of control is empowering, and is something firearms-trained women often seek in other aspects of their life. The personal confidence and self-assurance that is a by-product of firearms training, lends itself to a more positive self-image. An image that when observed by a predator hunting for his next victim, may cause him to realize that he may be the one in harm’s way.

Author- Steve Tarani



A Semester Abroad: Arrogance, Apathy, and Ignorance, Part 4

A Semester Abroad: Arrogance, Apathy, and IgnoranceNearly a quarter million American students embark upon study abroad programs each year, and while most programs result in positive experiences and an expanded understanding of our world there are many study abroad programs that have a much grimmer and more costly ending. A 2010 article titled 7 Student Travel Nightmares paints a gruesome and vivid picture of how study abroad programs can go terribly wrong. From kidnappings to abandonment to murder cases, students have experienced an array of security disasters that have left families broken, higher education institutions writing big checks, and diplomatic agencies in a scramble. No country is without its share of security threats, no city is 100% safe, and no student is immune to becoming the victim of a life-threatening situation.

In the last three articles of this series, “Arrogance, Apathy, and Ignorance: What a Student Traveling Abroad Ought to Know“, I have candidly discussed my own experiences while studying at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia. While I enjoyed many unforgettable times in Moscow, I also encountered many experiences that were quite un-enjoyable and unforgettable. At the conclusion of my last article, I left you all at the beginning of what I now call my ‘Taxi-Cab-Kidnapping’ story. I would like to tell the rest of my story, and I sincerely hope that by telling it some student will think twice about the seemingly insignificant decisions they make while studying in a foreign country. Because ultimately, when studying abroad things can go wrong and if they do it happens very, very quickly.

When the Unimaginable Happens

Russian Taxi DriverAt first I could not believe that I was in a situation with an unknown attacker attempting to hurt me…again. Looking back, it seemed like a joke — surely this man knew that I had already been robbed, and surely he was just trying to ‘make a funny’ by driving me to the middle of a remote location before beginning his physical attack. In the moment, however, I had no time to think about the sincerity of his actions, I was simply in response mode, otherwise known as survival mode. As the driver of the taxi continued to wrestle with me for my purse (while driving down a deserted road mind you) I fought back, pulling and tugging on my purse. Without thinking, I punched the man directly on the right side of his face. Despite the likely weak punch I had delivered, he was even more mad and began to swerve down the road as all his attention was focused on forcing me to surrender my belongings. We were exchanging curses, grunts, and hits when all of a sudden the strap on my purse broke, leaving me with the body of the purse in my hands. We both stared at each other wondering what would happen next and at that exact moment, whilst still driving at a significant speed, the driver leaned over, opened my door, and kicked me out of the moving vehicle. Continue reading

A Semester Abroad: Arrogance, Apathy, and Ignorance, Part 3

The arrogance that accompanied by 21st year of life led me to ignore most safety considerations for the entire six months of my study abroad program in Moscow, Russia. In fact, despite enduring and surviving a rather scary piano-bar attack, towards the end of my stay in Moscow I was more confident than ever in my “guaranteed” security; and more prone to apathetically going about my final days in the city I had grown so fond of.

A Semester Abroad: Arrogance, Apathy, and IgnoranceIn my previous article of the series, “Arrogance, Apathy, and Ignorance: What a Student Traveling Abroad Ought to Know“, I told the detailed story of the attack I encountered at a piano-bar on one of my first nights out on the town in Moscow. After having time to process the occurrence, and truly evaluate the role I played in increasing the potential for security threats to become a reality, I determined that an arrogant attitude coupled with ignorance of cultural cues led to an empty wallet and a night that most students cannot imagine happening on their study abroad adventure. I would like to say that after the night at the piano bar I “wised up” and began to take responsibility for my own safety; but, this could not be further from the truth. In this article, A Semester Abroad: Arrogance, Apathy, and Ignorance, Part 3, I will describe how apathy began to seep into my daily lifestyle as a student studying abroad. Ultimately, with just one month left in my stay, I was once again the victim of a criminal attack — only this time much worse.

Getting Too Comfortable

Many study abroad programs last for well over a month; in my case, six months. In the course of a six month stay, it is only natural to begin to feel at ‘home’, more familiar with the environment, and more comfortable with your surroundings. A student may begin to learn the unique social ques of the culture, the euphemisms behind much of the language used on the street, or perhaps the style of dress begins to become more attractive. By my third month in Moscow I had secured a part-time job as an English teacher, learned how to navigate the Moscow metro, and even made several local friends. I would certainly describe myself as being comfortable in my new-found environment, so much so that I began to dismiss (even more so than before) the common safety concerns that many international students spoke of in the dormitory. For example, the crowd of “hooligans” (as they were called by local Russians) that congregated around the corner market and the metro stop nearest my dormitory became common place; I seemed to never notice them, and was indifferent to their calls, choosing to tune them out.

It is quite normal to grow accustomed to one’s environment and if we as humans did not adapt appropriately we would have bigger issues. Never-the-less, too much comfort in a rather unfamiliar environment (three to six months can still constitute unfamiliarity!) can result in apathy; I simply did not care about these so-called ‘threats’ because as far as I was concerned I had for the most part disproved them with my comfortable stay in Moscow.

The problem with choosing not to care is you are choosing to not be aware. Situation awareness is defined as “the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening to the team with regards to the mission.” More simply, it’s knowing what is going on around you; and no, it does not only apply to law enforcement officers or armed services members. Any student studying abroad must learn to exercise situational awareness habits on a regular basis. Growing too comfortable, too apathetic to the ebbs and flows of hooliganism, for example, can be dangerous. Sure, tuning out some guys that make incessant cat-calls your way is one thing; but, tuning out the whole picture all together is a risky mistake. Now, let me briefly introduce how my apathy, comfort, and lack of respect for situational awareness divulged into another security threat.

When You Least Expect It

Many of the international students that lived in the dormitory with myself and other Americans were scheduled to leave Moscow soon, and we all decided to gather at one of our favorite ex-pat restaurants for dinner and drinks. I had been to this place, “Papa’s” as we called it, countless times during my stay. At times I had even traveled by metro or taxi to and from the restaurant with absolutely no issues. “Papa’s” had become a safe haven for international students studying in Moscow, and the last place I expected to be scoped out for a dangerous kidnapping scheme.

Tourist taxi study abroadI enjoyed my night with friend, reminiscing about all the adventures we had while studying in Russia. As the night went out I grew tired and decided I should head home. I asked if anyone wanted to accompany me, but did not think twice to wait when no one wanted to go home quite yet. I payed my bill and walked out front where the familiar sight of a row of un-marked taxis waited to take the restaurant patrons home. I negotiated my fare with an average looking fellow, hopped in the front seat (something I had done countless times, yet turned out to be a costly mistake) and told the taxi driver where I would like to be dropped off. Shortly after, I knew something was not right.

As we drove farther and farther away from the center of the city, where my dorm was located, I grew more and more anxious — demanding to know where he was taking me. I began to frantically think of a plan, and curse my own stupidity…my own apathetic, too-comfortable attitude the dangerous realities of the big city. Unfortunately, ‘thinking of a plan’ when you are already in the middle of a dangerous scheme is quite literally too little too late. In the next few moments I suddenly realized that I had skipped over all opportunities for prediction and prevention when it comes to avoiding potential security threats; I now in the middle of my very own nightmare, and the only choice I had was to respond to the threat unfolding in front of my eyes.

Aegis Academy - Travel Security - Duty of Care

I demanded one last time to know where we were going, speaking Russian with some powerful colloquialisms mixed in a futile attempt at talking tough hoping that it would intimidate this man! As soon as I the words were out of my mouth, the real dangerous part of the attack began. While driving down the road, he leaned over and began to hit me while trying to remove my phone and purse from my person. Too little, too late…I was living out the worst possible study abroad adventure I could have ever imagined.


A recent report released by the U.S. State Department in 2015 revealed that choosing to travel or study abroad in Russia requires extra precautions to ensure one’s own safety and security. Criminal activity such as petty crime, physical attacks, and corrupt law enforcement is on the rise in the Russian Federation: “The social and political unrest in Ukraine has led to increasing political tensions between the Russian Federation and the U.S. and other Western nations. As a result, anti-American and anti-Western sentiment appears to be increasing, especially in certain media outlets.” Studying abroad now, even more so than when I studied in Moscow in 2013, carries new security threats. Do not let this deter you to the point of staying home (remember: You will face potential security threats in every country you travel to), rather choose to be prepared, well-equipped, and alert.

The facts are clear, and the warnings are there to benefit travelers…if we choose to listen to them.

In the next article, the last of the series, I will provide a detailed account of the ending to my taxi-cab ordeal. Though the violence escalated, I was able to escape (hence me living to tell about it!). Stay tuned for the end of the story and some final thoughts on how you can be in control of your own safety while studying abroad!

Stay Safe!

Author – Anna Johnson

First Posted on Aegis Academy

Concealed Carry Weapon Permit in Orange County, Part II

This article is Part II of a III part series on the concealed carry weapon process. In this article we will be discussing 1) Selecting an instructor, 2) Selecting a firearm, 3) Clothing.

So you have decided you want to be able to legally carry a concealed firearm; this comes with a lot of responsibility and is not to be taken lightly. Be sure you take the required training seriously and invest some time in selecting an instructor.

I am going to give you some things to consider when making the decision to select an instructor. Make sure you are getting your money’s worth from an instructor who has real, verifiable experience related to carrying a firearm for his or her profession. In my opinion, your instructor should have military and or law enforcement experience. There is a big difference between an instructor who has had to carry a firearm for work in real world conditions and one who has not.

Tactical Pistol TrainingThere is no substitute for experience — period. Law Enforcement personnel carry guns on their person when they are working and most carry firearms concealed when they are off duty. As a community they have the most real world ccw experience of any type of people you might come across. They are up to date on the newest types of firearms, training, ammo and equipment. You should want to take advantage of their experience to help you weed through what works and what doesn’t work.

An instructor who is prior law enforcement can also tell you what you could expect if you had to use your firearm to defend yourself. He or she may be able to give you some advice on how the process works and some of the do’s and don’ts.

Pick up the phone and ask to speak to the instructor who is teaching the course. Inquire as to his or her background. Ask the instructor if they have a ccw themselves. If the instructor does not have a ccw for the state he or she is teaching inquire as to why. How can an instructor teach a course on ccw if they themselves do not have one? If the instructor has a ccw ask him or her how long they have had it. Ask the instructor if he or she was prior military or law enforcement? Remember there is no substitute for experience.

Once you have selected your instructor complete the required training course and submit a copy of your certificate of completion to the sheriff’s department either through fax or email.

Selecting a firearm:

Purchasing a FirearmYou may already have this part figured out. If not discuss it with your instructor so they can help guide you on your purchase or selection. I suggest if you are unsure that you go to a local gun range and try out a few different guns to see what works best for you.
Keep in mind a couple of important factors: a.) in Orange County you can have a maximum of three firearms on your permit, b.) the firearms must be registered to you, c.) the sheriff’s department will check to see if the guns you list on your application are registered to you, if they are not you will not be able to add them to your permit, and d.) the firearm must not be altered from its original factory design — meaning you cannot change the internals of the firearm. For example, you cannot change or alter the trigger in any fashion such as installing an aftermarket trigger kit or having a gunsmith alter the factory components so that the trigger is lighter or smoother. You can change the cosmetics if you want such as the color, the sights, and/or the grips.


You will have to decide how you are going to carry. Most people have no idea how this can affect their daily life until they try and leave the house carrying a concealed gun on their person. For example, if you are carrying a gun inside the waistband you may have to buy a pair of pants that is one size larger to make room for the gun. You will probably need to buy a sturdy belt that can support the weight of a gun.

HELIOS_ALPHA_JACKET_BLACKYou may need to start wearing a light jacket or a button up shirt to help conceal the gun you are carrying. More than likely you will need to make some changes to your wardrobe. The last thing you want to happen to you is for you to accidently expose your gun while you are out in public. (I will be doing another article that will cover Unwarranted Detection.) Law enforcement officers know this inside and out as a result of experience. If you have an instructor who is prior law enforcement, be sure to ask for their advice on this subject.

In closing, remember to always store your firearm in a safe and lawful manner and always adhere to the terms and conditions of your permit. If you want to reach me directly feel free to contact me via email.


Author : Jason Granados

First Posted on Aegis Academy

The Development of Shooting Specific Physical Skills

Train Smarter, Not Harder…

Shooting specific skill development - crossfit for gunsWhile physical skill development is discussed at length in training manuals for sports such as martial arts, cycling, powerlifting, and running, very little is written on how to apply periodization techniques to shooting. The application of modern training techniques in developing physical skills has massively changed the way professional athletes train. Over the years performance has massively increased across the board. Unfortunately, those concepts have in large part eluded the vast majority of shooting enthusiasts and professional instructors. Too often the development of shooting specific physical skills is accomplished by instructors doggedly adhering to the “What I learned first, must be the best” theory. Fortunately, there is a better (or more efficient) way of developing the shooting specific skills you are looking for. The most widely known example of the principles of periodization is the workout routine known as Crossfit.

Physical skill development in any sport occurs faster and more effectively using the periodization techniques that have dominated competitive sports training for the past half century. We see college athletes routinely make weight, speed, power, and time achievements that were unthinkable at even the most elite competitive levels 50 years ago. Taking the time to break those skills down into an effective program is not insurmountable, but it takes time, patience and a fair amount of trial and error . We have chosen to focus on four principles of periodization relevant to shooting specific skills. These phases are adaptation, conditioning, transition, and refinement.

The adaptation phase is characterized by the establishment or reprogramming of existing neuromuscular pathways. This is simply teaching your muscles and tendons to stabilize the muzzle while you perform all the other necessary actions to hit your target. The key to adaptation is to remember that practice does not make perfect; practice makes permanent. During the adaptation phase, we are not concerned with speed, we are exclusively focused on getting the movements absolutely correct. This is all about establishing an efficient neuromuscular pathway. Most people can build enough of a base in about 90 days to begin effective training if they focus on it – but this is the permanent base from which your skills will develop. Mistakes made in the adaptation phase will prove costly in time and effort.

Development of shooting specific skillsThe conditioning phase is designed to improve on the efficient neuromuscular programming we have developed in the adaptation phase. We accomplish this by varying the conditions under which we activate the pathway and we increase the intensity. For example, conducting trigger-reset drills while seated and not looking at the front site removes much of the expected stimulus associated with a trigger press, but ingrains the reset all the same. We can vary the intensity by conducting the drill for a longer period of time, over a shorter cycle or by adding more repetitions. The reality is that overload is also an effective means of adding variation, but power is a very small part of the development of shooting specific skills so we don’t use that principle much.

The transition period is a programmed rest phase which allows both the body and mind to take a break. It also allows your normal coordinated movement to start incorporating the improvements in the shooting specific neuromuscular pathways. Basically, as your grip strength improves, it will take a bit of time to adjust to the correct amount of pressure needed to open a jar of pickles. Incorporating these gains into your everyday life helps improve the pathway and makes it more efficient, as well as giving you finer motor control over the neuromuscular systems involved. This makes it easier to incorporate these improvements into other shooting relevant skills during the refinement phase.

The refinement phase consists of incorporating the improvements in the programed pathway into the other skill sets required to shoot effectively. This means we are focusing on a new skill set (or functional area), which typically still requires the effective use of the previously programmed pathways and serves as a maintenance program. This is the key to long-term improvement — consciously improving one specific area at a time, and over time incorporating each segmented improvement to the whole of the activity. As should be evident from the above description, this does not happen in a four hour class. Like anything else you want to master, shooting takes time an effort to get good at.

The physiological underpinnings of periodization provide the general framework for improving physical skill development. The next step is in breaking down the critical functional elements required to accomplish the skill effectively. This puzzle can be solved in many different ways, but once you understand the key elements and know what the end goal looks like, your much further along the path then when you first dumped the pieces on the table. These specific skill development requirements are called functional areas. Since we are focused on self-defense and the ability to respond effectively over the long term, not peaking for a specific known event, this provides some challenges in programming. We break shooting in to five functional areas; trigger control, focal plane shift, gross motor skills, manipulation and incapacitation. The adaptation phase is typically started during professional instruction and mastered via specific follow on drills designed to reinforce the lessons learned. They are focused on for a period of time each training season (For our purposes a calendar year) and refined during the conditioning phase of improving the other functional areas.

For our program, the length of time dedicated to each functional area was determined by its relative value to your overall shooting ability. This is combined with the likelihood of having to execute the skills in a defensive scenario. For example a picture perfect one-handed type three-malfunction clearance is somewhat of an unlikely requirement and a relatively useless skill if you do not have effective trigger control mastered. Ultimately we dedicate more time and effort to the trigger control functional area then we do to the incapacitation functional area.

Nearly every decent instructor on the planet has a series of drills and secret sauce they use to get people on target and make them faster. It’s the reason I go shoot at other institutions and take other peoples’ courses every year. The question I have seen few instructors, even the great ones, able to answer is what aspect of shooting specific physical skills that specific drill is designed to improve. It might be the perfect solution to a problem you are experiencing. Without the ability to incorporate that skill into a program of skill development, it is simply an unending litany of error and solution identification until every possible error has been eliminated. Unfortunately that is a costly and inefficient means of skill development.

Skill developmentLearning to drive by having an instructor point out potholes in the road is a great analogy for that type of training. If you were only told where the potholes were, you would eventually learn to vary the speed, direction, and location of the vehicle to avoid them. Conversely, If you were programatically taught how to turn the wheel, use the gas pedal and position the car correctly in the lane, you would learn to avoid potholes much more quickly. The key thing to evaluate is the goals of the program by looking at how the concepts presented relate to the drills being shot, what specific portion of a complete program does this drill work on, and what is the final goal of following the program. If that is not laid out, to some extent, you are quite likely wasting your time and effort…

Programming and periodization is what people really mean when they say “train smarter, not harder”. As with any program, compliance is always the shortfall. Train smarter does not mean sit around and think about training (although visualization can be useful, that is a different concept). It means pick up the gun and do the work to master the skill. All of our courses come with a 30 day series of specifically programmed dry practice and live fire drills to ensure you are mastering the skills the paid to learn. For those who have completed the series of courses, we’ve tried to make it easy and broken it down into daily 5 – 10 minute user friendly dry practice drills with weekly live fires and situational awareness drills to keep you sharp. Check out the Drill of the Day for our programmatic approach to long term shooting specific skill maintenance. It’s free, it’s easy and it works – provided you understand how to practice correctly… If you don’t know what you’re doing, its counter- productive at best, and dangerous at worst. Get some professional instruction from someone who can explain the training progression, and how these drills and others fit into the program. Professional instruction (in any skill based activity) is the best money you’ll ever spend!

Author – Patrick Henry (President at Aegis Academy)

Patrick Henry received his operational training and experience from the U. S. Government, 22 years of which were spent in the Marine Corps where he served in the Reconnaissance, Infantry and Intelligence fields. During his active service, he spent more then five years deployed overseas in combat, operational and training assignments. After the military, Pat worked as a contractor and as the Director of Operations at a private paramilitary firm specializing in training military special operations forces and providing protective services to select private clients. His education consists of an MBA from the University of Southern California (USC), and a BS from San Diego State University with an emphasis in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology and a minor in Psychology. He holds an extensive list of security and training related certifications from a variety of government and nationally recognized entities. He currently sits on the advisory committee at USC’s Master of Veterans Business Program, and is an active member of Infraguard and the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS). He has been a guest speaker at ASIS, the San Diego Industrial Security Awareness Council and other private organizations on physical security, travel security, and competitive intelligence collection counter-measures.

Source :

Diagnosing Pistol Malfunctions – Part 3: Failure to Eject

Stove-Pipe-IIWelcome back and thank you for returning to read the final installment in the Diagnosing Pistol Malfunctions series. To cover the wide range of topics in this series, I have broken the 8 elements of the cycle of operation into the three commonly accepted types of pistol malfunction. Part 1, Failure to Feed, covered the first three elements: feeding, chambering, and locking. Part 2, Failure to Fire, covered the fourth and fifth elements: firing and unlocking. In Part 3, Failure to Eject, we will discuss the remaining three elements within the cycle of operation: extracting, ejecting, and cocking. Within this category of stoppages, I will analyze the three main causes: (1) failure to extract; (2) double feed; and (3) stove pipe.

As we begin this discussion, I believe it is important to once again emphasize the preeminent role of the extractor and highlight its counterpoise with the ejector. In both Part 1 and Part 2 of the series, I described the extractor’s role in properly guiding a cartridge case along the breech face during the feeding cycle as well as its role in firmly holding the cartridge in place centering the primer in front of the firing pin hole. extractor and ejectorIn Part 3, we will discuss the extractor’s profound role as the extractor claw “grips” the cartridge rim as the firearm unlocks and the rearward movement of the slide “extracts” the spent cartridge case from the chamber. As the slide continues its full rearward movement, the extractor maintains proper tension on the cartridge case holding it in position against the breech face until the continued rearward motion thrusts the base of the cartridge case against the ejector. Working in unison, the extractor continues to pull as the ejector pushes the spent cartridge case through the ejection port and away from the pistol… just in time for the slide to begin its forward motion which will feed the next round.

Failure to Extract

A failure to extract occurs when the cycle of operation is interrupted by a cartridge case that becomes stuck in the chamber. Even with a dirty chamber or a corroded cartridge case, the extractor tension combined with rapid slide movement create enough force to pull the case from the chamber. Therefore, the most likely cause of a failure to extract is either a broken extractor or one with improper tension.

compares two 1911 extractorsA brief visual inspection of the extractor claw can indicate excessive wear, damage, or a clean break. The photo to the right compares two 1911 extractors. One clearly has a broken claw. The only remedy to this problem is a full replacement. The good news is that most manufacturers produce quality extractors that are very affordable. They can range from $15.00 to $45.00 depending on the “name brand” you go with. Wilson Combat 1911 extractors are in the mid-$30.00 range and Glock extractors are just under $20.00. Since these are such an important item, it is a good idea to keep a spare extractor or two in your range bag.

When designed internal to the slide, such as most 1911s, the extractor is typically a solid piece of steel with a claw protruding into the breech. A “bow” in this solid piece of steel provides tension to the cartridge case. As such, the internal extractor itself can be considered a spring. The degree of the “bow” determines how much or how little tension is applied to the cartridge case.

When designed external to the slide, such as Glocks and Sigs, the extractor is one or more pieces of metal also with a claw protruding into the breech. External extractors rely on leverage and a spring to provide proper tension.

Whether internal or external, too much extractor tension may cause a failure to feed, but too little extractor tension could cause both a failure to feed and a failure to extract. In the case of a failure to extract, there just isn’t enough tension at the extractor claw to pull the case from the chamber. A visual inspection may not allow you to ascertain proper extractor tension.

If you recall from previous discussions, proper extractor tension can be determined by removing the slide from your pistol and pushing a loaded cartridge case against the breech face with the case rim under the extractor claw. Once in place, shake the slide in your hand. The cartridge should remain in place. If it falls free, there may be insufficient extractor tension.

If you determine you have insufficient extractor tension, I recommend conducting a detailed disassembly and cleaning of your slide. Built-up dirt may be limiting the movement of your extractor and its parts. If cleaning the extractor, channel, and springs does not correct the problem, then you may need to modify or change some parts. If you have a one-piece internal extractor, you can “bend” it a little further inward to increase the “bow,” and thus the tension. If you have an external extractor, you may need to replace the springs.

Double Feed

A double feed is one of the most difficult stoppages to clear… especially under pressure. “Tap… Rack… Assess” will either fail to correct the problem or create yet another double feed. It requires you to lock the slide to the rear, remove the magazine, “rack” the slide repeatedly to remove any cartridges, reinsert the magazine, and then chamber another round.

But what causes it? Read More »

About Author: Howard Hall (Range Master)

Howard has served for nearly 20 years in the Marine Corps. He has served as a Platoon Commander, Company Commander, Battalion Executive Officer, Regimental Operations Officer, and Battalion Commander. He has multiple combat tours to include serving as a military transition team member in Fallujah. He is an NRA Certified handgun instructor and holds numerous Marine Corps training credentials.

An active competitor in action pistol (United States Practical Shooting Association), long range rifle (NRA F-Class), and shotgun (Amateur Trapshooting Association, National Skeet Shooting Association), howard has earned numerous accolades and medaled during DoD competitions with the 1911 platform in bulls-eye shooting.

Curved Blade (Karambit) Workshop at Aegis Academy in San Diego

Steve Tarani returns to Aegis Academy on April 18th to conduct a curved blades workshop. Learn the practical and unparalleled advantages of this blade for defensive purposes, from one of the few, true masters of the Karambit. The course will cover karambit safe handling procedures, karambit selection and characteristics, distance / injury risk metrics, leverage and karambit mechanics, wound analysis and effects and defensive anatomy. Read out more about Karambit.

Curved Blade (Karambit) Workshop in San Diego

What is a Karambit?

Karambit / Curved BladesDeveloped in ancient times, the Karambit ranged in size from nearly sword-like lengths to the compact lengths we see today used in self-defense applications. Originally modeled after the shape of the claws of predators, the angles and cutting power of these blades are unequaled by other blade designs. The advantages of this blade design and employment techniques for close contact range defensive options are extensive.

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About the Instructor

Steve TaraniSteve Tarani, protection and weapons expert and master-level instructor to a number of government agencies, personally teaches each course. As a published author, weapons designer, law enforcement advisor, and federally certified instructor trainer, he will teach you everything you need to know about weapon selection, usage and practical application under duress. Take advantage of his more than 25 years of serving and teaching throughout the US Defense Intelligence community by learning the same principles and lifesaving skills used by the professionals.