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Part 3 - Laser Cartridges, Laser Trainers, IR & Recoil, what do I need to get?

Question on .22LR dry fire lasers and snap caps.

I received a few questions asking if there were any dry fire lasers or snap caps for the .22lr. I didn't find any lasers you put in the chamber of your firearm. I found a product by LaserLyte which appears to be an insert into the end of your firearm--similar to a laser bore sight. But from what I read, it is either out of stock or manufacturer-discontinued.

As for the snap cap question, you can purchase a set of .22lr snap caps from Brownell's here. But leave it to gun folks, who are an ingenious bunch. According to this article, you can use plastic drywall anchors for snap caps. I haven't tried it, but I have read many comments and reviews from other blogs saying this works well and is a much cheaper solution than the aluminum/metal snap caps. (Check out this article)

If you have a 9mm Glock, there is a possible hybrid option

Before leaving the snap cap laser cartridge discussion behind for the dedicated laser trainer discussion, let me introduce you to a solution that sits in the middle.

You've probably seen the DryFireMag (DFM), which stands out because of its orange magazine butt plate. They make magazines for almost any semi-auto market. Their standard dry fire mag allows you to do basic dry fire--

  • with your actual gun and

  • without racking the slide.

NICE! Right? You get your reps, you get to use your gun, and you don't need constantly rack to reset. Folks have noted the trigger doesn't quite feel exactly like it would when firing live ammo. But you do get to work on all your fundamentals.

  • G17

  • G19 / G19X

  • G26

  • G34

  • G45

  • G47

The kit includes a magazine with electronics that allows it to pair with a DFM proprietary laser cartridge. So for those fortunate enough to own one of the Glock models, you can now use your firearm and one of these kits equipped with a laser to give you the same visual feedback as a laser cartridge!

Dedicated laser trainers.

You've undoubtedly seen the blue, red, and orange guns. You've seen the ones that have recoil and no recoil (we'll touch on that later). If you're using an AR platform, there are inserts that you put inside your real firearm but replace your bolt carrier group (BCG) and ones that have a frame you combine with a trainer pistol; then there are those where you buy an entire platform that costs just as much as the real gun.

The goal is to give you a device that mimics your gun of choice as closely as possible but eliminates the danger of a live round in your trainer while still providing the training feedback required to improve or maintain firearms proficiency translates to the use of your real firearm.
SIRT 115C by NextLevel Training gives the functional features you'll find in a Glock 19--note it's not affiliated with Glock.

If you catch us at tradeshows or conventions, you'll notice we run SIRTs made by the folks at Nextlevel training.

However, it's not unusual to see other companies bring their proprietary laser training devices to our booth and try them out on our systems. Some of the folks who show up could be considered competitors and others training partners. None of our folks mind it--I actually encourage it. Our ultimate desire at LASR is for everyone who owns a gun to train! Their customers and mine get to see a great dry fire solution in LASR regardless of the hardware they run.

But training is expensive, and when you move to a dedicated laser trainer, the cost can be an obstacle and an excuse not to train. So here's how I'd tackle it to not blow your bank.

If a Dedicated laser trainer is where you choose to start, or you're upgrading from a VLC, purchase a trainer that's closest to your gun size and feel (weight, balance, etc.) Look for one with a laser that turns in and off with the trigger. Glock boys, that should be easy; if you have an exotic like a WaltherQ4 SF, you may have to settle for the closest thing. Ask how I know.

Green vs. red laser light on matte black target surface. This may be an issue for some systems.

Go for the basic red lasers. They give the same feedback as other visible color lasers and are the least expensive. The cost increases as you move to green (but it looks cool). We have also noticed that if you use a camera-based system, the Green laser is much brighter, which has the effect of the laser dot appearing like a larger spot on your target (blooming). For some systems, it may cause inaccurate shot placement. There are infrared (IR) versions but don't go for that. . .yet.

Look for a trainer that allows you to drop and swap your magazines. Ammo is life, and if you don't practice your reloads, you will be a mess when you're trying to do it under stress. For that reason, you want your trainer to work with your dry fire system, so you are made to work on reloads and random malfunctions because these will happen.

Lastly, because you will use your sights--or you should be, look for a trainer that affords you the sight picture closest to your real weapon. If you have SIG or Glock sights, ask the manufacturer of your trainer if you can mount the same sights. If you have a red dot, see if you can mount or mill your slide to accept the red dot. If milling is in the plan, you'll need a trainer with a metal slide.

So to recap what I think you should look for in a dedicated laser trainer--

  • Closest to your gun in size and feel (e.g., size, weight, trigger)

  • Look for one with a laser that turns in and off with the trigger (this gives you feedback on shot placement. If the trainer doesn't have this, go back to basic dry fire)

  • Go for the basic red lasers. Green looks cooler if you must discriminate between two shooters on your dry fire system, but that cool factor will cost you more green!

  • Look for a trainer that allows you to drop and swap your magazines. (At some point, you will reload and plus-up your gun before you reholster, or you will need to clear a malfunction. Practice both!)

  • Sight picture closest to your real weapon (You should be using your sights in most cases when you train, although there are exceptions)

With these points in mind, our favorite for those looking to start with a dedicated laser trainer is the SIRT 110 Performer (we call it the SIRT Student). It has the functional features of a Glock 17 (but it's not affiliated with Glock). Even though not everyone has a Glock, for fundamentals, it gets the job done at a palatable cost, but with the cost comes a little give.

A SIRT 110 Student retails for $240 in our store. It's slightly lighter by 4 oz than the PRO model, which weighs the same as a fully loaded Glock 17. The difference is the Student model has a polymer slide, whereas the PRO has a metal slide. That also eliminates replacing sights or milling for optics.

Dont be tempted to watch the laser and ignore your sights.

There is a training scar you can develop when running dedicated laser trainers with a visible laser, which is the tendency not to use the sights of your trainer to aim. Instead, you start to watch where the laser is hitting on the target and adjust your aim. I call that riding the laser or walking it into the target.

If this is the challenge you are faced with now, CONGRATULATIONS, you're training a good amount! There is more tech that can help extend the training envelope to help you get the remaining dividends from dry fire.

Tomorrow We'll touch on dry firing with IR and reopen the discussion concerning recoil simulation and where it fits into your training continuum.

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