Probably one of the biggest shortcomings of law enforcement is the lack of training or time in the area of firearms. Mainly, it’s due to budgets, manpower and lack of range facilities. Here, I won’t address the lack of interest from management or officers’ reticence for training on their own time. I’m well aware of the “if the department wanted me to have it they’d issue it to me, pay me for it, or pay me over time” mind set.

I admit I did hear a good one the other day as an officer said he didn’t want to attend firearms training because he thought he “would embarrass himself.” I think I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on that one.

Personally, I’m pretty much tired of all the lame excuses as to why cops wouldn’t want to be proficient with the tools of their trade. Let’s face it, real cops carry guns and if I were still a cop today and couldn’t carry a gun I wouldn’t be a cop tomorrow!

Another way to look at this is if you’re a cop and don’t want to maintain some level of skill with the firearms you carry, maybe you should get in another line of work.


Vehicle drills to include drawing, dismounts and gun handling can be con-ducted with plastic guns successfully even if you do not have a range to live fire on.





Not all departments have a range and not all departments have a firearms training budget. Some departments don’t even have an ammunition budget. In that case, individual officers or small departments might look for ways to train or practice that costs less.

For example, vehicle defense drills: seat belt use, drawing firearms inside the vehicle, dismounting with firearms and basic tactics can be addressed without huge money expenditures by the use of dry practice exercises.


Dry practice is the physical manipulation of fire-arms when unloaded and in a safe condition. This doesn’t mean officers should point these guns at each other during training exercises.

Dry practice is also a wonderful example of a theory that can be mugged by the simple facts of stupidity or carelessness. Cops have been killed by “unloaded,” real guns in training exercises that just plain weren’t unloaded. It’s happened and will continue to do so.

The BLACKHAWK! Tactical leg rig works with the plastic guns allowing for drawing or transition drills practice and training…. safely.

This is the BLACKHAWK! 1911 version plastic with a working Xiphos NT light system that could be used to learn basic light use skills and for tactical training.



You’re a problem solver, so here’s a suggestion to solve some problems (lack of training funds, facilities or maybe stupidity). Consider the use of plastic, fake, dummy — you choose the word — guns. They could be used to practice drawing, basic tactics, weapons mounted or hand held illumination tool techniques.

Over the last several months I’ve been using (with good results) BLACKHAWK! gray polymer made renditions of the 1911 and Glock pistols in my tutorial blocks on tactics and vehicle defense exercises. This concept deserves consideration when dealing with funding or training site issues.


About now someone is in the “I call bullshit” mode about using plastic guns for training. I didn’t say, nor do I think, using plastic weapons for practice takes the place of real live fire firearms training. And yes, the weight is different and there’s no recoil, noise or muzzle flash. Plastic weapons are not intended to be a replacement — just a supplement or a cost effective tool when there’s a limited or nonexistent budget. Plastic guns for training is a concept, but listed below are some reasons plastic guns are not BS.






A guy was dry practicing with his revolver in a jail control room and with his “ empty” gun blew the lock out of the towel rack — hell of a shot, but that’s not dry practice. I know an officer who practiced by drawing at images as they flashed on the TV. It’s a good concept when properly executed, except one night he and his “unloaded” gun were drawn into a gunfight of sorts when the image of Matt Dillon drawing flashed on the TV. Who won is still in question as the TV sort of exploded when hit with the “unloaded” .357 Magnum.

On the West Coast, a new cop attending a party was answering what he would do in some kind of a bad guy scenario. Drawing his gun, he racked the slide to remove the chambered round and then withdrew the magazine from the gun (yup, wrong sequence). Then after pointing the gun at his head, at the dry snap — which wasn’t — our new cop became unable to get any old cop awards.

In the northwest, a newly hired “soon to be” a cop was practicing his fast drawing technique to include pointing his pistol at his wife who just entered the room. Upon the press, the “dry” gun discharged killing his wife.

At a Southeastern police academy a few years back, the instructor, while pointing his “unloaded” pistol at a recruit, had the pistol discharge placing a bullet in the chest of the recruit — seems the pistol was in fact, loaded.

In the Southwest, two guys working a suggested dry practice routine with unloaded guns in a motel room managed to point the unloaded guns at one another long enough to have one of the unloaded 1911 pistols go off killing one of them. That pistol wasn’t unloaded either.

A guy, under supervision, was practicing drawing fast and re-holstering fast (I don’t get the re-holster fast) While holstering, he missed the holster grabbed for the pistol to keep it from dropping to the ground and with his finger on the trigger dis-charged the gun striking himself in the leg.


You may not like the plastic gun idea, you may disagree as to the value and or even the concept of a plastic gun, but one thing it isn’t — bullshit. Especially when placed in context to the incidents I listed above. Every one of them could have been prevented by the simple use of a plastic gun. Dry practice is good; it’s even better when done with an empty gun.

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