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Monday, June 15, 2015

MDFI Low-Light Handgun AAR

Written by Damian St. Parker  Kinetic Concepts Tactical
MDFI - Michigan Defensive Firearms Institute
June 12th, 2015 - Albion, MI


Apparel:
- T-shirt
- L.A. Police Gear Urban Ops Tactical Pants
- 5.11 Tactical XPRT 2.0 Tactical Boot
- 5.11 Tactical TDU Belt - 1.5" Wide
- 5.11 Tactical MultiCam TacDry Rain Shell (Now discontinued)

Gear:
- Glock 17 with TLR-1HL (Zev spring kit for 3.5lb pull, SS guide rod, LW threaded barrel)
- KCT Kydex Torchbearer IWB holster
- KCT Kydex Low-Mass Dual Mag Carrier
- LA Police Gear Operator L2 730 lumen (Made by Fenix)
- Energizer Hard Case Professional 4 LED Headlight
- Surefire EPS Sonic Defenders Ear Plugs

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Prior to taking this class run by the fantastic instructors Keith and Trek, I had no experience with shooting in low- or no-light conditions. Most people would be in the same boat as I in that they don't have access to any ranges that allow firing past sundown. This was my second MDFI course, the first being their Foundation Handgun in 2014. I walked away with a lot of information on different subjects from techniques and limitations of my night vision to situational awareness skills and techniques.

The weather was not too keen on wanting to cooperate with us, which ranged from a light drizzle to a few instances of an outright downpour to the point of needing to pause under cover for a few minutes so our eye-pro wouldn't constantly fog up. Not only was I getting a healthy dose of training in the dark, but also training while myself and gear were soaking wet. My gear performed well, and the 5.11 rain shell was perfect. Despite the heavy rainfall, the sides and back of my torso were kept perfectly dry, and had I zipped it up and kept the hood up at all times my entire upper body would have been dry too. The 5.11 boots are described as water proof, and while that may be true for stepping into water and being splashed on, when you've got sideways rain that soaks through your pants the water runs down into the boots, soaking them from the inside.

Through the different techniques taught, I learned some very important lessons on how and when to use the handheld and/or weapon-mounted lights that I carry everyday. I was very happy to find that the gear selection which I went in with was well suited for all the tasks at hand in both the shooting drills and utility functions. The LAPG handheld light and the TLR-1HL each put out 730 and 630 lumens respectively, and the TLR-1HL lists as having 12,000 candela peak beam intensity. Unfortunately the peak beam is not listed for the LAPG light but it seems to be similar to the Streamlight. There are certain techniques that work quite well with my handheld, but I found that the "syringe" method did not work at all due to the tall bevels protecting the activation button on the back of the light.

One important thing I was able to discern is that my vision is not that good at adapting to the low-light conditions. A drill that I had some trouble with was a bright handheld pointed at face height from down range, with a steel target that had to be found and engaged after turning from darkness and facing the flashlight. I was unable to locate the steel target using my handheld light for searching, while most other shooters could. Some techniques that were discussed to overcome this were lateral movement, and dropping to a kneel to change the angle that the light was coming in from. Another suggestion from instruction would be to combine handheld with weapon light to overpower the incoming light in order to then identify the target.

We also did an exercise where we fired several different types of self-defense ammo compared to training ammo to dispel the myth that more powerful rounds could have the possibility of temporary blinding the shooter, especially from +P and hotter loads. The test revealed that all self defense rounds but one use a flash-suppressant powder which actually has a lower flash than ball ammo. The one round which was an exception was the Liberty Munitions Civil Defense round, that was brighter than all the rest including ball ammo.

I am extremely satisfied with the Low-Light Handgun class, and highly recommend it to anyone that owns a handgun. The lessons learned apply to carrying defensively in public, and also for using a handgun as personal protection in the home. The same recommendation applies to any MDFI course as well, Keith and Trek are top notch instructors, and ensure that their training environment is 100% safe and welcoming to any skill-level of shooter.

For more information about their schedule, check out their site: www.trainmdfi.com

Kinetic Concepts Tactical

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