Wednesday, May 14, 2014

SIRT Pistols: Triggers, Magazines and Lasers, Oh My!

(Part 3 in the thrilling Wooden Swords and Laser Guns series.)
I have a confession to make: that post on Monday would have been better with photos, right? Sure it would, and my wife gave me a point-and-shoot camera for my birthday that makes it look easy. However, I went looking for the 5.11 barrel and didn't find it. If you could see how cluttered our home is, that wouldn't seem too surprising, but it pointed up the fact that I haven't used the yellow barrel for at least a month. It has largely been replaced, and Big Red over there is the culprit.

What have you done to it?
Before we start, I should note that my personal SIRT is different from others. It started life as a "Performer RR" model, which meant that it cost a little over half what the Pro model costs, and had two major differences. First, the RR model has one red laser to indicate that the slack is being taken out of the trigger (or that the shooter has not completely released the trigger) and one red laser to show the shot break. The Performer RG and the Pro model have a green laser for the shot. The other big difference is the weight; the Pro model has a metal top end, while the Performers make do with plastic and are thus a little light to simulate a pistol perfectly.

Personally, I was buying a SIRT primarily to practice running a trigger, so the weight wasn't a big deal to me, but the previous owner did some work with lead weight tape from a golf pro shop to put more weight out front. I've never weighed the thing, actually, so let me go do that now . . . . 22.2 oz. with the weighted magazine inserted, still about ten ounces less than Glock quotes for a loaded Glock 17. That's still significantly lighter, but for my purposes, I'm not sure I'd ever really notice the difference.
The other big change was the sights; one of the SIRT's selling points is that it will accept sights cut for Glocks, and the previous owner was thoughtful enough to add a set of Sevigny all-black sights with a nice narrow front and a nice wide rear notch (I still haven't replaced the stock plastic sights on my real pistol, so the SIRT has a noticeably better sight picture going for it at all times.)

What does it do that dry fire doesn't?
Technically, not much. It's an excellent tool for practicing several skills:

  • Handling a pistol safely--drawing, presenting, reholstering, reloading . . .
  • "Presentation" (draw a pistol and find a sight picture.)
  • Trigger press
But I can do all those things with an unloaded pistol. In fact, my particular SIRT has a much lighter trigger with a softer break than my Glock; I'm told the trigger is adjustable, but I haven't tried it or even learned how, yet. And an unloaded pistol can be used to run malfunction drills, slide-lock reloads--everything that requires running the slide is impossible with the SIRT. But there's always a catch, isn't there? There are actually two catches. 

Resetting triggers preserve sanity.
First, when I run dry practice with my striker-fired Glock, I use the slide to reset the trigger, and at the risk of sounding like a pansy, that's a pain in my butt. The SIRT resets, which allows me to keep my grip and press on, and also allows me to practice riding the reset (if you're into that sort of thing--I'm still undecided.) There's no recoil impulse messing me up while I do these things, but then nothing's perfect. 

With dry fire, quantity has a quality all its own.
The second catch is that all dry practice is not created equal. Dry practice is used to preserve and develop very perishable skills; consistent practice over time is the only dry practice that matters. Sporadic dry practice is . . . well, "waste of time" might be overstating it, but it's just not very useful. The SIRT fights the good fight against those long breaks from dry practice by being a completely inert gun-shaped object that cannot fire a bullet no matter how many mistakes I make. I don't store it in a gun safe, nor do I have to carry it with me to keep sticky little hands off it. As a matter of fact, I allow my seven-year-old son to try it out from time to time around the house, and he knows the difference between the SIRT and a firearm. What that lets me do is pick up the SIRT any time I have a couple of minutes to spare and run through whatever's bugging me. Now, if I want to run through a bunch of draws, and I'm wearing a pistol in my holster (and I usually am, nowadays) then I have to put a little more preparation in than that. But if I just want to get in 10-20 good presses of the trigger strong-hand-only and 10-20 weak-hand-only, I can grab the SIRT after I get dressed in the morning, run the trigger carefully while moving the sight picture from the newel post at the top of the stairs outside my bedroom door to a mini-USPSA silhouette in the opposite corner. When I'm done, I toss it on the desk and take off. I realize that probably doesn't impress anyone who lives in a house where only adults and animals live, but in a house with young children and squirrelly teenagers roaming free, that's performance a $2500 custom pistol can never match. Even the 5.11 training barrel I talked about on Monday doesn't quite match this, because it's not just the absolute safety of the device, but the convenience of it. You could certainly argue that I should be willing to do what I have to do in order to get enough dry practice, but the SIRT makes it so much easier that it amounts to more practice.

OK, but nothing is perfect, right?
True. The main drawback for the SIRT is its cost; the Pro model is not that far off the cost of another pistol, and even the Performers will set you back.  I paid under $200 for mine, and that included the excellent Sevigny sights and four of the weighted magazines, plus the previous owner's custom balancing work, but hey, $200 is $200. I bought the SIRT before I bought a "backup" to my Glock, and I can't claim it hasn't delayed that purchase. I can think of a few "types" who wouldn't find the SIRT nearly as useful as I do for home dry practice:

  • Someone who already has time (or makes time) for serious, frequent dry fire with a pistol.
  • Someone who lives or works in an environment where it's safe to store a firearm for dry fire sitting around where it can be picked up casually for a bit of work (for instance, a home with no children)
  • Someone
  • Anyone who has complete faith in their ability to prep the gun and the environment for dry fire every single time, such that there's no possibility of firing an unintentional bullet.
That last one looks a little bit sarcastic to me, but I'm serious about it. I am not that person, but I know they're out there. I, on the other hand, store firearms on one floor of the home, and I dry fire on another (because I don't have a safe direction there.) I take some time and trouble every time I dry fire to make sure it's safe . . . I don't dry fire with ammunition in the room, or in a direction without a safe backstop . . . and I've never had a mishap.
The SIRT doesn't provide guarantees that I never will, but every little bit helps.

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