What you need for our Level I Handgun Course
– Modern semi-automatic pistol or revolver, caliber .380, or larger. 9mm, or larger, is better. .380 will work as a defensive caliber, but it is not pleasant to shoot for an entire weekend. For most students we recommend a pistol chambered in 9mm. (Also referred to as 9mm Parabellum and 9mm Lugar) If you have not purchased a pistol yet, we are strong proponents of the Glock 19 and 17, as well as the Smith & Wesson M&P series of guns, in 9mm.

[Look here for our advice on choosing a pistol]

Those manufactured by Hi-Point will probably not survive the weekend. We also see lots of problems with the Smith and Wesson Sigma series. Revolver recommendations are those made by Smith & Wesson and Ruger, of the double action design. Single action “cowboy” guns are not allowed. We also do not recommend the smaller, J-frame revolvers for this class. While serviceable, small revolvers are quite punishing to the user over a 2-day class. Pistols should be left factory stock. “Customizing”, or adding “extended this” or “enlarged that” to your gun will not increase its reliability. You do not need adjustable sights, Hogue rubber grip sleeves or any other additions to your gun. There is nothing you can buy and attach to your pistol that will align the sights for you and properly press the trigger.

Your pistol must be drop safe, as most modern handguns are. However, there are some older, antique, or imported handguns that are not.

Revolver recommendations: Those manufactured by Smith & Wesson and Ruger. Taurus handguns are not recommended. Revolvers need to be of a double action design, meaning single action “cowboy guns” are not allowed.

Snub nosed, J-frame type revolvers are allowed, but they are not pleasant to fire hundreds of rounds through. If you choose to attend with one, bring a light glove. like a batting or golf glove, as well as a roll of athletic tape.

If you have any questions about your firearm, contact us.

A proper holster designed for your make and model pistol.

We recommend Comptac holsters.  

Nylon-type, one-size-fits-all holster are not recommended. Leather or polymer holsters are recommended. Either inside or outside the waistband design is acceptable. Polymer holsters are preferred. Other acceptable brands:

Raven Concealment

If you must have a leather holster:

We do not allow ankle holsters, shoulder holsters, cross-draw holsters or off-body carry (purse, fanny pack, day planner, etc…) in Level I Handgun Courses. Your holster must be worn on you belt, in a strong side position (for right handers, on the right side.)

For female students, contact http://www.holstersplus.com/ and ask for the “Vicki Farnam” model, or consider the ‘2 O’Clock’ from Comptac.

Do not wait until the last minute to order your holster. Many quality manufacturers require 4 to 6-weeks for delivery.

– At least two spare magazines (three total) or speedloaders, and a magazine/speedloader carrier. More is better. Magazine carriers are available from Comptac, and most other quality holster manufacturers. A carrier which holds a single spare magazine is fine. Speedloader carriers usually hold two speedloaders. [Speedloaders are used with revolvers.]

600 rounds of quality, American manufactured ammunition. Tip: Remove ammo from factory boxes and put it all in one big box to save time and keep range trash down. Pre-charge your magazines to save time and thumbs.

Use of reloaded ammunition is allowed at this time. However, no live rounds will be picked up off the ground until the end of class on day two. Use of factory manufactured ammunition is HIGHLY recommended – reloads tend to cause more trouble than they are worth, and that eats up valuable training time. Recommended ammunition brands:
-American Eagle
-Black Hills

Foreign manufactured ammunition tends to be underpowered and dirty, especially that made in the former eastern-block nations. Quality control is spotty at best, and we find the use of such ammunition to be more trouble than its worth.

– Hearing Protection. The foam plugs are fine, but are difficult to remove and reinsert quickly. The full-coverage, ear –phone type are best. Electronic hearing protection is highly recommended.

You may wish to have both types of hearing protection with you to allow use of both together, especially if the course is on an indoor range.

-Eye protection (wrap around eyewear with side protection that is IMPACT rated.) if you wear prescription eyewear, we recommend contacts be worn with your shooting glasses, or that your shooting glasses fit over your prescription eyewear. Most companies that offer protective eyewear can fit your prescription into your shooting glasses, contact your optometrist to discuss options.

We can provide add-on side shields for your prescription glasses at class should you have no other options available.

– Sturdy footwear (no open toes.) Hiking boots are best. Gym shoes are allowed. No sandals, crocks, or the like.

-A hat with a brim, such as a baseball cap. YOU MUST HAVE A HAT, no one shoots without one.

– Long pants. Jeans or tactical type (9.11) pants with proper belt loops. 1.5″ loops are standard. Your pants MUST have belt loops, and they must cover all bare skin of your legs. No shorts!

Sturdy belt which will hold the weight of your holstered pistol and spare magazine. Do not wear a cheap, 1″, woven-fiber dress belt! Leather or nylon gun belts are best. Your holster will be worn on your belt and must support the weight of your carry gear.

– We strongly suggest long sleeves and shirts with closed collars (especially for female students.) The more skin you can cover, the better! – Females (and males) with long hair will want to bring a hair tie.

– Concealment garment which will cover pistol – You will be drawing your gun from concealment! A lightweight jacket, vest or suit coat will work as a concealment garment. Even a flannel or button up shirt may be used as a cover garment.

– Dress for the weather and have rain gear. The only reason we suspend training is for lightning.

-You must have a case/box/bag to transport your gun to and from the range. If you are carrying a holstered pistol, please leave it holstered. If you are not carrying your gun, leave it in its transport case until instructed to do otherwise. DO NOT HANDLE GUNS IN THE PARKING LOT! We perform all gun handling on the firing line.

-Whatever medications you may need. Bug spray, sun block, etc., are up to you. It’s recommended that you have aspirin, sun block, Band-Aids, etc…

-Flashlight for the low light/night shoot, should one be scheduled with your class. “Tactical” lights with end cap switches are best, such as those made by Surefire, Firstlight, Streamlight, Blackhawk, Pelican, etc…

Sources for flashlights



-Back-up guns are allowed and recommended, but not required. If you have a spare handgun and holster, bring it with incase your primary gun breaks.

Bring what you will need to eat and drink for the entire day – we will not leave the range for lunch. Water will be provided. We will take a dinner break on Saturday before the low-light shoot.

-Cleaning kits, lubrication, etc., are a good idea to have with.

-Note book and pen/pencil. You need to take notes during the lectures – we encourage you to write down as much of the presented information as possible.

-A folding chair is also a good idea.

Lastly, once you arrive, devote your time and attention to the class. Turn off your phone and focus on the tasks at hand. Take lots of note and asks lots of questions. This is your learning time, use it wisely!