Carbine – Manipulation and pistol comparison

The carbine is just the opposite of the pistol in that it is easy to shoot and hard to manipulate.

For example.
For example.

At CQC distances (and beyond) the carbine is easy to shoot accurately for two main reasons: it has multiple points of contact and a longer sight radius.

(Many people argue that the differences between rifle and pistol performance revolve around bullet ballistics, barrel lengths, and a plethora of things that effect the two. Whereas this is a somewhat accurate assessment, the truth is that multiple points of contact and a longer sight radius are what makes the rifle more precise and accurate. Don’t believe me? Watch this clip of Jerry Miculeck shooting a balloon at 1000 yards with a 9mm pistol.)

The pistol can create performance that parallels rifle rounds. The issue normally is not the round or the gun – it is normally the shooter. We will discuss this in greater depth in another post.

The benefits of longer sight radius and multiple contact points come with an “Achilles Heel” in regards to CQC because it is simply a larger weapon system. The larger weapon system is more accurate but also a toad to manipulate. Whereas the pistol is easy to work with, harder to accurately shoot (even at close range), the carbine is easier to accurately shoot but harder to work with (no matter the range). Add this into a CQC environment – think sling, body armor, and whatever else you find yourself carrying – and you have a self-induced goat rope.

Not the meaning of "goat rope" here - we're talking about being in a precarious situation.
Not the meaning of “goat rope” here – we’re talking about being in a precarious situation.

How do we avoid this goat rope? 10,000 hours of practice creates a professional so start by practicing carbine manipulation as much as possible. Magazine changes, transition drills, combat reloads, tac-reloads (exchange and save), malfunction drills, sight acquisition from the high and low ready – all of these things can be done without firing single shot. These are free reps that can be done at the house or wherever you want… again without firing a single round.

If you get 10,000 hours worth of carbine manipulation without having to go to the range, when you do go you will be able to work on skills that require shooting (i.e. CQC marksmanship techniques, hold-overs, hold-unders, battle sight zero for your gun, trajectories, etc). As a caveat, I have never won a gunfight that was dictated by a mag change. I have been in gunfights that required me to do multiple mag changes, but the outcome of the gunfight was not dictated by the speed or the efficiency of the mag change. Transitions and malfunction drills are another story, but even in gunfights where I have preformed those I don’t think the outcome was related to the speed at which I preformed them, only the efficiency.

(Huck Note – cover these talking points in another post, Roger that.)

The point of this post is that while accuracy is key in all aspects of shooting, accuracy with the carbine (especially at CQC distances) comes with relative ease. What does not come with relative ease is the ability to manipulate the carbine properly within the confines of a CQC scenario (real world or training).


In the gym everyone has a bench press story, but when squats are mentioned everyone has a knee or back injury. Why? Because squats are hard and no one wants to do them. The carbine is the same way. We can shoot it really quick and accurate looking cool while we do it, but manipulation starts to hurt so we come up with a reason not to do it. Always practice precise accuracy, but when precise accuracy becomes easy (as it is with the carbine) start practicing what is hard. Work corners and hallways in your house with your carbine. Work reloads and transitions. Setup malfunction drills. All of these can be done dry. Just like with pistol, training doesn’t always have to cost money or take you away from home.

So instead of pinging steel quickly because it sounds cool and is easy to do with a carbine, practice the hardest carbine skill, the “squats” of carbine manipulation.

Be a winner not a whiner.