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We first came across the Shot Indicating Resetting Trigger (SIRT) handgun from Next Level Training (NLT) at the 2012 SHOT Show. We were immediately taken by its utility and design. The model we played with was a mock Glock 22 dry-fire-shooting simulator that looks, feels and acts like a Glock. (NLT also has a drop-in bolt you can use to create the same laser-marking action in your favorite AR). When you press the trigger, it fires a laser. Release the trigger, and it resets without racking the slide. The SIRT system gives feedback on dry-fire shot placement without the risk—however slight—of walking through your house dry-firing your actual, you know, roscoe.
But we didn’t buy one. A few months later, I (Nick) was on the range doing a bunch of pistol drills with a friend from the police academy, Pete, and I noticed something: my handgun skills, which were once admirable, had deteriorated. In fact, I sucked.
“You suck,” said Pete.
“Yeah,” I said.
It’s no wonder why. It’s been really busy this year, and, like many folks, I just hadn’t had time to get out on the range. I’ve also been extremely lazy about dry-firing practice. Aside from our agency’s pistol qualification the week before, I haven’t been out on the range in … holy moly. Eight months.
“Yeah,” said Pete. “Just like a cop.”
A remedial course was agreed upon featuring regular trips to the range and daily 15-minute dry-firing sessions. That’s when I remembered SIRT.
SIRT Pro 110 Features
I bought the SIRT Pro 110, which is the current top-of-the-line product from NLT. It features a metal slide, invertible red and green lasers (one for trigger take-up and one for shot indication), fully adjustable trigger, replaceable sights, one extra-weighted magazine, replaceable mag catch and a grip angle simulating a Glock 17/22. It comes in a standard pistol presentation box and includes a DVD-ROM of instructions.
Some of the most important features were the staging and trigger-break lasers, the fact that I could swap out magazines and its identical size, shape and weight compared to a Glock 22.
Although my duty gun is a .40 SIG 229, my off-duty carry is a Glock 27. Even though the triggers on these two guns are markedly different in terms of press and reset, I feel almost as comfortable with the Glock as with the SIG. The functionality and form factor of the SIRT were adequate enough to improve dry firing (and, ultimately, shooting).
That last point is key to understanding the intended purpose of the SIRT product—people apparently must have thought that the SIRT was some kind of replacement for live fire: SIRT says about 52 bazillion times in its marketing and instructional materials that the SIRT is used to augment—not replace—live fire. This seems natural—licensed pilots regularly use simulators to drill on flying skills. But some people apparently get confused.
SIRT Dry-Fire Drills
The first order of business was to get the thing out of the box and look at the instructions. This was more difficult than it should have been. The manual comes on a home-spun DVD-ROM with a cheap laser-jet printed label (Mac users beware: the software isn’t optimal for the Mac platform). The NLT website, fortunately, has plenty of materials and video primers. Of particular note is the series on fundamentals and assessment1, which demonstrate the use of the SIRT pistol to diagnose target acquisition, trigger press, grip and follow-through. Downrange training also has some excellent guides to using the SIRT (e.g., an active shooter scenario in a corporate office2).
I began with some orientation practice, drawing, presenting, acquiring the target, firing and changing magazines. Within minutes I recognized two things: The look, feel, weight and handling of the SIRT were good, and that I was improving his shooting in his living room. The targets—light switches, bottle caps, talk-show hosts on the T.V.—were perfect for each exercise. Although I used basic rules of gun safety (I didn’t, for example, target my cat), it’s nice to know that you can skin a heater and fire at a target hung on my living room walls without fear of damaging anything but my ego.
One of the better features is the swappable magazines that are available at an extra cost. I bought two extra with the gun, and started some precision shooting and mag change drills: two rounds in an index card; mag change, three rounds on a paper plate. The magazines are a microcosm of the whole system. Although they’re extremely close to the real thing, subtle differences, such as the mag-release button on the pistol being substantially easier to depress than the real thing, are present. But the utility of being able to do these drills in rapid succession (I kept a laundry basket under the gun, and the lack of reloading time meant that he could accomplish several iterations of this drill per minute) can’t be overstated.
Next, I did some point-shooting exercises. By selecting a small target on my wall (a light switch) and from a low-ready position, raising the gun and pointing at the switch using the entire gun (not the sights) as the only reference. The drill was, “low-ready, fire; low-ready, fire.” I often do this drill using live ammo, and the SIRT provided good practice. Later that day on the range, the live-fire version of this drill went better than usual.
The usefulness to law enforcement of the entire SIRT system is undeniable and profound. The SIRT allows you to train in fundamentals on a regular basis, without unloading and clearing weapons, and without fear of placing a round through the office furniture. It’s not a perfect replica of a Glock 22 (or, in the case of the SIRT model 107, a S&W M&P), but it’s as close as you’d want it to be.
And the price is right: Depending on the on-board doodads and whatsits, prices start at $219 for a model with a plastic slide, and the blow-out deluxe model (with metal slide, fully adjustable trigger, invertible red and green target and take-up lasers and other features) is $419.