Expert: This Popular Gun Gadget is ‘Extremely Overrated’

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Gearing Up with Ken and Paul: A Candid Talk on Gun Gadgets

Did you guys see the latest episode of “The Gun Guys” with Ken Hackathorn and Paul Howe?

Brought to us by the Wilson Combat YouTube channel, it was a bit controversial because it was all about the utility of gun gadgets – specifically, the ever-popular red dot sights and weapon-mounted lights on handguns.

Ken and Paul weren’t just talking tech; they’re digging deep into the practicality (or impracticality) of these tools, especially when it comes to home defense. What they said may surprise you…

Weapon Mounted Lights: ‘Extremely Overrated’

It seems like every other pistol photo these days sports a light. But is mounting a light on your pistol always a good idea?

Paul brings up some critical points here. He notes that while it might look cool, the reality of using a gun light, especially in a home defense scenario, is more complex.

Unintentionally sweeping family members with your gun light while searching your home? Not ideal.

Instead, Paul prefers a handheld light, reserving the weapon-mounted light for more specialized situations like SWAT operations.

Ken, with his vast experience in small arms training and a foundational role in IPSC and IDPA, agrees. While these lights have their place in specific scenarios, he suggests that in most private sector situations, they’re “extremely overrated.”

“Okay, you carry a gun, and especially if you’re in the private sector, you’re not a soldier and not, you know, in law enforcement,” said Ken. “When if you carry a gun with a light on it, when’s the last time you needed that? And most people, if they’re honest, will tell you, well, not really.”

He was careful to add, “Again, if it’s the gun on your nightstand, that’s different. But I’m even like you. I’ve got a gun on my nightstand with a light on it, and there’s a Surefire flashlight right beside it.”

Ken stresses the importance of mastering strong hand-only shooting and proper (handheld) flashlight techniques. It’s all about practice and proficiency, not just slapping on the latest gadget.

Compact vs. Full-Size Handguns: No Pocket Rockets?!

Next up, Ken and Paul tackle the big question: compact or full-size handguns?

Ken observes that while many opt for the convenience of a ‘pocket rocket,’ it might not be the wisest choice in a life-threatening situation.

Ken emphasized a scenario where you walk into a corner store during a hold up. He posits, “Okay, do you want a little pocket rocket, or you want a big gun you can shoot well? At that point in time, the gun you took for convenience is now suddenly become probably your worst decision of your life, as far as now your life is on the line.”

Paul echoes this, emphasizing the importance of being able to make precise shots under pressure, regardless of the gun size.

“Would I take a hammerless, my .22 mag, and shoot that? Yes. Can I make the hits? I look at, can I make a head shot with it at seven yards on a hostage-type scenario? And if I can’t do that, then it’s not a viable gun,” Paul explained. “It’s a comfort gun. It’s—and so, you said it in the day.”

Magazine Capacity: ‘Min 10, Max 15

Ken and Paul on the Wilson Combat YouTube channel.
Do you agree with Ken and Paul?

When it comes to magazine capacity, Ken and Paul break it down with some hard truths. While having a high-capacity mag might seem like an advantage, in most real-world scenarios, you’re unlikely to need more than a precise few shots.

“And that’s a big argument today, and what I tell people is, from my belief, based upon my experience of training military, law enforcement, and the private sector, is generally speaking, I would say a minimum of a 10-round magazine, probably a maximum of 15,” said Ken.

“And if you look in the private sector, very rarely do people fire more than three or four shots, generally because in that three or four shots, one of three things have happened. One, they’ve ran away. Yes, two, they’ve went down. Yes, three, they’ve given up,” he added.

The ultimate key? Accurate, effective shooting.

Red Dot Sights: A Double-Edged Sword!

Finally, the duo delves into red dot sights. Paul admits he was slow to adopt them even on rifles, pointing out the mechanical issues, maintenance demands, and the need for precision.

As far as handguns, Paul had this to say, “You know, like we said, I’m going to go to the grave: iron sights on a pistol.”

Ken likens red dot sights to 1911 pistols – they’re for enthusiasts who are willing to put in the extra work and training. Without that dedication, they might do more harm than good.

“Yeah, and I tell people, if you’re willing to put the time in and the effort, and I tell people, to me, a red dot sight is like a 1911 design pistol. It’s an enthusiast tool. It takes a higher level of skill and maintenance to keep it going,” said Ken.

“If you’re in that lifestyle, if you accept that, then putting a red dot on your gun will make more sense. But if you’re not willing to put the effort and the training and the trigger time in, I think it’s probably a bad pursuit,” he added.

Conclusion on Gun Gadgets

In conclusion, Ken and Paul bring us back to the basics: fundamentals (trigger, stance, target acquisition, etc.), training, and understanding the real-world application of any gadget or accessory.

It’s not about the coolest gear; it’s about what works best for you in the situations you’re likely to face.

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  • Matthew A. Carpenter March 2, 2024, 3:14 am

    I feel like this article and discussion is something the anti-gun crowd would weaponize to use against Gun owners and argue for more restrictions and laws.

    I also feel like the opinions and perspectives of these men are rather dated. Not that I don’t respect their opinion, but I feel they have come to conclusions based on faulty assumptions and information.

  • Clint W. February 24, 2024, 9:01 am

    I don’t have one on any of my pistols, but I do have one of those bright as the sun models on the barrel of my M1 Carbine for the coyote problems around here.

  • JP Gayan February 24, 2024, 8:07 am

    Some of these opinions are so contradictory they make me wonder if they have ever actuality practiced what they preach. For some items they acknowledge that without significant extra training the item is overrated (red dots/1911s) and for another they ignore it (handheld lights). For one item they are worried about being accurate enough to be making headshots in hostage situations (gun size) while in another they aren’t concerned about improved accuracy (red dots). The reality is that many shooters who choose to concealed carry don’t have the time or money to dedicate to becoming proficient with a whole new skill set. Many of us consider ourselves lucky if we can make it to the range every few months and put a box or two of ammo down range. If we don’t have the time to become proficient with a new Red Dot sight we also don’t have the time to become proficient using a handheld light while shooting. Unless you have giant Bearpaw hands , under the best of circumstances speed and accuracy are slightly diminished when using a handheld light instead of a weapon light. Pretending that people will need to muzzle their family members while using a weapon light shows a frightening level of ignorance. Even if someone was dumb enough to mount a tightly focused Scout style light on their handgun there is still enough spill from the low ready position to easily identify your target. If you are attempting to clear your house with your muzzle raised and looking down the sights it will not matter whether you are using a handheld light or a weapon mounted light, you still risk muzzling someone. If you have the ability to carry a handheld light and a weapon mounted light that is probably ideal. A handheld light allows you to investigate something suspicious that may not yet justify drawing your weapon. Unfortunately, not all of us are able to go full “Tactical Tim” and wear cargo pants and a vest everywhere we go so that we can carry a full size pistol, spare magazines, lights, knives, tourniquets, etc. These guys might benefit from taking a little extra time to thoroughly consider the needs of the Casual Enthusiast concealed carrier as well as the needs of highly trained law enforcement and military. There is some overlap between them but their needs can be significantly different. There are also a lot more of the former than there are the latter.

  • Mike von Plato February 23, 2024, 4:34 pm

    What’s your take on laser sights on handguns?

  • T.S. Thomas February 23, 2024, 12:37 pm

    I like Ken Hackathorne’s take on most things. He’s a better shooter than I’ll ever be. However, I think he’s under the impression that we put WML’s on pistols because we think it’s cool. Perhaps some do, but it really is a great thing to have. Do I *ALSO* use one of my hand-held SureFire/Streamlight units?… ABSOLUTELY. As for Red/Green dots on other guns…I have them on some, not on all. Get proficient in all of them, then maintain that proficiency with practice. If you have trouble with one type, that might be a clue that you should save that platform for the range until you’re better with it. That doesn’t mean don’t buy it. I don’t know, Ken may even agree with me on this, but the article came off as being very strongly against accessories, when I think the people who read these articles actually know a pretty good amount about their proper employment. I do admit though, there are always going to be those who want to be ‘Tacti-cool’.

  • Beckaroo February 23, 2024, 12:32 pm

    These two sound like they were just thawed out cavemen explaining the ‘right’ way to defend yourself to the modern world. There’s no doubt these guys have a lot of knowledge and skill but apparently it’s based on ancient scrolls and tablets. Clearly some of the dumbest things that have come out of Ken Hackathorn’s mouth.

  • Davron February 23, 2024, 10:49 am

    Wow this is flat out some of the worst takes I’ve ever read. First he wants you to take one hand off your handgun to hold a flashlight, which reduces your control of your handgun and the ability to maintain control if someone tries to take it from you. He talks about training on the red dots, but to effectively use both a flashlight independent of your handgun while not “sweeping across your family” is going to take far more training. Weapon lights are for non-ideal situations.
    As for red dots taking more training… Do they require precision manufacturing? yes, but you can verify that at the range easily, but they take far less training than handgun sights which will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. He also didn’t like them on rifles. Okay grandpa, go back to world war 2 where you belong. Can I use iron sights? Yes. Will I choose to use them on a rifle? Not if given the alternative of installing either. As for on handguns, I don’t have any on handguns because none of mine have mounts for them. For home defense I would absolutely choose to use one if I had it.

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