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30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I love my M&P9.

The first time shooting I had one fail to eject in the first 50 rounds and I think the problem was using WWB ammo and limp wristing. About 2 weeks later the end cap came off my guide rod spring assembly which made it non captive and a bugger to put back together. S&W customer service replaced the part and would have also shipped it free of charge but since I needed it quickly I had to pay for expedited shipping. I purchased a Blade-Tech Revolution/Millennium holster and double mag pouch and an UpLULA. Then, I packed up and went to Front Sight in Nevada for 5 days of fun.

I thought the training was exceptional. Though of course I don't have anything else to compare it too. I met people from around the United States and even a gentleman from Great Britain who came over for the M16 class. I'll have to post a more thorough review of Front Sight later.

Let say that my M&P was great. The range master who checked me in on the first day spoke very positively about my weapon. The line coach who fired a couple shots to test my trigger and reset was very impressed with the trigger (she carried a Glock). My range master commented every day about me having a "politically correct gun." For now, I still like having the mag disconnect though I may remove it later. My class consisted of about 34 students. There were plenty of Glocks and XDs and 1911s, a few Sigs, a Beretta, a Walther, an H&K, a CZ, and 2 M&P9s including mine. I saw a lot of malfunctions. The ones that had the most problems from what I could tell were the CZ, a few 1911s, and Glocks. I think the CZ had ammo problems and the remainder were probably shooter problems. I thought it was funny that a combat master came to the line while we were shooting and walked straight to a shooter with a Glock and said he could hear the metal grinding. Other shooters around this person told me that they heard the same. Apparently, it was bone dry. She couldn't shoot two shots without having a malfunction. Again, most of that was shooter error. But I digress.

I did have problems dropping my mags a few times on day 2. I was adjusting my grip and the placement of my thumbs and each time my thumb depressed the mag release. Once I corrected my grip I didn't have any further mag drop problems. My M&P shoots exactly where I point it every time and it is a pleasure to shoot. Another feature that I like about the M&P over the Glock is that in malfunction drills I didn't have to pull the trigger to trip it like the Glock's do. To me, having to trip the trigger violates the rule about always keeping your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. I did finally have two malfunctions on day 5 while doing advanced tactical training for defensive shooting and concealed carry. On the first the slide failed to return to battery and I had a type three malfunction (double stack) on the second. It was clearly shooter error as I had not provided adequate support shooting one handed.

I'm anxious to return to Front Sight for a skills builder class.

Oh, I shot a variety of ammo while at Front Sight. Mostly American Precision, some WWB, and some other miscellaneous stuff my step-dad brought with him. He thinks it was about 10 years old. In all, I shot about 1200 rounds over the five days so I have not shot 1500 rounds in my month old M&P9.

Here are a few pictures. Enjoy!


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583 Posts
Good report. What course(s) did you take? What was the cost? Other than your pistol, what other equipment did you need? Did you do any low-light, night shooting? What holster are you using? Where did you stay in Pahrump?? Sorry for all the questions...just trying to decide between Front Sight and Gunsite.

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30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Fortunately, my course was free because my step-dad had a certificate for free training. Otherwise, it's quite expensive. The course I took was the 5 day Armed Citizen Corps which consisted of the 4 day Defensive Handgun course and the 1 day CCW class. The advanced tactical training recieved after the CCW class was worth the extra day even if you already have a CCW. If you can get ahold of a free training certificate and it doesn't have the 5 day course listed, and if you are interested in it, just call Front Sight up and ask about it. Mine didn't have the 5 day course listed on the certificate because the course didn't exist when the certificate was issued.

Required equipment: handgun, several magazines (I took 4 17 round mags and kept one empty becaue of the mag disconnect), hearing protection, eye protection, holster, mag pouch, flashlight, concealment jacket, and ammo (about 1000 rounds). I used a Blade-Tech Revolution holster which I believe is now called Millennium and I used a Blade-Tech double mag pouch. I used a nylon belt pouch for my flashlight. I saw some leather holsters but it appeared that they had more difficulty reholstering. I think those who used nylon pouches for mags were also at a disadvantage as they had a harder time retrieving mags for tactical reloads. Oh, I also used an UpLULA as a mag loader is essential if you don't have thumbs of steel. I saw some use the free holster and V shaped mag pouches that came with their XDs and would suggest if that is what you have to throw it away and get something better. Just be sure what you get is sturdy and stable throughout the entire process of drawing and reholstering.

Day 3 included a shoot house exercise and night shooting. I wish we could have done the shoot house again.

We stayed in the Best Western in Pahrump. Good clean rooms and a great free continental breakfast. They also have RV parking if you travel that way. Plus, we didn't have to sign a form saying we wouldn't dry fire practice in the room as some of the other hotels apparently required (heard this from others).

I'll try to write up a better report on my experience day by day at Front Sight. Hope to get that done this weekend.

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30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
My range master made it very clear that we could NOT put the name of an ex-girlfriend, ex-wife, mother-in-law, or anybody else we disliked on the hostage. You funny guy
Colleen is my wonderful wife who agreed (albeit somewhat reluctantly) to take care of the kids for seven days so I could go to Front Sight. I took my time on my shots. I was NOT going to shoot her becaue if I had she would have found out about it from my step-dad. I wanted to increase my chances of being able to go back to Front Sight for more training. I thought it was quite funny how many wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, boyfriends, girlfriends and others were shot and killed or at least in need of major reconstructive surgery.

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103 Posts
Looks like fun. Front Sight seems to do a great class, but they lost some major points for calling me ~10am this morning (Thanksgiving) with a recorded telemarketer call. I signed up to get more info and have received a ton of email (no worries there), but the "Happy Thanksgiving, just wanted to be sure you didn't forget about our..." call was pretty bad IMHO.

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28 Posts
Please do not let the PITA marketing keep you from training at FS. I have taken numerous courses and enjoyed every one of them.

In addition to being a student of Front Sight I am a Range Master and instructor there (to be fully open and honest). The other staff members are fantastic and I recently left working there full-time for a "career" job. Now I go out about once a month to train or work, depending on my desire and their needs.

If anyone has questions about FS please email, pm or post.

Now, I am glad your pistola worked great. I just sold my last Glock and picked up an M&P45 (now at David Bowie's for some work). Wanted a .45 since I carry 1911s.

As for the Glocks malfunctioning be aware that we rent Glocks & HD's and the range guns often get abused and have a ton of rounds through them (I used to be on of the firearms maintenance guys there).

Again, good shooting... great gun... glad you enjoyed P'town and FS.


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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
More on my experience at Front Sight

As promised, here's a more in depth review of my experience at Front Sight with my M&P9.

Front Sight Firearms Training Institute: Personal Experience

I had the pleasure of attending the Front Sight Firearms Training Institute in Pahrump, Nevada, on November 9th through the 13th, 2007. I registered for the 5-Day Armed Citizen Corps class which consisted of the 4-Day Defensive Handgun course followed by the 1-Day CCW class. I attended for free with a coupon from my step-dad who also attended the courses with me. This was his third time training at Front Sight and my first. Front Sight does a background check on all attendees I believe in an effort to assure that students are upstanding individuals.

The following equipment is required for the handgun course:

handgun (a spare weapon is also recommended in case of weapon failure), eye protection, ear protection, flashlight (Surefire or equivalent model is recommended), a holster worn on the waist belt which covers the trigger guard (thigh holsters are not allowed), two spare magazines with holders worn on the waist, a concealment jacket, and new factory-made jacketed ammunition

Strongly recommended by Front Sight and/or myself:

notepad and pen, hat, sunscreen, mag loader, layered clothing that you can easily put on or take off depending on the weather, soft chair, tactical pants (the extra pockets are very useful for holding mags, ammunition, and other things), snack food, plenty of water/Gatorade

The 4-Day course requires 800 rounds of ammunition though you will probably need closer to 1000 rounds. You will need about 200 rounds for the 5th day for CCW training.

Many people bring Glocks to Front Sight but their motto is “Any gun will do, if you will do.” I noticed that the combat masters, range masters, and line coaches tended to carry either Glocks or 1911s. Some have their preferences. One range master recommended a Glock as the ideal handgun. My range master preferred his 1911 and didn’t buy into the “Glock perfection” as he has seen many failures in all weapon types. If you do not have a handgun, you may rent your equipment from Front Sight. One or two people in my class rented. The rental gun was a Glock 17. Wheelguns are also acceptable though there were none in my class.

The handguns in my class included Glocks, XDs, 1911s, Sigs, a H&K, a CZ, a limited edition Beretta (with lots of fancy engraving and wood grips), a Walther, and two Smith & Wesson M&P9s. I am proud to say that I carried an M&P9. The class was quite evenly split in handguns between Glock-like in function and 1911-like in function with an external safety and/or a decocker. Is one better than another? Do your own research and figure that one out on your own. What I can say is that in my class I witnessed malfunctions in the Glocks and 1911s and the CZ. I think others had malfunctions as well. The CZ I believe was traced to ammo as the main contributing factor. The malfunctions I saw with the Glocks and 1911s I believe were primarily shooter error. At least one Glock was so bone dry the scraping sound was identified from well behind the range. That person couldn’t fire two shots in a row without a malfunction. The Glock was not a rental gun.

I used the following:

Blade-Tech Revolution belt holster

Blade-Tech double mag pouch (Next time I would take two of these.)

Flashlight in nylon pouch

Leatherman-like tool in pouch

UpLULA mag loader (a MUST have item)

Leightning ear protection (several people used electronic ear muffs and some used softies)

Wiley-X light adjusting wrap around eye protection

Day 1

The day begins early with sign-in and weapon inspection. This is followed by a welcome and classroom lecture on Front Sight’s Purpose and the levels of competence. Then you go to your assigned range for 3 hours of range activity. Lunch is on your own. In the lunchroom they show their Front Sight Story DVD. This is followed by classroom lecture on mental awareness and combat mindset. Then you go to the range for just over 2 hours of more range activities. The day ends with another lecture for new students focused on the moral and ethical decisions associated with the use of deadly force.

Day 1 range instruction includes the following: safety rules, range commands, chamber check, loading, unloading, grip, stance, ready position, three secrets, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control, shooting a controlled pair, after action drills, tactical reloads, and type 1, 2 and 3 malfunction clearance drills.

Day 2

Day two begins with over four hours of range activities. We arrived a half hour early for dry practice. During lunch they talk about Front Sight First Family Membership plans. Classroom lecture focuses on what you feel and what to do following a gun fight and the criminal and civil liability you will face. Then you have two more hours of range activities. Four-day students may attend a lecture following this on tactical shotgun and practical rifle. I chose to skip this lecture.

As I was walking back to my range after the lunch presentation and lecture, a gentleman made some very snide remarks to me about the Front Sight push for membership. He was very perturbed and seemed to not be very happy about being at Front Sight. I can only hope that he did not continue with that attitude throughout the four days. I can only imagine that it would keep him from learning all he could and would be a distraction also to those around him. As for myself, I don’t care for Front Sight’s marketing ploys but I don’t let it bother me. Regarding the many rumors I read on the internet about Front Sight lecturing on Scientology, those rumors are completely false. The founder makes a lot of pie in the sky promises about the development of Front Sight, but after 10 years there appears to be little progress other than the development of the training ranges. Now, what he has built is nothing small. However, until he actually starts building plumbed restroom facilities, roads, restaurant, and laying the foundation of homes and things that he has promised, I would have a very hard time believing it. On the other hand, I don’t really care about all of that stuff anyway. I think the training is outstanding and would gladly return as often as I could for more training.

Day 2 range instruction includes the following: presentation from the holster, close contact position, safely holstering a loaded weapon while looking down range, emergency reload, speed reload, failure to stop procedure, and supported kneeling position.

Day 3

We arrived a half hour early for dry practice. You start out this day with a classroom lecture on tactical movement (clearing your house). This is followed by dry practice and then live practice in a shoot house. (I wish we could have done this again later.) Lunch lecture was on how to select a proper defensive handgun. Then you have four hours of range activities followed by a night shoot for about two hours.

Day 3 range instruction includes: tactical movement to clear corners, hallways, doorways and t-intersections; live-fire tactical scenario, response to your support side and firing side from the holster, man-on-man shoot-off competition, low-light/night shooting, and the Harries flashlight technique.

Day 4

We arrived early for a half hour of dry practice. You start the day with 4.5 hours of range activities. The lunch classroom lecture is on the reality of the streets. The afternoon you spend four hours on range activities and skills test. The day ends with closing ceremonies and you receive a course certificate. I was pretty upset at myself for two bad shots on my skills test. That put me four points away from being a distinguished graduate.

Day 4 range instruction includes palm strike-step back drill, multiple targets, precision head shots, live-fire tactical scenarios, time pressure, and skills test.

The final drill on Day 4 was for emotional impact. The target was of a hostage with two hostage takers behind. Our range master had us put the name of a loved one on the hostage. He made it very clear we could NOT put the name of an ex-spouse, ex-girlfriend, mother-in-law, or other person with whom we had a conflicted relationship. We were to focus on precision shooting and trigger control, five shots to the left and then five shots to the right. I took my time and did very well. I was not going to shoot my wife whose name I had put on the target because in knew she would find out about it if I killed her. I was quite surprised how many spouses, mothers, fathers, and others were killed. I saved my target.

Day 5

The morning is spent doing fingerprinting and paperwork for the CCW applications and then the required lecture for Nevada, Utah and Florida. Those getting Nevada CCW licenses also have to qualify for each handgun they want to carry. After lunch you spend about 4 hours doing more advanced tactical skills and shooting. I had been feeling pretty good about my performance throughout the four previous days. My confidence was appropriately returned to its proper place when the range master entered our range and took over. He really took us to a much higher level in thinking, attitude, and action. It was well worth the extra day.

Front Sight Instruction

My understanding is that Front Sight has altered their teaching methods recently. They now use a “student-teacher” method. Classes are divided into two lines. The lines pair up and when the first is shooting the second is directly observing and “coaching” them. Each day you change partners. We were paired up according to handgun type so that those with similar functioning guns coached each other. Each range had a range master and two line coaches. In our group there were about 34 students. That’s 3 instructors for 34 students but only half are shooting at a time so that is 3 instructors for every 17 students. But, since every student is also a “coach” Front Sight says there is one-to-one instruction. That’s a bit of “fuzzy math” but overall it seems to work pretty well. I learned early on that you want to search out the best shooters in your class and then find out which ones are most oriented to detail and willing to give you good feedback. It seemed to me that many people were either not very detail oriented, not concerned about following instructions perfectly, or were just unable to understand or do it. I hope nobody felt that I was a poor coach. I tried to do well and help my classmates. I should also add that after pointing out something to work on several times if it wasn’t a life threatening mistake I dropped the matter and figured that the person was doing the best he could do and saying any more would just be nagging.

Students come from all backgrounds. Many have law enforcement and/or military experience and many do not. I don’t believe that having that experience necessarily gave them any advantage over the person who did not. In fact, it can be argued that their experience puts some of them at a disadvantage. My class had some students with former law enforcement and military experience but I believe that most did not. The range next to mine I believe had more students who were currently in law enforcement. It seemed to me that their class had more dedicated learners as more of them showed up early each day for dry practice than in my class.

I thought that the range masters and line coaches were outstanding. The range master who helped teach the advanced tactics of the CCW class was incredible. Despite the uniform there is not a boot camp mentality. You are always treated with utmost respect. They are firm and do all they can to ensure safety and good instruction. Questions are encouraged and appropriately responded to. They give you individual attention each day according to your needs. Some students required much more attention especially when there were safety concerns.

Accidents Do Happen

There were several negligent discharges on my range and a few close calls. One student on the shooting line realized that she left her hearing protection back at her seat and turned around. This isn’t necessarily a problem except that she turned herself around along with her loaded Glock which ended up pointing straight at my step-dad. Now, as her coach he was a little slow responding to her mistake as he could have stopped it before the muzzle came anywhere near anybody else. Fortunately, he did stop her and no one was hurt.

On the range next to mine there was a serious negligent discharge on the morning of day three. A student, who is currently in law enforcement, using his issued duty weapon, a Sig, shot himself in the thigh. Apparently, he had forgotten to decock as commanded at the end of every firing drill or chose not to decock so that he could shoot faster in the timed drills. While drawing he pulled the light trigger, requiring immediate medical attention and surgery. The incident is detailed on Front Sight’s website along with all the others that have happened. His injuries were certainly complicated by the fact that he was using JHPs rather than FMJs. My range master recalled that most accidental shootings there have happened to students in law enforcement and mostly with weapons which require decocking or an external safety.

Smith & Wesson, M&P9

I had a difficult time choosing a handgun to purchase. I live in a rural area and the nearest range with rental guns available is 2.5 hours away. I did a lot of research on the internet. I went to a range twice and tried two Glocks, an XD, an H&K, and a 1911. Even though I had problems with the Glock, I narrowed my choice between a Glock 19 and the M&P9. I took a chance on the M&P9 based on how it felt compared to the Glock and research as I could not find one anywhere to test. I was a bit apprehensive as it is a relatively new handgun and doesn’t have the “proven record” or “perfection” that Glock claims.

I have had the gun just over a month now and have shot 1500 rounds. I had one failure to extract in the first 50 rounds. After research I believe this was due in part to light ammunition but more to limp wristing. Shortly after this the guide rod spring assembly came apart so this may have been part of the issue as well. Smith & Wesson customer service replaced it promptly for free. On Day 2 of the training I dropped my mag while shooting several times. I was trying different grip positions and each time I inadvertently pressed the mag release button as the gun recoiled. I didn’t have this problem any longer after correcting my grip. On Day 5 I had two malfunctions. The first one the slide fully seat and the second was a type three malfunction (double stack). Both were clearly related to my position in the drills and not providing firm support.

When I checked in to Front Sight, the range master who inspected my gun had very positive remarks for the M&P. My range master enjoyed joking about my “politically correct” gun. I may have the magazine disconnect removed at a later time but right now I like having it. The line coach who test fired my gun to get a feel for the trigger had a very surprised look on her face on the first shot and then gave very positive comments on the trigger. She carried a Glock. The only real downside of the trigger is the faint trigger reset point.

It seemed to me that the 1911s, Sigs, and other double action/single action semi autos were at a disadvantage in the course. This is because of the time needed to disengage the external trigger and adjust to the different trigger pulls. However, I’m aware that this is only my perceived disadvantage which could be easily eliminated with training. The semi autos that have a Glock-like function are probably best for new shooters like me.


I noticed that a couple campers were parked at a designated area outside the gates at Front Sight. Most people stayed in Pahrump, NV. My step-dad and I stayed at the Best Western in Pahrump. The room was large, quiet, and clean. They also had free wireless internet access. Some hotels required Front Sight participants to sign a form stating that they would not dry practice in the hotel rooms. Best Western did not. However, at the end of the day we were so tired we decided to arrive at Front Sight early each day to dry practice. Best Western had a very good free hot continental breakfast and also offered sack lunches at a reasonable price. The restaurant, Wulfy’s, served good food. The cook or manager was very friendly and one day gave my step-dad and I each a free large bag of home made potato chips to take with us. Best Western also had RV parking which we may do next time to help reduce cost.

Final Thoughts

I just received an advertisement from Front Sight offering $4000 worth of courses (4 Day Defensive Handgun course plus the CCW course which is what I attended), your choice of handgun (Glock 9mm, XD-40 or Springfield 1911 .45ACP), front sight logo knife, SWAT belt, holster, mag pouch, flashlight, Front Sight shirt, hat, armorer’s mat, and a complete set of dry practice manuals for $1199. Now that I’ve been to Front Sight and consider the value of each of these items, I think this is a good deal. But, it also brings me to the only real complaint I have about Font Sight; the advertising. By the way, the coupon expires December 14th. If anybody is interested in it I'll email it to you and you can have it. It is transferrable.

They’ll remove you from their email list when you request it. I requested to be removed from their email list as soon as I received an idiotic email from Dr. Piazza about mental health problems being caused by medications like Prozac. That’s probably Scientology crap like others claim they have heard others tell them they heard at Front Sight. Piazza comes across to me like a greasy cheesy car salesman in the DVD. Like I said before, I wouldn’t buy into Piazza’s “vision” or promises in building a firearms training resort until I could see some more significant progress. When I receive a mailing from Front Sight now I glance at it, chuckle, and happily toss it into the garbage and don't think about it again until the next mailing comes around.

Having said that, if I could afford a First Family membership so that I could attend as many courses as I wish for free for the rest of my life, I would buy it in a heartbeat. I’m already checking my schedule to see when I can go back for a two day skills builder course. There were many First Family members in my class. Some of them have been 4 or more times and plan to continue taking classes. Essentially, the membership has now paid for itself and all classes they take now are free.

Also about the facilities, If I hadn’t spent years working at scout camps perhaps I’d complain about having to use outhouses. But, that doesn’t bother me.

Finally, I loved my training at Front Sight. I can't compare it to other schools, but that's ok. You have my perspective and experience to gauge your thoughts and judgments on.

Here are my two 5 group shots (7 yards) which are the ones on the right closest to me in the picture. This was from day 3.

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