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Thread: 10 Months with the SIRT

  1. #1
    Butters, the d*** shooter Byron's Avatar
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    Jun 2011

    10 Months with the SIRT

    In July 2011, a generous friend gave me a SIRT Pro 110. In the interest of full disclosure, he received it free of charge from Next Level Training. I don't believe that has influenced my view of the SIRT one way or the other, but I will leave that judgment to you.

    As noted on NLT's site, the Pro 110 is the metal-slide flagship model with green/red lasers, which very closely resembles the Glock 17/22. It came in a plastic case with manuals, a weighted dummy magazine, and tools for adjusting the trigger.

    Let me share my general impressions of the pistol itself, before broaching the topic of its usefulness.

    Overall Construction:
    In a word - Impressive! It is clearly sturdier than my Airsoft KWA G19, though to be fair, the KWA obviously utilizes far more moving parts, not the least of which being a reciprocating slide. I make the comparison, however, to note that my KWA has withstood some pretty nasty abuse in Shivworks classes, so I have no concerns about what the SIRT can take. In the 10 months I've been using it, I have yet to come across any part of the SIRT that I feel is fragile or suspect to breakage.

    Sights:
    True to the real Glock, it comes with crappy plastic sights. The rear sight is especially short, with a very shallow notch, meaning that proper sight alignment actually cuts off the white dot. Unlike Glock plastic sights, they do not feature the white outline on the rear sight.

    In the interest of matching my SIRT to my real Glock, to maximize training potential, it was only a week or two before I installed a set of Warrens on the SIRT. It's worth noting that my MGW309 Sight Pusher cannot be used on the SIRT because the SIRT slide isn't built to ride on rails. I just used a punch and everything turned out fine.



    Factory SIRT sights on the left, Warrens on the right

    One interesting issue that I encountered was the glossy finish on the slide: when pointing high, I could see a reflection of the tritium front sight on the glossy slide, giving the false appearance of an extra dot. I roughed the top of the slide with sandpaper and painted a small black strip to resolve this.

    Magazine Well:
    The dummy mag provided with the SIRT is a high quality piece that can be taken apart and tailored to your preferred weight. If you are especially OCD, you can even distribute the weight in a specific fashion within the magazine; there is a honeycomb pattern to hold the individual weights. For better or worse, this magazine is loose in the magwell of my SIRT. It makes it very easy to drop the mag, which is convenient for practice, but might give a false sense of confidence in your ability to eject mags via gravity.



    The inside of a SIRT dummy magazine

    The SIRT seems to be very hit-and-miss as to other magazines it will accept. The blue safety mags that I usually use for dry fire will not fit unless I hammer them in there, and then need to be aggressively ripped out with significant force (silver lining: practice for stuck magazines). As for my actual Glock mags, some of them easily fit and drop free, while others stick pretty bad. I can't even narrow the pattern to a certain generation of magazine: it just seems I'm experiencing random tolerance issues. Still, I have identified a handful of Glock mags that I can reliably use.

    In addition to these fit issues, I noticed that when attempting speed reloads with Glock mags, even loose mags would sometimes bind during insertion. Upon inspecting the magwell, I noticed a visibly raised shelf of plastic: nothing huge, but just enough to seriously catch a mag. After a few minutes with sandpaper, I haven't experienced this issue since.



    The above photo shows the plastic shelf. The below video shows how badly it was able to snag magazines.


    Another area that I hit with sandpaper was the butt of the grip. As it came from the factory, there were sharp corners where the magazine seats. On reloads, I would occasionally pinch the heel of my palm here, causing some nasty blood blisters. Like the shelf, this was a quick and easy fix.


    The SIRT will use any mag-catch that works on a Gen3 Glock. Again, in the interest of setting up my SIRT to mimic my Glock, I installed a Vickers mag release.

    Trigger:
    My trigger finger isn't as educated as some here. I picked up the SIRT, evaluated the trigger and said, "good enough for me!" I haven't bothered to adjust mine at all. It feels close enough to my real Glock that I haven't felt a need to tinker. As set, it is slightly heavier than my Glock trigger, but I feel that it has forced me to develop better trigger control.

    My only real complaint about the trigger is that it requires too much travel before the red take-up laser turns on. I assumed that it would be a good way to catch finger-on-trigger violations, but that's not the case. Instead, it takes a partial pull before engaging, so casual violations aren't caught.

    Compatibility with accessories:
    As noted, the SIRT can accept any Glock-compatible sights, any Gen3 mag release, and some Glock magazines. I've found it to be 100% compatible with all Glock holsters I own, even the RCS VG2. In most holsters, it fits slightly looser than a Glock, but I've not found it to cause any issue. The only rail mounted devices I've tried on it -- a TLR-1 and TLR-2 -- were also fully compatible.

    Bear in mind that Grip Force Adapters will not fit onto the SIRT, as it already has a slight beavertail, and does not have a housing pin like the Glock for attachment. Since my real Glocks sport GFAs, I've been considering a project with sandpaper and epoxy, but haven't yet gotten around to it.


    Usefulness for Training:
    Here's where the potential controversy comes in. It seems that some industry leaders consider this to be the greatest training advancement since Airsoft, while others seem to contend that it will instill bad habits, such as looking over your sights.

    I won't try to speak for anyone else, or claim that my experience will be universal, but I have found it to be extremely beneficial to my shooting.

    If you are the type of guy who religiously dry fires, who can easily sight track, and who can masterfully interpret the slightest shake of the front sight during dry fire, you might not see as much benefit from the SIRT as someone like me. That's not to say that you won't get something out of it, however.

    Convenience:
    First and foremost, I think the biggest benefit of the SIRT is that it makes dry fire easy, fun, and interesting. I know that some of you already consider dry fire to be those things, but I never did. For me, it always started as something fun and interesting, but within a few minutes was quickly a boring chore. That is no longer the case. I pick up my SIRT at least once a day. Even if I'm not always adhering to a solid routine, at the very least, I'm getting regular practice on my grip, sight alignment, and trigger press. I'm not constantly racking the slide, I'm not chasing snap caps, and I'm not running any risk of accidentally putting a hole in something.

    Safety:
    That's another big benefit of the SIRT in my opinion: safety. Even if you break all dry fire rules; even if you have live ammo around; even if you gas up your SIRT with a loaded magazine; you're going to be fine. Am I advocating sloppiness? Of course not! But given the option between practicing with A) a device that could damage my eye, a feat which would still required a concerted effort, or B) a device that can potentially kill me, I'm going to choose A. Not only does this offer me peace of mind in individual practice, it also allows me greater opportunities for involving others.

    I don't just mean man-on-man drills, or other practice that requires pointing a weapon at someone: I also mean basic firearm familiarization for novices. True, it does not have a reciprocating slide (though I understand some future models will), but I can still safely instruct a complete novice on things like grip, trigger manipulation, and magazine changes.

    Just this past Christmas, I had a ton of fun with my 8 year old step-nephew, who thought the SIRT was the coolest thing ever made. I showed up for our morning celebration wearing the SIRT in my Shaggy, with no one the wiser. At some point while we were playing toy soldiers, I made a big show out of drawing the SIRT and blasting enemy soldiers. My nephew's eyes opened wide and his jaw hit the floor. My family is not quite fond of my shooting hobbies, and would be extremely upset if I had brought a real Glock to Christmas, but no one batted an eye at the SIRT. In fact, my mother excitedly said, "Byron, why don't you go show him how your laser gun works?"

    I realize this is quite tangential to the actual subject of this review, but I have to note how impressed I was at my nephew's "tactics." When I showed him how the SIRT operated, he wanted to know why the magazine was a removable piece. He dutifully listened while I explained its purpose on a real weapon. Without any guidance from me, he then started role-playing imaginary shoot-outs. What was fascinating was that he would seek cover, drop the magazine, slap it back in again, then pop out and start firing. I'm not sure whether he saw me do it first (it's very possible), or whether he picked it up from TV, but either way, it made me smile. Kids are awesome.



    In this photo, you can see the previously mentioned black strip on top of the slide

    Instant Feedback:
    Back to the SIRT, its greatest value for me has been instantaneous feedback. While I never quite loved dry fire, I was familiar with it before the SIRT. Still, I wasn't building skill the way I thought I was. Worse, I didn't even realize this until I got the SIRT. When dry firing my Glock, the only feedback I get is my own perception of sight movement. What I thought were good, clean trigger presses, turned out not to be. It wasn't until I had the higher level of feedback that I was able to see this.

    A laser doesn't lie. It doesn't curve in unpredictable directions like an Airsoft BB. It doesn't suffer from inconsistent loads. It doesn't group. If you lock the SIRT in a vice, the dot will land in the same place every single time. Because of this, I know with 100% certainty that any deviation from my point of aim is my own fault. I also know that if I align my sights, and properly press the trigger, I will hit what I'm aiming at. This has been fantastic for building my confidence, as well as helping me understand "what I need to see" to make hits at various distances and levels of precision. How far off will I be if the front sight is out of the notch a little? How far off will I be if the front sight is within the rear sight, but aligned left of center? With the SIRT, I can answer these questions empirically, quickly, and free, at any distance, in any environment.

    Bad Habits:
    A common criticism that I see regarding the SIRT is the assertion that the laser will encourage users to look at their target rather than their sights. I have a few responses to these criticisms.

    1. It can be true. It is possible to develop bad habits while using the SIRT. But can't the same be said of almost any form of training? While the laser may encourage some people to look only at the target and ignore their sights, I find that this is up to the user to control. As with any other training device, honesty with yourself is critical, as is a proper dose of discipline. Candidly, my previous dry fire contained bad habits that I did not realize were there, particularly in my trigger press. As such, it's hard for me to see the SIRT's potential pitfalls as particularly worse than anything else.

    I could just as easily assert that shadow boxing can induce bad habits, as someone may start getting sloppy and opening up cover. But is that to say that shadow boxing isn't valuable, or that it should be avoided?

    2. I don't find that the laser requires a hard target focus to see where it lands. In other words, I don't need to look past my sights to see where it is hitting. I have it set up so that it lands on the tip of my front sight. Even with a hard focus on my front sight, the green bloom is readily visible.

    3. Even if the user is staring past his sights, I can't help but feel he is still getting good practice. After all, he is strengthening his index, right? Connections are being established in the brain between "hand does this" and "dot goes here." That is a higher level of instantaneous feedback than is available with Airsoft, Sims, or even live fire (excluding perhaps shooting on steel)

    Even if I took the sights completely off my SIRT, but still practiced draws and press-outs, don't you think that my presentation and index would improve? I'm not arguing that this is ideal, but I still believe that improvement can be made, even if the user isn't being 100% faithful to the sights.

    Results:
    In October 2011, I met up with ToddG and a number of other shooters for an informal day of drills. As is the case with any function hosted by Todd, I was at the tail end of the pack by a wide margin. Still, he noted that it was the best he had ever seen me perform. I found it to be particularly relevant since he has instructed me in a number of classes, has seen me shoot over the course of a few years, and had no shame in (justifiably) criticizing my abilities in the past.

    This was also particularly interesting because before that day, I hadn't fired a live round since October 2010 (I know, I know; "get a rope"). That was about three months into owning the SIRT, however. In other words, after taking a year off from shooting, three months with the SIRT had still brought me to a higher level of performance than I had ever previously achieved. Did it make me a GM? No. Did it make me a Ninja Operator? No. But there was no doubt about the fact that practicing with the SIRT made a noticeable improvement in my overall shooting, even in the complete absence of live fire practice.

    "But, Byron - you would have seen improvement like that if you had just dry fired your regular Glock every day for three months!"

    Maybe. Maybe not. I don't know. I especially don't know because I've never managed to maintain that level of discipline with dry fire of my Glock. Again, that's part of the appeal to me: the SIRT makes this fun, practical, convenient, and safe. I can use it at home; practicing not only fundamentals but AMIS. I check it in my luggage and take it on vacation. I take it to my buddy's house when we're watching fights on TV. I can hand it to anyone without concern (even if they're enjoying Jack & Coke with the fights).

    I now have callouses on my hands from SIRT practice. I'm not a high round-count shooter; never have been. I've torn up my hands in live fire practice, but never enough to develop long term callouses. After a few months with the SIRT, however, I started developing them. That should hopefully indicate how often I pick it up, especially since the SIRT has no recoil with which to chew up my hands.

    I didn't pay for this SIRT, but if I had, I would certainly feel like I got my money's worth. People often say that .22 conversions "pay for themselves." I think that's just as true for the SIRT. I fully plan on purchasing the G19 SIRT (with reciprocating slide) whenever it comes out, and somewhere down the line will strongly consider getting the AR bolt.

    I highly recommend the SIRT to any shooter, without reservation.

  2. #2
    Great write-up, thank you. I don't have much money, but I feel this will be a very worthwhile purchase (as soon as the M&P comes out). Like you, I have trouble maintaining a dry-fire regimen, for the reasons that you listed.
    "I think we ought always to entertain our opinions with some measure of doubt. I shouldn't wish people dogmatically to believe any philosophy, not even mine." - Bertrand Russell

  3. #3
    Member Al T.'s Avatar
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    Tagged for further study.

  4. #4
    Member orionz06's Avatar
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    I have 10-8 Redback One sights on mine, needed to use an aluminum shim to make the rear stay. Every other mod you did mirrors mine.
    Think for yourself. Question authority.

  5. #5
    We are diminished
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    Outstanding write-up, Byron!

  6. #6
    I picked up a Pro Model recently. I am already a huge proponent of dry fire practice and do so with a religious dedication so I felt the SIRT was a great compliment to my other practice routines. I had high expectations going in, but I was honestly extremely impressed with the build quality and design right out of the box (It also required no adjustment to the zero or trigger for me). The great variety of drills and skills that you can isolate or integrate and have a very high volume of repetition with no ongoing costs.You can get effective, efficient practice in anywhere where it wont get you funny looks; greatly surpassed my initial thoughts in terms of just how many drills you can work. I can understand why some would be skeptical or cautious about building in training scars, especially if one was to use the take-up red laser as a crutch. If you push yourself to keep the discipline to be honest and focus on every fundamental aspect of the shot, just like working a golf swing it will come together and you will see results. Just about every aspect of my live fire shooting has improved considerably. I am certainly not a master, but a solid shooter as is but the improvements were noticeable and repeatable. I paid $350 (MSRP $425), was given a free spare mag and training DVD. Was it expensive? Absolutely. Could you pick up an actual new gun with the cost? Certainly, but considering the convenience and low (batteries, but even these appear to have a considerable life span) ongoing costs coupled with just how effective the SIRT is, I will strongly contend it was well worth the price, it is a tremendous value, very well made and hugely FUN.
    If anyone is on the fence, put another in the affirmative category.
    Cheers

  7. #7
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    Can anyone confirm if these will work with the laserlyte target that registers and displays your hits? I assume it would but want to be sure.

  8. #8
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    Byron and Skunk, thanks for the reviews. I asked about the SIRT on another forum and got all kinds of useless responses from folks that had never used it, but managed to have huge negative opinions.

    Your reviews are appreciated.
    Phillipians 4:13
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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by vaglocker View Post
    Can anyone confirm if these will work with the laserlyte target that registers and displays your hits? I assume it would but want to be sure.
    The green laser does not register on most red spectrum sensitive targets, including laserlyte. The red laser will. You have two options - the SIRT Pro (red/green) allows the shot laser to be flipped (green becomes takeup, red for shot) with relatively little effort. The red / red version should work fine, but haven't personally tested (I own a green laser model).

    Having said that, I haven't found the laserlyte to be all that useful. It does help a bit to break the impulse to look away from the sights at the target (one of the potential bad habits), but on the other hand it just doesn't add all that much value for me in most cases. (Can be useful for very dynamic drills where there is a lot of motion and you are focusing on many other things, but that is a pretty limited use case). I know some instructors favour it for larger groups, to have a "record" that folks aren't cheating their drills at the end of an evolution.

    I have largely switched over to a simpler feedback mechanism. The green laser will fluoresce differently on some neon backgrounds. I use simple orange target stickers (on IDPA cardboard backers). Turns the normal green dot to a different orangish dot, with an interesting visual effect (small bit of green halo-ing around the orange center, resulting I would believe from a small amount of secondary reflection from initial sidescatter. If your sights are set up properly (even the factory sights, due to adjustable laser POI settings), this "bloom" will be very noticeable even with a good front sight focus.

    I have long run sights with the classic sight picture where front sight blade bisects impact. My current Glock setup is intended to "drive the dot", as Todd has put it elsewhere in reference to his own sighting. I have found that the SIRT helps my usual approach quite a bit. On the other hand, I did find I reinforced that habit when I should have been focusing on dot for point of impact in live fire. Normally, not an issue - but keeps me dropping shots just below the index card on the KSTG target, for example. (My own damn fault, but nonetheless something worth mentioning. Solution is easy though - I can change the POI on the SIRT or change the sights on the duty weapon to match (including the other pistols in my usual range of options).

    Overall, I would have to concur with the author's write up. Not quite as many months in (call it maybe six?) but worth the investment, and worth adding as one more option in the training toolbag. I have found it very much helped discussions of grip, index, and reloading options with newer shooters; and definitely makes one not at all reluctant to practice reload drills on concrete, etc. as the SIRT mags can really take the abuse.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Erik View Post
    Two questions: Would the current model be a useful training aid for someone who doesn't carry a Glock? Is the SIRT more useful for dry fire practice than a pistol with a laser grip? Thanks.
    I believe that honestly no matter what you shoot, you would get a benefit from the SIRT. The repetition builds muscle memory that can be translated into any other pistol with a similar trigger. Glock users just get an extra benefit of similar ergonomics, angles and weight/balance.
    It holds a direct advantage to a gun with just a laser grip to me, because of the resetting trigger and dual indicators, as well as it being completely benign so you can use it anywhere.
    Hope this helps,
    Cheers!

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