QSI Cold Weather Handgun AAR


Regular Member
Quantified Performance
QSI Training

Cold Weather Handgun


Erik Pakieser - Primary

Mike Treat - AI


February 27, 2021


Forest Lake Sportsman Club, Forest Lake, MN


Mostly sunny, high of 46 degrees


Ruger 327 Mag LCR, FN 509M with Holosun 507C, PHLster City Special and Classic, Presscheck assault gloves

Student Background:

I’ve been working a gun counter for roughly 4 years, graduated from Pine Tech with a certificate in gunsmithing, and I moonlight as a firearms instructor. I spent 4 years as a USMC armorer. I've attended Steve Fisher’s Handgun Employment and Critical Handgun Employment, Progressive Pistol Craft and Low Light Pistol Fundamentals from Craig Burris of Tactical Training Solutions local to me here in MN, Critical Handgun: Tests and Standards with John Johnston, and Bullets On Vehicles at the Sig Academy.


I had purchased a DeSantis pocket holster to try as a method for keeping a gun in my jacket when my primary gun was less accessible, but just in dryfire I found it to still be an impractical option. It didn't conceal well in any of my coats and my draw, even when staged as perfectly as possible, wouldn't consistently released from the holster on the draw. Beyond that however I did little prep for this class because I honestly wasn't 100% certain what to expect from the course.


There were 10 students in class, all civilians, and most had trained with Erik in the past.


We started the day promptly at 9 in the range shop, rolling into the lecture portion of the class. Erik opened with his safety brief and his expectations as the instructor. He made clear this wasn't a class to come to if you needed to learn how to shoot, this class was meant to act as a lab where we could learn how our climate and its required dress effected our access and employment of our firearm. Each student introduced themselves during this time and all were on the same page and in the class for the same reason; we live in a climate where we are wearing more than a t-shirt at least 5 months out of the year, I cynically say 8 months of the year up here.

After a few more notes on safety, individual responsibilities on the range, and a quick break, we kicked off the lecture. Erik and the class discussed how cold weather changes how we interact with our equipment and how it can effect the performance of those things, starting with clothing. Some of this will be fairly obvious to anyone that has carried a concealed firearm under winter clothing. All of the various layers added can get in the way of our draw, the draw strings, zippers, and other dangly bits can cause a hazard if we have to reholster or can further impede our draw. Some of the other road blocks though may not be so obvious. Does your hemostatic of choice work in the cold? Can you access the button on your pepper spray of choice with the gloves you normally carry?

One concept that Erik posed that I will reference and recommend moving forward was his idea of one layer between the gun and his access to it. In the winter he carries OWB strong side with a vest as the cover garment, open in the front. If he is going out into the cold he tucks the vest behind the gun and puts a coat over the top, open in the front. This way he's generally prepared for the climate and still maintains access to his firearm. Something I hear frequently from customers as we roll into the winter here is how they can carry their big gun now because they can hide it under a coat. The issue with this, discussed in class, is managing that single layer concealment when you go into somewhere that you no longer need your coat. If you're going to be in a warm office or friend's home it would be out of place to keep the coat on. In the case of a friend's home it might even be considered rude. We're Minnesota nice here, take off your coat and stay a while.

The final topic of discussion was other environmental considerations at large. If we're actual embracing the preparedness lifestyle and you live in a cold environment it's more than just knowing you can get to your gun under your coat and shoot it with your gloves on. Most of us that have lived in the frozen north for any period of time have gotten stuck in the snow somewhere. If that somewhere is not inside of the metro it could be a while before you get help. Or even if it is in the metro, if it's during a major storm help might just be backed up because of call volume. So it doesn't hurt to keep some blankets, a booster pack or set of jumper cables, and maybe some small candles, snacks, and even some sand to give you some artificial traction if you can self recover.


Post lunch we moved out to the range for the practical application portion of the day. I won't cover the drills play by play as they weren't necessarily what the focus of the class was. More so Erik chose drills that let us experiment with our normal technique in our snivel gear.

We started with a simple dryfire drill to ensure we didn't have any glaring safety issues caused by our added clothing. I found immediately that the coat I was wearing for class restricted the range of motion of my shoulders and compromised my grip when I brought the gun to full extension. I also found the Presscheck assault gloves I was wearing did not interface well with my LCR. Most of my gripping surface was the more smooth material of the glove and the tacky rubber material largely failed to contact the grip. This isn't a knock on the gloves, they've worked very well with my ARs and normal sized handguns. I rather doubt that Chuck was thinking "yeah, but how will these gloves work with nerds that shoot tiny revolvers in obscure calibers?"

I wasn't the only student that found issues regarding clothing choice, particularly where gloves were concerned. The minor issues where trigger interface and feedback. Students found that their finger either slipped as they tried to apply pressure to the gun, or they didn't have enough tactile feedback to be able to confidently manage their shot process. To experiment with managing this issue we ran a drill where we shot a string with the tip of our finger, the center of our first pad, and with our finger buried to the first knuckle. The purpose being to show us what might work better for us when in gloves and to show us what we can get away with on the trigger.

Some found that their gloves caused more dramatic issues yet. The students that were wearing heavier, more cold weather appropriate gloves frequently found that the extra material that helped keep their hands warm would work its way back over the beaver tail of the grip and impede the cycling of the slide. For some the slide did have enough energy to tear through the glove and finish the complete cycle. Otherwise they had to work through clearing a malfunction with the extra thick gloves on, making the task more complicated yet.

The reload drills we ran showed a glaring issue in my ability to reload my revolver. I have 8 round strips from Tuff Products that I have been loading with 5 rounds. Between the specific drills and my own reloads at the end of the rest of the drills I never got more than 3 rounds loaded into the gun. Most of the time 2 rounds ended up in the gun and 3 rounds landed in the mud. I was using an old box of PMC RNL 32 longs, believing the reloading would be easier. Now I believe that because of the already shrunk down gun I need to use the longer 32 H&R mag or 327 Fed mag so that I can get more of the cartridge into the chamber before pealing it off of the speed strip.

The drill we ran that I found really interesting was what Erik called the Gate 4 Drill. I won't tell the whole story as it isn't mine, but I'll give the abridged version. When Erik was working as an MP running gate guard and had someone approach in a vehicle that he had to draw on. Upon clearing the holster the heavy gloves he was wearing because of the weather ejected the mag from his M9 as he gripped down on the pistol. He quickly reloaded and continued with the stop. He had the students running semi autos do a drill similar to his experience. From the high ready, on the command students ejected their magazines and had to reload their gun and engage the target. I thought that, while not perfectly simulating what I would call an emergency reload, does a good job of creating a program on the hard drive in the event you need to get more rounds in a gun that was just loaded.

The final instructional portion of the class was regarding how to deal with unstable/slippery ground, what to do if we find ourselves on the ground, and how to fall. Erik and Mike discussed and demonstrated a break fall and then showed how to engage a target from the ground, both from the supine and then from on the side in an urban prone position. They then had the students execute the same. Supine is something that I need to spend more time on at the range. It's less supported than I thought it would be, and until the class it was something I didn't really consider practicing, even though I had been introduced to the problem before.

The final two portions of the class were a reactionary drill and a demonstration of shooting through a jacket. The drill involved Mike running a laser that he shot at five individual targets that the student then had to engage as the laser hit them. It was interesting to watch the student's ability to react to the stimulus. Some fixated on where they though the laser SHOULD appear. Others were scanning all of the targets they hadn't shot at yet, waiting for the prompt to hit them.
For the shoot through demo I had worn an old coat with the intention of demoing a shoot through on a cover garment. The revolver was uneventful as the .32 Long doesn't have much recoil or muzzle blast anyway and didn't produce anything dramatic in the jacket. Using my FN 509 was a bit surprising to me though. With the optic mounted I expected that I would have more than enough binding in the coat pocket to shut down the pistol, but it ran without issue. Granted, I see no reason I would stuff my service sized gun in my pocket, but it was an interesting experiment. And it showed how much your general service pistol can power through.

The class for me didn't have any huge "Ah Ha!" moments, but I haven't had as many individual bullet points that I have taken away from a POI since I started shooting handgun in earnest. The other great benefit during this class was the interaction that happened among the group between each other and with the instructors. Because everyone in the class was above a novice skill level, and because most had trained with Erik before, there was a lot more discussion that went on. Its something I'm not used to in class, where people are generally afraid to speak up, and it was very refreshing to be able to have all of that cross talk.

If you live in the frozen north and are within traveling distance of the Twin Cities I would recommend you come take this class. It's a good forum for problem solving how to be prepared in the cold and be introduced to issues that you may not have considered. The lab environment Erik created gave the students the opportunity to effectively run through their own discovery learning and most of the curriculum I had never heard in another class. Dealing with defense in a cold climate is its own beast and being able to walk through some of the considerations under guidance from Erik and Mike expanded my perspectives and planning during the winter. Don't forget to factor in your environment in your training. And if nothing else take this class because it's a low round count class with a high return to the student.