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Don’t Teach Using Blanks

Pistol Blank
Don’t use blank round in your firearms classes.

So the question about using blanks to induce malfunctions in training classes has come up. 

After many years of experience in this game, I think it is unnecessary at best and dangerous at it’s worst. Here is why: 

Pistol Blank
What is a blank round. Found this diagram on the internet. Did you notice it’s actually incorrect? How? It DOES NOT specify how or what is holding the powder in the case. That is a fundamental flaw in trying to understand blanks.

In many instances, one can induce some glorious malfunctions with empty brass randomly inserted into the students’ magazine. While logically…running blanks shouldn’t be an issue in theory, the reality is we are setting up a mental condition that exacerbates human fallibility: 

“This gun is loaded, but it’s safe because it’s just blanks. Yeah. All guns are dangerous but this one is less so right now because…blanks”. 

That comment is a recipe for disaster. 

Pistol Blank
Crimped blanks
Pistol Blank
Plugged blanks.

The problem gets even worse when we go from a one-on-one event to an actual “class” of multiple shooters and assistant instructors working a line trying to watch multiple types of guns. 

Then there is logistics: You gonna keep “blanks” for 9,40,45, 38 on hand? What happens when that “one guy” shows up with his 10mm, 357sig? To induce malfunctions with him, you’re going to default to the empty brass trick or dummy rounds anyway. 

Rifle Blank
This is 5.56 crimped blank. Contrary to uninformed assumptions, these are quite dangerous. Doubt me? Go fire one and see how much gas, flame and pieces of brass comes out the barrel.

New threat most gun instructor don’t know about: FOD. Foreign Objects and Debris. A blank isn’t a blank if there is something stuck in the barrel in front of the blank. In that condition what you have is functionally a live round: Powder charge in chamber, rock or squib in the barrel. Pull the trigger and you either launch that object down range or kaboom the gun. 

This is what happened to Brandon Lee some years ago. Is your class standing on a gravel range? What kind of class is it? Handgun 101? Or more advanced training that might have students down in that gravel? Will the “It’s just blanks” mentality accidentally end up with someone eating FOD? 

Wooden Training Round.
Here’s a curve ball. This is a 6.5×55 Swede wooden training round for indoor, short range marksmanship practice. How many civilians understand what this means or would call it a “blank”? Hell…how many “instructors” even know this exists? Damn few. The point is not all training rounds or blanks mean the same thing to everybody or every organization.

Finally: What kind of malfunction is a blank supposed to induce? In the real world, almost ALL malfunctions will be gun-cycle and feed-way stoppages. The gun goes dead, then the shooter clears it. 

I point this out since a blank in many handguns not modified to run blanks reliably will look like a squib. Do we want to condition people to keep firing after a suspected squib? 

Food for thought. Nothing more. Just keep in mind, what you decide to come up with and try in your solo range time, might be less than optimal for, “gun class 101”. 

You do you. But I suggest you leave the blanks at home. 






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