If you do your bird hunting with a classic Mossberg 500 shotgun, you might be taken aback when you first handle their tactically oriented, nine-shot, bayonet-lug- and aperture-sight-equipped Magpul series Model 590A1.
For starters, the 590A1 is built for war, not sport, and the Magpul series takes it a step beyond with furniture that enhances its tactical function and allows for more user customization than the standard military stock. Whether you’re repelled by it or drawn to it, you have to admit: it’s a sexy beast. At nearly 8.5 pounds empty, I found this model’s weight alone impressive. It’s a load to carry, which means any Marine Corps infantryman issued one will curse it long and loudly, but when it comes time to shoot it, that mass just soaks up the recoil of the heaviest 3-inch magnum loads.
This is a gun you can shoot slugs with all day long. I don’t love this gun, but it’s an apocalypse-grade weapon. If I have to go into battle against a rival warlord or endure decades of chaos after the collapse of civilization with just a shotgun, this is the one I’d want.
FOR THOSE UNFAMILIAR with the 590A1, it is the latest, and possibly final, tactical evolution of Mossberg’s 500 series shotgun line introduced in 1960. The 500 series shotgun is one of the most successful sporting arms in history with over 12 million produced in various gauges and configurations.
The Mossberg 500 in tactical trappings was also very popular with law enforcement, but its most demanding role was serving in the hands of our military service members in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, the changes that evolved the series 500 into the current 590 and 590A1 tactical shotguns were in response to the military’s requirements.
Though non-NFA versions of the 590A1 with barrels 18.5 inches or longer became available to civilians in 2009, these shotguns are marketed primarily to law enforcement and military agencies. The 590A1 is among the mix of shotgun models and types the military currently uses for interior guard duty, prison security, riot control, door-breaching, boarding hostile naval vessels and front-line combat roles.
However, in the big picture, the shotgun is a specialty weapon and makes up a very tiny percentage of our military small arms inventory. Shotguns have
served our troops most famously in the trenches of World War I, and the
jungle fighting in the Pacific Theater in World War II and the Vietnam War,
but always in small numbers. Unlike military service rifles, which are designed as combat arms from the first blueprint, shotguns and their
ammunition were always selected and procured from normal civilian commercial sources, sometimes with no modifications whatsoever, other than the addition of martial markings.
For the most part, this worked out fine for the military, though there was a
noteworthy problem with the original standard paper-hull shotgun shells in
wide civilian use before the Vietnam War. It was found that in wet climates,
like the jungle for example, paper hulls absorbed moisture and swelled up to
the point that they couldn’t chamber, rendering the shotgun useless, other
than as a melee weapon! The solution to this problem was an expensive all brass shotgun shell.
By the 1960s, the plastic-hulled shotgun shells we know today were replacing the black-powder-era paper hulls. The plastic-hulled shell was the perfect economical solution to the military’s shotgun ammunition spoilage problems in tropical climates. However, one major problem remained and persists to this day. Because of the weight and physical size of shotgun cartridges, military personnel armed with shotguns for combat have always had a hard time carrying enough ammunition to stay in a firefight.
GETTING BACK TO the specific tactical adaptions of the Mossberg shotguns, the principal difference between the 500 and 590 was the design of the magazine tube and barrel mounting. The former’s magazine tube is closed at the end with a threaded hole in the center to attach the barrel. The latter uses an open-ended magazine tube with exterior threads and holds the barrel in place with a screw-on cap.
This made the 590’s magazine much easier to clean. That wasn’t a big deal for most American hunters, but it was for airmen, soldiers and marines, who tended to get a lot of sand and dust in their guns doing their duty during the Gulf Wars and the Global War on Terrorism.
The 590A1 differs from the 590 in the thickness of its barrel and its use of aluminum, rather than polymer, for the triggerguard assembly and safety. It doesn’t take too much to dent a shotgun barrel, and the U.S. Navy requested a heavier barrel that was more resistant to denting after observing guns were sometimes damaged banging into ship hatchways. At the muzzle, you can see a 590A1 barrel is about twice as thick as a standard weight barrel and it’s actually too thick to use the standard 590’s heat shield.
By the way, heat shields were originally ordered for military shotguns in World War I, when the use of a bayonet in combat was expected. In bayonet training, the supporting hand grasps the front of the weapon around the barrel and front grip and is subject to burning without some sort of thermal shield.
Today, only the wooden-stocked 590A1 Retrograde is offered with a specially fitted heat shield, though several other 590A1 models have a bayonet-lug/auxiliary-magazine-tube support silver-soldered to their barrels. The bayonet setup will fit all bayonets designed for the M16/M4 series of service rifles up to the present M9 and USMC OKC-3S bayonet.
From a reliability standpoint, the 590A1 is as good as or better than its predecessors, and that’s saying it’s very, very good. It features dual extractors on the bolt, positive steel-to-steel lockup between bolt and barrel, twin action bars on the operating slide (a feature once unique to the Remington 870 until their patent expired in 1970), and an anti-jam elevator to ensure smooth operation. Left-handers have always appreciated Mossberg’s safety mounted on top of the wrist for ambidextrous operation. In these respects, all current 500s, 590s and 590A1s are alike. They differ in stocks, sights, barrel lengths, magazine capacity and finish.
THE MOSSBERG MAGPUL series 590A1 has an MSRP of $836 and is fully decked out with Magpul adjustable SGA buttstock, MOE front handguard, forward sling mounting point, and an XS Sights ghost ring adjustable-aperture rear sight and receiver-mounted Picatinny rail. These upgrades, all American-made, have an MSRP over $400 if purchased separately.
The Magpul (magpul.com) SGA buttstock is ambidextrous in the sense that it has a 1.25-inch sling loop and QD socket on each side and the steel ring for hook attachment at the stock wrist can be positioned on the right or left side. This user-configurable buttstock is adaptable for use with body armor, optics and shooters of differing stature. Length-of-pull is adjustable from 12.5 to 14.5 inches in half-inch increments with a spacer system. The butt is capped with a soft recoil pad that goes a long way toward making this gun pleasant to shoot.
The grip has aggressively textured side panels, a grooved front strap and, most importantly, improved ergonomics somewhere between a traditional stock and a vertical pistol grip. The effect of this geometry is that it keeps your thumb from painfully banging into your nose during recoil but still permits a full, tight, wrap-around grip. The comb height is also adjustable with optional cheek risers for use with optics and raised sights. All of these adjustments require simple hand tools and aren’t adjustable on the fly.
The Magpul MOE M-Lok forend has integral front and rear hand stops and is quite narrow along the top where the M-Lok slots are. This is really good since this is the part of the tactical shotgun that tends to grow exponentially when you add accessories. It’s a little bit longer than standard, but the extra length is to the front so it doesn’t ride over the
receiver in the rear and won’t interfere with a sidesaddle ammo holder. The
two best features are the M-Lok slots along the top edges and bottom for
mounting the accessories of your choice. The Magpul buttstock and forend come in black, flat dark earth, stealth gray and orange.
Though any weapon with front mounting space always tempts me to attach a battery-powered, lightup, 1950s-kitsch, miniature dancing Hawaiian hula-girl lamp, I took the mature road and attached an AimShot (aimshot.com) TX890 Wireless Revolution tactical light instead.
Other than an aiming laser, a light is the only accessory that makes any
sense on a shotgun. The AimShot’s Wireless Revolution light comes with a
direct-attach rail mount and a throwlever, quick-release-style adapter, if
you want to take it on and off like I do. To mount the light, I attached a
section of Picatinny rail on each side of the forend for the light and wireless switch. Alternatively, I could have used AimShot’s quick-release M-Lok mounts instead for a cleaner, slightly lower-profile installation of this tough, compact, waterproof, 550-lumen light. Even though it has a wireless switch, you can still operate it with the tail switch as redundant backup or a primary switch when dismounted from the gun for handheld use.
One other advantage of the wireless switch is it allows light output to be adjusted from 5 percent to 100 percent as needed. The MSRP on this unit is $179. The rugged forward sling mount is designed specifically for the heavy barreled 590A1 and features a cast steel hook attachment point on one side and a standard QD socket on the other side.
It’s secured to the gun with a pair of wings that grip the barrel and
magazine tube. This allows the use of any push-button type QD sling swivel
and just about any one-point, clip-instyle attachments (i.e. MS3 Paraclip,
the HK hook, ITW MASH hook, etc.).
The whole thing is Melonite-treated for wear- and corrosion-resistance and is simply indestructible. The downside is you can’t take the barrel off with it on.
If you must have sights on your shotgun other than a front bead, the XS Sights combination ghost ring rear sight and receiver Picatinny rail is about as fine a choice as you could make. The sight and base are made of stress-proof steel and adjustable for windage and elevation with a screwdriver.
The rail section is aluminum and mounts to the receiver through pretapped holes. The sights are at such a height that they can be co-witness with a red-dot optic mounted on the rail portion. The large diameter hole of the ghost ring aperture allows for fast target acquisition, but still permits a good degree of precision.
Slug hits at 100 yards on man-sized targets aren’t a problem. The only thing I kind of wish this excellent sight had is the military style wing protectors on each side. That being said, XS Sights are known for being extraordinarily tough. The 590A1 front sight is also drift adjustable for windage if need be.
AFTER SHOOTING IT for a day, I have to admit the 590A1 Magpul series began to grow on me. Every other 12-gauge that I’ve shot a lot of heavy buckshot of slug loads through from the bench put me through a “trial-byrecoil” that usually broke me down by the third box of shells.
With the 590A1, I could just enjoy blasting stuff for the sheer fun of blasting stuff. Still, this is not a gun well suited to most women or any youngster. Santina Warthen, the model who worked with me on the photos for this story, is one of the exceptions. An athletic 5-foot-10, she shot it like a champ. The Mossberg 590A1 is covered by a 10-year limited warranty. For more information on it and other Mossberg products, visit your local gun store or mossberg.com.
Magpul Expands Into Traditional Riﬂe Stock Offerings, Including A Model For The Remington 700
REVIEW AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY RICHARD SHARRER
Magpul Industries has long been known for manufacturing superior riﬂe (and now pistol) magazines, as well as improved stocks for ARs. The company has now expanded into more traditional riﬂe stocks and is taking them to new levels.
I was recently sent a Magpul “Hunter” stock for the Remington 700 series riﬂes to test. Now, admittedly, I’m not much of a hunter. I choose to spend my shooting time a bit more tactically, but with that said, I really do like this stock.
The version I received was in basic black, but other available colors include ﬂat dark earth, stealth gray and olive drab green. This stock features reinforced polymer construction, and includes such unique features as a spacer adjustable length of pull with a range of adjustment from 13 to 15 inches in half-inch increments. That is a wonderful addition to any stock, in my opinion.
I think of myself as an average-sized guy (5-foot-9, 170 pounds), but I’ve yet to ﬁnd a stock that ﬁts me out of the box. The ability to simply add or remove spacers to get the gun to ﬁt me the way I like it is an excellent improvement over a “standard” stock.
Another unique addition is the ability to adjust the height of the cheek piece.
A high cheek riser kit is available that enables users to modify the height of the stock comb and allow a proper cheek weld behind a scope.
Most “hunter” stocks seem to be set for iron sight use, and adding even a low mounted scope forces the shooter to compromise a good cheek weld to use the scope.
This leads to less accuracy and a slower shot, as the shooter has to ﬁnd the eye box behind the scope. Not with this set-up. Simply mount the gun to your shoulder, get a solid cheek weld and the crosshairs are right in front of your eye. Nice!
The stock comes out of the box it set up to use both the OEM bottom metal and the blind magazine standard on the Remington 700 series riﬂes. There is, however, an option to replace that with detachable AICS-pattern magazines. A section of M-LOK compatible slots in the forend make attaching accessories easy and fast. This is a “drop-in” product. No ﬁtting or inletting is required.
The Magpul Hunter stock makes an excellent after-market addition to a Remington 700 short-action series rifle.
Here’s what others are saying bout the Magpul Hunter 700 stock from Reddit and AR15 Forum:
heathenyak: picked up an older 700 bdl the other day in .338 win mag because why not. The action is smooth as glass. I’ll be taking it out to the range next weekend or the following
nomadicbohunk: It shoots sub moa no problem. We’re actually pretty impressed with it. The only work I’ve done to it was to stiffen the stock and bed it. He wishes he’d have bought a few of them.
tomj762: Yeah I thought it was the Remington 770 that gets a lot of hate. The 700 gets accreditation for being a rifle you can buy for under $1,000 and get out of the box 1,000 yard precision.
Chowley_1: Or spend $650 for a Tikka and have a vastly superior rifle.
Isenwod: Considering it’s been the platform for every military sniper rifle since the 70s, I would say not.
morehousemusicplease: grip angle is excessive for my liking price isnt bad at 260 which puts it in line with the b&c.
The_Eternal_Badger: Admittedly no one has really handled or used the Magpul stock yet, but if it’s up to their current standards I can’t see how it wouldn’t be a better deal with equal or better performance out of the box.
THellURider: Honestly – I’ve wondered why they hadn’t released this many years ago. And then I remember that they’re more a marketing and design company than a manufacturer of anything with more than 1 moving part.
Hunting rifle: Going to be tough to beat a B&C Alaskan (I or II) or if you’re going to go spendy, McMillan Edge.
KC45: I’ve never been much of an aftermarket stock guy. I bet for 99% of shooters here a decent factory stock will do just as well and the money they save would be better spent getting some good precision shooting training/instructions and on ammo (or components). It’s the indian…not the arrow
JohnBurns: Mid-priced platform for bench shooting? Sure. That style of hunting, that guy’s set up is all wrong. Ultra light hunters want small, light, compact rifles with small, light scopes. Leupold VX6 2.5-10, McMillan Edge, on a light profile 260 rem – yes.
Lost_River: Great video quality. However it pretty much showed nothing in regards to technical information.
Bubbatheredneck: What does it offer vs the AICS? And no mountain hunter is gonna lug that beast around very long if it is as heavy as it looks..
Dash_ISpy: I like my Magpul 870 stock. Id probably get one of these as well. I wonder if itll be easier to integrate a mag. Im not excited to spend $300 extra just for a mag.
bulldog1967: it doesn’t do anything my Tikka T3 in .270 WSM doesn’t do.
Foxtrot08: That set up will be my next rifle. My current rifle is an older M700 long action, in 300WM on a B&C Alaskan II stock. Barrel has been blue printed, and bolt has been fitted. Not 100% light weight, but I haven’t needed it yet, as I only do day hunts on the western slope of Colorado.
LuvBUSHmaster: My .300 WinMag 700 BDL could use some MAGpul love but I need specs and a Long Action Model.
RePp: I don’t need another stock but for that price it will be very hard to beat. Now those magazines I will buy a shitload of. A polymer AICS mag like that will be a huge hit.
If you are looking to upgrade your Remington 700 stock, be that of your favorite deer riﬂe in .308 Win, a suppressed 700 SD in 300 Blackout or any other short- or long-action 700, you should give this option a good long look. ASJ
I went with medium and they fit a lot more snugly one me…especially at the cuff. The Mechanix ones were just too loose and flared for my tastes. However…with the smaller cuff you’re going to have a lot harder time taking these off.
Synthetic suede palm
Elastic wrist closure
You can see it fits a lot better and the cut of the thumb and index finger is much more conducive for shooting. There’s also extra material on three fingers that enables touch-screen access.
At first I thought it would disrupt precision shooting but it’s at the tip of the finger enough that I had no problems.
Thicker material than the Mechanix and what I think is a good Goldilocks zone of dexterity and protection. Also some terrycloth material on the back of the thumb for sniffles or cleaning optics. Awesome for $20.
The FDT stands for full dexterity tactical and they live up to their name. The Delta Glove version is the thinnest version.
If you want full dexterity at the expense of some protection…these are the best on the market.
I’m a large for SKD gloves and I fit very snugly even though I sized up.
No complaints in the finger or palm swell area.
But note that the words “PIG” are rubberized textures that work well but will eventually fall off. However the tips of the gloves are still touch-screen enabled.
Some more stats:
Single layer palm
Touch-screen enabled index/thumb
They look great too and you can see how thin they are even in the back. If you need knuckle protection look elsewhere. The design is cool but I have a feeling it’s going to start peeling when I wear it more.
A little more at $30 but currently my favorite when dexterity is the primary focus.
My current favorite shooting glove…the Alpha version of the PIG FDTs.
The thicker OG version…I think this glove checks all the boxes. Still super dexterous while having some additional protection…all the while fitting like…a glove.
I went with large on this like the Delta version.
I’ve used these gloves the most and they shoot pistols, ARs, reload magazines, and move couches perfectly. A little slower to dry since it’s thicker and has some synthetic suede.
Touch-screen enabled index/thumb
Isolated trigger finger material
Dual-joint trigger finger
You can see a lot of it is giving dexterity for the trigger finger and it shows in those knuckle breaks. It’s almost the same as the Delta but with more warmth and protection. Plus I like having the ability to tighten the wrist strap.
Lastly, it has a nice soft material behind the thumb…again great for your nose or cleaning lenses.
The most expensive on the list but if you shoot a lot or value protection/dexterity…I highly recommend the Alpha gloves.
Side-note: I had a defect with my Alphas where the ring finger on one hand was twisted so a seam was on my finger pad. Not a deal breaker but annoying. I emailed SKD and they took care of the problem in less than an hour and two emails.
There’s a lot of tactical shooting gloves out there…and I couldn’t buy & test them all. But here are some of my honorable mentions that I’ve used or know are popular.
Outdoor Research Ironsight ($45): I’ve worn through these gloves for hiking and they have a bit more protection than the SKD gloves. Also has grip attachments that eventually wear off. Haven’t had the chance to shoot with them but they were great for hiking.
Exclusive interview by Frank Jardim
Caylen Wojcik was a U.S. Marine Corps scout sniper for eight years as a trainer and warrior. He served as the chief sniper in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II, conducting 100 sniper missions until he was seriously wounded during Operation Phantom Fury. He returned to training duties during his recovery and now works in the private sector for Magpul Industries as its director of training of Precision Rifle Operations. He is a man who knows what it’s like to be behind a sniper rifle in battle. I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions.
Frank Jardim You’ve spent a good deal of your life preparing snipers for battle and being a sniper in battle. What do you think is important for people to know about snipers?
Caylen Wojcik It doesn’t take long for commanders to identify the extreme effectiveness and lethality of a well-trained and equipped sniper on the battlefield. I think with the duration of our current conflict that snipers will ultimately benefit, for many years to come, as their effectiveness on the battlefield is solidified, without question. It’s important to understand that not everyone can become a sniper. Snipers aren’t cut from a “sniper cloth,” nor do they magically acquire skills with an application of “sniper dust.” Being a sniper requires more than just marksmanship skills. Snipers are highly intelligent, extremely resourceful, incredibly disciplined and above all, undeniably passionate about the science and art of sniping. Those traits cannot be cultivated. The skills, however, can be cultivated and honed through effective training. It’s important to remember that snipers’ continue to be effective problem solvers on the battlefield.
FJ How do you explain the relative celebrity of present-day snipers compared to those from previous wars, when they remained virtually unknown outside of their units and the shooting community? (I don’t recall anybody making a movie about Carlos Hathcock.)
CW In terms of factual events, the only movie I’ve seen (or know of) about a sniper besides American Sniper is Enemy at the Gates, which was a rendition of the Soviet sniper Vasily Zeytsev, who was a Russian hero of WWII, and was incredibly lethal during the Battle of Stalingrad. Snipers pride themselves on being silent professionals, as their passion for the job is enough for personal satisfaction. Very few snipers, if any, will actively seek out recognition for their accomplishments, as it usually finds them.
FJ Were snipers used as effectively as they could have been in the units you fought with? Did commanders understand how to deploy expert riflemen?
CW Sniper employment is a steep learning curve for both the sniper and the commander, especially if it’s their first time around in combat. Commanders in the past had very little, if any, training in how to employ snipers on the battlefield. Young snipers, learning sniper employment on a fundamental level at the Scout/Sniper Basic Course, need to be excellent communicators of their capabilities and limitations with their supported unit commanders. In my experience, once we got the major bugs worked out and both the commander and sniper understood each other, things went smoothly and effectively. Having been at war for the past 13 years, there are many seasoned commanders and snipers who are passing on those lessons learned to make both sides run more smoothly.
FJ Have the current infantry rifles and training helped or hurt basic combat marksmanship among typical soldiers?
CW I’m not currently on active duty, nor have I been since the Marine Corps adopted the ACOG as their primary sighting device on the service rifle. Several of my peers are now Marine gunners who are directly responsible for the development of that system and they speak highly of the increased average qualification scores. The addition of requiring Marines to qualify on combat marksmanship is also a huge step forward from my time when only known distance rifle qualification was scored. More emphasis on close-quarters marksmanship and weapons manipulation was definitely required to adapt to our modern battlefield. ASJ
The AR platform is reliable, versatile, accurate and can be accessorized. Gotta love the AR, there are infinite amount of manufactures that caters to this market. You can trick out almost every section of your AR.
Here are 10 must-have AR accessories.
If you never shot with a suppressor, give it a shot (no pun intended).
If your state allows for suppressor use and ownership, this is one accessory worth a serious look. Suppressor to look at are: Silencerco, Yankee Hill Machine
Having a grip that feels comfortable can help improve your shooting and confidence. There is no shortage of great grips available and you can choose from an almost infinite array of styles.
You can find grips from Bravo Company, MagPul, Ergo Grips and many others.
Nowadays, its amazing you can buy custom triggers for the AR’s which is better than shooting the stock M4’s or M-16A1. Check out Timney and Rock River Arms.
It’s amazing that you can install your own ambidextrous charging handle, back in the old military days, that was unheard of. Or, if you’re into competition, you can custom for those as well.
Now with optics, there are tons to check out, but don’t be getting something for a sniper rifle. Because AR’s are not long range rifle used in hunting. One of the selling points of the AR platform is its ability to be highly accurate. To do that you need a great barrel, excellent trigger and an aiming system that can take advantage of those parts.
The Trijicon ACOG has proven to be one of the most durable and preferred optics in the AR game.
Ambidextrous Safety Selector
If you’re a southpaw, you know this is a must have.
Reaching around for the safety is more than a hassle, it’s a safety issue. Some ARs come with ambi safety setups. If yours doesn’t, adding one is simple.
You can’t own an AR without owning a custom stock. Well, you can. But why would you?
The stock is what makes your rifle “yours.” It fits you, suits you and custom options abound.
Blackhawk! offers a ton of options for custom stocks and installation is easy.
Part of having a reliable and accurate AR is to have a good barrel, not the one that comes with when you first bought your AR, those are junk.
Some of the benefits are: barrel can shave weight, improve performance and increase resale value.
Daniel Defense has a full line of barrels that have proven popular with serious AR shooters.
If your AR rigged for personal defense (and an AR does make for a great personal defense weapon), a tactical light is a great accessory.
Advance design of the rail system on the AR platform makes mounting lights a breeze and there’s no shortage of companies offering top-notch tactical lights that are rugged and made to survive the recoil of a firearm.
Owning an AR without changing uppers and lowers is sort of like owning a Ferrari and never driving it on the highway. Changing out the upper or lower receiver on an AR is a breeze due to it’s simple component replacement. Most receivers will work on any AR but buying an upper/lower pair from the same company will typically eliminate any issues in fit and finish.
Tell us about your favorite accessories on your AR below.
Source: Tony Hansen, Daniel Defense, Blackhawk, Troy Industries, Trijicon ACOG, Timney, Bravo Company, MagPul, Ergo Grips, SilencerCo
[su_heading size=”25″ margin=”0″]Chris Sajnog – Neural Zen Training[/su_heading]
Exclusive interview by John Oliver • Photographs provided by Chris Sajnog
[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”4″]W[/su_dropcap]hen the opportunity presented itself to interview one of the lead Navy SEAL firearms instructors who is also an internationally known law enforcement and military trainer, we jumped at the chance. Meet Chris Sajnog, former Navy SEAL sniper instructor, author and founder of Center Mass Group. Sajnog not only has over 20 years of expertise with one of the most elite military teams in the world, he is willing to share his skills and insight with everyone willing and open to learning them. Our own John Oliver spent some time with Sajnog and here is what he had to say:
American Shooting JournalHello, Chris. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Let’s start at the beginning. Tell us about your background, where are you from and how you became a Navy SEAL?
Chris SajnogIwas born and raised in Wisconsin and grew up there with one brother. I didn’t get along with my parents and ended up leaving home early, by request. I worked full time because I had to pay for a place to live, and then Ijoined the Navy when I was 19. At that time, I didn’t even know what a SEAL was, and learned about them later. Initially, I was a Navy diver and did diving medicine, or undersea and hyperbaric medicine (UHB), and often supported the SEALs in that role. After working with them for a few years I decided that what they did was pretty cool, so I went to SEAL training. I had already been with the Navy for four years before I joined.
Retired Navy SEAL Chris Sajnog is an international professional firearms and tactics trainer and has written two books: How to shoot like a Navy SEAL and Navy SEAL Shooting.
CS I truly love teaching other people. I used to run the sniper course and our marksmanship training for our SEAL qualification course, so I’d been teaching quite a lot and I wanted to continue. When I got out of the Navy, I started writing articles and in 2011 founded a training company called Center Mass Group. I received really good responses and a friend suggested that I transition one of my blogs that focused on marksmanship, and turn it into a book. With a little editing, expanding and adding extra chapters I was able to create the first book. This one covers the fundamentals of combat marksmanship, and boils down to being able to shoot under stress. That book did really well and was the number one shooting book on Amazon.com for a really long time.
ASJ It sounds like you haven’t stopped since your Navy days. Tell us a little about the courses you teach at Center Mass Group.
CS I’m actually getting away from running physical courses, although I still teach the military and law enforcement, and have started teaching online. The way I run training is very different than anyone else I’ve ever seen because I really focus on what I call “the new rules of marksmanship.” It’s a way of training where, to me, it’s more important how you train than what you’re training or how many rounds you shoot. Often, I’ll have a student shoot one round and if it’s not perfect, then I correct them immediately. I think every time you make a mistake you’re building neural pathways in your brain to recreate that movement again. It kills me to see people simply shooting to get better when it just doesn’t work that way. That’s one of the reasons I’m getting away from hands-on training, and moving to an online format where I present the information and teach people how to train on their own. It’s hard to run a course and have people shoot one round at a time. Nobody wants to pay to do that. I can offer a much less expensive way to learn by giving them the information online and the students conduct the repetitions on their own.
ASJ Do you have a family? Are you married?
CSI have been married to my lovely wife Laura for 12 years, and we have two boys, Caden and Owen, who are nine and 11 years old. They’re smarter and more talented than I am already. Their mom’s a teacher, so they get their smarts from her, and their dad’s a SEAL. They’re both at the top of their sports teams, so that’s awesome.
ASJ From what I have read you are a strong believer of dry-fire practice. Why do you feel this is such an important component?
CS Definitely! Going back to building neural pathways, every time you do something, whether it’s right or wrong, you are building these pathways so that your body can do that movement faster and better the next time. Any time a gun goes bang, that’s a stressor. It may be a small stressor, but it’s the one thing that increases how ingrained those neural connections become. If you can first train perfectly without stress, you build up these neural pathways and insulate them with myelination (process of forming a myelin sheath around a nerve to allow nerve impulses to move more quickly), and that protects you from the chemical stimulus you’re going to get from stress. So when those hormones come rushing into your brain, that neural pathway is protected and you’ll be able to do it perfectly.
ASJ Your level of detail and scientific breakdown is impressive. Many instructors simply do not operate or consider these concepts. Aside from this, what would you say sets you apart from all of the other shooting instructors out there.
CS I think a big thing is I don’t teach people what they want to be taught. I teach them what I know is correct, and I don’t try to entertain them when I teach. Obviously I try to make it fun, but I don’t look for people who want to learn how to do a front flip and shoot like they did in The Matrix – I just won’t do it. When I teach a course, I don’t actually shoot at all. I can teach faster by standing and watching every move that somebody makes and correcting them instantly. I can’t do that when I have people behind me while I’m shooting. For me it does no good to show people I can shoot; hopefully, people will understand that I’m probably a decent shot from being a SEAL sniper for quite a few years. As I mentioned earlier, concentrating on how you train is very important. I focus on mental training, and teach meditation and visualization. As a SEAL, we were literally alotted unlimited ammo and were paid to shoot at the range.
When I retired I started teaching civilians and law enforcement the way I used to teach SEALs, and it just wasn’t working. Students would say, “I don’t have the time to go to the range every day,” or “I don’t have the money to buy all the ammo I need to shoot.” Even law enforcement units didn’t have the money to do that. I needed to come up with a way to teach people at the same level, but faster and cheaper.
I was also experiencing the same thing myself because now I had a wife, children, soccer games, trips to the grocery store, just like everyone else. I started looking outside of the shooting community to see how to best train people.
I knew that if I could teach people in general, I could make it specific to firearms training. So that’s what I did. I looked at how did the greats get to where they are, how they practiced, how they learned and stayed on the top, and how they did it so quickly. I used those concepts while researching neuro sciences, how the brain actually works and how we learn physical skills and implemented them. I put these all together in a training method I call the new rules of marksmanship. Things like mental training and, most importantly, knowing why you are training are exemplified. If you just want to be good at shooting, you may not wake up in the morning and work on dry firing, but if you’re training to protect your family, you’re probably more likely to put in the time.
Rather than telling students to look at their front sights, I teach things such as how to focus, how to look at the front sight and how the eyes function. I give students specific techniques to work on for each separate aspect. Also, teaching students how to dry fire and to plan their training using a GPS analogy is part of my curriculum. “G” is for gathering information, understanding where your skill levels are, and where you want them to be. For example, if you don’t know where you are or where you want to go, you can drive all day long and never get anywhere. “P” is for planning. Just as a GPS will show your route, you need to plan out those steps. The last one is “S,” and the one most people fail: Start!
Students will often have the information they need but starting is the hardest part. This is why part of my training is simply motivating people to actually do the training.
Chris Sajnog provides training to law enforcement such as the Escondido, Calif., Police Department’s SWAT team.
ASJ Once your new book is out, what’s next for you? Do you have anything on the horizon?
CS Well, my wife will quickly tell you that I have too many projects going on. I’m building a membership site where people can sign up and they get video training using my new rules of marksmanship. This is where I teach people how to shoot and train, and how to do it at home while learning faster and easier. Of course a big part of it is safety. I will also offer full webinars throughout the course.
ASJ That’s interesting. So you won’t just be running video training, but people will be able to interact with you via the live course?
CS Yes, the course is going to be run for a month, so once a week people will get a module of information, which includes videos, outlines and quick-start guides. They will have some time to digest the information, practice it and then ask questions during the once-a-week webinar. I have other courses that I am still working on; one of them is an audio course called Mental Marksmanship, and it focuses on mindset, meditation and visualization. How to use your mind most effectively when shooting. A TV show is also on the way, but that is a still a few months out.
Chris Sajnog is a strong proponent of properly building neural pathways. Every time you do something, whether it’s right or wrong, you are building pathways so your body can do those movements faster and better the next time.
ASJ Will the TV show be based around you and your teaching method?
CS Yes, it is, but it is also quite unique. I don’t want to divulge too much, but I would describe it as action instruction. I can promise you that it is not me standing on screen explaining “This is how you hold a gun.”
ASJ What are your favorite guns for different uses?
CSMy favorite handgun is the Sig Sauer P226. To me, this handgun set the gold standard by which all other combat handguns are measured. I’ve fired so many rounds from this gun it would be impossible to count, yet I can hardly remember a single malfunction. In and out of water, sand and mud – pull it out of its holster and it’s going to fire. You can find plenty of higher end pistols on the market today, but you’ll never find one with the combat-proven track record of the P226.
For close-quarter combat, the HK MP5n. This 9mm submachine gun was what I learned CQC (close quarter combat) and maritime boarding operations called VBSS (visit, board, search and seizure) with. The “n” stands for Navy since it was developed for our use, and is an extremely effective weapon for short, quick engagements. It has virtually zero recoil due to its unique delayed-blowback bolt system, firing from the closed-bolt position. Fun to shoot and fun to transition to your pistol by whipping it over your shoulder like a guitar in an old-school music video.
For sniper operations, the .300 Winchester Magnum (M91A2). I’ve used and taught every type of long-range weapon out there. Yes, there are some that can shoot farther, but this is the most versatile of the bunch, and can reach out and touch someone over 1,000 yards with a flat trajectory past 100. If I could only have one sniper rifle, this would be the one I would choose.
Filming at Triple Horse Productions in Georgia, Sajnog demonstrates shooting multiple targets with a Glock 35.
ASJ Everyone has a favorite fallback carry weapon – what’s yours?
ASJ Do you prefer a specific brand or type of ammunition, and why?
CSBlack Hills – I’ve shot it more than any other brand and it goes bang when I need it to.
ASJ Favorite holsters and slings?
CSzZz Custom Works Holsters. If you want to get the same results as everyone else, get a holster like they have; otherwise, get custom holsters and mag pouches from zZz Custom Works. You can have a holster built to your exact specification for the same cost as one off the shelf.
I also like the Magpul MS3 Sling. It’s comfortable and switches between single and two-point sling.
ASJ What would you say is your must-have furniture?
ASJ What do you do to relax? What are your hobbies?
CS I like to work out and stay active six days a week. I do crossfit-type workouts or high-intensity training. Family is very important to me. I enjoy hanging out with the boys playing baseball or soccer, and I just bought an awesome ping-pong table that they don’t know about yet, especially my wife. She definitely does not know about it! I like learning new things and am interested in acupuncture so that helps me relax, but I also meditate each day, and have a little area set aside for that.
ASJ Thank you so much for your time, Chris, it’s been a pleasure.
CS You too, John, anytime! ASJ
Editor’s note: If you want to know more about Chris Sajnog, you can visit him at chrissajnog.com. If you are interested in his latest book, check out Navy SEAL Shooting at Amazon.com.