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AAR of Mike Pannone CTT Solutions carbine and Pistol Class

December 5, 2010

AAR of Mike Pannone CTT Solutions Carbine and Pistol class1

Mike Pannone of CTT Solutions recently donated a 2 day firearms training class to a local SWAT team after he became aware of the serious nature of the threats faced by officers and deputies confronting the massive wave of illegal alien and drug trafficking in southern Arizona. The class consisted of about 30 police officers and served as a general primer to the CTT-Training program. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the class. I shot a DSA AR15 with JP’s new drop in trigger (which worked great even though I installed it!), a Leupold Prismatic, VTAC sling, and a Scott Medesha TAWS handguard. The pistol was a CZ SP01. The rifle worked flawlessly. The SP01 had one malfunction when shooting support side-only sideways through a VTAC barricade.

If you don’t know who Mr. Pannone is, I suggest that you check out his webpage ( and better yet, buy his excellent book on M16 maintenance and operation (aptly titled the M16/M4 Handbook). Needless to say he served in various capacities in the special operations community. He is also a skilled competitor. Mr. Pannone’s shooting style (like that of Kyle Lamb and Larry Vickers) is an excellent example of the feedback that takes place between the competition community and the real world operators. Mr. Pannone has taken the best of what the shooting community has to offer and run it through the mill of tactical training and operations. So the students were exposed to many of the techniques developed in conjunction with the IPSC and 3 gun community, something that many of these law enforcement officers had never been exposed to before.

The class was 2 days long.2 The first day and a half was dedicated to running the AR15 and the last half a day was spent on the pistol.

As with all carbine classes, what is the first that you do? Zero the gun. Mr. Pannone prefers a 50 meter zero and I agree as I feel that it provides the most benefit from the flat shooting 5.56 cartridge. I was a little disappointed at all the officers who arrived with marginally zeroed guns. If the lawyer can show up with a zeroed gun, I would hope that the duty weapons would be zeroed as well. Sad to say, this was often not the case.

The rest of the 1st day was dedicated to a series of rifle drills. The drills were anywhere from 5 to 100 meters and tried to balance necessary speed with requisite accuracy. The various drills required the shooters to shoot prone, kneeling, sitting and standing. Law enforcement shooters used to standard police qualifications were often quite challenged at the strict time requirements of Mr. Pannone’s drills. The ½ and ½ drill which ends with 10 shots in 2.5 seconds at 5 meters posed quite a challenge for many not used to driving the AR15 near its potential.

The thing that set this class apart was a full half a day focus on the actual operation of the AR15 rifle. Mr. Pannone provided hands down the best lecture that I have ever heard about how the AR15 actually functions and what makes it so reliable and what makes it fail. As with myself, Mr. Pannone is a fan of the AR15 rifle and its reliability.3 I don’t think that many of the people who deploy with their weapons really understand what is going on when the weapon is functioning or malfunctioning. As with Kyle Lamb’s carbine 1.5 class, the students were trained to clear a wide variety of malfunctions, including one that I had never seen before (bolt override with a live round). He described the malfunction clearance drills as the “real save your life” kind of stuff. In a tactical environment (or match for that matter), you must keep your weapon operating.

Mr. Pannone has also developed a unique way to clear the stove pipe malfunction, by basically using the shooting hand to squeeze the charging handle enough to cock the hammer and release the trapped empty case. The only issue? I couldn’t do it! He made it look smooth and easy but I had trouble with it. After a bit more practice, I think I have it down and must say it is substantially quicker than my old technique.

One of the hot topics being discussed in cyberspace and in the tactical training community is how to actually hold the rifle. As you can see from the videos on this websight, most practical competitors use a very forward grip with their support hand. This forward grip is also preferred by Mr. Pannone. So why is it that most of the officers who show up clutch on to the mag well with their support hand? This is even worse when their light systems are mounted forward on the handguard. They are training to fail in the dark as they have to manage two separate stances: a daylight one gripping on the mag well and a nighttime hold for their light system. Plus the mag well hold is simply a terrible way to control the rifle. The law enforcement training community really needs to keep up on these kinds of issues. Guys like Mike are really providing a valuable service to the law enforcement community by exposing them to superior techniques.

Along the lines of understanding what makes the AR15 tick, Mr. Pannone had a series of drills designed to familiarize the shooter with the various controls and perks of the AR. And unlike many classes, the students were required to continually manipulate the weapon to drill a comfortable familiarity into them. The carbine portion of the class ended with a 6 man team drill in which each member of the team had to load and fire 10 shots from 10 magazines each loaded with 1 round. Several teams were in competition to be the first to fire all 60 rounds -and do 60 mag changes! Each team only had 10 magazines so the drill required an element of team work to keep the magazines loaded. I am happy to say that my team won, by virtue of team work.

The pistol portion of the class focused on mastery of the basics. Mike demonstrated grip and stance which for lack of a better term has come to be called the modern isosceles. The first round of drills focused on shooting groups and trigger control. Then the class delved into shooting the pistol through ports in VTAC style barricades, basically forcing the shooter to be able to shoot the handgun from any position: sideways, prone, kneeling, sideways and prone etc. etc. Good stuff.

In all, the class was an excellent experience. While I had never met Mike before, I was happy to find that we come from the same shooting culture. He is to be commended for his excellent training program as well as his generosity in provided some high speed training to local law enforcement free of charge. I would highly recommend taking a class from CTT-Solutions if you can. I believe several classes are being offered in 2011 at Pima Pistol Club north of Tucson.

1 Note there are no photos or videos to go along with this AAR. Many of the people attending the class currently work or will work in undercover operations.

2 Note that I am intentionally vague as to anything that I consider to be proprietary to CTT-Solutions. If you want to know what many of these techniques are specifically, then take a class from CTT!

3 Mr. Pannone has written an excellent series of articles concerning the AR15/M16 and the institutional failure of much the military to properly maintain them. The articles are linked from his webpage:

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Karl permalink
    December 20, 2010 8:13 pm

    Well, I’m convinced.

    I just pulled the trigger on his Feb 5-6 class!

    • kellyneal permalink*
      December 21, 2010 6:21 am

      I think you will get a lot out of it. But don’t bring that krazy FS2000!

      • Karl permalink
        December 21, 2010 6:35 am

        No, I’m bringing a regular M4gery. I know better than that.

        I’ll be leaving all unicorn related gear at home as well.

      • Tim Weaver permalink
        December 28, 2010 8:56 am

        He’s winning matches with it…why shouldn’t he? 🙂

        Kelly…how does Mike compare with Bennie Cooley’s class, if you have any experience with that one? (I took Bennie’s class when he was here in 2007)

      • kellyneal permalink*
        December 28, 2010 10:27 am

        Mike and Bennie are both part of the same shooting “culture” so there are alot of similarities. Bennie’s class was a bit more high speed but that was as a result of the students, who were much more good to go. Bennie is definitely more intense than Mike, which can cut both ways depending on the student. I don’t think Mike will make anybody cry in his class, but I can’ say they same for Bennie! Mike, like Bennie, is VERY analytical, which I enjoy as I tend not to be. Bennie’s class placed more emphasis on support side shooting and had an excellent portion of his class dedicated to disarms and strikes with the carbine. Mike’s class had the BEST lecture on the function of the AR and malfunction clearance that I have ever heard (which is saying a lot as I think highly of both Bennie’s and Kyle Lamb’s lectures on the same topic). Following that were some excellent drills on the subject. In the end, both classes are about driving the guns aggressively and accurately.

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