Front Sight Firearms Training Institute Preparation: Gear

Handgun Training Class at Front Sight Firearms Institute Nevada

Handgun Training Class at Front Sight Nevada

Four Day Defensive Handgun training

If you are planning a trip to Front Sight Firearms Training Nevada, let me say congratulations!

If you are just a beginner or are looking for tactical handgun training schools, Front Sight is the place for you.

You can start with the 4-Day Defensive handgun course and work your way all the way up through Tactical Handgun and all the way to the coveted Handgun Combat Master!

You will become a confident, safe and knowledgeable handgun owner who will have the skills to defend yourself and your family should the need arise.

I have attended Front Sight 5 times over the past 6 years and am taking 3 more courses this year (2018).

I want to walk you through the experience, help you to prepare with the proper gear and let you know what to expect.

This post will focus on the gear you will need, and I am going to be writing additional posts on various related topics as there is a lot to know and I want to give you the most information possible. Throughout the posts, I have added several tips that I have gained from my experiences, indicated this way: **TIP:

Gear you will need for Firearms Training

There are a few things you will need to take (or rent at Front Sight) with you. I will explain each one in detail below. I have provided links to the gear that I personally use, but there are plenty of choices out there!

  • Gun
  • Spare gun (optional)
  • Holster (See the most recommended OWB Blade-Tech holster)
  • Magazine holster
  • Holster Belt
  • Ammo
  • Extra magazines
  • Electronic Ear protection (required)
  • Eye protection (required)
  • Baseball type hat
  • Concealment Garment (optional but HIGHLY recommended)
  • Flashlight (only needed if you are attending a class with a night shoot)
  • Comfortable clothing appropriate for the weather. Tactical pants recommended.

Some great places to get tactical shooting gear are


Glock 17 Handgun

Glock 17 Handgun

You should bring a medium to full sized handgun, preferably the one you plan to carry with you if you are planning to carry concealed in your everyday life.

If you are flying to Front Sight, see my post on How to Fly with a Firearm for advice on how to legally bring along your guns and ammo on a plane.

Front Sight recommends a full size gun chambered in 9mm, 40 S&W, 10mm or 45 ACP such as:

  • Glock 22
  • Glock 17
  • Springfield XD
  • Smith & Wesson M & P
  • Any 1911
  • Beretta 92
  • Sig 220, 226,227

**TIP: Revolvers are also acceptable, although the skills taught are more geared towards semi-automatic pistols. If you are planning to carry a revolver, by all means bring it and the instructors will be sure to cover your weapon in their instruction. However, you will likely not do well on the Skills Test with a revolver, as it is geared toward semi-automatic guns and you just will not be able to keep up.

Do NOT bring these guns:

However, for training, you do not (and they will not allow) want to bring a “pocket pistol” or other small gun such as:

  • Kel-Tec P11, PF9 or P40
  • Kahr Micro (.380 or 9mm)
  • Ruger LC9
  • Smith & Wesson Bodyguard
  • Sig Sauer P238
  • Taurus Millennium or Slim 709
  • Walther PPS
  • Kimber Micro

These are fine weapons, but because of their small size are unsafe and hard to manipulate in a training setting. You can use your training at Front Sight to train yourself on these guns at home after the course if you wish.

Spare Gun

This is optional. It is recommended by Front Sight (and myself) in case you have a failure that needs a gunsmith to fix.

I have taken 2 handguns to Front Sight each time and I was glad that I did. The first time, I was able to help someone else that had an unfortunate gun failure on the first day. I volunteered to lend my Springfield 9mm XDm to a young lady who was there with her boyfriend and family and did not have a spare gun. She did quite well with it and I was pleased to be able to turn a bit of bad luck into a good experience for her.

On my third trip to Front Sight, I had an issue with my Kimber 1911 that caused a “failure to feed” every other magazine or so, but I had a spare Sig Sauer 1911 and just swapped them out and was back up and running.

There is a gunsmith on site, but if you need to go there and wait for your gun to be repaired, you will miss out on valuable instruction time. I realize that most people, especially newer shooters may only have one gun. If this is the case, you will be fine, a spare is likely not going to be needed, but if you are like me and want to be prepared for anything, a second gun is a plus.

**TIP: Based on my experiences, I recommend bringing a backup gun, preferably one that uses the same ammunition as your primary gun. You can always rent a gun if necessary, but if they are out of rentals, or the rentals are not what you are used to (usually Glocks), then having your own spare gun is the best solution.

This Sportlock gun case can easily transport two full sized handguns. This is the one that I have and it works perfectly.

Double Pistol Lockable Travel Case

Double Pistol Lockable Travel Case


You will actually need two holsters, one for your gun and one for your extras magazines.

**TIP: Don’t forget to bring a holster that fits your spare gun!

For your gun, the recommended holster is a Blade Tech OWB (outside the waistband) holster or similar.

See the review of OWB Blade Tech Classic Holster.

This holster is designed to not only hold your weapon, but allow quick access as well as safe and easy re-holstering. There are many other brands of holster that will work, but Blade Tech is the type of holster you want for best results.

The design of the holster MUST cover the trigger guard when the gun is holstered.

Blade Tech OWB Classic Kydex Belt Holster

Blade Tech OWB Classic Kydex Belt Holster

You do not want to bring a Serpa type holster, or any holster that has a mechanical device to retain, or hold a gun in place. These have been shown to be dangerous in certain situations and Front Sight will not allow them to be used. So if you did like I did, and buy a brand new Serpa holster, hopefully you can still return it or even better hopefully you are reading this before you purchase a holster. Thigh holsters are also not allowed.

Also, Front Sight does NOT recommend holsters made by Fobus. For the most part, these will work ok, but they tend to have fit and retention issues.

**TIP: Having said all that, I have seen people there with all types of holsters. The instructors will help you regardless of the equipment you bring as long as it works. If you do bring a Serpa, I have seen instructors make a temporary modification that will allow you to use it. Basically, they wedge something into the mechanism to keep it open all the time.

I have seen people using concealed carry  IWB (inside-the-waistband) holsters (such as Crossbreed Supertuck) and they were making out just fine. The technique is slightly different, but if you are going to be carrying with this holster, you may as well train with it.

Magazine Holster

In addition to a holster for the gun, you also want to have a holster that holds your extra magazines, preferably two or more. 

Kydex double Magazine Holster

Kydex double Magazine Holster

You will be learning how to perform emergency reloads, tactical reloads, and malfunction clearing for which you will need spare magazines. You will also be doing a lot of shooting, and you will want to have plenty of extra ammo at your fingertips.

**TIP: If you will be shooting a 1911 (as I did all 5 times), or other weapon with a single stack magazine (only holds 6-8 rounds), you will want to have more than 2 spare magazines on your belt. You can do it with only 2, but you will be spending all your time jacking rounds into your magazines and missing some of the instruction. To get the most from the training, have at least 4 spare magazines on your belt.

Holster Belt

It is important to have a belt that is designed to carry a holster. A standard leather belt will work, but it will work poorly. You need a stiff belt that will not sag or twist under the stress and weight of a holstered gun. Take my word for this, you will not be happy if you don’t have the right belt. I recommend a 5.11 Trainer or operator belt. My personal belt is a Wilderness Tactical Instructor Belt.


You can bring your own ammunition or you can buy it right on the range.

Front Sight has a great “Ammo Bunker” right on the property that carries all common ammunition. They generally have plenty of stock (unless a Democrat just won the White House) and actually have very competitive prices. Not as good as Walmart, but not much more when I was there.

Which brings me to Walmart. There are at least 4 Walmart locations in Las Vegas and except for the year Obama was elected, they have plenty of ammo in stock. If you fly to Front Sight, you will be landing at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, so you can stop at Walmart before you head to Pahrump, where Front Sight is located.

**TIP: If you are driving to Front Sight, you can bring all your own ammo, but if you are flying as I did, you are limited by the Airline as to how much ammunition you can carry. Most airlines limit you to 11 lbs of ammunition in your checked luggage. I packed 11 lbs and bought the rest at Walmart in Vegas.

Extra Magazines

Depending on the magazine capacity of the gun you are going to use at Front Sight, you will want to bring at least 2 extra magazines with you. If you are using a gun that uses single stack magazines with a capacity of 7-10 rounds (such as a 1911) you will want to bring 4 or more extra magazines.

Spare Magazines for 1911 .45ACP

Spare Magazines for 1911 .45ACP

The reason for the extra magazines? Most of the drills will require a fresh magazine to be immediately available.

For example, you will be practicing drills such as the “Emergency Reload”. This drill will simulate running out of ammo during a gunfight and performing a reload of a full magazine that is carried in a holster on the “support side” (side of your body opposite the “firing side”. If you shoot with your right hand, that is your “firing side”) of your belt.

Also, when you are on the firing line shooting, you will want at least one other magazine that is full of rounds so you can reload and keep shooting.

Ear Protection

Electronic ear protection is required at Front Sight. This is to ensure safety. Electronic ear protection allows you to hear the instructors directions but still protect your ears from loud noises. Standard ear protection or phone ear inserts will not allow you to clearly hear the commands on the firing line which can lead to safety issues.

Howard Leight Sport Electronic Hearing Protection

Howard Leight Impact Sport Sound Amplification Earmuff

Here is a common model that is great quality at a reasonable price. Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Ear Protection. As of today, these are under $40. I have 2 pairs of these and they are great quality and quite durable.

**TIP: You can rent hearing protection at Front sight for your class if you do not have electronic ear muffs. However, if you do a reasonable amount of shooting and have never tried electronic ear protection, I highly recommend you try these. You will not regret it because you can have these on and enjoy normal conversations and hear what is going on around you at all times, yet they will muffle a gunshot to protect your ears. quite amazing if you tink about it!

Eye Protection

You will need some sort of eye protection at Front Sight. This is NOT to protect your eyes from bullets! It is to protect your eyes from hot, flying brass. Bring some wrap around sunglasses or other eye protection designed for sports or shooting. I have an awesome pair of Wiley-X Air Rage prescription sunglasses that have an additional goggle-like insert that also protects my eyes from sand and dirt when it blows around in the Nevada desert.

Wiley X AirRage Sunglasses

Wiley X Air Rage Sunglasses


You will be standing next to people that are shooting semi-automatic weapons and spent brass is going to be flying and hitting you a LOT. It will usually hit you in the side of the head or shoulder, but it can easily hit you in the face or eye. Do not worry, it is not traveling very fast, but it is very HOT for a few seconds and can burn skin and eyeballs. If you are wearing proper gear, you will hardly notice you are getting pummeled!

Baseball Type Hat

The reason for this requirement is simple. The bill of the hat will keep all that flying brass from landing between your sun glasses and your eyeball and skin. I have had this happen when I was at my home range and was NOT wearing a hat. The brass burned a perfect circle in my skin just under my eye. I was fortunate that it did not touch and burn my eyeball.

The hat will also help with the desert sun and glare.

Concealment Garment

Part of your training will be to learn how to conceal your weapon and efficiently draw from concealment. If you are going to carry concealed, this is a key skill to learn. You should bring a loose fitting garment that will cover your gun and holster. I personally use a Blue Stone concealment vest for the class, but a lot of people simply use a long button-down shirt for this purpose.

The best thing to use would be the type of clothing you will be wearing out on the street when you are carrying concealed so you can get the most realistic practice.

Flashlight (only needed for classes with a night shoot)

Any decent flashlight will work, but I recommend a small tactical flashlight that easily fits in a pocket. There are lots out there, I personally use a Streamlight ProTac 1L. It is an extremely small but powerful flashlight I carry every day. It uses a CR123 lithium battery and is rated at 275 lumens, which is excellent output for such a small flashlight.

Comfortable Clothing

You will be in the desert all day for 4 days. Your comfort will determine how much you enjoy you time at Front Sight. I highly recommend you check the forecast before you go, and take the appropriate clothes. Most of the year, it will be either warm or hot during daylight hours. It does get surprisingly cold at night all year around, so be sure you have a light jacket for the evening and night shoot if applicable.

You can see the average temperatures throughout the year here.

The heat in Nevada is dry, so you will not really sweat a lot and it is not as bad as the same heat in the Northeast, but be sure to drink a lot, all day long. Front Sight supplies water so you need not bring a case of bottled water like I did the first time!

I do NOT recommend shorts, (remember the flying hot brass) but plenty of people wear them with no issues. There are lots of high quality lightweight tactical pants that are comfortable in hot weather.

**TIP: I highly recommend tactical pants. You will need plenty of loose pockets for extra ammo, and you need pockets that are accessible with one hand fro several of the drills. If you are wearing jeans or pants with tight pockets, you will struggle with certain parts of the training. Trust me, this is no place for tight fitting clothes!

Some additional items I recommend

Here are some items that are optional, but recommended by yours truly:

Sun Screen

It’s the desert, you need this. I recommend a spray as it is quick and easy to apply,  and you do not want to get a greasy lotion on your hands and then try to shoot!

Shooting gloves.

If you are not used to shooting hundreds of round per day for 4 days, you may develop blisters. A shooting glove will help immensely with this issue.

Gun cleaning supplies.

A Boresnake and some gun oil to clean up your weapon at the hotel.

Gun tools.

Be sure not to forget any tools you need to disassemble or adjust your particular firearm.

I hope you now have a good idea of the gear you will need for a successful and fun trip to Front Sight Firearms Training Institute. Please feel free to use the comment section below to ask questions or weigh in if you have some other advice to add! I will respond promptly.




  1. Kelsey

    This article was very helpful! Thank you so very much. I like the fact that you listed pretty much everything I need, and everything I do not need. I was actually thinking of getting my husband to take me here. I am a gun enthusiast and am trying to get experience where I can.

    • Dave

      Thanks for your comment, Kelsey! The first time I went I was unsure of what I was going to get as far as training. My expectations were exceeded the first day. The focus on safety was unbelievable, and the instructors all seem to really care that you get great training. when you talk to other students, you find that a large number of them are there for their second or third time, indicating that they felt it was a great way to spend 4 days and to really improve their “skill at arms”

      I hope you do get there, you will not be disappointed!.

  2. Bill

    Great stuff Dave. My dad went through concealed carry classes a few years back, and I expect I’ll do the same in the near future. For now, I mainly deer hunt, with a few small game hunts mixed in. When the time comes that I decide to get my permit, I will definitely reference your great suggestions. Thanks for listing them out for all of us.

    • Dave

      Bill, thanks for your comment! I try to go every other year and I will be bringing my future son-in-law this time around!

  3. Abe Wine

    haha I live in Canada so no guns for me. Must be weird knowing everybody in your neighbourhood has a weapon they could kill you with easily. Of course we have weaponized beavers and maple syrup grenades here in Canada but at least we don’t have guns.

    But still, have fun in the shooting range.

    • Dave

      Thanks for your comment, Abe Wine! Guns really are not an issue until they get into the hands of criminals. Most of my friends and neighbors have guns and go shooting on a regular basis. I carry a concealed gun everywhere that I go (unless it is illegal, such as the post office or school) as part of my everyday routine.

      I prefer to be prepared if someone decides to harm me or someone in my family. I understand it is different in Canada. My impression is that the people there are much nicer I guess!

  4. Marques Pizarro

    Interesting! Sadly, I am not old be at a gun range or to own a gun myself, but I find gun training interesting. In Seattle Washington, there are multiple gun ranges and firearm training around. I did not realize that there’s a lot of gear going into training, such the holster belt. Thank you for sharing this article, now I know what to bring to a firearm training when I get older!

    • Dave

      Thanks for the comment. Yes, there is a good amount of gear, but it all has an important purpose to make everything safe, but also to make sure you train properly and get the most from your experience!

  5. Himbru

    Great article on what to bring and what not to bring while getting training at Firearms training Institute. Yeah, I love guns but the sad thing is I don’t have the license. In the near future, I hope I will get the license and also I will get myself in that training institute to learn practically how to gun efficiently.
    Thank you for such great informative article.

    • Dave


      Thanks for your comment. The training I have received at Front Sight Nevada is top notch! I hope you get your license and are able to attend in the future. You will love it!

  6. I live in the UK, so obviously, I don’t get to see any guns. But if ever I visit the US and have to go to the range for practice sessions, this blog is literally all I need to read, isn’t it?

    • Kanayo, thanks for your comment! Well, going to the range for practice and going to a school like Front Sight are two different things. My article is geared for people that are going to get formal, professional training in the handling of handguns for self defense. Most people in the US can buy a gun and go to a local range for practice without most of the gear mentioned in my post. Practice at the local gun range is highly recommended as well!

  7. Jesus

    Wow, I am so glad I found your site, I have been wanting to go to front sight training class for quite some time now. When I was in the National Guard a police officer friend of mine recommended it and I have been trying to find out more about it. You cover all the essential information and it is very comprehensive, hopefully 2018 will be the year that I go.
    Thank you for all the great info,

    • Dave

      Awesome! I am going twice this year. I am taking my daughters boyfriend to the 4 Day Defensive Handgun course, and my son-in-law to an Advanced Handgun class. Maybe I will see you there!

  8. Babacar

    Hi there,
    In today’s world of uncertainty and sometimes random violence it is a good thin to know how to manipulate firearms and to be ready in case you may have to need them. You never know when the situation will arise and you will be thankful to be able to handle a firearm. Very helpful article. Thank you.

    • Dave


      Thanks for the comment. I agree. If someone carries a handgun for self defense, I believe they should get some training so they are familiar with the safety rules and are able to competently handle and fire the gun.

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