What is the weapon that you are most likely to have at hand when danger strikes?
I believe the answer is, undoubtedly, a pistol.
While many gun owners keep rifles at home, when you’re out and about, that trusty handgun is likely strapped to your side – not an AR-15.
So, it makes sense to know how to fight with a pistol.
You carry so that you can better protect/defend yourself and the loved ones around you, so why not get the training to make yourself more effective.
It can be exhausting figuring out which courses to take and which to avoid, so we did the heavy lifting for you.
We thoroughly researched courses throughout the U.S. While we could list more, we believe these 10 are some of the best combat pistol courses in America.
Table of Contents
Beginner Pistol Courses
If you’re brand new to defensive pistol use, then these are the courses you’re going to want to look at.
These will teach you the fundamental skills necessary to combat an enemy, all while using your pistol.
1. Warrior Poet Society Pistol 1 ($358/1 day)
Within the Pistol 1 Course you’ll train with both John Lovell and Paul Perkerson as you lay the foundation of your pistol skills.
You’ll learn how to clear stoppages, common mistakes, the draw stroke, and other realistic skills that you’ll be able to apply in dangerous situations with ease.
This is a very welcoming course for those brand-new to any type of defensive pistol training as it’s offered throughout America and only requires 200 rounds (due to ammo shortages).
Equipment-wise, all you need are five mags and one mag holder, aside from your pistol. This means you don’t have to spend a small fortune to train, making quality training that much more accessible.
I love Warrior Poet Society. I think the work they do is absolutely fantastic, and John Lovell is the man.
He’s served numerous tours in Afghanistan and Iraq with the 2nd Ranger Battalion, knows what he’s talking about, and runs an incredible company to boot.
Have you tried the WPS Pistol 1 course?
2. Tactical Rifleman Combat Pistol 101 ($350/1 day)
Tactical Rifleman is adamant that this isn’t a Pistol 101 course but instead a fighting pistol 101 course.
If you’ve already got the basics down and spent a bit of time at the range but now seek to learn how to realistically use it, this is what you’re looking for.
You’ll learn a large number of skills necessary for fighting on the modern battlefield – and all with just a pistol.
As such, shooting while moving, threat identification, multiple target indexing, tactical shooting techniques, long-range pistol shooting, and ambidextrous shooting are all some of the skills that you’re going to learn.
You’ll need 300 rounds, three mags, one double mag pouch, and a pistol that’s at least a 9mm if you want to sign up for this course in Clarksville, Tennessee.
3. Tactic Concealed Carry Shooting Experience ($225/day)
If you’re brand new to defensive pistol use and looking to build on the basics, then training with former Navy SEAL Chris in Bozeman, Montana, is a fantastic way to do so.
And besides, how many people get to say a Navy SEAL trained them?
Courses are top-notch, and he routinely ends up with amazing reviews for every class that he offers.
His Concealed Carry Shooting Experience is no different.
It’s here you’ll learn how to draw your weapon without putting an extra hole in yourself, accurately engage a target, and various other concealed carry techniques.
All while surrounded by some of the most beautiful mountain ranges you’ve ever seen.
Intermediate Pistol Courses
So, let’s say you already have a fair amount of training under your belt, and you want beyond the basics.
Something that delves into fighting in very specific conditions. If that’s you, then check out some of the course offerings below.
4. JWM Tactical Low Light Handgun 1 (price varies/3 hours)
According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, around 80% of shootings occur in low or reduced light. Knowing such, it makes sense to train for these types of conditions, does it not?
JWM’s elite staff will help you learn to use a flashlight and weapon in low/no light conditions in the Low Light Handgun 1 course.
As such, there will be a heavy emphasis on using night sights, learning the differences between weapon-mounted and handheld flashlights, how to move when using a flashlight with a handgun, and team tactics in low light.
You’ll only need 200 rounds to complete the course – making this an affordable option. One of the cool things about JWM Tactical is that the price of admission decreases the more people you bring with you.
While one student costs $350, the price drops to $225 with two students and even further to $200 with three or more students.
So, if you bring your friends, you can all get quality low-light training with a minimal investment. That’s not a bad deal.
5. Sig Sauer Academy Low-Light Pistol Operator ($260/1 day)
This is just one of many excellent courses taught by Sig Sauer Academy.
It’s here that you’ll learn how to engage in search, navigation, target identification, alternative flashlight uses, and elimination of threats while in very low-light conditions.
And all of this will occur in a house, building, and outdoor scenarios, so you’ll end up with quality low-light training in a wide scope of environments.
Due to the nature of the class, you have to be comfortable with using a handgun and have some prior experience. If you don’t know the basics, they won’t let you train with them on this one.
You’ll do a respectable amount of shooting here, too — plan for at least 400 rounds, and make sure you bring at least three mags or four speed loaders.
6. Max Velocity Tactical Defensive Concealed Handgun ($500/2 days)
You can’t have a “best of” article without including Max Velocity Tactical. Well-known throughout the U.S. for quality training (and awesome books), Max will teach you how to use your pistol in active shooter scenarios in this class.
The primary reason many new gun owners carry a concealed weapon is because of these types of events. So, this is one of the best ways to learn what to do in such a situation.
As such, you’ll be taught how to shoot from standing, kneeling, and prone positions, draw while seated and from concealment, use barricades, fix a weapon malfunction, reload, and more.
Class meets in Romney, West Virginia, but Max will travel to your location for an additional fee.
Plan on a lot of shooting – you’ll need 800 rounds.
There are additional equipment prerequisites and limitations to sign up for this one (mainly regarding how many mags you have, holster type, and revolver type). Therefore, this course is a bit more “equipment expensive.”
That said, the training you’ll receive will be well worth it.
7. Tactical Rifleman Close-Range Pistol Fighting and Retention Course ($700/2 days)
Let’s say you’re interested in fighting at close range with your pistol and also learning how to avoid being disarmed in the process.
In short, you want to be John Wick.
Street fights against a lethal aggressor are often messy business. Understanding the techniques to make it through in one piece is crucial.
Imagine waking to find a home invader just down your hall. This is the type of situation this class will help you to prepare for.
With Karl and Zee as your instructors, you’ll learn how to draw concealed with one hand, fall and fight your way back up, and retain and regain your weapon while working against a live attacker.
This course will put you through a number of realistic close encounters. Day one is spent with live-fire drills at the range, while day two features hand-to-hand combat.
If you can make it out to Louisville Armory, Kentucky, with 300 rounds, a hard holster, and the ability to physically fight, you’re good to go.
Advanced Pistol Courses
Alright, so you know your way around a gun. You’ve got prior military, LEO, or course experience and now want the chance to study advanced techniques.
If that’s what you’re after, then I think you’ll like what we’ve got listed below.
8. Warrior Poet Society Pistol 3 ($640/1 day)
Want to apply defensive pistol skills against an active opponent? This is the place to do so.
WPS mandates you already possess a very strong pistol skillset to apply for this one. And they require you to take the WPS Pistol 2 course as well.
This course is all about advanced fighting skills.
Students learn to fight from concealment, utilize movement and cover, one-handed pistol operation, applied tactics, and hand-to-hand combat.
You’ll also want to bring longer and thicker clothing for this class, as the course uses training ammunition in force-on-force scenarios.
WPS recommends bringing some type of neck protection (like a shemagh) as a result.
Due to the current ammo shortage, you’ll only need 250 rounds. So, if you can swing that, five mags/one mag holster, and a Kydex-style holster, you’re good to go.
9. Practical Firearm Training Vehicle-Based Incidents Course ($250/1 day)
Seeing that the average American spends a decent amount of time within their vehicle, learning how to shoot from one only makes sense.
Practical Firearm Training’s Vehicle-Based Incidents Course aims to teach just that.
Students get spun-up on shooting from a moving or stationary vehicle, using vehicles as cover, tactical movement around cars, emergency exits, shooting into a vehicle, and more.
To sign up, you need 600 rounds and some training under your belt.
This is not a beginner-level course. Without prior intermediate-level pistol training, PFT won’t let you sign up.
10. JWM Tactical Family Protection Course (Price varies/four hours)
This course centers on how to protect your family.
Here, you’ll train in one-handed shooting, protecting a nearby spouse/kids, multiple target engagements, close-quarters shooting, shoot/don’t shoot scenarios, team protection tactics, and more.
Basically, you learn how to fight in real-world situations — all while training under active law enforcement officers.
JWM is pretty lenient when it comes to equipment prerequisites, so you’ll only need 300 rounds, two to three mags, and a handgun that’s chambered in .380 up to .45 ACP.
And as always, with JWM Tactical, the price decreases the more friends you bring.
Proper training is a must when it comes to firearms. While a lot of great courses exist, it can be difficult to narrow down the search.
But we think you’ll be happy with the training you receive from any of these courses.
Have you taken any of these courses in the past? Are there other courses that should have made the cut? Let us know in the comments below! Want more learning? Check out our list of the Best Survival, Long Range/Precision, and Tactical Carbine Courses.
11 Leave a Reply
Surprised Bill Roger's school did not make the list. Heard great things about him and I have been considering signing up for a course.
How is tactical response not on this list?
Paramount Tactical Solutions in West Virginia is a great training company. I was so impressed with the quality of the class that I took it a second time with my (then) 12 year old daughter.
It would have been useful to your readers to note the geographic location(s) in the first paragraph of each of your 10. I'd prefer locations that I can drive to in a day.
I fully endorse PFT.
Located in both West Virginia and Billings Montana it offers a range of training from beginner to full operator. I have trained there and taken teams there for over 20 years. They are top notch and very reasonably priced
I’m surprised that none of the Carry Trainer courses made the cut. Their YouTube videos are excellent, and I was considering attending a local course.
Pat McNamara, Haley Strategic Partners/Travis Haley, Tactical Response, Valor Ridge.
No mention of front sight? Never been personally but heard nothing but great things from friends/family that have gone.
What about Gun Sight Academy?!
It's a sin leaving this company out.
Front Sight has a great facility. The training is top notch, with basic and advanced courses. They are family friendly and once you have a membership there is no tuition for additional courses. I am not a FS instructor or have any financial affiliation with FS, but have been attending their courses for over ten years. I have military training, 25 years as a law enforcement officer and believe FS "is the real deal."
The reality is most people read a few magazine articles, watch YouTube video reviews and handle their guns, while looking at themselves in the mirror. Then, they swap stories with their friends who have no training and occassionally shoot 50 rounds at a static target...instant taticool expert.
If you have guns be responsible and get training. "You don't know, what you don`t know!" I would rather see you at the range then get called to the emergency room because you accidently shot yourself or have to criminally investigate you because you shot a friend or family member.
Rob - absolutely, 101% agree about FrontSight - surprised it was not mentioned. Also, "and handle their guns, while looking at themselves in the mirror" absolutely cracked me up! SO TRUE. I stopped going to any 'open to the public' ranges about 20 years ago after I lost count of how many times a muzzle had been pointed at me. I have a new neighbor who is 26 and 'loves' guns, talks all the wanna-be lingo, says he stays trapped on his walks cuz, man, if those punks want a firefight, I'll giv'em one' - I asked how much training he has attended - answer: none. My response - well, you'll give them a WIN because you have no clue what you're talking about.
Anyway, thanks for what you said - and thanks for being an LEO.