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How to Transition from Rifle to Pistol

In this NRA Firearm Training Tip, we will provide you tips on transitioning from your primary firearm to your secondary. This technique has the potential to be a game changer when your rifle experiences a stoppage.

When engaging a target and you encounter a situation where your rifle is no longer operable; out of ammo, or experiences any of the other previously described forms of malfunctions (Type 1, Type 2, Type 3) the situation may require the use of a backup firearm. A determining factor will be your ability to assess if you can quickly and safely get your rifle up and running again. When the primary firearm is deemed inoperable - a safe, efficient and effective way to transition is a good habit to learn and practice on a regular basis.

Here’s a drill you can practice the technique of transitioning from your primary firearm to your secondary:

What you will need:
  • Rifle 
  • Backup pistol
  • Sling

For safety, practice this drill without ammo until you are comfortable with the transition.

  1. When you have determined that your rifle is no longer available to use, with the use of a sling, smoothly bring it down to your hip on your support side. Ensure that the rifle is clear of your draw path for your pistol.
  2. Once you have secured your rifle, draw your pistol and engage the target until neutralized.
  3. Assess the situation, take additional shots if required.
  4. Holster the pistol and bring the rifle back up and clear any stoppage that may be present by either clearing a malfunction or inserting a fresh ammo source.


To get more hands-on training on the AR platform, learn more about the America's Rifle Challenge training program, and register for a ARC near you.
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Firearms training Rifle Pistol

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