When practicing movement drills, weapon presentation, holstering, close combat, and other evolutions that do not require a loaded firearm, there is no substitute for safety. With that in mind, let us talk about clearing the barrel of your favorite XD in an instantly verifiable way.
Why do this?
Much of your training regimen for the use of your handgun does not involve range time and making holes in paper. Safe dry fire, draw practice, reloading, and presentation drills build all-important muscle memory for the modern shootist. There is no substitute for this type of sweat equity put into knowing your firearm instinctively. The great Delf A." Jelly" Bryce
, was possibly one of the greatest modern gunfighters in law enforcement history.
He was involved in no less than 19 police gunfights and came out on the winning end of each of them against some of the worst criminals and known cop-killers of the 1930s. Besides his own obvious natural talent, he honed his skills on relentless drawing and dry firing in front of a mirror.
However, to be safe while doing these drills, or practicing moving through a realistic environment or in a close-combat training scenario, you absolutely need a clear and safe weapon.
Yellow training barrels
Blade Tech/511 Tactical has been marketing a series of plastic training barrels that replace the actual steel barrel/chamber of a modern semi-auto handgun. While they make them for SIG, Glock, etc., they also produce both a 4-inch
and a 5-inch
XD version. These easy drop-in pieces are swappable as long as you know how to field strip your XD
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(Photo from Gear, Gadgets, and Guns who has a good review of the Blade Tech training barrel.
A one-piece design, they are somewhat generic in their construction and many users of 9mm versions have had to trim these with sandpaper or dremel to fit as they seem to be a little on the thick side for use in .40/.45 size frames. But hey, they only cost $15-ish and allow you to perform malfunction, holstering, presentation, and clearing drills safely. You can also store your gun with the barrel installed as an extra step at childproofing.
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In addition, if you are serious about home defense, you need to spend some time moving around your house to make sure you have the skills and experience to know where your cover and concealment is while standing in your hallway, or how to best negotiate the laundry room door while not flashing your muzzle over your stomach. This is where a training barrel can come in handy.
-- also, don't do this when the kids are hosting a sleep over or the mom in law is there for dinner. Some things are best done when the house is empty.
The string method
This old military and police academy trick costs only as much as a couple feet of paracord or bootlaces without using a training barrel. Simply put, drop the mag, safely clear the firearm, feed the string through the chamber and out the muzzle to where you see cord at both ends. You can either tie it in an eternal circle or leave the ends loose.
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(U.S. Army photo)
This shows you with a clear weapon, but unlike the training barrel, it is harder to use in holstering drills if you have a close-fitting holster or retention system. However, its cheap and easy.
Cheaper than training barrels and a step up from the string method are chamber plugs. These hybrid little dummy rounds insert into the chamber of your cleared XD. Safe Tech
sells a decent version in 9mm, .40S&W and .45ACP that will work with most of your Springers and are ejectable.
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The good thing is they are just $10 and will help with movement drills, tactical reloads, and some presentation drills (depending on holster construction) but not so much for emergency reloads and tap-rack-access clearing drills.
Other chamber inserts like snap caps are great, and if you buy a few of them you can feed them into a mag and go real-time with FTF/FTE immediate action drills. Nevertheless, you can't immediately tell that your XD has a snap cap loaded into it and not live brass.
Pick your poison. Take your training seriously. Be safe.