Finding time to maintain shooting fundamentals can be a challenge, but the Blowback Laser Trainer provides a realistic solution.
Basics about the Blowback Laser Trainer:
- Laser trainers have evolved a lot recently and can help with basic marksmanship.
- The Blowback Trainer has a similar weight and feel to a Glock 19.
- The trigger functions much like a two-stage trigger, with a long take up and clean break.
- The mag drops out and houses a CO2 cartridge, which is used to simulate recoil.
- The Blowback Trainer comes with a laser-sensitive target.
- While no replacement for range time, it serves as a good way to fill training gaps.
I was at my desk on a random Tuesday afternoon in mid-January when it hit me: I hadn’t been to the range for nearly 3 weeks. Granted, that’s not long for some and a very long time for others — and I’ve certainly had longer stints between pulling some triggers at the range — but it bothered me more than usual this time.
I was in the middle of editing an article about being fully prepared (it’s actually printed in this issue beginning on page 36) as a gun enthusiast who carries concealed. Although it’s near impossible to discuss the concept of “being prepared” or having a defensive strategy without talking about trigger time, the article focuses just as heavily on the other equally important facets of preparation — physical, mental and legal.
On that particular afternoon, that article got me thinking just how difficult it can be to train properly. Really think about that for a moment. If you’re training for a marathon (not that I’d ever recommend that), putting a treadmill in the basement or simply lacing up and hitting the road out front of the house is easily attained. Getting into woodworking? Put a lathe and a table saw in the garage and you can make dust to your heart’s content.
See where I’m going with this? Having chosen a lifestyle dedicated to firearms proficiency, it’s not always easy to practice — in any facet. Unless your backyard is measured in acres instead of feet, the neighbors can get a little jumpy at the sound of gunfire. And for most of us, the ol’ ball and chain would frown at the installation of an indoor range in the basement where the treadmill used to be.
Another editor on the Gun Digest staff and I were participating in some water-cooler-style whining about these and other range withdrawals, and he asked me if I’d spent any time with the Blowback Laser Trainer.
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The Blowback Solution
Laser-training pistols have evolved dramatically as of recent, and although every product in that category is far from the real thing, you can train and maintain your basic marksmanship principles such as sight alignment and trigger pull quite effectively. And because there’s minimal (if any) muzzle report and no projectiles being launched down range, no down range is needed.
Here’s the problem: You don’t need to be the head cashier at Bass Pro Shops to know that recoil plays a dramatic effect on, well … everything we train around. Yes, you can argue that lack of recoil is exactly why many train with a .22 LR, but that doesn’t solve the range problem. And most laser trainers have no recoil. That’s right — most.
To aid in alleviating range withdrawals, I got my hands on the Blowback Laser Trainer system as recommended. I figured it couldn’t hurt, and it surely had to be less than trying to convince the Mrs. that a basement range was mandatory.
Here’s the skinny:
The Blowback pistol (known formally as the Blowback Laser Trainer) has a similar weight and overall feel to that of a Glock 19, though it’s pretty non-denominational with a metal actuating slide and polymer grip. The muzzle brandishes the bright orange designation of a training gun. The trigger is interesting, in that it functions much like a two-stage trigger with a very long-take-up and then a clean break. It pulls a bit hard, but it is one of the better trigger’s I’ve tickled on a training pistol.
Here’s where things get interesting: The mag drops out and is actually the housing unit for a standard, tubular CO2 cartridge. It’s also home to the battery that powers the laser — but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Upon firing, the Blowback Laser Trainer pistol releases a CO2-powered blowback, cycling the slide like any live-fire semi-auto pistol and simulating felt recoil. Simultaneously, a laser mounted just under the bore is activated, to visually indicate the hit location. It’s pretty damn cool.
The Doorknob Test
For the next few weeks, I snuck around the house (having a home office does have its benefits), assaulting every doorknob and receptacle plate from the basement mechanical room to the upper-level master bedroom closet. I even had time to work in a Labrador hunt or two, though he no-doubt thought I had lost my mind. And, an early delivery by the mailman one morning led to a very random conversation that culminated with me learning that he’s a Sig connoisseur. Who knew?
Confession: I was quite skeptical about the Blowback Laser Trainer system, but then again, I’m skeptical about absolutely everything. But the Blowback surprised me.
Although the recoil isn’t overly significant — I’d put it on parallel with a light 9mm target round — it makes a marked difference in how I trained with that laser pistol versus other stagnant laser pistols without any sort of recoil or report. Upon firing, you receive the audible burst of the CO2 dispersion in addition to the metal racking of the slide functioning during blowback, which brings the entire system that much closer to realism.
The sights are wide and prominent for quick target acquisition, though a little nail polish — my wife’s nail polish; I don’t own any — would go a long way on both the front post and the rear U-notch. It’s a simple home fix, but I would like to see that from the manufacturer.
On average, I was getting 47 trigger pulls from a single CO2 cartridge, which is very reasonable given the amount of inertia it takes to drive the slide. Remember: It’s for the weight and feel of a “real” gun overall, including the slide. CO2 canisters are not hard to come by, and Blowback sells a 20-count box of them on their website for $20.
The CO2 canisters seat easily into the magazine through the bottom, and they’re installed/removed via a large Allen bolt. The process is a bit slow and I would love to see a Gen2 with a “fast change” option for swapping the CO2 canisters, but this certainly doesn’t detract a bit from the overall effectiveness of the Blowback Laser Trainer system.
Blowback also makes a Laser Trainer Target, which features two target faces that light up and report a “ping” sound when hit, and it features a timed and a standard score mode. It’s a great addition to the Blowback pistol, and it sees daily action on the shelf across the room from my desk … namely whenever I have writer’s block. Still, I prefer slinking around the house and preying on unsuspecting inanimate objects, but that’s just the hunter in me.
Can the Blowback Laser Trainer replace range or simulation time with live ammo? Hell no. And it’s not designed for that. However, it does fill in the gaps between trips to the range rather nicely.
Blowback Laser Trainer Pistol Specs
Height: 5.5 inches
Width: 1.18 inches
Length: 8 inches
Weight: 28.5 ounces
Cost: $450 Laser Trainer / $665 Laser Training System with Target
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the 2018 Concealed Carry issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.