World War II Pistol Training Video

Sometimes militaries move backwards in tactics and training. The handgun is a classic example. When I was in the Corps, we trained with live weapons only on static ranges at fixed distances and only in my last year did we finally get a “combat” type Table II rifle course. The handgun was static range only under highly favorable conditions.

As such, its surprising to see a US Army training video from World War 2 emphasizing the practical application of the handgun through a combat simulation quick-reaction course of fire. Shooters engaged targets at 50 yards prone, 25 yards kneeling, and closer off-hand standing. If anything, it looks like a modern USPSA course of fire.

I did cringe at the 2:58 mark which emphasizes “safety” (which certainly HAS evolved), which has all the shooters removing their handgun and clearing them, all flagging the instructor. Other things have evolved including how two hands are employed on the grip, the removal of revolvers from service.

Other things have not changed. Tight grips are required, trigger control is essential, and the usage of sights is absolutely required. Finally, instinctual shooter is encouraged without the use of sights, which is explicitly denied in current courses of fire despite its practical application in close-quarters scenarios.

Enjoy the video. I wish my training permitted the use of “spectacular” maneuvers…

Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • A.WChuck

    I loved that video, thanks for posting it. I’m going to try those techiniques with a laser trainer. All but the tea cup grip, that is.

  • Major Tom

    Great video. I guess now I know what to reference when sporting a 1911.

  • TVOrZ6dw

    Good to see those 1940’s tax dollars still providing solid value.
    I can’t imagine the government’s recent info on surviving active shootings by throwing soup cans will be of any value 75 years from now. Or tomorrow for that matter.

    • politicsbyothermeans

      Or ever.

    • Major Tom

      Pretty much. This video teaches shooting skills that will be valuable more than 100 years later. Throwing soup cans at an assailant….what is this a low budget Hollywood scare flick?

    • Pete Sheppard

      If they are all you have…Part of the survival mindset is using whatever’s available. Remember, the true weapon is the mind–everything else is a tool.

  • TechnoTriticale

    Much of that old footage appears to indicate.45 ACP tracer rounds.

    • gunsandrockets


    • Simcha M.

      Yes, they mentioned it by name early on.

  • gunsandrockets

    Note how the two-handed ‘cupping’ grip is devoted to only the kneeling and prone shooting positions.

  • gunsandrockets

    Interesting. A person could do worse than using these methods.

    Point shooting from the standing position out to 15 yards. Kneeling aimed fire with a two handed grip out to 25 yards. Prone aimed fire with a two handed grip out to 50 yards. Shooting pairs of shots at each threat.

    Gives an interesting insight not only to old methods but why handguns were built the way they were back then. Clearly the tiny sights of the old handguns were intended for shooting at relatively distant targets.

    • Paul Joly

      Yes, that’s why I removed the sights on my glock for extreme long range shooting (I aim with a flat surface).

      • Wat

        • Paul Joly

          It was sarcasm.
          You don’t get a good sight picture with tiny sights. They were like this certainly because it was a common practice at the time like a lot of thing today that actually don’t make sense.
          Russians tend to think more of the end use while designing, so the TT33 has good sights.

  • Edeco

    Yech two handed grip. ‘Fore anyone mentions it, no I don’t hold the gun sideways or need the other hand to steer the car with.

  • Don Ward

    This is kind of the firearm equivalent of a music writer saying “Hey guys! I found this new band. They’re called The Rolling Stones!”

    And there’s nothing wrong with sharing something that is common and well-known. But bring a different angle to the story.

  • Bob

    I just reloaded 200 rounds of .45 ACP and will be off on Sunday, you can do the math here…

  • BrianZ

    Did anyone note the finger on trigger when establishing the grip and on the draw once it cleared the holster?

  • Mc Cain

    Old school by the men who fought and won WWII.

    Remarks critical of any aspect of their gun handling and training should keep this in mind.