Skills Check: Gunsite 499 Drill

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posted on September 12, 2016
499.jpg

We call it 499 now, but if you took the class from Jeff Cooper when Gunsite Academy was called the American Pistol Institute, the class was called Special Pistol. Gunsite’s Advanced Defensive Pistol class turns up the heat. The times get shorter and the distances get longer. To me, 499 is finished gunfighter school. The class includes daytime and nighttime complex live-fire tactical simulators and force-on-force scenarios where students interact with role players. The 499 School Drill tests the speed and accuracy demands of the class, and is the most difficult school drill of any of the classes.

To run the 499 drill you will need a 50-yard range and two Option or similar targets. You can make targets by inscribing an 8-inch-diameter center-of-mass circle on silhouettes or cardboard target backers. You’ll also need a timer, turning targets or someone to run a stopwatch.


All shots are fired from the holster and into that 8-inch center-scoring ring. Starting at 3 yards, on the start signal draw and fire two rounds on the first target and two on the second target, all within a time of 2 seconds. Then, move back to 7 yards and fire two rounds on each target within 3 seconds. At 10 yards, fire two rounds on each target in 5 seconds, then back up to 25 yards and fire two rounds on each target within 6 seconds. The next two stages are at 35 and 50 yards and are fired on only one of your two targets: At 35 yards, starting from a standing position, drop to kneeling and fire two rounds within 4 seconds. Finishing up at 50 yards, drop to prone from standing and fire two rounds within 8 seconds.

Scoring is simple: Five points for every shot in the center-scoring ring and two points for every shot outside, but still on the target. Since the drill requires 20 shots that works out to a possible score of 100 points. Is there a passing or failing score? No, not really, the idea is to do as well as possible, but you aren’t likely to earn the coveted Expert rating in the 499 class if you can’t clean this drill or come pretty close to it.

As always, if you aren’t comfortable drawing quickly from the holster shoot this from a muzzle-depressed, low-ready starting position. Realistically, if you can’t make a 1-second shot from the holster at 3 and 5 yards you probably aren’t going to make the times in this drill. I would rather see you shoot it safely than risk an accident because you are trying to go faster than you should, so work up to the speed until you are confident and safe.

If you can clean the 499 drill you have my respect. Those who can will do to ride the river with, as we used to say in my Border Patrol days.

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