KelTec’s New CP33™ Pistol for Training & Fun
A great many law enforcement firearms training officers would never think to put a 9mm handgun in their wife (or husband’s) hands if it was going to be the first handgun they ever fired. Yet we do that to recruits all the time during their academy training. For a person who has never handled or fired a handgun, there is the need to recognize, as silly as it might seem to veteran shooters, that there may be an underlying fear of weapons. The new shooter has limited knowledge of weapon function, zero real knowledge of felt recoil (because what they’ve seen in the movies and on television is highly sensationalized), and no sense of the relationship between basic marksmanship skills and holes in the target. What is needed is a light recoil, easy to handle, easy to manipulate, easy to aim handgun that lets the new shooter comfortably experience those first shots. Enter the KelTec™ CP33™ .22lr pistol.
Described by KelTec as a .22lr competition pistol, the CP33 has a futuristic look to it; like that Star Wars blaster you always wanted but could never have. Part of that appearance is due to the design that allows for an almost 9” sight radius (the distance between front and rear sight) over a 5.5” barrel. That might not make sense to some but the benefits are clear to those who have been shooting or instructing long enough. The 5.5” barrel on a pistol is plenty long enough to make accurate shots out to 100 yards plus. Skilled shooters with familiar firearms make shots such as those with barrels as short as 2” and using rounds that drop off at distance much quicker, like the .38Spl. The CP33’s 5.5” barrel imparts enough spin and accuracy to the .22lr projectiles for shots at longer distances – hence the “competition” part of the name.
What may matter more for building early confidence in a shooter is the 8.64” (almost 9”) sight radius. The longer the distance is between the front and rear sight, the easier it is to not make a mistake in aiming. There’s just no better way to say that. Small misalignments at the weapon make for big misses at the target. The longer the sight radius, the less chance of misalignment that makes a difference. That’s why it’s so much easier to miss with a 2” revolver as compared to a 6” revolver or 5” semi-automatic.
The same profile that makes the CP33 look like something out of a science-fiction movie is what allows for that longer sight radius; the extension of the slide assembly behind the pistol’s grip. The top rail is equipped, front to rear in between the sights, with picatinny rail so the option of optics is there from the beginning as well. And with the benefits of this unique design feature reviewed, it’s important to understand how it works in conjunction with significant parts of basic marksmanship skills. Every firearms instructor will tell you that one of the hardest parts of training a new shooter is getting them to understand the linear necessity of the individual pieces of marksmanship.
What weapon the shooter is using doesn’t really impact the necessity for a stable stance. Arm positioning, presence of a barricade (or not) and other factors might change depending on if the weapon is a rifle or a handgun, but the need for a stable basic stance never changes. The same thing goes for grip. Instructors can spend hours critiquing a shooter’s grip on a given handgun, but basic grip is basic grip. Where the gun design in size, caliber and sight radius really starts to matter is with sight alignment and sight picture.
Obviously there is a big relationship between sight alignment and sight radius. Sight picture can be explained several times over, but it’s entirely up to the shooter to create correct sight alignment and then place it in correct relationship to the target to create sight picture.
With proper sight alignment and sight picture achieved, breath control and trigger press comes into consideration. With a trigger pull between three and five pounds, the trigger press is never going to be overly heavy and should be easy enough to master. The combination of proper sight alignment and proper sight picture followed by a smooth trigger press ultimately results in good hits on the target. Those good hits help to build a new shooter’s confidence and enjoyment of the experience. Immediately following a shot is the point where many new shooters get scared. Recoil, if never felt before, can be overwhelming for the newbie.
Another strength of the CP33 is being chambered in .22lr. The recoil is so light that very few new shooters ever experience anything beyond surprise at just how light the recoil is. The easily managed recoil helps the enjoyment of the experience for the new shooter. It lets the new shooter realize that there is nothing to fear and that managing everything that happens when the weapon is fired is easy enough to do. Follow through is important and that lighter recoil allows for easier follow through but, as with any weapon, if the new shooter makes a mistake in not managing the recoil and following through properly, the hits on target will show it.
Now take a moment and realize that virtually everything above applies equally to the new shooter in a police academy as well as a new shooter in your family. Sometimes there is a challenge in opening our thinking to include both those options. Firearms instructors, especially since we’re so comfortable with such a wide variety of firearms, tend to forget just how nervous new shooters can be. Helping them overcome and manage that is also one of our jobs.
As a final note on the potential value of using such a pistol for basic law enforcement and family firearms instruction is the significantly lower cost of ammunition. Anyone who has purchased both .22lr and 9mm/.40S&W/other “duty” caliber ammo knows the cost difference. There is a significant savings to be had by using .22lr ammo for the basic skills understanding and mastery. Then the shooter can be worked up to managing the recoil of the heavier / larger calibers.
It’s not all about professional training for your recruits at the range or even for your family members though. There are some agencies that offer firearms training to the citizens they serve and they use that training to build stronger relations between the agency and the community they serve. Specifically because this activity revolves around the safe use of firearms in a trusted and controlled environment, the relationship between citizens and officers has the opportunity to grow far stronger than it does over such activities as Cops & Coffee. That’s not to say that hosting your community to join you for coffee is a bad thing; all open communication is good and anything that promotes that is helpful. There is a distinct difference between talking over a cup of coffee and talking in between coaching a citizen’s shooter skills. A lot can be exchanged and taught in that setting that can benefit both sides of the team.
For more information about the KelTec CP33 .22lr, please visit their website.