Review: Force on Force marker training rounds take realism to the next level
Nothing prepares an officer for the rigor of the job like having targets that can shoot back
Training with marking rounds against live opponents is a completely different metric than any other tactical training. Nothing prepares an officer for the rigor of the job like having targets that can shoot back.
Studies demonstrate that scenario-based training using “real-world stress” such as using marking rounds, promotes the memory encoding of critical skills. That is, using this type of training makes perishable skills less perishable.
Officers who have benefited from these sessions know the feeling of being completely exhausted, legs trembling from being crouched over for long periods and fatigued from a prolonged state of alertness.
Most police trainers have experimented with airsoft, laser trainers and converted firearms to accomplish their training goals. The one problem every trainer has faced is that most products don’t let officers use either their duty guns, or their holsters, or both.
To be clear: Anything short of real duty guns, real pain, real hits and real duty equipment is a recipe for training scars, which we cannot afford in this business.
Force on Force marking cartridges and conversions
I got to test Force on Force realistic marking cartridges and conversions that fire in unmodified duty firearms. Force on Force marker training rounds can be used in an officer's own 9mm firearm for realistic training. There is also a 5.56 round, which uses a conversion bolt for the AR-15. There are competitive products out there, but Force on Force is on a level of realism I have not seen before.
Force on Force rounds use a lead-free primer with no powder. The propellant does not smoke or smell, nor does it put anything toxic into the air. This makes it safe to use as close as 1 foot. No ear protection is required, even indoors.
During one of my scenarios, I had an enactor arm himself with a training knife and rush me. This is my public apology to him for taking my last three shots from 9mm Force on Force rounds at contact distance. They really are safe at the 1-foot standoff distance.
I have played with other marking products. With Force on Force products, I did not have to swab the barrel every few uses. The rounds didn’t require any special packaging or handling. Most noticeably, no one had magazines with broken paint capsules in them either.
Force on Force marking rounds have a maximum training range of 60 ft. They do a good job mimicking the ordinary abilities of the firearm. I made several headshots at the 7-yard mark on a fully kitted enactor same as I would confidently take a hostage rescue shot.
The marking agent itself never dries and has a consistency similar to paint. It comes in blue, green, yellow, white, red and orange. The important thing is the fact that the payloads break when they strike a target, not in the gun. In fact, during our entire training session, I did not witness a single failure.
There was never a moment when anyone asked, “Was I hit? I need to check.” One of the first questions I had was whether an accidental strike on soft tissue would be problematic. I kind of answered my question in the next scenario. Users should wear full face masks, neck protectors and other protective gear.
Pain penalty is important in training. The increased adrenalin is an important component in realism. I am a firm believer in using a HIGH GEAR suit. I advocate for the Shocknife and training guns should shoot actual projectiles for realistic training. The more realistic the training, the more effective the training, when it comes to perishable skills.
9mm marking round
The 9mm marking round has a similar form factor to a real cartridge, but it is different enough to make a visual and tactile confirmation. This is a critical safety element in realistic training. The projectiles run 325-425 fps and the plastic projectiles weigh 6 grains.
The 9mm rounds work in unmodified 9mm guns. The concept, however, is akin to what I want to tell some people I see in the local store. Just because you can wear it, doesn't mean you should wear it. I strongly recommend your agency purchase brightly colored training guns and enforce ammo control in training areas. Every major manufacturer has a firing version of their duty gun in a different color, preferably "training blue.” Use them for this purpose. For the .223/5.56 version, use clearly marked barrel tags.
The 5.56 cartridge uses a bolt carrier group conversion kit that will convert a carbine in just a few seconds. This conversion is internal only and does not alter the characteristics of the gun. This lets officers use their complete kit without interfering with on-gun accessories. The 5.56 cartridge fires a 4-grain marking projectile at 400-550 fps.
I have used marking rounds where the paint had some kind of oil base. It permanently stained my clothing and was hard to wipe off between scenarios. None of us had this problem with Force on Force products. This alone is a great reason to use these products.
Your agency should be using marking rounds for critical incident training. Force on Force products are at the top of the food chain.