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There are a lot of different options out there in guns to use in martial arts training, including wood, plastic, rubber, and with various degrees of realism.

I know from working with knives that the differences in material and behavior makes a huge difference in training. A rubber knife simply doesn't behave the same as a wooden tanto, which is a different weapon in behavior from a metal training knife. Not just in terms of effectiveness or realism, but in terms of what you are actually teaching.

Given the rather dizzying array of options when it comes to training guns, what are the advantages/disadvantages of different styles of weapon (and different styles of mock) and different materials for use in drills?

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Realism is key- you will really want a mock gun to weigh the same as a real one, otherwise it will not move as you expect, especially if you are in a country like the UK, where guns are unfamiliar to most.

You are also going to use slightly different techniques to disarm someone with a pistol or a semi-automatic so if you want to learn those techniques, get a range of guns.

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I would go for a rubber gun. The ones we have weight more or less like a normal Beretta m92 but are much safer than hard plastic ones, for obvious reasons.

I would go for a dark colour, as the bright yellow ones we have draw too much attention, less so a real gun.

Finally, for safety reasons, we have manually removed the trigger guard. We decided to cut it because of a number of techniques involving a high risk (not to say certainty) of finger injury. If the attacker does not promptly remove the index finger from the trigger, it can get caught and forced into a breaking lock. This happens even when the person practicing did not intend do so - and is especially dangerous in this kind of situation. Wielding the gun without the index finger seriously hampers the strength of the hold, hence my advise.

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