Review of Magpul Dynamics Art of the Tactical Carbine, Vol. I
Magpul Dynamics has built quite a name for itself in the tactical weapon training segment. Of course, the Magpul name already has incredible name recognition in the AR-15/semi-auto rifle community thanks to the success of their magazines and other polymer furniture for semi-auto rifles. So being involved in training is good for Magpul in more ways than one.
Training videos can be a double-edged sword for both the producers and their consumers. How do you produce a training video that doesn’t cannibalize your face to face training business, and at a price point which will be both attractive to consumers and profitable? It’s a fine line to walk in order to produce a product that’s useful to the consumer while at the same time complimentary to a training company’s other business objectives, and not counter productive to those same objectives. I think Magpul Dynamics has done a good job of striking that balance with this four-disc set – it features over five hours of actual live fire class instruction and additional instructional material. Pop in the first disc however, and Magpul Dynamics makes it very clear that this video set is NOT a replacement for actual classroom instruction:
This video set was released in 2008, but despite the fact that it’s now about 5 years old, it doesn’t look or feel dated. The instructors for this training series are Chris Costa and Travis Haley – Costa gets most of the camera time by far as Haley is only shown in the material on the first disc. The rest is all Costa. Interestingly, neither Costa nor Haley seem to (at least currently) are currently associated with Magpul Dynamics (both left the company in 2011 to form their own separate training organizations), beyond the videos they produce. Both Costa and Haley are very successful and well-known trainers…they’re just not currently Magpul Dynamics trainers. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing or even a critical point. However, if you’re thinking “let me buy one of the Magpul Dynamics training videos to get a good feel for the training they offer at their courses” it might not be a good reason for making the purchase.
I think it’s also important to note that the training is VERY AR-15 platform centric – you’ll see some footage of a token AK-47 here and there during the video, but all of the weapons manipulation and techniques they show are done with an AR-15. They could have just as easily titled the video “Art of the Tactical AR-15.” So if you’re an AK-47 user, you will get limited value from this video.
I’ve taken tactical rifle courses before from a few different instructors and institutions, so I was looking at the video series for the following purposes:
– Refresher Material – the videos are excellent for anyone who has taken traditional training courses and would like additional material to re-enforce and augment concepts to which they’ve been previously exposed.
– An Introduction to Training – if you’ve never taken a tactical carbine course and wondered what they are like, this video will give you a good sense of what to expect no matter whom you take your training from. Watching the video series my help ease you into the nomenclature and mind set, as well as some of the fundamentals you can practice prior to attending a course.
–A Different Perspective – the more training you take, the more you realize that fundamentals of shooting are fairly universal. Good trainers all tend to teach a lot of the same stuff, even if they use some different terminology. Still, every one has their own unique techniques perspective to bring to the table, and I like to get exposed to as much training as I can from as many different perspectives as I can. Every trainer I work with as a unique “nugget” I take away, and such was the case with this video series.
–Train The Trainer – as an NRA Certified Instructor myself, I like to see how others instruct. So I not only look at training from a student’s perspective, but I also look at it from the perspective of someone who also works with students. From this perspective, the video series is very valuable.
–Entertainment – I like to shoot, and chances are if you’re reading this you do as well. Seeing well trained guys like Costa and Haley in action is entertaining as well as instructive. Adding to the entertainment value is care taken to record and produce a very high quality video series – the production quality of this 2nd Edition is quite high. HD video with excellent post production work put into it. I haven’t seen the DVD version to know weather or not the Blu-Ray version I purchased was noticeably different in quality, but I can say I was impressed with with Blu-Ray version.
I purchased the 2nd edition of the Art of the Tactical Carbine, Vol. I on blu-ray – not having seen the first edition, I’m not certain what was changed or updated. In terms of the material they cover, most of the valuable stuff can be found on discs one and two. In addition to a section on fundamentals, and one on safety, they spend a lot of time doing reload drills, 2nd weapon system transitions, and dealing with malfunctions. They also spend quite a bit of time on what I’ll call “partner tactics” – communicating reload cover and move commands to a partner. My only real complaint with the video set is that it could have easily fit on two discs – discs three and four have some valuable material (like a segment on cleaning and maintenance) but there’s also some “fluff” – outtakes, bloopes and the like. Beyond that minor quibble, it’s a highly valuable and recommended training series, and I’m looking forward to picking up Vol. II of the series. The retail price from Magpul Dynamics for the Blu-Ray version is $49.95, but can be had for quite a bit cheaper on Amazon. It’s also available on DVD for about 10.00 lessthan the Blu-Ray version.
John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.