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Shooting The Massad Ayoob Group MAG Qualifier

Shooting The Massad Ayoob Group MAG Qualifier

What is the MAG Qual?

The Massad Ayoob Group (MAG) Qual is a 60-round handgun qualification course designed by Massad Ayoob in the early 1980s. It draws from a variety of law enforcement qualification courses. It requires one-handed shooting, speed reloading, various cover positions and different shooting stances. The timed course of fire is shot at 4, 7, 10 and 15 yards.

A cardboard IPSC/USPSA target is commonly used, but an IDPA target can be substituted.

When used for the MAG Qual, the the targets (IPSC left and IDPA right), are scored as shown here.

A shot timer is typically used for a start and stop signal. Any shots not fired in the allotted time at the 4, 7 or 10 yard lines are allowed to be made up at the 15 yard position. Shots made up at 15 yards, however, must be fired within the time allotted for the 18 other shots required at that distance. Late shots at any distance are assessed a 10 point penalty per shot.

A bullet hole that breaks the perforated scoring line between two scoring zones is given the higher point value. 300 points are possible and a passing score is 75% or 225 points. If a 5-shot handgun is used, 5 shot strings are fired and 250 points are possible with 188 points needed to pass.

The classifier is shot at standard speed in the Massad Ayoob Group (MAG) Level 1 class (MAG-40). As classes advance to Level 2 (MAG-80), Level 3 (MAG-120) and Level 4 (MAG-180) a passing score is required at double, triple and quadruple speeds respectively.

See our class reviews: MAG-40, MAG-80 and MAG-120

For schedule, pricing, prerequisites, and required equipment please see the official MAG website

See our MAG80 overview.

The class name MAG-120 comes from the cumulative number of hours of MAG instruction a student will have received by the end of the class. MAG-40 and MAG-80 (or LFI-1 and LFI-2) are prerequisites for this class.

Massad Ayoob Group Qual shot at Standard Speed

MAG Qual Course of Fire

Massad Ayoob Group MAG Qualifier (60 rounds)

4 yards (Qualifications from NRA Police Service Pistol Course)

String 1 (Seconds: Standard Speed: 8, Double Speed: 4, Triple Speed: 2.67, Quad Speed: 2)

- Start Position: Weak hand low ready

- 6 rounds weak hand only

String 2 (Seconds: Standard Speed: 8, Double Speed: 4, Triple Speed: 2.67, Quad Speed: 2)

- Start Position: Strong hand on holstered pistol. (Alternatively, from low ready)

- 6 rounds strong hand only

7 yards (FBI Practical Police Course)

String 1 (Seconds: Standard Speed: 25, Double Speed: 12.5, Triple Speed: 8.33, Quad Speed: 6.25)

Start Position: Pistol holstered, hand off pistol. (Alternatively, from low ready)

- 6 rounds free style

- reload

- 6 rounds free style

10 yards (New England Police Course)

String 1 (Seconds: Standard Speed: 75, Double Speed: 37.5, Triple Speed: 25, Quad Speed: 18.75)

- Start Position: Low ready

- 6 rounds from cover crouch

- reload

- 6 rounds from high kneeling

- reload

- 6 rounds from low kneeling

15 yards (Hybrid of FBI PPC and NRA PPC courses)

String 1 (Seconds: Standard Speed: 90, Double Speed: 45, Triple Speed: 30, Quad Speed: 22.50)

Start Position: Pistol holstered, Hand off pistol. (Alternatively, from low ready)

- 6 rounds from Weaver Stance

- reload

- 6 rounds from Chapman Stance

- reload

- 6 rounds from Isosceles Stance

Note: Women may substitute the Chapman or Isosceles stance in place of Weaver if they choose.

Dan Wesson Pointman 1911

Dan Wesson "Pointman" 9mm 1911 with adjustable target sights

Tips for shooting the standard speed MAG Qual

Let's start with the basics. You will want a pistol and ammunition that are reliable together. You need a holster that is easy to use and does not require you to fiddle with it, especially in a way that could cause you to cross your hand or body while drawing or reholstering.

Safety is paramount and at no time should your pistol cross your support hand during drawing or reholstering.

Drawing and reholstering should be smooth and fumble free. While reloads do not have to be particularly fast, they do need to be smooth and free from fumbles and bobbles.

Note: The following "Five Point Checklist" is a short summary of what is required to make a good shot on target. Be sure that you are doing due diligence to each element.

1. Strong stance.

2. High hand (on the gun)

3. Crush grip.

4. Front sight focus.

5. Smooth trigger press.

Beyond the basics, it's important to have a good feel for the time required at each distance. The video above will give you an idea of the proper cadence of shots required to make the times. Going too fast can be almost as bad for your score as going too slow.

Massad Ayoob Group MAG Qual shot at Double Speed

Massad Ayoob Group MAG Qual shot at Triple Speed

Tips for shooting the faster MAG Quals (Double, Triple & Quad)

As the quals get faster there is less room for error on your part, and also for your equipment.

Reliability: Your gun and ammo must work 100% On the faster quals there is simply no time to clear malfunctions. Managing the human part of this effort is hard enough, if your gun is not perfectly reliable get one that is.

Reloads: You have to nail the reloads. Mags must drop free without hesitation. You must be able to easily reach the mag release button and press it, and the mag must fly out when you do. If you have to shake the mag out or pull it out with your support hand then you have a problem you need to fix. Inserting the fresh mag must be bobble free. Dry-fire practice is your friend here.

It's generally more difficult to consistently make smooth/fast reloads with a single stack auto than with a double stack gun. The fact that the magwell is narrower is only one part of the problem. Magazines for double stack autos taper near the top and that geometry makes them want to go into the wide magwell of the double stack auto. Single stack guns don't have that going for them. This is simply one factor among many to consider when you are choosing equipment.  

Wilson Combat 9mm magazines in dirt

Wilson Combat magazines make a good impression

Practice: There is no substitute for practicing the quals. A timer will be extremely helpful so you can practice to the required times. You can see the timing needed for each stage of the various quals in the accompanying videos.

Basics: Once everything else is squared away it will always come down to sight alignment and trigger press. 5-Step checklist to the rescue. Learn it. Live it. Love it.

Special thanks to HGIII and the MAG Staff for their helpful suggestions on this section.

Note:  For purposes of determining if a shot is fired late, a 0.3 second reaction time is taken into account. This is due to the time it takes to react to a signal, or a beep.

For this reason, shots fired up to 0.3 seconds after the stop beep are not considered late or penalized. This becomes more of a factor during the faster quals like the Triple and Quadruple Speed.

MAG Qual - Quad Speed (See full length unedited 13-minute video here)

Quad Speed MAG Qual - Shooting Tips

By taking the Standard MAG Qual times and dividing by four you have the Quad Speed Qual. Everything else remains the same. This Qual is shot during MAG-180,the fourth level class.

Shooting a good score on the Quad Speed Qual is a challenge. I shot it extensively for this article in order to get the score that I wanted and it took a lot of time, effort and ammo. Here is my advice specifically for anyone wanting to shoot their best on the Quad Speed Qual.

Maglula magazine loader with Wilson Combat magazines and Blazer 9mm ammo

A mag loader came in handy

If you practice a lot you will be loading a lot of mags. I used a Maglula mag loader for these practice sessions. This kept my hands and fingers from fatiguing. See our Maglula Speed loader Review

I found it useful to shoot each distance many times in practice. For example, one day I might shoot lots of 4 and 7 yard drills and the next day shoot a lot at 10 and 15 yards. Then, after you shoot the whole qual you can go back and work on the distance that gave you the most trouble.

Tracking your performance allows you to see your improvement

I kept a shooting log tailored to each distance to document my progress and it was very helpful. Special thanks to World Champion and top notch trainer Mike Seeklander for that suggestion. See his website here Shooting-Performance.

Measuring distance for the MAG Qual

4, 7, 10, 15, 8, 25, 75, 90, 6, 6, 6!

Finally, I found it useful to use different techniques at each distance and that may be a good way for you to approach it as well.

Distance specific tips

4 Yards

To make the very short time limit at this distance I found that having a target focus worked best for me. Looking just over the top of the pistol, I could confirm that it was pointed at the center of the target. Then a steady cadence of shots gets it done.

Some really good shooters whose opinions I value tell me that they are able to get good hits on the right handed string of fire here by starting to fire while their arm is still extending toward the target. To make this work you must get the gun up into your line of sight early. It's worth giving it a try to see if it can work for you.

7 Yards

Here I used a "shooting out of the notch" sight picture.

I sometimes had difficulty getting back to the sights here after coming from a target focus at 4 yards. Inadvertently using a target focus here generally resulted in some hits outside the A-zone for me.

Shoot 7 yards "out of the notch" with a tight grip and a front sight focus for each shot. Targeted dry fire practice will bring down your draw to first shot times and your reload times. All that's left then are the split times and with a tight grip and a front sight focus you can whittle those down too.

Different techniques for different distances

10 Yards

The nature of the shooting and the time allowed here combine to make this string the least difficult of all the distances for me. I generally do not shoot out of the notch at this distance preferring to get a perfect sight picture for each shot. Especially with the stability of the kneeling positions, a good sight picture with a tight hold sends them all into the A zone!  

10 yards is almost too far to be shooting out of the notch, but if you want to do it anyway, put the top of the front sight near the bottom third of the A-zone and your hits will be solid.

Honestly, it's probably a better bet to get your draw-to-the-first-shot times and your reload times down to where you have the time to take accurate sighted fire at this distance. All the way through the Quad Speed it is possible if you get to the shooting quickly.

Reload while you move from standing to kneeling to save some time no matter the speed of the qual.

15 Yards

I found that the factory standard 0.125" wide front sight of my Dan Wesson 1911 pistol was not conducive to fast accurate shooting at 15 yards. I switched to a 0.100" wide front sight from Dawson and it helped.

When the front sight is too wide there is very little light on each side of it. Re-acquiring the sight picture between shots is slower. A thinner front sight means more daylight on each side and a faster sight picture.

At this distance I use a standard sight picture with the top of the front sight aligned with the top of the rear sight. At the slower qual speeds like standard and double speed, you almost have time to admire your perfect sight picture. At triple and quadruple speed you do not! Line them up and send it!

Performing each of the shooting stances (Weaver, Chapman & Isosceles) properly is key. A tight crush grip on the pistol minimizes muzzle rise. With Weaver you must have a strong push-pull on the pistol or excessive recoil will slow follow up shots. With Chapman you must pull hard into the straight arm to keep the muzzle down. And with Isosceles, use a crush grip and press both arms out hard.

Finally, if you have bad vision or aging eyes you will want to have corrective shooting glasses. Especially at this distance. For years this was a problem that I found very hard to solve. After trying several different corrective shooting glasses I recently settled on the Hunters HD Gold brand and am very happy.  

A special shoutout and "Thank You" to Andrew and others for motivating me to tackle this project.

Dan Wesson stainless steel 9mm 1911 target pistol on pile of ammunition

This Dan Wesson 1911 pistol was used for the Double, Triple and Quad Speed Videos

Equipment Test

While practicing the Quad Speed qualifier for this article, the Dan Wesson 1911 pistol that I was using was working so well that I decided to stop cleaning it and see how long it would go before it started to malfunction. It is after all an old-school 1911 and is supposed to be chock full of attitude and malfunctions if not properly pampered and coddled.

I decided that I would only clean the pistol if it started to malfunction, or once I completed the Quad Speed project. Whichever occurred first!

I took care to keep the pistol well oiled with Lucas Extreme Duty Gun Oil, but did not clean or disassemble it in any way during the test.

The final Quad Speed Qual attempt (in the video) was started at round count 5,354 since the pistol was last cleaned. Sixty rounds later, at round count 5,414, both the Quad Speed project and the Dan Wesson 1911 test were complete.

Verdict: The pistol never failed in any way or had a malfunction of any kind despite being intentionally and ridiculously neglected. At the end of the day it delivered a perfect 300/300 score for me on a very difficult course of fire.

Dan Wesson and John Moses Browning, I salute you!

See our Dan Wesson Pointman 1911 Review.

Dirty Dan Wesson PM9 pistol after reliability testing
Dirty Dan Wesson PM9 pistol breach face after reliability testing
Dirty Dan Wesson PM9 pistol feed ramp after reliability testing
Dirty Dan Wesson PM9 pistol muzzle after reliability testing
Dan Wesson PM9 pistol after reliability testing

Don't do what I did! Clean your guns!

Equipment used during the MAG Quad Speed Qual

This is the equipment that I used to shoot a 300/300 on the Quad Speed Qual

My Quad Speed MAG Qual Equipment

  • Pistol - Dan Wesson 1911 9mm (Model PM-9) Modifications: Wilson Combat ambi thumb safety and medium length trigger, S&A magwell, full length recoil spring guide rod, Dawson front sight, VZ G-10 grips.
  • Magazines - Wilson Combat
  • Ammo - Blazer 115 gr aluminum case 9mm FMJ
  • Holster - Vedder LightTuck Inside the Waistband (IWB)
  • Mag pouches - Blade-Tech single and Dillon Precision double
  • Gun oil - Lucas Extreme Duty Gun Oil
  • Shot timer - CED 7000
  • Mag loader - Maglula
  • Safety glasses - Hunters HD Gold

See our class reviews: MAG-40, MAG-80 and MAG-120

MAG Quad Speed Qual Target
Massad Ayoob with David BBlazek and Quad Speed Target
Signed MAG Quad Speed Qualification Target
Toyota 4Runner at shooting range
Range session with 9mm pistol
Qualification targets

Swing and a miss. It took multiple attempts over multiple days, with all 3 video cameras running, to get the perfect score on target and on camera.  

Clean and Lubed Dan Wesson PM-9 and Lucas Extreme Duty Gun Oil

A once filthy pistol thoroughly cleaned and lubed. Fresh recoil and firing pin springs installed. Ready for more!


Author David "Blaze" Blazek is an LFI-4 graduate and has been a staff instructor with Massad Ayoob Group since 2010

DISCLAIMER: The techniques discussed and demonstrated in this article are intended for shooters with training in the safe handling and firing of firearms. Advanced techniques are discussed and demonstrated that should not be attempted without proper training and safety precautions. See our Terms of Service for further details.

May 27, 2023 David "Blaze" Blazek

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