I believe its a question of credibility. Can an firearm instructor teach without ever seeing combat? Sure of course he can. Could be a good one too. But if that instructor invents or adopts out of the norm techniques or tactics or creates a program that is beyond his knowledge base than anyone has a right to question it. That is fair. I'd rather learn about business from Warren Buffet than the local community college business professor who's never run a business.
As for ZT's coach analogy, I can say Freddy Roach was a lousy boxer and he has trained many a champion, David Ledbetter (to my knowledge) never amounted to much as a golfer but he (at least when I was following golf over a decade ago) was one of the most sought after coaches in golf. All the top players including Tiger (when he was unstoppable) seeked him out. The difference between sport coaches and firearm instructors is night and day. If Tiger or Pac-Man receive poor training or some new invented technique what happens? They lose a large purse, metal, belt, ranking and so on. Ultimately its not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. If one receives poor instructor of some unproven technique in firefight, that is something entirely different. That can cost you or someone around you their life. At minimum it could cost you your financial livelihood or freedom. Therein lies the difference so I don't think the analogy is a good one.
Again its credibility, those listed on the this post (Lamb/ defoor/ LAV etc) have it. They have it because of the teams they were on and the combat experience the have under their belt. Does being on a team make a good instructor? Of course not. But link me one bad AAR to this thread on any of those instructors mentioned. I doubt there are many. Also many of those listed have teaching experience whether it was because the wore a green beret (which is one of their main duties teaching guerilla armies) or were a senior instructor on their team or because Tigerswan or Blackwater hired them. I could be wrong but Hackathorn has no combat experience, but I'd train with him. Why? Because he has credibility and as such is endorsed by the likes of LAV and Howe among others.
As for pricing, Pincus can demand anything he wants. My comment earlier was mentioned because its out of whack with the marketplace. Imagine if someone was looking to buy a high end car in the $100K range. What would people look at? Benz S class, BMW 7 series, Audi, Lexus, and so on. What if while looking at those cars some one mentioned that KIA had a new luxury car that was $120K. You'd do a double take and say WTF?
As for the question whether military combat equates to self defense instruction. that's a legit question. I say yes. Those with military combat experience can teach us civies a thing or two. Obviously, most if not all of us will never take on a guy with a RPG, or have to take cover from a mortar attack. But one thing these guys can tell us is mindset (its the same whether taking on a bunch of drugged out somalies or a whacko breaking into your house). They can tell you what its like to fight through the fear and overcome it. They can tell you about how you'll get tunnel vision and your eyes will poop out of your socket when you get shot at or someone is pointing a gun at you. It goes on.
I'm not sure why this question is even asked. Does one actually believe one is getting the "Delta" or "SEAL" or "SF" way when taking a course from these guys? Of course not. The tactics even in an advance course is really not much. Its basic stuff still- how to approach a corner, which knee to take, how to enter a room, etc. Pretty basic stuff for an assaulter. You don't learn about stacking up or flank an enemy's position etc. At least I haven't seen it. When I took a class with Howe he made mention in one instance this is a military scenario, now you can't do that if you're LEO or civie so this is what you have to do if you're those....
Everyone is different and is free to use their money as they see fit but for me I only have so much time and money I can spend on training. I want vetted, combat tested techniques so in the unlikely event I need to use them I will at least be confident I have a good chance of surviving. I do not need any theoretical untested fluff invented by someone who never even tried it in a competition let alone a fight. I don't have Ram's training budget nor he's incredibly impressive ammo budget to just go see for myself. I'll have to rely on reputation and the various AAR throughout the web to see who gets my money.
Back to credibility, I'll let these videos speak for themselves: