When it comes to real world self-defense techniques and tactics, knowledge is power. If you understand the nature of the threat you’re facing you can formulate a practical defense — whether that’s compliance, fleeing or attacking. People who know little to nothing about firearms are at a severe disadvantage. If they’re assaulted by someone with a gun, they may well be too frightened or too ignorant to react properly.

My self-defense courses combine the Israeli method of unarmed combat known as Krav Maga with combat pistol instruction. I teach students how to disarm an attacker so they can create enough time and space to deploy their own gun against a threat of grievous bodily harm or death. But I also train people who choose not to carry a gun.

Throughout the years, I’ve seen dozens of instructors teach unarmed civilians how to defend against a pistol threat. All of them teach students to grab the gun, deflect the muzzle away from their body and rip it from their attacker’s hand. I’ve yet to find an instructor who talks about what will happen to a hand that grabs the slide if the gun fires.

“You will cut/burn/injure your hand if you grab the pistol while gun fires,” some of my students tell me. Until I show them, many don’t know the barrel is separate from the frame. I explain that a fired handgun’s internals will get hot after ignition, but the external parts likely be no more than warm.

I’ve tested this across many calibers and models of handguns. My students have also tested this theory first-hand (pun intended) at my Combat Pistol course, with NOTHING happening to their hands. In fact, a properly grabbed gun’s slide doesn’t move, the gun doesn’t cycle, and an empty casing is stuck in the barrel.

Firing a gun isn’t as easy as most people think; especially a handgun. Inexperienced/untrained shooters tend to “jerk” the trigger in anticipation of the bang. They pull the gun down and to the side. They tend to shoot low left if they’re right-handed, low right if they are left-handed.

Rapid muzzle redirection is the core of any close quarters combat firearms defense. An inch in a single direction can be the difference between life and death. If you redirect the firearm in the direction that the shooter’s likely to jerk the trigger, there’s a greater chance they’ll miss you if they fire. As they say, go with the flow.

Despite clear and repeated instructions and warnings, a few of my students have inadvertently pointed a pistol at me or other students. Without thinking, I’ve redirected their muzzle to a safe direction. That’s my goal: to give students an instinctive ability to deflect a firearm, even in the most frightening of all situations.

As I said at the beginning of this article, defenders without any real world experience of firearms, students who’ve only practiced disarming techniques against an inert or blue gun, lack sufficient first-hand understanding of guns to reduce their fear, and enable a rapid and efficient response.

The next time you hear someone talking about their self-defense class, ask them if they know how to shoot a gun. If not, take them shooting and, at the very least, show them how even the slightest movement of a shooter’s hand changes a bullet’s trajectory. As my good friend and tactical instructor Marcelo Esperandio says, “The more you know, the more luck you have!”

27 COMMENTS

  1. Liked the posting, but….

    The title was a head-spinner. Was expecting some sort of half-baked, non gun owere drivel about “Run, Hide, Throw Shoes, and Die”.

  2. I’ve seen a few effective disarms in real life. They all follow the same pattern.
    Beat the snot out of the person with the gun. Remove firearm from their unconscious body. Resume beating.

    • I was going to suggest:
      * Distract assailant
      * Draw and shoot assailant several times
      * Remove gun from unconscious assailant while pointing gun at his head

  3. IF you can get the gun out of battery, no bang. Otherwise you just prevent cycling (a good thing).

    Don’t grab a revolver around the cylinder to stop rotation if the hammer is back. That would be bad.

    • I grabbed revolver as an 17 year old kid, in St louis. It was pointed at me by a skinny black kid from a local gang. It fired , but the cylinder did not rotate due my had squeezing the cylinder. My dad , told me a person could not shoot if you grabbed the cylinder. Unless he had already cocked it. Needless to say I sustained a finger injury, but took the gun away from him. Live and learn.

  4. Gun Disarmament Training for People Who Know Nothing About Guns:
    First rule, hope the guy with the gun know nothing about guns. Second, hope they don’t just want to kill you. Closing on someone who is not going to hesitate to shoot at you on sight is not the best idea. And they are relying on the fact that the person with the gun doesn’t know the importance of protecting their possession of the firearm. Trying to grab or deflect a firearm from someone who knows how to retain is gong to get you killed.
    Jwtaylor has it right, hitting them in the head with a lead pipe works better (ideally from behind)
    I love how all of the instructors have the gunman extend out the firearm. At less than 5 feet, why the hell do you need to extend the firearm.

    • When I was heavy into martial arts type stuff, tweny eight years old, A guy pointed gun at my head, I kicked it, it went off an bullet creased ( nicked) the top of my forehead.I m not doing that no more,( older now, kicks not so hot,lol) and don’t suggest gun take aways. Be alert and get the drop on them, my advice

  5. My way is to distract the dirtbag by soiling myself, grab the gun and shoot him/her with it.
    Note: I’ve made no progress in getting ranges to install treadmills so we can practice firing over our shoulders while running away.

  6. Is he actually having students grab the gun just behind the muzzle and firing a live round? That sounds like a really bad idea to me safety wise. Yeah I can see preventing the slide from cycling fully and causing some kind of malfunction pretty easily, but that front sight might take a pretty good chunk out of your hand with nothing less than a death grip.

    • I have delicate hands and office worker strength and I can hold the slide closed while fireing most 9mm automatics by pressing my support hand thumb against the back of the frame.
      From the front/side gripping the slide to the frame with a full fist grip, I have absolutely no doubt holding any auto shit would be very easy and completely non-injurious.

    • I did this in a course over the summer. It takes no force at all to stop the slide. We also fired with thumbs on the rear and with palms on the rear barrel pressed into a soft target to demonstrate forcing the slide into battery to get a shot off.

      The most fun drill was pressing the gun into the target with your own body against the back of the slide, getting off that one shot then racking to ready while stepping back and firing more. Also the on the ground wrestling barrel into target pressing the rear of the slide with your support hand and getting off that one shot then racking back to ready and make sure the threat is stopped.

      It was some fun new shit. Not sure how useful but fun nonetheless and gave me an idea of how the gun will function against relatively light forces of impedance.

    • By design, one would expect the blowback from the fired round to be just more than what would normally be used to rack the slide?

  7. I am possibly the worst unarmed combat student more than one organization has been saddled with, yet I remember this clear as day: “Remember how in a knife fight you ARE going to get cut? This is the same, but with bullets. You’ve already made a few mistakes to even be in this position, now your best option involves a pretty high probability you’ll have a hand to hand fight to the death with a fresh bullet wound. Good luck with that”.

  8. This is also important from the opposite side. If you have to draw on someone threatening you, there’s a good chance they will try to grab your gun. Knowing what can happen in that situation, and learning some firearm retention techniques is pretty important if you’re going to conceal carry or you carry as part of your job.

    People do try to grab a gun pointing at them a considerable percentage of the time. Most of them probably figure they might as well if they think you are going to shoot them anyway, and the rest intend to make sure you don’t.

  9. Ima Yeti,
    I have a spot out in the Everglades where I go plinking
    I often practice drawing and shooting while running away from the target
    With a Crimson Trace laser I can actually make hits shooting one handed while running!

  10. I read the article, but still don’t know how to stop a person with a gun. This article should be in a Video format also. I don’t know much about guns.

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