How to Transition from Rifle to Pistol [VIDEO]

Rifle to pistol transition (courtesy

In the video below, Kurt Troter of shows you how to transition from rifle to pistol. SPOILER ALERT! You move the rifle out of the way and grab the handgun. Now I know that seems ridiculously basic and violates the first rule of YouTube gun videos (operators must operate operationally). It is and it does. The real takeaway here . . .

Get gear that works, make sure it works and practice. To that end, Mr. Troter’s online article is much more helpful.

I generally stick to a two-point sling setup unless I am exclusively doing CQB; the sling I am currently using is a Blue Force Gear adjustable two-point sling. [Link added.] This set-up allows me to get the primary weapon away from my centerline easily and get to my sidearm in a hurry.

The article also proves that Mr. T’s got his priorities straight:

As long as you can efficiently and safely move the primary weapon out of the way while almost simultaneously employing the sidearm, you’re good.

Hey handgunnners! Can you sling the rifle electric? Or something like that . . .


  1. avatar OmnivorousBeorn says:

    Primarily a handgun guy, but I got a VTAC two point bungee for Christmas. Pretty stoked about it.

    To answer the question, yes, I can shoot a rifle, throw it down and away, draw my pistol, and shoot, if given about three or four or five seconds. Maybe there’s a wrong way to do it?

    1. avatar BC says:

      But he’s not transitioning from rifle to pistol. It’s pretty clear he’s going from pistol to pistol.

      Did I guess “what’s wrong with this video” correctly?

  2. avatar Cloudbuster says:

    Why would I ever want to transition from rifle to pistol IRL unless A) all out of rifle ammo b) I’m grappling with someone (which seems like it would entail a completely different strategy}? Neither of those situations seem to be demonstrated in the video. I assume shot-by-shot transitions are just for practicing the transition.

    1. avatar erik deshane says:

      Youre not wrong, but do notice that he’s demonstrating that the rifle has gone dry/ empty mag — draw your own conclusions.

      Rifle to pistol transition generally assumes a danger close distance.
      If you fumble a rifle – pistol transition you still end up with a topped off handgun in sub 3-4 seconds while moving to cover and sending lead downrange even if you get a crappy grip or have your rifle rack you in the nuts.

      If you fumble a rifle mag reload, at best you will take longer than 3-4 seconds to fix your shit, go for your third mag or ultimately do what you should have done in the first place — transition to a loaded pistol while moving to cover.

    2. avatar strych9 says:

      erik makes some valid points but there are also other reasons such as a malfunction with the rifle.

      Rather than trying to assess what’s wrong with the rifle right now there may be instances where you’d rather transition to a handgun and keep putting out rounds until you can get to a safer spot to inspect the rifle and fix the malfunction or make the (rare) decision to ditch the rifle.

      1. avatar Red in CO says:

        Right? It’s not something anyone would have to do all that often, but the way I see it, carrying, and being able to switch to, a sidearm is so that if your primary goes down (out of ammo, jam, etc) AND you are out in the open, being able to draw a sidearm at least gives you a fighting chance to give yourself some covering fire while you move to a better position. You likely won’t hit anything, but that’s fine; all you need to do is keep them suppressed while you run.

        Force on force training, a la airsoft, is an excellent and low-stakes place to see this in action

        1. avatar strych9 says:

          sofrep, fantastically enough, has an article kinda on this topic up on their main page right now.

          #6 applies here (IMHO) quite well. I’d also point out #3 in relation to the “My gun is for me and mine only” types… I’d probably change the wording around a bit… “relish” isn’t the word I’d use in that case but then again, keep in mind that the website is sofrep.

        2. avatar erik says:

          Agreed — Similarly, drawing a handgun in defense of your life or someone else is something that most of us will never have to do (thankfully), but you better know how to do it quickly/ effectively.

          If you train with a rifle, practice your rifle to pistol transitions and understand when it is effective…use a timer and do it while moving to cover. And it is advisable to pressure test everything with Force on Force if possible.

  3. avatar Madcapp says:

    I hope the next video is “how to do a New York reload”, because I’ve been having an awfully hard time figuring that one out too.

    1. avatar Splic3r says:

      1. Buy a few Hi-point pistols
      2. Load and carry them
      3. Draw and fire the first at the threat until empty
      4. Throw empty pistol at the threat as you draw the next
      5. Repeat

  4. avatar James69 says:

    If it’s that bad DROP/THROW the now useless rifle, and draw your revolver…….

    1. avatar OmnivorousBeorn says:

      We’re talking OPERATORSSS here and it’s impossible to operate with a revolver — unless you’re so Operator that you can literally operate with pink heart-shaped glasses and a hair gel bottle.

    2. avatar erik says:

      Not sure that a rifle or pistol that LOOKS loaded is ever completely useless as a bludgeoning tool.
      Also, there are lots of examples of people surrendering to an empty gun.

      Can be part of practice/ training to send the slide forward after emptying your “last mag”.

  5. avatar Joe R. says:

    They have meetings now.

  6. avatar strych9 says:

    I like sofrep. Not the most post heavy website and it’s a bit clunky before you get used to it but it has some damn interesting information just like Task & Purpose.

    I really wish Grey Cell was still publicly available. They used to do some really awesome articles and papers on goings-on around the world. Their intelligence analysis was always top-notch and left you wondering how the heck they got the sources they did and how they managed to get all that information in a way that wasn’t classified.

  7. avatar Specialist38 says:

    I would be going from pistol to rifle since i never carry a rifle when out and about.

    I might have a rifle in my truck and if close to the truck might try to make my way over to it. Probably wouldnt play out that way if the SHTF.

    Hangun first and foremost. If i see someone with an AR on a single point sling i am thinking they are the target.

    1. avatar strych9 says:

      “If i see someone with an AR on a single point sling i am thinking they are the target.”

      I’d be somewhat careful with that line of thought. Without observation to back up this assumption you could be making a serious mistake.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        Mebbe….but rifles are the queen of weapons.

        I would also be leery of someone walking around with their pistol in their hand. So that is the observation i would make.

        Certainly not saying I would draw but I would give it my attention.

        1. avatar strych9 says:

          If the rifle is actually slung than I really don’t care. For me it’s when someone starts carrying it at a low ready that I start to really pay attention.

          At that point, to me, it’s kinda like wandering around with your pistol out of it’s holster. I start to wonder 1) If you’re up to something. 2) You’ve seen something that I missed/can’t see or 3) You know something is going down/about to go down that I don’t know about.

        2. avatar Specialist38 says:

          Agreed. Strych…i was envisioning single point low ready.

          Slung on back or side…no biggie.

          Of course long gun toting.

        3. avatar strych9 says:

          In Florida you have to keep rifles cases except at home or on the range?

  8. avatar Anon in Ct says:

    If you’re in a situation where you’re carrying a rifle in a tactical sling, you’re probably not carrying a handgun IWB-Appendix.

    1. avatar erik says:

      Agreed — Probably not carrying a pistol AIWB if you’re overseas in a protection detail/ contractor role or a soldier.

      But highly likely if you are a citizen/ CCW holder in the states that has grabbed a “truck-gun”, which this video is clearly aimed toward.

      And if you don’t have a sling on your truck gun 1) you should consider it… & 2) one handed rifle-pistol transition is a good way to practice your strong side only draw & shoot while moving with an unbalanced object in your secondary hand. Similar to grabbing a small child or taking control of a loved one while returning fire.

  9. avatar ironicatbest says:

    Well the fellows using AR platform s need to throw them far, far away and get a REAL Rifle. Har har

    1. avatar Wade says:

      Chevrolet is better than Ford especially when riding around on rims made out of recycled 1911’s with twin 9mm Glocks in drop downs.

    2. avatar James69 says:

      I was gonna say that but I didn’t. I don’t know how an AR would fair being chucked. Time for some testing TTAG. If you had a M1 Garand you could just throw it at them and it would kill em. 🙂

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