The truth about gunfights with handguns is that they often more closely resemble a fistfight than what many envision and train for. Because handguns are so prevalent and carried for self-defense, this is the kind of weapon officers must train for in an attack. Another trend that has increased in the last 25 years is the tendency for very skilled criminals to disarm their opponents of their firearms. It’s imperative for officers to develop skills to work within arm’s reach.
I have found over the years that the most successful people at dealing with violent encounters are those who can execute the fundamentals rapidly and without hesitation. With this in mind, I tend to gravitate to simple, proven techniques rather than a complex set of responses that the brain has to sort through under the compressed timeframes of a violent encounter. I teach three techniques for dealing with both weapon retention and shooting within arm’s distance that are triggered by the direction the flow of the fight is going.
A general-purpose technique that works well in a myriad of situations is to draw or retract the handgun to a position just under the pectoral muscles and offset to the side. I use the base of my shooting hand to index into my body to keep this position consistent. You orient your handgun outward in order to allow it to function without interfering with the slide or cylinder movement, which could cause a malfunction. I like this index position because it works well with both revolvers and semi-auto pistols, and allows for a very strong, locked grip on the handgun. I use my support hand to further lock the pistol in if the hand is free. Often, I have a flashlight in my support hand, which will lock into a Harries technique with the primary hand.
If an attempt is made to disarm the firearm, you can use your hips, hands and entire upper body to rotate the pistol out of the opponent’s hands. This technique should be used with a very aggressive and strong body position to allow your entire body to maintain balance and aggressiveness. Generally, having the pistol retracted and out of reach of an opponent will prevent an attack yet allow for the handgun to be effectively used if lethal force is justified. This position also allows you to use your elbows, combined with hip rotation, to strike and create distance.