When approaching the breach point of a structure, a S.W.A.T. operator’s primary concern must be encountering an armed subject (maybe more than one) who is willing to kill or be killed to further their cause. S.W.A.T. must be capable of immediately responding with deadly force to overcome this high-level threat. To better their odds, S.W.A.T. personnel are typically more highly trained, better protected (with superior body armor) and more heavily armed than the average patrol officer. This means operators usually carry a rifle or shotgun as their primary entry weapon. While this is obviously beneficial in a firefight, wielding a long gun in tight quarters could lead to an operator’s weapon being grabbed.
The first “P” in C.O.P.P. stands for push. Here, the operator pushes the muzzle into the subject. If the muzzle actually strikes the subject, that’s even better. The final “P” stands for pulling back the rifle.
Imagine negotiating the corner of a building only to have a crazed suspect grab hold of your rifle with both hands. As you’re contemplating your next move, the suspect is trying to rip the rifle from your grasp. You consider shooting the subject, but since you’re unable to control the direction of the muzzle during the deadly tug of war, you know squeezing the trigger is not an option. If you’re not able to quickly and fully extract your weapon from the bad guy, you risk being disarmed, knocked to the ground and delaying the clearing of the structure. At times like this, you need a reliable default response to retain your weapon.
The Close-Quarter Hold
In the basic S.W.A.T. school I attended, the close-quarter hold was the only technique taught for long gun retention. For many operators, weapon retention begins and ends with the close-quarter hold, which is a viable, albeit somewhat limited option.