Many people think that if their pistol is concealed they don’t need to worry about weapon retention. While concealment is one aspect of retention, it is not the only one. The primary tool in our tool box for defense against a weapon grab is alertness and awareness to our surroundings, Cooper's Condition Yellow. Weapon Retention skills is something every person who carries a firearm should acquire. When carrying a firearm you should always choose your equipment based on quality and not price or style. For example, Fobus brand holsters are notorious for failing during retention drills. If fact paddle holsters in general are not good choices from a retention aspect.
Weapon Retention training for handguns comes in two parts. Retaining the weapon while in the holster and retaining the weapon while in hand. First, we’ll discuss retention from the holster.
You should always make sure your firearm is concealed at all times. If nobody knows you have a firearm, it is unlikely that they will try to take it from you. Out of sight, out of mind. It is a good idea to carry a small fixed blade knife or a “one hand opening” folder that you can access with your weak side. More on this later.
Don’t allow people to get in your personal space, move away. If that doesn’t work, a loud “STEP BACK” will not only scare the crap out of potential assailants but will draw attention to you. The last thing a criminal wants is to be noticed.
If someone gets their hand on your weapon while it is holstered you need to act immediately and forcefully. Using both hands, trap the weapon in the holster by applying as much downward pressure as necessary on the person’s hand and your weapon to keep it from being removed. Bend at the knees to lower your center of gravity and get the assailant off balance. Do not stand still. Move rapidly in tight circles in either direction. Many times quick forceful movement will be enough to dislodge the attacker. Moving rapidly also has the effect of resetting your attacker's O.O.D.A. loop and causing him to now have to respond to your actions instead of you to his. If the grabber doesn’t let go, run him into obstacles, scrape him down walls--in other words "buck that cowboy off, Hoss." If you do nothing else, keep the pistol in the holster.
Be loud, yell, you want to draw attention to yourself. This is a good place discuss the seriousness of the situation. If someone takes your gun, they are going to do bad things with it, either to you or someone else. If the aforementioned doesn’t work in a few seconds, you could be in a fight to the death and now it’s time to win. If he’s held on this long he is very determined and his focus is totally on your gun. It’s time to change his focus. Stomp his feet, rake his shins. With your weak hand, punch his throat, scratch his eyes. Access your knife, slice his hands and face. Can’t get to the knife? Grab a pen, or anything sharp, stick it in his eye. Under no circumstances do you want to draw the pistol at this point. If he held on during your initial counter, he would probably get the weapon away from you as soon as you tried to draw it. If you do nothing else, keep the pistol in the holster.
If your weapon is out of the holster, searching or holding someone at gun point, do not get too close and never allow a possible assailant to approach close enough to attempt a weapon grab. Remember awareness of your surroundings. If you are searching and clearing or moving with gun in hand, do not lead with your firearm when approaching doorways and corners. It is very easy to strip a pistol away from someone. NEVER let someone get close to you. Hold the gun close to your body in a retention position. If someone does get his hands on your firearm your response should be immediate and decisive. Jerk sharply back, while stepping back to regain control. You can also step forward and into him, striking with your muzzle. This is effective because attackers expect you to run from them, not step up and fight. Kick, scream, head butt, never let go of that gun. Perform a straight arm punch or strike to the face or neck while pulling back. If that fails drop to one knee while attempting to direct the muzzle into their mid section and fire. Defending against a gun grab puts you in fear for your life and may require lethal force as a last resort. Dropping to one knee lowers your center of gravity and gets your opponent off balance. Remember, you are responsible for each bullet you fire. If it becomes necessary to shoot an assailant off your muzzle, a semi-auto will probably not function. As soon as you regain control of your pistol, perform a Tap Rack Back on target. Lethal force should be used only as a last resort, and of course, I accept no responsibility for your actions.
The author has spent a combined total of 24 years in the military and Federal Law Enforcement. He has served as a Sniper and Entry Team member on a US Air Force Emergency Services Team. He has been employed by the private security firm ‘Vance International’ where he was member of the security and transport detail at the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington DC. He is currently employed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons where he holds positions as Firearms Instructor and Disturbance Control Team member. Kim has taken classes from several schools including H&K and Olive Security Training Center. He has a master class rating from the Chapman Academy and is a member of the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors.