WON Landing Page March 2022

How to respond to a gun grab

Sara Ahrens’ Offbeat: Sara describes how to respond to a gun grab.


Carrying a concealed firearm can mean that a crime that may not have intended to be violent may become so. Even if the perpetrator isn’t armed, you are. If the situation ever presents, and it becomes necessary to reveal the hidden power you possess, know that there are 2 basic outcomes of that action.

  1. The criminal act terminates.
  2. The criminal act escalates.

Our hope is that merely revealing a concealed firearm will terminate the criminal act, if not by deterrence, then by the use of deadly force. Although, we hope for the former, we must prepare for the latter.


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Though it is rare, it is not uncommon for criminals to make the attempt to disarm police officers. Police officers are told that statistically there is roughly a 90 percent chance their guns, if taken from them, will be used to harm or kill them. Police officers are trained to retain their firearms at all costs. The mere attempt to take a police officer’s firearm is justification for the use of deadly force. Civilians carrying a concealed firearm need to know that assailants who are brazen enough to grab guns pointed at them, are brazen enough to cause harm with said guns.

Police officers train for gun grabs, but the techniques they learn require a lot of practice and must be performed dynamically. The techniques can be complicated and are best learned in a classroom environment. There is 1 technique, however, that might seem like common sense to employ in such a situation — pulling the trigger. This technique is seldom discussed in-depth, as is necessary to avert the surprises that may accompany this response.

A thorough understanding of the dynamics of a gun-grab scenario may save your life. There are 2 common occurrences in gun-grab scenarios that result when the trigger is pulled.

  1. The gun fails to fire.
  2. The gun only fires once, followed by a malfunction.

It is important to understand why this happens and what to do when it does.




Failure to fire

When an assailant grasps the barrel of a semiautomatic firearm, it is possible that the gun will not fire if the trigger is pulled. The reason this may occur is because the slide comes out of battery (meaning it is pushed backward on the frame slightly). Pressure and movement asserted on the firearm can result in this occurrence and it doesn’t take much rearward movement to cause the trigger to go dead.

If you encounter a dead trigger because the gun has come out of battery, the remedy is to physically force the upper slide forward. To do this, cup your support hand over the top of the slide and position your support thumb to the rear of the slide. Force the slide forward with your support hand, while pulling the grip of the firearm to the rear, with your dominant hand. Maintaining this push-pull action will force the firearm back into battery and will allow the gun to be fired once.





One shot, followed by a malfunction

Pulling the trigger during a gun grab may result in only 1 round being fired. If the gun is fired when an assailant is holding the barrel, a malfunction is almost a guarantee. The malfunction can be the result of a covered ejection port that forces the fired casing to remain inside the chamber. Or, the malfunction can occur because the assailant’s grasp on the slide interferes with the firing cycle, causing the firearm to fail to extract, or fail to eject the casing.

Hopefully, the firing of a single round results in the criminal letting go of the firearm. If the round misses, or the assailant doesn’t release the barrel, continue to pull the trigger. If the gun doesn’t continue to fire, then there is a malfunction, that will need to be cleared in order to ensure that the firearm is ready if additional rounds become necessary. Continue to fight for control of the firearm, using any and every tactic possible. Though it is probably of little comfort, if the suspect should gain control over the firearm, it is unlikely he will be able to identify the problem and fix it.




Every criminal encounter involving someone carrying a concealed firearm has the potential to end violently. When the situation dictates the presentation of the concealed firearm, recognize that things will either get better or worse. Pulling the trigger during a gun grab is a response that will most likely require additional steps to remain prepared to deal with the threat. Forethought, preparation and practice of malfunction drills will help these responses become automatic.

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