Armed Citizen Corner: Thinking About Weapon Retention


In a recent article in Ammo-Land, Bob Irwin tells of a woman who staved off a carjacking, kidnapping, assault and possible rape and murder by being armed. The problem is the story could have just as easily had a tragic ending because of WEAPON RETENTION. When the woman pulled the gun on the attacker, she did not mind her distance and the perp grabbed the gun and a struggle ensued. Luckily, it ended well for the woman and the attacker fled after an errant shot was fired off.

I have found over the years that a surprising segment of firearm trainers don’t like to go too deep into the subject of weapon retention simply because they think it is some kind of lib-tard ploy to try to dissuade citizens from carrying a handgun because of the chance that “the bad guy can take your gun away from you and kill you with it…”

When in reality WEAPON RETENTION it is one of the MOST IMPORTANT skill-sets a citizen should drill on!

Most people when they hear “Retention” think immediately of Retention Holsters.

Personally, I think for CONCEALED CARRY retention holsters are not the greatest ideal.

My reasoning for this is simple. If you carry correctly and keep your gun CONCEALED, ie hidden from “plain view”, the only person that knows the gun is there is YOU, so why increase the odds of not being able to quickly present your weapon when you need to under stress it if you don’t have to? I mean the last thing you need is to be all amped up and in that split second you need your gun not be able to draw it quickly because of a holster. I understand speed in weapon presentation from any rig boils down to training, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it I say!

OPEN CARRY however is a different animal altogether and in this writers humble opinion, DEMANDS a retention holster. As the old battle hardened General once said: “When you lose the element of surprise in a fight, you have lost just about everything.” Ask any uniformed street cop and they will tell you that walking around with a gun on your hip has more negatives than positives attached to it. Why? You are announcing to the whole world you are armed and consequently, painted a target on your back.

But retention holsters are not why I wanted to write this piece.

What we really need to be talking about is FIRING POSITIONS or how we present the gun once it is out of the holster, because as the story above about the carjacking shows, irregardless if you carry Open or Concealed, once you present the gun and the perp knows you are armed and intend to shoot them is when the real contest begins or ends!

With that said, let me emphasize a point I have found to be true: When you draw your weapon, the sooner you fire it, the better. In other words, don’t treat a firearm as some magic talisman you wave around in front of you to make bad things go away! The more time you take in a combative (or close quarters) situation to shoot, the more opportunity the perp has to grab your gun and either foul the shot or disarm you.

Combative Handgun training is about realizing that most self-defense shootings are going to be at close range, irregardless of how much you try to be in Condition “Yellow” and not allow strangers into your “Reactionary Gap” or whatever you want to call it.

There are basically two ways you can practice retention firing positions: One and Two Handed.

I suggest you drill on both with a very strong emphasis on shooting one-handed due to the need to have one hand free for GUARDING or FENDING (Guarding against getting knocked out cold and Fending off the asshole trying to kill you to gain distance. Note: These Positions have nothing to do with your footwork, ie Weaver, Isosceles, Modified Isosceles, etc. This is all about what you are doing with your upper body.)

Also, I know there are those that train with the “Half-Compressed”, “1/4 Compressed”, etc. I don’t fool around with all that. In the field, you know what length you are going to need to compress the weapon so the bad guy cannot grab it, no need in making a training dogma out of it!

2-handTwo-Handed Full Extension

This is the standard firing position most people are taught and it works great when the perp is not right up on you and you have time to take a good solid firing position.


Two-Handed Compressed

OK, so you were able to draw your weapon with a two-handed grip with the asshole right on top of you. Congrats, Now start working the trigger. Rinse and repeat. Something tells me you are gonna need to use at least one of those hands soon though!


One-Handed Full Extension

If we looked a dash-cam and CCTV footage, we would see this firing position used a large amount of the time both by LEO’s and Civilians. Practice this firing position a lot folks. You will not always have the luxury of getting that support hand into the mix for whatever reason.


One-Handed Compressed

Again if we were to look at video or take a poll, this would be a position a large amount of people used when attacked. Note: The non-weapon hand can be used either to GUARD or FEND, depending on the situation. Typically in a tight close-quarters scenario, it is more important to not get KNOCKED OUT than it is to fend off the attacker to gain distance, but again, each situation is unique and you cannot make a training dogma out of it. Bottom line: Work the trigger until the asshole is down and is no longer a threat.

Safety Note: I would be remiss if I did not mention to take care in your training not to “muzzle” or shoot your own arm when you are training in one-handed compressed drills. It happens more times than you know folks and it occurs because people are not paying attention to where everything is before they start working the trigger.

Kelly Mccann’s Combative Pistol and Southnarcs ECQ Handgun are excellent resources for those of you that want more on this subject.

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!




One thought on “Armed Citizen Corner: Thinking About Weapon Retention

  1. Reblogged this on and commented:
    If a person is armed, they should consider carrying (if lawful in their state), a knife with thumb assist, on their non-shooting side. If the weapon is grabbed or the arm is grabbed, the off-side, could bring the knife into the fight. The attacker’s flank and kidneys are exposed if they are grasping the weapon or arm. Think about it. Give it some serious thought.

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