In the gun world, you hear the damnedest things. I’ve heard people claim they would never strike an assailant with their gun for fear of damaging it. Are you kidding me? A gun is a tool. If you were holding a shovel and someone attacked you, wouldn’t you use the shovel to fend him off?
The advantage of a handgun is it enables you to stop someone armed with a knife, bat or similar weapon without being in range of that weapon. But not all armed encounters go by the script, and if your gun jams or you run out of ammo, at that moment your gun is merely a paperweight—or a bludgeon. And it’s the assailant, not your gun, likely to be damaged when gun and flesh collide.
When facing a deadly threat at arm’s length, you won’t have time to fix your gun. This is where it pays to understand the weapon potential of the 1.5-pound chunk of steel or polymer and steel you’re holding.
But in addition to knowing when to strike with your gun, you need to understand how to strike for maximum effect. You must also understand the legal ramifications of using your gun as a bludgeon.
Striking effectively with your gun is much like striking effectively with your fist. Technique and aggressiveness are the difference between an annoying tap and a knock-out blow. Of course, your gun is harder than your fist, which is good for you and bad for the attacker.
When you strike with your gun, particularly the muzzle, the power of the blow is concentrated into a much smaller area than your fist. The smaller point of impact results in a deeper penetrating strike more likely to incapacitate the assailant.
There are several ways in which you could employ your handgun as a bludgeon. But if you’re not careful, you could lose your grip on the gun upon impact. To mitigate this, strike with either the muzzle, the area below the dust cover, or the bottom of the grip or magazine base plate.
Muzzle strikes are linear in nature. Think of thrusting the muzzle into the assailant’s face or upper chest as hard as you can and then immediately retracting your strike so he doesn’t grab hold of your gun. While we’re assuming your gun has either malfunctioned or is empty, when striking you still want to keep your finger indexed along the frame of your gun.
Delivering a one-handed muzzle strike is comparable to a boxer delivering a right cross. For maximum power, the strike should be preceded by step with the foot opposite the gun hand. By timing your strike with your foot landing, you ensure you are striking with the weight of your entire body. Heavyweight boxing champ Jack Dempsey called this the “falling step” because you are literally falling into your opponent.
The heel of your rear foot should be off the ground as you drive forward into the strike. Your waist and shoulders rotate sharply to the left to generate additional momentum. The gun should be rotated inward, as if delivering a corkscrew type punch. The top of the slide should be somewhere between a 45- and 90-degree angle upon impact. Keep your off hand up to protect your head from incoming strikes.
To execute a two-handed muzzle strike, step forward with your lead leg, as with the one-handed version. With both hands on the gun, hip and shoulder rotation are non-issues. There’s also no need to rotate the gun when striking. It’s just a matter of lunging toward the assailant and thrusting the muzzle out and immediately pulling it back in preparation of additional strikes, if needed.
When striking, don’t stop as soon as your muzzle touches the assailant, but rather drive through the assailant as though the muzzle will actually exit his body. Following through in manner is key to effective striking with or without a gun in your hand.
Another good striking surface is the area below the muzzle of your gun. Strikes utilizing this surface are delivered in a downward motion, as if you were hammering a nail. Target the assailant’s head, using the same footwork described above. The same motion will allow you to deliver a strike with the bottom of a handgun’s grip
From a legal standpoint, striking an assailant with your gun is a big deal. Just because you aren’t shooting the assailant doesn’t mean you’re not using deadly force. Deadly force is a legal term with a slightly different definition from state to state, but it generally refers to something along the lines of “force likely to result in death or great bodily injury.”
There’s no universally accepted definition of “great bodily injury.” A working definition might be an injury resulting in unconsciousness, a broken bone, the temporary or permanent loss of a motor function, a cut requiring sutures and so forth. Clearly, slamming your gun onto an assailant’s face could cause one of more of these conditions. Therefore, before you strike someone with your gun, be sure such a high level of force is justified.
When quarters are tight, your gun is inoperable and you’re facing a deadly threat, don’t forget you’re essentially holding a gun-shaped hammer. Strike the assailant, disengage, then see if your can fix your gun. And for Pete’s sake, don’t worry about damaging your gun.