Firing from Cover Pistol Tactics

By GunSpot
Posted in #Skills
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Firing from Cover Pistol Tactics

September 16th, 2020

3:17 runtime

Hollywood movies and video games often have exciting shootout scenes between the bad guys and the good guys. Situations involving shooting from cover almost always come up in these scenes and, as you can probably guess, they usually don’t do it correctly.

If you find yourself in an unavoidable conflict, do you have the skills to survive a gunfight?

Naturally, when bullets start flying your base human survival instinct is going to tell you to get behind something, if for no other reason than to hide. If you ever find yourself unavoidably in this situation, we here at want to teach you how to fire from cover and be on the offensive against a threat, not just hiding and hoping for the best.

The Source

To do this, I got with chief instructor Grant LaVelle from Maximum Life Expectancy to teach us some shooting from cover skills he acquired through a long career in SWAT. In the video, Grant used his XD-M Elite Tactical OSP outfitted with a U.S. Optics DRS 2.0E reflex sight.

The proper or incorrect use of cover can mean the difference between life and death.

Admittedly, we will also briefly touch on the topic of room clearing in this as well, since they go hand in hand. In particular we will be talking about firing from cover with a handgun in both the video above and this article. In a later installment, we will also cover the particulars of using a rifle platform.

As Grant explains, one of the key fundamentals to shooting from cover is keeping a stand-off distance from the cover you are using. While this helps you to be light and quick, the big advantage is you will be able to return fire without revealing too much of your body to the threat.

In the video, Grant touches on the importance of “slicing the pie” when emerging from cover.

With a stand-off distance, you can actually rotate just your top half out just enough to fire downrange. This will keep your femoral artery behind cover, which is good because obviously the more vitals we can keep behind cover the better our chances of survival.

What Do You Do?

When our favorite action heroes fire from cover, they often hug the wall and flip out facing the room to deliver perfectly placed shots on the threat or threats. In the real world, that is not what you want to do to stay alive. You instead want to keep a stand-off distance and then use a clearing method called “Slicing The Pie.”

Giving yourself space back from your cover area is an often overlooked — yet incredibly important — tactic.

In this method, you will methodically reveal yourself to just one sliver of the room at a time. This lets you focus on small portions of a room instead of busting in there like Rambo, because the chances are you don’t have a M60 as your sidearm (To see Grant’s review of the M60, click here). You will most likely have a smaller compact gun. So, it’s best to take it slow and safe as long as you have the element of surprise on your side.

If you keep your distance and only view into a room or around a corner by “slicing the pie,” your odds are much better at neutralizing a threat and walking away safely from the conflict.

Watch the video above to get Grant’s tips on how to properly use cover.


Find a practice piece to use as cover in your training drills and give this a try. It’s almost a certainty that if you have to engage a target, you will be around real-world obstacles like doorways, cars, corners, etc. So, practice, practice and practice.

Editor’s Note: This article was written by Dylan Casey and Grant LaVelle and shared with us by Please be sure to check out The Armory Life Forum, where you can comment about our daily articles, as well as just talk guns and gear. Click the “Go To Forum Thread” link below to jump in and discuss this article and much more!

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Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles and videos are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

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GunSpot was created to be the one spot for everything gun-related. With us, you can buy or sell guns. We have everything from small-caliber pistols to belt-fed machine guns. And on the GunSpot Academy, you can find high-quality original content. In our content, you will see two faces regularly. Dylan Casey is a gun enthusiast with a digital media degree who is GunSpot's Creative Director. Then there is Chief Instructor Grant LaVelle, who has decades of experience training Marines, police officers and citizens alike. Grant served with and taught marksmanship for the United States Marine Corps. After his time with the Marines, Grant served as a SWAT sniper.

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