When You Can’t Pull the Trigger

By Handguns Mag
Posted in #Skills
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When You Can’t Pull the Trigger

November 22nd, 2019

3:00 runtime

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth entry in our 12-part Armed & Ready series from Richard Nance and Handguns magazine. The series covers a range of personal defense and CCW topics. See links below for the other entries:

You might think that all you need to defend yourself is your handgun, and then you are done. Right? Wrong. You need to know how to use it, and also how to retain it during a possible physical altercation.

“But if someone grabs it, I can just pull the trigger, right?” you might say. It’s not always that simple. What if the gun is pointed away from them, and in an unsafe direction due to them grabbing it? What if their grasp of it can cause it to not fire by having the slide slightly out of battery? Assuming you can just press the trigger is a mistake. But what can you do about it?

Airsoft pistols are a great tool for safe handgun retention training, as well as for refining your gun handling and shooting skills.

Hanging On

Weapon retention is critically important. Retaining control of your firearm is mission number one. So, to show you how you can achieve this during a physical altercation, we are going to use an airsoft version of the Springfield Armory XD-M pistol. These airsoft guns give you a safe means to not only practice shooting and gun handling in the comfort of your home, but also a great means to train on gun retention.

Thinking you can simply press the trigger during a fight for your gun is a mistake.

We’re going to look at what we need to do when facing off against an assailant who has grabbed our defensive handgun. We are going to consider rock-solid weapon retention techniques that can work against a threat grabbing our handgun with their right, left, or even both hands.

A strike to the face can help distract an assailant from his grip on your gun.

Steps to Survive

When you are faced with someone with their right hand on your firearm, you will want to distract them away from their grip on the firearm. My first step would be to strike their face with my free support hand. I would then strike the junction of their arm where their hand is on the gun, then turning my body away quickly to wrench the pistol from their hand.

Once you free the gun from their grip, quickly smack the mag and rack the slide to ensure it is ready to fire if needed.

As you turn away, you are now susceptible to them striking you. To address this, strike again with your support and step back and away from them. When you have this distance, you should tap your mag and rack the slide to ensure that the pistol is live and ready to go in case you need to fire to stop the threat. The procedures for a left-hand grab and a two-hand grab are variations on this process, and we cover all of them in the video at the top of the article.

While your opponent may have a strong grip on your gun, with the right training you can free it from his grasp.


Having a good quality gun is a key part of your self-defense regimen, but knowing how to employ it and retain it during an unexpected physical struggle is paramount. It’s not always as simple as just pulling the trigger. Be prepared and be ready for any circumstance. You won’t regret it.

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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.

Product prices mentioned in articles and videos are current as of the date of publication.

Handguns Mag

Handguns Mag

The Handguns mission, as America’s only small-arms media property, is to emphasize the proper use and selection of handguns for self-defense and sport shooting.

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