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Departments : The Winning Edge

The Push/Pull Drill

How to use your out-of-battery sidearm as an impact weapon to end a gun grab.

January 01, 2006  |  by Michael T. Rayburn - Also by this author

Break His Ribs
In a gun grab attack when your gun is out of battery, you are left with an impact weapon. Use it.

Forcefully jam the barrel of your gun into your opponent’s ribs. If this doesn’t get him off of you, jab him three or four more times as fast and as hard as you can. You’ll probably break a couple of his ribs.

To see for yourself how painful this is, get your training partner and a replica handgun. Note: Use a Blue Gun, a Red Gun, an Airsoft, or some other model weapon for this exercise. Do not use a functioning handgun.

Take the handgun replica (for simplification, we’ll call it a Blue Gun) and stand facing your training partner. Slowly and very gently push your Blue Gun into your partner’s ribs. It won’t take much pressure from you before your training partner cries uncle.

Now switch places and let him do it to you. Kind of hurts, doesn’t it? Now, imagine jabbing your gun barrel into someone’s ribs as hard as you can. Believe me, the barrel of an out-of-battery semi-auto makes an effective impact weapon.

After you jab your attacker in the ribs with the barrel of your gun, you should be able to break free from his grasp. Once you do this, push away from him to try to get some distance. As you quickly back away, hit the rear of your slide with the heel of your off hand, forcing the gun back into battery.

At this point, assess whether or not to shoot the suspect. If he’s doubled over writhing in pain, give him some verbal commands to get on the ground. If he continues with his attack, you’ll be forced to defend yourself and fire on the suspect.

On the Range
As with any firearms tactic, stepping back from an attacker and firing at him needs to be practiced on the range, with live fire. To practice this technique, try the following exercise, while observing all range safety directions from your rangemaster.

Step up to your target and place your off hand on the target up in the shoulder, simulating a struggle with a bad guy. Draw your handgun and index your forearm into your side in a weapon-retention hold. For this drill, you’ll jab your gun barrel into the target once, and then back away from the target, putting some distance between you and the bad guy.
As you’re backing away from the target, hit the rear of your slide with the heel of your off hand, as if the gun was out of battery, forcing the slide of the gun to go forward. Now, fire some rounds into the target.

Since out on the street you will not always be in a shoot situation, occasionally have your training partner who is standing safely behind you yell, “I give up,” as you back away from the target. When you hear this, instead of shooting, you’ll give some verbal commands.

You need to be prepared for the “what ifs” on the street. Every year officers are disarmed and killed with their own handguns. Practice the push/pull drill and you’ll be prepared to counter a gun grab attack in which your gun is taken out of battery.

Michael T. Rayburn is a 27-year veteran of law enforcement and is currently an adjunct instructor at the Smith & Wesson Academy. He is the author of three books: “Advanced Vehicle Stop Tactics,” “Advanced Patrol Tactics,” and “Basic Gunfighting 101.” His video, “Instinctive Point Shooting with Mike Rayburn” is available at

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