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Departments : The Winning Edge

Improvised Backup Weapons

When someone goes for your gun, use whatever you have on hand to stop him.

December 29, 2009  |  by Al Abidin

Go All Out

If a suspect who grabs your gun appears to be on drugs and/or has super strength, focus on striking the suspect's head several times to cause a knock-out.

Very few individuals can endure the pain of being repeatedly struck in the face, and when the strikes are applied to their head they often will lose consciousness.

Aim high on the suspect's head. Imagine a circle drawn around his head at the top of his ears. Anywhere along that line - on the front, back, or sides - would be a good place to strike to knock him out.

If the suspect does get your gun out of your holster here are a few options that could help you to go home alive at the end of your shift:

  • Lunge at him and strike his face. It will be harder for him to shoot you when you are close to him. Just stay away from the end of the barrel.
  • Grab the barrel of your gun and keep it aimed at the suspect while you use any type of backup weapon: repeatedly striking his face or head with your improvised backup weapon, shredding his face or neck with your knife, or shooting him with your backup gun.
  • Even though he has your gun in his hands, as long as you're holding the barrel and aiming it at him, you might be able to fire a round into him with your gun. If you're not able to fire your gun at him, quickly strike him in the face to take his attention away from your gun.

The Weapons

If a subject goes for your gun, use whatever you have on hand as an improvised weapon to protect yourself. I have selected three items that an officer is likely to be holding while on duty: a small flashlight, a metal document holder, and a sturdy no-spill coffee cup. Each of these items should be held with your non-dominant hand so that when a suspect tries to grab your gun, your dominant hand will be able to keep it inside your holster.

Small Flashlight

Many agencies, including the Los Angeles Police Department, are no longer allowing their officers to use large flashlights as weapons, according to their new use-of-force polices. Therefore, I'll demonstrate the use of the small flashlight as a weapon.

When you are using a small flashlight, it should be in your non-dominant hand so that your dominant hand is free to grab and retain your gun when someone tries to grab it.

As you grab your gun, use the power move (crunch and stomp) to quickly and forcefully jab one end of your flashlight into the suspect's face or head. You can also use a hammer fist type of strike. Apply multiple strikes as necessary to get the suspect to stop grabbing your gun.

Metal Document Holder

If you have one of these document holders in your hand and someone tries to grab your gun, immediately use your dominant hand to keep your gun in your holster. Next, use the document holder to strike the suspect in the face or head to make him release his hold on your gun.

No-spill Coffee Cup (Plastic or Metal)

[If you're not using a sturdy no-spill coffee cup, I recommend that you get one. Not only will it keep your coffee hotter longer, it makes for a great improvised backup weapon. To use one this way, get a tight grip on the coffee cup and use the power move to strike the suspect in the face or head to get him to release his grip on your gun.

After the Subject Lets Go

As soon as the suspect releases his hold on your gun, use the same power move (crunch and stomp) to push the suspect away from you.

This should create enough distance between the suspect and yourself so that you can draw one of your primary weapons and command the suspect into a prone position for cuffing, as well as to call for backup if you haven't already.

Be sure to keep the suspect at a far enough distance so that he can't grab your gun again.

Be Prepared

Start training today for the life and death encounter that you might experience tomorrow. Realize that anything around you can become an effective improvised weapon as long as you use a non-telegraphic jabbing motion along with the power move.

Even when you're off duty, I think you'll find that there is no shortage of improvised weapons wherever you go.

Al Abidin has more than 28 years of self-defense experience, which includes teaching, speaking, and writing for the law enforcement community. He also has several training DVDs.

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