4 Ways To Fight To Your Gun

Ox here, with this week’s newsletter, brought to you by the “Fight To Your Gun” combatives program from Target Focus Training.  Designed and proven by and for special operations personnel, it’s the ideal self-defense program for people who want to be able to effectively handle a younger, bigger, stronger, faster attacker…even without a gun, knife, or other external self-defense tool.  To learn more, go >HERE<

I touched on this briefly yesterday, but I want to go into it in more depth today.

There are topics in gun training that become “hip” from time to time and enter the world of “pop” gun training culture.

Some of them make sense, some are solid performers, and some are just plain bad.  Still others look great in training, but don’t play out so well at full speed or in real life.

Gun retention and fighting to your gun are two of these areas that have a lot of overlap and where there are a LOT of mixed training messages.

As an example, if your gun is in your hand and a bigger, stronger attacker grabs it, what do you do?

The popular gun training answer:

It’s widely taught that if someone grabs your gun, it shows intent to use lethal force. You need to know the laws and legal climate where you live, but let’s go with that for now.

Martial arts and defensive tactics instructors normally teach a version of either a twisting technique that exerts leverage on your attacker that exploits a weakness or frees the gun through pain compliance.

The other popular class of technique is a push/pull technique that uses your attacker’s mass and momentum against them and frees your gun.

Do they work? Yes. BUT, they are specialized skills that need to be practiced frequently and regularly for you to have any expectation of pulling them off successfully under stress.

Furthermore, both focus on the gun as being the main weapon, rather than the brain and central nervous system of your attacker being the weapon you need to fear.

Two things commonly happen in a fight for a gun that also need to be factored in to the equation:

First, the gun ends up going off…a LOT of the time. If your attacker has a grip on it when it goes off, it’s going to malfunction at this time and not go into battery. (“battery” is when the slide is forward, a round is chambered, and the weapon is ready to fire.)

Second, when the gun doesn’t go off, it’s very common for the gun to go out of battery and not return to battery. Sometimes, the mag release gets pressed and the mag falls to the ground too.

Both situations mean that once you get solo control of the gun, you’re holding an impact weapon and will probably going to need to AT LEAST reduce (fix) the malfunction before it will fire again. Not a game stopper…just something you need to be aware of.

So, let’s look at where we’re at at this point. If a round went off, it’s unlikely that it hit your bigger, stronger attacker. If it did hit them, there’s a good chance that it wasn’t a fight stopper. You’re standing arms length from someone who just tried to grab your gun and you’re probably holding a gun that’s in a non-firing state.

If you continue on the “the gun is the weapon” path of logic, you’d move backwards and laterally while trying to get your gun back in the fight. As you do this, your attacker will either run, surrender, or close distance to go for the gun again or start pummeling you.

In short, it’s not clean, it’s not pretty, and it’s not predictable…except that chaos and Murphy are pretty much guaranteed.

The Navy SEAL way:

Since the mid-late 80s, one of the techniques that the SEALs have been using in situations like this is to simply lean/fall/roll back and fire. In most cases, your arms will go to full extension, your attacker’s arms will go to full extension, the gun will point straight at your attacker somewhere around the mid-high chest area, and you’ll end up with a solid hit on target.

This works beautifully with a carbine (rifle) but since pistols are mediocre at best, there’s still a good chance that you’ll end up with a non-functional pistol and an attacker who is above you, holding the muzzle of your gun, and may have several seconds or minutes of fight left in them.

At this point, it’s time to go to empty hands combatives to free your pistol and/or finish the fight. As long as you know the odds, it’s an excellent gambit to play…but it’s not a 1-shot-miracle-stop with a pistol—it requires deliberate, calculated, purposeful followup. (I’ll get to this in a minute)

The Australian SAS way:

I was “playing” with a couple of Aus SAS guys last year and we were going over ways to handle this exact problem. Their solution is to carry a knife/dagger that is accessible, 1-handed, with the left hand, and use it to cut the bad guy off of your gun if he decides to grab it. This is a great, proven technique when you’re kitted out for battle, but doesn’t work for me on a daily basis.

You CAN change how you carry your knife so that you always draw and open it one-handed with your left hand and make this work, but I haven’t traveled that far down the rabbit hole.

The Ox way:

I get to play with a lot of the cool kids, but I’m no operator, and I’ve got no pedigree or “creds”, but, unlike Ricky Bobby, I AM a thinker.

I’ve upset literally dozens of firearms, DT (defensive tactics), and martial arts instructors with my approach, but whenever I am put into this situation and asked what I’d do, my answer is “Punch his throat…if he can’t breathe, it might distract him from fighting me for my gun for a second or two to get control of my gun and do whatever I need to do.”

And it doesn’t have to be a throat punch. It could be a heel stomp to the instep, an eye gouge, clapping the ear, or another strike that elicits a spinal/central nervous system response that interrupts your attacker’s OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) loop.

Regardless of which option is best, this approach is fundamentally different because it focuses on the BRAIN and central nervous system of your attacker being the “weapon” rather than seeing the gun as the weapon…which may or may not be able to fire projectiles by the time either of you “win” the battle for the gun.

Control your attackers OODA loop, and you control the fight.

If you’re not familiar with the OODA loop, here’s another way to look at it. If you punch someone in the throat, jam your finger in their eye, or clap your hand over their ear (rupturing their eardrum), you “short circuit” higher level thought and your attacker’s “primal” brain focuses 100% on the turmoil you just caused…it’s like hitting the reset button on a computer. Their brain will work at full speed again in a few seconds, but it’s not going to get much done in the meantime until it gets booted up again.

In the context of a fight for a gun, it means that their thought will go from getting control of your gun to protecting the part of their body that you just destroyed…even if just for a moment.

During this “reset” time, you can keep piling on strikes and/or get solo control of your gun, get it into battery, and use it (if necessary) to stop the fight or engage additional attackers.

The critical component of this is that if you and an attacker are fighting over your gun, the gun is not what you need to worry about—it’s your attacker’s brain’s intent and willingness to kill you that you need to worry about. Take out your attacker’s brain’s ability to focus on killing you and you eliminate the threat.  You could have 20 guns and 20 knives within arms reach of both you and your attacker, but if your attacker doesn’t have the ability to use them, the guns and knives are not a threat to you.

The gun is simply a tool, and if your attacker is close enough to fight you for your gun, he’s close enough to use any number of tools to hurt/kill you besides your gun…including hands, elbows, etc.

Are the fancy push/pull and rotational gun retention/takeaway techniques invalid? Absolutely not. They work. They just work a LOT better if you punch your opponent in the throat or jam your thumb in his eye first.

And the best part is, the same tactic works for a lady with a purse or a man with something of value…punch an attacker in the throat and everything else you try afterwards will be more effective.

Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Share them by commenting below:

This next part is important.

I’d be lying and doing you a disservice if I said I came up with this approach.  The majority of it came from Tim Larkin’s Target Focus Training.

It has it’s roots in the Chinese warrior martial art of Kung-Fu San Soo, was refined and enhanced during black-ops missions in Vietnam, further refined in the First Gulf War, and honed to a fine edge with law enforcement, military, and civilians in the 13+ years since the Global War On Terror began.

It was designed for Navy SEALs for situations where they’d been out in the field for weeks at a time, were dehydrated, tired, malnourished, probably dealing with injuries, carrying a full load, and encountering someone who was fresh and ready for a fight.

Ironically, this set of requirements make the system ideal for civilians and law enforcement facing younger, faster, stronger attackers with little or no notice.

To learn more about the TFT “Fight To Your Gun” system, which costs less than a single month at a typical Crossfit or Krav Maga gym, click >HERE<

(If you don’t get the “Ricky Bobby” comment, click >here< to see the video snippit from “Talledaga Nights.”  It’s a tad inappropriate, it’ll be 2 minutes of your life that you never get back and you’ll probably be a tad bit dumber after watching it, but my wife and I love it and you WILL be entertained.)



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  1. Scott Mattson says:

    Being trained in Tae Kwon Do, my first reaction is to secure the gun with both hands, then use a side kick to the top of the knee, or the instep (as mentioned). Even if the attacker doesn’t have both hands on the weapon, a side kick allows you to lean back out of the attacker’s reach. Actually, if you are trained and kick fast enough, a snap kick to the groin, followed by a side kick to the abdomen might push the attacker away/release his grip. I’m not an expert, but after about 10 years of training, that’s my gut reaction. Advice?

    • Scott,

      If you can get a blue gun without a trigger guard (and possibly with the sights ground down) I’d try your technique…but try it in a few different phases:

      Phase 1, start arms-length from your attacker and have them try to jam your draw or grab your blue gun at full speed. When the struggle for control starts, both of you stop moving and see what options you have. Experience tells me that you’ll either be off balance or have a low/wide stance and your kicking options will be limited. YOU MAY BE DIFFERENT and may be able to pull off knee kicks and groin kicks during a fight for a gun. I can’t do it reliably.

      Phase 2. Start having your attacker try to rip the gun from your hands (better if you’re both wearing gloves and THERE IS NO TRIGGER GUARD) With that proximity and motion, see if knee/groin kicks are reliable for you.

      #3, Look for videos of fights over guns (yes…I need to compile and post them) and see what works and what doesn’t work. Oftentimes, a fight for a gun goes primal in the blink of an eye…beyond the level that you can safely train at full speed without risk of injury. Make sure your technique is compatible with what you see.

      #4, when you’ve got something that works, try it when you’re up against a wall, in a corner, in a chair, or on the ground on your back.

  2. In a life or death struggle, there are no rules for fighting, so fight dirty. Good info!

  3. Albert Nygren says:

    One the best ways to prevent someone from getting your gun is to carry it concealed so they won’t know you have one. That has to be coupled with “situational awareness” (Jeff Cooper), so that you are aware of all people around you, all the time, and don’t let anyone suspicious get close to you. If none of those work, the author’s 3 pronged approach seems reasonable, if the other person stands still in front of you and lets you use them. I do like the idea of carrying an effective, one hand opening pocket knife in the non strong hand pocket to cut the Bad Guy’s wrist if they actually get their hand on your gun.

    Of course, some very effective techniques that I use are to: never go in bars, never drink alcohol, dump your girl friend or wife that has extremely bad temper she can’t control herself when angry and gets drunk frequently, and things of that nature.

    These actions I mention have actually saved my life on more than one occasion.

  4. I am a 78 year old man, in very good shape, but no match for a 18 yr. old punk with malice aforethought. That being said, having taken Tim Larkin’s excellent video courses, I have no doubt that I have the ability to seriously injure an attacker with my bare hands. Think about it. Even a two year old can render a 200 lb. man incapacitated with a thumb to the eye. It only takes a second to injure your attacker, gain control of an injured assailant and get back in the fight. Thanks for the reminder, OX. Time for a refresher course of Tim’s training.

  5. Like a cross pen, just about any hard/sharp object will work. A Serengeti flashlight gets their attention every time. But the strobe in the eyes or edge in the face breaks the OODA. Use what’s at hand. We were taught the thumb web to the throat; won’t crush the windpipe but sure sets them back.

  6. I agree and I disagree. If it is THAT close the gun is the FIRST thing you need to worry about. However this is only in the context of getting the muzzle in a position as to not get shot or hit someone else (other than the fool that attacked you). THEN I say kick, punch, stab, slap, knee or elbow that sucker wherever you need to to slow his computer down. THEN get control of your weapon. In Juijitsu we start slow. One step at a time. with every scenario we can think of. As you set your neural pathways you slowly speed up until you are doing it in real time. OVER, OVER and over again. Very soon you will find you are performing every step without even thinking about it. PAIN is the great motivator!

  7. Train the techniques that you can execute, when under the highest stress situation you can safely replicate. I support TFT’s methods and am trained in others. TFT’s value is it’s focus on debilitating injury, which even a gun shot or knife do not guarantee.
    I am not a shill for TFT or “Ox”, that is just my opinion.

  8. That is some no nonsense, get to the point action.

  9. Firewagon says:

    “….as hard as a diamond in an ice storm….”

    Even Superman isn’t that hard – ole Ricky has no need for any of those techniques, he’s knife and bullet proof! 😉

  10. I always carry a Cross metal pin – the skinny little silver or gold ones. They make great offensive or defensive weapons, don’t bend easily, make ideal weapons for targeting ear canal, eyes, or throat along jaw line. they make it thru TSA at airports, and can even be used in a pinch to sign something. but they are last resort.

    • I too am a fan of the metal pen as a defensive tool. Zebra makes a heavy duty metal pen, the F-701, that is as effective as the Cross Classic Century at about a quarter the price. I’d much rather beat up an $8 pen than one that cost $32. But which ever price you’re comfortable with, I agree that the pen can be mightier than the proverbial sword in more ways than one. 😀

  11. I do not get Rickety Bobby, but that ferocity is what Tim teaches–taught us live in NYC.

  12. Or you could just shoot the bastard. What do you have the gun for in the first place????

    • Thanks Kev…but the situation that I mentioned is when you’re in a fight for your gun and using it isn’t an option.


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