The Pistol as Impact Weapon

This article originally appeared on Active Response Training. It appears here in its entirety with permission. If you’re smart enough to read Breach-Bang-Clear on a regular basis, then you’ll have heard us talk about Gorillafritz (Greg Ellifritz) before. Gorillafritz is like a swoll-up, retard-strong idiot savant when it comes to tactics, and he has a keenly analytical mind too. Mad Duo 

Brought to you today in part by Raven Concealment Systems (@ravenconcealment) and their badass Vanguard line of minimalist holsters.

Your Tactical Training Scenario: Pistol as Impact Weapon

Greg Ellifritz, Active Response Training

Have you ever considered using your handgun as an impact weapon? Before you do, you may want to think about a few things.

Take a look at this article. A cop used his pistol to break a car window and accidentally cranked off a round. Don’t think that trying to break a window with the butt of a pistol is an isolated incident. I’m aware of an officer from a police department near me doing the same thing. Luckily the gun didn’t go off. The strike did, however, rip off the floorplate of his magazine and showered the roadway with cartridges he might have needed if the confrontation became more serious.

The problems with using the handgun as an impact weapon are twofold. The first is that you may accidentally fire the weapon. This happens quite regularly. Here is another story where an armed citizen accidentally fired his weapon while striking an attacker with the pistol. The other problem is that you may damage your pistol or render it incapable of firing. Breaking your gun or firing a round unintentionally are negative consequences you will definitely want to avoid.

 Is there ever a reason to hit someone or something with your pistol?

Guns should not be used to break windows. But there are  a few instances when it is advantageous to use a drawn pistol as an impact weapon.

Here’s my question to you: Under what circumstances would you hit someone with your pistol and how would you do it so as to maximize damage to the bad guy while minimizing damage to your gun?

I can see two possible situations where using a pistol as an impact weapon would be a useful tactic.

The first one is if your gun has malfunctioned or is empty in a contact distance fight. In that case, we don’t have to worry so much about firing an unintended round. The pistol won’t work, so using it as an impact weapon seems completely reasonable.

I’ve even trained with instructors who advocated adding a simulated muzzle strike to the “tap, rack, assess” malfunction clearance procedure when at extremely close range. It makes sense in that scenario. Why not smash the guy in the face to buy you time to clear your malfunction?

The second instance is when you have a gun out in hand and the threat becomes physical, but non-lethal.

Let’s say that as a cop I respond to a call about a person who is reportedly armed with a firearm. As I approach, I’ll probably have my pistol in hand. What happens when the suspect is actually unarmed, but physically attacks me before I can reholster my gun? I don’t want the suspect to grab my gun. I don’t want to take the time to reholster when I’m under attack,  but I really don’t want to shoot the suspect either.

In this situation, a strike with the pistol may be an effective option. If I would be justified using a more traditional impact weapon like a baton to defend myself, the emergency use of a handgun as an impact weapon would likely also be acceptable, assuming I have enough trigger finger disciple to avoid shooting an unarmed suspect.

So, how would I hit someone with a pistol in such a manner that I avoid damaging the weapon?

In this article, Mike Seeklander tried a variety of different pistol strikes against a “BOB” dummy and then attempted to fire rounds from the handgun he had used for the strikes.  None of the strikes he used either broke the guns or caused them to malfunction.

I would be extremely cautious about using one of the pistol strikes he illustrates. The “hammer strike” he demonstrates (using the trigger guard and bottom of the barrel as a striking surface) may work well with a modern polymer pistol. It may not work so well with a steel or aluminum framed handgun. Handguns with metal trigger guards can bend if hit hard enough.  I would hate to collapse my trigger guard behind my trigger so that it blocks the trigger from moving rearward. I don’t like the “hammer strike” with a pistol.

Instead, when striking with the pistol, either punch with the muzzle or hit the person using a “ridge hand”-like hooking strike with the top of the slide. These two methods are least likely to jam or damage your gun.

Seeklander demonstrating the top of the slide “ridge hand” strike.

If you choose to hit someone with your pistol, you MUST keep your trigger finger out of the trigger guard and high up along the frame or slide of the weapon.  Don’t take the chance that you’ll accidentally fire a round when doing so isn’t legally justified.

It would be a good idea to occasionally practice these strikes using a simulated firearm and a heavy bag or “BOB” target like the one showed above. Get a feel for the mechanics of the strike before you have to utilize it under pressure in the real world.

Like many other firearms techniques, proper practice is the key to success.

If you would like to read more articles like this one, please sign up for my email updates.


This article originally appeared on Active Response Training

This article was made in part by Leupold (@leupoldoptics), a member of JTF Awesome.
Leupold Optics – accurate, rugged, and now customizable.

Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!

Comms Plan

Primary: Subscribe to the Breach-Bang-Clear newsletter here; you can also support us on Patreon and find us on Pinterest.

Alternate: Join us on Facebook here or check us out on Instagram here.

Contingency: Exercise your inner perv with us on Tumblr here, follow us on Twitter here or connect on Google + here.

Emergency: Activate firefly, deploy green (or brown) star cluster, get your wank sock out of your ruck and stand by ’til we come get you.

About the Author: Greg Ellifritz is a veteran police officer with over 2 decades of service, and one who has traveled extensively around the world to many remote locations (including some rather unpleasant ones). He’s a master instructor in a wide variety of weapons and is widely sought after as an SME in topics as varying as extreme close quarters shooting and post-collapse medicine. He is the lead instructor for Active Response Training through which auspices he instructs civilian, LE and military students around the country. Interested persons would do well to check his website at least once a week for his regular Weekend Knowledge Dump.

News Desk

Reported on today by the News Desk. Our goal is to inform, educate, edify, and enlighten. Warrior-scholar or everyman, we believe everyone should think and be dangerous.

News Desk has 272 posts and counting. See all posts by News Desk

3 thoughts on “The Pistol as Impact Weapon

  • July 27, 2017 at 11:38 am

    A grandfather was an old time sheriff in Arkansas. When I was young he would bounce PET milk cans around in the back yard with a .45 LC SAA. Having noticed what had to have been a bullet scar in the palm of his right hand, I inquired. Well, he said, back before the war (the Great War, WWI), I traded my Ree-volver off on one of those new fancy Colts that shot the short bullet (.45acp). Turned out it was a biting gun. First time I clubbed someone between the horns with the butt of that pistol, it went off and bit me through the palm. So I went back to the old ree-volver. I could hit them as hard as I wanted with it and it never went off.

  • July 20, 2017 at 9:52 am

    I can tell you from personal experience that blood will F’up the finish on a blued firearm. Just sayin’. My duty weapon back in the 70s was a S&W Bull bbl Mod 10 that saw it’s share of “non-traditional ” usage in an urban environment. And oh yeah, certain types of glass can cut steel, or at least gouge it.

    I doubt modern “tupperware” firearms can stand that kind of abuse, which is just as well I suppose.

  • July 20, 2017 at 2:01 am

    I’d be worried about the ‘edge’ technique shown in the photo- mostly that it might effect the battery of the weapon.

    Then again policy matters, too. Where I worked if you struck someone with any impact weapon- baton, flashlight, misc.- in the head, you were using deadly force and had better be justified. So if I’m at that point where I feel my only option is to smash someone in the head with any part of my gun, I’m probably better off just shooting.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *