Krav Maga – The Gun

Krav Maga: The Gun – A basic self-defence strategy guide

UTKM Krav Maga Gun Disarms.jpg

The gun is the tool that changed the world. Where once only the wealthy and elite had the time to train for hand-to-hand combat, while the rest were too busy just trying to survive, the arrival of firearm made it so that the everyman could more reasonably defend themselves. It also changed how wars were fought, as no longer could we rely on the bravery of the full-on cavalry charge. Firearms truly changed the world, in many ways slowly leading to the democracy we have today, as we consider them “the great social equalizer.

From a fundamental self-defence perspective, what is a firearm? It is a straight line attack that offers an effective attack range greater than that of our bodies’ normal capabilities.

From a technical standpoint disarming guns is easier than dealing with knives. However, it is rarely as easy as you think. What if the opponent resists or you miss the initial disarm? When things go wrong, which we should assume they will, you will need to revert to your fundamental hand-to-hand combat skills while gaining control of the weapon in question. This, despite what many Krav Maga organizations believe, makes firearm disarms more advanced in nature and not a technique for beginners.

Disarming Guns:

You must remember that guns are a long-range weapon, therefore you will only be able to disarm them if the attacker has been foolish enough to get within arm’s reach, and has failed to control you in a manner that would prevent you from moving to disarm. This includes pistols, rifles, and shotguns.

Disarming rifles and shotguns is actually far easier than disarming pistols, due to the size difference. Pistols are meant for shorter range engagements than rifles, which makes them more dangerous at the closer ranges we need to be in to disarm them.

Disarming a gun, unlike knives, should always be done from the standing position, and takedown attempts are strongly advised against as you may lose muzzle control in the process.

How to Deal With Gun Attacks:

No matter the type of the firearm, the main things to consider are your range from the attacker and what tools you have in your proverbial toolbox. Another consideration is whether the attacker is an active shooter or a static threat.

Active Shooter

  1. Run and Find Cover – This is always the best option if you are unarmed and able to escape. Though when a gun is involved you may not be able to run, or you may need to protect others.
  2. Use a Gun and SHOOT BACK! – In Israel, this is a “real knife defence.” However, you need to ask yourself the following.
    1. Is it legal where you are to have a gun on you for self-defence?
    2. Do you have a legal gun on you?
    3. Do you have the required skills to control and safely operate the gun under duress?
  3. Charge Them – This does not mean charge them head-on, though this is a possibility if the gunman is a terrible shot, particularly with a handgun. If they have a rifle or shotgun, then charging head-on is not advisable. Regardless, the faster the threat is taken down the faster everyone is safe. If more than one person advances from different angles, charging and jumping on the attacker, this is the fastest way to stop the threat. Just know, there is no guarantee you will not be hurt, thus this is not a action to take lightly. Fundamentally, you must overwhelm the gunman by causing pain, off balancing, and disrupting, all while gaining control of the weapon.

Something else to consider is other people. There is a belief in gun disarms that you must never point the gun at anyone but the attacker. While this is certainly preferable, trying too hard not to point the weapon at other people during the disarm attempt may result in hesitation and failure. So long as you do not get shot you can stop the threat, which is the main goal. If someone is an active shooter, then their goal is to shoot and kill as many people as possible. By going for them and the gun you will 100% reduce the overall casualties, and if you think otherwise you may not understand the mentality of such people. If you do disarm a gun from an active shooter and in the process someone else gets shot, just know that it is NOT your fault; you did the right thing, and the death toll would have been higher had you not.

Static Threat: Disarming a Gun

If you are able to get close enough to actually get a hold of the gun, then you are in luck, your attacker has failed to leverage their tactical advantage of range.

These scenarios may also be one of those times that you regret not taking acting classes. This is because a person near to you with a gun may not be looking to shoot you, but they may be. You might need to act in a manner that allows you to get into disarm range; feigning weakness or playing along with what they want.

That being said, the notion that “just do what they want” is always the correct decision, is false. It MAY be the correct decision in a given situation, but it also may result in your death. Only you will know, only you can decide. Sometimes the gunman may leave after you do what they want, sometimes they will kill you just because it’s easier not to have witnesses, or sometimes they just might panic and shoot you accidentally. This is why in Krav Maga we teach that you must stop the threat before it becomes worse.

It is also important to remember the gun operates as a straight line attack, which means you need to get off the “centre line,” either by re-directing the gun or moving your body, or both. Consider also that fine motor movement is not preferred in Krav Maga, as it is less reliable under duress, yet when it comes to guns you may need to employ fine motor movements to grab the gun. In order of priority, you must first push the weapon off the centre line, and then grab it. At speed it appears to be one step, but it must always be two distinct steps.

Regardless, at all points, you MUST control the muzzle direction of the weapon, as that is the dangerous part.

  1. Get Off the Centre Line by Re-Directing the Gun – The first goal is to get off the centre line while immediately controlling the weapon. If it is a modern pistol, and it is appropriate based on the range, you should have no problem re-directing then grabbing the pistol, as you will be grabbing the slide rather than the barrel. If it is a revolver or certain long guns, then grabbing the barrel is strongly NOT advised, in which case you may consider the next step as your first step. Many teach grabbing the barrel first in disarms. However, this is a deeply flawed strategy, especially with a rifle, as grabbing the barrel will not stop the gun from functioning. Even after one shot it will be extremely hot, which may cause you to let go prematurely. If you cannot safely get hands on a part of the gun that is plastic, composite, or wood, then move to the next step.
  2. Get Off the Centre Line by Re-Directing the Weapon Arm – If you are unable to get hands on the gun in your first move, then you must re-direct the weapon arm. It is even more important, especially when dealing with a pistol, that you get your head and body off the centre line as well. The reason this needs to happen is that the gun itself is too close to safely re-direct and grab, or you missed the gun and had to go for the arm.
  3. Control the Weapon Arm(s) – Once you are safely off the centre line you must firmly control the weapon arm. While your goal is to disarm the gun as fast as possible, against a strong or aggressive person this can be difficult. Thus it is imperative that you control the weapon arm so that you remain off the centre line.
  4. Disarm the Gun– This must be done as fast as possible as the quicker a gunman is disarmed, the quicker the threat is reduced. The individual may still be a threat even without the gun, but at least it is out of their hands. There are only a few positions that you will end up in, with either pistols or long guns, so train and memorize them so that, no matter what happens in a disarm attempt, you can identify the position and employ the correct disarm. Either way, Control the Muzzle, preferably pointed at the attacker when possible.
  5. Create Space and Assess – Once you have the weapon you must immediately create space. Remember, the advantage of the gun is range, if you stay close you could also be disarmed in turn. Disarming a person does not completely stop them as a threat, so you must be ready to deal with them appropriately.  This step can get a little complicated depending on your skill set and the scenario, but here are a few possibilities:
    1. Back away, with your non-shooting hand up in a defensive position, with the gun down. This is best for civilians. If you disarm the gun and then immediately point it at the attacker, who will look like the problem when the police arrive? Keep the space and be verbally dominant.
      1. a) In a situation where you have disarmed the gun but didn’t create sufficient space, use the gun as a blunt force weapon. Metal, composite material, and wood will hurt far more than a fist. This must be a step, as the assumption you can always use the gun as intended, is a dangerous assumption; it may not be loaded, or even functional, thus “pistol whipping” becomes a great option to do massive damage to the attacker.
    2. Create space, tap and rack, and be prepared to use the gun. This is the standard advice often given. If the gun was loaded, or had ammunition in it, and is functioning this could be the answer. Tapping and “Racking,” or chambering a round, may act as a deterrent to the attacker. However, if they attempt to call your bluff then you must be prepared to use the weapon. If you are not, then you better be prepared to move back, fast, as you attempt to maintain space.
    3. If you have your own firearm, after you disarm and create space, draw your firearm. It is preferable to use your own weapon, as you know what state it is in at all times (or should). However, this option can be slow, especially if your weapon doesn’t have a round chambered. It also means you might be shooting with only one hand, which will decrease your accuracy.

Regardless of which option you find yourself using, it requires good assessment. This is a second-by-second decision making process based on your skill, the attacker, the environment, and many other factors. The correct decision is very relative and can be difficult to make. The important part is that you DO NOT hesitate. Make a decision fast, and hope your training, if you have any, kicks in.

These many reasons are why we at UTKM do not consider anything firearms related as beginner material, and we therefore limit this training to advanced students.

*Topics under any principle category (Eg. Krav Maga Principles) may be updated from time to time.  So check-in every few months to see if the posts have been updated.