Handgun Retention Training

In a time when department firearms training budgets are stressed by high ammo prices and sometimes short supplies, incorporating other aspects of firearms training, such as handgun retention, is a good, less expensive way to work on other essential...


The important measure is still the Bambi vs. Godzilla test. Many cops tend to be physical beings and see themselves as Godzilla. Or, at least they want to prove that they can be Godzilla. Officers who spend any time on the street, however, find out that there is always someone bigger, or stronger, or meaner, or just psychologically or chemically "enhanced" beyond any cognitive pain threshold. And those are the ones who are likely to want to take your gun. You need to focus your maximum strength on one task at a time, do it smoothly and effectively, and then move on.

Retention--Gun and Knowledge

How complicated are leverage techniques to learn? Well, our class next week will last a full eight hours. It will also include practice on disarming, using the same principles. There are cases, particularly in close quarters confrontations with an armed opponent, when it is easier to take their gun away than it is to access your own--if you know how.

Periodic refresher training, at least annually, is important. When Mas Ayoob was studying Jim Lindell's methods, he interviewed officers at the KCRPA who were returning for annual refresher training. He was able to question them before they refreshed, and observed that, although the officers did not retain all the fine points, they were able to remember enough to make the techniques work. The biggest stumbling block I've seen seems to be that officers want to revert to brute force whenever they are attacked. I've seen officers who, on their own time, trained in martial arts at the local dojo. But, when some bozo on the street attacked them, they got into a "wrasslin' match," rolling around on the ground and trading punches. I suppose there's some primal psychological forces at work there. But, for me, having been like the "before" picture in the Charles Atlas advertisements for most of my life, I just want to keep control and get it over with. Leverage will do that.

And now, a few words about safety. Safety precautions that ensure that there are no live weapons or ammunition in the training environment are mandatory. Departments should consider investing in some dummy guns that will fit their duty holsters. If real guns are used, they MUST be effectively disabled before they can be used for training. We have a procedure that involves taping up triple-checked unloaded duty guns. Others may remove barrels and firing pins from old guns that are no longer in service. The key is they have to be identifiable as "safe" training guns. And, there can be no practicing allowed outside of the training environment with any gun that can still function as a firearm. In other words, no locker room: "Hey, just show me that move real quick" kind of thing. Loaded guns find their way into such situations and tragedy follows.

In a time when department firearms training budgets are stressed by high ammo prices and sometimes short supplies, incorporating other aspects of firearms training, such as handgun retention, is a good, less expensive way to work on other essential firearms skills. The biggest investment in handgun retention training is the time it takes to practice. About a day of initial training, then a few hours for a periodic refresher, and officers can have real confidence in their ability to keep control of the deadly weapon they carry every day--the one weapon that is always present.

  • Enhance your experience.

    Thank you for your regular readership of and visits to Officer.com. To continue viewing content on this site, please take a few moments to fill out the form below and register on this website.

    Registration is required to help ensure your access to featured content, and to maintain control of access to content that may be sensitive in nature to law enforcement.