Tactical weapon retention

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Live side weapon retention
In this case, since the officer is right handed and the suspect grabs a hold of the handgun to the officer’s right side, it is a live side grab.

The biomechanics are slightly different, because the body position does not allow the officer simply to drive his shoulder to the suspect’s wrists (shoulder range of motion). Therefore, the officer will turn around, using a “U” motion with his hands to overcome the suspect’s hold and bring the handgun so it is pointing at the suspect.

The officer has a few options, and tactical scenario will dictate the solution (time, location, number of officer, location in file, etc.). The officer can fire his handgun at the suspect. Since the suspect has his hands on the handgun, the officer may find it hard to get on target, or the grab may have created a malfunction. The officer can use a front kick to drive the suspect back (staying aware of not shooting own foot off). The officer also has the option of continuing his turn to make it a “dead side” grab and address the way described above. Please note that the last option is not valid if there are other officers pilled up behind him: muzzle direction, and blocking the passage are both issues to consider.

The officer will move out of the way, following the suspect into the room if tactically that is the best resolution.

General comments
Once the weapon has been retained two things must happen, and they must happen fast: first, a malfunction clearing procedure should take place. Every time anyone puts their hands on your weapon you should assume a malfunction occurred. Better to clear a weapon and lose a round than not clear it and find out later there is a malfunction. As a new round is being chambered the officer needs to move out of the way to allow the file behind him to keep moving. Using the above described scenario, the officer should use his weapon, muzzle side, to punch forward at the suspect following him into the room and allowing the file behind him to advance. The officer can now determine, using his judgment and experience, what his next action should be. If this is a life threatening situation then firing his gun may be appropriate. If the threat has subsided he may be able to prone the suspect and arrest him. The tactical component of the operator may also dictate the follow up actions: a police officer may opt to arrest, where a military operator has no such concern.

Tzviel (BK) Blankchtein, a defensive tactics instructor, is founder and president of Masada Tactical, and may be contacted through the company’s Web site. Readers may send him questions on topics and issues which are of interest to them. He will post some of these questions, and his answers to them, in the column.