Transitioning from Handgun to Hand-to-Hand: A Wakeup Call

Transitioning from Handgun to Hand-to-Hand: A Wakeup Call

Transitioning from Handgun to Hand-to-Hand: A Wakeup Call

While this article is of  course written “for information purposes only”, I have to open by stressing that there’s a lot to learn about this topic and that these skills really need to be taught by a professional and practiced regularly and often. You can’t armchair-commando your way to success this time; we’re all going to have to get down and dirty.

So with that out of the way, let’s return to the topic at hand and discuss why we might need to transition from your CCW sidearm to hand-to-hand solutions. You may not have time to draw before the threat is on top of you, even if you are practicing pitch-perfect situational awareness. Your gun may run dry, or hit a malfunction. You may even . . .

OK, knock it off, you. Yes, you. You in the back telling me all about how your GLOCK/M1911/Sig-Sauer magic-pistol has never so much as had a hiccup in over a 100,000 rounds of combat use. Stop that right now: things can and will go wrong, you will miss warning signs, failures do happen. Accept that and train for it.

So how do you make the leap from using your concealed carry weapon to an unarmed or H2H solution? Well, that depends. If you’re just shooting at close quarters, weapons retention becomes key—even if you throw the firearm clear of your immediate assailant, they may have a friend lurking nearby. Getting finished off with your own gun is terminally humiliating, so don’t let it happen.  There are a host of retention techniques available, and they generally come down to the same things: controlling space, keeping your nemesis from getting an effective grip on your weapon, and responding with the tools you have available, armed or unarmed. The folks at Shivworks have some sobering videos of the drills they run, so take a moment and check those out; there’s a lot to be learned from them.

While the techniques and tactics you use will depend on your training, discipline, and body type, but it has to be said again: this is a fight for your life, and you need to train on it. Close-quarters fighting is bad enough, but adding a knife or a gun makes a lethal outcome more or less certain. It’s gruesome to say, but you need to be the one standing when all’s said and done.

So get in shape, get some training, and keep those skills sharp via the three-fold secret of practice, practice, practice. And practice needs to be hard. Your body should be sore, you should be messy and bruised, and your precious sidearm may have to endure being dropped onto the uncaring ground below. Real training should take place under realistic conditions, in your street clothes, and against an resistant partner. Nothing else will do.

Now, speaking of practicing: the good news is that there are some skills you can master at the range, on your own.  They’re not exactly hand-to-hand skills, but they are good drills for learning to create and maintain space, retain control of your weapon, and address some of the other hassles that inevitably come with this sort of confrontation. At a minimum, you should start working these into your repertoire.

I think that’s the best we’re going to do in the space allotted. Please get out there, train hard, and if you have any resources or insights to share, please jump into the comments section and let us know. We’re all learning, and your knowledge may make a huge difference for someone else.

Photo By WarnichtmehrfreiOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
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Michael Jenkins is a writer and editor based in Wilmington, North Carolina. He is a lifelong reader, gardener, shooter, and musician. You can reach him at
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Some pistols have enough mass and solidity that they can be used as bludgeons in the even one runs out of ammo. The 1911 comes to mind…That said, if you can get out of there, great. Some of us can’t run so well so the options become limited and it also depends on what the attacker is like, meaning size, skill, what they are armed with. If you have to go mano a mano, there are no rules. Just remember that. Anything goes.

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Some Rabbit

If I learned anything from watching the old “Superman” TV series as a kid, it’s that when your gun jams or runs out of ammo, you throw it at your adversary and then run away. Although, after seeing your bullets bounce off Superman’s chest why would you think that throwing the gun itself would have any effect?


1911 is a good piece of steel, you can hit them with in case of malfunction, just don’t point the barrel at yourself at any time doing it. It might un-jam…