When most people hear the term “handgun retention,” they typically imagine law enforcement or military personnel carrying handguns in open duty holsters. While that’s not necessarily wrong, it doesn’t address the full scope of the topic. It also doesn’t excuse civilian shooters from having and practicing the skills to maintain control over their guns during a defensive encounter. Whether you are a civilian or a duty-bound law enforcement, military or security professional, if a bad guy knows you have a gun, he may very well try to take it from you. In simple terms, this can happen in one of three ways: the assailant can try to take it from your holster, the assailant can try to disarm you once you’ve drawn the gun, or, while you and your gun are focused on the assailant, a secondary threat may attempt to disarm you. Let’s look at all three of these possibilities from the perspective of the civilian CCW permit holder.

Preventing Gun Grabs
If you carry a concealed handgun for defensive purposes, the best way to prevent a gun grab is to make sure it’s actually concealed effectively. As obvious as this may seem, many novice CCW holders (and an alarming number of experienced ones) don’t understand the subtleties of carrying a gun and don’t do it well. Whether it’s a poorly chosen or positioned holster, an inadequate cover garment or self-conscious carry habits, if your gun is poorly concealed, you risk having someone try to take it from you. Do your research, invest in good equipment, and, if possible, talk to some experienced CCW holders to learn how to carry your gun discreetly.

If you keep your gun well concealed, the bad guy shouldn’t be aware of its presence until you choose to draw it. Obviously, you must be justified in doing so, which means that you have identified a tangible threat and are in fear for your life or in fear of grievous bodily injury. In a perfect world, you will have identified that threat from a significant distance and can draw and, if necessary, shoot your firearm from well beyond arm’s length. Unfortunately, the world is an imperfect place, so it’s possible that your attacker may be close enough to touch you or quickly close the distance with you. If that’s the case, you need to guard against contact-distance weapon attacks and simultaneously maintain your ability to shoot your attacker without giving him or her the chance to grab your gun. The key to doing all that is a sound weapon-retention position…

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