Most people understand that carrying a pocket pistol is a calculated compromise. Because pocket pistols are typically small, those who carry them accept that the guns are, by nature, close-range weapons. Unfortunately, when the nature of your weapon forces you to be closer to your target, you must also learn to cope with the fact that your target—in the form of a living, breathing and very dangerous attacker—is also closer to you. To be able to employ your pocket pistol effectively, you must be able to perceive the threat, access and deploy your gun, and shoot it well enough to get accurate, stopping hits on target. When you’re admittedly doing all that at close range, things can get complicated very quickly.

Conventional CQB Defense Tactics
One option to address a sudden, close-range attack—like an assailant armed with a knife, tire iron or other contact-distance weapon—is to simply draw and shoot. The classic example of this is the “speed rock,” which involves drawing the gun from belt-level carry, quickly orienting the muzzle toward the target and leaning backward as you deliver fire. To keep your non-gun hand safe, it’s usually indexed against your chest as you shoot. Although this may seem like a good idea, functionally what you’re doing is training to react to an attacker’s stab, cut or strike by purposely lowering both your hands. The odds that he’ll be able to successfully target you in the process are high.

Another option to get your gun into the fight against a close-range attack is to use a conventional draw. Typically, this involves assuming a solid grip on the gun while simultaneously indexing your support hand against your torso. Once the gun clears the holster and you orient it toward the target, your support hand slides safely under it to create a two-handed firing grip. This draw works extremely well provided you have adequate time and a safe distance from your attacker to execute it. However, if your attacker is close enough to be stabbing, cutting or striking while you’re drawing, you once again have a major problem.

One of the other disadvantages of a traditional draw is that it typically conditions you to extend the gun toward the target. In a close-range encounter, this habit can give your attacker the opportunity to grab your gun or your arm and either disarm you or, at the very least, prevent you from shooting accurately. To avoid this, you should practice alternative shooting techniques that keep the gun close to your body while still allowing you to shoot effectively—what’s commonly known as a “weapon-retention” position.

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