width="240" height="80">

DCNC Handgun Retention AAR

Posted by JFranz On August 2, 2013 ADD COMMENTS

DCNC Handgun Retention
July 28, 2013
East Cost Fighter Gym, Charlotte, NC


Give recent high profile cases in the news, and given the consideration of multiple reports or videos of physical altercations involving deadly force or armed combatants, a quality course that covers techniques and tactics for retaining a firearm when locked in hand to hand combat seems like a wise choice for those interested in self-defense, or even for those in the law enforcement community.   I see a lot of folks posting about training priorities on a plethora of gun and self-defense related websites, and hand-to-hand seems to rank high as of late.  However, when you probe the authors as to what they are doing to move those well-intentioned priorities from a plan of action to reality, few are following through.  Fortunately, those of us here in the Carolina’s have a great source for such training in Defensive Concepts NC.  Chris Clifton has the real world experience and extensive training in the martial arts to greatly increase the knowledge and skill of those willing to learn.


We met on a hot and steaming Sunday morning at East Cost Fighter in Charlotte, NC.  This well-equipped training facility specializes in Brazilian Jujitsu (BJJ).  12 students were in attendance with a wide variety of background in martial arts and shooting.  After introductions and a brief warm up involving light calisthenics and stretching, Chris and Steve introduced several empty hand skills, such as blocking moves designed to thwart blows to the head, a few distractive striking techniques, and a few ground moves rooted in BJJ designed to give you leverage and the upper hand against an attacker attempting to take your firearm in hand to hand combat.


Once we drilled the basics several times to gain a basic familiarity, we first worked retaining a weapon when it is already out of the holster.  We worked positions when the struggling over a weapon at a low position and at a high position.  I can say that it is much more advantageous to have the gun at a low position when struggling over it, and in fact when someone comes underneath it and pushes it to a high position, the objective is to get it back down below the chest to retain it and win the fight.  While I am not a “one size fits all” type of guy, and understand there are certainly times when a high port position is appropriate, I can say that for CQB activities, I believe a low ready position has distinct advantages when it comes to struggling over a gun.


After working with the weapon out of the holster, we worked on scenarios in which the gun is still in the holster and an assailant is forcibly trying to disarm you.  We worked many different scenarios standing, kneeling, on the ground, from the front, from the back, from the side, etc.  Techniques that allow you to control the weapon even if it comes out of the holster and even if it is discharged were emphasized.  During this portion of the class, the importance of quality gear, such as holster, attachment methods, and belts, were blaringly apparent.  More on that in a minute.



This class was both eye opening, and exhausting.  Those that have trained under my tutelage know that I am a big proponent of physical fitness as a must in defending your life or the lives of loved ones.  This class brings that concept into full light.  We often struggled for 30 second intervals with the use of a timer, and only at 50 to 75% of full force and speed.  That 30 seconds felt like an eternity, and students were physically and emotionally exhausted at the conclusion.  And that was fighting over an inert blue gun on a matted floor in controlled environment.  I can say that even with my background in a sport that is highly dependent on cardiovascular fitness and my continued cardio workout program, I was gassed by the end of the day, and often even at the conclusion of individual struggles.   I’m not ashamed to say I slept like I was dead on Sunday night, and experienced soreness and bruising in multiple areas for many days after this class.


Lots of folks in lots of venues argue that cheap gear (belts, holsters, etc.) are fine for their purposes.  In this class, we saw some popular, inexpensive, and ubiquitous holsters and belts not survive and/or put the user at a huge disadvantage.  Mounting hardware broke, and some holsters even opened like a blooming flower, making it quite easy for the assailant to disarm the wearer.   And those “carry belts” made of leather or flimsy webbing were far less than ideal when retaining a weapon.  This class further reinforced the fact that none of the gear I own and use on a daily basis will have names like “Fobus,” “Blackhawk,” or “5.11” stamped on it, to name a few.


I will say that I did learn that my personal choices worked very well.  I am running a kydex holster (made of slightly thicker kydex) inside the waistband with quality mounting hardware, and an Ares Ranger belt.  The holster performed flawlessly, and the stiffness of the ranger belt kept the holster from twisting, making it harder for the assailant to remove the handgun from my holster and thus my control.  My choice of running a zero cant holster was also confirmed as the right call.  Those running canted holsters lost their guns much easier.  An added benefit my training partner and I discovered of my Ranger belt was that I was able to use the stiffness of the belt to my advantage.  If the assailant was able to get his hands on my pistol grip, I was able to apply painful pressure to his fingers between the grip and my belt by “leaning” on the gun side.  That pressure was often painful enough to cause him to remove his hands from the pistol, and he finished the day with black and blue and bleeding fingers.


A word on the instructors – Chris and Steve were once again consummate professionals, and extremely competent and knowledgeable as instructors.  They have a great teaching style that is approachable and fun.  As with their live-fire classes, they offer true instruction and coaching.  Nothing feels like merely “drills with a little direction,” as some other “instructors” offer.  They have the ability to watch the student perform, and dissect and improve the student’s performance with insight and instruction.  In addition, what they teach is current and relevant, and not outdated doctrine based on “what has always been done.”  Those are big reasons why they are the only “local” outfit I trust to further my skills and recommend to my students.


If you are truly interested in furthering your ability to survive and prevail in a life or death struggle while defending your life or the lives of your loved ones, I highly recommend this class.  Running around the woods in skateboard helmets assaulting villages in groups or diving out of cars with carbines is fun and all, but it has little applicability in the real world for all but a very few people.   And depending on situational awareness and ninja cat-like reflexes and “spidey senses” is not adequate alone to keep you safe or give you a higher probability of success in the real world.  Be honest with yourself and think about how many times people have gotten too close to you on any given day, even when you are vigilant.  Classes like this, on the other hand, could make a difference between life or death.


Thanks for reading.



Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.