Keep Your Distance When Using a Gun in Self Defense

Published by the Author on March 14, 2009 at 12:01 am > How-To Guides and Other Info > Keep Your Distance When Using a Gun in Self Defense

In movies and on the TV, it is common to see gun users get very close to the bad guy, often placing the gun against the bad guy’s body.  While I hope that neither I nor anyone who reads this article ever has to use a gun in self defense, properly using the gun in such a situation is vital.  Those who defend themselves using a gun should keep their distance from the criminal for a few reasons:

Keep your distance to avoid having the gun taken away by the criminal

When defending yourself, getting too close to the criminal can allow the criminal to grab the gun and use it against you.   Your gun will work just as well from across the room as it will when 6″ from the criminal, so keep your distance.

Keep your distance to help prevent being injured by the criminal’s own weapon

Criminals are often armed, and even if they are unarmed, they can still kill with their bare hands.  Keeping your distance when defending yourself makes the criminal unable to effectively use their fists, knives, crowbars, etc.  Even if the criminal is armed with a gun, a well trained citizens who is defending themselves may still gain an advantage, relative to the less skillful criminal.  This is because it takes more skill to hit a target at a distance, then when that target is up close.

ALSO READ:  Armed Homeowner Holds a Burglar at Gunpoint Until the Police Could Arrive

Don’t press a gun against the criminal

A pistol is said to be “in battery” when its action is closed and it is ready to fire.  A pistol is “out of battery” when the action is not fully closed, and the pistol is therefore not ready to fire.  Nowadays, high quality pistols will have a safety mechanism that prevents them from firing if out of battery, as firing in this condition can cause the pistol to explode, injuring the shooter and damaging the pistol.  Pistols can be pushed out of battery if the front of the pistol is pressed against an object, such as a criminal’s body, causing the slide to retract slightly.  Under the best conditions, the pistol just won’t fire when the trigger is pulled.  Under the worst conditions, the pistol will fire, but the partially open action will fail to contain the hot gases from the burning gun powder, resulting in an explosion, which is the last thing a person who is defending themselves needs.

Remember, guns are ranged weapons, and as such their biggest advantage is that they work from a distance.  Don’t give away this advantage by getting too close to a criminal when defending yourself.

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  • Danny

    “A gun is said to be “in battery” when its action is closed and it is ready to fire.”

    You mean pistols. Wheel guns (aka real guns) can be used in contact if the worse comes to worst. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to keep your distance when using a revolver. Your other points still apply, and an aggressor can just grab the revolver by the cylinder to prevent it from firing in the first place.

    NOTE: I carry a Ruger SP-101 snubby.



    Didn’t know you were a revolver fan :)

    Good point, I should have said pistol instead of gun when referring to the out of battery condition that can occur when the slide is forced back. I’ve updated the article to reflect this.

  • Lynda

    Interesting. Common firearm sense is one more reason why films should be looked at as only entertainment and all actions taken with a grain of salt. I am presently writing a short story which includes advice given to a woman regarding the use of handguns for protection. Even with virtually no knowledge of the subject, I already knew this common sense advice and put it in my story a couple of weeks ago. Thanks for the confirmation of my thoughts.

  • Danny

    I swing both ways. 😉

    I carry a revolver for its ultimate simplicity (just point and shoot). The kick could get a little getting used to though. I also own a pistol for home defense and as my primary range gun. Either weapon system has its merits and all serious gun owner must have at least one of each.