I would like to tell 5 quick, pistol/holster retention stories
Retention story #1:
Several years ago I taught at a major US city police academy, an in-service combatives course. Running there also was the rookie class. There was a woman in this rookie class that was consistently having her pistol taken during defensive tactics classes. Instructors told me she’d purchased a high level (many tricks to draw) retention holster. There were so many twists and turns, pushes and pulls, that she herself could not draw her own gun. Their final qualifications were coming up and she absolutely refused to give up her new safer holster, even though she literally could not pull the gun out on demand! I left before there was a conclusion. My best guess though, is she changed holsters.
Retention story #2
I was teaching a Chicago seminar once that was attended by a large group of area police officers. One of the scenarios I taught was drawing and shooting after your strong-side/gun-side arm had been incapacitated as in injured or shot. You cross-draw, pull your gun with your support hand, taking care not to accidentally insert your pinky into the trigger guard, a common discharge problem from this angle. You either shoot the pistol upside down (can you do this with your pistol?) or use a knee pinch to get the gun right-side-up. We do this standing and on the ground with simulated ammo as the practitioner actually has to shoot a moving, thinking person closing in and/or shooting back. Next came a short break and I saw all the officers over in one corner of the gym, their support arm stretching and reaching unsuccessfully around their backs to pull their pistol. Only the skinniest, most limber, police woman could do it. I asked them what they were doing, and they told me that their guns and holsters were department issue. The holster retention device would not allow for such a frontal, angle removal. That holster company feared that gun takeaways would usually occur from the front. In order to pull the pistol from that model holster, a shooter had to grab the gun pull/angle it back, and then out. This holster prohibited the easy, common sense draw I, and so many others, teach. (And, what about drawing while seated in a car?)
Retention story #3
In the 1990s I was teaching an Air Force SWAT-style team and the San Antonio SWAT team. I was, once again doing simulated ammo scenarios and was doing one on the ground, on my back. I asked for a gun belt and an SAPD officer quickly gave me his. On my back, when time to draw and shoot, I could not remove the pistol from the holster. We all gathered around closely to inspect this. The SWAT officer’s holster had several retention tricks built in. His holster, that company, had also decided that most pistols were removed from the front, requiring a pull backward first, then out. Since I was flat on my back, I could not pull the gun back. No one, all seasoned vets, in the class had thought of this, least of all this SWAT officer until this experiment. One would think that a holster company would put such news on the packaging label and advertisement.
“WARNING! You cannot draw this weapon when down on your back!”
We learned that to draw from such a 3 o’clock, hip holster, you had to roll half-over, or lift your body into a half a crab-walk position.
Retention story #4
“Back in the day,” as a detective, I was working with a fellow investigator on a case when we heard of a very nearby armed robbery on the police radio. We were so close, we actually saw the suspect run from the store. We drove as far as we could to chase him, then had to bail from the car and go on foot. A few fences were jumped and the robber got into a cement factory with a large, open gravel lot, and big trucks. We’d split up, but we both saw the robber stop by a truck as we could see his legs under the truck. We split further apart, circled the truck and drew our guns as we closed in. My partner pulled his .45 out on the run. He pulled the pistol AND paddle holster out and pointed it at the bad guy. He made a violent jerk and the holster flew off the pistol. The robber, facing our two guns, surrendered. We laughed about it later because we were a little crazy back then, but we also learned a lesson about holsters.
Retention story #5 The Sandpit Travesty. One of my officer friends once, lost his pistol and was shot and killed by a fugitive. Without revealing any personal details, this SWAT officer had a retention duty holster on regular duty, but when on a SWAT assignment had a “drop” holster as shown previously, a low, thigh, tactical holster, minus any retention. His pistol was taken in a ground fight and he was shot in the head. Since sad events like this, retention devices started appearing on the most “tactical” of holsters, (even Taser holsters,)
His agency went on a PR, press junket to prove how much they cared about the subject, suggesting that holster retention was so well trained. They filmed a news segment for TV with their officers training in a sandpit. A trainer grabbed a trainee’s holstered pistol and tried to remove it. The trainee held on and basically the two engages in a stupid, standing wrestling match – four hands on a holstered rubber gun. Sometimes falling down in the ruckess.
Perhaps to an ignorant novice, this seemed like terrific, tough-guy, training? But it is not. No one threw a punch, kicked a nut, yanked head hair, popped an eye, or broke a bone. A bad guy wanting to kill you will do all these things. An officer, wanting to stay alive will do all these things. All the things that can not happen full speed in training, but can be partially simulated, yet still are totally ignored. And like you learn to forget to punch in Judo, bad training makes you forget how to survival fight. This is not preparing an officer, or any one toting a gun, to respond properly to a disarm attack.
And that is why, this sort of sandpit style training is a stupid travesty. And it doesn’t have to be in a sandpit either, as you’ll find stupid anywhere.
Words of wisdom – Military vet and weapons instructor Mike Woods sums up by saying, “Buyer Beware. So, if you’re shopping for a holster – as an individual or as an agency buyer – you need to go beyond the ratings and advertising hype by fully understanding how the various security features work. You also need to ask hard questions about the specific tests and criteria that a manufacturer uses to rate their products. Until the industry unites around a single standard, it’s not enough to assume that Brand X’s Level III rating denotes a comparable level of security, durability and quality as Brand Y’s Level III rating. Your choice of duty gear is too critical — and your safety too important – to be influenced by clever marketing. Ask tough questions, get the details, and make sure you’re comparing apples-to-apples.”
Protecting the belt! There are many such stories. Keep your eyes and ears open for them. And, keep experimenting. Just think about handgun/holster retention. In 26 years in line operations, I have had only 5 attempts on my holstered pistol. There are many attempts on record all over the world. It happens. Statistically your odds on an attempt may be like one in 40,000? But if it happens to you? It’s one in one.
– “I’ll never have a gun, so why should I…” and, – “I can’t/don’t own a gun, so why should I…” and, – “I don’t like guns (or knives), so I’ll NEVER have one.” – You get the picture. The blind, never-never land excuse.
…speeches from all the world. People doing self-defense yet don’t want to hear anything about guns (or knives too). It is ironic because many of the naysay, narrators also do various forms of Krav Maga – systems often chock, so chock full of pistol disarms, and some from the most bizarre positions.
Whether you are a person doing martial arts that are supposed to be realistic too, or a Krav person, cop, or military, whatever, you are probably messing around with pistols and pistol disarms. Or you should be, even in the magical, lucky charms lands of NO-Gun. You’ll maybe do disarms, but it ends there. Does it?
No. With a pistol disarm, 2 things will happen to the gun after you disarm.
One – The gun will hit the “floor,” or…
Two – …the gun will now be in your hand. Are they virgin hands?
This is the point I am trying to get to. AFTER the disarm. Do you have gun-virgin-hands? SUDDENLY, no matter who you are, and where you live? What you say and think – you are now suddenly, like it or not, a “gun guy!” Do you know which end of the gun the bullet comes out of? How this gun works? Do you know where the “on and off” switch is (as USA Gun-God Clint Smith has nicknamed the safety. Is there one?) Does the gun need a real, quick, common, simple “fix.” You know what they are?
And if the recently disarmed guy comes back for his lost gun? Now you have to worry about your “pistol retention” vs his “pistol recovery.” (two old, decades, decades old terms in the gun-fighting world. Ever heard of them? Heard of one? Not the other? ) These terms not in your language?
The history of war and crime is replete with people getting the guns of other people and knowing, or not knowing, how to use them. Remember Tunisia? The Jihadist with a sub machine gun that killed all those people on the beach? The security guard with his own sub-gun, dropped the gun and ran away. A tourist to the rescue? A tourist picked up the sub-gun to kill the bad guy and…and…well…jeez. Couldn’t work it. The tourist was from a NO-gun country and probably never thought he would see, hold or use a gun. Surprise!
Aron Takac, an instructor in Serbia says ” I remember the seminar in 2011. The instructor was currently one of the most wanted in the shooting industry, and he was talking about rifle disarms. Two guys from Norway said, “There are no guns in our country, we don’t need this”. Not two months later Utaya Island attack happened. Breivik killed 77 people.” There is a long, international list of such events.
It is a hand, stick, knife, gun world. No matter where you live. No matter what the local laws are. As a result of this reality, I have been teaching “gun-arm grappling” with any kind of simulated ammo guns I can get my hands on for over 20 years now, as far away as Australia. And yet, for some people this stuff is new…or fairly new? Invented in the last few years or so. It is not new. As another famous gun instructor Dave Spaulding likes to say, “It’s not new. It’s just new to you.”
Gun crimes occur EVERYWHERE in the world. And, ever hear of terrorism? In the “who, what, where, when, how and why” of life, it is important to predict and prioritize your high stat encounters. Even in the NO-gun world around you. Sure. Prioritize, but not ignore realities. It has and will, behoove all so-called, “self defense” practitioners to do some work on, to deal with, hand, stick, knife, gun while standing, kneeling/seated and on the ground. Or just realize what you are doing a sport for a hobby with some very good or perhaps bad abstract benefits.
Prioritize. A good instructor organizing a class, thinks of these things as training time minutes and, or percentages. No matter the subject. How many minutes in night class? How many hours in a day class? How many days in a week class, should be spent on any particular subject? It’s the totally ignoring something by way of thoughtless excuses that is a doctrine problem.
Sometimes I think about deathbed interviews of people. How many 75 or 80 year-old regular folks/citizens on their deathbed can say, “I’ve never been punched in the face. Why do so many people do these martial arts? Odds are they will never be punched in the face.” Most people. many people. Most people have never been a victim of crime, attacked or punched or shot at. Some cops got through their entire careers and are never punched in the mouth. Is this a “throw-down” excuse not to train…anything then? “Odds are it won’t happen? Why bother with unarmed vs unarmed material, then? Why bother with pistols? Why bother with anything then?
So, please do re-think things about these excuse, throw-down lines – “I live in a country without guns, so I’ll never…”