The street is a poor place to improvise, and making a contact shot—pressing the muzzle of your gun into the attacker—for the first time during the actual moment of need can set you into a storm of consequences you haven’t properly prepared for.
This is part one of a two-part series on contact shots designed to first take your mind to where it might never have been so that the body will find enough familiarity to follow.
Close-quarters battle (CQB) can get closer than you might have ever imagined. When a hand-to-hand fight turns deadly and you need to employ your firearm, a contact shot might be your best tactic. However, if you haven’t thought about it—and trained for it—you might never even get the chance.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to have trained with some great folks in some of the best facilities in our country. Force-on-force simulations and close-in fighting have always been a part of that training.
These days, as a citizen who carries a gun just about all the time, I am always concerned that my gun might be needed in a confrontation measured in an inch or under, not feet or yards. Getting my gun out and on target with a bad guy piled up on me, delivering haymaker blows, is something I want to be prepared for.
There are some who say, for a variety of reasons, that you shouldn’t jam your muzzle into anything. However, pressing a gun into a bad guy and firing is a great way to deliver a well-aimed shot to target areas likely to stop a lethal attack. But thoughts of knocking the slide out of battery or plugging the muzzle come to mind and are precisely why this needs to be a trained tactic in order to develop proper techniques.
“Getting my gun out and on target with a bad guy piled up on me, delivering haymaker blows, is something I want to be prepared for.”
Contact Shots And The Risks Involved
A contact shot doesn’t have to be a last-ditch effort. Sure, you might need it in a violent hand-to-hand fight with someone you’re incapable of fighting off. However, it can also be a tactic used to defend someone else who is getting violently assaulted.
For example, when a victim is struggling against an attacker— rolling around on the ground, constantly changing positions, arms flailing—shooting at the bad guy from a distance is not a good idea and certainly not likely to be easy. There’s a risk of missing the bad guy and hitting the victim. Pressing the muzzle into the attacker and making the contact shot takes away that risk.
To complicate the matter even further, think about over-penetration: Depending on how you, the bad guy and the victim line up, the bullet could travel through the bad guy and hit the victim. No one wants to unintentionally harm the person they are trying to protect.
There are other concerns besides hitting the wrong target. A specific location on your threat needs to be hit in order to obtain an end to the assault. With contact shots, you generally only get one at a time, because malfunctions are likely. Head, upper chest and large bone structures, such as hips and shoulders, are good target areas … if you can pull it off.
There is an important factor in the close-proximity confrontations in which contact shots would be used: blood. Blood is very slippery, and it will most likely be present at some point in the confrontation: If it’s not your blood before the contact shot, it will be your assailant’s blood after the shot. Slick blood, bone chips and torn clothes can all make taking a shot very difficult. I’ve spoken to officers who couldn’t get the guns out of their own holsters because they had been cut, and their blood was so slippery.
“When a hand-to-hand fight turns deadly and you need to employ your firearm, a contact shot might be your best tactic.”
Gun Choice And Training
It’s probably safe to assume that a great majority of concealed-carry permit-holders carry semiautomatics. I personally alternate between carrying a revolver or a semiauto from time to time. A revolver doesn’t have a slide that could get pushed out of battery while pressed against the target as does a semiauto, and it’s far less likely to malfunction because it doesn’t have a reciprocating slide.
The type of gun you carry definitely factors in to how you train. One example is an extra step that might need to be taken with a semiauto: When making the contact shot with a semiauto, if your support hand is free, you might need to use it to hold the slide in battery when taking the shot.
By learning how to deliver contact shots, you can also learn to defend against them. In the words of philosopher Sun Tzu, “Know your enemy and know yourself, and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.”
Knowing how your particular gun works—as well as the workings of others—while keeping your gun functioning under less-than-optimal circumstances is half the battle. Knowledge is power, and knowing what causes your gun not to work can keep your gun in the game. It can also help you take an assailant’s gun out of the game.
Chris Cerino is a 25-year law enforcement and training professional. He competes in shooting sports to validate his skills. Chris writes on the topic of training and can be seen on a variety of TV shows.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the February 2018 print issue of Gun World Magazine.