For the serious concealed weapon carrier, there is an understanding that weapon retention skills are essential. A majority of lethal-force encounters happen within 6 feet and develop very quickly. While we train on the range at longer distances, the reality is that if things go bad, they will do so at what is called “bad breath” distance. With your weapon being presented in such close proximity to an assailant, it is essential to understand that they may try to interfere with the weapon or even take it. With that in mind, let’s explore three retention techniques to cover three basic scenarios.

Draw Stop Step 5

Draw Stop

The draw stop occurs when an assailant sees you beginning to draw your weapon and moves to stop the draw from occurring. The technique used to counter this is as follows.

1. Keep your gun hand on the weapon and sink your center down. The attacker’s hand is near your weapon and your first goal is to keep them from taking your weapon from the holster. Keep your drawing arm close to your body and press the weapon into the holster.

2. Turn your weapon away from the attacker. This will force them to reach farther to maintain contact. The more spread out they are, the easier it will be to deal with them.

3. With your support-side hand, strike down into the arm of the attacker. The goal is to break their grip and allow you to get some distance. The primary target is the muscle on the upper forearm. In fact, to be even more effective, strike the side of the muscle. Strike hard and with your entire body behind it. Follow through is important with striking, and you should strike as if you are going to cut through the arm. This technique delivers substantial energy to the strike and improves its effectiveness.

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4. After you strike the arm down, use the same hand and execute a finger strike to the eyes. The primary purpose of this motion is to drive the person back. People respond instinctively to eye attacks and they naturally begin to withdraw. Once contact is made, focus on shoving the head back.

5. Now that the attacker’s arm is down and they are leaning back, you should immediately slide to the rear and off the line at a 45-degree angle. Make the motion significant to get as much space between you and the attacker as possible. Space is essential at this point, so take what you can get quickly.

6. Present your weapon and continue to move back and away at a 45-degree angle. Do not plan on standing your ground. This is where training will determine the level of success you experience. You must train and develop the ability to shoot on the move.

Weapon Retention Downward Attach Step 3

Downward Attack

A gun grab occurs when the attacker grabs your gun after you have cleared your holster and are in the process of raising the muzzle to the target. They then try to drive the muzzle downward in an attempt to take it from you. The fundamental principle behind dynamic weapon retention is called “blending.” If the attacker pushes, you pull. If they pull, you push. This “blending” neutralizes any strength or leverage advantages the attacker may have.

1. As the attacker pushes the weapon downward, blend with that motion and avoid a shoving match.

2. As you flow with their push, step back with your dominant foot to turn yourself at a 45-degree angle. The attacker will now be spread out physically, as they are forced to reach to maintain their grip. The more spread out they are, the weaker their position will be.

3. With speed and energy, continue that same path the attacker was pushing the gun in and snatch it from their grip. This must be done with 100-percent commitment and intent. If not, the attacker will be able to hang on and a tug of war will certainly ensue.

4. After the weapon is out, simply let the weapon follow its natural path up into your shooting position. It is also essential that you continue to put space between you and the attacker. They will likely attempt to attack you again in order to liberate your weapon.

5. Bring the weapon to bear on the attacker using a close-quarters arm position. This will put you in a stronger framework if a second attack comes.

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Weapon Retention Upward Pressure Step 3

Upward Pressure

This occurs when the attacker grabs the gun after you have cleared your holster and are in the process of raising the muzzle to the target. The attacker will then try to drive the muzzle skyward in an attempt to take it from you. As with the downward push, you must blend with the attack in order to improve your chances of keeping your gun.

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1. As the attacker grabs the gun and pushes upward, blend with the motion, avoiding a shoving or wrestling match.

2. As the gun is pushed upward, turn at a 45-degree angle to the attacker and let the gun arc up. This will put the attacker in a weaker and more vulnerable position. While you may be tempted to let go of the gun at this point to strike, do not unless you have been professionally trained to do so. Handgun retention is your first priority.

3. As the weapon reaches the apex of its arc, accelerate its natural path down and away from the attacker. The gun will come free from their hands. Execute this with an explosively fast motion in order to snatch the gun away from the attacker. If the motion is timid, the chances of your success drop significantly.

4. Immediately put space between you and the attacker. As with all scenarios of this nature, we must expect the attacker to continue their assault. There will be no time to admire your handiwork.

5. Bring the weapon to bear on the attacker using a close-quarters arm position. This will put you in a stronger framework if a second attack comes.

Weapon Retention Downward Attach Step 5

Take Control

These techniques are physically easy, yet they are psychologically difficult. This is the case because we tend to quickly turn physical conflict into pushing and pulling matches. We seem to be programmed to meet force with force at times. The ability to blend is a learned skill, and it requires as much mental training as it does physical preparation.

If you are young, large and strong, then force may work to your advantage. However, there are two truths that we must embrace. First, strength is a fleeting thing. If all you ever rely on is brute force, you will eventually fail. Second, the attacker we face may be much larger. In fact, regardless of your size, there is always someone bigger and stronger out there. By blending with the attack, we eliminate all of that.

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You should also consider purchasing a well-made holster and gear. A strong holster can make the difference between retention and failure. Simply tucking a weapon in your jeans at the small of your back is not ideal for retention or effective carry. Friction retention holsters are very popular and effective when worn correctly. These are molded holsters that hold the gun in place by simple friction. Another type of holster seen in the concealed carry world has a mechanical retention device. These can serve a role in certain situations, but mechanical retention holsters are primarily designed for exposed carry situations. The device can slow your presentation and interfere with your draw. Some are devotees of this system, but you are encouraged to explore all options and see which one fits you best.

Lastly, it is important you carry your weapon in a manner that makes retention easier. While open carry is a legal right in many areas, it leaves your weapon open for an attacker to see. From a tactical perspective, this puts you at a distinct disadvantage if things turn bad quickly. Rather than being a statement about the social implications of open carry, this is purely a tactical point.

In the end, know that there will always be a chance that an attacker may grab your gun. By professionally preparing and training for such a scenario, you can better defend yourself against the violent dangers that come with it.

This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE ™ Spring 2015 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.