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In last month’s article (December 2017), I talked about what I characterize as a “worst-case scenario.” In my opinion, this involves being attacked by an assailant while you are unarmed. The second-worst-case scenario is that you’re attacked, you draw your gun, and you find yourself in a struggle to retain it.

I regularly teach both concealed-carry classes and defensive marksmanship and get a wide variety of students. For the most part, the mix is about 50/50 male to female, and the age spread is all the way from 21 to over 70. During each of my classes, I remind my students to make sure that carrying a gun is not the only form of defense in their plan.

“It’s critical to not base your self-defense plan on just one tool. Even if you have a great plan, things sometimes might not go exactly as you had planned.”

What’s The Plan?

During a recent seminar on self-defense I gave to a local realtor association, I asked how many in attendance had a self-defense plan. Not surprisingly, the room was quiet. Most understood “situational awareness,” but as far as actually defending themselves, the majority did not have anything in place.

Pepper spray was distributed to each of the attendees. I covered the use of pepper spray as an additional tool in the self-defense plan, along with several others, such as a knife or hand-to-hand training—or, like many of Gun World readers, concealed carry.

It’s critical to not base your self-defense plan on just one tool. Even if you have a great plan, things sometimes might not go exactly as you had planned.

In Hollywood, actors fighting for a gun live to fight another day. In reality, grappling for a firearm can be a life-or-death struggle.

Going To The Ground

Like last month’s article, this one is based on training I received while visiting my brother in Salt Lake City at the 54th Street Gym, Bihonte Martial Arts Academy ( The owner (my brother), Dan Berry, demonstrated a scenario in which you have a gun and your assailant does not.

In this scenario, your personal space has been invaded, your assailant is now either choking you or striking you, and you draw your weapon in self-defense. Your opponent has grabbed hold of you and your firearm as you draw, and now, the fight for the weapon has gone to the ground. For most people, this is a very uncomfortable position to be in. For you to survive, you must use this position to your advantage.

From the bottom position, you want to get your feet into your opponent’s hips. This should be done one at a time (as quickly as possible) while you maintain your control of the firearm. Once you get both feet into the hips, you will use your knees to spread the elbows of the attacker. As you pull your knees toward you, spread them to cause your opponent to release their grip on the firearm. This will allow you to push the attacker away from you and gain the space to fire and defend yourself. If you do have to fire, make sure you understand the use of deadly force in your state.

Like the drill covered last month, this is an advanced technique, and you should not think you are able to use it just because you read it here. It takes a great amount of time to master this procedure. I highly recommend finding a quality instructor to help you become proficient.

Here, the assailant has grabbed your weapon before you can get it into operation.

As the struggle goes to the ground, maintain positive control of the firearm.

While controlling the firearm, bring your feet into your opponent’s hips. Once you have both feet into the hips, begin using your knees to separate the opponent’s elbows.

Begin to push your opponent away and use the distance to get your weapon into operation.

Is Your Backup Plan Workable?

During the training for this article, I asked the students in the selfdefense class if any of them carried a gun. Most did. I asked if any carried a knife. Again, most did. I then asked those who carried a gun and a knife where they were carried. Almost unanimously, it turned out that both were carried on the same side of the body— meaning that in the scenario just covered, if there were a struggle for your gun, your knife is likely out of play as a secondary weapon, because you would not be able to reach it.

Having a handgun for self-defense is a good idea; I wish more people would carry. That being said, I also wish that most would seek out additional training, not only for their firearm, but also for enhancements to their everyday carry.

I imagine a large portion of the 16.5 million concealed-carry holders in the United States have done very little additional training with their firearms once they get their permits. Those who don’t need training to carry—those living in constitutional carry states and those who open carry—are likely in the same boat. However, if you are one of those who continues to train, I applaud you.

Quality EDC Knives

In addition to carrying a gun, a knife can be a vital part of your everyday carry (EDC).

If you carry a knife, it needs to be a quality one. It also needs to be accessible in a hurry. Two good choices are the Spartan Blades Velos and the Enyo. Both can be fitted with neck chains for easy access. A third choice is the 5.11 Side Kick Boot Knife.

Each of these is small enough to hide, yet it is still accessible when needed.

The Spartan Blades Velos (left), Enyo (center) and 5.11 Side Kick (right)

Are You Really Training?

If you are one of those who doesn’t continue to train (and by this, I mean more than shooting a box of ammo at the range every few months), get some professional training. Train realistically by drawing from the holster when you train, seeking cover, practice malfunction drills, etc. The time to find out you needed to do more training is not when danger is upon you!


About The Author

Brian Berry is a retired Army Special Forces Command sergeant major. He is a former Special Forces weapons sergeant and has multiple combat tours under his belt. Brian is the co-founder of Spartan Defensive Concepts, at which he teaches concealed carry and defensive marksmanship courses. Brian retired in 2014 and is now a consultant currently working for the Special Operations community, as well as a senior instructor for American Survival Guide University.


Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the January 2018 print issue of Gun World Magazine.