One-Handed Defense

posted on May 10, 2021

A two-handed shooting grip is always superior for defensive handgun use. But in real-world defensive encounters, you just might have to shoot with one hand.

John Correia is a gun trainer who analyzes real-world defensive shootings that were caught on video for his YouTube channel, Active Self Protection. From Correia’s research, in most cases, shooting one-handed reflects a lack of training, as the defender could have dropped whatever they were carrying; however, there are three possible reasons where it could truly be necessary: injuries, holding a small child and close-range physical altercations, such as carjackings, where one hand is needed to fend off the attacker.

Though these situations are extremely rare, they’re worth training for. As always, follow the fundamental rules of gun safety and accuracy and begin with dry-practice.

Drop and Draw
Your mind can do strange things when you’re in extreme danger, so you do need to mentally prepare for this. You should practice dropping unimportant objects to gain a superior two-handed grip.

1. Set a target at 7 yards, with your firearm holstered. Put objects, such as shopping bags, backpacks or paint cans in each hand.

2. Take two steps toward the target as if you were walking normally, then drop the items and draw your handgun.

3. Use both hands to fire two rounds, center mass.

4. Repeat, alternating your baggage situation (left hand only, right hand only and both hands).

Tip: Don’t drop items behind you. You don’t want to trip over them in retreat.

You’re injured or protecting something you can’t drop.

1. Set a target 3 to 7 yards out, with your firearm fully loaded and holstered. Hold your non-firing hand to your chest. You can do this with your hand empty or holding an object like a bag of flour.

2. Smoothly draw your handgun with one hand and push it to the target while mashing your cheek on your strongside shoulder. Simultaneously rotate your torso toward your weak side so the object you are holding is farther away from the target.

3. Fire two shots center mass and then one to the head.

4. Repeat until you can do this fluidly.

Tip: With the strong-side hand, grip firmly and punch the gun toward the target as if you were pointing your index knuckle at it. This will often cause it to cant 45 degrees inward, which is fine if the position more naturally aligns your eyes with the sights. With the arm fully extended and the elbow locked, roll your strong-side shoulder up toward your face, while bringing your face down to meet your shoulder so your cheek melds into the meat of your shoulder and your chin almost touches your armpit. This allows your gun hand, arm, shoulder, head and neck to act as a unit, thereby granting greater stability for better accuracy and recoil mitigation. 

You might need one hand to fend off an attacker while the other draws your gun. Fully extending the arm could result in the firearm being taken from you.

1. Set a target just in front of you, with your firearm unloaded and holstered. (Dry-practice only! Work directly with a certified instructor to move past dry-practice.)

2. Visualize the target attacking you. Make a fist with your weak hand and put it on the side of your head as if in a boxer’s stance, chin tucked, defending against a punch to the temple.

3. Draw and “fire” two shots from your ribcage (retention) positioned toward the target’s pelvic region. Check the angle of the muzzle to ensure you are not angling it too far up or down.

4. Take one step back, join your hands into a two-handed grip, and “fire” two more shots.

5. Repeat until you can execute all four shots in under 2 seconds.

Tip: Draw the gun clear of the holster, then rotate it toward the target. Place the magazine base and your shooting-hand thumb against your body as reference points. You may need to cant the gun slightly outward to ensure your body does not interfere with the slide’s action.


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