Tag Archives: gun disarms get you shot

First of all, awesome blog. Anyway my character was attacked by two men at the same time. she doesnt have any weapon with her while the men use a machine gun. there are few hiding spots for her to take cover, but i dont know the best way to disarm them

I don’t say this often, but she’s fucked. If you’re wanting to take the
aggressive way out, and she will die in the attempt. There are ways to get a
character out of a situation like this, but with the scenario you’re
presenting, violence is not one of them.

Training is not the power to overcome all fights through superlative skill;
it’s the ability to know there are some fights you cannot win, and assess the
best way to avoid those in the first place, or escape, if it comes to that. 2v1
is already horrifically difficult. Giving them guns makes this (basically)

You’re not specifying what kind of weapons they’re using, and this is
probably kind of important to know for your own purposes.

Machine gun can refer to (nearly) any automatic firearm. You pull the
trigger, and it will continue firing until you release it, the ammunition is
spent, or the weapon malfunctions (which is fairly rare in most cases).

This can range from fully automatic pistols, up through heavy weapons you’d
mount on a vehicle. You’re probably thinking of assault rifles or submachine
guns, since they’re easily portable. SMGs are chambered to fire pistol rounds,
while assault rifles are simply, fully automatic rifles (using lighter rifle

Usually the term is used to refer to heavier automatic weapons, designed to
suppress enemy movement and make returning fire more difficult. The entire idea
is you put a lot of flying lead, and the threat of more following it, in the
general vicinity of your foes, and they cannot move or return fire without
being reduced to goulash.

Thing is, that basic strategy does apply to nearly all fully automatic
weapons. The only difference is how much ammunition they can draw on, how far
it can fire, and how gleefully it can tear apart concealment (we’ll come back
to this in a second).

Put another way, the entire point of this weapon is to force enemies to stay
in cover and not move, while the rest of your forces to better positions, so
they can take them out.

If they stick anything out of cover, your machine gunner is waiting to blow
it off. To a lesser extent, this is how all gunfights work. If you’re not
shooting someone directly, you’re trying to keep their head down, so you, or
your allies, can get into a better position to kill them.

Getting caught outside of cover against a competent gunner is a death
sentence. They’re in position, they’re waiting, out you come, down you go.

For an unarmed character, there is no counter. Keep to cover, keep moving
and get away, are the only real options, but with almost nowhere to take cover,
that option’s gone.

It gets worse. Concealment is not cover. Cover is something that will
protect you from incoming fire. Concealment is something that will hide you
from the enemy. What this means is, TV, movies, and video games have lied to
you. Bullets will easily punch through many objects. Including furniture, walls,
ceilings, floors, cars, self-sacrificial idiots leaping into the path of the
bullet. Taking cover behind a wooden shipping crate will only protect you if
the stuff inside that crate is solid enough to stop a bullet. Ducking behind a
wall, unless that wall is made out of concrete, won’t do much.

And, that’s not even an answer to your question. Gun disarms will get you shot. I’m going to keep saying this. Under
the best circumstances, with excellent training, gun disarms are incredibly dangerous to the
practitioner. You use them because they were going to kill you anyway, and you
didn’t have another option.

Even when you’re dealing with handgun disarms, it’s incredibly easy to take
a bullet mid-disarm, particularly if the shooter is using a stance the martial
artist isn’t prepared for. Rifle disarms are a nightmare to pull off.

Stuntmen can make them look really cool, and when you’ve got two people
cooperating disarms can be very fun to watch. But, that’s entertainment,
actually trying to execute disarms in the field is for the supremely
foolish and those who were already two seconds away from death.

So, back to the beginning, how does your character get out of a situation
like this? Not getting into it in the first place is a good option. Making sure
they have an escape plan is a second.

If your character gets a phone call to take them out to some abandoned
warehouse, or construction site, or farm in upstate New York… maybe they
shouldn’t go. Or at least not alone. There are rare situations where a
character would have a legitimate reason to walk into a trap like that, but
under normal circumstances, situations like that demand your characters come up
with ways that mitigate the risk.

There’s a real habit of having characters doing stupid things because the
power of plot compels them. At some point, the justifications like, “if you bring
anyone with you; the kid dies,” got lost, and we’re left with characters
walking into very bad situations.

Even if, “the kid dies,” that doesn’t mean your character should be
following instructions, or plunging into dangerous situations without setting
up contingencies.

At this point it’s worth considering, with hostages, if the villain is
planning to kill your character, then that’s all they need the hostage for, and
once you’re character’s down they’re going to be next. On reflection, that’s
not a really great reason to be following the rules, is it?

Having a contingency plan doesn’t mean bringing buddies or gearing up. Sometimes
it means finding ways to exploit the restrictions placed on your character.
Armed attackers planning to murder you? Find a crowd. A couple mooks might be
willing to take their chances gunning you down in an alley, but are they really
going to risk opening up in a crowded bar?

Even if your character does need to go into someplace they really shouldn’t.
They need to have an escape plan, if things go wrong. That could be as simple
as making sure they have a way out of the building they’re in, or it could be
more complex, such as having allies who will come in if the situation goes
wrong. In a situation like this, it might be as simple as remaining undetected
until she can escape.

Regardless, saving a character from a situation like this, usually means not
getting into it in the first place. I understand it, you have characters that
need to go someplace for the story to progress. That’s fine. But, your
characters do need to plan ahead, and assess their situation to the best of
their ability.

Someone or something told those guys to drop by. Maybe there were there
ahead of time, in which case she needed to know where they were, and keep track
of them before going in. Maybe she tripped an alarm, and they got called in
behind her, so now she needs to find a way out, without them actually spotting
and killing her. Maybe someone called them in to kill her, in which case,
again, she needs to avoid detection and get away.

Ideally you need a way for them to overcome their foes. Note, “overcome,”
not, “defeat.” In a situation like this, the best solution to overcome a hit
squad sent after your character is going to be to escape, not to fight them
head on and die. Find an opening, make an escape. Don’t get tied up in hand to
hand with someone using an automatic rifle, only for his buddy to drill your


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Will pressing a fully automatic weapon, like an assault rifle, against a person disable it like it will a semi-automatic pistol? Or is that a semi-automatic pistol peculiarity?

No. It doesn’t affect any firearm with a fixed barrel. So that includes revolvers, most rifles, shotguns, and even a few automatic handguns (like the Luger P08 Mauser C98, or Desert Eagle). There are some longarms with moving barrels, (the Russian AN94 comes to mind), but they’re more of an oddity. I don’t know if any of those can fire with the barrel out of position, but I’d be willing to guess, “probably.”

The same basic mechanical limitation applies to most autoloaders that fire from a closed bolt, if there’s an air gap between the back of the cartridge and the firing pin, the weapon can’t be fired. You need to be able to connect the firing pin to the cartridge. On most handguns, you can prevent that by pressing against the barrel, which opens the slide, disabling the pistol. On almost all rifles, that will not open the bolt, so it won’t disable the weapon. I’m sure there are variant disarms against rifles that involve opening the bolt (or obstructing it on weapons that fire from an open bolt,) but I’m not familiar with them, and they would be substantially more involved than just applying pressure against the barrel.


Could you elaborate on how pressing a semi-automatic firearm against a person would disable it? (For those of us new to the anatomy of such firearms.) Would it take only a little pressure on the slide for it to become disabled?

When you fire most semi-automatic pistols, the hammer strikes a pin which transfers force to the current round. The pin specifically connects with a point on the shell detonating the primer.

The primer is a very small explosive charge, not enough to get the bullet moving, but just enough to get the gunpowder burning. The burning powder will cause the “explosion” that propels the bullet.

I put “explosion” in quotes because, technically, gunpowder just burns quickly and violently, it doesn’t actually explode. But, the difference is mostly academic.

The force from the gunpowder propels the round down the barrel, but it also causes the slide to cycle. At this point, the slide will cycle back, extracting and ejecting the spent shell casing, and retrieving a fresh round from the magazine. This will also recock the hammer, preparing the weapon to fire again. You can find cutaway .gifs of this, if you really want to see it in action.

The slide is spring loaded to close on it’s own, so once it’s cycled open, the guide spring will close the slide with a fresh round in the battery.

When you jam the slide open a few things can happen. On some handguns, the battery will misalign with the firing pin. The shooter can still pull the trigger, the hammer will drop, but the pin will either fail to connect with the round, strike the round incorrectly (missing the primer), or (with some automatics) opening the slide will temporarily disable the connection between the trigger and hammer.

If someone attempts to fire the pistol while the slide is open, there’s a couple possibilities. On a gun where the trigger to hammer connection is disabled, the trigger won’t break (the exact point the trigger releases the hammer, and yes you can easily feel this when you’re shooting) instead the trigger will draw back with little tension and (in some cases) click slightly at the point where it would normally break.

On a pistol where the trigger to hammer connection isn’t disabled, then the trigger will draw normally, the hammer will drop, but the gun won’t go off. This can result in two situations. On a single action pistol, the user will need to manually recock the hammer before it can be fired again, since the mechanism depends on the slide cycling to recock normally. On a double action pistol, drawing the trigger back will cock the hammer. The shooter will experience additional tension on the trigger (usually a pound or so).

It’s also worth pointing out that some pistols (variants of the Walther P99 come to mind here) are designed to switch between single and double action as a safety mechanism, or are available in both single action and double action variants.

One of the Marine gun disarms begins with lunging forward to slam the hand into the slide in order to disable the pistol.

Also, it’s worth pointing out this won’t work with all handguns. Revolvers aren’t affected at all. Automatics with a fixed barrel, like the Desert Eagle, Mauser C96, or Luger Pistole Parabellum can be still be disabled by opening the slide, but getting to their slide is much more difficult.

If you’re wanting to look into close quarters shooting with handguns, then I really recommend checking out the self-defense side. With the more honest experts, you’ll get a good layout on what the strengths and limitations for the pistol are in that range. A lot of the information you’ll get otherwise regarding guns is going to assume you’ll be using them at long range. So, remember, while close quarters shooting is not uncommon, it is more specialized.


original-recipe-winnafish said: [Gun disarms] CAN theoretically be done, right? but even for that they pretty much require serious training and still generally fall under ‘making situation worse’ right?

Not just theoretically, gun disarms can be executed with enough training. At a conceptual level most of them are just moderately advanced joint locks. The only thing that makes them actually dangerous is the gun itself.

Ironically, with training pistols, disarms are one of the safer techniques to train. It also sounds really badass, which is part of why a lot of schools are willing to train their students in them. With a huge, “do not try this at home” disclaimer. This just comes down to keeping the students entertained and continuing to pay their dues, while still giving them some of what they paid for.

The difficulty is, in the field, you have to execute the disarm perfectly. There’s almost no margin for error. And, contrary to what film fight choreography would have you believe, real fights are very messy and chaotic. Meaning actually pulling it off without getting shot is the hard part.


Is there any semi-realistic way that a 5’1, 100lb girl with basic self defense skills and a strong knowledge of physics could disarm a grown man with a gun? He wouldn’t actually be pointing the gun at her and he doesn’t really want to shoot her (which she knows), and she would somehow surprise him and get the gun away from him. Is there any possible way she could do this?


Height, weight, gender? That’s all irrelevant. Someone with basic self defense skills can’t perform a gun disarm.

What the shooter wants also doesn’t really matter. Obviously, if they’re going to shoot someone anyway, then trying to grab their gun isn’t going to make things worse. But, if they weren’t planning to shoot someone, you’re going to force them to try anyway.

You can think of it like shoving your hand into a running garbage disposal, the gun itself is the dangerous thing, but in attempting the disarm you are the one engaging in the dangerous activity.

Short version; you have a character who brandished a gun to feel like a big man, and your character tried to play hero, getting people, and possibly herself, killed in the process.

To quote Spock from Star Trek, “what you want is irrelevant; what you’ve chosen is at hand.”

So, no. With basic training, the only thing she can do is make the situation worse.


if a person, a professional hitman or something, is threatened at gunpoint from behind, and then his aggressor stops pointing the gun at him, what would the “hitman” do? move out of the line of fire quickly or slowly? turn around to face his aggressor?

The instant the gun is off them, they’re going to neutralize their opponent. That doesn’t necessarily mean kill, but it could easily. A couple of gun disarms I know end in executing the original owner.

I’m just going to use second person construction here, because otherwise this will be a really unwieldy post, but: do not do this at home. I’ve said before that gun disarms will get you killed, and I mean it. Trained martial artists, who think they know what they’re doing and have trained for years get killed or seriously injured trying to pull these off in the field. From what I know, the survival rates for cops and special forces types who actually try to do this stuff aren’t much better. The real world application for this stuff is in the range of, “well, they’re going to kill me anyway, might as well roll the dice for a slim chance of survival over the certainty of death.”

Okay, with that out of the way:

So far as I know, almost all gun disarms work off a basic structure. Get the gun’s fire arc off of you. Make sure the assailant can’t get it back on you. Neutralize the assailant or their weapon.

The first step can start the instant the gun comes out. Usually the best time to go is whenever the gun wielder gets distracted, or manufacturing a distraction to get their attention off their target. Consistently, this is also the most dangerous, because if you misjudge someone’s distraction you will get shot for trying something.

Getting the gun’s arc of fire off of you can be as simple as stepping out of the way, but it always needs to be followed with something that makes sure the attacker can’t simply redirect the gun back on you. The easiest way is usually to close the distance so you are too close to actually shoot, while tying up the gun arm. This is consistently the most dangerous part for other people. Because the gun is pointing somewhere the shooter didn’t intend, and because they’re startled, there’s a pretty decent chance they’ll put a couple rounds in the general vicinity of someplace they weren’t aiming.

Thing is, the second step is just a delaying tactic. It won’t last long. So, then you need to move into the third step and deal with either the attacker or their weapon. That you must either get the weapon away from them, or kill them. There are a few ways to do this. Some stress positions will allow you to simply slip the weapon out of the shooter’s grasp. There are close quarters pistol positions that can be employed when you’re inches away from the target. It’s messy, but pumping three rounds into someone’s gut usually will usually keep them distracted from trying to shoot you.

If they’re behind you, that means you need to be facing them as quickly as possible, usually both getting the weapon off of you and making sure they can’t simply adjust their aim at the same time. From hands up in a defensive posture, you can do all three in a single motion.

Here’s a few of the ways it can go horrible wrong:

First are shooters that partially draw before firing. This technique primarily comes out of rifle marksmanship, though it applies to all firearms.

The way this works is: With any firearm, the trigger has a break point. This is the exact place in the draw where the mechanism releases the hammer and the weapon goes off. This is different for every gun. Not every gun model, ever individual gun is slightly different in this regard.

When you’re drawing the trigger the weapon will move slightly. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hunting rifle or a SIG P220, you’ll have some barrel movement. This is a function of how your hand is put together, and exerting a couple pounds of force with one finger. But, you can mostly draw the trigger and then adjust your aim.

If you started training on a rifle, which, honestly is a lot of people, and you’re familiar with your handgun, this behavior is very natural. To the point that I don’t honestly think about it that much, but it will completely screw over anyone who tries to grab your weapon, because the amount of force needed (and the time necessary) to get a shot off will be much lower than with someone who doesn’t know their weapon, or know how to shoot. They flinch, you take a bullet.

(Incidentally, a hair trigger is one where the break is very close to the trigger’s resting position, meaning the shooter doesn’t have to tense against it at all.)

Getting the gun’s arc off of you is a “better you than me” tactic. With a few exceptions, the shooter will still have the ability to fire their weapon, they just won’t be able to use it on you. That means anyone in the general vicinity is at risk of taking a bullet, or bullets. While it is possible to avoid getting shot it’s almost impossible to prevent the shooter from getting a shot off.

There are a few techniques where this isn’t the case, but they’re mostly highly situational (or, in the case of one Marine technique, hilariously dangerous).

Basically, if you’re trying to execute a disarm, you’ve decided that everyone around you is expendable in your quest to keep living. The chances someone will actually get shot are fairly slim, but you cannot protect them. That is to say, if you thought about having your character who works as a bodyguard do this, stop. It will end with them out of a job.

Now, the smartest way to deal with someone who has a gun is to make sure they don’t have a chance to draw it in the first place. I’ve seen it alternately defined as the 8ft, 2m or 10ft rule, where unless you’ve specifically trained to draw quickly in tight quarters, you can’t get a gun out and ready to fire before someone at that distance can close and attack. But this is dealing with Someone who has a gun preemptively before they’ve drawn it, not dealing with someone who’s already got one out.


Out of curiosity, do you have a tag for disarming (blades, guns, anything)? I didn’t see one in the list, but I swear I’ve seen it discussed here before. In any case, thank you for your time! Y’all do some great work here.

The cloud won’t include a tag if we’ve used it in less than 5 entries. In theory, that keeps things like specific user names from showing up on the list, as well as the joke one-off tags like #Starke is still not a doctor. (Though, that one has actually climbed onto the list because it’s turned into a frequent disclaimer when people are asking about injuries.) It also keeps some of the random typos in the tags from showing up and getting fixed.

The downside is, it means some of the stuff we don’t talk about often doesn’t show up. The list gets ludicrously long when you lower the threshold below 5, so, it’s sort of a necessary evil.

We have two separate disarm tags. Gun Disarms and Weapon Disarms. There’s a little overlap, but it looks like about 4 posts between them. Gun disarms also seems to have a complete overlap with Gun Disarms Get You Shot, which is because, well, they will.

Hope that helps.


Is there any way to defeat someone with a gun?

Yeah. We did a thing on gun disarms ages ago, though the quick takeaway is, they are extraordinarily dangerous. You can find the original answer here.

For “defeating” someone with a gun, you might be talking more about the element of surprise, and negating the weapon. Attacking the gunman while they’re not aiming at you, will do wonders for your own survival, even if it means someone else getting shot in the process. This may or may not be a sacrifice your character is willing to make.

If the weapon is inoperable, or empty, it creates a similar opening. It’s worth noting that most mass shooters in the US end up being taken down while trying to reload their weapons. It’s a disturbing thing to think about, but someone who’s emptied their weapon, and was never properly trained to reload quickly, is most vulnerable when their weapon is empty. High capacity magazines tend to be more prone to jamming, which is what happened in Aurora, Colorado, as I recall.

It’s also worth remembering that the fifth death in the Vegas shooting was a civilian that tried to intervene with their concealed carry. So, from pretty much every front, these are very dangerous situations.


Q&A: Gun Disarms and Reasonable Force

How would my character disarm the girl who is aiming a handgun at him? She doesn’t intend to shoot (although he doesn’t know that), and he doesn’t want to hurt her, just get the gun away from her. It’s his way of proving to her who he is (because he has the ability to disarm her). Everything I’ve looked up online for it includes hurting the attacker as some kind of defense mechanism.

It’s not a defense mechanism, it’s necessity. This is a culmination of a couple issues that we haven’t really covered in detail.

The first is reasonable force; basically, this is the absolute minimum amount of harm you need to inflict in a given situation to ensure your safety and the safety of others, including the person trying to kill you. Make no mistake, if someone’s pointing a gun at you, they are trying to kill you. (I’ll come back to this in a minute.)

The more training your character has, then under the law, the less harm they’re allowed to legally inflict. This is because restraining your opponent without hurting them is a lot harder, and requires more skill, than simply killing them.

Reasonable force is a bit of a pain because it is very subjective in the moment. It scales upwards based on a lot of factors, including the nature of the threat. If someone is threatening to “beat the shit out of you,” responding by crippling or killing them is (usually) going to be considered excessive.

Guns take that and toss it all out the window. Pointing one at someone is always a threat of lethal force. It doesn’t matter what the person with the gun intends. It is the weapon not the person that escalates the threat.

The second major issue is that gun disarms are really hard, and really, really dangerous. Most martial artists that attempt to use them in actual situations get shot. It’s a ratio close to 9/10, that’s 9 get shot to every one that 1 succeeds. Often, even if the disarm is successful, they get shot anyway during the attempt. An attacker who is already jittery on adrenaline will take the fast movement of the disarm i.e. the person moving towards them as a threatening gesture. They may fire reflexively, even if they didn’t originally intend to. The response evokes “oh my god, they’re attacking me” and that instinctive response will be even stronger and more immediate in someone who is untrained. This may also force a switch over in the attacker themselves from “I don’t want to hurt you” to “I’m going to shoot you because now you’re threatening my life”. It may not seem logical when they’re already holding the gun, but within their mind it is. An attack/disarm will escalate the situation because it shows them that the person they’re pointing the gun at (whom they may trust) is willing to hurt them or even shoot them. The person who is attempting the disarm is taking their power away from them and that is threatening, especially to someone who doesn’t know what they are doing. If the gun is all they have to control the situation then they won’t let it go without a fight.

With most techniques, the consequences for not executing them perfectly are fairly limited, you might take a blow you didn’t want to, or strike with less force than you intended. But, for gun disarms, failing to execute the technique flawlessly can be fatal.

What this means is, when it comes to gun disarms, the priority has been to develop simple techniques that work, and screw everything else. Gun disarms are, as a general rule, easy to learn, but, they also come without any margin for error.

The result is, most gun disarms will wrench joints and break bones. Most disarms can escalate into kills, because they leave the martial artist with the gun in a ready to fire state. The martial artist themselves may accidentally shoot their attacker once they get the gun away from them because they are also jittery with adrenaline and they left their finger on the trigger. Disarms end with the gun pointed at the attacker. Once adrenaline gets factored in, it can be very difficult to not follow through with an execution shot. With the exception of outright shooting the gunman, this is all pretty solidly reasonable force. Many instructors suggest for students who are unused to guns to brace it on their hip, instead of holding it out in a ready to fire state, as this reduces the risk of them accidentally shooting the attacker or their attacker taking it back.

Finally, and this is a general threat assessment issue, but it does affect disarms. Untrained shooters are much more dangerous. Once the shooting starts, a trained shooter is going to be able to kill more efficiently, but an untrained shooter is more likely to shoot someone by accident.

If you have a character pointing a gun at someone they don’t want to hurt (outside of some edge, “I don’t want to hurt you; but, I will kill you,” cases), they’re not going to be trained in firearms safety.

What this means is, and I hate harp on this over and over, but, when you have a character pointing a gun at someone, they’re always threatening to kill the other person. Even if they gun isn’t loaded, even if they don’t want to hurt anyone, even if they just want attention. They’re still threatening to kill someone.

I’d actually argue that a trained shooter is safer to disarm, as well. Proper trigger discipline can work against getting a rapid shot off into the martial artist. Of course a “safer” version of an extremely lethal situation is still quite dangerous.

Now, non-harmful gun disarms do exist. But, they’re not a part of any martial art. Stage fighting includes a lot of techniques that can be practiced safely. The problem is, as a general rule, stage fighting is cooperative choreography between two performers. So the gun disarms you’ll see on TV that leave both combatants with all their fingers in the original sockets aren’t real combat techniques.

If you want to look at getting a gun away from someone safely, I’d recommend watching The Negotiator, it’s not about martial arts, but it is about talking people down.