The Problem with contact shots

With the rise in the understanding that we could possibly find ourselves in an entangled fight (or at least, be in the RANGE of an entangled fight – this is a really important distinction that many critics fail to understand), there has been a concurrent rise in both people teaching how to deal with it, as well as specific techniques. One of those techniques is the “contact shot” i.e. when the pistol is in actual contact with the opponent’s body. Personally, I am not an advocate of this method, for multiple reasons.

There are three main issues with contact shots.

  1. There is no way to know if the barrel is aligned in such a way that the round will hit anything important.  The reason we use sights is because it is the only way to ensure the barrel is lined up and the bullet goes where it will actually do some good. Short of sights or a robust kinesthetic locked retention position, you will have no clue where the round travels to. Think it does not matter because you are so close? Guess again. I cannot begin to count the number of times I have seen someone using a Sims or UTM equipped gun in a training situation fire at contact distance and be absolutely positive where the round went, only to debrief afterwards and to find that the projectile was a peripheral hit, or that the trajectory was through some body part like love handles that would have had no impact on the fight. That alignment misjudging is magnified by the press of the bodies. The pressure of the other guy moving into you can cause what you thought to be a perfect lined up shot to cant in any imaginable direction.  You just cannot count on the round to go where you think it will.
  2. Once the first round fires, the gun is now an ungainly and ill balanced small impact tool because it is now inoperable. You have exactly one round to accomplish something. Is that realistic in any way? There is not one reputable and knowledgeable firearms instructor anywhere that will tell you that when firing at a distance, you can count on a one round stop from any handgun caliber or bullet configuration. Everyone agrees that handgun rounds are poor stoppers and the only way to count on being able to use it effectively is to shoot multiple rounds, with many experienced instructors(such as Tom Givens) saying a minimum “effective dose” should be thought of as 3-5 rounds. So why on god’s green earth would someone then advocate turning your pistol into a single shot weapon? It has not suddenly become a death ray.It is the exact same weapon it was at distance; with the same level of needing more rounds to ensure that it stops the bad guy. What possible reason is thereto voluntarily give up that ability? It makes no sense to use a firearm differently and in a way that takes away from efficacy.
  3. The only way to ensure you will get even one round off is to use both your hands on the gun which means the bad guy has both his hands free to do whatever he wants. He can grab your gun and stop you from firing, he can strike you and possibly knock you out before you can fire, he can get his own weapon out and shoot you while you try to shoot him, or he can control you to the point that he can move to a better position where you are unable to make physical contact to him with your gun. We need to always keep in mind that the legal justification to use deadly force to protect ourselves means the other guy is doing something threatening. He is going to continue to do that same physical behavior as we bring our gun to bear and wrap it with both of our hands. He is not going to suddenly stop and become a frozen zombie.He is going to keep trying to kill us or cause grave bodily injury. If we ignore that and just do our gun thing, we give him all the opportunity in the world to finish the job he has already started. Not exactly the best plan to stay alive in my book.

The fact is that there are far more certain methods to use a firearm in a contact fighting situation. They require a bit more practice than contact shots, but not that much more, and those methods can be counted on to actually work. That seems to be worth the investment to me.