Getting Off The X

Getting Off The X

GettingOffTheX

When an assailant armed with a contact weapon like a bat, a crowbar or a knife charges you, you might think that drawing your concealed handgun is the first step in your defense. However, immediately going for your gun contains two potentially fatal flaws. First, depending on the distance between you and the assailant, there may not be time to draw your gun. Studies have shown that the average man can close a distance of 21 feet in approximately 1.5 seconds.

Second, assuming you had time to draw your gun and shoot the assailant twice in the chest, his forward momentum will likely enable him to reach you with his weapon. That's because, barring a shot that results in a central nervous system stoppage, it's unlikely the assailant will be immediately halted—even if he received what may ultimately be a fatal wound.

Therefore, it's smart to add movement to your draw stroke to get off line of the attack. The most common method for achieving this goal is by moving rearward. After all, that's instinctive when someone is running toward your with a weapon. However, this tactic is comparable to backing up from an oncoming train. You can't move backward as fast as the train moves forward. The same is true for a charging assailant.


Also, when you frantically backpedal under stress, there's a good chance you'll fall, which leaves you extremely vulnerable. Moving rearward should be reserved for situations where lateral or dynamic movement is not possible, such as in an alleyway. When rearward movement is your only option, keep your upper body weight leaning forward and lead with your toe rather than your heel to avoid tripping.


Realizing the shortcomings of backpedaling, many shooters combine one or two lateral steps with their draw stroke. While this is good in theory, it leaves something to be desired in practicality. As Dave Spaulding of Handgun Combatives is quick to point out, a charging attacker need to alter his course only slightly to reach you when all you do is take a step or two to one side.


If you're going to rely on lateral movement, it needs to be explosive enough to get you off the "train track," and you need to be prepared to fire the moment your feet are planted. Not only that, you need to be ready to continue to move to keep the attacker at bay. If there's a physical barrier like a vehicle or even a table, placing it between you and an assailant armed with a contact weapon is an excellent strategy. If the assailant can't reach you with the weapon, you're safe.

Lateral movement is a decent option to employ against a charging adversary but "getting off the X," as it's called in tactical circles, refers to diagonal movement. The easiest direction to move is forward, to your dominant side. Drawing and moving in this manner enables you to move rather quickly and still fire with a surprising accuracy. Of course, the faster you move, the harder it is to shoot accurately.

Moving to your non-gun side is also effective, but turning to engage the threat from this position can be cumbersome, as your body is "bound up." Exaggerating the bend in your knees makes it easier to rotate your torso like a tank turret to keep your muzzle trained on the attacker. You could also resort to shooting with just your dominant hand.


You can move rearward at a diagonal, but doing so is difficult to maintain for more than a few steps for the reasons previously mentioned. Instead, you could actually turn and run along a diagonal path while drawing your gun—preferably to something that would afford you cover or at least impede the assailant's access to you. Of course, you will need to plant and turn in order to engage the threat.

The obvious downside is that while running way, you will lose sight of the assailant, at least momentarily. The clear advantage to this as opposed to backpedaling is that you can move much faster, albeit without being able to shoot while moving.

When an armed assailant charges you, getting off line of the attack is paramount. Drawing your concealed handgun is important but not at the expense of remaining stationary. You must draw and move, not draw then move. And while those two lateral steps may make you feel better, they will do little to enhance your safety.


Moving dynamically either along a lateral or diagonal path makes it more difficult to clear your cover garment and access your concealed handgun. Furthermore, shooting on the move is considerably more difficult than shooting while standing still. This skill set should be practiced with an inert training gun initially. Once you're comfortable with moving and drawing, take to the range and slowly incorporate live fire.

When dealing with an assailant armed with an edged weapon or bludgeon, a tie is not sufficient. You need to be able to get to your gun and get rounds on target, all while moving to keep the assailant at bay. "X" marks the spot where you don't want to be.

Recommended for You

Mossberg dives into the CCW market with the MC1sc 9mm pistol (#89001), their first striker-fired semiautomatic. Semi-Auto

Mossberg MC1sc 9mm Pistol Review

Brad Fitzpatrick

Mossberg dives into the CCW market with the MC1sc 9mm pistol (#89001), their first...

While some modifications require an experienced gunsmith, the average shooter can install most parts in just minutes.
Instead, the curtain-rod engineer with a Accessories

8 Popular Drop-In Glock Mods

Dusty Gibson - July 17, 2013

While some modifications require an experienced gunsmith, the average shooter can install most...

The Ruger SR1911 is offered in two versions, an all-stainless in .45 ACP (model # 6762) and a two-tone aluminum-framed model in 9mm (model # 6758). This review by James Tarr will focus on the 9mm. 1911

Ruger SR1911 Officer-Style 9mm Review

James Tarr - May 01, 2019

The Ruger SR1911 is offered in two versions, an all-stainless in .45 ACP (model # 6762) and a...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Performance Center M&P Shield M2.0

Performance Center M&P Shield M2.0

From Smith & Wesson, the M&P Shield M2.0 is a great option for a carry gun with optics option.

Kyle Lamb and Eric Poole talk SIG pistols

Kyle Lamb and Eric Poole talk SIG pistols

G&A Editor Eric Poole and Viking Tacticals's Kyle Lamb talks about 2 new pistols from SIG Sauer and a Lipsey's Special of the P365.

Teaching New Shooters

Teaching New Shooters

Julie Golob of Team Smith & Wesson guest stars, joining Jim and Scott for a discussion of how best to introduce new shooters to the sport.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Do you remember the first time you fired a gun? If you're like most, you were somewhat Training

Pro Tips For Controlling Recoil

Richard Nance - April 11, 2017

Do you remember the first time you fired a gun? If you're like most, you were somewhat

Available in .38 Super, 9mm and .45 ACP, the Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander offers a terrific balance of weight, power and shootability. 1911

Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander 9mm Review

J. Scott Rupp - May 08, 2019

Available in .38 Super, 9mm and .45 ACP, the Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander offers a...

The number of accessories and aftermarket upgrades for the SIG P320 is only going to increase. Accessories

SIG P320 Accessories and Upgrades

James Tarr - December 14, 2017

The number of accessories and aftermarket upgrades for the SIG P320 is only going to increase.

See More Stories

More Training

The best drills are the simplest, and it doesn't get any simpler than this one. Training

The 5x5x5 Drill

J. Scott Rupp - October 18, 2018

The best drills are the simplest, and it doesn't get any simpler than this one.

In this article, Richard Nance examines multiple shooting positions for when an assailant is close enough to reach your gun and you can't use your sights. Training

When You Can't Use Your Sights, Aim With Your Body

Richard Nance - February 14, 2018

In this article, Richard Nance examines multiple shooting positions for when an assailant is...

J. Scott Rupp examines a handgun drill that is helpful for working on sight tracking, target transitions and reloading at the same time. Training

Handgun Skill Drill: Four Pair

J. Scott Rupp - June 11, 2018

J. Scott Rupp examines a handgun drill that is helpful for working on sight tracking, target...

See More Training

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.