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.

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

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Handgun Basics

Handgun Basics

SIG Academy's Hana Bilodeau joins Rich and Jim to discuss the essential skills all handgunners should master.

All About Handgun Ammo

All About Handgun Ammo

Rich and Jim get into the nitty gritty of the FBI ammo protocol, firing into various barriers to illustrate what can happen to a bullet.

The New Speer Gold Dot G2 Duty Handgun Load

The New Speer Gold Dot G2 Duty Handgun Load

Speer's Jared Hinton shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the new Speer Gold Dot G2 Duty Handgun load.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Eliphalet Remington's world initially revolved around flintlock rifles at the time, and while early 1911

Remington Timeline: 2011 - R1 Pistol Is Introduced

Handguns Online Staff - September 09, 2016

Eliphalet Remington's world initially revolved around flintlock rifles at the time, and while...

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 SIG SAUER P365 (model # 365-9-BXR3) may just be the subcompact 9mm against which all others will be judged. Compact

SIG P365 Review

James Tarr - October 31, 2018

The SIG SAUER P365 (model # 365-9-BXR3) may just be the subcompact 9mm against which all...

Guns are fun, and cheap guns are even more fun. Spend less on the firearm and more on ammo with these 10 low-priced pistols. Compact

10 Cheap Guns Under $250

Evan Brune - September 24, 2015

Guns are fun, and cheap guns are even more fun. Spend less on the firearm and more on ammo...

See More Trending Articles

More Training

If you're looking to add an element of fun to your next range day, consider these pop packs. Training

Bring Some Pop Packs To The Range

Richard Nance - July 26, 2018

If you're looking to add an element of fun to your next range day, consider these pop packs.

The Keepers' Test comes to us from Spencer Keepers of Keepers Concealment Holsters, and it's all about draw speed from concealment and pinpoint accuracy. Training

Shooting Drills – Keepers' Test

J. Scott Rupp - January 30, 2020

The Keepers' Test comes to us from Spencer Keepers of Keepers Concealment Holsters, and it's...

From arm position to thumb location, there are plenty of methods out there. Training

There's More Than One Way To Shoot A Gun

Richard Nance - December 27, 2018

From arm position to thumb location, there are plenty of methods out there.

Dry fire training is a great way to keep your skills sharp. Training

Dry Fire Training

Richard Nance - September 18, 2019

Dry fire training is a great way to keep your skills sharp.

See More Training

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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

Get Digital Access.

All Handguns subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now