Skip to main content

Blood, Sweat and Tears

Blood, Sweat and Tears

Gun handling with dirty, injured or gloved hands is no easy task.

A cold, wet and dirty gloved hand makes gun handling and defensive shooting difficult. The wise defensive handgunner practices under such conditions--but always with an unloaded gun.

Effective defensive handgun practice and training should include using your firearm(s) under worst-case scenarios. This is most often addressed by including malfunction clearing, as well as drawing and firing from awkward or constrained positions. Less frequently, these same drills are done with just one hand--usually strong-hand only but also less-dominant-hand practice for those who are into intensive self-defense training.

Very infrequently, if ever, do we experience using our handguns while our hands are, in effect, partially disabled such as when they're cold, wet, have dirt or mud on them, or when we're simply wearing gloves.


All of these conditions reduce the ability to grip, manipulate and fire your handgun. These problems are surmountable, but it's best to experience them and fight through them--if not overcome them--when you don't have your life on the line.


Yes, professionalism and plain old-fashioned guts can get you through, as they did FBI Special Agent Gordon G. McNeill as he related in comments he made to W. French Anderson, MD, the author of Forensic Analysis of the April 11, 1986 FBI Gunfight (paladin-press.com).

This gunfight was the now-famous one that had FBI agents pitted against Michael L. Platt and William Matix when the agents attempted to arrest the two robbers and killers after stopping the car they were driving.


During the four-minute-long gunfight after the car stop, Matix shot McNeill with a .223-chambered Mini-14 rifle, with one round hitting him in his right (shooting) hand.


McNeill related his thoughts and actions after this wound in the interview with Dr. Anderson, "After firing four rounds I took a direct hit on my right hand from a .223 round," he said. Despite this, he fired two more rounds, which apparently hit Matix, taking him out of the fight.

He said that after attempting to reload his revolver and being unsure if it was still working since blood and bone fragments from his hand were caught up in the cylinder, McNeill moved to his vehicle and grabbed a Remington 870 and shot at the robbers, who'd taken cover behind their vehicle. McNeill in effect skipped buckshot beneath the vehicle, hitting both suspects in their feet.

McNeill was not sure if his revolver would work. He had the presence of mind not to dither over this but instead armed himself with another gun and stayed in the fight--and did so despite the severe wound to his hand. Rather than second-guess his actions, consider this: Others might not have the wherewithal to react and then take the action he did.

This presence of mind comes from training, and while there's no way to simulate a wound such as McNeill sustained, you can practice having your hands wet, cold (weather permitting), gloved and so on.

DO NOT use a loaded gun to work on this. By the very nature of the exercise, you almost assuredly will fumble the gun and may well drop it. You may not have muzzle control nor be able to keep from pressing the trigger, however inadvertently, and that can bring tragic results.

Also, by not using a loaded gun you can be aggressive in trying various ways of operating and firing your pistol or revolver when your hands are handicapped. Remember, you are attempting to learn manipulation and your limitations in using your gun under such conditions.

For starters, don't neglect loading and malfunction clearing drills. If, for example, you're wearing gloves, it's particularly easy to find yourself loading part of a glove along with a fresh magazine. The same type of problem occurs when retracting or releasing the slide, and interference from glove material may prevent you from fully opening or closing a revolver cylinder.

A variation of this is trapping part of your glove beneath or behind the trigger. Yet another is gripping the gun too high, with or without gloves, where the web of your hand--naked or gloved--can stop the slide of your semiauto.

The same is true if you're using a revolver. You might well take or move into too high a grip on the frame and then have the web of your naked or gloved hand block the hammer, keeping the gun from firing.

An ancillary benefit to this exercise is learning the limitations of your chosen defensive handgun. For example, many swear by the 1911 pistol, as well as polymer pistols that have short trigger movements, and many want to have the lightest, most crisp trigger pull possible. Well, when your fingers are covered with dirt, a glove or are numb, lightweight triggers become "no weight" triggers--assuming you can even get a finger in that condition into a small trigger guard.

Also, you may find it advantageous to change action types with seasons. I like medium to large double-action revolvers in cold weather as I get more gun to grab and a heavy, long trigger pull. The long-stroke semiautos also become more attractive as conditions worsen, and one sees the wisdom of not having a light-breaking trigger on a defensive handgun.

How often do you need to practice this dirty work? You're the only one who can answer this question, of course. You alone must decide if you have the skills necessary to be able to defend yourself in a real-world attack.

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

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Compact Carry Pistols Are Effective With Practice

Compact Carry Pistols Are Effective With Practice

Small, compact semi-auto pistols are popular with concealed-carry firearm buyers, and these two models – the KelTec PF9 9mm and the Ruger LCP II .22LR – are no exceptions. They are effective for personal protection but only if you put in the time to practice.

Going To The Range

Going To The Range

Jim and Scott show you how to make each trip to the shooting range a quality experience.

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.

Dan Wesson Kodiak 1911 10mm

Dan Wesson Kodiak 1911 10mm

The Kodiak is a long slide 1911-style semi-auto complete with 6-inch bull barrels and chambered in 10mm.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Do you remember the first time you fired a gun? If you're like most, you were somewhatPro Tips For Controlling Recoil 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

According to a recent report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a lawsuit againstJudge Postpones Oral Arguments to Stop California Microstamping Law 2nd Amendment

Judge Postpones Oral Arguments to Stop California Microstamping Law

Handguns Online Staff - May 07, 2014

According to a recent report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a lawsuit...

One of the newest in the Micro 9 series, the Kimber Micro 9 Nightfall is a serious pistol designed for personal defense.Kimber Micro 9 Nightfall Review Compact

Kimber Micro 9 Nightfall Review

Jeff Chudwin - January 29, 2019

One of the newest in the Micro 9 series, the Kimber Micro 9 Nightfall is a serious pistol...

The Smith & Wesson Model 13 revolver was a combat classic back in the day.Smith & Wesson Model 13 Revolver Revolvers

Smith & Wesson Model 13 Revolver

Payton Miller - July 31, 2020

The Smith & Wesson Model 13 revolver was a combat classic back in the day.

See More Trending Articles

More Training

Good stance capitalizes on posture and joints to minimize the effects of recoil.Shooting a Handgun - Stance Matters Training

Shooting a Handgun - Stance Matters

Eve Flanigan - June 14, 2018

Good stance capitalizes on posture and joints to minimize the effects of recoil.

An ordinary smartphone with slow-motion capability will reveal flaws in your draw stroke you didn't even know you had.Improve Your Draw Stroke Through Slow-Motion Video Training

Improve Your Draw Stroke Through Slow-Motion Video

Richard Nance - September 17, 2018

An ordinary smartphone with slow-motion capability will reveal flaws in your draw stroke you...

If you're looking to add an element of fun to your next range day, consider these pop packs.Bring Some Pop Packs To The Range 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.

Vicker's Leatham Drill is great for good shooters to do after some time away from the range or from a particular gun to reacquaint themselves with the trigger. Handgun Skill Drill: Vicker's Leatham Drill Training

Handgun Skill Drill: Vicker's Leatham Drill

Eve Flanigan - July 19, 2018

Vicker's Leatham Drill is great for good shooters to do after some time away from the range or...

See More Training

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Handguns App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

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

Phone Icon

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