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A Cruel Blow

A Cruel Blow

Using a gun as a club doesn't work--and it can hurt the gun!

Author's S&W Model 19, shown with an early aluminum flashlight. Both are excellent tools for their original purpose, but only the light is good as an improvised club.

Thanks to being exposed to thousands of hours of video and film violence where firearms--particularly handguns--have been misused, I'm certain many believe someone shot with a shotgun always flies backwards, often coupled with other acrobatics, before falling to the floor in a heap. Folks shot with handguns don't fare much better, particularly if the protagonist's handgun has been identified as "powerful."

Similarly, when firearms--particularly handguns--are used as bludgeons, good and bad guys alike are shown to react similarly: immediately dropping to the floor, insentient, with nary a drop of blood in sight.

To read the latest from Dave Spaulding on non-gun confrontation, pick up a copy of the June/July 2009 issue of Handguns at a newsstand near you.

When they do regain consciousness, their only reaction is holding a hand to the location of the hit (ice bag optional). The guns used to deliver these devastating blows always remain operable.

Believe me, this does not happen in real life. I've witnessed any number of such misuses of a handgun during my tenure in law enforcement, years in which, by and large, most all of us were armed with revolvers, big and small. We used S&W K-frame models 10, 15 and 19, as well as J frames, both all steel and Airweight, and Colt Detective Specials.

We also had the service semiautos of the time--the 1911, the Sig Sauer, the Browning Hi Power and S&W Model 39s and 59s, along with their downsized variants.

In more recent years, I've had fewer opportunities to observe the results of using polymer handguns as bludgeons, but those I did see had similar results.


I misused my handgun in such a manner only twice, once with a J frame and once with a 1911. The others I observed during or after "application." None worked effectively as a club.

Revolvers, if used to whack someone or something with their side surface, disassemble and unload themselves or become jammed, rendering them inoperable.

Hitting with the right side of the revolver drives the cylinder out and the rounds self-extract. Hitting from the left, the cylinder jams itself further into the frame and then cannot rotate, thus jamming the gun.

Striking with the barrel forward not only bends the barrel but most often also bends the trigger guard such that you cannot cycle the action.

Semiautos fare a bit better. It is harder to injure the smaller trigger guards, which by and large are sturdier than a revolver trigger guard. Also, while rare, slide assemblies (which are more resistant to bending, but it can be done) dislodge from the frame after a very severe blow or two.

The semiauto does, however, tend to eject its magazine if used as a club. The gun is still operable and the chambered round can be fired, depending on whether or not the gun has a magazine safety. Of course, this assumes the gun was not stabbed into the object, causing the slide to partially extract and then fail to rechamber the round.

With either revolver or semiauto, both would, after the strike, possibly now have blood and flesh on them, adding to the possibility of malfunctions.Western Style
Curiously, I've never seen or know of anyone reversing their handgun ala Hollywood Westerns and hitting someone with the gun butt. (One associate did make up and hang his own "Wanted" posters and said he sometimes drove the tacks in with his revolver's gun butt--an incredibly stupid thing to do.)

I've also been told and have read of instruction courses that teach how to use firearms as striking or stabbing tools. This makes sense only if you're out of ammo and have to work with what you have.

I suspect lots of guns get broken in such training. I also would think none of this is done with loaded guns, to avoid the possibility of the arm discharging when, say, butt-stroking someone.

Your handgun (indeed all firearms) are built to do one primary task: launch projectiles. None are made to sustain the abuses we've talked about and still function.

There is also the very real possibility of an accidental discharge if you try using the gun this way. Therefore, I suggest you leave the bulldogging to Wyatt Earp and his Colt Buntline revolver.

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