Skip to main content

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.

Recommended


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.

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

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Federal's new.30 Super Carry pistol cartridge offers the equivalent of 9mm Luger performance with recoil and muzzle blast comparable with 9mm. Here's a first look.
Handguns

First Look: Federal .30 Super Carry Pistol Cartridge

Scott Rupp and Richard Nance correct some common shooting advice.
Learn

Bad Shooting Advice

Rich Nance shows us a drill that helps with target transition and accuracy.
Learn

Skills Drills - 3 Second Headshot

It is important to train in various shooting positions. Rich shows us some kneeling positions here.
Learn

Shooting from Kneeling

Scott Rupp highlights the Taurus GX4.
Handguns

Taurus GX4

Richard Nance shows off this easy to carry flashlight from Streamlight.
Gear

Streamlight Wedge

In early 2021, Taurus introduced the GX4, its entry into the micro-compact concealed carry pistol market. Now the company has added red-dot sight capability with the new T.O.R.O. (Taurus Optic Ready Option) version.
Handguns

First Look: Taurus GX4 T.O.R.O. Optics-Ready Micro-Compact 9mm Pistol

Widely known for their duty retention holsters, Safariland is bringing the security and safety of their LE products to the civilian world with the 575 GLS holster.
Gear

Safariland Holsters

Smith & Wesson has expanded their M&P Shield Plus pistol line to include a 3.1-inch optics-ready slide option. Scott Rupp, editor of Handguns, is with Matt Spafford, of Smith & Wesson, to check out this "sweet spot" optics-ready concealed-carry pistol.
Concealed Carry

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus Pistol Series Expanded with Optics-Ready Versions

Handguns Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

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

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Handguns App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

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

Get the top Handguns stories delivered right to your inbox.

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

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now