This Is What To Do When A Gun Is Pointed At You

In today’s world, armed robberies and other situations involving guns have become the new normal.

Armed criminals have taken over neighborhoods and rule by terror.

While legislative action aimed at gun control will not stop this, and will more than likely make it worse, there are things you can do when someone points a gun at you.

As dangerous as this situation is, you can turn it in your favor. Read the following article to find out how!

What the Criminal Wants Is…

If an individual is bent on killing you they will probably point the gun at you, then he will pull the trigger immediately, or feed off the fear that you’re generating, and then kill you.

If the criminal decides to pull the trigger immediately, the odds are you will be shot before you have a chance to react. Depending on the shot, you may be injured, but not dead yet. You’ll be dazed, stunned, or otherwise unable to respond with any defensive moves you may have practiced. While it may not seem like much, you must still remain calm and see what you can do for your survival.

Sometimes the shooter wants to feed off your fear or other debilitating emotions first. You should try to negotiate your way out of harm’s way before physically engaging the individual. If you are more than a foot away, try running away in a zig-zagging pattern while looking for cover, and hope they don’t have any formal training in how to shoot. This is a much better option than engaging.

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When all is said and done, surviving when someone points a gun at you comes down to a decision to stay and fight or to try and escape. In many cases, trying to escape is your best option. If you are unable to do so, and have nothing left to lose, then you might as well give it all you have and fight as best as you can.

Two Common Mistakes to Avoid and What to Do Instead

Oddly enough, most people are overconfident about their ability to defend themselves. For example, many people think just because they can do household chores and watch a few action movies, they are strong enough and know enough to fake their way through a situation.

These people don’t take into account the very visceral and often debilitating effects that come with realizing that their life is in danger. Without proper training and practicing basic skills, it is very hard to get out of a situation in which someone else intends to hurt you.

Remember, it is overconfidence, sometimes borne of wishful thinking, that usually leads to a vast majority of deaths.

The second most common mistake is made by untrained individuals trying to take on and fight an armed attacker. Sometime you have no choice but to fight for your life, however, as with anything else, you must pick your battles carefully.

Remain Calm

The most important thing to do when an individual holds a gun on you is to stay calm. Clarity of thought is very important.

  • If you are not calm your brain seizes up and you will be unable to think clearly.
  • If you panic you may also cause the person with a gun pointed at you to panic as well. If that person thinks they are losing control of the situation, they will fire.
  • Remember that a criminal thinks they have leverage or control over because they have a gun and you do not.
  • Tell the criminal what you are going to do before you do it. In the case of surrendering a wallet or something else, speak in a slow calm voice, then reach into your pocket, slowly take it out, and give it to them.

Establish and Maintain Eye Contact

You must establish eye contact with the individual pointing the gun at you because:

  • Doing this could cause the assailant to hesitate and think twice about killing you.
  • You don’t want this person to feel out of control, but you want them to feel uncomfortable.
  • You want the robber to start considering the necessity of what they are doing and to begin looking for a way out the situation.
  • If the criminal was determined to murder you, you would already be dead. Remember that, because every second that passes is one passing in your favor when it comes to surviving the encounter.

Study the Criminal

While the assailant is holding you at bay, study them. Instead of trying to memorize exact height, weight, or every article of clothing, try to find something unique about them personally. Unless the person is exceptionally tall, short, heavy, skinny, it is not going to do the police much good later when you are question. As far as clothing goes the assailant is going to change their clothing and their looks as soon as they are clear of the crime scene.

When you are memorizing the criminal, you must be able to distinguish them from other individuals on a lineup that are similar to the criminal’s general features. Pay attention to hairstyle, scars or birthmarks, tattoo, piercings, language style, or anything else that is unique to this individual.

Regardless of specific aspects of the situation, you must always follow these three steps as early as possible in the encounter.  Now let’s have a look at some specific scenarios and some suggestions for getting out of them alive.

What to Do if You Are Carrying a Gun Concealed

One of the most important things to remember if you are carrying a concealed weapon is the criminal still thinks they have an advantage. It is best to pretend to be a passive victim until you see a viable window for taking action. Remember, you actually have the element of surprise unless the criminal suspects you are carrying or actually found out via stalking you prior to the encounter.

A concealed weapon carrier must always keep their ego in check! If you don’t there is a strong chance that you could get shot or accidentally shoot an innocent by stander. Never try to draw your weapon in plain view of a criminal unless you have good cover that will stop and incoming bullet. Once you have drawn your weapon, shoot to save your life and the lives of others in the area not involved in committing a crime.

The following YouTube videos will show you wrong and right ways to draw your weapon when a criminal has the advantage over you.

To paraphrase the late, great Col. Jeff Cooper, “Owning a gun doesn’t make you a gunfighter anymore than owning a guitar makes you a musician“. You must know how to use it and, equally important, WHEN to use it.

Video first seen on Active Self Protection

When trying to shoot and hit a fast moving vehicle departing a crime scene.

Video first seen on Active Self Protection

When You Don’t Have a Gun and Can’t Fight Well

There may come a time when you are absolutely sure that an armed individual will pull the trigger and attempt to kill you. Regardless of the shooter’s intentions, you must do everything within your power to to defend yourself.

This may include running for cover, throwing objects at them, poke them in the eye if they’re close enough, or use any form of self-defense that you know of to protect yourself.

These actions are an absolute last resort. You must be ready for the possibility that you may be shot and killed. In this situation, it is better to do something than to do nothing at all.

What About Taking the Gun Away?

Your number one goal in this situation is to save your life. Fighting back greatly increases the odds of losing your life because it increases the risk of getting shot. Quite frankly, it takes a lot of skill and training to pull a gun out of someone’s hand and do it successfully.

If you have never been trained by the police or have not undergone extensive martial arts training, there is a chance you will fail in your efforts. To add insult to injury, even if you do manage to get the gun away from the criminal, that person will try to get it back. This, in turn, means you need to be prepared for an additional struggle.

The safest thing to do when faced with a handgun is to do whatever the individual says. The only exception to this is to get in a vehicle with this armed individual. Remember you are gambling with your life. This is not the movies or TV. The odds are the criminal has more experience in controlling terrified victims and will not think twice about shooting you.  

That being said, there are a few tactics you can try. As with any other maneuver, the more training and practice you have, the better chance you will succeed in your efforts. Once you have good muscle memory for these maneuvers, you don’t have to think about what steps to do in which order. The tactics just flow from beginning to the end without you thinking about it.

All of these maneuvers are dangerous if the criminal is stronger than you. They also increase the risk that the criminal will fire the gun and strike you or someone else in the area.

Criminal Facing You

Move your head out of the line of fire. Grab the gun directly from the criminal’s hand. Twist the gun to the right breaking the criminal’s finger as you do it. Remember the criminals finger will be on the trigger.

Take the gun from the criminal’s wounded hand. Use the right hand to stop the wrist as you use the left hand to bend the wrist, grab the gun, and push the gun down. This is very important. If you don’t grab the wrist before twisting the gun down, there is a chance the criminal will maintain control of the gun.

Video first seen on MMA Surge

Gun Pointed at Your Back

This video will show you the basics of what to do when a criminal points a pistol at your back. These techniques demonstrate a quick and safe way to disarm a criminal and give you the upper hand.

Video first seen on Gun Carrier

Gun Pointed to Your Head

Watch this video for a quick and safe disarming of a criminal. The film will demonstrate how to  disarm the criminal using  a single or double handed pistol holding grip.

Video first seen on Gun Carrier

In conclusion, being held at gun point can be a terrifying and possibly deadly encounter. There are many times when the criminal does not want to shoot, but feels they must point the gun in order to exert control in the situation.

Remaining calm and maintaining eye contact can rob the criminal of some of the psychological reward associated with the situation, and also help you buy some time in which to act. Protect your self by learning some basic self defense moves, as well as when and how to deploy them so that you have a better chance of surviving and coming out of the situation unharmed.

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This article has been written by Fred Tyrell for Survivopedia. 

Written by

Fred Tyrrell is an Eagle Scout and retired police officer that loves to hunt, fish, hike, and camp with good friends and family. He is also a champion marksman (rifle, pistol, shotgun) and has direct experience with all of the major gun brands and their clones. Fred refers to himself as a "Southern gentleman" - the last of a dying way. He believes a man's word is his bond, and looks forward to teaching others what he has learned over the years. You can send Fred a message at editor [at]

Latest comments
  • Thank-you, these videos really help. Repeating the correct techniques will help me. Some people forget the value of practice, so I’m glad that was covered.

  • What if the criminal points the gun at you and says “Don’t look at me muthafucka, or i’ll blow yer fuckin’ hade off?” As your adrenalin starts to pump and that immediately forces a tunnel vision which would quickly Cancel ‘studying his face; for the rest of the semester anyway, LOL ?

    This is pretty common ‘greeting’ in robberies and out of the seventeen or eighteen times I had a gun pointed at me during attempted robberies and at least double that with a knife when working as plain clothes ‘chicken bait’ on a summer robbery detail one time in Chicago, as well as other similar situations from years in this ‘line of work’ Most of them don’t want any identification and know how to conceal there faces as well. About half of the ones I encountered wore a mask or pull up their shirt over their face. Knocked one mope down who was wearing a distinct Gang colors bandana pulled up on his face ‘cowboy’ style but I kicked him solid enough that he skidded down the wet oily filthy alley on his ass about 20 feet and into a restaurant’s garbage cans and the mask went down to his neck. But he was rabbit fast on his feet and even my back-up couldn’t swipe him as he flew passed them. A few minutes later a patrol car asked on the radio if anybody out there was chasing anybody? They were holding someone out of breath and all nervous. ‘Just dark pants and no shirt (he was smart enough to remove the dark blue t-shirt like some ‘pro’ robbers do as he was fleeing)
    But that and his standard physical description fit about half the bad actors out on that night including my guy.
    We asked how far away they were and it was like three blocks away! I said, nah, couldn’t be…
    Then the beat cop said, ‘And he also looks smells like he was rolling in some dog shit or somethin…and has a blue ‘Disciples’ bandana around his neck.’
    Bingo, hahahah, the stupid mope forgot, or wouldn’t part with his characteristic gang colors he was using as a robbery mask, even if it meant getting caught!

    I didn’t bowl or play cards, or tennis or softball, etc. etc. I didn’t even pay attention to sports that much. That part of my life ended in H.S. where being a football and track athlete helped me only after I was drafted promptly out of high school and after basic in being ‘volunteered’ for Airborne and Ranger school where all my pipe dreams of being a pro quarterback and rock musician blew away in a cloud of Willie P mortar rounds and ‘hand grenade horse shoes’ Smoke! All I did was practice how to fight for my off duty ‘entertainment’.

    I was also nationally rated top 10 black belt tournament competitor at the time I was doing these kinds of down and dirty street work and very, very well trained street and military hand to hand instructor Also having a a 300 pound bench meant one strike instant knockouts for anybody stupid enough to try to hit my fist with his face. You could say the odds were ALL in my favor against any robber trying to take me down. I almost felt sorry for some of them. So I didn’t try too hard to cripple them permanently. After a while you could read if they were stone killers or just dumb, desperate and nervous. I could tell tales that sometimes defied belief. But that’s not the point here.

    The problem with YouTube training is for something as dangerous as this is that it just won’t work without LONG and HARD practice. And half of the techniques won’t work in real time, especially at night, and/or if you’ve had a couple for dinner or at a bar.

    I’m not going to tell here exactly what I did as far as techniques. Not much on You tube comes close to the way I teach gun retention and disarmament. I still make good money doing private ‘specialty’ training tactics, but suffice to say that any sequence that takes more than one move to disarm-like a couple shown- will likely fail detrimentally– and complicate the situation. Even for black belt level instructors. I Guarantee it!

    What YouTube IS good for is showing just how fast shit hits the fan in Real time actual street violence incidents. So watch some ugly ones and judge for yourself if you think you can do it.

    ‘Canned’ instructional videos are cool to watch and look good and functional but you can’t even just justify practicing the actual disarmament moves without first having an advanced martial arts skill set.

    In other words you have to know how to punch and kick as a bare minimum.
    BEFORE you perfect these gun moves. I know they are all the rage now, But if you look closely At the first MMA guy vid someone with serious experience would notice that he telegraphs his moves slightly. That could get him to miss the capture if the perp sees and jerks back -and remember most of these robbers are young and highly athletic with super fast reflexes. If they’re popped on meth or some other poison, their jumpiness is scary. So again, There’s much more to actually becoming ‘high probability’ effective with disarmament techniques, than watching videos. I know Fred mentions this, I thought it was important that I just want to emphasize it again.

    But I know it’s ALL the trend these days, Especially with Krav Maga training but here’s what I’d advise to do, especially if you are NOT willing to do the diligence to a point where you are at least MORE likely be able to do the disarm in fast dynamic presentation, than blow the move.

    1. Don’t Go where someone will pull a gun on you.
    2. Don’t carry in a waist band holster if you are in a place (gas station at night, dark city parking, etc.) Carry a pocket pistol inside your jacket/hoodie pocket with your hand on it if anybody even starts to approach you. If they pull a gun, you instantly (or a second beforehand) know it’s a robbery and you are now in imminent fear of your life. POINT THE GUN THROUGH THE POCKET AT HIS CENTER MASS AND OPEN FIRE. (I started doing this in the 70’s. It takes all the bullshit out of these quick draw gunslinging debates) At that point he’ll likely be close enough where you can’t miss and can hit him just by pointing instinctively. Especially with a little practice at this. THEN bolt FOR COVER AND CALL 911

    The best way to handle a situation when somebody is point a gun at you…is to NOT be at the end of the pointing. This is done with developed situational awareness. Which also must be practiced But you can do that anytime and all the time.

    It’s late at night in a questionable part of town. You pull into an all night corner store/gas station. You drive around/through it once before pulling up to the pump to get gas and see a couple punks with that ‘look’ in the hanging in shadows behind a wall or something which starts your 6th sense paging you. One is following you with his head, the other is looking around.

    If you have enough gas left to make it to another station. I’d head for that one.

  • I have to disagree with the tactics of looking at the firearm after it’s in your hand, for readiness/ability to fire. There are too many factors and not enough time. Once it’s in my hand, better to use it as an impact weapon against its former owner or sling it far away so it is out of the equation.