Giving Myself the Finger: Trapped Finger in a Full Speed Disarm

| July 12, 2017 | 1 Comments

I’ve attended over a dozen classes on weapon disarms and/or weapon retention. When the handgun trainers come out, we are always cautioned to not put our fingers on the slide, or in the trigger guards.

The concern is that the handgun will rotate during the disarm so quickly and violently that it will cause damage to the finger of the “attacker.”

My phalanges are delicate and I use a keyboard and mouse for a living, so I was always worried about breaking my finger. I was extra diligent about holding the handgun “safely,” even if that meant giving up the ability to shoot the opposing student in the car evolution at Shivworks ECQC.

If I felt like the student was going to put their hands on the gun, I removed my finger from the trigger.

That is, until this June, when my finger got trapped against the slide. I had nowhere else to put it except on the trigger, inside of the legendary boogeyman trigger guard.

I “escaped” uninjured, and I started to wonder why I didn’t get my finger broken, degloved, or shorn clean off.

I think I avoided injury for two reasons: my partner and I were using relatively equal force, and the trigger guard was large enough to allow movement around my finger.

I have a hypothesis about injury and opposed training: when two people exert nearly equal pressure on each other, the chance of injury is less than when one is exerting more force than the other. If one student is going 80% and the other student expects 25%, injury may be more likely to occur. The same thing may happen if two students start out at 80% and then one gets tired and their level of effort craters.

Ed from Ed’s Manifesto posted his opinion and experience on finger degloving as it relates to knives with a ring on the bottom. In Ed’s experience, injury with these knives happen when the ring is too small for the user’s finger. Karambits with a larger, rounded ring (or looking at it another way, a ring large enough for the user’s finger) are less likely to cause injury, especially the dreaded degloving. His general rule is that if you can’t put a gloved finger inside, avoid that ringed blade.

Craig Douglas from Shivworks stated that the trigger guard caused only one finger injury in his 20+ years of running opposed training drills.

Combining the experiences of both Ed and Craig, one may hypothesize that the trigger guard of the Glock 17T Simunitions pistols (or equivalent) are large enough to allow finger mobility and escape.

There was a moment where my training partner was putting heavy pressure on my trigger finger. Because we were both exerting a lot of force, and because my finger was not trapped by his non-gun-grabbing-hand, I was able to resist long enough to decide to “escape.” The larger, rounded opening of the trigger guard made escape easier.

When we usually train disarms, the “bad guy” is just standing there with his arm at some level of extension and doesn’t move or resist. To me, this is much more likely to result in injury to the finger, as there is no “brake” on the effort exerted by the defending student. The attacking student’s hand is stationary, and does not give or counter the force from the defender.

Disarms in an entangled fight play out a lot differently than in non-opposed training environments. The context and use of force in an entangled fight — even in a higher pressure training situation amongst friends — results in a safer environment than the “let the technique work” environment.

In my experience, it is possible to train retention and disarms with the finger in the trigger guard. I encourage you to find someone you trust and wrassle over a Roscoe. You may be surprised.

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.
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1 Comment on "Giving Myself the Finger: Trapped Finger in a Full Speed Disarm"

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  1. FC says:

    And from this, we may have learned two things. 1) we can train more realistically. 2) a disarm move may not be as effective of the opponent gsm the chance to resist with any semblance of strength, I.e caught off guard by the victims explosive non-compliance.

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