Saturday, May 1, 2010

Don't Try This At Home

by Ben Small

Your perp has a loaded semi-automatic pistol pushed against your protagonist's stomach and has his finger on the trigger.

What should your protagonist do?

Simple. Move against the gun, push his belly hard against the muzzle.

Counter intuitive, isn't it?  But it's an effective maneuver.

Why? Because a semi-auto pistol can only fire if it's locked up. Pushing hard against the muzzle will cause the slide to slip back ever so slightly, thus preventing the pistol from going into battery.  More likely than not, the perp will not understand what has happened and will panic. Yes, you could accomplish the same thing by grabbing the slide and pushing it back, but that's obvious, and a slap of the hand holding the slide or counter pressure on it will cause the slide to slip back into lockup. 

Bang. Call the coroner.

The belly-push gives your protagonist an opportunity to slap the gun away while the perp is still trying to figure out what went wrong.  Those extra tacos your protag had for lunch may just save his life.

How much pressure is needed? Depends on the gun. A Beretta 92FS, the commercial version of the military pistol, has a slide that moves easily. In fact, there have been occasions where the person on the wrong end of a Beretta muzzle has pushed back on the pistol's slide and pushed the slide off the pistol. Sig Sauers and Glocks and 1911s, however, have more resistant slides and require more pressure. Depends on the gun and how well it's been maintained. Slides tend to loosen over time, so a new gun's slide will usually require more pressure than a well-used pistol.

Obviously, if your protagonist is a bit on the heavy side, muzzle-sink is easier to accomplish. Hard bodies may have to push harder. But even Skinny Minny can do this, just requires more pressure. Lean into it, stringbean.

A smart perp, one who knows guns, may counteract this move, however, by grabbing the slide and holding it into place. But I wouldn't worry too much about this happening. Most perps -- indeed, nost people, cops included -- don't know much about guns.

I have to admit: I have not tried this, nor do I intend to. I relied on Massad Aboud, a cop and head of the Lethal Force Institute in Connecticut. for this information. Mas Aboud is regarded as a gun expert; he's frequently called as an expert witness in criminal and civil trials involving guns. He's also a regular contributor to several gun magazines. If Massad Aboud says something, I believe him.  His book IN THE GRAVEST EXTREME should be required reading for every gun owner and for mystery writers who include guns in their stories.

So maybe your protagonist should order some supersized McDonald's meals, huh?


The Daring Novelist said...

Oh, this is great, although you'd have to explain it to get away with it.

Mark Troy said...

Good tip, Ben. I've read quite a few of Aboud's articles and always found them useful.

Dana Fredsti said...

I love all the gun tips, Ben! Very useful!

Kevin R. Tipple said...

A former secuirty guard I used to work with was mugged about two years ago down in Deep Ellum. He tried this and it didn't work. Considering the belly he has on him, which would put mine to shame, I'm not sure it really works.

He survived the shooting, but just barely.

Morgan Mandel said...

I know the person to ask if I need any gun answers, that's for sure. I'm no expert by any means.

Morgan Mandel

Tony Burton said...

It's very possible that the security guard in question had/has such a soft belly that it didn't actually move the action back. It would be the difference between pushing the gun against a loaf of bread and pushing it against an unopened sack of flour. If the belly just sort of flowed around the barrel, you're absolutely right--bang.


Kevin R. Tipple said...

That very well might be the answer, Tony. It might have acted more like a big pillow/loaf of bread than anything else.