Defensive DVD Review: Personal Defense When The Gun Fails

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Personal Defense When The Gun Fails DVD

By Rob Pincus
Published by Personal Defense Network

This DVD was something of a surprise, largely because I didn’t quite know what to expect. When I saw the title “Personal Defense When The Gun Fails”, I immediately thought about malfunctions and remediation drills — and while the DVD touches on those, it goes well beyond them and includes some fresh ideas about how to look at the idea of a failure.

The theme of the DVD, if it had one, would be something that Pincus says in one of the first chapters: your failure to acknowledge that your gun can’t always solve your problem prevents you from being prepared to take other defensive actions when it fails (or you don’t have it.) This is an important idea that a lot of people in the defensive shooting world just won’t acknowledge: our guns aren’t magical devices that make bad guys go away! They’re simply tools to achieve a goal, and sometimes those tools don’t work. The rest of the DVD is really about what to do when they don’t.

Kinds of failures

The program starts off with a pretty complete review of the various kinds of mechanical failures that can happen with a semi-automatic pistol. (While revolvers are mentioned, the bulk of the DVD deals with the autoloading pistol.) As Pincus takes care to illustrate, there are a surprisingly large number of things that could potentially go wrong with a modern autoloading pistol (that the better models so seldom fail is a testament to the quality of guns and ammunition we enjoy today!) Pincus explains that learning what can go wrong and learning to remediate those failures is an important part of a good defensive shooting skill set.

The second chapter deals with the human errors, or those things that the shooter does to keep the gun from working. Everything from a bad choice of gun (having extraneous levers or varying trigger pulls increases the number of mistakes you might make) to not keeping it in good condition with good ammunition fall under human error. Not knowing how to simply and swiftly clear a common malfunction, resulting in the gun not working for an extended period of time, is another example.

Learning how to do that, however, is not the focus of this DVD. As Pincus points out, if you can clear a malfunction quickly and get the gun running again you can continue to use it to defend yourself. However, there are a lot of malfunctions which you either make worse through inappropriate or unpracticed action, or which can’t be cleared in the midst of dealing with an attacker — what do you do then? That’s what the rest of the chapters focus on: you’ve had a problem that’s not easily fixed, so how do you deal with your attacker without the use of your gun?

What do you do when you can’t fix it?

The following chapters deal with the kinds of defensive situations you might face and how the circumstances of each dictates how you handle them (and what your options might be): presenting a plausible defense from the attacker’s point of view (giving the bad guy reason to believe that you can still stop him — confidence and assertiveness are key); when closing the distance is a proper response to a gun failure (and how to do it properly); using a failed firearm as an improvised impact tool; running away (yes, that is a valid strategy — but know where you’re going and know how to avoid injury while getting there); how to protect yourself from crippling injury or death by protecting your vital areas; and how you should respond to a close-in attack when you don’t have the gun.

None of these chapters are intended to be all-encompassing or to substitute for hands-on training; they simply show the scope of what you need to know and some of the details, plus the all-important “why”. It’s up to you to seek out specific training and do the practice to develop and maintain those skills; it’s more of a framework for WHAT you need to practice and the situations in which those skills might be important than it is an instructional course itself.

Who should watch this?

This DVD would, I think, be very useful to the person who is relatively new to defensive shooting and self defense in general, or perhaps someone who hasn’t taken any advanced courses. A lot of what’s covered will be familiar to the more experienced defensive shooting student, to the point that they might grouse “I’ve seen this before”, although the way in which everything is arranged and presented in a conceptual fashion will help even an old hand develop a better understanding of those “malfunction drills” they’ve been doing.

As I said, though, it’s especially valuable to the newer student who still needs to grasp where and how all of this stuff fits together. Getting the student to think about the interrelationship of hardware and software malfunctions, and the commonality of urgency, will go a long way to helping them put it all into proper context and to better budget their limited time and training resources. It’s an interesting expanded presentation of what it usually glossed over very quickly in most classes.

Personal Defense When The Gun Fails is available at the I.C.E. Training Store. It’s also available — along with the last five titles I’ve reviewed — in a special bundle package. (If you’re ordering for Christmas delivery, they tell me that Tuesday, 12/22, is the cutoff date.)

– Grant Cunningham

Disclosure: This DVD was supplied by the Personal Defense Network for review. I am affiliated with PDN as a contributor, and have worked with Rob Pincus on many projects over the years, but I receive no compensation should you purchase this DVD. I have no affiliation with the ICE Store.



About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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