“Listerine” Pistol: Extreme Close-Quarter Combative Realities

When we talk about “Listerine” Combat we are referring to that nasty “bad breath” distance fighting that takes place within 2- 3 feet of your nose. This can be empty hand, knife, stick or firearm. We will see that all of the Combative principles of each of these platforms intersect or duplicate each other at some point. Simply having a gun does not always solve your problem. A gun is not a magic “tailsman” it is only a tool that when combined with certain skill sets can get you out of a jam, one of those skill sets being Extreme Close-Quarters Combatives.

It is said if you want to learn something new, read an old book.

This is very true in the realm of Combatives. Without going too in depth, I would suggest any of the books by Applegate, Fairbairn or Sykes. The techniques these guys developed are simple, brutal and effective. Yes, the books are 60+ years old, but if you look at “modern” trainers in combatives, not much has changed, except some trainer trying to put his name or “brand” on it to make money. A Face Smash or Axe Hand to the throat  is the same in 1942 or 2022!

Brutality and effectiveness have a habit of going together in the same sentence, no matter the time period.

Having the pre-conceived notion you will have to get hands on with an attacker scares the hell out of a lot of guys. This goes back to the ideal that carrying a gun will keep you from getting into a fist fight. The entire reason some guys carry a gun is because they have some type of disability or are more “seasoned” warriors in age and don’t think they could stand up to a twenty-something thug intent on killing them. Once again, we have to do away with this persistent mentality of “having a gun solves all your problems.”

It is just not REALITY.

We have to be willing to sharpen ALL our skill sets if we expect to walk away from a violent attack. If we are willing to do that, firstly, we will be better trained than our attackers and secondly, we will have stacked the odds in our favor for whatever might happen.

There are several simple combative strikes that you can employ for what I call “First Strike”, or the strike that you employ to give you two crucial things in a ECQ Fight:  TIME and DISTANCE.

TIME to draw and present the weapon (gun/knife/stick) and DISTANCE to ensure weapon retention and the ability to wield the weapon and give you room to maneuver or escape.

There is a reason I say “First” Strike”; if you wait to be the poor sap who initiates the “Second” strike there is a strong likelihood you will lose the fight and at the same time, your life.

The Boyd OODA Loop dictates in a fight situation, the human brain does four things very quickly: Observe, Orient, Decide and Act.

In a fight, we want to interrupt or RESET our attacker’s OODA Loop, which will cause a lag in his response time, giving us the crucial seconds we need to win the fight. The ideal “First”  Combative Strike affects our attackers eyesight and breathing quickly and brutally, taking advantage of the old adage:

“If you cannot see or breathe, you cannot fight.” 


Some strikes I have used with great effectiveness over the years, is the Palm Strike, Hammer Fist, Axe Hand to the Throat and Face Smash. All of these will affect either sight or breathing or both. What all these combative strikes have in common is they do not have be dead-on accurate, technique wise, to be effective. The only thing they require is they be executed violently and with as much force as you can muster. It goes without saying, that Conditioning is an integral part of any Combat Training. I like working with a heavy bag 30 minutes a day on all these strikes. Once you have those down, you can move on to elbow and knee strikes.


 Once the strike is executed, you must have a plan of what to do next. Since this article is about Combative Pistol, we will assume you are armed and the attacker intends Deadly Force and must be dealt with likewise. If you were in the position of being unarmed, this is where your knowledge of extensive Civilian Operator “Dirty”Combatives would come into play. Either way, you have to respond with a violent counter-attack.


So we will assume the First Combative strike had good effect and stuns the attacker. I will tell you from vast experience, this is no time to “drag ass” on your part! You must act quickly now.

You have to keep in mind that since we are talking about EXTREME Close Quarters, there is a chance the attacker, although stunned, may be still right on top of you, in fact, I would bet he is. You must be prepared to strike as many times as needed; don’t diddle around, knock this guy’s ass in the dirt!! You will have to get out of the “Kill Box” from this position to enable you to draw your weapon and at the same time, retain it. There has been times, when no matter what I did, the guy would not allow me to get away from him, this will call for some Contact Shooting methods while in the “Clinch” or has it has been called by a friend of mine, the “FUT” (Fouled Up Tangled).

Since I am never a fan of stepping backwards in a fight, for the simple fact you can wind up on your ass, I recommend moving either to your 3 or 9 o’clock or to your obliques. Of course, you will have to make that call depending on the situation.

At these distances, Displacement Trumps Marksmanship!

It is more important to not get stabbed/shot than to shoot the BG!

While you are displacing out of the kill zone, you must at the same time, get the gun into ACTION.

Depending on how you carry your pistol (Stong Side IWB/Appendix IWB/Open Carry, etc.) you must drill regularly on the presentation of the gun, aka; “clearing kydex/leather”, quickly and efficiently with either hand while moving. (A cool piece of gear I have been using lately is the  Concealment Trigger Guard Holster). Several things come into play once the gun is out of the holster. The first is being able to fire the gun one-handed, with either hand. The Ambidextrous use of a pistol should be a mandatory skill; if you are not including that into your pistol course of fire, start ASAP. The second is being able to fire at anytime in the presentation process. The gun does not have to be in a certain position or in a certain grip to be fired during this time..all that is mandatory at these ranges is that the muzzle is facing the attacker.

In regards to sights, it has been my experience the best I can describe my “sight picture” (if that is what you want to call it for identification purposes) during my encounters was a “super imposing” of the frame of the gun on the mass of the attacker. Some have called this “Metal on Meat” Shooting, which is a great description.

Some will want to call this “Point” or “Combat” Shooting, I just call it “Shooting.”

There is no definitive “school” of thought you follow if you are truly a combat shooter IMO, it is a continuum of collective principles and techniques you call upon for each unique situation.

When do I use my sights? When I have too! I mean seriously, if a human being is 3-5 feet away from you, do you really need to take the time to align sights to get solid “combat effective” hits? Absolutely Not. Do I have to at 15 yards? Absolutely. At these close ranges, the power of the handgun round is exponentially increased, and you will find ANY hit in the torso area increases your odds of a STOP.

With all this being said, I would say 70% of your “live” handgun training needs to focus on ECQ and Contact distances.

Focus on the Fundamentals:

  • Displacement Over Marksmanship

  • Ambidextrous Use of the Handgun

  • Firing thru Presentation

  •  Super-Imposing the Gun on Target

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!