Strong- or weak-side O.C.?

By Police1 Staff

A Street Survival Newsline reader posed the following question:

"There is a mixed opinion in my department on which hand O.C. should be used with. Many say it should be worn on the strong hand side and used by the strong hand to keep fine motor skills. In contrast, other officers say it should be worn on the weak side and used with the weak hand because of the long standing rule, 'never put anything in your gun hand'. Can you give us any guidance? What is the latest technique?"

A former Street Survival Seminar Instructor gave the following reply:

I teach students to wear the O.C. carrier on their reaction (non-gun) side and to draw it and initially spray it with their reaction hand. My reasoning is different than the theories presented in your note. Fine motor skill is not the issue. Fine motor skill tends to deteriorate during stressful situations no matter which hand you are using. Generally, O.C. holsters and units are designed so that gross motor skill is all that is necessary to deploy and activate the O.C.

Also, I do not agree that the ‘gun’ hand must be reserved for the sole purpose of drawing a firearm. Proper firearms training should incorporate practice in eliminating anything in your gun hand (a pen, driver's license, O.C. unit, etc.) and drawing your firearm immediately.

I suggest that officers draw with their reaction hand for two reasons:

1. Speed. Since the reaction side is closer, with proper training an officer should be able to deploy it faster and since studies have shown that O.C. is used at very close range in real world confrontations (one to three feet), the strong hand is free to push the subject away so that O.C. can be used at a proper distance (4-6 feet) for maximum effect.

2. Perspective of the subject. O.C. placed on the gun side may confuse the interpretation of the officer's intentions. Reaching for O.C. on the gun side may appear to the subject and witnesses to be an attempt to draw the firearm. This may cause problems.

In a situation where the O.C. is drawn but not immediately used, I teach that it should be transferred to the strong hand to facilitate weapon retention. In the strong hand it will be further away from the subject and in a stronger grip that will maximize control of the O.C. unit and minimize the risk of disarming.

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