The “Babineaux Method” is a bad idea

Relatively early this morning my iPhone started buzzing as my email account was being assaulted by links to various forums discussing a reholstering technique called the Babineaux Method, aimed at reholstering a striker-fired handgun in an Appendix Inside the Waist Band (AIWB for short) holster safely. The general idea is that if you physically block rearward movement of the trigger with your trigger finger while attempting to reholster, the trigger can’t snag on anything while you’re trying to stick a gun down the front of your pants, so you won’t end up shooting yourself in the testicles or the femoral artery.

Speaking as a man who carries in an AIWB rig, I’m all for finding ways to prevent the possibility of taking a round in the wedding tackle or the femoral artery. While I’ve never been shot in the genitals with live rounds, I’ve taken several Simunitions rounds in the manhood from almost muzzle contact distance…suffice it to say that if getting shot in the junk was a facebook status, I wouldn’t be clicking the thumbs up on it. The idea of putting your trigger finger behind the trigger, though, is a bridge too far.

To understand why, we first have to look at why, exactly, keeping one’s finger off the trigger guard is held to be a safety practice in the first place:¬†The human body is capable of doing things without the full conscious control of the human mind. This is a good thing in many instances, as we probably wouldn’t get a whole lot done if we had to consciously control every nerve impulse in our body to make it work. The downside to that gift from our evolutionary past is that sometimes those things we do are not a good idea. This is especially true if we happen to be holding a handgun when a reflex response kicks in or we are under high levels of stress.

The idea of wedging one’s finger behind the trigger to block the trigger’s movement requires sufficient tactile awareness with the fingers that one can tell where the trigger is and can then find the space behind the trigger. This isn’t terribly hard to do when you’re in a comfortable, low stress environment. Let’s say, however, that you’re looking to reholster your pistol because you just shot two dudes off of you who were trying to cut you to ribbons. You’re likely exhausted. You’re bleeding. You’re experiencing the full after-effects of adrenaline. You know police officers are coming and that when they show up you probably shouldn’t be holding a gun lest they finish what the two dudes you just shot started. Your ears are ringing, your heart feels like it’s about to explode, and there’s this thick, almost oppressive aroma of blood and burned gunpowder in the air that feels like it’s going to suffocate you.

In this situation the last thing you want to do is start poking your finger in the trigger guard trying to find the space behind the trigger. With severely diminished tactile perception, hands shaking from the adrenaline, and a whole bunch of important stuff to command your attention you are in a state where you could try to get behind the trigger and instead end up on the trigger…and have no conscious awareness that you are applying force to it until the unexpected loud noise. It doesn’t need to be the aftermath of a fight, either. Something as simple as being tired and slightly dehydrated after a hot day on the range can be all the diminished capacity you need to produce a tragic result if you have bad handling practices.

I’m by no means the world’s foremost expert, but I’ve spent a fair bit of time on the range watching people handle guns under stress…and it’s not pretty. I’ve watched people unconsciously get their finger on the trigger of a firearm and apply pressure to it on multiple occasions. On one occasion I was saved from a gunshot wound by a Sig P226′s long, relatively heavy double-action trigger pull. The officer holding the weapon was startled, and without conscious thought she went from having her finger on the frame of the gun to on the trigger an violently applying pressure. It took multiple people who witnessed the event recounting exactly what happened before she even acknowledged it had happened. Not because she was trying to cover anything up, but because in a moment of blind panic she had no idea what she was doing. I could spend hours detailing documented instances of police officers, soldiers, and average joes unintentionally launching rounds during moments of high stress…but the general point here is that it’s a sufficiently well documented¬†occurrence¬†that rule 2 is number 2 for a reason: Your gun is less likely to make a loud noise if your fingers are kept well away from the trigger.

A habit of putting our finger in actual contact with the trigger as a safety practice just does not take into consideration a lot of hard learned lessons about handling dangerous weapons under stress.

I get what the originator of the “Babineaux Method” was going for, but in my opinion it’s only thinking through half the problem. Part of the problem with reholstering a striker-fired pistol is certainly unwanted intrusion into the trigger guard by bits of gear and clothing and at first blush the “Babineaux Method” solves that bit of the problem. It neglects, however, the other half of the walnut: fingers inside trigger guards at inappropriate times leads to bad things happening. Those who get angry and protest loudly that finger behind the trigger cannot easily turn to finger on the trigger in a moment of inattention or stress are doing us all the service of identifying themselves as people with limited experience and limited consideration of the problem.

If you are human enough to stub your toe in the dark, to miss a turn, or to lock your keys in the car, you are unfortunately human enough to mess this technique up with potentially tragic consequences.

So having said all of that:

Please…please…do not try and adopt a habit of putting your finger behind the trigger as a safety practice. If you’re looking for ways to make reholstering your Glock or M&P in an AIWB holster safer, consider this a formal invitation to head over to Pistol-Forum.com and solicit some ideas from folks looking at the whole picture.