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Trainer Talk

Open Vs. Closed Mode Baton Strikes

Open Vs. Closed Mode Baton Strikes


“The baton is an intermediate force option that bridges the critical gap between empty hand strikes and the use of a firearm. One of the benefits of expandable batons, in particular, is that they can be used whether extended (“open mode”) or retracted (“closed mode”). During the three-day ASP Instructor Certification (AIC) course, officers learn:
  • The difference between open and closed mode baton strikes
  • When one type of strike would be chosen over the other
  • How to properly execute both open and closed mode strikes

1. What is the difference between open and closed mode baton strikes?

Closed mode strikes—with the baton in its fully-retracted position—are typically used when the subject is in close proximity to the officer, and other techniques have failed. These strikes may also be preferred by plain clothes officers or those working dignitary protection assignments. They offer low profile control techniques that still provide the officer with safe separation.

Open mode strikes are “longer range” techniques that offer more striking potential. As physics dictates, officers can generate much more force when striking with an extended baton than with a closed one. The extended baton also helps to preserve distance from the subject, reducing his attack options and effectiveness. All-in-all, the officer has an increased ability to disengage, escalate, or deescalate his or her use of force. Open mode strikes are the most powerful, and the most often-used strikes that we teach.

2.When would one be chosen over the other?

Closed mode strikes are most often selected when the environment does not allow for safe or effective extension of the baton, such as in elevators, hallways, crowded areas or with sudden attacks. These situations put the subject to in close proximity to the officer, limiting the ability to deploy an open baton. Closed mode strikes may be the only option in these circumstances.

In virtually all other situations, open mode strikes are preferred. In fact, as many officers have experienced, the very act of dynamically opening the baton is often a sufficient show of force to deescalate the situation. But when strikes are necessary, the power generated in the open mode is more likely to gain control over the subject more quickly and effectively. Also, the increased separation from the subject allows the officer to strike while limiting the subject’s ability to close distance and make contact.

3.What are the proper ways to execute both open and closed mode strikes?

Whether in open or closed mode, strikes are performed on a downward 45 degree angle, while using a full hand grip to maintain control of the baton. Strikes are intended to contact center mass of the presented threat: that is, the arm, leg or body. The head, neck or spine are never intended or desired targets. The officer uses the instructed and practiced principles of power generation to strike the intended target as hard as possible, to gain control as quickly as possible, while limiting the risk of serious injury to the subject.

Aside from reach and power, the primary difference between the two techniques is the striking surface. For open mode, the last 3 inches of the end shaft (furthest point from the grip) are used to strike the subject. In closed mode, the strike is actually accomplished with the cap of the baton.

There are other techniques, such as two-handed straight strikes, that may be employed in either mode, adding to the options and versatility of this force option. Again, the situation and environment will dictate which mode and strike is most appropriate. But in any case, in the hands of a well-trained officer, the expandable baton’s unique adaptability makes it an ideal, time-tested defensive tool.

James Schramm

NYPD (ret.)

ASP Trainer since 2004