1

Should there be a comma in this case?

Example sentence:

He covered her mouth with one hand(,) while with the other he pressed the gun against her temple.

If you search on Google Books, you get both versions.

But I suspect only one is correct.

2

You shouldn't put the comma there. In this case, "while" essentially means during the time that, or at the same time as (Cambridge dictionary). When this is the meaning, we don't put a comma. This is usually the case. If, however, you have a parenthetical (i.e., a non-essential clause starting with while), you will need a comma before while.

I thought I heard him come in while we were having dinner.

We use a comma when "while" essentially means despite the fact that; although. When "while" is used to show contrast, use a comma.

While your work has improved greatly, there are still some areas that concern me.

In this sentence

He covered her mouth with one hand(,) while with the other he pressed the gun against her temple.

the guy is doing two things at the same time. One of his hands is covering her mouth; the other is pressing a gun against her head. You don't need a comma in this case.

Note that this is not a "rule". This is a guideline that works quite well in most simple cases. See Comma Before While.

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