It is a big understatement to say that properly drawing or presenting your handgun from concealed carry (CC) is of critical importance for effectively using it to defend your life. The handgun draw is one of the most important aspects of self defense and can be the difference between life and death. When drawing your handgun, there are several chances to shoot yourself or someone else and a misapplication of the techniques can be very dangerous. Some say most accidents or negligent discharges happen while drawing and re-holstering a handgun. So, safety is very important during all of the steps in drawing your handgun. I recommend isolating each, distinct step of the basic draw process and practicing the related techniques using an empty gun. In particular, the Clearing step is of vital importance because the whole draw process is precipitated by quickly and efficiently accessing the handgun. The steps in the draw process are basically the same whether you are presenting your handgun from an outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster or from an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster, but different steps and techniques are involved for draws from a purse, fanny pack, briefcase, or pocket. This article will focus on drawing from a holster from an open or closed cover garment. Your goal is to present your handgun as quickly, smoothly, consistently, and automatically from muscle memory by executing each distinct step of the draw process efficiently and properly. This does not mean, however, that you must fire the gun automatically upon presentation. Certainly, a valid threat must exist. Nor does it mean that you should always practice the draw quickly. Actually, you should start slowly practicing the presentation process by focusing on each distinct step and precise techniques, then gradually speed it up. Of course, this process takes much practice and the shooter should not expect to master this safely without considerable repetitions over time. The draw process is influenced by whether point, instinctive, flash-sight, or aimed shooting is used. This article relates the draw process to flash-sight shooting.
No matter from an open garment OR from a closed CC garment, the shooter may use these basic 9 Steps in the Draw Process:
1. CLEAR the garment to quickly access the handgun; move garment out of the way; (techniques below);
2. GRIP the handgun properly and firmly (web of shooting hand between thumb and index finger should be placed very high on the backstrap underneath the beavertail; trigger finger straight along side of holster; 3 lower fingers together; thumb pointed forward & up high to create gap for support hand later);
3. LIFT the handgun straight up from the holster so it doesn’t drag while bringing support-hand opened with fingers extended (ready to receive shooting hand & gun later- however some like making a fist) close to
center chest; strong elbow held high, close to body, and pointed backward; Do not rotate the elbow out away from body since this will cause drag and bind;
4. ROTATE the handgun to the front & up (by moving strong elbow down to waist) toward the threat/target without sweeping your support hand;
5. MEET & MOVE the support hand to the strong gun hand in a two-handed grip for support, switch safety off, & quickly assess the threat/target, with muzzle pointed toward threat/target;
6. EXTEND arms & handgun straight out & fully forward with sights on target confirming sight picture; place finger on trigger; hold your breath;
7. PRESS the trigger smoothly straight back & not intermittently, with only the trigger finger of hand moving, to take the shot IF deadly threat/target exists;
8. REMOVE finger from trigger to side of frame after shots and when eyes and sights are not on threats/target, lower muzzle some, breathe, SCAN & assess for other possible threats;
9. ENGAGE SAFETY & REHOLSTER slowly without looking at holster, in case another threat emerges.
The draw or presentation can be from an OPEN, unbuttoned or unzipped shirt, jacket, vest, windbreaker, or garment OR from a CLOSED front shirt, jacket, coat, or garment. Other types of CC clothing possibilities mostly fall into one of these two types, either an open or closed garment. Both types require the garment to be initially cleared by some technique for quick and easy access without encumbrances. It seems like a very simple procedure, but it is more than just flinging a jacket or shirt out of the way to get your gun. It is taking all of the things that can go wrong in the draw process and clearing step into consideration. For example, once you have cleared the garment to acquire your grip, your hand no longer controls the garment and it may fall back over your handgun. If this happens, just quickly “punch through” the garment to clear the gun, even if there’s a snag. Not every draw will be a clean one, so have a contingency plan. Let’s look at the different and distinct Clearing steps to use when drawing from either an open or closed CC cover garment.
TIPS FOR CLEARING THE OPEN CC GARMENT
To CLEAR the open garment involves safely accessing the handgun to brush aside or lift the CC garment. If there is a draw from an open, unbuttoned, or unzipped shirt, blouse, sweater, coat, jacket, etc., it is obviously important to not have the garment getting in the way of your draw and to not sweep yourself by inadvertently pointing the handgun at your support hand. To accomplish this Clearing, there are several techniques to use and much practice involved. While each handgun instructor or shooter favors his or her own particular method and each shooter’s draw motion may differ, remembering these basic steps will help you smoothly and efficiently draw from your CC holster.
One Clearing technique (sometimes called the HK Technique) is where the shooter places his shooting hand fingers of his shooting hand on his center chest area and drags them rearward toward his holstered handgun, always maintaining contact by his fingers (some prefer just strong thumb contact) with his torso and the palm inward toward torso. The fingers and/or thumb should contact and move the garment easily away to the rear because you are grasping or shoving it from its front and the continual rearward momentum gets it back and out of the way naturally. Then you quickly grab and properly Grip the handgun and continue the other above steps in the process. This works for me and I prefer using just my strong-hand thumb and one hand for Clearing and drawing because it is quicker. But, you really do have to practice this and it is good to know for when your support hand is injured, holding a baby or something, or occupied some way. There are other open Clearing techniques and the choice is a matter of personal preference.
Another technique for open garments is called the Hook Technique. You use your four fingers of your shooting hand to make your hand into a hook and grab the open garment at about the same location as the handgun’s grip. Your elbow then is bent to the rear allowing you to easily pull the garment out of the way. Once your hand moves back and is even with the gun, you then turn your hand into the gun and secure a firm shooting grip.
TIPS FOR CLEARING A CLOSED CC GARMENT
A Clearing technique to be able to efficiently draw from a Closed garment involves using two hands. If there is a sweater, tucked shirt, sweatshirt, or buttoned jacket, you usually use two hands and that means your technique probably will be slower, but it usually means the handgun is more concealed while in a closed garment. I know I am slower drawing from a closed garment and I need practice with this. Some things to consider and plan for when using both hands are that you might have something in your support hand, may be offensively creating distance through striking the bad guy or gal with it, or that second hand might be occupied with another task, like holding a baby. These could be problematic for two-handed Clearing. Of course, there are one-handed techniques for Closed Clearing, but they require much more practice and necessary dexterity.
Clearing a closed garment with two hands involves reaching across your body using your support hand to grab your shirt, jacket, or garment and pull it out of the way, then over toward your heart. Some call this the Hackathorn Rip. This technique was invented by master shooting instructor Ken Hackathorn. He emphasized that your support hand should vigorously lift the garment high over the holstered handgun to clear the holster. So to draw with two hands, reach across your body with your support hand fingers, grip the bottom hem of the garment with all fingers, and pull straight up and very high up to your strong shoulder. Grab your closed garment firmly with a closed “claw” hook-like grip as low and close to the holster as possible, so you can move or “rip” the most amount of garment out of the way. It is very important that you grab the base of the closed garment back and very near the holster and NOT up front of the garment because you will not expose your handgun enough to get a good grip on it. After you have pulled your closed garment up high with the support hand, keep holding it until the handgun is removed totally clear of the holster by the shooting hand to avoid dragging, binding, or catching during the draw. After the gun is cleared from the holster, release the closed shirt or garment and establish the grip and continue the steps of the draw process.
I hope these basic steps, options, and tips for a proper concealed carry draw are helpful. While no draw process or technique is perfect for all situations, pick the one that works for you and practice it so you can execute it properly and safely.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry in your state. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.