Drawing from Concealed Carry: Steps and Tips

Drawing from Concealed Carry: Steps and Tips
Drawing from Concealed Carry: Steps and Tips
Drawing from Concealed Carry: Steps and Tips
Drawing from Concealed Carry: Steps and Tips

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.

Hand Center Chest
Hand Center Chest

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.


Lift Shirt
Lift Shirt

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.


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.

Support Hand Grab Shirt Hem
Support Hand Grab Shirt Hem

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.

Continued success!

* 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.

© 2013 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.
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"Col Ben" is retired with 30 years service in the U.S. Air Force, with joint services Special Ops duty and training, and is Air Force qualified as "Expert" in small arms. He is a Vietnam-era Veteran. Ben is an experienced NRA-Certified Pistol Instructor, NRA Range Safety Officer, and FL Concealed Carry License Instructor. Ben recently wrote the book "Concealed Carry and Handgun Essentials for Personal Protection" (second printing) with 57 comprehensive Chapters about concealed carry and handgun principles, techniques, and tips for both experienced and new shooters. His reference book is endorsed by several organizations and is available on his website at FloridaHandgunsTraining.com. Contact him at ColBFF@gmail.com.
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Good article. If I may, I’d like to suggest Step 8a. If the shooter was forced to engage a threat, then a tactical reload might be helpful prior to holstering.

AR Shooter

I agree with the reload BUT try and KEEP THE REMOVED MAGAZINE if there is any ammo left . Who knows you might need it ! ! !! !

Mark Cline

On target! I emphasize the support hand to the chest for safety/strategic purposes. One little thing: The index finger is used for pointing. It becomes the “trigger finger” when applied to the trigger. Like a batter in baseball becomes a hitter once the ball has been hit. Just sayin’.


Great Article!!! Thanks for all the help!!! I will be trying and doing a lot of your suggestions!!!


This is a great article. I typically wear a closed button shirt for better concealment. I practice drawing with a single hand most of the time. My fear is I almost always have something in my support hand. I typically use a method similar to the HK Technique for open shirts, except from a bottom up. I extend my strong arm below my shirt, extend my thumb, and raise my hand to clear the gun. I try to practice so the edge of the shirt gets caught behind the holster. If the shirt doesn’t catch on the back side of the holster, I then go back down with my hand using the steps above to draw the gun, while keeping my elbow out as to provide an angle to my arm and hand to be able to draw the gun upwards and allow the shirt to clear my arm before tilting the gun forward and proceeding with the rest of the steps once the shirt is clear. On a side note, I have found this to be more difficult with heavier jackets.

God forbid I ever had to draw my gun, I would much prefer to do it from an open shirt. Your article is well written to describe the individual steps. It is nice seeing them in writing, as I am sure it will help think about each one as I start practicing slowly in the future. I definitely agree with starting slow, as it allows you to concentrate on what you are doing. Standing in front of a mirror also helps when practicing slowly.

It would be interesting in seeing future articles describing drawing from other concealment areas such as front and rear pocket, fanny pack, hand bag, etc. Keep up the great work on your articles. They are much appreciated and provide a good starting point for additional thought to keep us all safe.


Also cross draw from appendix carry instructions. I love learning from these articles and comments. Thanks to all

Bayou Castine

This is a fine article many should read. I’d like to add a couple of items learned during 17 years teaching CCW in La.

Practice clearing clothing and holster, drawing and dry firing before a LARGE mirror with an UNLOADED handgun. A full practice drill should include dry firing, really; but only if this will not damage your handgun. If you are not sure, consult a gun smith or the manufacturer. Most encounters are less than 15 ft. and most actual encounters result in “instinctive” [or “point”] shooting. Many of these being strong hand shots only, not with assistance from the ‘support’ hand. By practicing “instinctive” shooting before a mirror and watching your weapon’s muzzle reflection you should be able to determine if you are “aiming” too high, too low, to the left or right or exactly where you are aiming – while shooting from below eye level and above “low-ready”.

The following is an excerpt from an article by John Veit, courtesy
of USCCA, July 4, 2009.

“[A] NYPD study of over 6000 combat cases found that
aiming was employed in 20% of the cases. As the distance between the officer and opponent increased beyond close proximity, the aiming or sighting ran from using the barrel as an aiming reference to picking up the front sight and utilizing fine sight alignment.”

“However, in 70% of the cases reviewed, officers reported that they used instinctive or point shooting. It was used for a variety of reasons: the close proximity of their adversary, rapid escalation
of the incident, poor lighting, or the need for the swiftest possible reaction. No sight alignment was employed.”

“And in 10% of the cases, officers could not remember whether they had aimed or pointed and fired the weapon instinctively. NYPD officers were taught Sight Shooting. Also, officers, with an occasional exception, fired with the strong hand.”……..

“It is an acknowledged fact that very few gunfight survivors ever remember seeing their sights at all during a life-threatening encounter. In other words, regardless of the amount of practice using the sights at the target range, the vast majority of shootout
survivors are unable to see their sights when faced with life-threatening stress. One study found that when faced with stress, ‘93% of officers focused on the threat, not the weapon, and 88% of
the officers resorted to binocular vision.” [end of excerpt]
If you have not practiced “instinctive” shooting, check it out. You may be surprised.


Nice tips but it sounds like you are drawing from a 3 o’clock position. Any tips to work on 5 o’clock / small of back? My first thought would be to have the support hand going behind the back…at least as long as I am young and still flexible. A lot easier to conceal there for me especially with a jacket but it seems to be harder on the draw.

Doug Jenne

I carry in a 5-11 holster shirt most of the time which gives the advantage of access while seated in a vehicle. My greatest concern is reaching my weapon without telegraphing intentions. I’ve rehearsed turning my left shoulder forward slightly as to be timid/defensive and then rapidly producing and firing.


I like to wear t-shirts so I have to buy double extra large to hide the gun. I have to use both hands to pull up my shirt to get a clear pull from the holster. I can do it with one hand but it cuts into draw time. Practice, practice, practice, unloaded of course.


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