There are several common places to carry a concealed firearm and just as many different types of holsters to use. Despite your own chosen configuration the core elements of a functional and quality draw are the same. We will explore how to draw a concealed handgun in detail, below.
Why Your Draw Matters
As a gun owner and concealed carrier you have a ton of different things to think about and ways to train. I can think of nothing more foundational or important to train than your draw from your daily concealed carry holster.
Of all the common and core elements of firearm defense, the draw is the most likely to be neglected during regular training and is the critical first piece of muscle memory that leads you to a successful outcome. Put differently, you need to start out on the right foot.
Training The Draw Safely
A real easy way to end up on the local news broadcast tonight would be to attempt to draw your loaded firearm at full speed a few times in your living room. We recommend using either a laser simulated gun or dummy gun at first and even as you progress in your skills you may choose to use snap caps or dummy ammunition for awhile.
Consistency of Concealed Carry Position
Training your concealed carry draw is very difficult if you carry the gun in a different position each day or week. Iron down a consistent and predictable carry configuration. Some things will change when, for example, you are wearing a jacket or coat in cold weather. But, as much as possible, you want to create a consistent and predictable configuration.
This is more difficult and even more important when considering off body concealed carry systems like purses or backpacks which you may tend to carry in slightly different positions throughout the day.
It is also fair to assume that at some point you may change the holster you are using or the gun you are carrying. When those changes are made it becomes immensely critical that you focus on putting in a lot of new hours, starting from the beginning and training that new configuration.
Dealing with Clothes, Jackets, or Any “Garment”
In a concealed carry gun draw, both the strong hand and the support hand have their own jobs to do.
Step One: Sweep your strong arm back across the body to move or displace any jacket, coat, or any unbuttoned/unzipped outer garment. This is generally most effectively done by creating the habit of sticking out the strong hand thumb as you sweep it back toward your firearm. If you are carrying in front (appendix carry) this motion doesn’t need to be complete and may not be necessary at all. If drawing cross draw, the support hand will have to perform this motion in addition to step 2.
Step Two: Use the support hand to pull up the shirt, jacket, coat, or anything else that covers the firearm. This motion should be “strong” and exaggerated to ensure the firearm is fully clear for the draw and won’t be tangled in clothing. Pull the garment(s) up high away from the waist line and ideally your support hand (with garment in fingers/fist) will be resting over your chest / pectoral.
You want that support hand over the chest because when you begin to draw the firearm in the next steps the support hand will be in the ideal position to enter the proper grip as you extend the firearm on target.
Getting A Proper Grip Before You Draw Your Gun
You need to train at disengaging any retention systems that are built into your holster. You may need to unsnap a snap, push a button, twist the gun to release, or something else entirely, depending on your concealed carry holster. Since each gun holster is different we can’t address that step of the draw but its worth noting as something you need to work on.
The first step to getting a proper grip is to drive the thumb of your strong hand down between your body and the firearm so as to position the thumb where it will actually be in your final grip. (*Disclaimer: I’m assuming you are using a right handed holster if you are right handed and a left handed holster if you are left handed. If you are using a reverse configuration then: Consider changing it … more on that in a different article & Drive the fingers down between the gun and the body instead of the thumb).
Rest your trigger finger straight across what would be the trigger guard and frame so as the firearm clears the holster the finger will naturally sit outside the trigger guard against the frame of the gun.
The other three fingers should wrap around the grip in this same motion. Depending on the holster and configuration you are using you may need to begin to draw the firearm in order to get the other three fingers fully around the grip.
Draw Straight Up
In order to ensure a smooth and consistent draw you should draw straight upward from the holster. If your concealed carry holster has a forward cant you should draw forward and up based on the angle of the cant.
Rotate and Position Firearm to Toward Target
As soon as your gun clears the holster your next objective is to position the firearm to be aligned with the target. You never know when you may have to fire your self-defense weapon before you can fully extend your firearm or if you may be so close to the target that it is more tactical to fire from a close combat position. This position is where the firearm is close to the body with the heel of the hand resting on or against the base of your rib-cage.
If using a semi-automatic pistol, like a Glock, consider that should you have to fire from the close combat position, you need to have the firearm angled outward away from the body. This will prevent the slide from slicing, engaging, or tangling with your arm, body, and clothing.
The Hands Meet Near The Body
With the gun in the close combat position, bring the support hand (already near the chest) toward the gun hand and form the two handed grip.
Extend Gun Straight Toward the Target
With a two handed grip on the firearm extend toward the target into your full stance.
Use the Body for Stability
Throughout the draw you want to keep the gun hand close to your body moving it against the body. This will create greater stability both for the sake of the draw and should you need to fire in close combat position.
Do This the Same Way Every Time
In order to draw your loaded firearm under pressure when your life is on the line, you will need to have developed great muscle memory so that you can do it as an instinctive reaction without any thought or awareness.
In order to build that muscle memory you need to repeat the motions the same way every time and do it repeatedly.
Train in Slow Motion At First and Then Add Speed
Another key to building the right muscle memory is to practice your draw from a concealed carry holster in slow motion at first, and build speed over time. Each time you start a new training session “warm up” by doing everything in that slow motion.
Here is the full draw in slow motion with an emphasis on dropping the elbow to align the firearm with the target