The One Thing Every Concealed Carrier Should Practice. A Lot

Back in the day, bad guys carried concealed weapons. Good guys wore their guns on their hips. Why wouldn’t they? Moms Demanding Action for Gun Sense in America see open carry as a combination of fantasy vigilantism and implied aggression. In truth, it’s a combination of social responsibility and personal deterrence. And, now, an effective way to “normalize” your natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms – by bringing that right into plain sight. Meanwhile, in Texas and elsewhere, concealed carry is the only option. Which has one major, potentially fatal disadvantage. . .

It’s harder to draw a weapon from concealment than it is from open carry.

Now we could argue about the inherent trade-offs between the two carry styles. Concealed carry offers the element of surprise. Open carry creates deterrence. Open carry might make an attacker more violent in the initial assault. Concealed carry’s element of surprise may come too late in the game to make any difference. Open carry might inspire a gun grab. Concealed carry might result in a botched draw.

Yes, there is that. The single, most important variable for anyone carrying a concealed firearm for personal self-defense is the speed and efficacy of their draw. Generally speaking, the gunfighter who lands hits on target first wins. Period. To win that battle, a concealed carrier must to be able to bring his or her pistol to bear quickly and effectively.

Unless you’ve tried drawing from concealment in a realistic drill – wearing the clothes you normally wear in the manner which you wear them while drawing your firearm under pressure (facing a simulated threat in a non-sterile environment) – you have no idea how easy it is to screw-up your draw. Badly. Your gun can get hung-up on your shirt, pants or coat. Your grip can become ineffective. You can forget to switch your safety off (despite having done it thousands of times). I’ve seen people drop their guns.

The good news: you don’t need a gun range to practice your draw from concealment. Just make your gun safe at home, holster that bad boy and practice your draw – moving while you draw (even if it’s a few steps). This may sound obsessive – my daughter calls it “showing off” – but I carry my main everyday carry gun (EDC) holstered around the house and draw from concealment a few dozen times throughout the day. [Note: I perform this drill with the pistol unloaded and safety-checked. I always aim in a safe direction. I do not dry fire after I draw.]

If you can get to a gun range where you can practice drawing from concealment and firing, do it. (Don’t forget to practice drawing and not firing.) Wear the same clothes you wear in the real world. If you have a variety of clothing styles (suit, casual wear, cold weather gear) and holsters (outside-the-waistband, inside-the-waistband, ankle) for a selection of guns (GLOCK 19, 1911, Kahr PM-9), practice with all of them. This is especially true for women, obvs.

And then . . .

Practice your draw from concealment during force-on-force training. Nothing short of the real deal can show you the true strengths and weaknesses of your carry methods. Nothing. That said, FoF facilities usually offer a limited selection of Simunition or Man Marker equipped firearms and holster styles, which may or may not provide an approximation of your EDC and carry rig. Discuss this with them in advance.

Given the fact that most (but not all) gunfights follow the 3-3-3 template – three yards, three seconds, three shots – practicing your draw from concealment is the most important form of firearms training you can do. The more you do it, the more you can concentrate on tactics and strategy. But that’s a story for another day.

comments

  1. avatar JohnF says:

    I completely and wholeheartedly agree. That, and basic marksmanship, are what I am going to concentrate on for the foreseeable future.

  2. avatar JB says:

    An ankle holster with the muzzle pointing upwards towards your danglies and your organs? Wouldn’t be my preferred method..

  3. avatar Travis says:

    Hey guys,

    I actually just started carrying (22 but I just moved from NY to CT, where a permit isn’t nearly as impossible… but still a bad move, I agree).

    I have a super newbie problem that maybe someone can help with!

    I have problems drawing from concealment depending on the pair of pants — has anyone else noticed this? I carry a 5″ 1911 in a galco king tuk — with some cant at ~ 8-9 o’clock. When this is done with jeans, I can draw perfectly (as long as the belt is lose enough, which is uncomftorable). In khakis however, I can very rarely draw. I choose not to carry when I’m in khakis because of this.

    Is there any explanation to this? Any correction method? Or am I just SOL? I have backordered a Charter Arms Southpaw so I can have something in the pocket/ankle for when I can’t carry this — until I can sort out the khaki issue.

    Thanks,

    Travis

    P.S. TTAG: I’m getting anti-foley ads on the website. Sure people can support Maloy or Joe, but the ad is complaining that Foley would want to repeal the new gun laws — as a bad thing. Could that ad be removed? No need to give the enemy ammunition.

    1. Travis:

      Please spread the word about Connecticut’s Republican candidate for Attorney General, Kie Wesby. Kie is a Marine Corps veteran and is pro-Second Amendment. He’s committed to repealing SB 1160- Malloy’s draconian anti-gun legislation. Also, let everyone know about the upcoming dinner being sponsored by the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsman dinner on October 19th – Kie will be speaking.

    2. The pants should not make a difference. The belt however might be the problem. Do you wear a different belt with your jeans? As far as having it loose and uncomfortable, it should be fairly snug, not ever loose. Most people have to loosen the belt one notch when carrying IWB but that is just to make room for the gun. It should still be snug.

    3. avatar SigGuy says:

      Check the waistband on the khaki’s. Some have a lightweight design to them, almost like suit pants, which makes the weight of the gun pull down on one spot or bunch up. Also make sure you are clipping the holster over your belt and not just on the pants.

    4. O k, I thought about your draw problem some more and I think I know what your problem is. The belt holds your pants and your gun up, but what holds them down? The heavy weight of the jeans hold everything down when you draw but the khakis are lighter and your holster rides up when you try to draw. I believe the King Tuck has adjustable retention. Try loosening it up so the gun can clear the holster on your draw and not pull up on your belt.

      1. avatar Sam in TX says:

        What Mike said. I was having the same problem when wearing cargo shorts, etc. I have a Stealth Gear Onyx IWB with adjustable retention. After loosening retention a little, it has made a huge difference.

    5. Hi Travis. Can’t really say what the problem is with your draw but carrying can be a pain. Your gun will try to dictate what you wear, where you go, maybe who your friends are! It is a lifestyle. Most people who carry have tried a dozen holsters realize that some clothes won’t work with some gun/holster combinations. You’ll likely end up with more than one gun too…and then there is all the practice with each carry scheme. Either do the work and dress the way the gun likes or carrying is pointless. Just a heads up. Sometimes it seems easier just to get shot! Not really but this is something you have to really want do if you want to do it right.

      1. I don’t think you have to change much to carry. Let the belt out one more notch for IWB but unless your habbits were careless before, I see no reason to change anything. Your mindset needs to change if ,again, you were oblivious before, but carrying a gun should be as common as carrying your phone or your insulin pump or flashlight or pocket knife or anything. Keep your friends for God sake. Unless they are bad people, then they should not have been freinds to begin with.

        1. avatar 2hotel9 says:

          Actually, the style of pants does make a difference. How tight or loose the belt loops are, how close together, how wide the waist band is(not waist size, width from top to bottom), all affect how a holster carries. Also, how thin or “thick” you are. Skinny people have less area to work with, so to speak, than us larger peeps be havin’.

        2. I understand that. Clothes are different so you need a few different carry options. I was responding to the person saying that you have to change your style of dress, the people you congregate with and your mindset. I just don’t think you need to become a different person just because you carry. Or you need to dress that much differently. How many times has the topic of diversity come up on TTAG? Everybody should be themselves and adding a gun to the makeup should not change who your are or what you look like.

        3. avatar 2hotel9 says:

          Ah, did not see that comment. Comment notifications to my email come in out of order for some reason, makes for a bit of confusion at times. 😉 And yea, I am pretty much me all the time, wear the same type pants, 7 pocket hikers from Cabellas, so changing how I carry is not a major issue.

          I know a couple of people who have to change wardrobe depending on where their work takes them, they say going suit&tie is the real hanger for CCing. Once that jacket is off everything is pretty much in the breeze!

        4. The original poster said he decided not to carry when he wore certain clothes because he could not draw the pistol as easily. First rule of gunfight…have a gun. I don’t care if the gun is disassembled and parts are in three different pockets. If that is the only way I can carry then I am doing it. That is called “condition Butterscotch” by the way. (HT Yankee Marshal, look it up). I have an IWB holster for my Glock 19 that is not a tuckable variety however it can be done so that when you are sans jacket, it is concealed. See my demo here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJEdgVDfUag&list=UUedR6Y8q7x2aGq4zfh0rTZA

        5. avatar 2hotel9 says:

          Yea, easily is nice, just not a requirement.

    6. avatar Sian says:

      Jeans are stiffer than khakis. Maybe the problem isn’t your pants, but your belt. If you’re using a floppy dress belt, lose it.
      the stiffer your belt is, the more consistent your draw will be. A good gun belt (Some of them don’t look any different from a dress belt to the eye) makes a world of difference.

    7. avatar Lindall says:

      Try moving from 8-9 over to about the 4-5 position. And het a holster/belt combo (I use an alien gear cloak-tuck2.0 and a 1.5″ leather belt) that stays put no matter what you’re wearing. I had a similar problem and those two helped me a lot. Good luck!

      1. avatar Michael in GA says:

        How is moving the gun to the off hand side helpful?

    8. avatar cuzwhat says:

      Check your jeans against your khakis for actual sizing.

      I wear uniform khakis 6 days a week, and jeans occasionally. 38″ waist khakis and 34″ or 36″ jeans. When I first got the khakis, I got the same 36″ waist as my work jeans were…and they were so damned tight I could barely breathe. I dunno why pants are cut smaller than jeans, but they seem to be. All my dress pants are the same way.

      1. Pants size is irrelevant. If the belt is adjusted to the same fit then that is all that matters. I think the tension on the holster is too tight and the belt is rising because his khakis are lighter than his jeans. Some holsters have adjustment screws so when the holster breaks in and the gun is no longer held secure, you can tighten these screws. His may be a new holster and the gun fits so tight that when he draws, the whole holster and belt and pants lift up so he can’t draw the gun.

    9. avatar 2hotel9 says:

      Travis, I think your problem is holster based. Try a few different ones at a local GS. Check out the old style FBI pancake type, some folks are making them in kydex, only issue is it goes between belt and pants instead of inside pants. Lots of options out there, just got to find what works.

  4. avatar ropingdown says:

    As for the 3-3-3 rule, I believe the first 3 is for “3 meters/yards” not “3 feet.”

  5. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

    “You can forget to switch your safety off (despite having done it thousands of times.)”

    Saw guy in a defensive pistol class few years ago do this probably half a dozen times. And that’s very low stress level comparatively to the real deal.

    Anyways, he started staging his pistol by deactivating the safety in the holster before every drill. After the class I asked him if he was going to switch to a gun without a manual safety, he said no…

    I swear, some people’s kids.

  6. avatar Accur81 says:

    I practice drawing CC with 4 different guns and holsters. The Kydex RKBA and Kydex Ares Armor for my G23 and G35 holsters are much faster than my Aker leather snap holsters for my G27 and Smith 340 PD. The Kydex holsters are also set up for lights, and must have a light attached in order to have friction retention.

    Only practice will allow the users to see the advantages and limitations of the systems they use. Kydex can deform in extreme vehicle heat. Leather has the advantage of flexibilty – I can put my G27 or G23 in the same holster, provided I don’t mount a light.

    I was thinking of uploading a video if a botched CC draw, but decided against it. My undershirt got caught inside the leather holster and had made my G23 much more difficult to remove. The vid still looked cool because I was using hand loads that had a bunch of muzzle flash.

    I had a work holster that was so tight that it actually dislodged the Streamlight from the bottom rail of my .40 Cal pistol during a draw. You shouldn’t have to yank a gun out of a holster, but sometimes that’s exactly what happens.

  7. Practice practice. Buy some snapcaps and you can learn 90% of what you need to know for most situations without burning a nickel’s worth of ammo.

  8. avatar glenn says:

    Having a laser helps in lui of dry fire. It helps to ensure you are coming up on target.

  9. avatar Big Boy says:

    Absolutely right.

  10. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    Everything works great….when everything works great. So I also practice how to deal with what could go wrong. For example, the little hooks on your IWB holster could come undone from your belt. You draw, but pull the entire holster out, covering your trigger and thwarting your defense. So I practice as well pulling the holster off in drills where I intentionally pulled out the holster with the firearm.

    True, it isn’t ideal to practice doing well what you shouldn’t be doing at all. So I’ve experimented with different belts, holsters and positioning until this is no longer a problem. Still….

    Only other thing I’d add is to practice your draw while seated, too, especially if you have a back pocket wallet holster. Restaurant robberies “Pulp Fiction” style, sometimes fatal, are not uncommon in Houston.

  11. avatar Mediocrates says:

    I love my Laserlyte training cartridges. They allow me to do all those things AND pull the trigger.

  12. avatar 2hotel9 says:

    I do practice drawing weapons from concealment, pistols and knives. Also practice reloads from conceal. What? Where is that backup mag? How fast can you work it? Better be working on that, too.

  13. avatar Grindstone says:

    There are some great airsoft copies of real firearms that are perfect for safe practice, including force-on-force.

    They are also much cheaper and easier to maintain and use than most sim guns.

  14. avatar Racer88 says:

    I got A SIRT laser pistol that very closely approximates a Glock ergonomically. It fits my holster, and I don’t have to worry about making it “safe.” I can also “fire” it and observe my hits on various targets around the house.

  15. avatar Brent says:

    I’m always surprised by the IDPA regulars who wear “shot me first” vests and use customized handguns that they’d never carry on a daily basis. Want to improve your draw and learn how to shoot your carry gun? Then use them instead of all that fancy equipment.

    1. avatar Xavier Caceres says:

      I’ve never actually seen anyone wearing one of those vests. Does anyone here actually wear one? At least in Miami, it looks beyond goofy.

  16. avatar tyler says:

    I never understood why so many schools teach defensive classes with owb techniques, when the majority of people will be carrying concealed

  17. avatar Wiregrass says:

    90% of my shots with my concealed carry weapon are made drawing from concealment. I use plastic bullets which makes my basement a suitable range.

  18. avatar Hannibal says:

    “Back in the day, bad guys carried concealed weapons. Good guys wore their guns on their hips.”

    What day was this? Was it a day in a movie? Plenty of good guys carried concealed and plenty of bad guys have carried openly (this is less true now, than in the past, actually). The Earps carried their guns in their front pockets to the OK Corral, and many early police forces used that method as well.

  19. avatar MattC says:

    The forceful method of lifting your shirt is effective in certain situations. But a more subtle, gun-hand-only draw may be the better way to go if the bad guy is already in your face, demanding your wallet. If you reach back to draw your gun as if you are pulling out your wallet, you’ll maintain the element of surprise.

    Here’s an example:

    1. I have never been robbed nor had a DGU, but my belief is that armed robbers would rather not shoot you then hang around to dig through your pockets. Most of the news accounts I read go something like “The suspect produce a firearm and demanded ______”. If you are concealing a firearm, and you slowly reach for it and it is in the 4:00 position, seems like a good tactic is to clear your holster smoothly then take a quick side step as you bring the gun up on target. You are moving. Your target is not. You are shooting. Your target is taking hits and reacting. I like my odds here.

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