During a recent class, we discussed some tragic accidents involving concealed carry. I’m not sure they could have been avoided, but hopefully folks can avoid making the same mistakes.

When baggy is bad

One of the problems we see in our Concealed Carry Tactics classes occurs when students are attempting to re-holster. The concealment garments loosens and gets funneled into the holster’s mouth prior to the pistol re-holstering. The concealment garment gets shoved further into the holster applying pressure to all parts of the gun, including the trigger.

One of the most important features you look for in a holster: protecting the trigger and trigger guard. In other words, while the pistol is holstered no object can gain access to the trigger.

While you might have chosen an excellent holster that meets this objective, shoving a piece of your concealment garment into the holster as you re-holster will override your efforts.

No one is exempt

You don’t have to be practicing from concealed to experience this issue. In fact, we brief in the beginning of all our classes the aspect of re-holstering must be conducted in a safe and controlled manner. Insure there is no foreign objects near the mouth of the holster.

The most common culprit is the bottom hem of your shirt, but other items to keep an eye out for are drawstring hems and zipper pulls. In fact, I have a good friend who experienced a negligent discharge as a result of a zipper pull. Crazy stuff can happen so be safe and in control.

Next, observe the re-holstering process. Look down to ensure there is no foreign object near the mouth of the holster. As you gently re-holster be on the lookout for any resistance. If you feel more resistance than normal…STOP! Identify what is causing the resistance, address the issue and carry on.

There is no prize for fastest re-holster

If you find yourself in a real world situation consider the fact you will be highly stressed, these procedures will help ensure when you re-hoster you do so safely. Before you re-holster ensure the scene is safe or the target is secure.

Once you have completed all scans consider performing some ammunition management, after you complete that final step slowly, very slowly re-holster.

Yes, I do suggest you observe the process, but keep things in perspective. The reason you are re-holstering is either you are being relieved, there is no longer a lethal threat or you are off the proverbial “X.”

If you have any reason to believe there was still a threat to your safety then you wouldn’t be re-holstering. So, in this case, taking your eyes off your battle space to safely re-holster is the tactical imperative.

Protect the trigger

For those who carry “off body” I first strongly encourage you to reconsider. I realize it is more difficult for women to carry concealed and this is an option for them. During our Concealed Carry Combatives classes we see so many off body ideas go the way of the dinosaur.

If you carry off body I strongly encourage the trigger still be protected. That means light sheaths or in some cases a minimalist holster. I love the Vanguard 2 from Raven Concealment and use them more times than I can count.

In the case of “off body” I would affix the holster to an anchor point so when I obtain my firing grip and retrieve the pistol from my off body concealment it separates from the holster on the drawstroke.

It is easy to second guess what happened in these events, but I am more inclined to remind folks of proper concealment protocol. Always re-holster safely and under control.

35 Responses to Jeff Gonzales: The Perils of Re-Holstering

    • I suspect he would ask you if you would start to worry after your shirt shoots you.
      The point of practice is it help cut down on the thinking needed in a incident. Because you are likely to need as much spare as possible.

    • Exactly, this only became an issue with Glock style triggers. Decocked DA/SA guns rarely if ever go off while holstering. Same can be said for DA revolvers. There is a gadget (actually called that) which can be installed on a Glock to block the striker when holstering by pressing your thumb on the back of the slide. It also provides tactile feedback that something is pressing on the trigger.

    • Yep. I look at it this way. I put the holster on empty (it works better that way for my old guy gut) then put the gun in the holster. That happens every day, sometimes more than once per day. Many people criticize safeties saying that it can prevent firing the gun when you need to. The odds seem to favor the gun discharging accidentally, due to the number of times it’s re-holstered, over not firing when drawn in a confrontation. If my gun goes off while holstering (or drawing) then the old guy blood thinners will pretty much assure me of a fatal bleed out before getting to the hospital. So, my carry guns have safeties. And that, to some is blasphemy. But, it’s my choice.

    • I have had cover garments get caught in the holster on both iwb and owb. This is very good advice, train as you fight, fight as you train.

  1. I don’t have this problem with open carry. Even in winter I wear only waist length jackets with elastic waistbands and/or tuck it behind the belt at the holster. For CC, might I recommend (oh the horror) engaging the SAFETY before holstering. SAFETY. SAFE-TY. S-A-F-E-T-Y. Keep saying it til it makes sense. And if that’s not good enough, use both hands and look where the bang stick is going.

    • There’s nothing wrong with engaging a safety to holster or, really, during any administrative handling.

      It’s carrying the gun with the safety on that some people, myself included, have a problem with.

    • Revolvers and glocks don’t have safeties. I don’t begrudge those who have safeties from using them just as long as you don’t become complacent.

      • Me either one of my CCW revolvers, can carry .410 shells. I prefer Not to have it go off down my leg. Reholstering is safely is important even more so if you need to use public bathrooms.
        You aren’t always able to safely leave the weapon in the holster while sitting on the throne.

        Several years ago I got back from the restroom at a I-hop only to have to rush back.
        It must have convinced the others eating that I had incontinance issues, nope . I wear my weapon open carry style on Gun shorts and wear regular pants over it as CCW.
        I had resat down after belting the gun shorts. holstered then pulled up the regular pants. and finally finished standing.

        As I got to the table I realized that, something had pulled the whole revolver from the holster and it was in the process of traveling down my leg.
        I crouched over and hurried back to the bathroom.

        • I also have a 410 revolver (Judge). I wouldn’t consider it for concealed carry, too big and heavy, but, maybe you have one of the lighter weight ones. My regular carry is a Ruger SLR, 38 special, with 3″barrel. Weight, 15 oz. plus a bit more for the +P loads.

        • Actually it is surprising what a fat old guy can hide under fat old guy clothes. It is the “raging judge magnum” with a 7 shot cylinder that they designed for their CCW version. I honestly didn’t buy it for CCW but when I bought the leather holster I wanted for it, I suddenly realized it might work with my style of wear.. I wore it three weeks straight, after I proved to my self it actually would work. Oddly enough The leather holster seels the most likely to let me know it is getting fouled but I’m not sure why.
          My other two CCW are a full size .45 1911 also worn on left hip under vest or open over shirt. Tor more civilized dress, a .357 cross draw under a half open tucked shirt.

      • My EDC gun has an ambidextrous safety so I can reach it when holstered . I safe it to holster, then switch to fire after it’s settled.

  2. Excellent reminders. My mantra is “Slowly and gently back to the holster. Look at the gun as you holster.” I can’t tell you how many students and even experienced shooters I RO at IDPA and USPSA matches slam the gun into the holster. Lots catch some shirt and I’m always stopping them to fix the problem. Don’t wear baggy or short shirts to training or matches! That gun often has a cant to the rear and I don’t want to get shot because of your stupidity.

    • I too RO/SO IDPA and 3Gn. Rarely do I see a holstering issue in 3Gn because it’s not a concealment sport and gear is well thought out.

      But, IDPA, damn. It’s like careless rules the day sometimes. I couldn’t count the times I’ve told the shooter to clear their holster. It’s crazy. You are spot on, Dave.

  3. There are very few times when you might need to re-holster without looking and doing it slowly. I’m having trouble thinking of when someone might have to draw a gun in self-defense and then quickly re-holster it. If you’re still under threat (and can’t look down, take your time, etc) then why are you re-holstering?

    Might it be good to practice doing it ‘blind’ anyway? Sure, just do it with an unloaded gun.

    Cops DO need to know how to holster quickly and without looking down to effect an arrest but they (hopefully) get a lot of practice re-holstering it wearing the same rig every day and tend to have equipment (including tucked-in shirt) that makes it less likely that something gets in the way.

    • Even old cops, under stress and activity of an arrest often have trouble hitting the pocket while pinning down a suspect, and you will see them actually looking at the holster. At least the ones who have reached “old cop” status.

      There are old cops,
      and there are bold cops,
      but there are no old bold cops.

  4. Hmmm. So you have a problem with those of us that carry 1911’s or HiPower’s or Sigs or CZ’s Condition 1 with manual safety engaged?

    Very interesting ‘safe carry doctrine.’

  5. I guess I’m missing something here. I put my aliengear holster on my 4:30 every single morning. I don’t put the holster on and then put the gun in the holster. Same at night. Holster comes off the belt. That gun stays in the holster and it goes on top of the safe to spend the night. As far as this “re-holstering” business goes, I’m perplexed. If I pull the gun out of my holster then my safety finger pulls the trigger until the gun goes click and I either…..1. change mags and repeat the process or 2. the threat is neutralized and it doesn’t matter if I have a gun wedgie or not. No need in putting a loaded pistol back into a holster while the shit’s going down.
    Brandishing is like telling a man you’re going to whip his ass. He might forget you told him one day. He won’t forget that time you showed him.

    • I think the author was trying to say that when you carry a gun, there is a chance you might use a gun. When you do, there is a 99% likelihood that you do not keep said gun in its holster i.e. you have taken it out. Also, when you have the opportunity to practice your draw, assuming that you are in a place that allows you to do so (a lot of indoor ranges don’t allow that. sad) you will also need to practice reinserting your gun.
      Regardless, there will be a need to either do the re-holstering (as an unfortunate result of using your gun) or practice it. I think the author is saying that in both instances, you have to be double aware that clothing and other materials do not get inserted into your holster to produce an ND

    • You know what they call a guy who says “If I clear leather, I’m shooting, and I’m gonna keep shooting till the mag’s empty. And if it’s not empty after I stop the threat, I’m a cool cucumber who can re-holster behind my back without looking or fumbling, because my heart rate and blood pressure are just fine, and I was not affected by adrenaline in the least?

      Inmate.

  6. I like the terminology that the NRA has come up with: “Reluctantly reholster”.

    I lower the gun slowly and deliberately into the holster staying acutely aware for any resistance.

    O2

  7. Will need plenty of trigger therapy. Our much loved 6 years old Golden Retriever, Becker, is going under this week for cataract surgery, both eyes.

    Shooting fun 22lr or soul killing .375 on the range today.

    Praying for him that he is healthy enough for surgery since Becker is a fat dog, deep sedation can be risky for dogs his size

  8. IWB is especially a bit difficult. I wear my belt fairly tight, (It’s a bummer to have your pants fall down in a crowd) The belt collapses the top of the holster, squeezing it shut somewhat. I keep my right thumb on the hammer to prevent it from “cocking” (revolver)

  9. Yes this is exactly why guns that are striker fired with no manual safety are so unsafe to use. It happens all the time. Even the traditional old fashioned double action P38 without the safety on is was less likely to go off re-holstering the gun and with the safety applied will not go off. But that is too logical and a too sensible solution. It would never be accepted.

    My old carry gun was a Glock with a custom manual safety and my new carry gun is a double action H&K P30sk with a manual safety and also carried with the hammer down. Two safe guards then apply, the long double action pull and the manual safety. I do not have to worry about that problem of an accidental discharge when holstering or handling the weapon because I eliminated it.

  10. “I have a good friend who experienced a negligent discharge as a result of a zipper pull ….” Aren’t zippers usually in the FRONT of a garment? I sure hope your friend isn’t a eunuch or a soprano at the Metropolitan Opera now.

    • The zipper is only in front if it is zipped..
      If not it could be stuck in your right … [that is the correct side..right] handed holster.
      … and re-holstering under a zipped jacket might be problematical.

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