Concealed Carry Clearing Cover Garment
Courtesy Geauga Firearms Academy and YouTube
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If you’re going to carry a concealed firearm, it’s necessary to practice the defensive use of a handgun. Simply punching holes in the 10 ring at the range isn’t enough; you need to work on the skills that you’ll need in the real world.

What that entails for most people is drawing a firearm from under a cover garment of some sort, as most people who carry on a regular basis conceal rather than open carry. Therefore, it’s necessary that you practice clearing that cover garment as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Some people use a two-layered garment system for concealed carry, often an untucked button-up shirt or vest over a t-shirt. Some wear the outer layer that’s fastened. Some don’t. If you wear business or professional dress, then it will probably be a suit jacket.

Unfastened layers are more efficient for quick access, though concealment can become more tenuous on a windy day. Some folks fashion a modesty flap of sorts to help keep the garment in place; a small leather strap or bit of fishing line is a common solution.

The most common technique to clear the cover garment is to sweep the strong side hand backward, clearing the cover fully. Then, bring the gun hand to the body and ride the thumb down into a shooting grip.

A good idea is to practice one-handed. While less efficient than using two hands, the truth is that you may only have the use of one hand while drawing from concealment. Most defensive gun uses occur at close range and rarely involve a picture-perfect stance. Therefore, make sure to practice using the strong-side hand only, either exclusively or in addition to your two-handed draw.

A best practice is to index the tip of the strong-side hand thumb against the body as you clear the cover garment. While you can use the support hand to hold the cover garment in place, you should be able to use the strong side hand alone to clear cover.

Many people will also carry under an untucked shirt such as a t-shirt, polo or buttoned shirt. In this instance a lifting motion is required along with a sweep to clear the garment, moving the fabric up and to the back. A best practice is to index the thumb against the body, sliding into a shooting grip.

Appendix carriers can favor a two-handed system, wherein the weak hand lifts and the strong hand gets immediately onto the grip. While efficient, and certainly allowing for a fast draw, also has the drawback of requiring use of both hands.

You don’t need to practice only at the range; the draw stroke along with the first shot can be practiced as a dry-fire drill. In fact, you should probably put in more practice time with the draw stroke and first shot in dry fire training, at least in terms of sheer repetitions. Spending 15 minutes a day can give you the requisite muscle memory in a hurry.

Make sure to start any new practice routine slowly. Surety and economy of motion are preferable to speed in the beginning. Remember, slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Speed will come later.

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  1. You left out a large portion of the CCW community, most of whom are “beginners”. I’m referring to women. The least you could have done is to provide a link to one of the many sites that address the issue for the ladies.

        • And purses, dresses, etc. Women carry a concealed weapon in many places that men don’t, because they dress much differently.

          This site is well regarded for this issue.

          thewellarmedwoman dot com/concealed-carry/

        • GunnyGene, off-body carry, or carrying anywhere other than the waist, isn’t what the article was about.
          When it comes to clearing a cover garment and drawing from the waist, I’m not seeing any real differences.

        • Lost Down South,
          Sounds like she has some of my major criteria already covered. You still got her number? ; )

        • jwtaylor, have to disagree that the statement “carrying anywhere other than the waist, isn’t what the article was about.”

          Your comment was the first time that the word waist was mentioned. The article is titled clearing your cover garment, and those words are repeated throughout the article. To me, that means bra holsters, thigh holsters, ankle holsters – any time that your weapon is being covered by a garment.

          I wouldn’t argue that for the vast majority of men, clearing your cover garment means moving your shirt from your waist. But if the article is purely from the perspective of clearing your weapon while carrying IWB/OWB/Appendix, that should clearly be stated in the article, not assumed – especially in an article for beginners.

    • There are lots of issues with this article. Yes dry fire practice is important, in fact so important that you need to become efficient in that even before thinking about doing it for real. Also, don’t even think about appendix until your are comfortable with strong side. Most ranges will NOT let you draw and fire. But usually you can practice from low ready. Best bet is to try out an IDPA match that is set up for beginners, make sure you have the correct equipment before you go.

    • So…you believe most beginner-level shooters are women?

      Also, women may be shaped differently than men but we are also all shaped differently from one another. This is along the same lines as guys with beer bellies versus guys with flat stomachs…you get the idea. Everyone is different but the basics of clearing a cover garment remain the same.

      • The statistics show that women are the fastest growing group of concealed carriers for the past 4 or 5 years. All I was saying is that the author should have at least recognized the fact that women also carry, and have different requirements for that than men. I am not the one ignoring them or assuming that what works for the man will also work for the “wimminfolk”.

      • My wife was a shooter before I met her, a damn good one at that. That was 41 years ago. She’s been through the boobs, butt, and, a baby at one time. As far as I know, she’s never not carried(except in the delivery room, but I was).Her answer to these situations: Adapt your wardrobe. If you intend to carry concealed, dress accordingly. If you want to wear something that prohibits your usual carry style, carry elsewhere, use a different holster, carry a smaller weapon, etc…. BUT, become proficient with each method AND each weapon you may choose to carry. You know, just like the guys should, sez her!

  2. Some good points were made in the comments, but the obvious one is that this post was really addressed to men and not women.

    I don’t know if you guys have noticed, but women are physically different from us boys, and they dress differently too. A woman who is just starting out will need an article written with her in mind by a woman who has gone through the process.

    • Some of the guys on this thread need to read what’s been happening in the last few years with women and firearms.

      I recommend reading the news articles posted here:

      thewellarmedwoman dot com/twaw-in-the-news/chapters-in-the-news/

      Among other things the NSSF stated in 2015 that there had been a 77% rise in female gun ownership since 2005. You can bet that has only increased more in the last 3 years. Blogs such as TTAG need to pay attention or they will loose readership.

      • Yeah I think I’ll go with the actual woman that commented.
        You might recognize her as be hunting editor and regular contributor for this website.


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