During a potentially lethal encounter, your life may well depend on how quickly and efficiently you can get to your gun. “Defeating” your cover garment — moving it out of the way to bring your weapon to bear on a threat of grievous bodily harm or death — is your first priority. To get it right, you need to think ahead and practice . . .
Painted into a corner
When it comes to clothing choices, a lot of concealed carriers take the path of least resistance — and stay on it for life. They wear the same basic set-up all the time, whether it’s a polo shirt draped over an outside-the-waistband holster, a pair of one-size-too-big jeans hiding an inside-the-waistband holster, or a particular leather jacket covering a gun stashed at the 6 o’clock position.
If you’re a concealed carrier who wears a garment until it falls apart, I’m talking to you.
Problem 1: at some point your “uniform” will seem out-of-place. It will attract attention or focus. Which is not as big a problem as 2: at some point, you’ll wear something different. You won’t able to draw your gun quickly or efficiently.
One Draw Fits All?
Early in my career, traveling all over the globe, I had to wear all kinds of different clothes, for all kinds of different climates, in all kinds of different social or work settings. If push came to shove, I had to be ready to draw, no matter what.
I played around with a lot of techniques. I settled on one with the highest success ratio, regardless of the garment. It works no matter what I’m wearing: a T-shirt, polo, dress shirt, suit, sports coat or jacket.
Attack your base
First rule: always attack/defeat the base garment. In cold weather, wearing multiple layers, attacking the base ensures that the rest are defeated. Second rule (of thumb): use your thumb.
First place your hand on your gunside leg. Hold your thumb held horizontally.
Next, hook your thumb under your cover garment(s). Turn it vertically (facing up) and pull your hand and the garment up, clearing the garment away from the holstered defensive pistol.
Lastly, as you hand rises up, grab your pistol. Draw and fire.
A lot of gun gurus will teach you to use your non-shooting hand to clear the garment, followed by your strong hand to secure your gun and fire. That can work too, and quickly.
But the two-handed technique doesn’t work well with a wide range of clothing choices or holster positions. Crucially, it also ties up both hands — preventing you from using your “weak” hand to block, push, grab or strike your opponent. And it stops you from pulling a friendly out of the way or towards escape.
I’m not saying the thumb hook technique is the easiest draw from concealment. It may not even be the fastest. But I am saying it’s the most versatile.
Once mastered, it’s a technique you can use wearing a wide variety of clothing and holsters. Instinctively. And that, my friends, is the name of the game.
Jeff Gonzales is a former US. Navy SEAL and preeminent weapons and tactics instructor. He brings his Naval Special Warfare mindset, operational success and lessons learned unapologetically to the world at large. Currently he is the Director of Training at The Range at Austin. Learn more about his passion and what he does at therangeuastin.com.