reholster reholstering gun safely
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Something that doesn’t get enough attention among pistol carriers is how and when to reholster your handgun. The draw stroke gets a lot of attention but lots of people who carry a handgun spend little or no time thinking about how to safely reholster.

As many have demonsrated, doing it safely is important because a misstep could send you to the hospital — or worse — if a piece of clothing or a droopy sweat guard snags your trigger.

The most important thing to rememeber: take your time.

The biggest culprit, at least as can be seen on the range or in the gun forums, is that folks seem seem to want to reholster their pistol as fast as they drew it.

It’s easy to fall into that trap. After all, you’re already moving with speed and intensity to get your gun into action as fast as you can. It’s easy to apply that same amount of vigor to putting it back when you’re done.

That’s actually hard for a lot of people to turn off.

Try to keep in mind that there’s no trophy given for putting your gun away fast. This is the phase where mistakes frequently happen because of adrenaline, tunnel vision, increased heart rate, and loss of fine motor skill.

TL;DR: Slow down when you reholster. There is no rush. 

Don’t slam your gun home.

This is almost in the same category as taking your time, but just different enough that it needs its own category.

I remember my old man teaching me how to drive when I was a kid. He told me that if I put the car in reverse and it started to move…and then stopped for some reason…don’t force it to go again. Something was stopping the car that I couldn’t see. If I forced it, I’d damage my car or whatever had stopping it.

Much in the same way, if you slam your gun into its holster, you won’t feel any resistance from whatever might be there obstructing it.

TL;DR: Don’t force your gun into your holster because, if you get resistance, you won’t feel it. There might be something in it that isn’t supposed to be there.  

See your gun home.

A common thought among instructors is to look at your gun when reholstering. While I wholeheartedly agree, it isn’t always possible to do that depending on where you carry your gun. That’s why I say “see” your gun home, instead of “look” as many others do. 

If you carry in front of your body — appendix carry — to about the 3 0’clock (9 o’clock for you lefties) then yes, look at your gun while you reholster it. If you have to move your beer belly out of the way, so be it. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

But lots of folks don’t carry in a position that they can look down and see with their eyes. So what do you do?

I hike up any cover clothing to get it out of the way, and “see” the pistol home by feeling the opening of the holster to make sure there isn’t anything there that I’ll regret not knowing about.

I do this with my off hand if I’m carrying at 4 or 5 o’clock by reaching around my back to find the holster’s mouth.

TL;DR: “See” your pistol home, either with your eyes or with your off hand. The goal is to make sure there isn’t something in the way that could unintentionally catch the trigger.

Deholster, insert gun, then reattach

Finally, we have the most time-consuming, and probably safest way to reholster. That is to remove the holster from your body, put your gun back in it, and then reattach it to belt or wherever it is you carry.

This is obviously cumbersome, but necessary for certain types of holsters. For example, if your mode of carry is leather, nylon, or another material with a collapsible opening, the safest option to get your gun back on your body may be to remove and reattach.

Having said that, I’ve seen people with Kydex holsters doing this, too, most likely due to a physical ailment…most often with a paddle holster. It is more time consuming, though, and makes dry fire practice a lot less fun.

TL;DR: Sometimes the only way to safely reholster is to take it off, insert your gun, and then reattach it.

Mind the four rules

I see one of the firearm safety rules violated during the reholstering phase on a regular basis. Spend any time at a public range and you’ll see it too. People use the muzzle of their gun to “find” the opening of their holster. As they do this they frequently unintentionally muzzle their own leg, hip stomach, whatever.

The four rules of firearm safety are there for a reason. The one about not muzzling anything you don’t intend to shoot is the focus here. A lot of folks may argue that it’s OK as long as you don’t press the trigger. But all firearms safety rules need to be followed because they compliment each other.

TL;DR: Using your muzzle to “find” your holster opening unintentionally causes you to point the gun at your leg. Don’t.  

Conclusion

You need to use caution and observe basic firearm safety rules any time you handle your gun, which absolutely includes when you reholster. 

Look at reholstering your gun as if it were a part of your training…because it should be. Far too many think of the draw stroke and shooting as the focus of their training while giving little thought to reholstering safely.  It really shouldn’t be separated, because reholstering safely is imperative.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. This is BASIC COMMON SENSE. If you have to use your handgun, you get it out quickly and put it away slowly so that 1) you can still deal with threats, and 2) putting it away slowly means you don’t drop it.

  2. Have read multiple cautions regarding re-holstering while looking at what you are doing, and not looking at what you are doing.

    Those favoring “not looking” posit that you must re-holster while scanning for additional threats. Those favoring “looking” posit that you shouldn’t re-holster unless, and until, you are sure there are no additional threats. Thus, a safer re-holster.

    • To those eyes-up face-your-danger tactical types I propose that during the act of holstering THE threat deserving your primary attention is the pistol currently aimed inches away at your junk/knee/hip/feet. “Additional” threats can wait.

      Solo handcuffing may be an exception, but there are plenty of mitigating techniques that will afford you at least a glance.

  3. I bought a Simply Rugged Silver Dollar Pancake holster for my 4.2″ .357 SP101. It was very reasonably priced, was delivered quickly and concealed well. But it would partially collapse after I drew the gun. This meant unless I was willing to take my belt and holster off, I had to nose a .357 Magnum revolver into the holster with the muzzle pointed at my hip joint. I replaced it with a Just In Case Classic Holster, another leather pancake holster but fully boned and with a reinforced mouthpiece. The new holster is also comfortable and conceals well, but it also allows for easy reholstering.

  4. for guns without a manual safety like glocks one needs to own the trigger, by putting your finger on the side or behind the trigger you will feel if something somehow got inside the trigger guard and is trying to move it.
    guns with a manual safety, they should be engaged before you reholster .

  5. Good report. Common sense, thorough, something that the beginner should read and the advanced shooter should re read. There are plenty of examples of holstering accidents. Especially in holsters with suicide strap/ safety strap.

  6. Did armed security work for a number of years. In the fleet of of plants we protected we had a couple of AD/ND. One a person was holstering their weapon when the drawstring on their jacket got into the trigger guard. The gun went bang when they holstered it. I like Link’s suggestion on keeping you finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard but close enough to tell if something may have entered the trigger area. The second incident the person was re-qualifying and thought that reholstering was part of the time. In their hurry they holstered with their trigger finger in the trigger guard and by ‘slamming’ the gun in the holster did not give them time to realize/react to situation thus receiving a 8mm hole in their leg and heel. Good article Josh!

  7. When reholstering a “cocked and locked” pistol I do so with my thumb between the hammer and the frame. A pinched thumb is much better than the other outcome of a ND.

  8. “Sometimes the only way to safely re-holster is to take it off, insert your gun, and then reattach it.”
    I’m a firm advocate of this and have been doing it that way for years.
    A while back my son experienced an accidental discharge doing it the other way. Fortunately, he only ruined a pair of jeans, but did not sustain any bodily damage.

  9. And only use a good quality, rigid holster. There are better leather holsters, but they require maintenance and can’t be soaked.

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