crossbreed IWB holster concealed carry
Courtesy Crossbreed Holsters

By Johannes Paulsen

I read about too many negligent discharges involving re-holstering a handgun without sufficient brain engagement. Too many gun owners seem to take the process for granted or rush it and don’t pay attention to what they’re doing. That can lead to embarrassment, pain or worse. Don’t let this happen to you.

To some, holstering their gun looks cool. It shows the mastery of man over machine. But while style points are important in some endeavors, this isn’t one of them.

The main reason for many of these negligent discharges is, of course, a Rule 3 violation; finger on the trigger when sights aren’t on target. A secondary cause is a piece of clothing or equipment insinuating itself into the trigger guard, causing the pistol to discharge…frequently into your leg. Here’s one such instance that comes to mind.

Either way, an aggravating factor is a lack of attention paid to the process of securing the handgun.

While some trainers emphasize holstering while keeping your situational awareness up, consider this: the pistol should only be put away when the fight is truly over. Not when your opponent is down, but when he’s incapacitated, handcuffed or otherwise restrained or covered by others. Once that happens — once you are positively sure there is no longer a threat — then you can re-holster.

Caveat: if you are a civilian or off-duty cop, it’s never a good idea to have your blaster in your paws when the police arrive.

I’m not advocating spending 30 seconds to put your firearm properly into its rig. What I am saying, though, is…take the time to glance down, holster and prepare for the admin/legal issues that will follow in the aftermath of a defensive gun use.

In practical terms, whether it’s after a defensive gun use or just practicing at the range, taking the time to focus appropriately can spare you a lot of grief, and maybe some pain.

I have accumulated a little less than one hundred fifty hours of firearms training over the past few years, and many of the instructors I’ve worked with have thought that situational awareness is the paramount consideration. They take the approach that you should train to keep one’s head and eyes up at all time, continuing to scan for potential threats while re-holstering.

Only one I’ve encountered — Scott Reitz, of International Tactical — specifically advised that since re-holstering should only take place once the threat(s) is ended, glancing down to ensure re-holstering safely is always a good idea.

I’m an ordinary citizen who happens to carry a concealed firearm. That means my sidearm is either in an OWB holster under a jacket or shirt, or (for more formal occasions,) it’s in an IWB holster underneath a tucked shirt and suit jacket.

If it’s been drawn in a self-defense situation, when it comes to holstering, odds are good that my pistol will need to go back in underneath some rather askew, possibly even torn, clothing. Holstering when the gun is still hot, when the adrenaline is flowing, when the heart is pumping fast, when fine motor skills are at a low ebb, and when I may even be injured is probably not when I want to be securing my pistol without looking.

Lady Luck would doubtless be cruel enough to ensure that I would manage to prevail over some bloody-minded street thug, only to suffer a life-threatening wound from a negligent discharge because I wasn’t paying close enough attention while holstering afterward.

 

Practice doesn’t make perfect – it makes permanent. Whatever you do on the square range is probably what you’ll be doing when the balloon goes up. A glance downward to make sure you know what’s going on when you re-holster is a lot less risky than the alternative.

41 COMMENTS

    • If I had a DGU I seriously doubt that I’d be in *any* condition to safely re-holster for quite a while afterward. Once the running and fighting was over I’d probably just drop it on the ground rather than even try. I know I’m not John Wick.

  1. Thoughtful essay. Got me thinking. I practice with a laser bullet almost daily. Draw, acquire target, fire, rack, re-holster. This essay made me realize I no longer look at my gun or holster when re-holstering. Likely, I’ve done it thousands of times, all muscle memory. Of course, since I carry OWB with a Sneaky Pete, re-holstering is not impeded by clothing. Even in the winter, my coats are waist-length, leaving the Sneaky Pete unencumbered.

    Now, will all that muscle-memory kick-in after a defensive shooting? I hope so. It is one of the reasons I train almost daily.

    BTW: https://stopthesteal.us/
    Big Rally!!! This Saturday in DC.

    Went to the Stop-the-Steal rally in Harrisburg, PA this past weekend. More than two thousand excited, cheering, flag-waving folk on the Capitol grounds. Outnumbered the Biden rally at least 3-to-1. We were a lot louder, also. Noticed not a single USA flag in the Biden crowd. Our crowd, bustling with every form of USA flag and banner.

      • C.S.

        1. Trump will win; that is the first step.
        2. We put these cheaters (traitors) in prison.
        3. We reform election laws to define any and all tampering as a felony.
        4. We enforce the law to its fullest extent.

        • Haz, if those lawsuits end up paying off, handing the electoral college to Trump…

          This country won’t explode, it will *detonate*.

          I’ll be torn in two different directions. Ecstasy, and raw terror.

          They will have had a few weeks of thinking they had it sewn up, a done deal. In the bag. And to have it snatched away from them… The riots up to this point will be *nothing*.

          I think I’ll just hole up in the house a few days…

    • The only STEAL going on is Trump trying to keep his immunity from prosecution and all the graft flowing into his business empire.

      The election was just fine.

      • You’re not the real Deborah.

        You’re that sniveling little fuckwit ‘yuc’… 😉

  2. Tex Grebner.

    I give him big props for putting up the video of him shooting his own leg; However, the fact remains that he shot himself in the leg.

    Don’t shoot yourself in the leg.

    • “Tex Grebner.

      I give him big props for putting up the video of him shooting his own leg;…”

      *Massive* props. Balls so big he needs a payloader to carry ’em large…

      Tex – One Year After :

      • Yep, he got me thinking about the potential issues with the holster I was using at the time. No more Serpa for me at that point, I also make it a point to look at my holster while reholstering. Don’t think I would have ever had the issue, but a screw up is painful and embarrassing!

        • Nothing wrong with the holster, though. Problem was that he either didn’t have the safety engaged on a gun that needs it or he thumbed it off before he should have… AND pulled the trigger.

        • “Problem was that he either didn’t have the safety engaged . . . or he thumbed it off before he should have… AND pulled the trigger.”

          IIRC his pistol was a Glock, so no safety. I think he was using a SERPA holster and pressed the wrong button.

        • You made such a detailed observation that you were able to ascertain the cup size?

          Kinda says a lot more about you than it does him… 🙂

        • But Geoff you were the one who first knew the size of his balls, wonder how you got that bit of info….im guessing when you followed the cup with one hand and pump with the other method you needed two hands to cup. Just a guess. This is fun.

  3. Never a problem with my Nemesis. If I carry a bigger gat I’ll experiment…more info on the Sneaky Pete LifeSavor. Do they still stamp that idiotic logo on the outside?!?

    • Former Water Walker,

      I have two SPs; black, ballistic nylon and black leather. The leather has an ‘SP’ pressed into it in the lower-left of the flap. Barely visible. The nylon has no markings whatsoever, although you can purchase them with some emblems that signal medical gear, religious gear, power-pack and so on.

      The leather is my EDC because I did not like the way the nylon was beginning to fray. After almost 4 years, the leather still looks great.

      Easy, fast draw: thumb at the tip of the flap; as you raise your hand, the thumb raises the flap and your fingers are naturally positioned to wrap around and draw your firearm. Re-holstering is almost the same: thumb lifts the flap and your hand is naturally positioned to deposit your gat.

      The only drawback with the SPs is with full-size pistols: since the SP is a rectangle, it can be bulky for larger guns.

      SPs provide decent protection from rain and dust: after a few hours in my wood shop, running the saws and router, I do have to dust of the gun handle but the SP provides sufficient protection that I have not found saw dust within the weapon after a day of woodwork.

      I hope that helps.

      • Thanks! With all the gigantic phones & tablets I’m thinking no one notice a SP. Never heard from anyone using one long term. Oh as far as Trump goes he should NEVER concede. They hate him anyway. And WE should resist all the leftard BS. Free KYLE!

        • I’ve carried a SP for something past 5 years, first a LCP and then an LC9, I can no longer imagine any other carry method. Pocket carrying the LCP, it was always full of lint, a mess, somewhat improved by a stretch cloth holster, but perfect with the SP. I just have to say, don’t imagine you’re fooling anyone, at least among the awake. I once had a guy correctly guess the gun I was carrying by looking at the size of the SP. But no one can argue it is not concealed, since you cannot tell whether a gun is actually inside it or not. Beware of cheap imitations, most I have seen are snap closures rather than magnetic, I would foresee not being able to get them open in a hurry. Oh! And my current one is fancy, alligator! Very nice.

  4. “Whatever you do on the square range is probably what you’ll be doing when the balloon goes up.” Exactly, and I dont say that as a compliment. Maybe while on the “square range” everyone will be day dreaming of themselves LARPing that a “balloon” actually went up. who says that anymore?

    This shouldn’t even be a debate, if you have to draw your weapon from an IWB, you need to remove the holster, insert the firearm and re-insert the holster, with the gun in it, back into your pants. Its retarded that this is even being discussed. No reholstering of an IWB, period without removing the holster. Debate me all you want, but, but, but,….My solution for you is get rid of the holster then and just go Magnum PI style maybe your ass crack wont give you an ND.

    And, if youre fat rolls get in the way of carrying IWB, lose weight or carry OWB for all our safety.

    • “…remove the holster, insert the firearm and re-insert the holster…”

      You are absolutely right! And, you beat me to it.

  5. When I was shooting competitively there were four of us that practiced together but competed against each other. During practice we would remind each other that there no points for speed registering. When I was running the line during qualification I always said that reholstering was the most dangerous part of the day. I once had a shift supervisor from the CJ begin to reholster her DA/SA without decocking and her finger on the trigger. I became vocal. I was later told she said I embarrassed her. I don’t know about that, but after the incident it would take me forever to get back on patrol if I brought a suspect in on her shift.

    • Back when I was first trained and qualified if you screwed up the rangemaster would- literally- kick you in the ass. The first time. The second time, you were done. The embarrassment of the kick was enough to stop anyone from having a second whoopsie while I was there.

  6. This should not even be an issue.

    According to James Yeager, you should immediately throw your handgun to the ground.

  7. Wow. I’d be super leery of any trainer advocating the importance of “situational awareness” while reholstering. That sounds like the same kind of John Wick wannabe, cringy bastard who would refer to a DGU as a “tactical situation”. There are only two reasons to ever reholster a handgun after it’s been drawn for real: if it’s the only weapon you’re carrying and you’re certain you’re no longer in danger, OR if you had to transition from a long gun to a sidearm and now have to transition back, and in the second case there are very few reasons to do that, namely running completely dry or having a malfunction. Therefore, in either event, if you’re going to put the handgun back you need at least a few seconds of safety to do whatever it is you need to do, and thus there is literally no reason not to look while you reholster.

    That particular bit of “advice” smacks of someone who spends too much time on “tactical” (God how I hate that word) gun forums arguing over stupid minutia and too little doing any sort of force on force training. They understand that situational awareness is extremely important (which it definitely is) but then fail to properly contextualize it, viewing it as the ultimate end all be all rather than one interconnected aspect

  8. “While some trainers emphasize holstering while keeping your situational awareness up, consider this: the pistol should only be put away when the fight is truly over.”

    Yup. Police train to holster quickly without looking down out of necessity- they may need to transition to a different weapon (less lethal) or go to cuffs while watching a suspect. I can holster one particular gun in a particular holster very quickly. But I wouldn’t try that while conceal carrying. Because if someone is a threat while I’m conceal carrying, I’m not going to be switching to a different weapon. I’m not going to be walking over and handcuffing them. I’m either going to shoot or not but in either case I’m getting away from the threat (downed or not) before reholstering.

    Unfortunately because of the tacticool atmosphere around gun training nowadays, that means people see a YT video of someone doing that kind of thing on the range and think they should be doing it too. Then you have someone who hasn’t practiced it enough dry ending up in a situation where the first time they mess up, it’s with a loaded firearm.

  9. Prefect practice makes for perfection.
    Practice slowly for perfection, speed will come later.

    As with any skill re-holstering safely takes practice.

  10. It seems like it would be safer to remove the holster to take it away from clothing, put the gun in while you can see easily that there are no obstructions, then put it back.

    And/or use a manual safety.

    And/or use a single-action pistol with the hammer down, or use a double-action with the hammer down and a heavy double-action trigger pull.

  11. Everyone’s well aware of the wind down that occurs after a self defense situation as far as talking to police and such but forget the immediate problem of holstering your weapon while jittery and perhaps confused and distracted.

    DON’T.

    Wait a few seconds or even a minute or two (unless you can already hear the sirens) before thinking about doing much of anything. Regain your general focus and relax a bit. Then start winding down. Keep in mind you do not have to re-holster your weapon just safe it and make sure it is secure. Depending on where you are this might be the easiest to do rather than a re-holster.

    Training always helps in these sort of situations. It’s why the military is quite obsessive about drills so that the necessary steps are done automatically and done correctly so that time isn’t wasted thinking about them and making sure everything is ship shape.

    Most all indoor ranges don’t allow general practice with draw and re-holster. For good reason. But these are two things you can do at home with an unloaded weapon. Practice, practice, practice.

  12. They will have had a few weeks of thinking they had it sewn up, a done deal. In the bag. And to have it snatched away from them… The riots up to this point will be *nothing*.

    WWW,BONANZU.COM

  13. If the competitor had a “race” gun, it may not have had a drop safety.
    No need to look at your holster IF you keep your finger off the trigger and if your firearm has a drop safety.
    If you miss the holster just don’t reach for it until AFTER it hits the ground.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here