Safety Tip: Pay Attention to Safely Re-Holster Your Handgun

safe safely holster re-holster

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 speed through 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 is, of course, a Rule 3 violation – finger on the trigger when sights aren’t on target. A secondary cause a piece of clothing or equipment insinuating itself into the trigger guard, causing the weapon 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 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 in 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 situation.

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

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 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 when 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 anger, when it comes to holstering, odds are good that it’ll need to go back in underneath some rather askew, possibly 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.


  1. avatar Dave G. says:

    When using a clip-on IWB holster I prefer to insert the pistol into the holster while it is hand-held BEFORE attaching the holster to my waistband. It is a lot safer.

    1. avatar Benjamin N. says:

      Or carry in condition three, a.k.a. Israeli carry. Problem solved..

      1. avatar Joe says:

        You’ve traded one potentially deadly problem for another.

      2. avatar Docduracoat says:

        The article was in reference to re- holstering after a defensive gun use.
        So you will have racked the slide and fired off one or more shots. Unless you emptied the entire magazine, you will have a gun with a round in the chamber and perhaps a few left in the magazine.
        Now you need to re-holster.

      3. avatar raptor jesus says:

        That’s an awesome way to get killed.

        “Hey, bad guy, hang on a second – I need to chamber a round.”

    2. avatar SoCalJack says:

      I do the same while at home or indoor range.

    3. avatar Ohio Shooter says:

      You’re 100% correct. It’s smart to always look for ways to lessen the danger that is always present when handling a loaded firearm, especially when it might be a striker fired pistol w/o a thumb safety. This is a great example if that. Pair this with slow and deliberate holstering, w/o covering yourself and others and you will be as safe as possible.

  2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    Good advice! I once called out a deputy on the range. S&W DA/SA auto. Hammer cocked, finger on the trigger about to holster in a Safariland SSIII. Sure way to shoot yourself in in the leg. I was, uh, vocal. She was embarrassed. Better than being shot, right? Guess not. She was a supervisor. Cold as ice to me after that day. Not in my chain of command so she didn’t exactly hurt my feelings.

    1. avatar Red Pill says:

      “She was a supervisor. Cold as ice to me after that day.”

      Typical, likely she knows why she was really hired and promoted… Affirmative Action.

  3. avatar Robert Powell says:

    ONE WANTS TO REMEMBER THAT IT IS VERY PAINFUL TO ADMIT THAT YOU SHOT YOUR SELF IN THE ASS. or worse, some one else . the re-holstering of a weapon is done by rote.PRACTICE–PRACTICE-PRACTICE.. SAFTEY ON-CHAMBER CLEAR- HAMMER DOWN OR LOCKED-TRIGGER FINGER CLEAR? then slow down and do it right once rather than fast wrong.

  4. avatar Rick the Bear says:

    Police _are_ civilians.

    1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

      Rick, not sure where that came from, but yes, everyone except the military are civilians. However, I prefer to say we are all citizens of the Republic.

  5. avatar Reason says:

    Older guy once told me you may need to draw quickly but you have all day to put it back in the holster. Take your time and do safely.

  6. avatar Gilbert says:

    Feet on a pedestal when reholstering. And get a decent holster.

  7. avatar Dale from Kansas says:

    When I re-holster I swing my firing side hip out slightly so that even if I somehow torch one off it goes into the ground instead of my leg, assuming of course it doesn’t travel down the inside of my jeans due to the highly obtuse angle and toughness of denim.

    1. avatar Joe says:

      Ditto. I cant my right hip out slightly so that at no point am I ever muzzling my leg. I take my time and take care. Nobody ever won a gunfight by being the first to reholster 😉

      1. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

        I usually sashay some and twerk a little when reholstering. Not only do I get my gun back in the holster, but sometimes people slip dollar bills in my gun belt 😉 😉

        Sorry, couldn’t resist

        1. avatar strych9 says:

          I prefer the FBI re-holstering method.

          Throw the gun on the ground, scurry over to it, pick it up, shoot someone then carefully reinsert into holster.

    2. avatar Perry says:

      Ditto! I “point” my hip toward the target; that unmuzzles my thigh. It also unmuzzles the guy next to me; the pistol is always pointed toward the target. Allow gravity to slide the weapon into the holster. The last half-inch needs a bit more force to engage the retention.

      The Glock has a 5# trigger, but only weighs 2#. Other brands are similar, so YMMV.

      If you don’t force it, it won’t discharge.

  8. avatar strych9 says:

    That video is flat out disturbing in a number of ways.

  9. avatar Joe says:

    Let’s face it, he was reholstering like an utter fucktard.

  10. avatar Skeeter says:

    I wouldn’t let that guy work out of a holster at my range again….not without some serious training….Holy F***

  11. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    His weapon handling skills were…Wait, what weapon handling skills?

  12. avatar possum, destroyer of arachnids says:

    I like to spin my cowboy gunms when reholdstering them., Kapow, sht happens

  13. avatar tdiinva says:

    That’s why I prefer OWB. Not only is more comfortable but it is easier and therefore it is less likely that you will screw up.

  14. avatar Rick_in_NH says:

    I carry a DA/SA or DAO IWB. Whenever I holster, my thumb is on the hammer. If the hammer moves (not seen yet) then stop the process and determine what is pulling the trigger.

    1. avatar Rswartze says:

      Thank you. I like this alot. I believe i will adapt this method.

      I’m IWB DA/SA and reholster daily due to not carrying at work. I would take the entire holster off, but then such a PIA on the way home or during the day if I run an errand. My biggest fear is clothing in the trigger, so I do try to cant the hip during the process also.

  15. avatar daveinwyo says:

    I’ve read this article twice and all of the comments. What the heck kind of gun are you carrying? Where is your finger? What kind of horrible clothes are you wearing?
    Been carrying most of my life, both IWB, which I don’t like, and OWB. Not one time did I fear re-holstering.
    I do carry in the pocket and I do take the holster out to re-holster, but most of the time I OWB.
    Am I missing something? Am I endangering myself and others?

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