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« Range Report: Two .40 calibers - SIG P229 and Glock 23 | Main | The 5 Main Firing Positions For Rifle »

January 11, 2004

How does one properly (re)holster a weapon?

In response to a question posted at Wince and Nod I responded here. What follows is an amplified version.

So how does one properly (re)holster a weapon?

One handed (so as not to "sweep" the off hand) with all your fingers outside the trigger guard while inserting the pistol straight into the holster (don't wiggle the pistol around as if it were a fish slipping down a drain). Avoid having things such as key rings attached to your belt or clothing in the area of your holster - you don't want something slipping into the trigger guard and pressing against the trigger as you reholster. Also be aware of loose material, retention flaps or protusions on the holster itself. If anything slips into the trigger guard while holstering it could press the trigger and cause an accidental discharge (or two if you count the one in your pants).

It's best if you can watch yourself as you holster your pistol but this is not always practical (small of the back anyone?).

Some holsters make the above impractical - for instance a pocket holster that must be removed from the pocket to insert the pistol into it.

If your holster isn't stiff enough to retain it's shape with the weapon removed then extra care must be taken. For example there are some nice suede inside the waistband holsters that are soft and limp.

A rule of thumb is - If you have to put your gun on with it in the holster you should probably reholster it the same way you put it on in the morning.

Above all - PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE! with an UNLOADED! weapon.

Some notes about practice:
1) Make sure the gun is UNLOADED (I know that this violates rule one but do your best). Check to see that it is unloaded and then check again. Remove the magazine, LOOK into the chamber and then drop the hammer with the gun pointed in an absolutely safe direction.
2) When you practice holstering (or drawing for that matter) DON'T sweep yourself or point the gun at any part of your body. Said another way DON'T allow the line down the center the barrel and projecting out the muzzle of your gun point at your body EVER. Actually for many concealed carry rigs the gun in it's holster may, at some times, be pointing at your body but WHILE YOU ARE HOLSTERING OR DRAWING DO NOT SWEEP YOURSELF! A pistol in a holster is an inanimate object and won't do anything on it's own but as soon as you have it in your hands it's an inanimate object with buttons and levers, and in extremis it will be surrounded by excited fingers.
3) As you practice holstering make sure the gun is cocked. If you have a problem with the process you will want to find out now and a loud accidental "click" should be ample warning.
4) It's more fun to practice drawing your pistol first so as to provide the opportunity to practice holstering so the these notes apply to the draw as well.
5) Practice should help you find any problem areas and enable you to find a way to overcome them - a large amount of practice does not mean you can allow everything to go on autopilot. The danger of practicing to a high degree of competency is that you may become complacent. In the multitude of pistol matches I've attended I've seen shooters at the highest skill level experience accidental discharges and I've personally let a couple of rounds go unexpectedly down range. One of the points of the Rules of gun safety is to make sure any accidental discharge is in a harmless direction.
6) Remain aware of of rule two. As you practice your draw you may be alone but imagine you are surrounded by innocent bystanders. If you yank that roscoe out of a shoulder holster with your offside elbow up PLEASE AVOID sweeping your muzzle across 180 degrees worth of bystanders. The same goes for a small of the back carry, with some of those holsters you could sweep almost 270 degrees worth of innocents without too much effort. Keep your muzzle pointing towards the ground (avoiding your body or feet) or your target during your draw. Keep your fingers out of the trigger guard until you are actually indexing on your target.
7) If you have loose clothing (as you probably wear carrying concealed) or if you have a protrusion of your body (aging belly anyone?) practice using your off hand to assist in holstering by using it to keep the area around your holster clear. Pull up your loose clothing (or belly) with your off hand and hold it with your palm flat and towards your body. This way your off hand will not interfere with your weapon or your shooting hand as you holster.
8) If you insist on using your off hand to spread the mouth of the holster apart, something I DO NOT RECOMMEND (and could get you disqualified in many practical competitive games) please, please do not sweep your hand. Spread the mouth of the holster from the front with your offhand and bring the gun to the holster from the rear.

Aside: I use the Saf-T-Blok on my carry gun (Glock 27) and Say Uncle has an article about it and a unique carry system at the Shooter's Carnival. I gotta try it out.

And: Here is the minimalists holster.

Posted by LayLines