Concealed Carry

The Draw Stroke: How to Quickly Present the Pistol

man drawing pistol from holster

Not long ago, a friend pointed out a video shared on a training site the instructor seemed proud of.

A trainee wearing a range holster was tensely waiting for the whistle.

The trainee had his hand on the pistol, adjusting his grip, and his hand never left the pistol.

When the whistle blew, the trainee drew the pistol and emptied his pistol into the target. I fail to see any useful skill this drill taught.

Open-carry holsters are fine for beginners, but at some point we must master the concealed-carry draw stroke.

The concealed-carry handgun draw is an important part of personal defense training. It is a critical skill and a perishable skill.

It isn’t like riding a bike, constant practice is required. If you do not execute the draw correctly there are high levels of danger.

You may have an accident and shoot yourself or someone else.

If attempting to draw to face a threat and you fumble the draw, then you may be at a severe disadvantage when the shooting starts.

Only practice the draw with a fake gun or a triple-checked unloaded firearm.

Only after a great deal of practice will you proceed to live-fire drills.

At all times, keep the finger out of the trigger guard and firmly alongside the pistol’s frame. Keep the finger out of the way until you fire.

Not when you think you will fire, but when you fire.

several pistol in different types of holsters
Different holsters will require a different draw stroke.

The Draw

It is most profitable to address each step of the concealed-carry draw. While the draw will become a single smooth motion, there are different steps.

On the range, it is wise to avoid turning the draw into several steps, but this is the draw stroke itself. Confusing? Not really.

The actual act of drawing the handgun is simple. Drawing from concealed carry is more complicated.

Pushing aside or clearing the covering garments is the first essential step. The presentation always leads to the firing stance.

The presentation begins with moving the weak-side hand out of the way of the shot. Holding the arm up or on the chest works well.

Before the actual presentation, you clear the covering garments.

An efficient way to do so is to clear the garments with the weak hand and move the covering shirt up and out of the way.

If you use an open front garment, then sweeping the gun hand back works.

man drawing pistol
The support hand should be out of the way of the handgun’s muzzle at all times.

The Grip

Do NOT move the gun hand to the gun, get a grip and then draw. That is slow. Move the gun hand from under the gun and scoop the gun up.

As soon as you touch the gun, get the proper firing grip.

You CANNOT adjust the grip on the way out of the holster, get a firm grip on the first moment you touch the holstered handgun.

The handgun must be lifted straight up and out of the holster.

If you bend the handgun at an angle, it may drag or the sights may snag on the holster. (I like a built-in sight track.)

The gun is scooped up and out, not dragged out. At this point you lever the elbow into the firing position.

The weak-side hand will meet the handgun in front of the buckle as you push the gun toward the target.

If you are firing with one hand at very close range, modify this technique.

man practicing draw stroke
The hand should come from under the holstered handgun.

The Covering Garment

If you clear away the covering garment, it may fall across the handgun again if you make a mistake.

Move quickly and tear and rip the gun out of the garment — but get it right the first time to avoid this type of fight with your clothing.

You should also practice re-holstering. There is no need for speed at this point.

Bring the gun to the rear, slightly tilt the handgun into the holster and press it into the scabbard. This requires clearing the covering garment as well.

When clearing away covering garments, be certain to use the thumb and a bladed hand.

The opposable thumb we are gifted with works wonders in many day-to-day pursuits. The hooked thumb will move clothing as you draw.

If you use the weak hand to pull the garment up — like when drawing from under a sweater — it is important that you do not grab the body of the sweater, but grab the hem and pull up.

Don’t release the garment until the pistol is drawn.

man practicing concealed carry draw stroke
The hand sweeps the covering garment away.

Conclusion: How to Do the Draw Stroke Properly

Getting the gun into action is vitally important, but simple enough. Shoot the elbow the rear and the hand scoops the handgun out of the holster.

The handgun is moved toward the threat and the sights are aligned on the target. The trigger is pressed and you have a hit.

Don’t fire every time during practice, mix up firing and not firing after you draw. The key is practice. 500 repetitions is a good standard.

How do you practice your draw stroke? Let us know in the comments section below!

For more information about training with a handgun, take a look at these other articles:

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (6)

  1. Tom
    Thanks for reading! That is the Wright Leather Works paddle holster, one of the best of the best holsters on the planet! For the 1911 you need a quality holster with a sweatguard, the guard that keeps the gun and the body separated.

    It would take a lot of ink to cover all the draws. I have done so in my latest book, Holsters For Modern Shooters , R K Campbell

    There are a lot of copies for sale of my first book, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry. Dont buy it! It is more than twenty years old, very outdated, many of the holster makers in book are out of business.

    Bob Campbell

  2. This is a good articular for beginners, but it only covers one type of holsters. Concealed; hip – outside holsters (shown in articular.) What about – holsters at the small of the back, Cross-draw and shoulder holsters. Then, there are holsters clipped to the inside of the belt and/or trousers. To which all are concealed for a quick or semi-quick confrontation. All of which are depending on the comfort of the shooter and the situation of a threat.
    And for those who consider an ankle holster for quick retrieval, would either be aware of upcoming danger or can foresee the danger and prepare for it. So, I don’t consider it necessary to practice drawing; since they will have more time to do so.

  3. I taught the concealed carry class in Tennessee, for several years, and one of the most important thing I stressed to those taking the class was to, “Never carry your weapon in the Open”. When asked why I answered the same thing, “that if I had turned and decided to go something evil, If I am not carrying, I would take the weapon of the person who was dumb enough to advertise that they had a weapon.” “If I was carrying, anyone I could could see, due to open carrying or obvious ‘Printing’, they would be the first people I would take out”.

  4. What is the brand of the holster shown in this article? Or, what holster brand will cover the hammer, beaver tail and thumb safety on a 1911 commander or officers model? Something that keeps the hammer from digging into my ample belly?

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