Carrying a handgun every day involves a laundry list of considerations. Which holster should I use? Which concealing garment? Can you see the handgun if I bend this way? What about when I’m sitting down? As you carry more consistently, these concerns tend to diminish. However, when working out all of these details, it is easy to overlook seemingly obvious considerations, such as your draw from concealment. It appears simple, but without a methodical technique that produces consistent results, you could easily get hung up during your draw—literally.

If you plan to carry concealed, it is critical that you incorporate drawing from concealment into your training routine, including varying the types of concealing garments you practice in and doing your best to simulate your actual daily wear. It is all too common for shooters to go to the range and spend all of their time practicing with a full-sized gun and an open-top range holster, but actually carry a micro-pistol in a pocket holster every day. Training the fundamentals is key, but you need to put in the time with the gear that you intend to fight with. Here I’ll cover three of the most common carry positions and offer some tips on how to avoid problems when drawing from them.

IWB—Kidney Carry

Strong-side kidney carry is probably one of the most common modes of concealed carry. This position is at 4 or 5 o’clock, behind the strong-side hip. In addition, carrying a holster that rides inside the waistband (IWB) is preferred because, with the gun’s length inside your pants, it is easier to conceal it.

With this mode of carry, the primary issue is getting the concealing garment clear of the handgun so it does not impede the draw. When wearing a concealing garment that opens at the front, the key is to sweep the garment from front to back, past the handgun, to create a clear path for the draw. Sounds simple, right? In essence it is, but it’s amazing how simple things can become a goat rope when you add in stress and adrenaline.

There are a few important points that can help you make this draw smooth and consistent.

1. When sweeping the garment, use a wide-open hand with your fingers spread out.
2. Simultaneously move your off hand to your solar plexus and engage the zipper line of the garment with the back edge of the pinky finger on your gun hand.
3. Use your belt line as your guide, moving from front to back.
4. Sweep your garment past your handgun.
5. Drive your thumb between your body and the handgun.
6. Draw and drive your sights on target. When reholstering, first remove your finger from the trigger then repeat the same process, only use the butt of the handgun to engage the zipper line of the concealing garment.

IWB—Appendix Carry

Appendix carry seems to be getting more attention in recent years. It is very easy to conceal a sizeable handgun this way and it works with a wide variety of concealing garments. This position is typically inside the waistband, between the centerline and the hip at 1 or 2 o’clock. The two primary concerns when drawing from this position are clearing the concealing garment and getting the off hand out of the way.
When drawing from an appendix carry position, it is best to use a two-handed draw whenever possible.

1. Using the muzzle of your handgun as a reference point, grip the bottom of the concealing garment with the fingers of your off hand.
2. Pull the concealing garment up and well above the grip of the handgun.
3. Tug the concealing garment across your body, toward your off-side hip.
4. Draw the handgun sharply upward, clearing the holster and concealing garment.
5. Join your off hand and gun hand on the way to the target.

The “cross-body tug” achieves two goals. First, regardless of the size or bagginess of the concealing garment, this technique ensures that the garment is clear of the handgun’s draw path. Second, with the off hand moving across the body, it is also clear of the handgun’s draw path. This can also be achieved by pulling the concealing garment up extra high, arching the back and puffing out the chest, but that requires you to be in a position to do so. Using a cross-body tug to clear a concealing garment tends to be more forgiving of body position, such as when lying on the ground or sitting down.

This same basic technique can also be used with kidney carry and a concealing garment that does not open at the front. In this case you’ll do the following. 1. The off hand reaches around the front of the body, as far behind the strong-side hip as possible. 2. The fingers of the off hand then grip the bottom edge of the concealing garment, pulling it up and over the handgun’s grip then tugging it forward toward the hip. 3. The off hand maintains grip on the garment until the handgun clears the holster. 4. Establish your grip and drive you sights on target.

Re-holstering with a closed-front garment will always be a two-handed affair. Simply use the off hand to clear the garment as if you were drawing and hold it in position as you re-holster.

Pocket Carry

Pocket carry is wildly popular because it is easy to always carry a pistol this way regardless of your style of dress. The primary downside to pocket carry is that your gun is restricted to very small pistols, at least for most people. For me, going with pocket carry usually means a micro .32 or .380. There are two main concerns when drawing from the pocket. First is simply getting at the handgun. When carrying a handgun in a pocket, it is critical to ensure that the gun hand can swiftly enter the pocket and access the handgun. This sounds obvious, but it’s easy to grab a pair of trousers, drop your mini-pistol in your pocket and walk out the door without checking your drawstroke. Every pair of pants, and every set of pockets, is different. Just as you would never carry a handgun in a new holster without repeatedly practicing your draw from it to break it in and expose any issues (you had better be nodding your head yes), you should never carry a handgun in any pocket without first testing your draw from it. It would really suck to go to pull your roscoe on some scumbag only to find that you can’t get it out of your pocket. Which leads me to the second concern: getting the handgun out of your pocket without the holster coming along for the ride.

I have seen this so many times that it has stopped being funny. When drawing from a pocket, you need to ensure that the pocket holster stays in the pocket, not on the handgun. (There is something unimpressive about pointing a holster at a would-be attacker.) I’ll provide a few keys to avoiding this.

1. Check the fit of your handgun and its holster in the intended pocket for carry and make certain that the handgun can easily clear the pocket’s opening.
2. When drawing the handgun, use a C-grip without wrapping your fingers around the grip until the handgun clears your pocket. This allows for a smoother exit. Otherwise, your hand is basically in a fist, making it much larger and harder to exit your pocket.
3. After the handgun is out of the pocket, use a down-and-back sweeping motion, as if wiping the muzzle of the handgun against the edge of the pocket. This will ensure that the handgun is free of the holster before driving to the target.

Most people will carry in many different positions depending on their style of dress on a given day or in a given season. I highly recommend trying to stick to one carry position as much as possible. This keeps training simple and makes reflexive, defensive action easier as you are always going to the same place for your handgun. Whatever your carry position, test your gear, test your clothing, and test yourself. Make sure your draw is smooth and consistent. Train simple, train smart and fight dirty.

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