Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Reholstering Safely

Negligent discharges happen often enough that you should be concerned when you handle your gun near your body. One of the most dangerous times is when you go to reholster your gun. This simple act is rarely talked about and often overlooked. Re-inserting the gun into a holster is a high risk activity for many, but it doesn’t have to be. Avoid pain and disability, or worse, by doing it the right way, every time. Here are some pointers about equipment and behaviors to keep you free of unwanted holes, not to mention looking competent on the range.

In this article and in many shooting classes, the term “firing grip” means the “V” of your thumb and forefinger is as high as reasonably possible on the backstrap, the three non-trigger fingers are wrapped firmly around the grip, and your trigger finger is straight and planted against the frame.

1) Maintain a firing grip throughout the holstering process

Keep a firing grip until the gun is secured. Keep fingers where they belong.

Never loosen your grip as you reholster. This is essential discipline for not only safety, but developing an automatic habit that will serve you in self-defense or competition when there’s other important stuff to think about.

2) Be sure the holster is clear of obstructions involving the holster itself

Be sure to clear outerwear material out of the way. Jacket zipper pulls are especially dangerous.

Some holsters have retention straps that tend to dangle over the opening. Some have trigger finger-operated retention devices that can, however rarely during rough use, collect snow or small sticks that protrude into the holster. There is nothing inherently wrong with either type, so long as you ensure that the opening and interior are clear before inserting your gun. Never use your muzzle to clear an obstruction, and never cross your support hand in front of the muzzle to clear the holster!

These types of holsters are good for practicing under low-stress conditions and for carrying or storing the gun in something that covers the trigger guard.

3) Be sure the holster is clear of potential wardrobe malfunctions

It’s best to tuck your shirt in tightly when wearing a holster outside the waistband. If not, or if you’re wearing a shirt that’s baggy, you risk pushing a fold of clothing or—heaven help you—a button into the holster. That can result in an unintentional discharge that chews up your leg.

Clearing baggy shirts from the holster area is best done by placing your support hand flat against your abdomen just in front of the holster, pressing against yourself as you draw that hand toward your mid line. This will clear the holster opening while preventing the muzzling of your own hand.

Pull loose shirt material toward your mid line with your support hand flat against your abdomen.

Outerwear, like an open jacket, is also of concern. Be especially careful if you’re wearing a jacket that has zipper pulls or a drawstring at your midline. These can get inside the trigger guard as you reholster, possibly offering no feeling of having to push harder to insert the gun before a round breaks and ruins your leg. If you must keep such a jacket on during practice, tighten the drawstring above holster level on your waist, and use the shirt-smoothing technique above.

If you feel resistance when holstering, STOP. Don’t insert the gun any further until you’ve inspected the cause.

3) Don’t use the muzzle to work the gun into a collapsible holster

Never reholster into a sheath that goes flat without first removing it. The muzzle is NOT a fishing tool…

My everyday carry holster is a Sticky brand. It works great for me, but one of its limitations is reholstering. Like several other soft-sided brands, its opening collapses flat when the gun is drawn. Flat as a pancake, in fact, when it’s in my waistband. The muzzle is not a fishing pole! Holsters that collapse upon drawing must be deliberately placed back on the gun—not vice versa. That means I have to remove the holster from my waistband and, using my support hand, lower it onto the muzzle from above. This way the muzzle never covers my non-gun hand or other body parts. It’s very little trouble since this is only necessary when I’m doing a chamber check or after firing.

4) Stand up first, reholster second

Avoid reholstering when not standing. It’s a great idea to practice firing from different positions once you’re safe and comfortable shooting from a standing position. It’s a big risk to reholster when prone, kneeling, sitting, and so on. Keep your muzzle in a safe direction with the gun in a firing grip in one or both hands as you rise. If you want to be pro-active in your training, visually scan your environment as you come up to a standing position. But if you are not really familiar with shooting from positions other than standing, concentrate on getting up and controlling your gun. Then go to the holster. Once you have went to get up many times while controlling your muzzle, you can start scanning. Be sure of what you’re doing.

5) Take you time

Gunsite Academy has many sayings. One important one is “draw quickly, fire slowly, reholster reluctantly.” This was often followed by “there are no awards for speed reholstering.”

This simple investment of a couple extra seconds will protect your life and health.

Safety is often overlooked in many areas. Especially when you are experienced. The most experienced shooters are sometimes the most dangerous because of their familiarity with guns. It’s easy to get complacent and over-estimate your knowledge or skill. Taking a lot for granted with dangerous things can get you killed or at least injured. Stay vigilant.

Remember also the importance of inspecting and maintaining your holster. Wear and tear can cause a multitude of problems. Make sure what you carry is safe.

Semper Paratus
Check 6