The Cornered Cat

Perhaps the most dangerous moment in any firearms class happens when new students begin using their holsters for the first time. But even experienced shooters can fall into some common safety pitfalls when using a holster. These pitfalls, and techniques for avoiding them, are shown in the photo essay below.

Waist pack dangers: the drawstroke

Danger: The primary danger when drawing from a waist pack involves muzzling the non-dominant hand and forearm during the drawstroke. An unintended shot at this point would result in the shooter’s non-dominant hand being severely injured, perhaps crippled for life.

How to stay safe: the basic draw

The dominant hand anchors to the pack while the non-dominant hand rips the pack open. Note that the dominant hand is also helping to steady the pack, creating a faster draw.
As soon as the pack is open, the non-dominant hand slaps the shooter’s back pocket, hiding safely behind the hip, while the dominant hand acquires a solid grip on the gun.
The dominant hand begins to pivot the gun toward target, while the non-dominant hand obtains flat contact with the body and begins to move toward the midline.
As the gun finishes its pivot toward target and begins to thrust forward, the support hand slithers along abdomen to meet the gun hand near the midline.
Hands join at the midline as the muzzle aligns with the target. If the trigger were pulled at this point, the bullet would hit near the target’s center.
The decision to fire has been made, so the finger moves to the trigger as the sights align. If the decision to fire had not yet been made, the finger would remain alongside the frame.

Waist pack dangers: reholstering

Danger: The primary danger of reholstering in a waist pack is muzzling the non-dominant hand while holding the holster mouth open. If an unintentional shot happens at this moment, the shooter’s non-dominant hand will be severely injured and perhaps crippled for life.

How to stay safe: returning the firearm to the pack

Sometimes you can just give the pouch a good pinch that leaves the holster mouth open enough that you can insert the gun one-handed. If this is possible, anchor the non-dominant hand to keep it out of the way while reholstering.
If using two hands is necessary, you can usually “pop” the holster mouth open by making a rounded c-clamp with the non-dominant hand, keeping the palm and fingers as far away from the muzzle of the gun as possible. As you reholster, think of the muzzle of the gun as a Star Wars lightsaber: anything it crosses will be cut in half.


Too difficult to photograph, the safe reholstering process for a purse is very similar to the waist pack method shown here. The non-dominant hand makes a c-clamp to pinch the floppy mouth of the purse’s internal holster open while the gun is inserted. If the purse does not have an internal holster, relying instead on elastic straps, it is possible to use the same basic c-clamp hand position to hold the straps open. Be cautiously aware of muzzle direction at all times to avoid muzzling the fingers of the non-dominant hand.