The Cornered Cat
Reholster without looking? No.

This blog entry was sparked by something Rory Miller wrote the other day. Actually, it’s a rabbit hole down a sidetrack that might be (but probably isn’t) a true disagreement, which means at most it’s only a minor quibble on an unrelated point, which is why I’m not just posting this as a comment over there. Anyway, in the midst of an awesome post about other things, Rory quotes a Deputy Marshall who said, “Holstering without looking is useful, because it allows you to watch for threats.”

That’s absolutely true, in the law enforcement world. But is it true for us?

Risk versus benefit

I’m a big fan of looking at everything we do in training as a balance between risk and benefit. And for people who are not law enforcement officers (LEOs), I just don’t see a lot of value in holstering without looking, compared to the small but nonzero risk of doing so.

As far as the risk goes, LEOs have an extremely low level of risk when they put the service sized gun back into an uncovered holster without looking.

But the risk of a deadly fumble increases when the holster hides under layers of clothing, and increases still more for those who wear their guns in a deep concealment location such as in a pocket, bra, belly band, or inside a collapsible holster. That higher risk should create an equally high level of caution every time we put the gun away.

When do you holster?

LEOs often must reholster in order to get cuffs onto the unrestrained suspect. That’s why holstering with eyes on the threat is such a critical law enforcement skill.

For regular citizens, we should put the gun down only when the threat is completely gone or the authorities have arrived. 1 If the scene is still so dangerous that we don’t dare glance down or away from the primary threat even for a brief moment, it’s still far too dangerous for us to put the gun away at all — with or without looking.

Unlike LEOs, we should not go near the suspect or put hands on them if we can possibly avoid it. Our only job is to stay alive and we aren’t required to do anything else.

Bottom line

There’s still a minor value in learning the skill, since nothing’s 100%. It’s nice to be so familiar with your equipment that you know where everything is, and to trust yourself and your gear so much that you can move confidently with it. But with the above factors in mind, holstering without looking just isn’t that important for people who aren’t in law enforcement, and in view of the risks it should not rate very high on the training priorities list.


  1. If the situation is serious enough that you need to draw your gun, it is serious enough that you need to call the cops.

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