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My Controversial Stance On Re-holstering

Tactics and techniques taught by self-defense shooting instructors vary greatly.  One such topic that divides instructors is the topic of re-holstering, or better yet how and when to re-holster.  My opinion on re-holstering is different than what many have been teaching for quite some time.  Agree or not, here is my take on re-holstering and the mindset that you should have when doing it.

I have heard many instructors tell their students this:

You have to be able to re-holster your firearm without looking down at your holster.

You can't look down while re-holstering so you can keep your eyes on the threat.

There are several serious problems I have with this school of thought and training.  Firstly, Re-holstering and drawing the firearm under stress are arguably two times you would be most susceptible to unknowna negligent discharge.  We know drawing the firearm must be done with speed, and we train this process over and over so that it becomes automatic.  But re-holstering, what is the urgency to put the gun back into the holster?  As a civilian concealed carrier, your likely to draw your firearm as a last resort, and besides your hands, you are likely not carrying a lesser force option that you would transition to.  This is different from a law enforcement officer who may draw a firearm during a high-risk vehicle stop and then transition to a lesser force option like a taser or baton.  Secondly, because re-holstering as a concealed carrier is often times done with an inside the waistband holster and under clothing, this is more difficult to do, compared to an outside the waistband holster that is not covered with an over-garment.  Why would we NOT want to look at the holster and ensure no clothing etc. get bunched in the holster or trigger guard?  Some answer this question by saying, you can't look down because you have to keep your eye on the threat.  This logic makes no sense to me.  Why are we training ourselves to re-holster our firearm when we are in proximity to such an eminent threat that we can't even look away?  The fact is, you should NOT be holstering your firearm if there is still a threat anywhere around you.  Once the threat has been completely eliminated (and this doesn't have to be from shots being fired) then you can re-holster and take all the time you need to do it safely.  This may include…looking down at your holster.

No doubt after hours of practicing your draw, you will be able to re-holster in hard holsters without looking.  This will come from your hand knowing where it went to draw the firearm and know where it needs to go to return it to the holster.  I am not ashamed to say I can re-holster with kydex holsters easily without looking, however, most soft holsters you simply cannot re-holster without using two hands because the holster collapses once the gun is removed.  I am also not ashamed to say when I have a loaded firearm, I look at the holster as I re-holster, or I put the gun in the holster and then put it on my body.  I haven't had a reason to rush my re-holstering as a civilian concealed carrier.

Whichever school of thought you follow when it comes to re-holstering, I always say, train hard and stay safe.

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7 Responses to My Controversial Stance On Re-holstering

  1. O. Lee James, III November 2, 2016 at 6:13 am #

    I agree that, having drawn my handgun in response to a threat, I intend to return my handgun to its holster only after there is no longer a threat or when instructed to do so my law enforcement.

    While I can return my handgun to its semi-rigid nylon holster without looking, I prefer to carefully observe the action. I can fasten the thumb-break retention, but it is easier to do so while looking.

    This works well for me because I usually carry openly in an outside the waist band paddle holster with thumb-break retention. My handgun stays in the holster unless I am using my handgun or cleaning it.

    O. Lee James, III
    Captain, US Army (Retired)
    Honorable Order of St Barbara

    • Matthew Maruster November 3, 2016 at 5:00 pm #

      Thank you Sir, I agree with you. Thanks so much for the feedback!!

  2. Riley Bowman November 2, 2016 at 1:37 pm #

    Matthew…good thoughts, buddy! I wholeheartedly agree!!…….EXCEPT…..

    I do still think a person should LEARN to be able to draw a gun from and return it to a holster without looking at it, SIMPLY because it’s a good skill to learn. Plus I think the muscle memory of drawing is probably reinforced by having the same muscle memory of being able to go back to the holster.



    And I’m glad you have talked about it here because people need to hear this and understand the concept.

    You should not reholster unless a threat is completely eliminated (and I don’t mean DEAD necessarily–just that there is 100% no longer any threat to you).

    I also train our officers in our agency, “You should never be in a hurry to get back to your holster…UNLESS you need that hand for another legit purpose!” There simply is no need to be in a hurry to get back to a holster except for the situations you mentioned above.

    I think we should do this as a podcast episode maybe?…..

    • Matthew Maruster November 3, 2016 at 5:02 pm #

      Totally should have included that in the article, because I agree with you 100%. Thanks for pointing that out! And I think it would be a pretty cool topic to cover on the podcast!

  3. kdbrewski November 2, 2016 at 4:48 pm #

    I agree with you 100%, why are people teaching to reholster their weapon while there is still a imminent threat in the area? Boggles the mind on some people’s mindset, but oh well to each his own. I have taught my wife and son both, if there is no imminent threat visible, but they aren’t sure what is going on, to hold the weapon at their side with their trigger finger covering the trigger guard. That way, they can respond to a threat if needed, or if there is no more threat, they are protecting the trigger from something hitting it and causing a discharge until they can safely reholster their weapon. But they do not reholster their weapon until they are 100% sure there is no more threat. Great article.

    • Matthew Maruster November 3, 2016 at 5:03 pm #

      Thanks KD, your wife and son sound like they are getting good information from you! Thanks so much for the feedback!

  4. LM September 26, 2017 at 7:33 pm #

    Matthew, I agree with some points but disagree with some points you are making. For non-law enforcement, drawing without presenting absolutely is recommended and does occur in certain situations. I’ve carried 20 years in an east coast, city with low firearms ownership and rare carry (lol, ok my city has common ownership and carry, just almost non of it legal).
    i carry at 4:00. I would say in 20 years I have rested gripped my handgun perhaps five times and drawn it twice keeping it concealed. Like 99% of carriers I have never had to fire it at a threat. And no I did not brandish it, but have had a huge amount of training, which as you know does include situations where one would draw and keep it discreetly inside a jacket or behind you with your back covered.
    Being able to quickly reholster, especially if you have a size firearm that cannot be quickly placed in a jacket pocket, or of you are not wearing a jacket or coat, is something that can occur. We do not all live in areas where carry is common or even anything but rare, and where any exposed firearm seen in public would result in hysteric “man with a gun” calls to 911.

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