A draw stroke should be simple and reliable. Simple makes for a faster draw and one less prone to break down under stress. Reliable means it should work under most conditions, regardless of your position or dress. Your particular draw stroke is, to some extant, dependent on the position of your holster. I typically carry on my strong side, at 3’oclock or slightly past it. As such, this is the draw stroke I will be showing.
While some folks may like to complicate it, a draw stroke is a relatively simple, four step procedure; regardless of the particular stance you use. I prefer to use both hands to draw my pistol. The weak hand clears any concealing garments out of the way, while the strong hand takes a grip on the pistol. This is referred to as the “Hackathorn Rip”.
While it is a good idea to practice one handed draws that require the strong hand to clear concealing garments, I do not like them, as a general rule. Since I live in the far northeast, it is cold or at least cool, a good portion of the year. This means that my pistol is often covered by two or three layers of clothing. The “Hackathorn Rip” is the only method I have found that will reliably clear several layers of clothing, including a heavy jacket.
Since a draw stroke should be instinctive, there will not be time to think, “What kind of clothing am I wearing today? Which draw stroke should I use?” Consequently, I use the draw stroke that is the most reliable for me and my method of carry. Should your weak hand be unavailable, your strong hand will have to “problem solve” the best way to get your gun out of its holster. That is why you should still practice strong hand only draws (and weak hand only, for that matter), as it will greatly speed reaction time in these circumstances.
The Draw Stroke in Four Steps
1. Clear – clothing is pushed up and away, strong hand grasps pistol with a full grip and the pistol is pulled “clear” of its holster.
2. Rock – the pistol is “rocked” up against the ribs and lower pectoral muscle, canted out to avoid snagging the slide on clothing. Weak hand can be placed flat against the chest or raised to the side of the head to protect against attack.
3. Chest – the pistol is pushed up and forward to the upper “chest”. The weak hand comes in behind the pistol and a full two-handed grip is achieved.
4. Target – the pistol is raised slightly to just below eye level and then pushed straight out at the “target”. The shooter’s focus changes from the target to the pistol’s front sight.
Like most things, there is more than one way to skin a cat. A lot of folks have different ideas how best to perform the draw stroke. However, one thing this is reasonably consistent today, is the concept of “draw continuum”. Basically, this means that the draw stroke goes through various shooting positions that allow the pistol to be fired depending on the nature of the threat. Since I’ve talked about this elsewhere, I won’t go into great detail, but you can easily see that if your target is at arms length moving straight into full extension would be akin to handing your pistol to the bad guy.
The draw stroke is one of the most important elements to be learned, particularly for concealed carry. When you are first learning how to draw your pistol start slowly and do it step by step. Make each movement “perfect”.
In his most recent book, Combat Shooting, Massad Ayoob does a very thorough job of covering “draw continuum” and all of its principles. It is a very worthwhile read.