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Perfecting the One-Handed Draw

Perfecting the One-Handed Draw
An injury to your non-dominant hand means the initial part of the draw is normal, but then you have to punch out and shoot with one hand.

In a high-stakes situation where you’re trying to defend yourself or others, it’s hard enough to perform a standard draw. But injury or other factors such as fighting off an attacker or trying to protect a third party may require you to draw and shoot with only one hand.

When your non-dominant hand is injured or performing some other critical task, you still have your shooting hand free. Since this hand does most of the work when drawing and firing anyway, and since it’s your most coordinated hand, this isn’t all that difficult with practice. However, the manner in which you conceal your gun plays a factor.

When performing the standard two-handed draw from an open garment like an unbuttoned shirt or unzipped jacket, it is the shooting hand that initiates the draw by clearing the garment then immediately gripping the gun. Your non-dominant hand then comes in to assist with gripping the gun for better recoil control, but it is not an integral component of the actual draw. However, when you’re concealing your gun with a “closed garment” like an untucked shirt, a pullover or zipped jacket, drawing solely with your dominant hand requires modification.

Typically, when drawing from a closed garment, the non-dominant hand starts the draw by lifting the concealing garment. When your non-dominant hand is occupied, you’ll obviously have to lift your garment and draw with your shooting hand. If you’ve not practiced this, you’re likely to struggle because the garment can fall before you acquire your grip.

Practice learning to pin the garment to your body; this gives you unimpeded access to the grip of your gun. Just keep in mind the gun can still snag on your garment during the draw, which is why you need to practice. Keep in mind, what seems easy in training can seem next to impossible under real-world conditions.

When you get the hang of dominant-hand-only draws, it’s time to practice drawing exclusively with your off-hand. This is more difficult, of course. Not only are you having to draw with your less-coordinated hand, you will have to reach farther across your body to draw and you probably won’t be able to acquire a shooting grip initially.

This is where appendix carry really shines because it affords you easy access to your gun with either hand. In fact, depending on your flexibility and holster placement, you may even be able to rotate your off-hand inward to the point you could draw with a proper grip.

Appendix carry (l.) lends itself to relatively easy drawing with your off-hand because you don’t have to reach as far. To get a proper grip on the gun (r.), one method is to place it between your knees and then regrip.

If not, you’ll need to grip the gun upside down (with your little finger just below the trigger guard) to draw, and then regrip it. Perhaps the most common technique to regrip the gun is to first wedge it between your knees, with the muzzle facing downward and slightly forward. This leaves the grip of your gun accessible. Once your knees support the gun, you can release your hand and then achieve a proper shooting grip.

A faster but riskier method is to place the side of the gun against your chest, with the magazine well (or the butt of the revolver’s grip) upward. Then, while maintaining pressure on the gun against your chest and being careful not to muzzle yourself, slowly roll the gun downward to achieve a shooting grip.

While this method is considerably faster than bracing the gun between your knees to regrip it, it’s inherently more dangerous. For obvious reasons, this skill should be mastered with an inert training gun before trying it with a real firearm.

If you’re drawing off-handed from the ground, placing the pistol on the ground is a viable option to establish a firing grip. Again, due to the likelihood of your muzzle pointing somewhere other than downrange when drawing off-handed from the ground, it’s important to practice with an inert trainer.

Of course, in the real world, there is no “downrange,” so trigger finger discipline is paramount. In fact, any time your off-hand is drawing your gun, there is a greater likelihood of a finger inadvertently entering the trigger guard and pressing the trigger. You must be cognizant of this at all times and act accordingly.


Perfecting your one-handed draws isn’t easy. It requires you to clear your cover garment, draw efficiently and shoot accurately with only one hand—perhaps even your off-hand. Add to the mix that you may be drawing one-handed because of injury, and it should be clear why one-handed draws should be a training staple. Just remember, you’re never out of the fight. You don’t need two hands to win.

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