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.

One-Handed-Draw-1
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.

Recommended for You

Do you remember the first time you fired a gun? If you're like most, you were somewhat Training

Pro Tips For Controlling Recoil

Richard Nance - April 11, 2017

Do you remember the first time you fired a gun? If you're like most, you were somewhat

Guns are fun, and cheap guns are even more fun. Spend less on the firearm and more on ammo with these 10 low-priced pistols. Compact

10 Cheap Guns Under $250

Evan Brune - September 24, 2015

Guns are fun, and cheap guns are even more fun. Spend less on the firearm and more on ammo...

The Ruger SR1911 is offered in two versions, an all-stainless in .45 ACP (model # 6762) and a two-tone aluminum-framed model in 9mm (model # 6758). This review by James Tarr will focus on the 9mm. 1911

Ruger SR1911 Officer-Style 9mm Review

James Tarr - May 01, 2019

The Ruger SR1911 is offered in two versions, an all-stainless in .45 ACP (model # 6762) and a...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Kyle Lamb and Eric Poole talk SIG pistols

Kyle Lamb and Eric Poole talk SIG pistols

G&A Editor Eric Poole and Viking Tacticals's Kyle Lamb talks about 2 new pistols from SIG Sauer and a Lipsey's Special of the P365.

Teaching New Shooters

Teaching New Shooters

Julie Golob of Team Smith & Wesson guest stars, joining Jim and Scott for a discussion of how best to introduce new shooters to the sport.

Performance Center M&P Shield M2.0

Performance Center M&P Shield M2.0

From Smith & Wesson, the M&P Shield M2.0 is a great option for a carry gun with optics option.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

According to a recent report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a lawsuit against 2nd Amendment

Judge Postpones Oral Arguments to Stop California Microstamping Law

Handguns Online Staff - May 07, 2014

According to a recent report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a lawsuit...

Eliphalet Remington's world initially revolved around flintlock rifles at the time, and while early 1911

Remington Timeline: 2011 - R1 Pistol Is Introduced

Handguns Online Staff - September 09, 2016

Eliphalet Remington's world initially revolved around flintlock rifles at the time, and while...

As you will learn in this detailed review, the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 380 (manufacturer SKU # 180023) is an easy-racking, soft-shooting pistol. Compact

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 380 Review

James Tarr - November 06, 2018

As you will learn in this detailed review, the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 380 (manufacturer...

See More Stories

More Training

Learn the keys to a successful one-handed draw. Training

Perfecting the One-Handed Draw

Richard Nance - July 02, 2019

Learn the keys to a successful one-handed draw.

Good stance capitalizes on posture and joints to minimize the effects of recoil. Training

Shooting a Handgun - Stance Matters

Eve Flanigan - June 14, 2018

Good stance capitalizes on posture and joints to minimize the effects of recoil.

This drill will help you improve your draw speed and target transitions—along with recoil mitigation, and sight picture and trigger control. Training

Improving Draw Speed and Target Transitions

Josh Froelich - August 01, 2019

This drill will help you improve your draw speed and target transitions—along with recoil...

See More Training

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×