With more serious practitioners of concealed carry than ever before, the true enthusiasts among that crowd have continued to refine the mechanics involved in deploying a handgun from concealment. While I am certainly an enthusiast who likes shooting, and pursing an advanced skillset in shooting simply for the craft itself, I have always been rooted in self-defense and personal protection. Therefore, even in synthesizing my approach to drawing the gun, defense remains my primary domain of interest.
The Realistic Start Positions
In terms of the draw from concealment from the AIWB position, which is the only mode that I now use for concealed carry, the two versions of the default, two-handed draw, that I focus on are a start from the hands up position and a prepped (often called “cheater” or “figleaf”) position. The reason for this is that the non-confrontational hands up posture is a cornerstone of managing violence, and the ability to stand in an unassuming posture that gives an advantage is of great benefit, if it is possible to do in any given situation.
I find the typical competition-oriented draw from hands just held at the side is not necessarily unrealistic, as it is also a natural posture that may not draw attention during real conflict. Being able to do a draw stroke from any hands start position is important. Practicing dropping something that is already in the hands is also important. Regardless, I give the two start positions of hands up and prepped the priority in training. Of the two, the hands up start position is, in my humble opinion, the one that should be practiced the most. Dealing with an approaching threat from that position is common in civilian oriented self-defense. It is also harder to do and slower than is a start from prepped, or a start from hands natural at sides.
Pertaining to speed, the prepped position proves the fastest, for obvious reasons. More importantly, however, the prepped position is the least fumble-prone concealment draw as the contact with the cover garment is already made. Therefore, in a violent encounter, if such a prep is possible to make, it is valuable to do so. Again, those circumstances may well be limited, so doing the majority of your training from this position does not make sense.
As far as speed goes, according to the internet, every guy and his brother now has a sub-second draw. The problem here is that there is no consistency in how this draw is being measured. I find that many who make claim to this standard are either being untruthful, or maybe claiming a sub-second draw because they actually managed to do one once, or because they consider a draw to a hit anywhere on the target paper at three yards a sub second draw.
I consider a sub-second draw a repeatable draw to the A Zone of an IDPA or USPSA target at seven yards. We measure a lot at seven yards, and it makes sense to do so here. If that is the standard we use, trust me, there are a whole lot less internet warriors out there who can actually do a sub-second draw.
As of now I find that I average roughly .10 of a second (one tenth of a second) difference between a draw to an A zone hit at seven yards from a prepped versus a hands up position. I average between .90 to 1.00 from a prepped draw, and from 1.00 to 1.10 from hands up, consistently getting the A zone hit. Is the one tenth of a second significant? That depends on the context; if shooting for a particular goal or standard, it likely is. If dealing with violence on the street, I would hope that your situational awareness, tactics, and overall skillset give you more padding than one tenth of a second on the draw. I don’t think the sub second draw is critical for self-defense, but I think it is a significant goal to reach for as a serious shooter. Again, A zone hits at seven yards are probably a very different standard than what most people are touting concerning this skill.
See a demo of the hands up start position draw:
See a demo of the prepped start position draw: