View Full Version : what should my draw speed be?

May 6, 2009, 03:39 AM
I am confused on what my "ideal" draw time is from concealed. Carry on the back right around 4-5 in an IWB, sometimes same holster OWB. Am I looking at a second? 2? What is too much time?

May 6, 2009, 04:43 AM
As long as you're faster than the other guy... :D

May 6, 2009, 04:55 AM
If your CCW draw from concealment is 1 second or less I think you're very fast. I'd judge that many of the practiced folks draw in 1.25-1.35 seconds (just an estimate of what I've seen).

But don't get caught up in being Speedy Gonzales. Your mind should be ahead of circumstances to let you prepare for it. If you've practiced with differnt cover garments and can always get the gun into play quickly, that's all you really need.

May 6, 2009, 06:30 AM
Do yourself a favor and go rent "UNFORGIVEN" by clint eastwood... classic

May 6, 2009, 06:34 AM
Your speed draw time should be exactly as fast as you can clear cover safely, bring the gun onto target, and hit the target accurately. That's it.

And no, I'm not making a joke here.

Hopefully you will be faster than your opponent (well, actually the real hope is that you'll never need to test this skill) but even if you aren't, misses don't count.

This goes against "common knowledge" but in real life many folks have been "2'nd fastest" and still won because they were more accurate. (Not that being first, and most accurate wouldn't be the desired goal).

May 6, 2009, 06:36 AM
Under 2 seconds with an A zone hit from concealment at 7 yards. Under 1.8 is better.

And yes, you have to be faster than your opponent and of course you don't know how fast that will be. But a well-practiced sub 2-second draw lets you use the 21-foot rule as a rule of thumb, and insisting on that accurate shot every time keeps your emphasis where it should be. You go as fast as you can while getting your hit. Don't neglect the "hit" part in your quest for speed.

As you're learning, it's far more important to be smooth than it is to be fast. You'll do yourself no favors at all if you regularly practice fumbling at great speed. Rather, practice making every movement as smoothly efficient as it can be, and only pull the timer out occasionally to check if you're on the right track. Racing the timer is great fun, but not a route to effective improvement unless you're practicing the right things.


May 6, 2009, 06:43 AM
Pax couldn’t have said it better…

May 6, 2009, 07:51 AM
For me draw time is virtually irrelevant. If I have done my job and sniffed out the pending trouble well ahead of time and escape is not available, then I'll have plenty of time to draw. If I have failed to sniff out trouble no draw speed is likely to beat my assailants reflexes.

I would put way more emphasis on situational awareness and just being consistent and smooth with the draw.

Draw practice for me is more of a tool to ingrain the appropriate reaction I desire if hostilities arise and I revert back to my training on a subconscious level. To draw without thinking "draw now" in the face of a sudden threat.

May 6, 2009, 08:56 AM
One of the best drills to run for this, IMO, is to get snap caps and a stop watch. Have somebody with the stop watch say "go" when you're not facing them, draw, sight, and pull trigger. When they hear that trigger they may stop the stopwatch. It also gives you the chance to see if you're jerking the pistol, pushing down, pulling up, etc. I'll pick a target in the house, such as a picture frame, check 5 times to be sure there's a snap cap in the chamber and no live rounds in the mag and do this from different angles, etc, relatively often.

May 6, 2009, 09:00 AM
+1 "pax".

I'll add that, if you maintain your situational awareness, you won't have to make a quick draw. You'll already have your hand on the gun and/or have it out when TSHTF.

May 6, 2009, 09:36 AM
For me draw time is virtually irrelevant. If I have done my job and sniffed out the pending trouble well ahead of time and escape is not available, then I'll have plenty of time to draw. If I have failed to sniff out trouble no draw speed is likely to beat my assailants reflexes.

I give up a lot of draw speed at work just in the manner I carry, to me having my weapon completely concelead is a fair trade off over when I used to carry a larger pistol in a rig I could draw from quickly but couldn't conceal as easily.

May 6, 2009, 10:44 AM
I recently attended some training and the Shooting Skills test consisted of shooting from a concealed holster, all shots are as controlled pairs. In order to pass you had to met or beat the following times.: 3m - 1.8 secs., 5m - 2.0 secs., 7m - 2.1 secs. and 10m - 2.6 secs. Also, Failure to stop, Followed by Untimed Head shot, 7m - 2.1 secs. and Single Head shots, 5m - 1.9 secs.

Capt. Charlie
May 6, 2009, 11:20 AM
As you're learning, it's far more important to be smooth than it is to be fast.
So very true. In fact, smooth can mean fast, or at least, faster.

A few years ago, I hit a plateau where I just couldn't seem to improve either accuracy or speed. Then I went through a FATS training session. The after action review showed that, during the draw, my weapon's muzzle was all over the place.

I began working with a laser, tracking the dot from the draw, along the ground, and up onto the target. Gradually, the laser's path went from a bunch of erratic squiggles to a straight path on target.

That squiggly path caused the muzzle to move over a much greater area... and use up more time. Refining my draw increased both my speed and accuracy significantly.

Concentrate on your draw technique, and forget speed for now. Speed will automatically come with time and practice.

May 6, 2009, 11:27 AM
Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. Work on perfecting your form. Once you have it down, and its second nature, speed will come.

May 6, 2009, 01:39 PM
What other's have already said, adding a protest to the "draws do not matter arguments;" those presented and likely to come. The draw is a fundamental to the use of carried pistols as defensive pistols and should be as fluid and quick as a person can make it. Full stop. No "yea buts..."

May 6, 2009, 02:41 PM
I'm another 'smooth is fast' adherent ...

Smooth, done consistently, can also help make for less 'fumble prone' performance when things are happening away from a controlled safe training environment. Fumbling, and reacting to fumbling, can probably create the potential for unintended and unanticipated events (think unintended discharge, loss of control regarding accuracy, etc).

Proper repetition, done consistently smoothly, can help lead to faster performance of the learned technique.


Dunno. Couldn't begin to tell you.

One of the training classes I attended had some retired cops as instructors who measured the students against their idea of a reasonable relative 'yardstick' for speed.

It was a 'tactical undercover/plainclothes' type training class, meaning the weapons were expected to be concealed under normal working-type garments and drawn from under such garments, when actual working holsters were being used. No contest rigs.

The first day the students were checked for overall individual abilities by being timed during the performance of a drill which required that they draw from concealment (no hedging by prepositioning hands, clothing, etc), move offline at least one step, acquire a 2-handed shooting grip and fire 2 accurate rounds within a COM scoring zone on a 'standard' silhouette target.

More than a few cops grumbled that they were faster using just one hand and firing just one round. I don't doubt it. Drawing from actual real-world concealment while moving offline and acquiring a 2-handed hold, and demonstrating enough control with their shooting technique to fire 2 accurate shots, is probably a bit slower than using just 1 hand and firing 1 round from the hip. Probably a bit more difficult, all things considered.

It was an assessment, not a drill, though. Everyone was timed as a reference point.

At the end of the week the drill was once again given and times checked.

Nobody 'failed', but we were told that the instructors felt that a time of 1.5 seconds probably indicated an overall combination of working skills that would likely serve students well in the course of their duties, presuming they maintained those skills. This was just a test of various skills and abilities, conducted on a controlled range when the students were EXPECTING to draw, present & fire against a KNOWN & IDENTIFIED threat target, after all. Much of the Observe/Orient/Decide process had already been done, so to speak. (Yes, they still had to 'observe & orient' on the starting signal, but you get my meaning.)

There was some noticeable improvement throughout the class, with many now attaining this 1.5 second goal, and a few exceeding it. FWIW, although I easily exceeded the goal on the first day, I did consistently better (faster) at the end of the week. In other words, I learned some things which helped me and which I took back for continued development.

Some still demonstrated times in the 2-4 second range, though. Hey, it was only a 4-day class and there was an obvious (and expected) range of skill levels demonstrated among the attending cops, after all.

After I returned from that class and continued working with under the watchful eyes of the senior instructor I continued to emphasize proper technique and smooth execution without paying strict attention to the timer. I felt increased speed would come with increased smoothness.

There's no way to know what's ever going to be 'fast enough', especially when considering that reacting and drawing against a threat which has already presented itself puts most folks behind the curve from the start. Action vs. reaction can be problematic and require more than sheer technical skill solutions to resolve ... but a smooth, well-practiced & skilled technique is probably always going to be preferable to a fast, jerky, fumbling, jittery reaction done in response to an unexpected (and perhaps 'unbelievable') stimulus occurring in the real world. Just my thoughts, anyway, and I'm nobody's expert.

However, I can think back to instances where I didn't remember even thinking about drawing my weapon against a sudden threat, let alone think about it as it happened.

There's something to be said for repetitive SAFE training done properly and smoothly to develop technical skills ... which are still considered perishable, you know.

May 6, 2009, 03:39 PM
What other's have already said, adding a protest to the "draws do not matter arguments;" those presented and likely to come.

Erik, I said draw time matters very little. The difference between 1.8 seconds and 2.3 seconds is virtually irrelevant. A smooth, consistent, draw, free of as much unnecessary movement as possible, is more important IMO. If the speed is there great.

I just feel that if we worried as much about situational awareness as we do over things like draw speed we would be far better off. Hard to draw with a gun in your face.......without getting shot.............I don't care how fast your draw.

May 6, 2009, 07:10 PM
I was watching the electronic timer at the Steel Challenge Nationals a few weeks ago. Drawing from exposed holsters and hitting the first target on "Smoke & Hope" (big, close target) took 1 to 1.3 seconds for the non-professional shooters. Some shooters were running 1.5 - 1.7 sec. The AMU and Team S&W shooters were much faster, but they have the best equipment, all the ammo they want and shoot every day. Plus, they were shooting Unlimited guns from race holsters.

Drawing from concealment and hitting a -0 at 20 ft on an IDPA target?
I'd say that "par" would be around 1.2 sec for an Expert class shooter.

Willie Lowman
May 6, 2009, 07:12 PM

If you are half that fast. you've got it made.

May 6, 2009, 08:39 PM
im right at 2 sec on my xd40sc from sob. thats draw point and fire, the following shots will be aimed. even if i dont hit with the first shot it will(hopefully) make them flinch, buying me another second or 2.

May 7, 2009, 01:10 AM
+1 on smooth is fast.

Start slowly at first. Perform each step methodically until you get comfortable with the motions and movements. Repeat each step slowly a dozen times initially and work towards making each as perfect as you can.

Then start putting the individual motions together at slow speed, but in one continuous motion. Then practice making each draw perfect, with no fumbling or other mistakes. Repeat, repeat, repeat, until it begins to feel natural. If you make any mistakes, slow down again and work out how not to make that mistake. Build up speed again.

Then it's a simple matter of continual practice until you don't even think about doing anything but "drawing" the gun. It's one, smooth, fast action.

I've seen a few folks who can draw a CCW gun in less than 1 second, firing one-handed. They move so smoothly and quickly the gun seems to just appear with little fuss. Most of the shooters who can draw & fire in under 1.5 seconds are "quick". If you're taking over two seconds, you should be using some kind of diversion technique to slow your opponent's reaction time.

You need two draws in your toolbox. The first results in a two-hand hold with the gun at eyeball height, ready to engage a target at 5 yards or more. The second is a single-hand presentation for "close quarters" shooting, when your opponent is inside the 12 foot range. You won't be able to use your normal reaction of a 2-hand hold if your opponent is within 6-8 feet or closer.

May 7, 2009, 08:16 AM
I was just wondering how much weight people gave to certain characteristics of the handgun when selecting a carry gun with regards to how it affects the draw, or ultimately, the speed of the draw. The action type, type of safety (if any), barrel length and weight. Although the type of safety is mentioned a lot, it isn't particularly in the context of speed, though that is clearly implied. The other factors don't seem to come up at all from a speed standpoint so much as from a concealment standpoint. Actually, it seems that all the same factors apply if a handgun were carried openly in a secure holster.

Perhaps other than action type and safety type, these factors may not make any noticable difference, provided there is a requirement to actually hit a target. There is a hard to describe characteristic of a handgun which you would call balance that might even make a greater difference than other factors, though everyone will have their own ideas of what that is.

Revolvers have long been used for "quick draw" by which I am not distinguishing from "fast draw." I am referring to live ammo usage and, really, to double action. An S&W K-frame has been around for ages and in all sorts of variations. In my own experiments a 4-inch heavy barrel with fixed sights is tough to beat, though a 3-inch barrel is handy enough. But make it a regular tapered barrel of any length and all the balance seems to disappear. I have had people comment on the difference between a 1911 length barrel and a Commander length barrel in the Colt automatics but I never made up my mind about the difference in a quick draw.

Same thing with the large frame revolver. The four inch versions have the best balance (for me) but the weight is a drag both on the draw and to carry. More modern automatics fall all over the place in terms of balance but some are very good in that respect and with some, you don't have to trouble with a safety. This all makes it easier once you have made the difficult decision of actually drawing the weapon.

You can't do it at the range but it might not be a bad idea to practice making a draw when you are sprinting. Your reaction to danger need not be an either-or answer.

May 7, 2009, 08:27 AM
I know I'll catch flack for this, but... Trust me when I say it doesn't matter.

I had no practice drawing when I actually had to last year. None. In fact, I had only had my GA Firearms License (CC permit) for two weeks. If you ever find yourself in that situation (and I hope no one ever is!) it won't matter. Fight-or-flight kicks in, along with a heavy dose of adrenaline, and you do what you have to.

FWIW, you may not even remember drawing when in a real situation. I still don't.

May 7, 2009, 10:22 AM
Judging from my own experience, you probably also don't recall hearing the shot (if there was one) or feeling the recoil.

May 7, 2009, 11:19 AM
+1 on BestBod85. The delivery is the determining factor.

May 7, 2009, 11:25 AM
Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. Enough said. Speed may not matter as much as we like to emphasize, but proficiency does. If you can reliably draw and fire under 2.5 secs without fumbling 100 out of 100 times, you're ahead of the game if you were to draw and fire in under 1.5 secs 50 out of 100 times.

Speed isn't a bad thing, but smoothness and proficiency is WAY more important.

May 7, 2009, 02:53 PM
I was just wondering how much weight people gave to certain characteristics of the handgun when selecting a carry gun with regards to how it affects the draw, or ultimately, the speed of the draw. The action type, type of safety (if any), barrel length and weight.

Jeff Cooper used to say that it didn't make much difference, as long as you trained with the gun in question. Between the time you cleared the holster and the time you got on target, no matter how fast you were, there was enough time to get the gun cocked, safety off, etc. Follow-up shots might be a different story. A SA revolver would slow you down compared to a SA auto or DA wheelgun.

Some of the old-time Western gunfighters used to practice what they called "Drop the Dollar". They'd put a silver dollar on the back of the gun hand at waist hight, then draw and snap (dryfire) before the dollar hit the ground. That's about 1/4 second. Pretty fast for a single-action sixgun.

In my younger days, I used to practice that drill with a 4" S&W .38 revolver and a homemade speed holster. It's not that tough, really.

A harder drill is to hold your arm out straight with the dollar on the back of your hand, go for the gun and hit the coin with the muzzle as it falls past your waist.

May 7, 2009, 03:05 PM
I think a good fast draw is an important fundamental of defensive handgunning. I have to disagree with the poster who called it irrelevant. It is one skill in the multitude of gunfighting skills that may be needed in a given situation. Yes, the chances are that you will have been able to anticipate danger and taken appropriate steps so that a quick draw is not needed. But what about a scenario such as getting caught by surprise by an armed suspect who now wants to force you into a car or somewhere else. All you need is that moment of distraction; He looks toward the distraction, and if your smooth and fast enough, you might be able stop his violent action. The quick draw may not be the most important factor to some but it should be practiced and never discounted.

As far as that goes, in my opinion, drawing from a concealment belt holster and getting a solid hit on target at around five yards in a range of 1.5 to 2 seconds is not too shabby. Anything faster then that is pretty dang fast.

Deaf Smith
May 7, 2009, 06:09 PM

If you are not situationaly aware, I suggest you be as fast as Jim 'The Waco Kid'. And that's mighty fast.

Speed is relative. Not only in yours .vs. the other guy(s) but in what tip offs you see. And how far they are, how the weapon is carried, lighting, traffic, other people. Things like that.

You can be lightning speed (which is a good skill to have) but if you are not there mentaly, well you will be left at the gate when the race starts.

What is more, your reaction time is based not from when you are on the highest alert, best condition, but when you are tired. Like after a days work (and that is why in a IDPA match I'm a SO. I'm tired by the time my turn comes at the end of the match. Kind of a test.)

Get as fast and sure as you can, and then stay alert when on the street. There are schools that focus on looking for indicators (SouthNarc is one of them.) Get that kind of training to add to your shooting skills.

May 7, 2009, 06:43 PM
If your CCW draw from concealment is 1 second or less I think you're very fast. I'd judge that many of the practiced folks draw in 1.25-1.35 seconds (just an estimate of what I've seen).

I'd agree. A respectable time is hitting the target in 1.5 sec. from the draw. I practice with a timer from concealed carry and I use 1.5 sec. as a gage. If I don't practice regularly, I can't do it on demand. CCW draw is a little slower, but it doesn't make sense to practice any other way if you carry.

To get to one second (from the timer) would require plenty of hard work.

A total time of 1 sec. isn't hard to achieve as long as there's no reaction time involved.

I think it was Clint Smith who was asked by a student, "how long would I have in a real gunfight?" Clint said, "the rest of your life, son." Clint also said he never saw a timer in a gunfight.

The best competition shooters are in their own world. Under a second.

Slightly off topic but related:

I have a tape, I think from Stafford and Janeck, that shows a former hit-man draw from belt carry with gun hidden in front of pants, and fire in .3 sec. Point Three!

He was so smooth he didn't look fast. The former assassin who looked rather harmless (a little Asian guy), would walk up close in an unsuspecting manner, lift up his shirt with left hand, and simutaneously draw and shoot one handed with the right.

He carried a .45 auto with only one round, and liked to "hit" people who just sat down in their car. They never stood a chance or saw it coming. Then he'd ditch the gun.

Not a gunfighter, just an assassin.

Deaf Smith
May 7, 2009, 08:22 PM
I think you are talking about the sparrowhawks. Asian assassins.

I have the film. Saw it first at SouthNarc's class.

What they do, using a 1911, is carry it in their waistband with the butt below the beltline. The other hand is in the pocket holding the muzzle. The off hand holds the gun so it won't drop down and it allows the holding hand to push the butt of the gun above the waistline for drawing.

Very fast and very subtitle. But they can't hold the gun there all day. As an assassination technique it's pretty good, as a CCW it's very bad. Kind of hard not to be noticed with your off hand always in the pocket seemingly playing with, uh.. your roscoe so to speak.

May 8, 2009, 06:19 AM
Practice smooth, practice fast, but be sure the front sight is dead on the target when the gun comes up. So much depends on how you grip the gun from concealment as you draw it. You can worsen the time by as much as a second if you initiate the draw poorly and the front sight doesn't come into your sight line.Then you must compensate.

I personally think the initial grip on the gun is the most important mechanical thing in a draw from concealment you can sequentially screw up and affect the outcome of your shooting.

This is something you can practice, practice ,practice.Practice with dry fire again and again and then live fire with multiple 3 shot groupings. Then try it while moving! Gunfights these days will probably be multiple shot affairs with multiple BG's. This is a very complex group of skills to master, starting with an effective draw. It is not easy to master.

Double Naught Spy
May 8, 2009, 07:06 AM
I know I'll catch flack for this, but... Trust me when I say it doesn't matter.

No flack to you, but your statement is not fully accurate. What you should have said is that it often doesn't matter as there are times that it most definitely does matter.

May 8, 2009, 07:45 PM
There was an interesting study by the Force Science group in Mn. They filmed college students facing a camera, with a gun stuffed in the waistband and covered by a t-shirt. The study was to determine how fast an average college student (18-25) could pull a gun and fire on a police officer.

They also tested police officer's response times to visual cues to fire with their gun drawn and pointed at the target. Response times ranged from about .6 to .85 seconds (IIRC) with the average at .75 seconds. So for a visual cue it took an average of 3/4 second to see the move, process it as a threat, decide that shooting was appropriate and squeeze the trigger.

Now, the bad news? I think the draw times by the student test subjects¹ was... 3/4 of a second. Since you have to see the movement in the first place, you're at least 1/4 second behind the curve. I'll see if I can dig up a copy or a URL for that article.

¹ Note that these were college students with varying degrees of experience with firearms. None were highly trained for CCW.

May 8, 2009, 08:22 PM
A tic faster than the other guy.....................

Deaf Smith
May 8, 2009, 08:31 PM

I believe it. No doubt.

Like Bill Jordan said about that in his book, "No Second Place Winner". He wrote about getting fast with a gun and reaction time. He said if both gents are fast and strait shooters, then whom ever starts for the gun first will probably win. The reaction time will sink the other guy.

May 11, 2009, 02:56 PM
BDS32, If you are referring to my post I said "virtually irrelevant". As mentioned by several posters already there are several things that are more important than draw speed. Only in the most rare of occasion would a hyper fast draw speed assist one in winning an armed confrontation. First if draw speed is an issue you are probably behind in the reactionary curve. Friends who have been behind in the reactionary curve in FOF training almost always died and always got shot. My personal informal training with my coworkers suggests the same.

Basically you are left with hoping the bad guys attention is diverted or attempting a diversion. Then you still have an armed adversary to deal with. Just because you get off the first shot doesn't guarantee a hit or a stop before return fire gets you.

So from a logical stand point anything you can do to either avoid the trouble or be prepared in advance for said trouble is far more important than a few tenth of a second while starring down the barrel of a 45. IMO of course

May 11, 2009, 03:04 PM
They also tested police officer's response times to visual cues to fire with their gun drawn and pointed at the target. Response times ranged from about .6 to .85 seconds (IIRC) with the average at .75 seconds. So for a visual cue it took an average of 3/4 second to see the move, process it as a threat, decide that shooting was appropriate and squeeze the trigger.

Now, the bad news? I think the draw times by the student test subjects¹ was... 3/4 of a second. Since you have to see the movement in the first place, you're at least 1/4 second behind the curve. I'll see if I can dig up a copy or a URL for that article.

I draw in under 1/2 second from a snapped holster (open carry) and can't beat my coworkers trigger fingers..............and they can't beat mine either.

Bartholomew Roberts
May 11, 2009, 04:46 PM
I draw in under 1/2 second from a snapped holster (open carry) and can't beat my coworkers trigger fingers.

Does your coworker already know you are going to draw and is waiting for it (i.e. he has already made the decision to fire and he is just waiting for the cue from you) or does he have to recognize what you are doing, decide what the appropriate response is and react?

For example, we did a drill where two students stood on the line and as soon as one student started to draw, the other student was to draw his pistol and fire at the targets downrange as well. This resulted in very close times and even occasional instances of the "waiting" student firing first.

However, when we did Force-on-Force with some of the same students, those lightning reaction times went way down because students were busy processing a lot of information and despite knowing they were going into a scenario where drawing and shooting was likely going to be necessary, they still needed critical time to process that information. Situational awareness also tended to be a lot bigger benefit than a fast draw time in those scenarios.

Double Naught Spy
May 11, 2009, 08:16 PM
And that is the thing. At gun schools and FoF training, people have often already decided they are going to shoot or have made several of the relevant decisions that going into shooting before they shoot. Those also include the notion that they may be in an immediately lethal situation and need to perform accordingly. FoF training and gun schools usually don't dedicate too much time to not shooting, or maybe not enough. Add to that the fact that there isn't much of a penalty for being too quick on the trigger in training other than some verbal instruction.

So it is easy to be quicker in such training because there is a goodly amount of reality that is nullified including the notion of surprise, or even if surprised, people tend to expect it more.

In watching videos of civilians and officers in critical situations, sometimes the slowest part of the draw is the decision to draw and by that time the good guys are already under fire. In other words, they are behind the curve when they get a chance to start their physical draw and speed of the draw most definitely does matter. The amazing thing is how many (predominately officers) do it whilst doing other tasks, such as putting distance between themselves and their aggressors. So not only are they trying to draw and fire while under the start of attack or under actual fire, but they are trying to do so accurately while in startled retrograde or evasive motion.

Blue Steel
May 12, 2009, 01:44 AM
Slow is smooth & smooth is fast. That means practice doing the draw correctly at whatever speed is comfortable to do it smoothly. The more your practice the faster you will get.

For 1st shot on target at close-quarters distance I would say two seconds is very respectable.

Here is an article by Massad Ayoob on this topic:

One of the most common questions we get is, "How fast should I be able to draw and fire my concealed carry handgun?" The answer usually has to be, "It depends."

The most common rule of thumb is starting with hands clear of a gun carried in an open-top, exposed bolster, you want to be able to draw and get two hits on a seven-yard target in 1.5 seconds. It's a standard part of the graduation exercise at Jeff Cooper's famed Gunsite, and widely used now in police training. Chuck Taylor gets his most committed students to draw and perform a two-shot speed rock in a second flat at arm's length targets, which is a part of his challenging Master course.

That's all a bit optimistic for concealed carry unless you have a particularly efficient technique for clearing the garment, and lots of practice. I recently had occasion to be reminded of this at one of the excellent monthly IDPA matches sponsored by the Gateway Rifle & Pistol Club in Jacksonville, Florida. One stage opened with the shooter standing with the target at arm's length. The free hand was behind his back (to keep it out of the line of fire) and the gun hand at the side. At the beep, the stage began with the shooter drawing the concealed handgun and shooting the target one-handed from a close retention position.

Terrible Twos

As each of the 10 shooters on my relay completed the stage, I asked the range officer to review the electronic timer and check the time for the first shot. It turned out that not one of us had gotten under a second. The day before, while teaching a close quarters battle class, I had gotten the students well under a second for draw to the shot from an open holster and demonstrated same in around three-quarters of a second, but had also taught them that a concealing garment would add a good half second. This was proven here. Average time ran 2.12 seconds.

My time was nearly a quarter-second over the one-second mark. Times ranged from 1.23 to 3.33 seconds. The latter was posted by a fellow who carried his Beretta 92 on safe, but habitually used his free hand to flip the lever. It took him considerable fumbling to get the safety off. No one had taught him the proper technique. Another fellow got 1.37, but he was shooting from low ready, for fun not score, because he didn't have a holster for his new Walther P99. He should have been faster, but he seemed to hesitate. With those two times factored out, the average was still 2.06 seconds.

Some of the others hesitated an instant to fire after they drew as well. This has been observed before with point shooting. There is something in the subconscious of the moral man or woman that makes them hesitate before unleashing a bullet when their eye can't actually see where the gun is pointed.

Other Lessons

Two guns jammed: a Glock and a Beretta, two of the most reliable auto pistols made. Both choked for the same reason. Firing with the elbow touching the body, the forearm is driven back by recoil. This is irrelevant with revolvers, but any auto pistol needs a firm abutment of a flame for the slide to work against. With the unlocked forearm, like the unlocked wrist, the frame moves with the slide in recoil and dissipates the slide's momentum, causing a stoppage. When shooting like this, lock the forearm to keep your auto functioning.

This close, pasters get blown from the target by muzzle blast, and soon, the center zone of the target will blow out "along the dotted line." Do what we finally did and just cut the center out and shoot through it. Jeff Cooper's old Mik-A-Lik target was designed that way in 3-D.

No matter how good you are, the covering garment severely complicates the draw. Those with open front vests or shirts were faster than those who had to get their guns out from tinder pullover garments. For a couple of years I had the honor of being match director for the IDPA Mid-Winter National Championships hosted at Smith & Wesson Academy. One year there was a stage very much like this. The match drew some 140 shooters, including some of the best in the world. Only one beat one second for the first shot from concealment. The time was .98 of one second, and the shooter was World IPSC Champion Todd Jarrett, with his ParaOrdnance LDA 9mm drawn from an open-top hip holster tinder a concealment vest.

Rob Leatham was at that match. His first shot took over a second. Rob has been known to draw a race gun from an unconcealed Safariland speed holster and make his first hit at .60 of one second, or less on demand. Such is the "speed tax" imposed by the concealing garment and the real-world holster.

Bottom line: be realistic. Don't expect a sub-one second draw from concealment starting with the hands clear of the body, and arrange your tactical plans accordingly. Put in lots of practice in getting the cloth out of the way of the steel. Do lots of dry gun practice before you do it with live amino. And always remember the dictum of another world champion, Ray Chapman: smoothness is five-sixths of speed.

May 12, 2009, 06:07 AM
I read over again what Elmer Keith wrote about combat fast draw back in the late 50s and I'm not so sure now I'm qualified to even think of the subject.

He did have lots to say on the subject and pretty much dismissed the 1911 as out of the running because you had to carry it chamber empty for the sake of safety. But that was also the period of quick draw as a popular sport (which is where Jeff Cooper came in) and it was the thing to talk about at the time, mostly in the context of single actions. He did point out the dangers involved with the fast draw tricks with single actions if you were actually using live ammunition. However, all his comments involved actually hitting the target. No mention of mechanical safeties but mostly he spoke only of double action revolvers, admitting also that a fast draw was possible with double action autos, which were already around by then.

His idea of the perfect combat handgun, you probably know, was a Model 29 with a 4-inch barrel for concealed carry. If you had small, weak hands (like me, I suppose), he recommended the Model 19. My personal favorite happens to be a Model 13.

The troubling part of what he had to say was that he considered combat fast draw to be basically a very advanced skill with a handgun. In this tread it seems to be thought of as more of a basic skill and that is a huge difference in viewpoints. He thought you ought to be a high-scoring target shooter and even able to score regular hits with a handgun at a target 300-yards away, something I would now have trouble doing with any of my rifles.

I have no idea what Jeff Cooper though of all this but was Keith being exceptionally conservative or demanding on this topic or have times changed that much?

May 12, 2009, 07:59 AM
Yes my coworkers fired at movement. Exactly what I and a few others believe the bad guy holding a gun on you will do.

May 12, 2009, 08:34 AM

I won't argue your point that it is unlikely you'll need the quick draw in a confrontation. But here is what I am saying: better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Look at it as plan B when plan A has failed. Somewhere in the past, in a gunfight, some good guy needed to be quick from the holster. But he wasn't so he's dead. I don't think you neglect other skills simply to hone your quick draw but you shouldn't dismiss it. Even if you are beaten and take the first round doesn't mean you are dead (ever heard of Lance Thomas-shot in the neck by a robber as he drew gun from under counter then fired, killing bad guy). Beating the second round maybe what keeps you alive. Think of the frog with his hand's around the pelican's neck as the bird tries to eat him).

I've heard it said that gunfights are won in tenths of seconds. I'll defer to one of the greatest lawmen and gunfighters of the 20th century, Delf "Jelly" Bryce. Bryce thought the draw stroke was so important that he practiced it religiously being able to come from a concealment holster and hit his target in about 1/4 second. In one of his most famous incidents, a hotel door opened up with a bad guy lying on the bed, pistol trained at the door. Delf drew on him and put five of six in him. The bad guy never got a shot off. Just food for thought. I appreciate the debate.

May 12, 2009, 03:52 PM
I definitely agree on the better to have and not need. Yes high speed is great as long as it is combined with situational awareness, appropriate tactics to suit the situation, the ability to place rounds on target, and a smooth consistent presentation. Speed of draw for me is last on this list.

I'm not dismissing speed of draw just figuring its importance in the overall scheme. Many more folks lie dead because they had poor awareness than those who were to slow IMO.

Most of the confrontations I know of poor awareness allowed the bad guy/s to get the drop. I hear them every week as an FFL dealer while folks purchase weapons to be ready for the next time. Every time I ask how a gun would have helped them if things went down exactly the same. Most answer you are right it wouldn't have.

May 12, 2009, 03:52 PM
An article published in the November 2000 issue of Police Marksman, described the study I mentioned by the Force Science Institute at the Minnesota State University, Mankato. The director, Bill Lewinsky, revealed that the time required to perform certain motions is much faster than previously realized.

Executive Summary:

0.25 seconds: Average Response time to an audible "shoot" signal

0.53 seconds: Average Time for suspect to turn 90°, fire

0.23 seconds: Time Required to draw from waistband carry

How fast can you shoot?
First, let's quantify how fast we can shoot. In this test, the gun is drawn and on target. The shooter has his finger on the trigger and psychologically ready to fire. On average, our shooter is able to "react" to a shot timer and pull the trigger of his weapon in about ¼ second. This is very important since it quantifies the time required to recognize some stimuli (an audible shot timer), process the information in the brain, squeeze the trigger and complete the shot. While a quarter of a second (0.25 seconds) does not seem like a lot of time, we'll show you why it's not as brief as you might think.

Background Info
Some of the following information came from a study regarding subjects of police shootings who were "shot in the back". Lewinsky's team decided to see how fast a person could turn, fire and continue their turn to run away. The following information is, well, enlightening to say the least.

How fast can your suspect move?
In one study Dr. Lewinski positioned subjects facing at a 90° angle to a camera, with a weapon in their strong hand, positioned down by their thigh. They were told to do the 90° turn and during this turn to actually point the gun at the camera and pull the trigger. In a previous study, the average time for a subject to turn 90 degrees was 32/100ths of a second with the fastest being 18/100ths of a second.

Each person used as a subject had his own unique way of doing the general movement. Some subjects raised the gun towards the camera pulled the trigger and then turned; others drop their body then started to turn and raise the weapon all in a single motion. Others started to turn first and then raised the weapon. Some subjects turned by almost spinning in place & then running away. Others ran and turned and took more than 10 yards to reach the shoulder "square back" position. The average time for this motion was 90/100ths of a second and the fastest was 50/100ths of a second. The average time from the start of the motion, through discharge of the gun to the muzzle drop off was 53/100ths of a second. Average time from "muzzle drop off" to the square back position was 37/100ths of a second.

Keep in mind, these are the times for the completed action of raising a held weapon, firing and turning to flee, up to the point where the shoulders were "square" to the camera. Thus, in 0.53 seconds your suspect could turn and shoot you. In 9/10ths of a second he can turn, shoot, turn again to be fleeing the scene.

Drawing from the wasitband
In another motion/time study subjects were requested to place the weapon in their waistband and then, on their own initiative, pull & fire in a very "combat tuck" maneuver. This is a definite skill maneuver and would get faster with practice, but the subjects were not allowed to practice. The average time from start of the motion to weapon discharge was 23/100ths of a section (0.23). The fastest time was 09/100ths of a second! This means that if the subject has a gun in his waistband, the subject can draw and fire his weapon faster - up to three times faster - than the average person would be able to pull the trigger if he were already set to react to this movement.

As mentioned above, with a drawn gun already on target and in response to a shot timer, the average response time is 0.25 seconds to fire. But the paragraph above shows that the average time to pull and fire a gun from concealment was a mere 0.23 seconds. The fastest time was .09 seconds!

Lewinski uses high speed film to record and time the motions. The interval between each frame is known and careful measurements are made for accuracy.

The average time for reaction to visual stimuli (with no choices) is between 0.18–0.20 seconds. In the case of auditory stimuli it is shorter 0.14-0.16 seconds. When decisions are required the time required to make an appropriate response to a visual stimulus increases with age from about .37, for 20–30 year olds, to about .44 for 60–70 year olds.¹

So... for a response to a visual cue to shoot, add another .04 seconds to our .25 second reaction time recorded with an audible start tone, or 0.29 seconds to react.

But if there are decisions to be made or other choices, the reaction times get even longer, based on how complex the situation is.

In a high-stress situation such as this, our brains will be primarily focused on processing visual input. Vision takes a huge amount of the brain's resources to process what it sees. In other tests, Lewinski finds when both audible and visual inputs need to be processed the brain focuses on one type of stimuli at the expense of the other. That is, if in the middle of this situation you hear your baby crying or an unusual noise, your brain will not process all the visual signals it sees. Likewise, if you're focused on the visual situation, your brain may not process the sound of an approaching siren or even a loud horn.

So... yes, you can outshoot a drawn gun, but only if you're really really good. It all comes down to whether you want to bet your life that you're about .09 seconds faster than someone else.

[1] Science and Technology in Action (http://www.sciencetechnologyaction.com/lessons2.php?studyid=53)

May 12, 2009, 05:00 PM
Bill, In the past my draw speeds were well under 1/2 second. To fast for us calculate (because of reaction time of the stop watch holder) with our primitive equipment. I couldn't beat coworkers waiting for my movement to fire.

When we faced each other guns in holster....the guy who drew first got his shot off first.

May 12, 2009, 09:07 PM

You might be fast, but when we're talking about drawing against a gun already pointed at you, do you really want to bet your life that your speed is faster than his reaction time?

My answer: Not unless I'm forced to do so.

Any number of factors could reduce draw speed. The type of concealment garment; a gusty wind blowing the cover hard against the gun; being illuminated but he's in shadows or darkness; finding yourself in physically tight quarters, say like that little alcove into restrooms; being positionally disadvantaged, such as on the stairs below his landing and many others.

May 13, 2009, 06:20 AM
This continues to be an interesting thread and there are one or two related threads going on at the moment that are also good. But perhaps we should remind ourselves of some basic points--and the hard things about them.

First, the gun will have to be drawn sooner or later. It does no good in the holster unused. That, of course, is what the whole thread is about.

You have to score a hit or hits. If you don't, everything else falls apart. So really one has to practice a draw and shooting a target. But it isn't easy to find a place where you can actually practice that.

It seems logical to practice a lot before starting to use live ammo. You have to figure out how to get a smooth draw without snagging your covering garment (here we are assuming concealed carry) or grabbing your shirttail along with your pistol. That part's hard if you really have a well concealed handgun. I suppose that's where the practice comes in the most.

I tried a few experiments myself last night (my homework) and found that for some reason, one gun was much, much easier to get off a snap (this was with an empty gun in my basement) than with the other. It isn't at all obvious to me even though both have the same action type (DA/SA auto) and have virtually the same grip shape. One has a much thicker slide, which resulted in more drag on the draw but the difficulty was in getting a good or proper grip initially, not in actually "pulling" the gun. It might have been a case of the two guns actually being at a different enough angle. This is probably a good example of why a coach (a trainer, in other words) could be of some assistance, something I've not actually admitted before.

I also tried the same drill with another two guns. One, a K-frame revolver, was hopeless. I just couldn't get a good grip. The other, a single action automatic, cocked and locked, was no more difficult to get out front than the other two autos but the cocked and locked part proved to be something I was frankly unaccustomed to using. So I guess I have to come down on the side that says use the same gun all the time, only that's a little too confining.

There was no problem switching between a DA revolver and DA autos (and the DA/SA transistion is no problem for me either). That is, as far as the trigger goes. I wouldn't go so far as to say that a Glock would be either especially easy to use or especially tricky to use in this situation (a draw and fire) because it is a half-way arrangement. For me, the ultimate would be a double-action only automatic. Either .45 or 9mm pleases me.

I did have a Browning BDM for a while that gave a large magazine capacity, any kind of trigger arrangement you cared for, including DAO, and it was the flattest thing I've ever had outside of a .380 Colt. But it was big and not so light and now it's history.

There are other issues that are being covered in other threads but the main problem I thought in a good (not necessarily fast) draw was getting a good grip on the gun. That's just too easy to dismiss, too. After that comes the little problem of achieving a hit on the target.

May 13, 2009, 06:46 AM
I am no pistolero but I shoot and hit better when I am not trying to go warp speed and move too.I think its the HITS that count.Drawing concealed from different clothes is the real fly in the ointment and the royal pain in the process.

If you are smooth and deliberate and practice getting a proper grip on the gun to transition to front sight when drawing concealed under many different types of clothes----that would seem to benefit you better than practicing your speed rock from a OWB open holster.

Drawing is only part of the issue. If you are faster than the other fella but he is far more accurate and grimly determined to punch you Center mass and then head shoot you--you have a real problem.Yes,you may peripherally shoot him but he will kill you dead.

Kinda like the old gunfighters in the Old West.When they drew down it was deliberate and very focused!! God forbid,but if we ever have to draw we need that kind of focus.

May 13, 2009, 07:03 AM
Your draw speed should be about two minutes faster than the other guy.

That gives you a minute for the 'dead man's five seconds' to take effect, 'cause often it is more like 30 seconds and the minute gives you some cushion.

You also get another 30 seconds to get behind something big and heavy, and scan/reload...plus 15 seconds to examine yourself for new holes, cuss, shake your head, and decide if you want to puke or pee your pants. Careful administration of that time will also accommodate a quick prayer of thanks, if you're so inclined.

Last 15 seconds should be used to ensure that you are in a secure location and call 911.

May 13, 2009, 02:31 PM

You might be fast, but when we're talking about drawing against a gun already pointed at you, do you really want to bet your life that your speed is faster than his reaction time?

I was very fast.....still pretty fast but as I said before I couldn't beat the reaction time of my coworkers who were ready to shoot at any movement. I totally agree with you which is why I place much more emphasis on sniffing trouble out (situational awareness) than draw speed.

Sarge, A+ Some folks place emphasis on speed while remaining in condition white mistakenly thinking that raw cat like speed will save the day. I really think they fail to understand that having the speed to draw and fire before the bad guy can pull the trigger doesn't automatically equal a win. You still have an armed bad guy pointing a gun at you. Better to avoid or prepare before it happens.

Pure speed has surely saved folks in the past and will in the future but situational awareness alone has and will continue to save many many more every day.

May 13, 2009, 05:35 PM
When asked by a student how much time he'd have to draw in a real gunfight, Clint Smith said, "the rest of your life".

Clint Smith also points out he never saw a timer in a gunfight.

As for a demonstration of what good speed looks like, watch Gabe Suarez move laterally while drawing at the same time and hitting the target (don't forget that part).
The DVD is Close-Range Gunfighting.

Draw and hit speeds as discussed on this board are, I assume, from the timer. 1.5 sec. is good speed. Under two, not bad from concealed.

May 13, 2009, 06:14 PM
Draw and hit speeds as discussed on this board are, I assume, from the timer. 1.5 sec. is good speed. Under two, not bad from concealed.