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How Important is a Fast Draw for Personal Defense with a Handgun?: The Sheriff's Take

Jimbo

Elite
I cant tell anyone how important a fast draw may be but I can tell you how I look at it. I do not believe that anyone is trying to be slower but I wouldnt necessarily say that a "fast draw" is what I am going for. I want my draw to be unencumbered, purposeful, smooth and controlled. I endeavor to have a draw that is not bumbling and does not incorporate any unnecessary movement...Generally speaking, I do not consider "speed of draw" to be what most citizen self defense actions are likely to hinge upon.
This is very helpful. I agree that having an unencumbered, purposeful, and focused, draw is more important than having a fast draw. That is, unless you can have both. And I don't think many people are expert in both areas.

That brings me back to my two carry guns - my single stack Ruger vs my double stack Beretta. I have to really be good to get the Beretta out of my pocket fast; but I can get the Ruger out of my pocket fast with little effort.

The key advantage I can see with the Beretta is that it is DA/SA - always ready to shoot without having to fiddle with the safety. On the other hand, the Ruger safety is easy to turn off. What I would love to have is a gun the size of my Ruger that is DA/SA. I'm looking at the Springfield XD-E, to see if it meets my needs - it is the one gun that I believe does, but I've never handled it, so I don't know for sure.

Not sure about a grip safety - I've never used one, so I don't know what to think about it. And I don't know if there is a 9mm single stack with a grip safety. That's something I need to research.

If you have shot the Ruger EC9S or LC9S, and you know of a gun that is just as reliable and just as small that is DA/SA or that has a grip safety, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts about that gun.
 
Another good article from the sheriff, how important is a fast draw for personal defense

how-important-is-a-fast-draw-for-personal-defense-with-a-handgun
Good article from the sheriff thanks for sharing.
I’m glad the Sheriff brought up practicing for smoothness first before speed.
Not trying to speak negative on what people say in their posts however in the unfortunate event that I ever get into a life threatening gun fight I myself have always said it would be me “god willing” going home, I will say I will never say I’m a winner as taking a life is not winning.
My opinion.
 
@KASHIRA I agree that the "two seconds or less" criteria is a practical one is terms of Wyatt Earp's criteria to get into and survive a gunfight: " Take Your Time Quick" ( Earp, 1896). My selections would be a Milt Sparks type IWB holster for the Colt 1911A1 in .45 ACP or 10mm where a jacket is worn in temperate conditions or under a Hawaiin shirt untucked.
A roll of quarters in the holster side pocket can assist in clearing the holster or something of similar weight there. Alternatively carrying a SNUB in a side pocket of a jacket or in a pants pocket works with the Centennial type shrouded hammer. Also a Bianchi inside waistband for a Snub gun with lots of practice in IDPA BUG category. The draw has to be practiced in front of a mirror so that there is no exaggerated motion in drawing and firing from an IWB together with holstering or reholstering NOT indexing your body. What I like best about IWB holsters is that they do not "print" at all.
In super cold weather consideration should be made for a shoulder holster drawn from a parka again in the two second interval. in my opinion IF it takes you MORE that three seconds to get your pistol out to commence or return fire you have a "real problem" and a "good fighting chance" in two seconds or less. All my opinions here. "NOT a professional".
 
Good information. As a young officer and instructor eons ago while working to perfect my own tactical gun handling, I learned that I could permanently imprint the draw into memory to the point that I would do it without thought. I won't tell you what my draw and fire times on the range were in my 20's, but I will tell you that nearly 50 years later, those times have doubled. Nowadays, the physiologists tell us that this is development of permanent, automatic neural muscular memory. (Like knowing how to walk).

Whatever you call it, over the years when faced with a threatening event I, on many occasions, found that I had drawn my gun with no thought or memory of having done so. In discussions with other instructors I heard of similar experiences and the consensus was, and is, that a fast draw is a critical skill for officers. Training begins with a smooth proper draw and becomes fast with many hundreds of repetitions. I have been teaching the 4-step draw for many years, and we don't go to the range until the shooter is able to demonstrate it safely, which normally takes about 200 or so repetitions. Re-holstering is also a key safety skill. The draw is a perishable skill that I practice every day.

When LE instructors gather we often speak of "The Rule of 3's". That is, the majority of lethal encounters occur at 3 yards or less, 3 rounds or less are fired, and it is over in 3 seconds or less. So we spend a lot of time on the draw and fire scenario at CQB distances. Of course shootings occur outside those average parameters so you cannot neglect those skills as well. Decision making and marksmanship must be included in the training and practice regime as well. I am convinced that, the more proficient the individual is on the draw and fire drill under compressed time limits, the LESS likely they will be to use the gun unnecessarily.

If you factor in the OODA Loop and have a draw and fire time of, for example, 4 seconds, statistically the 3 second fight is over before you ever cleared the holster.

A citizen carrying a firearm concealed is statistically highly unlikely to be in any gunfight. However, Murphy's Law is always hovering nearby, so why not do your best to circumvent Murphy and be skilled against the eventuality. After all, that's why we carry a gun in the first place, right?
 

TSiWRX

Custom
I have no desire to be like that guy that was the fastest shot in the world. I don't even time myself so I can't really tell you how fast I can get my weapon out, on target and fire, but I know it's fast and it's consistent. As anyone's will be if they continually drill and practice.

And there's more to it than just the mechanics of clearing your holster, rotating and bringing it up to the support hand at eye level and on target. You also, particularly as a beginner, have to focus on stance, grip and follow through.

I definitely agree with that second portion of your post - there's a lot more that the beginner shooter has to focus on than just the draw -

But in terms of speed of access, without quantifying -as with any other sporting endeavor- there's simply no true way to judge either improvement or deficiencies.

And towards that....

In regards to MY DRAW, I checked the box sometime in the early 80s. At the prompting of a colleague, I timed myself in the mid 90s and my time was 1.56 ( best out of 3 tries). At some point in the early 2004 I was again challenged to time shots on target and my time was 1.59 ( best out of 3 tries). I am sure that now, some near 20 years later.. my time ( in a bubble) is probably around the 2 second mark.

@KASHIRA-3, what was the distance and target (size) portions of that template? ;)

For those who are working on quantifying this metric, realize that the metric is incomplete unless it covers time, distance, and some measure of what the target happens to be, as well as how the draw is accomplished (i.e. from concealment versus open, what type of holster, was movement [and if so, what type] required, etc.).
 

KASHIRA-3

Elite
But in terms of speed of access, without quantifying -as with any other sporting endeavor- there's simply no true way to judge either improvement or deficiencies.

Its not a sporting endeavor with the vast majority of people who carry guns. You dont have to "quantify" anything as just about anyone living on the planet for any length of time is probably a fairly good judge of whether or not something like drawing a gun is fast, slow or somewhere in between. If your sensibilities are off, it probably wont be by much. Have you every watched someone guzzle a beer? Do you think you are a fair judge if they guzzled it fast or slow? Ever watched a pit crew change a tire? Was it fast?.. do you really need a congress of people or abundant quantified data to support your impression? Its just not rocket science and we probably dont need to treat it as such.

Again, if a person is a comp shooter... i get it. The timer is everything.

There has never been a time where I purposefully timed my draw out of some sort of self analysis. I have timed it when others simply wanted to compare themselves to me but I have never cared to do it for myself. I am not trying to achieve any particular time on the draw and unless a persons draw is obviously lacking or bumbling.. I dont think it matters. It either improves as a byproduct of trained habit action or it doesnt. Thats the way I look at it.

I have had the occasion to observe plenty of FAST and impressive shooters fail miserably during force on force training. Fast does not always make up for poor tactics or poor strategics. A good portion of the time its more about the MERIT of first couple of decisions you make in regards to [how] you manage a threat and what steps you ultimately take toward that end. ( knowing what you need to do and how you go about achieving it)

Training cannot be boundless for most people. If that is the case, I have to decide what I think it important. Speaking just for myself, I want to be competent in presenting my weapon, I want to be a competent marksman, I want to have enough mental grit to manage the crisis without folding and I want to know a whole heck of alot about tactics and strategic of fighting with a gun. I also want to know a whole heck of alot about the nature of criminals and how to competently assess dangerous circumstances, how to detect a developing danger, and how best to mitigate risks to my personal safety.

If this were 1880 and people often settled their disagreements by squaring off in the street at 20 paces, I might worry more about "fast". Its not 1880 and although speed is a factor, it has never been my chief focus or anything I do any handwringing over.

To these people who want to toil over the speed of their draw. I certainly hope that they find time to learn other things and achieve other skills. Fast doesnt mean you win, being the best shot doesnt mean you win, or the strongest, or the smartest or the biggest, or the best equipped, of the one with the most number of fighters or the best position, or the sun at your back. All those things can help but generally speaking its a combination of elements that is often responsible for a favorable outcome in battle. If I have a choice between being really really good at drawing a gun or being merely competent at many thing, I will chose the many over the one.
 

TSiWRX

Custom
^ I absolute agree that speed-of-draw-to-first shot is not *EVERYTHING.*

However, just like everything else, it is a component of one's skill-set in the gunfight, and is something that shooters should not ignore.

And yes, while it is arguably more important for competition shooters to toil towards that beep of the timer, it is simply disingenuous for any of us to speak as to the "speed" of the draw, without having a time/distance/target template to quantify that "speed."

What that template happens to be for the unique individual and their personal requirements may well be different - and if anyone has noticed, I have deliberately refrained from suggesting that anyone must meet any such specific measures. ;) This is because we each have different needs and limitations, as @KASHIRA-3 noted, at some point, our efforts will plateau and become asymptotic without truly significant increases in effort. That old saying of not letting perfection become the enemy of good enough (or is it the other way around? :p ) is a very real-world concern for the vast majority of us who are not professional gumen/women.

I absolutely am a believer in the need to be integrative in terms of one's defensive skillsets - and I think that anyone who has read any of my past posts here and on other Forums can easy see that this has nearly always been my stance. I've often written of mindset, of less-lethal tools, of physical combatives and even vehicular and home-defense concerns. There's definitely a lot more to the equation than being the fastest out of the block, and I truly and absolutely believe this to be the case. But in a thread that's ostensibly specifically about the speed of one's draw, I really do think that we owe it to ourselves to truly be able to quantify this skillset, so that we can baseline, improve, and remediate shortcomings without the uncertainty of "I think."

It's fun to sit at the bar and brag to your buddies how fast your car is or how much power you've got under the hood.

But when you throw down some money for a dyno pull, line up and wait for the lights at the strip, or strap on a helmet for a lap around the track...... there's a difference. :cool:
 

Bassbob

Ronin
I definitely agree with that second portion of your post - there's a lot more that the beginner shooter has to focus on than just the draw -

But in terms of speed of access, without quantifying -as with any other sporting endeavor- there's simply no true way to judge either improvement or deficiencies.

And towards that....



@KASHIRA-3, what was the distance and target (size) portions of that template? ;)

For those who are working on quantifying this metric, realize that the metric is incomplete unless it covers time, distance, and some measure of what the target happens to be, as well as how the draw is accomplished (i.e. from concealment versus open, what type of holster, was movement [and if so, what type] required, etc.).
I'll take my chances.
 

wmg1299

Professional
I practiced my draw thousands of times during my law enforcement career. Many portions of our qualification tests involved drawing from a retention holster. My times were always very good, but almost all of my training involved an exterior retention holster worn on a duty belt. We had several days of dedicated training with our off-duty weapons, but this consisted of 300-500 total draws from concealment.

I have trained in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and wrestling throughout my entire adult life, so my reflexes and reaction times are good for a man my age. Unfortunately, I have not been able to realistically test my draw from concealment for years because the ranges I frequent do not allow drawing from the holster. I occasionally do some dry-fire reps, but I don't consider this to be realistic training due to not actually firing a round to get a valid hit on target. Our department range motto was, "You Can't Miss Fast Enough to Win a Gunfight", so it is very difficult for me to rate any training that doesn't end with a definitive accuracy test.
 

TSiWRX

Custom
^ Exactly.

To fulfill the entire metric, there must not just be time, but also the distance -vs- accuracy/precision aspect of the equation needs to be filled.

And definitely, "fast is fine, but accuracy is final" is an absolute truth: modern SMEs all emphasize that it's the first EFFECTIVE shot on-target that matters. Modern standards such as Chuck Pressburg's "No Fail" very much focuses on this need:

 
At one of my early CCW trainings, I learned to train for "smooth and concise, with no extraneous movement, and speed will come with practice." Good instructor at that one. He also stressed the importance of a good quality holster, belt, and pants with large pockets suited to the mode of carry.
 

Bear007

Elite
^ Exactly.

To fulfill the entire metric, there must not just be time, but also the distance -vs- accuracy/precision aspect of the equation needs to be filled.

And definitely, "fast is fine, but accuracy is final" is an absolute truth: modern SMEs all emphasize that it's the first EFFECTIVE shot on-target that matters. Modern standards such as Chuck Pressburg's "No Fail" very much focuses on this need:

I guess I need a pistol with a red dot for that video exercise. My eyes with open sights are not that accurate/consistent at 25 yds. 🤓
 

batvb

Alpha
There is no discussion in article on the importance of distance to target, sight radius of weapon, and assessment of how important it is for the shot to not go errant when innocents are nearby. I can be much quicker on target and more accurate with a 5" barrel handgun than with a 3" at distances greater than 20 feet and much quicker placing a shot on target at 7 feet than 17 yards. One can consider getting off a very quick (if inaccurate ) shot to diminish or destroy an opponents concentration or will if their is no one else nearby. Such may not be doable in a situation with innocent people nearby. These are just my thoughts.
 

TSiWRX

Custom
I guess I need a pistol with a red dot for that video exercise. My eyes with open sights are not that accurate/consistent at 25 yds. 🤓

My eyes are definitely starting to go, too..... My rather severe nearsightedness has actually helped stave-off the need for reading glasses, and for the time being, the front sight is still crisp at full-presentation. But as with everything else, I do expect this to deteriorate with coming years.

I've been incorporating methods which should translate well to a "windows gun" :p, so we'll see when that time finally comes.
 
Speed, power, and accuracy are all essential components that come together to win the fight. It is a simple equation but it takes a lot of work to master. Bring enough gun, learn how to get fast, solid hits, and then practice because the skills are perishable. And cheat whenever possible.
 
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