Holstering the Pistol Safely: Using Hardware Over Software is BAD!

Don’t use hardware to take the place of safety practices that are inherently procedure based (i.e. software). Many people choose a pistol because it has a long trigger or an external safety. They assume they are safer because of these hardware selections. It has been my experience that this is not true. Safety procedures are just that, procedures that we must put into our memory and execute them at the correct time.Usually, bad things occur because we never began the safety procedure in the first place. A good example is my holstering procedure.

  1. Move the cover garment away from the holster so it cannot snag on the pistol and look in the holster to see if there is anything inside it, such as spent brass.
  2. Place the pistol into the holster and pause when the front of the trigger guard reaches the top of the holster.
  3. Look at my trigger finger to make sure it is sticking straight out along the outside of the holster.
  4. Tilt muzzle of the pistol away from my body and finish holstering.

What happens with many people is they have two different holstering procedures. One is above. The second is how they holster when they, “know” the gun is empty. Meaning they get in the habit of just holstering the pistol without looking, or at best just glancing at the pistol. When something physically or mentally distracts them they default to the empty gun procedure over the live fire procedure. It is imperative that we have only one habit and procedure when it comes to shooting.

I have seen people, “look the gun” into the holster with the hammer cocked or the safety off. I have seen people holster a cocked weapon with their thumb on the cocked hammer. We sometimes look but don’t see. We feel but we don’t discriminate. I am checking visually for obstructions around and in my holster. Later I am visually checking for my trigger finger outside of the holster and not on the trigger.

The reason I dislike pistols with external manual safeties and/or a double/single action trigger is that they amount to a false sense of safety to the shooter, while at the same time making it harder to learn to control during a gunfight (when I am in a hurry to save my life). If I do the above procedure with any gun I will safely holster it. If I do an unsafe procedure (or no procedure) and there is an obstruction to the trigger, the gun can go bang with a pistol using a long travel trigger. Why? Because the distance I have to make the pistol travel to holster it is longer than the travel of the trigger.

The main point of this article is that safety procedures with any pistol if properly done can make it safe to holster. But safety procedures fail not because they are half done. They are either done or not done depending on what the shooter’s habits are before the accident. Not performing the safety procedures when a dangerous obstruction is present can result in a Negligent Discharge of the pistol, no matter the hardware configuration.


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