A Step-by-Step Guide to Holstering Your Handgun

Don’t let trainers tell you otherwise. Putting your handgun away is the exact opposite of getting it out.

Except in the rarest circumstance, holstering a handgun is purely administrative, meaning there’s no operational urgency to perform the task. Don’t let trainers tell you otherwise. Putting your handgun away is the exact opposite of getting it out. When it comes to handguns and holsters, quick out and slow in is the rule of thumb. Here is a systematic guide to holstering a handgun properly.

Step One

finger off trigger
Finger Off the TriggerRichard Mann

If you forget everything else, don’t forget this. Take your finger out of the trigger guard and extend it along the frame—high along the frame. If you leave your finger inside the trigger guard, it may become pinched between the trigger and holster. This will likely result in a hole in your leg or that soft part of your body you like to sit on.

Step Two

retention
Retention Position and ScanRichard Mann

Pull the handgun close to your body into the retention position, where you have the most control over it. You should’ve checked your front for additional threats; now look behind you and check your six. This is also the time to address ammunition issues. Do you need to reload?

Step three

Breathe
Take a BreathRichard Mann

It’s over—you’ve shot everything that needs shooting. Relax. There’s no pressing threat. Take a deep breath to supply your body with the fuel it needs to function so you can think properly.

Step Four

Saftey on
Safety OnRichard Mann

If your handgun has a safety, activate it. And leave thumb pressure on the safety—pushing it in the safe direction—until your handgun is in the holster or until you need to shoot again.

Step Five

rotate
RotateRichard Mann

Now you can start movement toward the holster. Place your support hand on your chest—out of the way—and rotate the muzzle 90 degrees, so that it is pointing toward the ground. Keep your finger out of the trigger guard and maintain thumb pressure against the safety.

Step Six

holster
HolsterRichard Mann

Slowly and consciously push the handgun straight down and firmly seat it into the holster. This is not a shove; it is a methodical push. Once the handgun is firmly in place, let go of it.

Step Seven

Secure
SecureRichard Mann

If your holster has a retention strap, activate it after you let go of your handgun. In some cases this is best done with help from the support hand. Some shooters make the mistake of using their support hand to reach for the retention device or strap prior to Step Six. Never use the support hand to assist with holstering before the pistol is in the holster.

Step Eight

Live Long and Prosper

With these steps completed, you can continue life with a smile. Practicing the sequence is key. For the first hundred times or so, watch what you’re doing. After that, you should be able to safely holster your handgun without looking. From the time of your last shot, the procedure should take between 8 to 12 seconds.

Don’t just take my word for it. Dave Hartman, the training director at Gunsite Academy, says, “We don’t tolerate speed-holstering here. Holstering should be a controlled and conscious effort, not slamming the gun into a holster. Once the gun comes out in a self-defense situation, one should not be in a hurry to holster until sufficient help arrives.”