The Way Of The Weasel

Getting Your Concealed Handgun Out Faster

This Kimber .45, cocked and loc

The bad guy who attacks is the one who acts. The good guy who is the intended victim is the one who has to react. Action beats reaction. It’s pretty obvious where this is going. Suffice to say the quick draw has always been part and parcel of defensive handgun training. Let’s look at “how quick is quick.”

Before the draw begins, we have to consider reaction time. Figure on about a quarter second, if the stimulus to draw is already anticipated, and you’re ready to react. Only then can the actual drawand- fire process begin. It breaks down into two parts: access and presentation. Access is the process of (a) getting the hand to the gun, (b) taking a drawing grasp thereon, and perhaps also (c) releasing safety straps or other holster security devices. The (a) part includes getting the hand under the concealing wardrobe to begin with.

Presentation comes next, and that’s the easy part. “Access” is a complex psychomotor skill — a chain of events in which each link in the chain must work — and it requires time and dexterity. “Presentation,” on the other hand, is a simple gross motor skill – just rip the gun out of the holster and get it on target. At this point, a shot may or may not have to be fired: remember, most armed encounters end without the Good Guys having to shed anyone’s blood.

So, it becomes pretty clear that if we can somehow get that tough “access” part out of the way and proceed directly to the easier “presentation” part, we’ve cut our draw-to-the-shot time in half. With some of the more deeply buried methods of carry, we can cut it by more than half.

The Way Of The Weasel

As a young puppy instructor, I had the advantage of role models like Jeff Cooper and mentors like Ray Chapman and Bill Jordan. Studying them as much as I did, though, I couldn’t help but notice some significant differences between them and I.

To a man, these were big, strong guys, and every one of them was as fast as a mongoose killing a cobra. Me? I was little and weak, and slow. Those men had the strength of the bear and the speed of the leopard. About all I had was the cunning of the weasel.

So I used what I had and focused on what I came to call Weaselcraft. I devoted myself to out-thinking the Bad Guys, outflanking them, and yes, even out-sneaking them.

What we’re doing with the Weasel Draw is simply sneaking the hand surreptitiously onto the gun, in a drawing grasp and fully ready to go, before the stimulus to draw takes place. Unless the safety strap is all that’s holding the handgun against gravity in an upside-down shoulder holster, we’re going to release the safety device(s) before the drawing stimulus, too.

Naturally, this isn’t a competition technique. In any competitive practical match or “combat shoot,” the rules generally state you must start with your hands clear of the holstered sidearm. Whether it’s PPC or NRA Action Pistol, IPSC/USPSA or IDPA, or even SASS cowboy shooting, slithering the hand onto the gun before the start signal constitutes cheating and unsportsmanlike conduct. It is, as Martha Stewart would say, “a bad thing.” It will get you anything from a slap on the wrist, to a time penalty, to an outright disqualification. So don’t do it there.

Going surreptitious with the hip draw. Stepping behind the corner of the building
conceals Mas’ right arm and the fact that he’s already grasping 3.5" Nframe
S&W .357 in Derry Gallagher holster or may even have already drawn.

Real Life

Sneaking the hand onto the holstered gun beforehand is a street tactic, one you should apply only in the real world when danger is definitely threatening by the standards of any reasonable and prudent person in the same situation, and knowing what you know at the time. History teaches us that if we wait to draw until we have to shoot, then when we draw we probably will have to shoot. The weasel draw lets you get your gun out first, before the Bad Guy can complete his own draw, and hopefully permits you to take him at gunpoint without bloodshed on either side. Society and the law alike see capture instead of killing as “a good thing.” So in the real world of the street, the weasel draw is perfectly acceptable.

Mas stands waiting for signal, hands empty at body midline on signal,
he must sweep back the EoTac vest and accomplish both access and
presentation before he can get off the shot.

Strong Side Hip

For illustration purposes, I started with the outfit I was wearing that day: an early production Kimber Custom II 1911 .45 auto in a Blade-Tech high ride Kydex holster. I began each of the five “benchmark” draws starting with my hands touching in front of my torso, and clear of the holstered .45. Pistol and scabbard concealed under an EoTac vest. Each time the CED beeped, I had to get under the vest, grab the gun, draw, and fire. Each time, I made sure not to let my finger enter the trigger guard or my thumb swipe down the safety of the cocked and locked Kimber until the gun was up at least 45 degrees into the target.

Times were 1.23, 1.23, 1.38 (slight fumble, damnit), 1.29, and 1.20, for an average of 1.266 seconds to react, clear the concealing garment, access, present, and fire. That’s about par for the course for this old guy. Time difference was 0.18 second from fastest to slowest.

Then, I tried it with the “way of the Weasel.” On the street, you could make this surreptitious under cover of darkness, or by stepping partially into cover that hid from your opponent’s view the fact that your hand had already gone to your hip.

This time, the five reactions and draws to the shot went 0.62, 0.55, 0.61, 0.54, and 0.58 seconds. The average time to react, present, and fire was 0.58 of one second. Less than half the time it had taken to draw and fire from under the same EoTac vest when starting with the hands outside the clothes and clear of the pistol.

The weasel draw was also more consistent. With most of the fumbleprone part gotten out of the way, there was only 0.08 of one second separating the fastest from the slowest draw when starting with the hand already on the pistol.

All shooting in both instances was done from only arm’s length away, about where I’d be if I was on duty and the motorist went for his gun instead of the license and registration I had asked him for. The target was an IDPA silhouette, its eight inch diameter center zone removed because at that range, muzzle blast tears up the targets. All shots were fired from a position below line of sight, between what Jeff Cooper and Chuck Taylor called the Speed Rock, and what the followers of Fairbairn- Sykes type point shooting call Half- Hip position. The ten shots resulted in two outside the A-zone, both high in the chest, one each from standard draw and “weasel draw.” If I’d been fighting for my life, I’d have been grateful for any of those hits.

Pocket draw is not particularly fast for access. Mas starts with hands outside the pant
and on signal, fingertips do a “spear-hand” into the trouser pocket where they must take
a drawing grasp

With “access” now completed ”presentation” begins.

Gun is rocked from pocket, with finger not going to trigger until the gun is
on target and it’s time to spit some fire downrange.

Pocket Draw

Next, I went with a draw from the pocket holster. The gun was Smith & Wesson’s recently introduced Model 340 Military & Police. A judicious mix of metallurgy (Scandium, Titanium, aluminum, and ordnance grade gun steel) brings unloaded weight down to 13.3 ounces. The caliber is .357 Magnum. I load it with department issue Black Hills 125 grain .357 hollow points (ouch) when I carry it for backup on duty, and with the Speer 135 grain Gold Dot +P .38 Special ammo Ernest Durham designed for the NYPD when I carry it on my own time. Here, since there was no need to replicate duty recoil for follow-up shots (there was only one shot per draw in this test) I saved both money and recoil punishment by loading with Winchester white box 130 grain .38 Special full metal jacket training ammo. Once again, every shot was fired from Speed Rock to Half-Hip from about arm’s length distance.

My favorite pocket holster is made by Safariland. This one is left-handed, since it has long made sense to me to carry my backup gun accessible to the non-dominant hand. (Yes, that’s a politically correct term. I’ve seen some instructors who do the inspirational thing and tell their students that they have a “strong hand and a stronger hand.” Being a fatalistic and feeble old geezer, I go on the assumption that I have a weak hand and a weaker hand, and the weaker was what I used for the test.)

The pocket-holstered 340 M&P was in the left front trouser pocket of another EoTac product, their BDU pants. Popularized as an acceptable men’s fashion item by today’s young people (I should never make fun of them again!) they have capacious side pockets that are ideal for carrying small handguns. Obviously, the pocket gun should always be in a pocket holster (keeps it at the same angle all the time, and is designed to break up the gun’s outline), and just as obviously, there should be nothing else in the pocket with the holstered gun.

I started with the hand outside the pants and alongside my leg. The first five times I had to spear the hand into the pocket, scoop the gun out, and get it up and shooting. Times ran 2.17 (another fumble), 1.59, 1.54, 1.79, and 1.67. They averaged 1.752 seconds. The time spread between fastest and slowest was almost two thirds of a second, 0.63 to be specific. A lot can go wrong between when you start to reach into your pocket and when you actually get your gun out and blazing.

Pocket draw, a la weasel. With hand already on the revolver, hand has only to
perform “rock and lock” movement and the gun is out and blazing much sooner.

Being Sneaky

One cardinal advantage of pocket carry is that it offers one of the best surreptitious draws. Your hand is just casually in your pocket as you assess the situation you face, and only you know that it is already in a drawing position, ready to go, wrapped around the grip of a loaded handgun. You always want to make sure the finger stays off the trigger until the gun is coming up on target and you’ve determined that you have to fire. Tip: by putting the thumb atop the rear sight, as if making a hammer shield for a spur hammer revolver, you reduce the profile of your hand and allow a smoother, faster draw. The thumb curls down into firing position as you come up on target.

Drawing this way was much faster. Times went 0.81, 0.76, 0.72, 0.80, and 0.71. The average was 0.76 of one second to react, clear and index the revolver, and fire. It was more than two and a quarter times faster with the Way of the Weasel, and there was only 0.10 of one second difference between fastest and slowest times. Thus, starting with the hand on the gun had made the draw-to-the-shot more than six times more consistent. With each set, four shots went through the A-zone and one hit just below equal accuracy, the same 24 out of 25 points possible scored with each set of hip draws.

For ankle draw, equipment was Cylinder & Slide Custom Colt Detective Special
with Spegel Boot Grips, DeSantis/PPS ankle holster, .38 FMJ training ammo.

Here, as Mas leans over the table, it is not readily apparent …

… that his right hand has already taken a drawing grasp on the ankle gun.

Standard ankle draw was slow. Mas had to first pull up trouser leg …

… and reach a long way down to the gun before draw could begin …

… and shot could finally be fired.

However, starting with hand already on the “ankle gun” …

… … the draw was much faster ...

… and the shot could be delivered more than three times sooner.

Ankle Draw

The ankle holster is a long-time favorite for folks who wear police uniforms and business suits. It’s one of the slowest draws for the standing man but, it gets faster when you’re down on your back with your body weight pinning your belt-gun to the ground, or when you’re seated. With that in mind, both sets of draws were done from the sitting position. Being a senior citizen, I used a combo I wore 20 years ago: an ankle holster built by Gene DeSantis for Personal Protection Systems, and a Bill Laughridge-tuned Colt Detective Special with Craig Spegel’s smooth hardwood Boot Grips and a snagfree bobbed hammer.

I started with the holster-side leg extended forward, something you want to do if you think you may need to go for an ankle gun. This is because the more the knee is flexed, the more it draws the trouser leg material taut and the harder it will be to get the pants cuff up and clear of the gun.

Starting with my hands in my lap, times went 2.63, 2.20, 1.77, 2.09, and 1.95 seconds for an average of 2.13 seconds. The difference between fastest and slowest draws was 0.86 of a second.

The surreptitious draw from an ankle holster depends on what is available to conceal your movement. What if you’re across the table from that dirty gambler from the Western movies with a derringer up his sleeve? Or seated at a table when the wolf comes a calling. Lean slightly forward and let your hand stray down, clearing the cuff and grasping your ankle gun. A potential carjacker approaches your car door in a suspicious manner? Same deal. Table or car door blocks his view.

Beginning this way, the five draws to the shot ran 0.70, 0.65, 0.69, 0.65, and 0.67 of one second apiece. Average was 0.672 of one second. This was more than three times faster. Draw speeds were also the most consistent of the test, with only 5/100ths of one second separating fastest from slowest. I used an extended onehand firing position, and all shots went through the center circle.

This Kimber .45, cocked and locked, was used for hip draw timing.

Other Carries

I’m running out of space here, but I can tell you that I’ve also tried this (on my own, and with students) with shoulder holsters, belly-bands, and so on. With a shoulder or cross draw rig, you simply fold your arms. The outside support arm hides the fact that the inside gun arm’s hand has already grasped the concealed weapon. What looks like hands wringing themselves in the body language gesture of a hopeless loser’s despair, conceals the fact that your gun hand is already grasping the snub .38 that’s buttforward to the weak side of your navel in the belly-band. Times are likewise greatly accelerated, as is consistency of speed.

Bottom Line

You want to try this yourself with a timer. If you’re faster than me, or slower than me, it doesn’t matter. I expect you to be one of the good guys, so you and I will never be facing off against each other anyway.

What matters is that you see for yourself how much faster you’ll be able to get the gun into action if you can sneak your hand onto your concealed handgun as soon as danger threatens, and before the desperate need to draw (and, perhaps, to draw and fire) slaps you in the face. I’ve shown here the Way of the Weasel can double or perhaps more than triple your speed. But it’s your speed that counts, because it’s your life and the lives of your loved ones that will be on the line at the moment of truth. It’s not for nothing that the wise old cops of yesteryear used to say, “The fastest draw is to have your gun in your hand when the fight starts.” Practice carefully and wisely. Above all, practice safely.

Subscribe To American Handgunner

Get More Personal Defense Tips!

Sign up for the Personal Defense newsletter here: