As a Range Officer, telling someone that they’re disqualified from a match sucks. It sucks even more if the person hasn’t even fired a shot.
I’ve always told people interested in competitive shooting to just bring along whatever gear they’ve got, as long as it’s safe, and worry about buying competition specific stuff later.
Unfortunately I’ve noticed a trend over the past couple years of people getting disqualified when they’re using holsters that come with their gun. We all know that a holster that ships in the same box as a gun isn’t going to be the greatest thing in the world, but I’ve long held the belief that they’re “good enough” to shoot a match or two with, however I’m changing my tune on them.
Speaking in generalities here, I’ve noticed a trend of these holsters being very tight on the guns that they come with, which tends to cause the shooters to have to go to extreme measures to actually get the gun out of the holster. When this happens, a lot of folks forget about the 2nd rule of gun safety:
Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
What happens is that the shooter (who is no-doubt excited to shoot his first match, maybe a little nervous) hears the “Make Ready” command from the range officer, and attempts to pull his gun from the holster to load it and make it ready for the stage. Shooter pulls up on the gun, and all he does is hike up his pants a bit, but the gun doesn’t come out of the holster.
So he tugs a little harder. Still nothing.
Maybe a little harder/faster. Still nothing.
Then he reaches across his body with his weak hand and grabs hold of the holster, then uses his strong hand to pull the gun out. This always succeeds in doing two things: The gun comes out of the holster, and the shooter is immediately disqualified from competition because the muzzle sweeps his weak hand, and that’s unsafe gun handling.
So… How Do You Avoid This?
- Practice with what you’ve got. Use your phone and film yourself un-holstering and re-holstering the gun (after making sure it’s unloaded, of course). If you notice yourself reaching across your body to grab the holster STOP! Try loosening the holster if it’s got screws, or have a look at it to see if there’s another way to loosen it up.
- Buy a better holster. In the grand scheme of things, the money spent on your holster for competitive shooting is a drop in the bucket. If you get into it, and decide you like it, you’re going to buy a nice holster anyways, so if your holster sucks, just get a nicer one.
Here’s a couple holsters that I like:
The standard Bladetech OWB. I currently have one of these on my USPSA belt (and it’s whats in the video above) and I don’t have any complaints. It’s a solid belt holster that’ll be legal for just about any division in any action shooting sport, and it’s not expensive.
A couple other options if you’re not keen on the Bladetech, would be something like the Comp-Tac International, or even something similar from a local kydex holster maker* that has a good reputation, or if you’re handy check out my guide for making your own kydex holster.
*Editors Note: Just be careful with the local folks, you don’t want to wind up with some crazy looking “race holster” that isn’t safe or legal for competition.