Dear Michael:

Here is my question. For years as a right handed shooter I was carrying “strong side”, whether IWB or OWB it was “strong side”.  After an experience at a weekly, local combat shoot, where the range master caught all of us off guard by forcing us to shoot that night’s course weak handed. It set the wheels to turning. I then began to experiment with cross draw carry, and today I almost exclusively carry in a cross draw method. I have crossed up with those who like to tell me the woes of “muzzle sweep” that could be associated with a draw stroke from a cross draw carry position. Personally, as an instructor I preach and practice daily no finger on the trigger until you want to go bang. I have practiced over and over a draw stroke that allows me to grip, pull firearm out of holster (muzzle down) and then rotate the wrist upward thus placing the muzzle directly in front of me. I like the cross draw method for one BIG reason, having the availability to access the firearm with either hand, should that need arise. What are your thoughts and comments please?

Ron

Dear Ron:

Thank you for the great question.
 
On the issue of cross draw, we should make a distinction between the cross-draw (reaching across your body) to access the weapon and the cavalry draw (gun and hand on the same side, butt forward and drawing with a twist.)

A lot of very skilled and knowledgeable shooters have relied or currently rely on the cross draw. In the age of the gunfighter there was Wild Bill Hickok. Contemporary, we had one state police department that issued a cross draw holster for years, and I know of bodyguard/drivers who still use it for the reasons you noted i.e. bilateral access.

If your body type permits the weapon’s access it can have its advantages. Some men are too barrel-chested to take advantages of the draw but long armed men and most women find it a viable conceal carry option.

I practice a version of the cavalry draw for my (right hand) injured reaction drills. If the right hand is in injured, I draw with my left hand and transfer the snub’s barrel in and behind the belt line on the left side. This temporary “staging” position puts both the snub’s butt and my left hand’s thumb facing forward. Using the top edge of the belt line to hang on to the short barrel, I can rotate my hand “knuckles against my ribs” and then bring the snub into action.

Bill Bellman out of PA gave me a great “cavalry-draw” trick for when I am drawing the snub left-handed and off the left side of my beltline.
 
1. Grab the stocks with your left hand while keeping the back of your hand and knuckles against your side.
 
2. Draw the snub straight up but only high enough to permit the muzzle to clear the top of the beltline (or the holster if you are carrying left side cross draw.)
 
3. Now, lower the snub until your left hand is straight. Rotate the snub, (top strap and sights forward toward the target) and lift your arm. Align the sights and shoot if appropriate.
 
The great danger with the classic cavalry draw (lifting-and-twisting the snub) that is not present with the Bellman draw (lowering-and-twisting the snub) is that in a rush to bring the muzzle in line with the target it is common to muzzle sweep your own body during the draw.  This is especially true with a short barreled weapon like a snub.
 
Try testing this high cavalry-draw vs. low cavalry-draw with an inert 4-inch revolver and an inert 2-inch revolver and you will see this for your self.
 
You will notice that generally a longer barrel will preventing you from sweeping your upper chest nearest to your high ribs. The short barrel won’t give you the save level of safety. You should also notice that you can use the Bellman draw safely with any length barrel.

If you are practicing some version of the Sykes/Fairbairn/Applegate “point shooting” – even just for fun – this draw strokes will put you in perfect “water-pump” arm lift position.
 
To help make some of the above clearer I will try and get some photos added in within a few days.

To conclude, while the cross draw (strong hand) and cavalry draw (weak hand) draw stroke isn’t for everyone it does offer up a few distinct advantages. Especially in permitting weapon access by either hand.

On the down side, it does also put the butt forward toward the potential attacker and this will require that you put a premium on your; concealment garment, a top quality retention style holster and, the need for adding some weapon retention skills to your own martial arts bag of tricks.
 
Again, thank you again for the great question and I hope this information is of some value.
 
Yours,
 
Michael de Bethencourt

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