ccw cover garments

Under Cover: Getting Past The Cover Garment While Drawing

A big part of concealed carry practice and training is clearing the cover garment. This is one of the most important steps in the draw as it determines how quickly you can get a gun out and into a fight, if needed.

The draw matters, a lot, and this is one of the biggest components. After all, if you're going to fasten a gun belt and carry a gun and holster, you may as well know how to use it.

Let's go over how to clear a cover garment, starting with a shirt draped over your pistol and then moving onto other types of covering layers.

Clearing A Cover Garment: Clearing The Shirt

ccw shirt clearing technique

The most common concealed carry clothing is a shirt of some kind. This can be a t-shirt, a turtleneck long-sleeve or an unbuttoned button-up or polo. In this instance, you have to lift the garment above the pistol so that good purchase can be obtained on the handgun grip and the gun drawn from the holster.

The easiest method is a two-handed method. You use the weak side hand to lift the garment and the strongside hand to draw the pistol. WHERE you lift the garment is the question, and the answer is as close as you can get to the holster in the quickest possible time.

Simply grab and lift. As you begin to clear leather (or kydex, whatever) you let the garment drop and ready yourself for shooting.

However, you won't always have use of both hands. In that case, you may need to clear cover one-handed. The trick is to clear the gun, release the garment, get a good purchase on the grip and begin to draw as the garment falls back into place.

You lift the garment at or very, very close to the location of the pistol for the quickest transition.

The two best techniques are to simply grab the garment and pull up. Alternately, you hook under the garment with the thumb of the strong-side hand and lift. The latter method puts your strong side hand a little closer to the pistol and in an easier position to transition very quickly, though not so quickly that it's the only method that will work.

In the end, a simple concept. Simply pull or lift your cover garment out of the way, grab the gun and draw.

What If Your Cover Garment Is A Tucked Shirt?

ccw tucked in shirt

Ah, but what if the cover garment is a tucked shirt? Some people have dress codes, and as such must tuck in their shirt, over the firearm and holster, while in the workplace. How, then, does one draw with a tucked shirt while concealing in business dress?

In this instance, the procedure is much the same but does require a little more effort.

To clear a tucked shirt, you obtain a good, hard purchase on the garment as close to the holster and pistol as possible.

Pull the cover garment as hard as possible until it comes free. You may have to pull a short distance, grab lower and pull a second time to uncover the gun.

At that point, you should have sufficient clearance to get your hand on your pistol.

Just like with an untucked shirt or sweater, you can use your weak-side hand if you can get it close enough to the firearm or your strong-side hand. If carrying at the traditional IWB concealed carry position (usually between the 3 o'clock and 5 o'clock positions) then you will probably have to use solely the strong-side hand.

Clearing An Open Cover Garment: Unbuttoned Shirts, Concealed Carry Suit, Etc.

ccw suit

A common concealed carry trick is to conceal with an open-front cover garment. This can be an unbuttoned button-up shirt or light jacket. A suit for concealed carry is popular for this application; you wear a light suit coat and cover up the boomstick on your belt.

Now, the thing is that people wear it open so the gun can be easily accessed should it need to be. In this instance, there are three good methods for clearing the garment.

First is most natural, being the sweep. Using the strong-side hand (or weak side if carrying crossdraw) you hold your fingers straight out and sweep back, almost like a karate chop. When the cover garment clears the grip of the pistol, you get purchase on the grip and begin the draw.

The other technique is to basically duck out of the way with a bit of a hip bump. You bump in the opposite direction of the gun, then real quick like shimmy the holster out and forward, hopefully hooking the garment behind the grip. It takes a little timing to get right, but this is a known method for clearing a jacket.

Another technique found some traction on the interwebs as the "Dracula Draw." Reportedly it was invented by plainclothes police officers in Chicago. The way it works is the weak side hand pulls fast and hard at the weak side of the cover garment, pulling up until the weak side arm is about level with the shoulders. Meanwhile, you get purchase on your gun and draw. You let the garment fall and bring your support hand into position to shoot.

The Dracula Draw works by grabbing low, close to your weak side pants pocket. Instead of bringing it up, you bring it out, around and up, like throwing a hook from waist level and winding up about chin level. This whips the cover garment away from the pistol and allowing easy access to your carry gun.

What If Your Cover Garment Is A Winter Coat? It Gets Cold Out Here!

ccw winter coat

Ah, but what about during the winter? What if your cover garment is a winter coat?

There are two solutions to this.

Solution One: select outerwear of the "bomber" or heavy hoodie persuasion. There's a particular clothing company that is known for such jackets. (We won't say who, but it rhymes with "Karhartt.") Such jackets are quite advantageous for concealed carry across several dimensions. First, they're a bit on the roomy side, good for obvious reasons. Second, they can be cleared like lifting a shirt or sweater; lift with the weak-side or strong side hand.

It's up to you whether or not to wear gloves, as they can make purchase on the cover garment, as well as the gun, problematic. Leather gloves are great in this respect as you get the requisite warmth but also the friction necessary for good purchase.

Solution Two: wear your winter coat open. This is a classic tell-tale sign of a person carrying, but - just like with an open cover garment - you can easily sweep, shimmy or otherwise rip the coat away from the gun to get it out of the holster.

Precipitation and wind will make this a whole lot of not fun, so dress warm or find another solution. Some people keep a snubbie in their jacket pocket for winter carry, though pocket carry is really not a good idea unless it's in a pocket holster.

Sam Hoober 

About The Author


Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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