Cross-Draw for the Win!…..or Not.

I’ve recently seen a number of posts and arguments on the gun forums advocating for cross-draw as a means of effective self-defense carry.  Some of these same people poo-poo appendix carry (AIWB, see here and here) as too dangerous to self and too uncomfortable.  I thought it might be useful to write a little something – not so much about why I personally don’t like cross-draw carry – but about why, empirically speaking, cross-draw is just not as valid an option as either AIWB or plain-jane strong-side carry (note to the reader:  all of these arguments could also be made in relation to shoulder-holsters, to which we could also add the need for a split front cover garment).

Slower Draw

I’m sure there are people out there who are blazingly fast at drawing from a cross-draw holster.  However, I am quite confident that EVERY person on Earth will be faster drawing from AIWB or strong-side than each of those same people would be from cross-draw.  It’s really just a matter of geography.  The strong-hand simply has further to go to access the pistol when it has to travel beyond the belt buckle.

Slower/Less Effective Presentation

As important as the draw is how quickly/efficiently we can present the pistol and get our eyes behind the sights.  When drawing from AIWB or strong-side, the gun quickly gets to below the eye-line and can then be punched straight out, picking up the sights along the way.  Indeed, depending on proximity to the target, the person performing the draw can start shooting before the sights are fully aligned while the pistol is being punched out.  Conversely, the person drawing from a cross-draw position, having already executed a slower draw, now has to backtrack to the chest area before punching out.  He or she has essentially traversed the same real estate twice with his strong-hand.

Accessibility to Bad People

The natural position of a handgun set up for cross-draw has the grip of the pistol pointed slightly forward.  It is therefore fairly easily accessed by an assailant positioned in front of the cross-draw practitioner.  This accessibility to the bad guy manifests itself even more if an entangled, grappling event between both parties should occur.

Easy for Bad People to Foul the Draw

One of the things I have learned in one Jeff Gonzales (here) and two Mike Pannone classes (here and here) is how weak our arms are once they cross the midline of our own bodies.  This has been further reinforced for me in a pair of knife combatives classes I have taken.  Once your hand/arm crosses the centerline of your body, it is comparatively easy for an attacker to pin that elbow/arm to that person, thus fouling or completely preventing the draw.  I had no issues doing this to much larger “foes” in classes; it’s just human physiology.  Accordingly, if a bad guy gets close to you (and most bad guys do not ply their trade from across parking lots) and you “go to guns” by reaching for your handgun carried cross-draw, you may get that arm pinned.  The result can be bad because you will not be able to easily access your handgun, and with your arm pinned you are now defenseless from your strong-side to a variety of potential blows.

Training Options?

Unless you live in the boonies (at times, I must admit I’m envious of those of you who do) and can do a lot of training on your own, training opportunities for you will be minimal if you want to train with a cross-draw holster.  As it is, AIWB is not allowed to be used in some major instructors’ classes.  But consider that AIWB is most dangerous to the user, not others on the line.  Compare that with cross-draw where, upon the draw, the pistol is more or less pointed down the line of those on your support side.  The reholstering of the gun offers this same problem.  It is for this same reason that those few ranges that allow you to practice drawing and firing will not allow cross-draw, as the practitioner will often flag those to the side.  If our goal is to always improve our skills, then training and practice is of vital importance.  If you cannot get the repetitions, then how well will you perform when you need to?

A Few Arguments in Favor

I will admit that cross-draw is not ALL bad.  There are a few arguments in its favor.

1.        The handgun is very readily accessible when driving.  I would argue that it isn’t really any more accessible than AIWB.  Also, do you think you will be more likely to need your pistol while driving or while standing (for example, while pumping gas)?

2.       The handgun is readily accessible to the support-side hand.  A turn of the wrist and put that hand down, unwind the wrist back up, and there you go.  It is a good argument, but I would submit that it is much more important to me to have it most accessible to my strong-hand than my support-hand.

3.       Some would argue that it is just more comfortable.  This comes up a lot in relation to #1 above:  comfort while driving.  A lot of the issue of “comfort” comes down to body type.  Just a few weeks ago I did a pair of 8 hour drives with a Glock 19 carried AIWB with no real comfort issues, but that’s me.  John has quoted Clint Smith before:  a concealed carry handgun is supposed to be comforting, not comfortable.  The flip-side is that “if a gun isn’t comfortable to carry, then I won’t carry it.”  People with that attitude might want to revisit their priorities.

Keep in mind that all of the above applies to cross-draw for what I would term “typical” self-defense scenarios.  If self-defense to you includes using a Ruger Redhawk to take down a bear, then cross-draw might make more sense for you in order to accommodate the long barrel, etc.

So that’s really it.  Cross-draw has its advocates, but in my opinion (given here, free of charge!), the advocates may not have given it the proper amount of thought.  They also may not be approaching this technique from a pure street encounter type of self-defense scenario, where things tend to happen very fast and at close distances.  Do you have an opinion about cross-draw and/or shoulder holsters?  Please share in the comments section below.  As always, thanks for reading. If you’re enjoying our writing, don’t forget that you can support the blog by using our Amazon Affiliate Link to make online purchases!

2 thoughts on “Cross-Draw for the Win!…..or Not.

  1. A fair number of these issues vanish or are at least reduced if you’re a Weaver shooter and start from a bladed stance, weak side towards the opponent. Now the angle of draw for a bad guy is sideways, not straight towards him, and the gun comes up naturally from a strong-side draw into shooting (Weaver) position. Weaver is still very valid for anybody not running around in body armor.

    The “bad guy grabbing it” problem can be mitigated by locking the gun in with the off-arm forearm casually draped across the butt. Done right this doesn’t look threatening – the gun is just sealed into the holster. I do then when OCing crossdraw in a dense crowd, like a restaurant buffet line or something similar.

    At “bad breath range” you have the option of blocking the incoming attack strong-hand and going for the gun weak-hand with the Prairie Twist draw you described. This draw is dangerous and needs to be practiced UNLOADED because you’ll sweep both femorals and your genitalia…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jim,

      Thanks for reading and for the comment. Interesting take.

      Here are my thoughts regarding your comments:
      1. If you read the “About the Blog” post, written when we started, one of our goals is to put “best practices” out there. Accordingly, we don’t advocate the Weaver stance (though I realize a lot of shooters might still use it). It’s not so much an issue of body armor. It’s more an issue, for the non-BA wearing civilian, of a bladed body being more sucesceptible to a shot through the side that can do a lot more damage than a straight-on shot (think lung-heart-lung vs. just lung). Also, there have been force on force studies done where people trained in Weaver ended up using an isosceles stance when the chips were down, even though they’d never been trained in it. It’s more natural.

      2. I also do not advocate open carry. Keep in mind that my experience is tainted by where I live: a crowded, urban, violent, liberal utopia. But, in general, unless out hunting or something, OC is like painting a bullseye on you for bad guys (see here: and “moms who demand action”!

      As with all things in this area, I think if you’ve found something that works for you in your environment, have at it. While I think there are better ways to go about certain things, it doesn’t make what you said “wrong” by any stretch. As Tom Givens’ stats have shown us, the keys to winning are being aware of what’s going on and having a gun on you.

      All the best!


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