Cross-draw: when is it okay?

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Jul 6, 2015
I'm a member at my favorite gun range, and soon will be taking their short class in order to be able to: 1.) Draw from holster, and 2.) Exceed 1 shot/sec on their firing line.

When I first got my revolver (L-frame, 6" barrel), it became apparent to me that I was not going to strong-side carry the thing effectively. I'm a man of short trunk, long limbs and high hips. The hammer of the gun in its holster is about level with my elbow when standing relaxed. Drawing is difficult, exaggerated, and time consuming.

Enter cross-draw. Now, I tried to get myself used to this method a while ago, because I can easily draw, it prints less through my coat (might actually be able to carry in the winter), and the abovementioned problems with my strong side draw. Somewhere though, I read that it was so ill advised that it wasn't worth it. I forget the exact reason, but it must have been compelling to be at the time because I more or less gave up practicing; I just figured this wouldn't be a gun I'd ever carry in a holster.

With this class coming up at my range, however, I want to start practicing again. Put simply, I like cross-draw. I know how to do it without sweeping the entire room with the barrel. I'm aware that it presents the butt of my gun to an attacker. (Honestly though, if my holster is going to present my gun to someone, I'd rather that someone be in front of me than behind me.)

Do any of you have any real life experience with a cross-draw situation? If my instructor at this class is prickly about cross-draw, what can I tell them? Do I need to just find a strong side holster that straps to my thigh so I can draw the damn thing?

Discuss. =)
When I lived in Alaska, I generally carried my 4" 629 in a cross draw holster.

I picked this method because it kept my slung rifle from banging into my handgun. It also give you the option to more easily access the gun with either hand.

Well, being a short guy with uncommon body geometry, choosing to carry a 6" revolver is compounding your problem! Choosing any of many other styles of gun would greatly reduce the trouble you're experiencing. But I understand that you've got to use what you have sometimes.

The truth here is that your instructor is likely to simply refuse to qualify you with that kind of holster. It doesn't mean that holster is bad, it simply means it is unreasonably dangerous to use on a firing line with other shooters (including him) present, seeing as you generally have to get your hand on that gun while it is still pointing back uprange. That's a fundamental safety violation worthy of getting you disqualified from any shooting match and asked to leave any formal range.

Now, I've shot with folks who were very conscientious types and who occasionally used shoulder holsters or cross-draws in their practice routines. The trick they used was to do a bit of a two-step dance at each draw, so that they spun their body to point the muzzle downrange, drew, and then turned their body back around as they kept that muzzle pointed toward the targets. All while taking pains to keep their weak hand and other body parts out of the path of the muzzle.

It is not an intuitive thing to do, and takes some getting used to -- as well as many repetitions to develop that habit. (Which, being a habit you'd only want to use at the range, is probably not really a habit you'd wish to be practicing as part of your defensive gun skills...)

If you can convince your instructor that you have the skill to do it, and you WILL do it, always without fail, he or she may agree to let you participate using that holster. Maybe they'll put you at the far left side of the line so you can't endanger anything but the range wall if you screw it up. But don't blame them if they simply say no.

(Absolutely discuss this with him or her well before your class day! Don't show up at the start of class and expect to talk him or her into it while the class is waiting to go. You'll probably need to meet with them ahead of time and demonstrate your technique before they'd be comfortable with it.)

I'd bet you could pick up a cheap drop-leg type holster for that beast pretty cheaply, that would still be good enough to get you through your class.
Drawing from a cross draw holster can be done with complete safety but it requires total awareness of the muzzle and your weak side arm. Some people can't seem to deal with that. In the early years of USPSA shooting cross draw rigs were all the rage for a few years. Chip McCormick used one and did very well with it. They were abandoned when shooters figured out that strong side could be a fraction of a second faster on the clock and didn't require you to get your weak side arm out of the way before you draw. I drove limos for some years in a bad city and I used a cross draw rig daily (under a jacket). The big advantage is the gun is easily reached and drawn while seated in a vehicle and won't get hung up on the seat belt. But I agree with the Sam's post regarding bbl. length. Shorter is better. To me a 6 in. gun is a saddle gun. Most instructors today will not allow cross draw rigs just because many students are just too careless to use it safely.
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Thanks for the feedback. In all practicality, I most likely will not ever carry this gun unless I take up hunting, or something untoward happens to society in general, but I want to get comfortable and confident doing so nonetheless. When I start to carry (which I won't do until I've taken a class, though my state doesn't require it), I will more than likely be carrying my S&W Bodyguard 38, until I can get my hands on a Ruger SP-101. Both of those are short enough to easily draw strong-side.
Since you are not relegated to using the 6" as an EDC piece I'd look hard at a Bianchi Cyclone holster, it has loops that allow carry both ways and I've found it effective for packing up to 8-3/8" N frames.
A barrel that long and considering your personal description I'd carry CD all the time and develop my draw/holster technique at home while doing dry firing drills then switch to the other loops while on a range or class.
Some ranges, ours included, DO NOT allow cross draw holsters - Too easy to flash yourself especially when running against the clock.
No and I doubt that they would allow some sort of chest or shoulder rig either. That is the range not real life.
For hunting

Like edmo01, I carry my 6" Ruger Blackhawk .357 Magnum in a cross-draw rig when I'm deer hunting in Missouri. Not only does it keep the handgun available for draws with either hand when carrying a slung rifle on strong side shoulder and keeps the rifle from banging on the revolvers grip frame, it is also easier to draw it from a seated position in a treestand.

That is when I think cross-draw is okay.
Cross draw holsters are regularly used in Cowboy Action Shooting. Do a search on YouTube for videos on how they do it.


I can comment on that. I have been wearing one revolver on my strong side and the other as a cross draw for over ten years. Someone will probably tell you about the 'dance', but in fact there is no requirement to move one's feet at all when drawing from a cross draw holster in CAS. We are very strict though about not breaking the 170. In other words, not sweeping anyone anywhere in the vicinity. It is very simple to do. One simply swivels ones hips so the muzzle is already facing down range before being drawn. Pull the pistol and point it down range, swiveling the hips back to face the target as necessary.

When reholstering we swivel the hips again so the gun can remain pointing down range as we reholster.

That's the way we do it in CAS. Whether or not your instructor will approve is a different matter. And in a clutch, I don't think I would worry too much about sweeping anybody if I had to get the gun out really quick.
On bad bad days I wear a Safariland 6378 cross draw on my carrier.. but that has more to do with too much garbage being in the way of normal belt carry.

I also have a normal leather cross draw holster that I wear if I know I'm going to be spending a lot of time driving a car that doesn't have cruiser seats in it. Nothing stinks worse than wearing strong side hip carry in a car that has nice deep wrap around captains seats.
I've carried cross almost daily for about 40 years.

Drawn correctly as the OP mentioned, you do not sweep anything by ground and target.

It's as fast as any strong side draw. It makes the handgun easily to reach with either hand.

If it works for you, like it does for me and many others, ignore any nay sayers and get on with life.
I'm about 5' 4" or so, and I've been carrying cross draw most of my life. I don't carry an AL cross draw, but when I carry a revolver I always carry it cross draw.

I have drilled like this my entire life, and I have encountered a couple situations in which cross draw worked to my advantage.

IMHO, if it works for you, then by all means carry on.

I would suggest you get another pistol to carry... Cross Draw on a tactical course will get you in trouble, even it you are allowed to do it. BAD IDEA.

To me Cross Draw is good for the field when you are carry a rifle, that's it.

Lot's of tactical issues with carrying Cross Draw, so to me it's a bad idea.

Hope that helps...
While it may not be okay in the public range, in the real world I carry a 38 snubby cross draw for the same reasons mentioned by the OP. Its too high up to access easily, and I don't like the butt of my weapon being accessable to someone behind me, and it is better concealed there. Then you can get into Ohio winters, and long coats, and how much easier it is to access from a coat unzipped than from under a coat. For my own own situation, I feel my greatest potential threat I might face is while driving my car, and a cross draw from my right hand has the gun pointed at the driver side window.

If I were out chasing down bad guys, I'd have a whole different strategy, but for a civilian looking to defend against a street thug, it works best for me.

By the way, I practice draw shooting in the field at my brother's farm. A lot of ranges here seem to frown on holster drawing and shooting from either side.
Here's one little test I invite rabid anti cross folks to do.

From you concealed position, draw and fire the handgun with your off hand only.

Quite a few can't even get any kind of purchase on the butt of the handgun. Those that can have a totally impractical grip that must be shifted.

Oh, and I always offer to do against the clock with them. Funny how my right hand (I'm a southpaw) can do a cavalry draw / twist draw long before they can get a good handle on their firearm.

Oh, and to those that think it's slow, wanna bet? If speed of close proximity are issues pivoting as you draw lines things up nicely and rapidly at the targets torso. Yes it's a skill you need to learn, but so is a strong side draw.

Now I realize that since I've been doing it for over 40 years and carrying concealed that way for almost, I've pretty well got things down pat. On the other hand being in well into my sixth decade I have slowed some. Still off hand cross versus off hand strong usually shows the strength of cross.
I open carry cross draw in the woods. That's the only time for me. I'd never do it in a class.
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