The Shoulder Holster Draw

Maybe it’s because I’m a Florida man, and maybe it’s because I love Miami Vice, but I love shoulder holsters. I go back a long way with them. As a teenager, I was known to rip and tear through the family property with an ATV, and an Uncle Mike’s nylon shoulder rig secured the water mocassin killing machine that was my Heritage Manufacturing Rough Rider. I still occasionally carry with a shoulder holster, which forces me to occasionally practice my shoulder holster draw. 

Recently my kids had spring break, and we headed over to St Augustine, Florida, to see how the Eastern Florida folk live. It was several hours’ drive, and I put on my Galco Miami Classic 2 and my SIG P365 for the road trip. Say what you will, but driving with a shoulder holster is 1000% more comfortable than driving with an appendix rig. As a big guy in a small car, it’s also much easier to draw. 

As I practiced my dry fire draws with my chosen rig and gun, it occurred to me that most people might not know the skinny on shoulder holsters and a safe draw. Shoulder holsters aren’t popular these days and are quite niche. Most education and information around seems to come from movies and TV, and trust me when I say they get it wrong. Let’s dissect the shoulder holster draw. 

The Shoulder Holster Draw – Safety First 

Let’s break down what it takes to wear a shoulder holster as a concealed carrier. You need one that fits properly and is easily hidden under your arm. A cover garment is always necessary, and then we seemed to spring back into winter this year. It wasn’t an issue. A light shirt does it. To effectively draw the gun, you need to defeat the garment. 


That’s nothing new in concealed carry, but the method you do so can be tricky. For waist carry, you can typically grab the top of the shirt and yank upward. With the shoulder holster draw, it’s wise to reach higher on the cover garment. I reach right below above the gun sits. I’m reaching just above my red dot sight to draw the gun. 

If you watch movies and tv, the shoulder holster draw is just as easy as reaching into your coat. That doesn’t work well, so clear the garment and grab the gun. When you clear the garment, you want to pull it upward. How high? Well, higher than ever. Have you ever seen one of those Jersey Shore dues show his abs? Pull your arm up that high. 

Up To the Neck 

Literally, pull it up nice and high toward the neck. It might not quite be neck high, but close. You want the elbow in line with the wrist. The idea is that when you draw your gun, you aren’t flagging yourself as you turn the gun and point it at the threat. This is where most people get the draw wrong. They seem to forget they are flagging themselves on the draw. 

The same goes for when it comes to reholstering the gun. Although, you don’t have to reholster it quickly, so you can take your time, get the gun out of your way, and holster the gun. When you practice the draw, I suggest exaggerating the elbow going up and getting it higher than necessary. I always think of it as a chicken wing, and I’m in a fight-or-flight situation. 

The thing is, a chicken is a flightless bird, so I’m flapping one wing while the other moves to fight. 

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.