We all know the four basic firearms safety rules:
Treat all weapons as loaded
Never point the muzzle at anything you don’t intend to destroy
Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot
Be sure of your target and what’s behind it
Obviously, you should never violate any of these rules. However, you can usually get away with breaking one of the rules without too much tragedy, but if you break two of them, really bad things are going to happen. For example, if you are out with a team and you put your finger on the trigger, you are likely to have an unintentional discharge if you trip, are startled, or attempt to grab something with your non-gun hand. But as long as your muzzle is in a safe direction, no one should be hurt. Similarly, if you sweep your partner with your muzzle but you had your finger off the trigger, the gun won’t go bang and all should be okay (although I doubt your partner would want to work with you again).
Check the Student
Shortly after becoming a firearms instructor in 1991 and after running agent qualifications and certifications courses for other department’s firearms instructors, I noticed there is one safety violation that occurs with alarming frequency. As a new instructor, I was shocked when I first saw a shooter hold open his leather holster with his off hand, and then sweep his hand with his muzzle as he holstered. Unfortunately, I soon learned this was a common occurrence with many shooters and yes, even some firearms instructors.
I believe some shooters get in the habit of covering their non-gun hand while holstering because of cheap leather holsters. After drawing the weapon, the holster collapses and it’s difficult to re-holster without using two hands. Even after getting an appropriate holster, some shooters continue this bad habit from muscle memory. It just becomes how they holster their weapon. As an instructor, if you see this happen, address it immediately.
Many times the shooter will argue with you and swear they never covered their own hand with the muzzle.
They aren’t lying.
The act has just become so ingrained they don’t realize they are doing it. It’s your job — Mr. or Ms. Instructor — to make sure they don’t.
Have them unload the weapon and ask them to draw. Even then, many will still cover their hand while holstering. It can become a comedy routine.
You: “See, you did it again.”
Them: “No, I didn’t!”
You: “Okay, holster again...See! You did it again!”
Them: “No I didn’t!”
Once you get them to believe you, have them repeatedly practice the holstering process until they can do it safely — you know, without covering their own hand. You want to avoid what one FBI instructor liked to call “bullet hand.”
No one wants bullet hand. Not only is it painful, it’s also difficult explaining how you got that hole in your hand.
Check the Gear
Sometimes the cure is just getting a better holster. I’ve always preferred Kydex holsters because they always hold their shape, they’re fast, and they’re inexpensive (I’m cheap).
If you are a leather holster enthusiast, make sure it is high quality and retains it shape. Once you can no longer holster with one hand, it’s time to buy a new holster. Incidentally, any quality holster should allow you to draw and holster with one hand, and the holster should retain the weapon no how your body is positioned (to include upside-down).
Some people use two hands to holster because of lack of practice and they don’t quite know where the holster is. So, they reach around with the non-gun hand, find the holster, and then holster their weapon.
The simple solution to this is practice more, dry-fire more, and then your muscle memory will return the gun to the holster flawlessly every time. Another option is a tip I first heard from Jerry Barnhart. To holster, place the weapon to the side of your holster. You’ll be able to feel when your gun rests against the outside of the holster. Then simply ride the handgun up the side of the holster until you reach the top, and slide it down into the holster.
Just be careful not to cant the weapon so the muzzle points towards your body.
Bullet body is even worse than bullet hand.