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Pistol draw kinematics


Dr Amity Campbell, Professor Leon Straker, Andrea Roelofs


Proficient use of the lethal force option is critical to an officer’s ability to survive any potential threat to life. In recent years increased load carriage requirements has impacted the way officers carry force options. Historically officers would carry their pistol in a hip holster attached to their belt, however with the introduction of the load bearing vest, a thigh holster is now often used. The extent to which alternate pistol holsters impacts on pistol draw times is unknown. This information has direct application to police officers ability to deal with potentially life threatening events within the course of duty.

The quantitative data capture of pistol draw times of police officers, drawing pistols from both the hip and the thigh holster positions, was performed using the Vicon Motion Analysis System. Twenty seven officers, 17 of which usually wore a hip holster and 10 of which usually wore a thigh holster, participated. A red training pistol unable to fire ammunition was used for data trials. Subjects were required to perform a standard firearm drill which entailed drawing the pistol and firing at a simulated target in response to a visual stimulus.


Findings to date include:

  • No significant difference in average trigger time between subjects drawing a pistol from a hip or thigh holster position.
  • Subjects familiar with the thigh holster were found to be significantly slower in drawing from the hip holster than the thigh holster. Conversely, subjects familiar with the hip holster were found to require significantly more trials to achieve three clean pistol draws when drawing from the unfamiliar thigh holster.