The Press-Out

30-Nov-10 – 15:09 by ToddG

Long ago in a galaxy far, far away there was a common misconception that guns with short, light triggers had a “faster first shot.” The argument was that the trigger could be pulled quicker (and with less upset to the sight picture) than longer, heavier triggers.

With a press-out, though, trigger pull isn’t an issue. The gun fires as the pistol comes to full extension regardless of whether it’s a 2# tuned 1911 or a long and heavy Beretta 92D.

So what is a press-out? My friend Failure2Stop from M4Carbine once explained it better than anyone:

The faster the sights are level in front of the eyes, the faster you will be able to make an aimed hit. So, if the need for a visual index exists, I want to draw my gun straight up to my eye-line with my muzzle a little high (pretty much inside the workspace).

From there, the sights are aligned, the gun is pushed to full extension, and the trigger is pressed, simultaneously. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, the key is knowing which two points to connect. It doesn’t do much good to throw the gun from holster to full extension if you don’t have the visual reference you need and are waiting on that reference to begin trigger press.

As mentioned, I got a chance to grab some video of myself shooting recently and in particular I made sure to get both a slow and a fast press-out.


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At speed:

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The main points are that the front sight moves fairly straight along the eye-target line, and the shot breaks as the gun stops moving at full extension. By doing three things at once (extending, aiming, pressing) instead of sequentially, you can save a surprising amount of time. Watch the “at speed” video again. Does that look like it’s moving fast? No. But it’s a hit from concealment on a 40% IPSC plate at twenty yards in 1.45 seconds.

Another great press-out demonstration comes from this video of Mike Brook during his 4.92 F.A.S.T. run that earned his Expert rank on the Wall of Fame:

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Hitting a huge, stationary close-range target quickly from the holster is easy. Making tighter shots on demand without giving up speed, however, benefits tremendously from the press-out.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

  1. 21 Responses to “The Press-Out”

  2. The fact that your slow is faster than my fast really drives home just how much more work I need to do.

    By Tom on Nov 30, 2010

  3. How ironic! I was just talking with GotM4 about this yesterday trying to pick his brain. Now I can see from the video that I need to bring the pistol up to eye level instead of chest level which is what I’ve been doing! Thanks!

    By MW on Nov 30, 2010

  4. Todd–I’ve been doing a lot of press-out drills but am still hesitating before breaking the shot to double-check sight alignment and sight picture (old bullseye guy)–getting solid hits but it obviously slows me down. I’m planning to start working with a shot timer–what are some good par times to work with over time in order to get speed up with press-out drills?

    Any plans to do some teaching in Florida any time soon?

    By Michael on Nov 30, 2010

  5. Good videos. I can see exactly what you were talking about in class. The movement from the holster to getting the front sight into your cone of vision is a blur, after that is where the precision comes in. Kind of like downshifting for the corner in a sports car.

    By Kirk on Nov 30, 2010

  6. So, how about a slow and fast press out demonstration for those who choose to carry behind the hip, rather than AIWB? One video is worth 10,000 words, although commentary is always welcome.

    By sirhcton on Nov 30, 2010

  7. Michael — The best way to set a par time is to figure out how fast you can do it right today, and chip little bits off of that to push yourself. The best way to learn the press-out is to work on it slowly. When I practice doing them, I go about half the speed of the “slow” demo, above.

    I’ve had a couple of people contact me about the possibility of a FL class in 2011. If it comes together, it will get announced here!

    sirhcton — The press-out is no different from behind the hip. You draw, bring the gun to the ready position as fast as you can, and press.

    By ToddG on Nov 30, 2010

  8. I love little snippet videos like this that help demonstrate concepts you talk about all the time! I usually get the gist of what you and others are trying to convey with printed word but a movie is worth 1000 words per frame. :) Any chance more might appear in the future?

    By John on Dec 1, 2010

  9. Dude, I’ve been waiting for this post….thanks for the videos. Great stuff!

    By LT on Dec 1, 2010

  10. Hey Todd, Great writeup and videos as always. You probably already know this, but you’re heeling the gun a tiny bit at the point where your support hand joins your grip. If you watch both videos you can see the barrel of the gun pointing up a bit before it comes back down in line with the target on the press out. Get rid of that, and I bet you can knock another .05 seconds off your times.

    Thanks for the drills and instruction! Good shooting!

    By Andy on Dec 1, 2010

  11. Andy, starting with sights already aligned then pushing out will put wrists at extreme angles. Adjusting wrist takes time. A (near) constant wrist angle (aka. locked) with front sight gradually dipping down works better. That’s why I start the press-out a little further away from my face. It feels more natural to push the gun out at that point. The front sight just sits on top of the rear sight notch and easy to pick up. Less but enough distance to push and align/confirm sight picture.

    Unless I can develop very neutral grip and balanced arm muscle, extending arms too fast usually ruin the shot.

    By x-man on Dec 1, 2010

  12. Todd, if there’s an AFHF class in FL any time other than late June, I’ll be there!

    By MDS on Dec 1, 2010

  13. Thanks a lot for this post Todd, just a few weeks ago I made a thread on ARFcom asking for more info about a press out and I didn’t get much info (except from JW_777). This really gives me more to focus and practice on.

    By JoshM on Dec 1, 2010

  14. working backwards from the end of the last video, your statement “you know what this means?” well what the hell dude? what does it mean??? I know, probably another run attempt in order to go for his coin?
    Now up to your vids Todd. It seems that you are bringing the gun more horizontal, earlier than when you were up here? Is it just my brain leaking out all my extra holes, or would you agree? In both videos the angle of the muzzle is less extreme than what I recall you doing when we were practicing. If not, ok, just my memory, but if so, is it just the natural evolution of the pressout? And lastly, it also seems the gun is closer to your face at the start of the pressout than it was before too. That could be because the back end is higher up sooner perhaps?
    regardless great videos, and great shots in all instances. Need more!!!!

    By Rob Engh on Dec 3, 2010

  15. Todd,

    I really miss your input over at M4C. Thanks you for these videos. I have been trying to improve my press out for months with little improvement but these videos hit right on target. Now I see what I need towork on. Thanks a lot.


    By Jerral Mayes on Dec 3, 2010

  16. Jerral — Very kind of you to say, and glad the vids could help. For what it’s worth, now I bother everyone at with my opinions instead. 8)

    By ToddG on Dec 4, 2010

  17. The ‘press out’ is just as bad an idea as the ‘stroke’ and for the same reason.

    It is a game technique and a very bad idea for self defense.


    Because you are cutting out the decision steps in identifying the target. There are many times you will have to cover a potential threat with your weapon and be programming yourself to immediately draw and fire, in one motion, is setting yourself up for a bad shooting.

    If you intend to use this method, either the ‘stroke’ or ‘press out’ then NEVER draw the gun until you have decided to shoot. And that limits your options.

    By Paul on Dec 9, 2010

  18. I draw my gun multiple times per week, sometimes multiple times per day, without pulling the trigger reflexively. By definition, a press out is something you do only after you’ve made the decision to shoot.

    Decision making isn’t something you should begin after you’ve got the gun pointed at someone’s face.

    By ToddG on Dec 9, 2010

  19. Paul,

    I agree with Todd on this 100%. I think you are over-thinking the concept of the “Press-Out” a bit.

    Todd teaches the “Press-Out” as a skill to conduct the presentation of your pistol on-target as efficiently as possible.

    By Nick Drakulich on Dec 10, 2010

  20. If I draw and use the “press out” it means that I have decided to fire. This dosn’t mean that every time I draw my weapon I automaticly do a press out. It is just that simple.

    By Doug F on Dec 10, 2010

  21. Then make sure students understand this and not use the press-out as their defensive technique. The trouble is the habit of always draw and fire at the end of the sequence (just as in the ‘stroke’ they did that to.)

    May I suggest an old pre-IPSC ‘thinking man shoot’ where students will have three targets, say balloons of different color. On the sound of a bell they must draw and shoot the red balloon, on the sound of the horn they shoot the blue one (or green or whatever) and at the sound of a whistle they draw and cover their targets but not shoot. And when they do this exercise they do it against ANOTHER shooter so they must beat the other person as well as remember what they are supposed to do.

    By Paul on Dec 10, 2010

  22. Paul,

    I disagree that the press-out should not be used as a defensive technique. I don’t know of a faster way to get accurate hits on a target and in most cases the one who hits first wins. I think you are stuck on incorrect assumption that this will lead to the trigger being pulled every time the weapon is drawn. If I have not decided to shoot or if I have any doubt at all my draw will look the same except my finger doesn’t go anywhere near the trigger. (Rule #3) I agree with you on the thinking man shoot drills they are a valuable training tool.

    By Doug F on Dec 11, 2010

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