beat to the punch/draw

beat to the punch/draw

Move more quickly than someone to accomplish something: for example, “We headed straight for the buffet, but others beat us to the punch and got most of the lobster salad.” Both versions of this cliché date from the mid-1800s and imply an aggressive move, the first alluding to fisticuffs and the second to drawing a pistol.
See also: beat, draw, punch