One of the most fundamental aspects of pistol shooting is the relationship between your hands and your handgun. Grip determines how easily proper aim is achieved and the stability of that aim, as well as helping absorb recoil. A firm grip is one of the first skills a new shooter should cultivate. In this post, I’ll show you what a good grip looks like, and walk step-by-step through the procedure I use to ensure my grip is the same every time. We’ll also look at examples of common improper grips that can harm your accuracy, or worse, your body.
A GOOD GRIP
Here we have an example of a rock solid shooting grip. I’m using both hands, my arms are straight out but not locked, my trigger finger is safe up high on the slide, and my primary hand is as high on the frame as I can get it. These are a few of the aspects of this grip that make it strong, and we’ll cover these and more below. Let’s get started!
Your primary hand is also called your strong hand or trigger hand. This is the hand your trigger finger is attached to. For me, it’s my right hand. For all the left handed shooters out there, reverse my instructions and you’ll do just fine.
To begin building your grip, place the web of your hand as high on the grip as you can get it, like so:
Then, place the trigger finger high against the slide while the other three fingers wrap comfortably around the grip.
Note how high my hand is. This helps to absorb recoil by placing the mass of my hand and arm as inline with the bore axis as possible. I’ll explain why this is important.
When a handgun or any other gun fires, the bullet travels down the barrel along this bore axis. Due to Newton’s Laws, an equal force pushes backwards along this axis, which we call recoil. This recoil force is dissipated into your hands, arms, and shoulders, but it has another negative effect: Muzzle rise.
Because the only point of contact you have with the weapon (your grip) is below the bore axis, the recoil impulse causes the muzzle to rotate upwards, using your wrists as a pivot point, thus pushing your sights off target.
The objective of a solid grip and stance is to put as much mass as possible directly inline with the bore axis to negate this rising effect, allowing you faster follow-up shots and better target acquisition.
We want the pistol to recoil straight back, and straight forward, so that we stay on target. Your Support hand contributes greatly to this.
A two-handed grip is essential to accurate handgun fire. The support hand or secondary hand is your non-trigger hand. Its purpose is to add stability to the grip as a whole. To begin, hold the handgun close to your chest, and blade your support hand underneath the trigger guard at a 45 degree angle, like so:Extend your arms in a punching motion, rotating your support hand down and wrapping the fingers around the weapon and your other hand.
There are a couple of things I want you to note here. Look at the angle of my wrist in this picture. It’s locked forward, adding rigidity and support to the grip. Your wrist should naturally end up in this position as you punch your arms out and rotate your support hand into position. Also, look at how both of my thumbs are lined up, out of the way, and pointing forward towards the target. This helps naturally align the weapon sights with your target.
Here’s what it looks like from the other side. Take special note of how my primary hand is braced by the support hand. Gripping like this encloses almost the entire frame of the weapon in my hand, greatly reducing muzzle rise and felt recoil. Keep in mind that my support hand is doing 90% of the work keeping the handgun stable. My primary hand is pretty relaxed, just adding some additional support, and that’s because I want to keep that hand mostly relaxed for a smooth, even trigger pull. When you’re gripping the handgun, about 70% of the “squeeze” should be from your support hand.
The weapon is gripped firmly in both hands, close to the bore axis, and both of my arms are straight but not locked. Everything is stable and supported. A comfortable grip like this WILL improve your shooting, no doubt about it.
These handgun grips are bad. Very bad. Atrocious. Don’t fire a gun from these positions. You’ll look stupid.
You’ve all seen this. I know you have. In movies, TV shows, and maybe even at your local gun range. Why is this grip wrong? The support hand isn’t adding anything to this grip. You’re basically shooting one-handed, and the muzzle is free to whip around wherever it wants. HOLLYWOOD IS WRONG, AND THIS IS BAD.
THE LIMP WRIST
Again, you’re shooting one-handed like this. The support hand isn’t supporting anything except your weak wrists, and it’s even doing that poorly. There’s no reason to shoot like this.
Any of you with the least bit of firearms experience are cringing right now. Why? Because this grip WILL HURT YOU. When you fire this weapon, where does the slide go? Straight back with a lot of force. Where’s your support hand? Right behind the slide. This will result in a bleeding, very painful pinky the second you pull the trigger. Don’t do this in an effort to counteract muzzle rise. The grip I taught you does an excellent job of that without the pain and suffering.
That’s it folks! Now you know how to properly and safely hold your firearm. Practice this regularly, let it become second nature, and watch your shooting improve!
Until next time, have fun, stay safe, and shoot straight!