Handgun Grip: 8 tips for a better grip!
We have talked about handgun grip in the past and the focus of our previous article was on the pressure of your grip. When it comes to grip I believe that pressure trumps the rest of your grip. You are better off with a hard but technically incorrect grip than you are with with technically correct grip that is soft and gentle.
So, grip your gun like you life depends on it because, of course, it may. That hard grip is going to increase your ability to shoot fast and hit your target.
As you might guess, a strong grip can be improved on and that is our goal today, to take your strong hard grip and improve it technically. There are many different types of grips that have fans for different purposes. I am a defensive shooter. As a result I tailor all of my shooting to work with the skills that are best for defensive shooting. Self-defense is my priority and I think that makes sense as the consequences are more severe than losing a match or a trophy.
The grip I teach might not be best for winning a match, but it is likely the best grip for winning a gunfight. So this grip is the grip I teach until I find something better.
8 Points of Focus for a Good Handgun Grip.
I’ve known how to grasp a gun for a long time, but Rob Pincus helped me to teach that grasp in a more organized fashion when I became a Combat Focus Shooting Instructor. Although I’ve moved on from that program, the grip is something that I continue to teach in the same way. It consists of 8 attributes of a solid grip. There are four important points for your primary hand and 4 important points for your support hand which makes the organization easy to remember.
Let’s take a look at them now starting with your primary hand.
Handgun Grip for the Primary Hand
The primary and grip is the foundation of your grip whether you are shooting with both hands or with your primary hand only.
4 points of the primary hand handgun grip.
- Finger someplace other than the trigger – Remember gun safety. It is important and should be integrated into your gun handling ALWAYS!
- Grip high – Make sure your primary hand is as high on the back strap of the gun as possible without interfering with the operation of the gun. Gripping high helps to reduce muzzle flip as it lowers the bore of the barrel closer to your hand.
- Middle finger hard on bottom of trigger guard – When your finger is hard against the bottom of the trigger guard you are helping to get your grip high on the gun and you are also offering an anchor point for contact with the gun.
- Thumb forward – Placing your thumb forward on the gun (instead of curling it down) opens the space on the side of the gun for your support hand and can also help keep it away from the slide stop lever.
If you work on these points you will build a solid foundation for gripping the gun with one hand and two.
Handgun Grip for the Support Hand
Your support hand is there to provide exactly what its name says, support. Placing it properly on the gun can help to make sure your primary hand and the gun have as much support as possible.
4 points of the support hand handgun grip.
- Index finger against the trigger guard – Just like your primary hand middle finger your support hand index finger should be anchored on the trigger guard which facilitates a high grip and solid contact.
- Fingers parallel and layered – The best finger grooves a handgun can have are your primary fingers. They are perfectly sized to provide a solid grip for your support hand fingers. Remember, grip with extreme pressure from side to side.
- Thumbs layered and parallel – Your primary hand thumb is forward and your support thumb should be as well. This helps to lock the support wrist straight to manage recoil.
- Eliminate spaces and gaps – especially on the weak side of the gun, make sure to fit your thumbs together like the puzzle pieces they are so that the heel of your support hand can press firmly against the side of the gun to provide lateral stability.
Shooting is actually a fairly complex action. When you work to increase speed and maintain precision, the task becomes more difficult to achieve. One of the secrets to shooting well is to habituate certain skills so that you don’t have to think about them. Gripping the gun is one of those skills. Instead of intentionally gripping the gun properly, you do so out of habit.
The question you need to be asking yourself is, “How do I turn my grip into a habit?”
It’s a good question and thankfully the answer is simple. Not necessarily easy, but simple.
To habituate your grip I recommend that you concentrate on making sure to grip the gun in the same manner every time you pick up that gun. Grip it technically correctly and with the appropriate pressure (as hard as you can) every time you pick up the gun.
Do it right when you are cleaning the gun. Grasp it correctly when you are putting it in your holster, showing it to your friend, and when you are actually shooting. If you approach your grip development from this angle, it will be a habit in no time.
What tweaks have you made to your grip to improve your shooting? Comment below and join the conversation.
Paul Carlson, owner of Safety Solutions Academy, is a Professional Defensive Shooting Instructor. He has spent the past decade and a half studying how humans can perform more efficiently in violent confrontations and honing his skills as an instructor both in the classroom and on the range.
Through Safety Solutions Academy, Paul teaches a variety of Critical Defensive Skills courses in more than a dozen states annually. Courses range from Concealed Carry Classes to Advanced Critical Defensive Handgun Courses and include instruction for the defensive use of handguns, rifles and shotguns. Safety Solutions Academy regularly hosts other industry leading experts as guest instructors to make sure that SSA’s students have the opportunity for quality instruction across a broad range of Critical Defensive disciplines.