Many people think that knowing how to properly grip a pistol comes down to putting the gun in your hand. However, without the proper pistol grip, you can’t properly shoot your gun, or effectively defend yourself.
It’s important that you’re prepared to effectively use your self-defense weapon, and that you always feel confident in your ability to protect yourself.
You feel confident when you’re competent. (Yes, keep that in mind next time you have to show the world what you’re made of.)
When it comes to self-defense, competence is everything.
The proper pistol grip will help you manage your recoil, shoot accurately, and ultimately help you feel good about your shooting.
It’s important to understand that building the proper pistol grip starts with ensuring that your gun is a good fit for your hand. If you’re holding the right gun, your grip is comfortable, and the act of shooting feels natural. A proper handgun grip is the foundation for mastering your aim and your shooting technique. But how do you get there?
By the time you finish this article, you’ll have a solid understanding of how your gun should fit in your hand, and how you should be holding it for maximum effectiveness.
Remember to give yourself space to be a beginner, but also be diligent about your journey.
Handgun Grip Technique: It Starts With Fit
Think about it like this: if you were shopping for a pair of shoes, you wouldn’t choose a pair that didn’t fit well, would you?
That would be awfully uncomfortable, and chances are, you’d end up leaving those shoes at home 99% of the time.
The same goes for your handgun.
If your handgun isn’t a comfortable fit, not only will it be more difficult to shoot properly, but chances are you won’t be as eager to practice shooting, and you won’t develop the level of skill necessary.
Your firearm has to be the right size for your hand, both technically and subjectively.
How does that work?
Going back to the shoes…if you wear a size 7, and you try on a size 7, chances are it’s technically going to fit your feet. But will the shoes be comfortable to walk around in? Will they feel right? Not necessarily.
When it comes to gun, you know your hand technically fits when the following elements are in place:
- Your finger comfortably reaches the trigger face, but doesn’t extend past it
- Your thumb can reach the slide release
- Your thumb can reach the magazine release
- Your pinky finger fits on the gun (this one is optional and is more about personal preference)
Your index finger needs to reach the trigger with ease. If you find yourself straining to reach the trigger, it’s not a good fit. In a real self-defense situation, you need to confidently pull that trigger in seconds.
If your finger is too long, the space between the trigger and the trigger face will feel cramped. This is manageable, but not ideal. And why not go for the ideal?
Keep in mind that most double-action pistols have a long trigger reach, so if you have shorter fingers, a double-action pistol probably won’t be the best option for you.
Now about your thumb…
Your thumb should easily reach the slide release. If your thumb can’t reach the slide release, it’s not a good fit. You sacrifice speed and efficiency when you can’t access the slide release with your thumb, which you can’t afford to sacrifice in an emergency.
The same goes for the magazine release. If your thumb can release the magazine, and you have to adjust your fingers to in order to release the mag so you can reload, you waste time.
So, what about your other fingers? Ideally, they should all fit on the gun; your pinky finger shouldn’t be falling off. However, some experienced shooters can make a three-finger grip work just fine, so this one falls under the category of personal preference. You’ll want to practice shooting and discover for yourself what works best for you.
Best Pistol Grip
Now, moving onto pistol shooting grip…
Once you’ve determined that your firearm is a good fit for your hand, you’re ready to work on the proper shooting grip. Start by placing your strong hand as high up on the backstrap as possible. This is often referred to as the “V” of your hand. There shouldn’t be a gap between your hand and the beavertail of the gun. This will reduce felt recoil by placing strength directly behind the momentum of the gun-bullet system. If your hand isn’t properly supporting that area, you’ll experience more recoil.
Typically, you will experience more felt recoil when you’re shooting a smaller gun, because there is less weight to absorb the recoil. When you shoot a larger gun, your finger is typically further away from the barrel, which produces more recoil, however, that recoil is more effectively absorbed by the weight of the gun.
Regardless of the size of the gun, though, a proper, firm grip will help you manage recoil.
Next, rest your thumb directly beside the slide release and wrap your other three fingers of your strong hand around the grip of the gun.
Then place your supporting hand directly beside your strong hand, leaving no gap. Wrap your supporting fingers around your strong fingers and form a strong grip. When you have the proper grip, you can control your gun and shoot more accurately and confidently.
Master Your Pistol Hand Grip With Practice
Nothing beats practical application. You can practice your grip all day long, but if you don’t consistently practice shooting, it’s all for nothing. When the time comes, you need to have that grip mastered in action.
The correct pistol grip helps significantly in shooting accurately and comfortably.
So, practicing the best handgun holding techniques will help you shoot on target, and thus help build confidence in your ability to defend yourself against the bad guy.
About the Author
Born in Arizona, Paisley Saris graduated in 2019 from North Idaho College, and will continue her education at Gonzaga University in the fall. She lives in North Idaho with her Husband and two step kids. She’s a passionate advocate for the 2nd amendment, and on her off days she enjoys the outdoors and spending time at the range.