I personally struggle with choosing handguns because I have small hands.
Or, more accurately, I have tiny, childlike hands.
This makes finding a gun with a short enough trigger reach and a comfortable grip a pain.
If you can relate, then this is your lucky day!
I’m using my experience to recommend some small grip handguns and some companies with a good selection of small aftermarket grips so that you can get a handgun that works with your hand size.
Please note that this list isn’t just for women, though women are more likely to experience the small handgun buying struggle. Anyone with small hands, whether man, woman, or child, can appreciate the guns and grips discussed here.
But first, we’re going to talk about how you should be holding your handgun and what you should look for to make sure you’re selecting a handgun that suits your hands.
Checking the Fit of a Handgun
Before we get to the recommendations, let’s start with some tips for making sure your handgun isn’t too big.
(If you aren’t familiar with handguns or just need a refresher, check out the “Handgun Grip” section of our Ultimate Guide to Shooting a Pistol Accurately to learn the basics.)
To start, when you hold a handgun, your trigger finger should have a shallow curve and the pad at the end of your finger should rest on the trigger. On a gun that’s too big, your finger will be straight along the side of the frame of the gun in order to reach the trigger.
Next, when holding your grip, your thumb and fingers should comfortably meet at the side of the grip. Your thumb should rest along the top of your fingers.
Adjusting Your Grip When You Have Small Hands
Now, for a grip that’s just a little too big, you can slightly rotate your shooting hand towards the trigger. You don’t want to rotate it so far that your thumb is in the way of the beavertail or posterior bulge, though. If you have to, then your gun is too large to work
You also want to make sure that the rotation of your hand isn’t causing you to compromise the strength or comfort of your grip, or hold your gun at an angle.
For small hands, a two-hand grip makes it much easier to control your gun, especially since smaller guns, which are usually easier for small hands to grip, tend to have more recoil. Bring your non-shooting hand under your grip, so its heel rests against the heel of your shooting hand while helping to support the gun.
However, relying on a two-hand grip is less than ideal for a defensive situation, where one of your hands may be injured. For a defensive gun, it’s best to go with a gun that fits your hand well, but a two-hand grip is good enough for just killing time at the range.
Best Pistols for Small Hands
Now that you know how to make sure a gun fits your hand, as well as how to adjust your grip for larger guns, let’s move on to some gun recommendations.
One quick note before we get started though:
For all of these pistols, I prefer versions chambered in 9mm because it has less recoil than .45 ACP or .40 S&W. Since small hands can have a harder time getting a firm grip, especially on full-size guns, less recoil means less need for adjusting your grip between shots.
With that said, these all come in other calibers, too, and if you prefer one of them then more power to you. I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life, just share my experience.
People with especially small hands may find that full-size guns just don’t work for them, but the Sig Sauer P320 is a great full size semi-auto to try before ruling out full sized guns entirely.
The small grip module actually offers one of the shortest trigger reaches of any full-size pistol available.
If you like the P320, but want still want something smaller, like if you plan on carrying, it also comes in carry, compact, and subcompact sizes.
Like the full-sized versions, you can also switch out the grip modules for these sizes, too.
The M&P 2.0 doesn’t have completely replaceable grip modules, but it does come with four different sizes of grip inserts to help you customize your fit. And if the smallest insert is still too big, you can actually use the gun without any insert at all.
The textured grip makes the pistol much easier to keep a secure grip on, even in small hands.
The M&P M2.0 is available in full-sized and compact versions. Both are great, so just go with whichever feels better. If you want something even smaller, you can try the similar, but subcompact, Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard.
What’s your taken on the M&P 2.0?
Love a 1911 but feel like it’s too much gun for your hands? Then the Springfield 1911 EMP may be just what you’re looking for.
It’s one of the smallest 1911s currently on the market, with an action ⅛” shorter than the original 1911, a height of 5”, and a length of 6.6”.
It’s not short any features though. The 1911 EMP has 3-Dot tritium combat sights and a match grade barrel.
And if the grip is still bigger than you’d like, there are plenty of compatible aftermarket grips to help you slim the grip down even more.
Some small handed shooters may find revolvers to be unwieldy compared to pistols since they have more recoil, but that doesn’t mean you have to avoid them altogether, especially if you prefer revolvers.
The Ruger GP100 is a great full sized revolver that you can try if you want to take that route instead of going with a semi-automatic.
The GP100 comes in 3”, 4.2”, 5.5”, and 6” barrel lengths. I like the 4.2” barrel because I find it easier to balance, but I recommend handling the various sizes to see what works for you.
It also comes in a couple of different grip options. For my tiny hands, the cushioned rubber grips with a hardwood insert were a little big, but the Hogue Monogrip option was more manageable.
There are also plenty of aftermarket grip options to help you narrow it down even more. In fact, Ruger designed the grip frame specifically so that it would be compatible with a variety of aftermarket and custom grips.
Aftermarket Grip Solutions
Speaking of aftermarket options, maybe you already have a gun that you love, but it’s a bit too large for your hands. Let’s talk about some options to make the gun work better for your hand size.
All three offer high-quality grips for a variety of guns and in a range of profiles, so between them, you’re sure to find something (probably several somethings) that work for you.
A textured grip will make your handgun easier to grip. You can either get a textured grip or get a textured wrap that goes over the grip you have from a company like Gun Grip or Talon.
If your gun’s grip can’t be easily switched out or you can’t find a grip you like, you can also see about having the gun’s grip reduced by a gunsmith.
But be warned: a poorly done reduction can make your gun much less functional, so make sure you have it done by a gunsmith with an excellent reputation.
In addition, a grip reduction will void the gun’s warranty and can make it more difficult to sell later on, so I’d go with a grip reduction as a last resort. Lucky Gunner has a great article on grip reductions if that is something you’re interested in.
If you’re really having a hard time with mass market grips, try a custom grip first. There are tons of companies that make them, as do many gunsmiths. They may also be able to switch the grip out for you, which is great if you have a gun where changing grips isn’t such a straightforward process.
Don’t Underestimate the Basics
Finally, a small grip and reach help make holding and shooting your handgun easier, but they aren’t replacements for basic firearm skills. Without solid fundamentals, you won’t be able to shoot comfortably, accurately, and safely no matter what gun you’re shooting with.
Trigger control, in particular, can be difficult when you have small hands, so be sure to make sure you’re at the top of your game. This video from our friends at 5.11 Tactical shows some great drills focused on trigger control:
What are your favorite guns for shooters with small hands? Have any tips to share to help us shoot better or a solution to retrofit a gun to fit small hands? Also be sure to check out our general Best Handguns for Beginners.