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Best Handguns for Small Hands

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.

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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.)

High Handgun Grip
High Handgun Grip

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.

Handgun Grip, Thumb Forward
Handgun Grip, Thumb Forward

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.

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Agreed? Good!

1. Sig Sauer P320

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.

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

Most Versatile
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Like the full-sized versions, you can also switch out the grip modules for these sizes, too.

2. Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0

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.

Runner-Up (Beginners, Home Defense)
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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?

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3. Springfield 1911 Enhanced Micro-Pistol

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.

4. Ruger GP100

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.

Best Medium Frame Revolver
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

Depending on your gun, you can get an aftermarket grip and switch it out yourself. There are tons of brands out there, but a few of my favorites are Altamont Company, Hogue, and VZ Grips.

1911 Extended Magwell and VZ Gunner Grip
1911 Extended Magwell and VZ Gunner Grip

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.

1911 custom grip reduction
1911 custom grip reduction, Lucky Gunner

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.

Various drills can be used to work on your shooting skills. Dry fire drills are a great way to brush up on your skills even when you can’t make it to the range.

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 Women.

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29 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Lucky Jack

    Thank you Megan for a great article. Sigs modular system on their P320 is a great idea for getting a smaller grip. If you don't want to mess around trading out parts, I have to agree with the other comments about PPQ and the VP9. I have small hands and my wife's are smaller. We both tried all the popular full size and compact models available to us locally. The PPQ and VP9 were our top two choices and we ended up purchasing two Walthers of different calibers. Personally, I like the PPQ over the M&P and I like the Sig 1911 over the Springfield. ...And for what it's worth, my wife could not rack the M&P in the store. Fit in our hands, price, and easy to use, put the PPQ on top for us.

    March 4, 2020 8:43 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Douglas Kusumi

    Disappointed that neither the Walther PPQ or PPQ m2 were mentioned.

    magazine release is the hardest thing to reach for people with small hands, and both the paddle and button on the ppq are positioned well for smaller hands, and also has theee back strap options.

    between the PPQ and the SIG P320, both have easy to reavh magaxine release buttons, but the SIG benefits from the slingshot slide release method whereas the PPQ has a slide stop that is meant to be used as a slide release and is very easy to engage, making 1R1 drills much faster, for example.

    January 18, 2020 10:04 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Wilbur Post

    What about an HK VP9 with the smallest grip panels? They come with three changeable backstraps and six side panels, so it looks to be the most adjustable pistol out there. It also comes in a subcompact model, the VP9 SK, smaller but with the same features. And don't forget my personal favorite, the Walther PPS M2 (on sale today at Palmetto State Armory for $270). I like it best with the 8-round magazines (+1 in the chamber). Fits my hand better than any gun I own except the S&W J-Frame with Spegel boot grips.

    March 25, 2019 9:14 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I thought the Springfield XD9 was the most comfortable I tried.

    March 2, 2019 1:52 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I thought the Soringfield XD9 was the most comfortable I tried.

    March 2, 2019 1:52 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Shepherd of Fire

    GP100 instead of SP101!?!?! For small hands!
    Definitely need to let our fellow small handed shooters that the Ruger SP 101 might just be the perfect fit for them.

    January 11, 2019 7:29 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I have small hands and my personal fav is the Sig P228 (I haven't handled a P229 but assume its grip dimensions are very similar, if not identical).

    January 9, 2019 12:10 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Glenn E Williams

      SP 229 is a service sidearm. I have huge hands and it fits me perfectly.

      June 19, 2019 5:27 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Alan Whitlock

    I personally like the Sig 938 better than the Springfield 1911. If anything, it is smaller and lighter and has all the 1911 controls except grip safety, including tritium night sights.

    January 7, 2019 3:44 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Alan Whitlock

    I personally like the Sig sauer 938 very much. It is simply a diminutive 1911. My 9mm weighs about a pound.

    January 7, 2019 3:41 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Like to see an article for those of use with the opposite problems, those of us that are true manly men and have larger hands. Trying to find a concealable gun that fits right in my large hands isn't as easy as it sounds. As the larger grips of the larger guns fit right but just get too big to conceal.

    January 7, 2019 1:10 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    My wife actually has longer, but slimmer fingers than I do. I have trouble getting my shooting finger on the trigger of any regular size frame but the SW M&P9 2.0 Compact is the goldilocks solution for both of us. My EDC is a SW M&P9 Shield with tritium night sights. We're both extremely happy now.

    January 7, 2019 12:38 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Did you really just suggest tea-cupping? Ummmm, no. :)

    January 7, 2019 10:28 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      You may have missed the second half of that sentence "..so its heel rests against the heel of your shooting hand while helping to support the gun." this is not tea-cupping.

      January 7, 2019 12:13 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I would also recommend HK VP9.

    January 7, 2019 7:10 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I am a recreational shooter as well as a concealed carrier for self defense.
    I love my Glock 43. It fits my small stubby hands and it conceals great.
    I also have a S&W M&P .380 Shield EZ that I use for recreational shooting.
    Both are great handguns; fit nicely in my small hands.

    January 7, 2019 6:14 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    C. Lowe

    I have smaller hands I agree with the P320 (small module) and the M2.0 (would never use it without the palm swell). Another handgun that is excellent for small hands is the Beretta APX. The trigger reach on it is very short!

    January 7, 2019 4:51 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Steven Fine

    My wife shoots the Walther CCP. A great smaller 9mm with low recoil and an easy to pull back slide. I love it too.

    January 6, 2019 8:52 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      My wife also carries a Walther CCP. She too has small “childlike” hands, and the CCP fits her fine. The trigger-pull is similar to a double-action revolver, but light (~6#). I like that it has a manual thumb safety.

      January 9, 2019 12:01 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I can't believe you left out the CZ P-01/PCR. I have small hands and LOVE my P-01. Ergonomic, accurate, 16+1 capacity. It's my forever pistol.

    January 6, 2019 8:48 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Edward Henrichsen

    I don't like the M&P mod2 because of the rough grip. I wouldn't trade my M&P mod 1 tho for anything.

    January 6, 2019 8:44 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Bland I know, but the M&P Shield 9mm replaced my Springfield EMP as my every day carry, in part due to the slim grip for my puny hands. But the EMP is more fun at the range!

    January 6, 2019 6:48 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Cup your non shooting hand under your grip? Did you learn to shoot handguns in the 70s?
    What about the G43, P365, Taurus G3, Ruger LC9s? Do a little more research before you pretend to be an expert!

    January 6, 2019 6:40 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      You may have missed the second half of the sentence you quoted - "...so its heel rests against the heel of your shooting hand while helping to support the gun." You can see an example of this in the picture directly above the text where you will see the grip in action. It is definitively the most widely accepted grip for a pistol and nothing remotely like the Tea Cup grip that was taught in the 1970s.

      January 6, 2019 7:37 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        spot on response!

        October 17, 2020 6:21 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Ok. I'll bite. No G43?

    January 6, 2019 5:07 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    No mention of the HK’s and their interchangeable back and side straps...?

    January 6, 2019 5:06 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jamie Ciotti

    What? Once again you never see a Beretta shown or mentioned. I swear Glosk and Sig have paid ALL of you off!

    January 6, 2019 5:04 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      Beretta 92FS is my favorite carry gun, but most of Beretta's small-hand offerings of late have been very poor.

      January 6, 2019 7:39 pm