Want to shoot well?
You’ve got to have a proper grip that minimizes recoil.
Follow along as I cover:
- what makes for a good grip
- where all your fingers and hands go
- how hard to grip
- best grips for both semi-auto handguns AND revolvers
By the end, you’ll be shooting better in no time.
Table of Contents
What Makes a Good Grip?
Remember high school physics?
Maybe not…but how about for every reaction there’s an equal and opposite reaction?
When a bullet leaves the barrel, there’s force that goes backward, and how you hold your handgun will make or break your control of that recoil.
Think of the gun and your hand as a lever system.
The recoil is going to travel straight back in the slide.
If you’re gripping low…that lever-action will really try to flip the gun.
So what’s the solution?
Get behind the recoil as much as possible.
That’s the best to absorb the force…but remember the slide is going to be moving back and forth.
Everything now in this guide is to best absorb the force…but without giving yourself a booboo.
How to Grip a Semi-Auto Handgun
If you’re new and pick up a handgun…chances are you’ll grip it at an angle that’s the most comfortable for you.
But resist! That recoil is going to go straight into your (weak) wrist.
You’ll want the gun turned so the recoil can go into your arm and locked wrist.
Back to grip height…let’s get it as high as possible without putting your hand in the slide’s way.
Look at this empty space…
I want it gone!
Take a look at the webbing on your dominant hand between your thumb and index finger.
Jam it up as high as possible on the grip without getting behind the slide.
It’s going to feel weird but you’ll get used to it.
How about a top-down view?
Keep your gun aligned correctly and the right side of the gun (if you’re right-handed) should look like this.
Keep your trigger index finger along the slide. Remember the safety rules…no finger on the trigger until you’re on target and ready to shoot!
How about your non-dominant hand? Keep your thumb loose.
And don’t you dare do the teacup grip.
It does nothing for recoil management.
You want to fill up as much as possible of the empty space on the remainder of the gun.
So take your non-dominant hand, point it forward, then tilt it down 45 degrees.
Wrap those four fingers around the knuckles of your dominant hand.
And keep that thumb pointed along the frame. Depending on your hand geometry it might look different from my long fingers.
And remember your dominant hand’s thumb? You can have it down on your other hand.
Or up….it’s a personal preference.
If you’re shooting a 1911 or something else with manual safety…I like to rest my thumb on it.
Lastly, when you punch out with your gun I like to set my wrist at an angle that keeps everything steady and prevents limp wristing (floppy wrists that mess with proper ejection and loading of the cartridges).
Easy…as hard as you can without losing full control of your trigger finger or having your gun shake.
Sacrificing those two aspects will totally hinder your accuracy.
Want to beef up your hand strength? Try a hand strengthener — they work!
Now…how about revolvers?
How to Grip a Revolver
The basics are the same.
You don’t have to worry about a slide moving back and forth…but a revolver brings with it a whole new set of other things!
First…get that angle correct. Same for all handguns.
Now you want your grip up as high as possible.
There’s no more moving slide to worry about…but there’s that hammer!
So you want it high but not so high that you get hammer bite.
Dominant hand is the same… three fingers on the grip and keep your trigger finger along the frame.
As well as your non-dominant hand…but you have to watch out for the cylinder gap!
In revolvers, the cylinder gap is where all the hot gasses escape when you shoot a round.
Depending on the gun and caliber…you can get a simple owie, a messed-up nail, or even some things missing.
You’ll have to modify your grip a little so you won’t be near it.
Since I have long fingers, I adopt a thumb-tucked position instead.
Or you can also try out a thumb-over position which helps a lot for smaller revolvers that tend to kick up and down more.
Drills to Improve Grip
You can also add some drills into your routine as you get more comfortable to work on your grip.
Check out these Brownells Daily Defense videos for some tips!
That does it for now!
Remember the basics of recoil and how all the aspects of grip go to fight it.
Keep your grip aligned with your arm, get a high grip with your dominant hand, and cover as much area with your non-dominant hand.
And finally, grip it as hard as possible without affecting your trigger finger!
Having some issues with grip? Check out Brownells Daily Defense for more tips on how to diagnose and correct grip issues.