What is Limp Wrist Shooting a Gun and How to Correct

Learn what exactly is “limp wrist” shooting, why it happens with some guns and calibers, and several techniques on how to correct it.

Proper Handgun Operation

Here you’ll see an animation of how a handgun operates.

When the trigger is pulled, the firing pin strikes the primer of the cartridge which sends the bullet shooting out.

The gas/recoil forces the slide (top of the gun) to slide back where it ejects the spent brass casing, and moves up a new round from the magazine.

Glock Slide
Glock Slide

Difference in Limp Wristing

What happens differently in limp wrist shooting is the bottom frame is not held stationary enough and actually moves along with the top slide.

Because of this, the slide cannot move back with enough force to either extract the spent casing or bring up a new round.  You’ll see that the frame flips and moves backwards with the slide.

Here’s a couple animations of the possibilities:

First is the case where there’s enough force to eject the casing but not enough to push forward a new round into the chamber.

Glock Limp Wrist No Feed
Glock Limp Wrist No Feed, Military Arms Channel

This case there’s not enough force to eject the casing so it gets stuck when the slide moves forward.

Glock Limp Wrist Stovepipe
Glock Limp Wrist Stovepipe, Military Arms Channel

A third case (sorry no gif) is when the casing is ejected, no new round is moved into the chamber, but the slide moves back to its normal position.  The next time you press the trigger, all you will hear is a click.

Limp Wrist Prone Guns & Calibers

You’ll more likely experience limp wristing with lighter frame guns and lighter recoiling ammo.

And the most common example…is the Glock handgun in 9mm.  Because it is polymer, there’s just less mass in the frame to hold down the fort against the slide.  And with 9mm as opposed to .40 S&W and .45 ACP, there’s less gas/recoil to help the slide move back.

But of course, 9mm Glocks are not the only possible handguns to limp wrist.

How to Correct & Fix Limp Wristing

Literal Limp Wrist
Literal Limp Wrist

Limp wristing gets a bad rep since it’s not just the wrist that is doing something wrong.  It’s likely the entire combination of grip, strength, and stance.

I find a lot of newbies will have some sort of limp wrist failure, but that it can be fixed with technique rather than going to the gym.

Stance

Seems a little weird, how can how you’re standing affect the gun properly recoiling.  But I believe with a proper stance that is stable and not leaning back, you set the foundation for everything else.

Grip

The most important part.  You want your hands to be as close to the slide as possible, but obviously not actually behind or on it.  This is also known as getting close to the “bore axis,” where bore is the inside of the barrel, and pretty much in the middle of the slide.

The first part is your strong hand and putting the webbing between your thumb and second finger as high up as possible.

High Pistol Grip, Shannon Smith
High Pistol Grip, Shannon Smith

Another good tip is to align the slide (which will be moving back and forth) with your forearm bones.  This will help dampen the recoil and move it into you not to the sides.

Handgun Alignment, Bearing Arms
Handgun Alignment, Bearing Arms

Now let’s take a look at the left side of the gun and the empty space.  We want to fill up as much area on the gun as possible with your other hand.

Handgun Grip Empty Left Side, Shannon Smith
Handgun Grip Empty Left Side, Shannon Smith

This is known as the thumb over thumb handgun grip.

Thumb Over Thumb Handgun Grip, Shannon Smith
Thumb Over Thumb Handgun Grip, Shannon Smith

From farther away, you can see that the support hand wrist is pretty tilted, or set.  Once you lock it in, it should help out immensely.

Handgun Grip Set Wrist, Shannon Smith
Handgun Grip Set Wrist, Shannon Smith

Lastly, to double check your hand/wrist placement, you can extend out your support hand to see if the four fingers are at a 45 degree angle to the slide.

Handgun Grip Wrist Check, Shannon Smith
Handgun Grip Wrist Check, Shannon Smith

Conclusion

With a better stance and grip technique, you can fix your limp wristing.

And don’t worry if your shooting buddy was unable to replicate it.  Soon you’ll have enough muscle memory of the correct way that you couldn’t do it even if you tried.

Below are the videos so you can see more limp wristing and the complete advice of Shannon Smith.  I recommend watching it even if you currently don’t have problems with limp wristing since he goes over so much more stuff such as push/pull and how to shoot faster.

Slow Motion

2 Comments

  1. THANK YOU!!! Thank you for a very informative, non-judgemental, objective source for gun information and education. Keep up the good work.

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