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What is Limp Wrist Shooting a Gun & How to Correct It?

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

Table of Contents


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.

Glock Slide
Glock Slide

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.

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:

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

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.

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.  

Popular Pistol Calibers
Popular Pistol Calibers

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.


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.

Isosceles Shooting Stance, Front
Isosceles Shooting Stance, Front


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.

Handgun High Grip
Handgun High Grip

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 and Wrist Alignment
Handgun and Wrist Alignment

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
Handgun Grip Empty Left Side

This is known as the thumb over thumb handgun grip.

Handgun Grip, Thumb Down
Handgun Grip, Thumb Down

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
Handgun Grip Set Wrist

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 Angle
Handgun Grip Wrist Angle


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.

Check out our most popular helpful guide with How to Shoot More Accurately.

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14 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar

    Is it possible for a casing not to be extracted (completely in chamber) with a H&K VP9 9mm due to limp wrist or improper holding?

    April 9, 2021 8:22 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      Yes, it is effectively possible on all modern semi-auto pistols.

      April 9, 2021 8:35 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Sara Elizabeth Licu

    Great info! Super teacher!

    August 14, 2020 9:19 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Periklis Nifoudis

    thank you so much

    August 8, 2020 3:32 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Yanni von Reis

    Unfortunately Mr. Smith is not using his spoken language fully. Nor does he pronounce. For someone with 20/20 hearing that may not be an issue but for me with impaired hearing and hearing aid, I just cannot understand what he says.

    January 6, 2019 8:14 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Thanks for this excellent instruction. I've been shooting and carrying for many years, but this one was most helpful. Smith is a great teacher!

    January 29, 2018 5:33 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Excellent...it’s been a recent phenomenon with me, and I’ve been shooting for decades. Thanks

    December 8, 2017 9:49 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      I feel your pain, Dennis. It never occurred to me that this is, apparently, common with lighter frame guns. Maybe it’s me not getting a good grip and not a defect with my P365.A couple of times during extended range sessions it’s not gone completely back into battery. Just by a hair, mind you, and a simple tap on the back of the slide remedies that momentary hiccup. Maybe I was just getting tired. I’ll have to pay better attention next time and see what happens. Thanks, Eric, and don’t forget your personal reply to me recently regarding my request that y’all cover the .327 Federal Magnum. Carry on!

      August 31, 2020 7:43 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Alternitavely, you can always shoot 9mm, a cartidge designed specifically for the limp wristed effemintate shooter.

    September 2, 2017 11:05 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      The article specifically mentions that 9mm is more susceptible to failing from limp wristing so maybe actually read the article before you inject your size issues into the comments.

      January 24, 2018 1:48 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Neb Waddle

      I wish I could "like" this comment.

      August 7, 2020 11:36 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Thank you very much. Now i understand why my wife has a problem with Glock in the range. I can explain it to her and help to fix a problem.

    July 13, 2017 5:52 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

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

    December 5, 2016 12:01 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      You're welcome, Mark!

      December 6, 2016 5:26 pm