Proper Handgun Grip: getting both thumbs pointed at your target

People use and advocate different hand grips- Weaver and Isosceles tend to be the most common. I have been surprised to see experienced shooters put their support hand finger in front of the trigger guard, for example- that grip never worked for me and feels far from natural. While some manufacturers even texture the front of the trigger guard to facilitate this grip I have never read a single article advocating for this approach. That doesn't mean that it may not work for you – and no worries if it does. I am trying to burn the most reliable fundamentals possible into my brain since this is what will manifest in a life-threatening situation.

Matt Burkett has some pretty useful tips out there. Grip and particularly grip from draw are things I think about frequently since they are critical elements of accuracy (and require frequent tune-ups sort of like a golf swing). Something I realized recently was that my support hand wasn't quite finding a natural position – I know this because:

  • my thumbs tend to feel little awkward
  • one thumb is riding the slide release (gun doesn't always lock open when empty)
  • support hand thumb is not typically pointing at my target

Why does this matter if I typically have good groups and accuracy? The proper grip improves accuracy and also enables faster trigger work- aka speed.

An off-topic tip I gleaned from Matt's tips is a way to validate that you are not tense- tension in your body will make it more difficult to manipulate the weapon. The way to check is Can you wiggle your toes after presenting the weapon? Apparently the largest nerve in your body runs to the big toe and this will indicate if you are tense– if you can't try a deep breath or two to ease the tension away.

Matt suggests that you use this drill to ensure that your support hand is doing enough work : when you are presenting the weapon (when your hands 'clap') use the support hand to bring the gun to your sight plane. This will help focus your mind on balance between the hands.

These are the rest of the salient points on grip:

  • Strong hand should be 40% of your grip and weak (support) hand should be 60%
  • Strong hand grip should be as high as possible on the gun- be sure not to expose your hand to contact with the slide
  • Grasp the pistol with your strong hand about as hard as you would hold a hammer to drive a nail
  • Both arms straight with positive tension on the gun(left arm slightly straighter than the right)
  • Both hands should be touching at the rear of the gun (really the edges of your palms)
  • Support hand should be slightly canted with back of the hand higher than the fingers, thumbs stacked and both pointing at the target

Aha- this is where I couldn't get it right. Huzzah for crowdsourcing… Here are some photos of the proper grip for a modern (post-1911 type) grip thanks to the Brian Enos forums:

Ok- now I see the thumb and hand alignment

Note the check for proper support hand cant- if you open the support hand you see the fingers taking a nice 45 degree angle.

And a little bonus- operator viewpoint and you can see the thumbs stacked yet not riding the slide.

Now I have some homework for a week or two. Watch here for more tips and updates.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s