How to Grip a Pistol

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“It’s jammed again.”

My shooting instructor looked at me incredulously. “Again? I’m not sure it’s the gun. I think the problem might be your grip.”

When I first got into shooting, I thought I had it down. Feet planted? Check. Two-handed grip? Check. My best pistol optic mounted correctly? Check. But I was still having misfeed issues with my pistol. I was becoming frustrated with the gun, but I soon discovered that the problem was with me. More specifically, the problem was with my grip.

If, like me, you have struggled with perfecting your grip, there are two key issues to consider.

Issue #1: Hand Placement

Proper hand placement is probably the most critical aspect of pistol grip. Correct hand placement ensures adequate control of the firearm and affects both recoil reduction and accuracy. Follow three simple steps to make sure that you are handling your pistol correctly.

  1. Place your dominant hand high on the grip with the area between your thumb and index finger wrapped around the back strap. Your index finger should be pointing forward in the direction that you are aiming. Always keep your trigger finger away from the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  2. Wrap your middle, ring, and pinky fingers around the grip just below the trigger guard. The middle finger should be resting just beneath the trigger guard with the ring and pinky finger snugly beneath. If you have large hands (or a very small pistol), consider investing in a magazine extender if one was not included in your original purchase.
  3. With your nondominant hand, cover the base of the grip with your thumb facing forward, supporting your dominant hand. This “thumbs forward” grip allows for maximum control and accurate shooting. Be careful not to let your palm slide down; your thumbs should be touching, with the nondominant thumb resting just below the dominant thumb.
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Issue #2: Firmness

When you are sure that you have achieved proper hand placement, pay attention to how firmly you are holding the pistol. If held too loosely, pistols are going to give you excessive recoil. A loose grip can also cause a misfeed, especially in smaller caliber pistols. (This little detail proved to be the cause of my troubles.) Alternatively, you don’t want to clench your pistol in a vise like death lock; just be sure that you are holding your gun firmly enough as to maintain good control at all times.

I’ve come a long way since that frustrating day at the shooting range. With proper instruction in how to grip my pistol, I was able to minimize the problems that I was having, and shooting became much more enjoyable. Years down the road, I see that mastering the basics of how to grip my pistol was an essential step in increasing my accuracy and confidence. Whether you are a novice or an experienced shooter, it is always beneficial to go back to the basics and be sure that you have a firm grip on the fundamentals of shooting.

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