Jason Steiner: Get a Grip

Here’s a quick exercise for taking a good thumbs-forward grip with a semi-auto pistol. It offers a great deal of control, which might explain why it’s currently the standard grip for top practical shooters. Fortunately, it’s also easy for novices to learn. It might feel a little awkward at first, so start practicing with no gun at all, just to get a accustomed to it . . .

  1. Stand square to the target.
  2. Take a half step forward with your left foot, and give the target a big thumbs-up with your right hand.
  3. Point your left thumb directly at the target. Your wrist will be angled down a bit.
  4. Grab your right fist with your left hand. The left index finger should be in the groove between the index and middle fingers of the right hand.
  5. Lower your right thumb so it is also pointing at the target, on top of the left thumb.
  6. Press both hands firmly together.

Of course, southpaws will need to swap this. Once you’ve tried it a few times, add a firearm. (Unloaded, please, unless you’re on a hot range.)

Grasp the gun in your strong hand, point it at the target, thumb high along the slide, trigger finger off the trigger. Bring both hands together, support-side thumb pointed at the target. Your support-side palm is now firmly pressed against the grip panel of the firearm, thumb pointing along the frame*, index finger wedged up against the bottom of the trigger guard. And your strong-side thumb will naturally lower to rest on & disengage the thumb safety, if you have one**.

With both hands providing even pressure, and lots of good contact with the handgun, you’ll find that the it recoils vertically, and returns to a good sight picture naturally.

* Some shooters press on the frame with the support-side thumb, some don’t. Personally, it depends on what I’m shooting. With CZs, which have internal slide rails and lots of exposed frame to press on, I do. Other guns, not so much, since I don’t want to interfere with the slide. Suit yourself.

** If shooting a SIG, you might want to angle that thumb out a little, away from the frame, over the left thumb. This will keep you from riding the slide release, preventing the slide from locking back once the magazine is empty.

17 Responses to Jason Steiner: Get a Grip

  1. avatarVincit veritas says:

    +1. I started holding a pistol in what was just comfortable, like an idiot, but Eddie at AFS showed me this and it’s a huge improvement. It took some getting used to, to ride the moving slide with your thumb, but eventually got comfortable and natural.

  2. avatarJT says:

    +1 Definitely a great grip. It was not my first choice, but when I heard of it I switched immediately and love it.

  3. I tell first time shooters “Think ‘meat on metal’: The more of you that’s holding the gun, the more the gun will be in control.”, which tends to improve their grip and reduce any fear of recoil.

  4. avatarsdog says:

    thumbs forwards gives me a real purchase on my handguns, i’m a big fan of it.

  5. avatarLC Judas says:

    You saying what you did about SIGs makes a lot of sense. I’ve been having trouble getting a perfect grip on it and when I do it sure enough doesn’t let the slide stop lever engage. I didn’t think about the idea of me riding the lever though, definitely good to know. I don’t shoot it often but this definitely is a big help.

  6. avatarAdam says:

    We need a picture or illustration of this. I get it but I’d get it better if I saw it. I’m a visual person.

    • avatarDig Doug says:

      I scoured the internet and found one for you. I used my mad skilz as a savvy commenter to insert it at the top of this page.

      • avatarAdam says:

        @Dig Dick

        I can see the pic at the top of the post, but it only shows her left side. Would be nice to see the right side, front, and closer views to get an idea of how the hands are placed.

  7. avatarRalph says:

    This grip works great on a full-size pistol with a full-size stock in any caliber. Shooting compacts and subcompacts can be troublesome with any grip since there’s not a lot of “real estate” to grab. Revolvers present other issues.

  8. avatarNeonCat says:

    I’m starting to think gun grips/positions, etc. are a lot like the latest exercises to give you six pack abs in health magazines: this one, this one will do it for sure. Despite revolvers being around for over 150 years and pistols over 100 we’re still talking about the best way of holding them when shooting, and it seems grips come into and go out of fashion despite human hands not changing much in that time. How about “hold the gun, shoot it, if it hits where you want it to hit (and you did not injure yourself or the gun), keep holding it that way. If not, change.”

  9. avatarGraybeard says:

    For pics of the grip from different angles, look at some of the last pictures in the series at http://www.viiphoto.com/showstory.php?nID=1318 – a photo essay about some of the ladies in Sec. of State Clinton’s security detail. I’d noticed two things looking at those photos – the thumb-forward grip, and the ladies are using Sigs, as near as I can tell in 9mm NATO.

  10. avatarDav id W. says:

    This style might be more conducive to competition shooting but not to actual combat. I’m referencing Massad Ayoob’s technique where he does close his thumbs down to keep a better grip on his weapon and prevent disarms. If someone managed to grab your pistol while you were holding it with thumbs forward they could more easily disarm you. And your thumbs would automatically squeeze together in that instance anyway to try to prevent the disarm technique. Additionally, I’ve read many articles where the gun writer caused a stoppage using this technique. Why not just use a technique that is more natural and doesn’t put anything in the way of the slide operating?

  11. avatarSoutherner says:

    Does the range offer a special container for ripped off thumbnails and gas cut flesh?

    • avatarMike the Limey says:

      I’ve been using this hold for a couple of years now & have yet to lose a thumbnail or skin whilst shooting several different auto’s.
      I don’t let any appendages close to the front of the cylinder on revolvers for obvious reasons.

    • avatarporschespeed says:

      Thank for understanding the reality.

      If anyone needs to hold a pistol in this fashion they have no business holding a pistol. Ever. Nothing. But. Punks.

      This pathetic utter nonsense will go away in the next few years when replaced with some other ‘neato-tuxedo’ methodology proffered by whomever the guru-du-jour is. Having a finger that could interfere with the slide? Really?

      Meanwhile, actual pistolheads will continue to out shoot them.

      • avatarJason Steiner says:

        You know, competition shooting is big business these days. And there’s nothing in the rulebooks requiring any particular grip. If you have one that works better, you’re welcome to go out and show those punks a thing or two, and collect all the awards and endorsements you please. Just think of all the money you could make on instructional DVDs alone!

        Seriously, shooting is an evolutionary sport. It wasn’t all that long ago the FBI was still teaching bullseye style target shooting and hip shooting. It was only through trial-and-error that better techniques were developed. This is the current best technique. It is entirely conceivable that something better could come along.

        But it would have to be something that hasn’t been tried yet, because this one is currently ruling all the others when money and fame is on the line.

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