Ask Foghorn: What’s the Right Way to Grip a Handgun?

William asks:

I have heard of a lot of different techniques but I don’t really understand the advantage of any of them. What are the preferred grips and stances these days, what are the pros and cons? I know I probably have other issues, but I figure I should start with just holding the thing correctly. I would appreciate the help.

This whole “trying to clear out the queue” thing isn’t working. Every time I publish another Ask Foghorn piece and cross it off my list, two more hit my inbox. I’m losing ground. Oh well, such is the life of a TTAG writer. On with the answer . . .

For semi-auto handguns, I keep getting the same answer no matter who I ask. The best and most accurate grip is achieved thusly:

1. Grip the gun firmly with your dominant hand. Your hand should be as far up the gun as possible with the webbing of your hand firmly in contact with the top of the backstrap.

You’ll notice that there is a rather large part of the grip that is left open. The next step is going to be to fill this area with your other hand.

2. Place your other hand alongside the first, rotated about 45 degrees forward compared to the gun. This will place your thumb perfectly in line with the barrel, and should be encouraged to contact the side of the frame. With the palm of your hand you are going to fill that vacant area, contacting the actual grip of the firearm as much as possible. The last step will be to wrap your fingers around your other hand.

The thumb of your weapon hand should be ON TOP of the thumb of your non-weapon hand. This is far more comfortable than the alternative.

For a semi-auto handgun, this gives you the maximum level of control and recoil reduction for your gun. For wheelguns, the same basic process is used except the non-weapon thumb is pulled into the grip instead of extending along the side of the frame.

If you extend your thumb past the cylinder gap, you’re gonna have a bad time of it.

For the stance, the best bet is to place your feet shoulder width apart, face the target directly and extend your arms until they’re just barely bent. A little bend in the knee and you’re good to go.

There are, as always, alternatives. But having tried them all, this is the one I prefer for everything from bullseye shooting to USPSA. Of course, the peanut gallery is sure to prove me wrong.

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