Guns for Beginners: Weaver vs. Isosceles Stance

A previous post talked about stance, suggesting that new shooters consider the pros and cons of the bladed or Weaver Stance and the isosceles or triangular stance before choosing one or the other. Just a quick reminder: the isosceles stance is not a bad (i.e. inherently unstable) stance (remembering that ANY stance is acceptable in a gunfight, where you might have to shoot from an awkward position). In the demo above, the instructor knocks TheRykerDane off-balance when he adopts the isosceles stance. That doesn’t have to be the case . . .

If you bend your knees and put your weight forward (sticking your butt out) you’re just as stable if not more stable than you would be in a Weaver stance. The big advantage of an isosceles stance: it’s easier, more intuitive to line-up your shot. Think of it is a “tank” stance. Your arms form a turret that you can aim at the target, which you can direct in any direction quickly and easily. The isosceles also allows you greater flexibility for moving left or right, and more support for the gun. Your mileage may vary, but you should try both stances in a range of circumstances before choosing what work best for you.

comments

  1. avatar Dustin says:

    With handguns being secondary to rifles in my shooting skills hierarchy, I prefer a stance that is similar for both.

    The Weaver stance creates a completely different set of variables, and, frankly, sucks for handling heavy recoil and encourages a newbie to retract in advance….

    1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

      By ‘heavy recoil’ I assume you mean heavier than .44 magnum.

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        We got a badass here!

    2. avatar Another Robert says:

      You shoot long guns from an isoceles?

      1. avatar Paladin says:

        You don’t?

        1. avatar Another Robert says:

          No, I shoot long guns pretty much side-on–like pretty much everybody I’ve seen shoot long guns, including all the 4-H target shooting teams my boys were on or competed with. And I certainly don’t shoot long guns with the rifle held directly in front of my chest with my arms forming an isoceles triangle with the gun at the apex.

  2. avatar TravisP says:

    DUe to a shoulder injury I can only use the the Weaver stance, but honestly from what I’ve seen a good shooter is a good shooter regardless of the stance. The real benefit I see from the isoceles is you are wearing body armor, especially plates, the biggest section of armor is facing the target.

  3. avatar jwm says:

    What’s the stance called where I’m in my BarcoLounger covered in cheetos dust with a mountain dew in my left mitt and a S&W in my right?

    1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

      Same here, but it’s a beer on my right and a Ruger GP100 on my left.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Beer ain’t healthy for you, man.

        1. avatar William Burke says:

          Poppycock. Beer was invented by the ancient Egyptians as a dietary supplement!

        2. avatar jwm says:

          Supplement, WB. Not the main course.

        3. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

          Hops are full of antioxidants to beer is actually a cancer fighter.

        4. avatar Timmy! says:

          JWM, beer’s just liquid bread, man. Of course there are those who’ll tell you bread is bad for you so I guess I might have shot myself in the proverbial foot.

    2. avatar Gunr says:

      Wow! There for a moment I thought my wife slipped in here and did a post about me. The only difference is that it’s “water” plain old water, can’t handle too much sugar, or the AC1 level gets to high.
      I don’t keep the gun in hand (that’s for the remote) but it’s inches a way, and if your wondering how I get to it, when I have to go to the can, I always have the mini magnum in my pocket.

    3. avatar Don says:

      OFWGR stance……

      1. avatar jwm says:

        old fat white guy recliner stance. Chuckled, maybe even chortled a little at that. I’m so stealing it.

    4. avatar Cliff H says:

      I believe that’s referred to as the “Sorry, Dude, wrong house!” stance.

    5. avatar James in Florida says:

      Isn’t that one called the steve Mcqueen

    6. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

      OMG! I’m doing the same thing…

      Except, it’s not a Mountain Dew, but a fine Scotch. And, I’m not really setting in a recliner, so much as on a bench. And, the S&W is actually my manhood… And, umm… wait, this doesn’t look like my house… Am I in a park…?

      Oh God, I’ve done it again! I, eh, need to go!

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Don’t you just hate when that happens.

    7. avatar Aaron says:

      Could be the Homer

    8. That would be the “Willy Lunchmeat”

  4. avatar 80 D says:

    I believe that’s an adaptation of the Scarface wherein you’ve substituted Mountain Dew for a mountain of cocaine.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Say hello to my little, carbonated, friend.

  5. avatar Ralph says:

    you should try both stances in a range of circumstances before choosing what work best for you

    That’s the key — experimentation. For me, a modified Weaver stance works best for shooting and is very intuitive after years of playing baseball, snowboarding, walking and other activities that place one foot ahead of the other. I also tried the iso stance and it worked poorly for shooting, but for me it’s perfect for taking a dump in the woods. YMMV.

    1. avatar Tile floor says:

      I use isosceles because it makes your body squared to target, which is preferable for wearing body Armor.

      Weaver is legit though, I hate when people say their way is best and all others suck

  6. avatar Another Robert says:

    I’m cross-dominant, Weaver helps me bring my left eye into play over my right hand. OTOH, I’m pretty much a point-shooting disciple for SD situations, so close in I tend to square up facing the target.

  7. avatar Nota Hipster says:

    “If you bend your knees and put your weight forward (sticking your butt out) you’re just as stable if not more stable than you would be in a Weaver stance.”

    Except that factual geometry completely disagrees with your claim: True.

    lol.

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      Lee Marvin in “The Big Red One” as a soldier mounts his bayonet: “What the hell is that for? If you’re close enough to stab him, you’re close enough to shoot him!”

      Seems like if your opponent is close enough to knock you off balance you have waited way too long to take your shot, whichever stance you are using.

      I explained in my comments to the previous post on this topic what my former SEAL instructor taught us about the isosceles stance, and why. I had always used Weaver, even in the Army, but in less than 30 minutes Rocky had me able to draw from holster and fire two rock-steady shots to center of mass in 1.75 seconds, consistently. For my money, now, Weaver is great for stability and accuracy if you’ve got a lot of time. For longer range shots from cover I might consider it a good choice. For quick, CQB, I’ll stick with the triangle. As noted, YMMV.

  8. avatar Pete says:

    Pfft, I just one-hand it.

    1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

      Don’t forget to hold your pistol sideways.

      1. avatar WRH says:

        Accuracy is improved if you hold it over your head pointing downward and yell something akin to “Shoulda had my money, fool!”

      2. avatar Accur81 says:

        If you push your hand forward real fast while shooting sideways, you can an extra 20-30 FPS to your rounds. But that’s just an estimate because I’ve never got anything close enough to my chronograph to get it to register.

        1. avatar Pete says:

          I hold it vertically, not sideways, and be like “brrrrappp”.

    2. avatar ken says:

      And a one handed stance is perfect if the attacker is close enough to push you over, like here! ALL stances have a purpose, the key is situational awareness.
      If I’m close enough to a bad guy for him to touch me, I will have my firearm tucked into my side one handed, with my off hand out in front to ward off attacks. One thing you need to be sure of in that situation, is to not shoot your own off hand. Know your level of manual dexterity. If that happens to you you can always block the melee attack, and then fire at muzzle contact range. There is a school of thought that says there is no reason for a gun at knife ranges, but it is also true that bullets have more shocking power than fists or knives. Esp. if you are a weaker individual(relative to the attacker), or untrained in melee fighting. Always attempt to adapt to the situation.

      1. avatar Pete says:

        Good advice. I do it primarily because it’s simple and feels good (man). Before doing much shooting I thought the thumb hooked around the belt was too theatrical, but it just goes there on its own!

        I mean, obviously there’s limits, but a 44 magnum or whatever is a different class of thing than a 9/40/45 anyway.

  9. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    I generally shoot from a weaver stance at the range and I think it’s more accurate for me, but I’ve found in my dry draw and fire practice that when I pick a target straight ahead or to the right I naturally go to isosceles instead of changing my stance. If you’re close enough for the bad guy to reach your pistol you definitely need to drop back into a weaver stance and protect your gun. Probably a good idea to practice both.

    I read somewhere that with DA revolvers you should pull the trigger with the first joint on your finger. It seems easier to keep the sight steady in DA.

  10. avatar DaveR says:

    A poorly set up Weaver (with the weight on the rear foot) will be just as unstable as the poorly set up isosceles in the video.

    That said, Weaver is superior for heavy recoiling handguns such that you can allow the gun to recoil across your body.

  11. avatar David says:

    With all due respect to everyone who has posted no action pistol shooter in the world uses the Weaver stance. Massad Ayoob has addressed all of this either/or stance in his book: Stressfire. You can use either stance depending on the situation. And his method is fluid and you can cover 360 degrees without moving your feet. It is a worthy read for anyone who wants to improve their ability to employ a handgun of any sort.

    1. avatar One-eye Jack says:

      ^^^^^^ Try both. Modify to suit yourself. Concentrate on hitting POA, reassess. Concentrate on hitting POA. Rinse, repeat as necessary.

    2. avatar RenegadeDave says:

      Massad Ayoob is no longer relevant in discussion of modern pistol technique. He’s exceptionally relevant in the foundation he laid for others to build on, but respectfully the pistol game is far ahead from where it was when he was atop it. Still a “decent” competitor in his own right, but he’s nowhere near the top these days.

      Check out material by Ben Stoeger, Robert “Bob” Vogel, Mike Seeklander, Travis Tomasie, Travis Haley, etc.

  12. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    I find Isosceles too dang slow and use some sort of Weaver or one handed stance. Quite frankly, for self defense, you probably will wind up using a crappy one handed stance at short distance.

  13. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

    What’s the stance where you’re running?

    Yeah, I use that one

  14. avatar Mark Chamberlain says:

    With the advent of the dash camera in police cruisers, it was revealed through numerous police shootings caught on video that although cops were trained to shoot weaver, when the SHTF, cops would square to their attacker and shoot with both eyes open in an isosceles stance. All that muscle memory drilled on the range could not overcome thousands of years of survival instinct under combat stress. A person will square to his attacker, and bend forward in a crouch, hands will immediately go up to protect the head and neck, both eyes open wide with tunnel vision setting in with a loss of up to 70% of peripheral vision. All of the focus is now on the perpetrator of this sudden attack. Auditory exclusion sets in. Gross motor skills dramatically increase with heart rate at the expense of fine and complex motor skills. For the next 10 to 20 seconds, this person will be the strongest and fastest he will ever be. If this is how we naturally react under combat stress, then maybe our shooting stance should mimic our instinct. This is why isosceles slowly gained prominence among LE and military training systems.

    1. avatar Ted Unlis says:

      Most competent LE defensive firearms training programs stopped teaching Weaver stance by the early to mid 80’s.

  15. avatar JohnF says:

    I have had over 25 years of martial arts training and the “front stance” or “archer’s stance” is so much like the Weaver stance that it is what I go into in any kind of a force-on-force situation. It just feels natural. I tried to learn the Isosceles stance, but it just never felt comfortable to me. I do like the old FBI crouch for point shooting, though.

    1. avatar CarlosT says:

      Interesting. My exposure is not nearly as extensive, but it’s been through wrestling and Aikido, and isosceles felt natural, obvious even. In contrast, Weaver is something I have to arrange my body into.

    2. avatar Mark N. says:

      Agreed. Boxers don’t square up, nor archers, nor fencers, nor most wrestlers, or even football linemen. For most fighters, the lead hand is for defense/jabbing, and the rear hand for attack (except fencers of course who do not use their rear hand unless fighting with buckler/shield/dagger, when the stance is reversed). So shooting should follow the same pattern for defensive gun use, and this stance further reduces frontal exposure. (Having body armor changes that since protecting the trunk is not so much of an issue.) Also, standing square to an attacker allows him to push you over, while a “Weaver” crouch allows the back leg to act as a brace.

      1. avatar CarlosT says:

        From what I’ve seen and have been taught, modern isosceles is basically a judo or wrestling stance while you hold a gun in front of your face. Those stances are very stable in all directions.

        They’re not completely square, but the lead foot is only slightly ahead of the back foot, and both knees are bent. There’s a slight forward lean and the weight is on the balls of the feet. There’s very little excess muscle tension anywhere in the body, and you’re ready to move any way you need to.

  16. avatar David says:

    I am so not a fan of “stances”. If “footwork is everything” as is often said then you are telegraphing everything in addition to limiting your movement. I dislike the guy’s judgement but Brett Favre really was dangerous anywhere on the field from any position . . . and the southpaw jinx is real. Arrhythmic fighters often get it done where polished ones do not. If you are moving (which you should be) then you are not “stancing”.

    http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2015/11/robert-farago/guns-for-beginners-move-then-shoot/

  17. avatar Mk10108 says:

    Any “stance” is fine as a learning foundation. The crossover is adopting whatever position is comfortable that produces results.

  18. avatar DJ says:

    Actually had an instructor describe it using that exact tank analogy: You want to move like a tank, and your torso is the turret and your legs are the tracks. You don’t have to move in the same direction the turret is pointing. Taught us about lateral movement to get off the “X”.

  19. avatar Accur81 says:

    I think I’m a wisoceles guy.

    1. avatar RenegadeDave says:

      “Modern isosceles”

  20. avatar James Lee says:

    Enough of this fighting stance nonsense. What if the push is from the side? Then is isoceles better because of that? If the attacker is close enough to push you it doesn’t matter what stance you are using – you are reacting to the attack the wrong way, or you just completely didn’t see the push coming. A adult human’s muscle and mass is more than enough to tame any practical defensive caliber. The purpose of the grip and stance is to maximize the speed with which the sights return back into place. No more no less. It’s about the hands, the arms and the pectoral muscle. Again, you should not be standing still in a gunfight. Thus there is no point in thinking about the stance. If you ever get to stand perfectly, which i doubt anyone will in a gunfight, use isoceles for maximum frontal situation awareness and body armor coverage. Otherwise, run, duck, hide, and shoot however you can.

    1. avatar RenegadeDave says:

      “Stance” does have bearing on how the body is oriented, which is why it keeps coming up. getting your grip correct is priority one, and it’s suboptimal to grip a gun properly in a weaver stance with your support arm down at a 45 degree.

    2. avatar Ted Unlis says:

      Good advice James Lee. The only thing I would add is that if the deadly threat has advanced to arms length or closer, the proper way to deploy and fire the handgun is a technique commonly referred to as “anchor point shooting” which is the weapon hand and butt of the pistol anchored to your side just below the rib line with the pistol canted slightly away from the body which prevents obstruction of pistol slide movement, and the reaction hand or fist held firmly in the center of the chest to keep the free hand and arm clear of point blank rounds fired on target.

  21. avatar Anonymoose says:

    My range won’t let me shoot from my favorite position (supine) any more. 🙁

  22. avatar GusMac says:

    For speed at shorter ranges where your arms can confidently be extended isosceles is the choice if the situation allows. Of course you need to be proficient with the method as well. For maximum precision with plenty of time and a normal heart rate I am able to make more accurate shots using the Weaver stance..

    And while competition is not self defense there is some carry over. There is no debate among pros that have to shoot for speed.. Miculek has a good video on YouTube explaining the trouble one will have trying to compete using a Weaver stance against everyone else that is using isosceles

    Of course you are not always guaranteed the luxury of using a preferred stance in a gunfight just like you may not be able to use more than one hand, your dominant hand or use your sights at all. Some of those elements might not even be likely in a real DGU. A proper draw from my every day carry rig and firing from isosceles is still not something I would consider leaving out of my training.

    1. avatar ken says:

      It all depends upon how you define the Isosceles vs the Weaver stance. They have each been so modified that no one seems to know which is even which anymore INCLUDING Micelek!
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRvO_1B5dfc
      This is probably the video you referred to, but there is no way to know for sure since you did not include the source. In this video he clearly calls his stance the basic Isosceles, but it is clearly NOT. To form the triangle requires that the elbows be locked, which his are not. Locked elbows will give great difficulties in recoil recovery.
      I can only see one way to address all this confusion, and that is this:
      All the modified Weaver’s are based upon having the off hand elbow more bent than the strong arm, and all the triangle stances are more square to the target. Forget all the fancy footwork that you may have been taught, the stances are about the arms, because any footwork works exactly the same with both stances, its just that the target will be slightly off the body centerline with the weaver stance.
      All of this ‘which is better’ BS is exactly that…. BS. Its only there as comment bait. The same as the ‘which gun is the best’ bait. There is no one best, or that one would have dominated the market long ago. All that exists are many different varieties of possible solutions, for a great variety of potential problems.

  23. avatar JSJ says:

    Probably would be better served practicing firing one-handed, including your weak hand, because reality is that’s what you’ll probably be doing. Would be nice if you see attackers coming from 25 feet and can square off. More likely you’ll be surprised from behind or a relatively short distance and using at least one arm to shove the perp away.

  24. avatar Bob says:

    “If your shooting stance is good, you’re probably not moving fast enough nor using cover correctly.” – Marine Corps Rules for Gunfighting

  25. avatar Skeptical_Realist says:

    Weaver vs. Isosceles needs to die, just like 9 vs. 45.

    Nobody who actually shoots really uses pure Weaver or pure isosceles. Modern stance is somewhere in between.

    1. avatar peirsonb says:

      9mm vs. .45 DID die. We got together and agreed: either is acceptable, as long as it’s not .40.

    2. avatar RenegadeDave says:

      Disagree, anyone who really shoots grips the gun correctly, which forces your arms to be roughly ISO held infront of your dominant eye. Legs end up wherever they end up, but your “nose is over your toes”.

  26. avatar DaveC says:

    Huh?? Not .40? I missed that discussion. .40 is my EDC. Had a good friend who is DEA and that was his go to carry. Anyway…it’s just like this discussion of preferred stance. What works best for you? I use a modified isosceles with my right foot back (I’m right handed). In my 22 years in the military the isosceles was our norm. However, when we practiced shooting around/over obstacles it was whatever kind of stance you needed to do the job. I think if I were to draw down on a bad guy I’d go to my norm, at least for the first instance – unless I was running/ducking/covering. Then all bets are off. I’m standing/kneeling/whatever to get the job done. Lets face it, for most people they are practicing at a range. They do not have the ability to practice “real” scenarios on a regular basis where they have to move around. So, a still stance of some sort is required. Of course, many ranges offer various classes that provide practicing these scenarios. Problem is, it is usually a one time class and not an ongoing practice session. So, on a Saturday morning you take the class and then never get to use those skills again. That said, the best bet for the average person who is not involved in competition or law enforcement or the military is simply to find a stance that works well for them, practice that stance becoming proficient with it and obviously their weapon, and practice – practice – practice.

  27. avatar Detroiter says:

    Im cross eye dominant. I was a linebacker in high school. I find isosceles stance makes it much easier to aim and bring my dominant eye to target.

    The isoceles is nearly exactly the same stance taught to line backers. Easy to move in any direction quickly and very. Very. Stable. Provided your weight is on the balls of your feet, an you stick your butt out!

    1. I am cross eye dominant as well but I have shot with my right eye looking at the the sight picture ever since taking up shooting 3 years ago. When I practice left handed, I use my left eye on the sights. I made that choice on day one and I don’t even think about it. It is natural to me because I shoot with both eyes open and first look at the target. I see two images of my gun and bring the closest image up to which ever side I am shooting with.
      Eye dominance, unless you have weaker vision in one eye, is determined in the brain, not the eyeball. You can focus just as well with either eye so I use my right eye as a right handed shooter. Whenever I try to make a precise shot, my experience has been that closing my off eye makes no difference in accuracy. A blurry picture perfectly aligned is no worse than a clearer picture perfectly aligned.
      What were we talking about? Oh yeah…stance. It makes no difference. You can use either eye in any stance with a very slight adjustment. Your eyes are so close together that a handgun extended at arms length can be held in front of either eye with out any trouble at all.

  28. avatar PPGMD says:

    Repeat after me, for accuracy stance doesn’t matter. Stance only affects your ability to make follow up shots quickly, and your ability to quickly transition target to target.

    For accuracy the only two things that matter are trigger control and sight alignment.

  29. avatar RenegadeDave says:

    All due respect to Hickok45, this isn’t a discussion anymore. Anyone who’s shot off a square range knows weaver is so 90’s. Weaver is less flexible and less explosive getting into and out of. None of the top level talent shoots weaver for those reasons. Iso also allows for a competition/thumbs forward vise grip where the support hand can really crank down on the grip which is necessary for controlling the gun.

    I didn’t realize this was a discussion at this point. It’s not difficult to line up, it just takes a couple tries and rotating your elbows in/out to figure out where it needs to be to get a good interface with the trigger.

    People who still believe “60/40” grip shoot weaver.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      No I don’t. Weaver doesn’t work for me. 60/40 certainly does.

      1. avatar RenegadeDave says:

        60/40 is so nebulous and too much to think about.

        “hard as you can without getting trigger finger freeze” and “hard as you can” fixed my grip.

        At the end of the day the support hand does grip harder than the dominant hand, but kind of tough to quantify, would you not agree?

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          You make a good point. The value of the 60/40 rule for me is that it reminds me to engage my support hand grip. I don’t have a problem squeezing with my dominant hand, but this reminds me I have a left hand too.

  30. avatar jwm says:

    Wow. 60 comments. This stance thing really had legs.

    1. A better article title would have been:
      Guns for Beginners: Maintain Balance

    2. avatar peirsonb says:

      I c wut u did thar.

  31. avatar Joshua Cappuccilli says:

    Jerry Miculek – the most successful competition shooter in history – uses only the triangle stance. He makes a good case for it being the better of the two stances in all scenarios. I learned the Weaver stance as a child and have always shot from it with moderate success. Since watching Miculek’s shooting videos for pointers I am working on shooting from the triangle. I cannot find a reason to dispute this man’s opinion.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Mr. Cappuccilli, that is the isocoles stance. It refers to an isocoles triangle. Mr. Miculek is pretty clear that he used to use the Weaver, but he learned better.

  32. avatar Ted Unlis says:

    Check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChSazF41q-s , the old dude in the video is sharing his wisdom on the topic of shooting a pistol. At 4:15 in the video the old dude is discussing proper stance and makes this comment; “THE WEAVER STANCE, WHICH WE ALL DID BACK IN THE DAY WHEN WE DIDN’T KNOW ANY BETTER”. The old dude’s name is Jerry Miculek.

    There’s a reason that for defensive reactive shooting, most top shooters and competent defensive firearms instructors got away from the outdated and less practical Weaver stance years ago and went with a squared up isosceles or modified isosceles stance, only a few obstinate holdouts (Gunsite Academy) still cling to the Weaver stance.

    If you listen to and comprehend Jerry Miculek’s advice on proper stance beginning at around 3:30 in the video, he explains why the isosceles or similar variant is an efficient, practical, and stable stance. The isosceles or modified isosceles is not only the natural stance to assume in a sudden OH $#IT encounter, it also affords an advantage of no unnecessary movement or time wasted engaging a target.

    It was established long ago that under stress in real world armed encounters, even hardcore Weaver trained shooters usually revert to isosceles or a similar variant of the isosceles.

    There’s nothing wrong with using the Weaver stance for hunting or pure target shooting, but it’s a bad habit if you’re really serious about practical training for real world defensive shooting scenarios.

    1. avatar Rich S says:

      I agree completely on variants of isosceles (and I began with weak-hand-in-the-rear-pocket in the 60s).
      And I also agree with regard to the gunsite academy people, who are sometimes strident:
      http://jeffcoopersfivefactsof1911life.blogspot.com/ “the isosceles, a girlish and Gumby-like stance . . . . [is] life-threatening to the shooter”

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