How Much Trigger Finger Should I Use on a Handgun?

trigger finger

Don’t position the trigger shoe on the first joint of your finger. (Dan Z for TTAG)

Watch TV, movies or just surf the gun web and you’ll see lots of images like the one at the top. You’ll see it plenty at the range, too. The shooter in that photo is using way too much finger in the trigger. 

how much trigger finger should i use

The shooter’s trigger finger is past the first knuckle on the trigger shoe…way too much (Dan Z for TTAG)

When you place that much of your finger across the trigger, it’s difficult to maintain good trigger control. It’s almost inevitable that you’ll pull the gun to one side (the right side if you’re right-handed). Your shot will land outside of your original point of aim.

Make no mistake: the proper grip and a good trigger pull is critical to accurate shooting — and the most likely weakness for any shooter.

It’s not difficult: assume a proper stance, get your sights on target, breathe and squeeze. Your trigger finger is the only part of your body that should move. (Unless you’re moving, which you should be in a defensive gun use.) The key is to always pull the trigger straight back towards you. That keeps your front sight steady and on target until the pistol goes bang.

For the correct trigger finger placement, many shooters and trainers advise using the middle of the first pad of your finger. But most shooters usually find they actually have better trigger control when the shoe is just ahead of — but not on — your trigger finger’s first joint.

That’s the first crease in your finger. Pull straight back and voila!

how much trigger finger should i use

You can practice proper index finger position on the trigger by dry firing at home (Dan Z for TTAG)

That said, there are two situations where that might not be possible.

First, if you’ve got really small hands. Your finger may not be long enough to get enough purchase…only your finger tip is on the trigger shoe. That means you have the wrong gun. There are handguns that enable our smaller-fingered friends (like the GLOCK 43 above). If you have the wrong gun, get another one.

Second, if you’ve got giant hands. In that case, again, you may have the wrong gun. I say “may” because there may not be a handgun capable of properly accommodating your lengthy trigger finger.

If you don’t or can’t change your gun to suit your small finger, or if you can’t find one that enables proper trigger placement for your humongous digit, training is the answer (both dry fire and live). It’s entirely possible to master a straight pull — and accurate shots — with either too little or too much trigger finger, as long as you train enough. And we suggest that you do.

comments

  1. avatar Mercutio says:

    Always been a problem for me. If I use the recommended grip, my palm stands so far out from the grip that there’s no controlling the recoil and even just aiming feels unstable. Yes, I have fairly big hands and very long fingers. Now the gun I used was a Glock 34 which ain’t the smallest in the world (tho it is kinda thin), but still way too unstable to do the 1st finger joint fandango. Best I could come up with was get a firm grip and use the 2nd joint, BUT don’t curl the finger around the trigger; leave it sticking out straight and pull straight back. Works for me but your mileage may vary.

    1. avatar BC says:

      For being the Truth About Guns there sure is some old BS spread around.

      The plain fact is it doesn’t matter at all how much finger is on the trigger. What matters is that it is 1) a straight pull rearward and 2) natural and repeatable.

      This is one of the worst articles TTAG has posted in some time.

    2. avatar Ron says:

      I also have long – large hands– so I installed thicker back Strap .So my hand fit the grip. Now my finger sets just Right on the trigger. Plus I have better shot placement– they were low and left– now dead on !

  2. avatar " keep yur paws off my dead guy" possum says:

    It depends on the gunm for me. Some like the RSBH with a hair trigger I just use the pad, others like this derringer, I use a crow bar and a come along.

    1. avatar frank speak says:

      depends on the gun…but, generally the less finger the better….

  3. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    Not anywhere as much as pictured,the middle of the pad of the index finger,centered.

  4. avatar Specialist38 says:

    What should be shown is how the pistol lines up with the forearm bone.

    Should be a straight line.

    What I see nowadays – especially with isosceles/ turret hold – is that the hand is rotated around to the right to get the finger on the trigger.

    This means the recoil does not go straight into the arm…not good IMO. It also means you have little chance to pull the trigger straight back.

    On revolvers I pull with the distal joint of my finger. Of course, I also use the distal joint on any pistol imhave the reach to do so.

    On the LCP, I use the distal joint but leave my fingertip straight so it does not contact the frame when I pull.

    You have to make it work for you so that your pull does not move the gun.

    1. avatar Manse Jolly says:

      “What should be shown is how the pistol lines up with the forearm bone.

      Should be a straight line.”

      Spot on correct.

    2. avatar Big Bill says:

      “What should be shown is how the pistol lines up with the forearm bone.
      Should be a straight line.”

      My shoulder is several inches offset from my head (I suspect most people are that way). Looking down the sights at my target, the handgun is not in a straight line with my forearm; it’s turned slightly to the right at the wrist. The only way to get a straight line is to turn my head 90°, hold my handgun straight out to the right (I’m right handed), and use one hand.
      Unless you are speaking about how the pistol lines up in an up and down direction. Then, since my head is several inches above the shoulder (and, again, I suspect most people are this way), when aiming, my handgun is pointing down from my forearm.
      Where is this straight line you speak of?
      I’m not trying to be condescending, I’m trying to figure out how you hold your gun.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        I use a Chaapman hold.
        https://www.pewpewtactical.com/shooting-stance-grip/

        You will notice that all the photos show the gun in line with the shooting forearm.

        Often people shoot isosceles and form a perfect triangle where the gun is not in line with the shooting arm, plenty of people shoot this way.

        1. avatar Big Bill says:

          I really like to be comfortable when I shoot. That stance is far from comfortable (the cons list even says it can strain neck muscles).
          Trying to put the head in that position while at the same time putting the shoulder in that position is not only unnatural, but uncomfortable. Notice the head is cocked down and to the left, while the shoulder is cocked up to the limit of it’s movement.
          Not something I would try to use for more than a few shots.

  5. avatar Imayeti says:

    With my big paws, I just shoot the dang target and when muscle memory gets used to the right place, I’m good.

  6. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    Finger tip no more then up to the top of the knuckle and for most triggers that’s too far.
    A lot depends on hand size in relation to the handgun in question. Lastly the poundage of your trigger itself.
    Too much finger on the trigger and your low and left. For a right hander.

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Yep..

      Need to pull it out a little………..😉

  7. avatar Cloud says:

    Glocks and 1911’s I use the pad. Double/single actions like P229 or M9 I have to use the first knuckle.

  8. avatar MMurcek says:

    The human hand is a miracle. So well designed (yes, I said it, I believe it) even casual users can get results with it. Learn how to use it well…

  9. avatar Scott W Sharp says:

    I got my glock 43x and i shot left out of the box but with my taurus pt111 g2 i was spot on. Talked to our mechanic at work he said empty gun dry fire gun see what happens. Sure shit i had to much on trigger there for i was pulling gun left every time so i trainded myself for each gun and now im dead on and love love my glock 43x now.. So ya trigger finger placement is BIG very BIG. Always learning everyday all day..

  10. avatar Tom T says:

    Pad of the tip. Push it straight back like pushing a button. Crooking the finger makes the wrist twist. Learned that 12 years old.

  11. avatar Joe in San Antonio says:

    As mentioned above trigger weight affects where I put my finger.

  12. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    For light SA triggers you want to keep the last bone in your index finger square to the trigger. For DA trigger pulls you want to curl the last bone around the trigger and use the joint. And practice rapid fire. I know that my .357 shoots on the low side with the hot 158grs. I keep for self defense to start with and I pull down a bit in DA, so I keep the front sight a bit elevated, which is plenty good for mini-silhouettes at 10-15 yards. Beyond that it’s probably SA only territory for me.

  13. avatar Arc says:

    I much prefer the middle pad, or even middle joint for shooting, unless I’m using a hair trigger.

  14. avatar Chiefton says:

    The alignment of your wrist to the handgun is as important as the finger in the trigger for accuracy. The adjustment of the wrist will affect the placement of the finger. Unless you have long fingers, like myself, wrapping your finger around the trigger (as in the first photo) will take your wrist out of alignment. Before your finger ever reaches for the trigger, make sure your grip is correct. Proper instruction is a great start.

  15. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    just the tip.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Is that what you told her?

  16. avatar Greg says:

    Everyone is different,use what works for you. And gets the rounds on target.

  17. avatar conrad says:

    As heard in the John Deere store, female desk help, female customer, female humor.
    “Please sign the pad with your finger”, “OK, that’s good for me”; and all the ladies chortled and grinned while the men waited in line.

  18. avatar Grumpster says:

    For most pistols I use the finger tip pad near the middle but for my Glock 19 and Walther PPS I use the first finger joint and that works really well for those two.

  19. avatar Cucamonga Jeff says:

    This guy has never watched Hickok45. That “bad technique” doesn’t seem to hinder him one bit.

    1. avatar Widdler says:

      I think his middle knuckle would hang way off the frame if he just used his finger tip, the guys what 6’8″? Like having 5 bananas hanging off your wrist.

  20. avatar 22winmag says:

    Strike Industries Finger Bump

  21. avatar Chris Mallory says:

    Since I only shoot 1911’s, I find using the middle of the first pad keeps my rounds on target. Using too much finger, I don’t pull to the right. When I use the joint or 2nd/middle pad, it always sends the round to the left of the POA. The very tip of the finger will pull the shot to the right.

  22. avatar Derfel Cadarn says:

    Whatever works best for YOU. There is no right or wrong only what works. If you are in a situation where a shooting so!union is the only option pull the trigger with a toe, what does it matter.

  23. avatar George Washington says:

    He’s right…. The middle of the first pad of your index finger…
    Apparently a lot of you “operators” have been trained wrong lol…. Or none at all…
    Some of the comments from you mouth breathers is shocking…. It’s shocking how FKN DUMB some of you are….
    Learn how to shoot properly or sell your pea shooter lol

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Well Martha….its obvious youve never shot a double action revolver with anything but caps.

      Even a 1911 with the short trigger is much easier for most to control with their distal joint shooting at speed. Using the middle of the pad has a finger on a large hand crooked like an elbow.

      As long as you pull the trigger without moving the gun, it doesnt matter how you pull.

  24. avatar Big Bill says:

    For most of us, our trigger fingers remain the same length once we stop growing.
    Yet, handgun manufacturers keep making their product with different sized grips. This means your trigger finger won’t reach the trigger the same way on different guns. (Notice that many offer different palm swell pieces on their guns? This is why.)
    On my Glock 17 G4, I put one of those silicone rubber grip covers on and it helped a lot. My hands are bigger than most. That means my trigger finger will not line up comfortably (and it should be comfortable to shoot with) and look like those pictures. And yet I shoot well (just well, not really good by any means).
    One point is this: while proper finger placement is important (insert improper comment here), it differs not just from person to person, but from gun to gun for each person.
    Another point is this: for each gun, practice is important. You must find what works for that gun. The proper grip for my 1911 is not the same proper grip for my Ruger Wrangler. And the trigger finger placement differs, too. It has to be, because the guns are so different in the grip area.
    So, yes, proper placement of the shooting hand and trigger finger is important, but that proper placement will differ for different people, and for different guns. Practice makes the difference.

  25. avatar Kyle says:

    I seem to find the heavier the trigger, the more finger i use. heavy double action revolvers I’m deep on second pad. little 4 lb triggers, first pad.

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