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Some thoughts on one-handed shooting relative to firearms design from gun guru John Farnham in a piece called Pistol grip size/shape, revisited [via]:

These sage comments from ATSA Staff: “Over the years of the NTI (National Tactical Invitational), we have done many instances of short-distance, surprise shooting that required sudden presentations of holstered pistols. When engaged in live-fire exercises, and confronting inanimate targets at close range, virtually all Practitioners are observed to use some variation of a two-handed grip and stance. However, in conditions where the target is another human (Force-on Force), Practitioners often draw and fire strong-hand only. So, we decided to do a relative-accuracy study of both styles. A G19 Glock and an S&W, M&P Compact (9mm) were used for this Test.

Installed on the M&P was the smallest of the three backstraps available. The Test was comprised of multiple draw-and-immediately-fire drills, five strong-hand only and five using a two-hand grip. Distance was six meters. With the G19, shots fired by most shooters, while shooting one-handed, were biased to the support-hand side of the target. When shooting two-handed, shots were significantly better centered on the body midline. With the S&W, shots were centered on the body midline, no matter which technique was used.

My conclusion is that wide-body pistol grips, while currently all the rage, can represent significant accuracy compromises when there is a need to employ the pistol using only one hand. Pistol grips that more resemble a flattened oval appear to us to be consistent with superior accuracy, again when only one hand is on the grip as the pistol is employed.”

Comment: Even I am amazed at the number of shots that are fired via strong-hand only during the NTI. Statistics from police shooting appear to support that observation, even though we’re all trained extensively to draw and fire using a two-handed technique. I’m not at all sure I understand why! I’ve always found flat-gripped pistols (like the 1911) to be more inherently accurate than round-grip ones, at least for serious shooting. We are apparently irreversibly into double-column pistols, but pointability obviously continues to be directly linked to the degree to which the grip resembles a flattened oval. /John

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  1. One handed shooting is where I think revolvers shine over semi auto pistols. The grip is more toward one handed shooting and no need to worry about the cycling that can be found with semi auto’s and “limp wristing”.

  2. Find a bullseye match in your area. All one handed, all the time. Whatever pistol you carry, you owe it to yourself to be able handle that pistol even if you’ve only got one hand. I alternate at my local match, one week I shoot right handed, the next I shoot left. Scores don’t seem to be noticeably different.

    • EXCELLENT that you practice with both hands! You would be amazed at how many shooters never practice with their weak hand unless a specific match they compete in requires it. I’ve practiced with both hands (seperately) for over 30 years.

  3. As I have often stated, at some point, increasing the speed of shooting increases the gun’s control over the shooter. Meaning: at slow shooting speeds, it is easy to control the gun. At higher speeds, it is more difficult and the gun starts to control us. That is one reason, I suggest people practice shoot fast as they may shoot fast in a gun fights. Additionally, the better the gun fits our hand the easier it is to control it under speed.

    Same with the size of guns. Large guns are easy to control two-handed, but may not be easy to control one-handed. Farnam corrected observed that in F on F we see lots more 1-handed shooting that is typically experienced in practice. Another reason for shooting 1-handed is a injury to the support hand/arm, blocking, striking, dealing with a 3rd party, dealing with 911 on the phone, light switches, door knobs, etc.

    While you might think: just drop the phone/coffee/bag and shoot two handed, we have taught ourselves over decades of conditioning, not to drop things. That’s the reason, one of my exercises that I run students through is to have an object in their hand, drop it and shoot.

    The result of all this is that there is a high likelihood of us shooting one handed in a gun fight and therefore we need to practice it as well.

  4. See also this portion from the Book of Five Rings (old Samurai manual by Miyamoto Musashi who killed a lot of folks)

    “If you hold a sword with both hands, it is difficult to wield it freely to left and right, so my method is to carry the sword in one hand. This does not apply to large weapons such as the spear or halberd, but swords and companion swords can be carried in one hand. It is encumbering to hold a sword in both hands when you are on horseback, when running on uneven roads, on swampy ground, muddy rice fields, stony ground, or in a crowd of people. To hold the long sword in both hands is not the true Way, for if you carry a bow or spear or other arms in your left hand you have only one hand free for the long sword. However, when it is difficult to cut an enemy down eith one hand, you must use both hands. It is not difficult to wield a sword in one hand; the Way to learn this is to train with two long swords, one in each hand. It will seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first. Bows are difficult to draw, halberds are difficult to wield; as you become accustomed to the bow so your pull will become stronger. When you become used to wielding the long sword, you will gain the power of the Way and wield the sword well.”

    Page I drew the above from (and full text of the book is here: )

  5. With movement, two handed shooting is really only best when shooting to the right handed shooter’s 7-11 positions (left handed is reversed obviously).

    With any running type movement, but gun is absolutely more stable in a one handed grip. Unload and try it at home. With two hands, run toward a target and you will see the gun to an infinity sigh around the intended target. Try it on handed and there is less movement.

    I also recommend this book for those interested in this subject:

    Roger Phillips has studied and drilled point shooting with movement extensively. Unfortunately, the book is filled with errors both spelling and grammatical, and greatly needs a decent editor. I think it is over priced for the quality of the binding and writing…..but, there is definitely gold in the material.

  6. A reprint of Fairbairn’s “Shooting to Live with the One-Handed Gun” was the first book I ever read about pistol craft. It is an excellent early system and left me wondering, later, what the fuss was about with Cooper. Applegate, on the other hand, seemed to take one step forward, then one back. “Combat” pistol shooting was a very small world in the ’50’s and early 60’s. It exploded in the 1980 and ’90’s, didn’t it? (Enos, Leatham, Jarrett, Koenig, and more) I can’t see one-handed shooting separate from force-on-force close-in fighting, which is much of DGU. From Fairbairn up to today, the technique of drawing and getting to the first shot has to be based on one-handed technique until it becomes clear that two-hands is possible, safe. That is all natural. F on F is about speed and improvising without hesitation, isn’t it. When accuracy and multiple targets come into play (just as in Fairbairn’s work) two hands comes into its own. With the so-called Modern Technique I think we saw an abandonement of the best in Fairbairn (isosceles, footwork, the running shoot-house (at first)). Musashi? Yuh…. that would be nice, to have his improvisational ability and speed! laugh. I agree that it is time handguns came into the dojo, or the dojo was brought to the range. That is happening. Less 25 yard paper-punching. More combined defensives. But, laugh, two hands on the gun when possible. Who doesn’t like Ayoob’s technique with the snubby?

  7. As I have stated in other areas I must shoot one handed. I watch guys with the two handed race guns non-sense and challenge them to shoot against me one handed. They lose! They make excuses and walk away knowing that in a real fight they will die.

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