Proper Handgun Grip

The Problem

I’ve seen too many instances lately in my classes of people not employing a proper grip technique.  While there isn’t just one way to grip a semi-automatic handgun properly, there certainly is one way not to grip a semi-automatic handgun. “So what’s the big deal if I don’t grip it properly,” you might ask.  Well the answer is, that if you grip it the wrong way you can end up with a severely cut (or even broken) thumb.  This can turn an otherwise pleasurable range session into a less than fun experience.

The Improper Grip

First, lets define strong hand, and weak hand.  The strong hand is the hand you will have your primary grip with.  The weak hand is your other hand.  For me, I’m right-handed, so I grip my handgun first with my right hand, and for a two-handed grip, support with my left hand.  Thus, my strong hand is my right, and my weak hand is my left.  So now that we have that clarified, let’s discuss the actual grip.  What often happens is that the shooter will grip the handgun with his strong hand, and then overlap his weak hand on the rear of the pistol with the weak hand thumb crossing over the strong hand on the top / rear of the grip as in the image below:

Improper Handgun Grip Image

The problem with this grip is that when the round is discharged in the chamber the slide will cycle back.  If your thumb is crossed like this, then the slide will have a strong chance to impact your weak hand causing a deep cut, or in worse cases a broken thumb.  In addition to the risk of injury, this grip is not as steady, and therefore leads to poorer accuracy than some of the more preferred, and definitely safer, grips.

The Proper Grip

There are multiple grips which one could safely employ, and you have to choose one that works well for you.  My personal favorite is the grip where the weak hand is placed with overlapping fingers on the front strap of the grip and strong hand, and where the weak hand thumb rides parallel to and slightly under the strong hand thumb.  This grip is superior in several ways to the improper grip mentioned above.  First, it allows you to be more steady in your shooting as it tends to reduce the effect of your weapon being pulled to the left or right as you squeeze the trigger.  Secondly, it allows you recover more quickly from recoil and to re-acquire your sight picture more effectively.  Third, it uses the weak hand as a support only, and not as a primary grip on the weapon.  An example of this grip technique can be seen in the image below:

Proper Handgun Grip Image

As you can see the rear of the handgun is completely clear of your weak hand to give the slide plenty of clearance to cycle without risk of injury.  The only caveat to this grip is to ensure that you don’t ride your thumb up too high and hit any serrations that exist on the slide near the front that might contact the thumb when it cycles.  This just takes a bit of practice and adjustment based on the hand size and the weapon in question.


The bottom line is that we want to stay safe on the range so that we can enjoy our session, and a quick way to turn around an exciting trip to the range is to start out with an injury that could easily have been avoided.  I recommend practicing this grip technique every chance you get.  No matter where you practice, please employ proper gun safety. My recommendation is to practice with a model gun (blue gun or similar), or an unloaded airsoft gun.  If you absolutely must use a real gun at home, then please make sure it is unloaded and pointed in a safe direction at all times.  If you practice this gun grip technique, I think you’ll find that it improves your accuracy at the range once you get it down to muscle memory.

Well folks, that’s all for now, and remember to always watch your six!

2 Responses to “Proper Handgun Grip”

  1. The only problem I can see with your technique is that you’re holding a Glock, and not a 1911.


  2. LOL, thats a fair point. My next purchase will definitely be a Springfield TRP, and then I’ll update my technique.

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