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G&A Debate: Isosceles or Weaver Stance?

by Guns & Ammo TV   |  October 9th, 2012 37

As far as shooting stances go, the Isosceles and Weaver are probably the two most popular — but which one is better? Guns & Ammo TV’s Richard Nance takes a look at the two shooting stances to help decide which one is right for you. Check out this exclusive video, and be sure to tune in to GATV on The Sportsman Channel.


  • Cpl. N

    Great Video! I am a LE instructor and encourage my students the same way. The isosceles stance gives you a much better turret to swivel from in order to engage targets from both sides equally. Combined with the additional body armor coverage it is hard to beat. Many modern patrol rifle techniques also favor this stance and keep the rifle more centered in the chest area as opposed to in the shoulder pocket.

    One small critique, the shooter’s weaver stance foot placement in the video is quite exaggerated. Weaver stance foot placement should be more like a boxer’s stance than what he is doing. With proper footing, the difficulties engaging non-dominant side targets is reduced, but still present.

    Thanks for all you do!

    • Ray in Maine

      A disadvantage of the Isosceles is that the pistol cannot be located on a direct line with the firing hand. This causes problems with heavy recoil.
      For the "non-professional" shooter, the weaver is the same stance they use to cast a fishing rod, shoot a rifle, etc. More natural for them.

    • GunDude

      As a LE firearms instructor I have to agree. The foot placement in the video is completely wrong. In a proper Weaver stance, the feet should be, more or less, 45 degrees to the target and the shoulders should be directly over the hips. The person in the video has his feet placed as if he is shooting a rifle off-hand. This presents a very unstable platform when shooting a handgun and limits movement, severely. Before bad mouthing the Weaver stance, at least get it right.

      • Vytas

        Good comment…………

        GunVytas

    • LarryGC

      I totally agree the video was a poor example of the true weaver stance. I have liked to put a person in the Weaver stance, then, push or pull their hands and if they are thrown off-balance then they are not in the best stance, for my opinion. I have taught that if you are in a good fight or boxer position that helps you to move and rotate towards the threat. Also, for accurate longer distance shooting, muscle memory for rife pistol and shotgun, if taught correctly, it works best.
      Saying that, for room entry in a group formation the Isosceles looks great. But, I am along with most shooters not going to be in that position for self and home defense..

    • GUNMANOO1

      I think there was a lot that the video didn't cover. I agree that weaver exposes an unprotected area, but if you're using cover, i.e. the corner of a building, you expose nearly your entire body with isosceles, but almost nothing is exposed with weaver. Also the weaver stance is much more stable for shooting or fighting hand to hand.

      As far as engaging a target to one side, you can easily take a simple step as you turn to the threat without losing any time. Weaver also lets you detect and handle a threat on you gun side more easily.

      I too am an NRA Certified Instructor. I'm 65 years old. I taught my oldest son well enough that he made the grade to become a U.S. Marshal 9 years ago.

  • John Dixon

    Neither is good. Point shoot with the dominant hand while moving. It requires lots of practice but will give you a better chance of not getting shot while effectively putting rounds into the threat. If you watch dash cam. footage of actual shootings this is what most gunfights end up being. It is instinctive and is what most people revert to in life and death gun fights. Know it and practice it, it could very well save your life.

    • Cpl. N

      Yes, but no… It is true that a given situation dictates the necessary reaction, and in a dynamic situation such as a vehicle stop or in an area where there is little or no cover, shooting and moving may save your life (and these are good things to practice and become proficient at). But not every situation is dynamic. It would be an extremely rare situation where anyone would leave cover/concealment and a stable platform in order to run and shoot so as to engage a target.

      The purpose of the video is a simple comparison of the pro's and con's of two commonly used stances, adding a third suggestion is great, but there is no need to slight the origonal intent of the video or to discredit well established tactics.

      • Sweet Al

        This is a well written response, Cpl. N. Well reasoned, too.

  • Starky

    Many times when officers are shot it is as they are falling back, running for cover or are ambushed. In many case the aggessor is former military. The military trains to fire and advance, not fire and fall back. If cover is avaliable use it, if not an officer must go on the offensive and take the fight to the aggessor. If you are runing you have lost the mind set and are demonstrating defeat. Most of our training drills are now designed to fire and advance. Engage the threat. Remember the more second nature it is the better the odds, so Practice, Practice Practice!

    • https://www.facebook.com/dennis.h.chevalier Dennis Chevy Chevalier

      Yes Starky you are correct!

  • Tanstaafl2

    OK – I can see the advantages to the isosceles stance over the Weaver stance, but the Weaver stance (though not with as extreme a foot positioning as shown in the video) comes SOOO much more naturally to me.

  • chemsal

    Come on guys let's loose some of the bias. Most people use a 30 to 45 degree blade when they use the Weaver stance. Not the 150 degrees shown in this video. With that high of a blade degree, I would not be surprised if a strong wind blows you over. There are advantages and disadvantages to either style. I shoot weaver because I believe this stance allows me to get on target faster and have quicker follow up shots. However if I shot IDPA the isosceles stance allows you to move and shoot quicker.

    • David Armstrong

      Well said, chemsal. We get way too wrapped up in this "better" nonsense when the reality is that they are different and neither is better. Option A might be better for Shooter 1 in Situation X, but Option B might be better for Shooter 2 in the same situation. Then in Situation Y with Shooter A the Option B might be better. Learn them all INCLUDING point shooting like Dixon said. Then you will have the options so you can pick what is best for you in your situation.

  • old vet

    This is all formal target shooting BS. When the SHTF you are only going to be concerned with instant sight picture, trigger, ETC. The one left alive wins.

  • Bruce

    Good comments everyone, I am glad to be a civilian these days. Old Vet seems to come from my time and I have to agree with him and you all. I have advanced to the rear a a few times while facing VC, USMC SVN 69-72. Body armor was Tiger Stripe. You folks that serve and protect us today are to be commended. I carry for personal protection now, I am not going to engage unless needed. You all have that threat on you everyday. God Bless take care and thanks for your service.

    • old vet

      Welcome home brother, those who have "been there" know what adrenaline does to well laid plans.

  • BJC

    They don't specify who this video is intended for. Yes if you are wearing protection I can see using the isosceles stance, but most people don't don't go around wearing a BP vest and without one the weaver stance would be advantageous in presenting less of a target to the aggressor, but when push comes to shove you have to react properly to the given situation witch will vary. The best thing is to be prepared to be able to react to all situations and not to just what suits you best.

  • Old Gunner's Mate

    If y'all will pardon me; I feel the need to throw my two-cents' worth in, too: I have noticed that, as I age, it has been necessary to adapt how I do certain things to accommodate the "new realities" of my changed physical capacities. Arthritis is a lot like gravity; it's always there and it always ultimately wins. Not so?
    Whatever you, as an individual, have to do to consistently put rounds on target, is the right thing. The idea is to go home instead of be carried home, and anything that facilitates that goal is correct and not subject to reproach from anyone. Do I hear "Amen!" from the congregation?

    • GUNMANOO1

      Amen, mate. Old age takes it's toll.

      By the way, my father was a gunner's mate in WWII in the Pacific. He was on a destroyer escort
      DE 202, US EICHENBURGER.

      I served in the US Army from 12-66 to 12-69.

    • old vet

      This is something none of us like to face or admit, but yes, eyesight goes, reactions slow, and places hurt that never did before. Practice helps adjust to these changes. It's like Eastwood said. "A man has to know his limitations".

    • docdave88

      Amen.

      And yes, anyone who has spent any time at all in a boxing gym or a karate dojo will automatically find the “weak foot forward” Weaver stance more natural.

      I recently completed the CCW course here in Missouri and the instructor recommended the Isosceles stance. I’m a good student so I tried it. Since I’m a .45 acp shooter I found that it tended to rock me back, something I can counter with my natural Weaver stance.

      If I wore a vest I’d probably work on changing things, but as it is I think I’ll stick with what feels natural.

      And whoever said it above is right. What really counts is being able to put rounds in the black (not necessarily the 10 or even the 8, but in the black) at night under combat conditions. That can only be accomplished by burning through thousands of rounds of ammunition until everything is automatic.

      Then you can stand anyway you want to.

      molon labe

  • Spike1point5

    I've always preferred the Weaver, it's the one my body automatically snaps to upon drawing down. I think it's partly because I just feel so much more stable, and also I was taking various kinds of unarmed combat before I learned to shoot with any degree of proficiency. As has been pointed out above, the Weaver is quite close to a boxer's, as well as other martial arts, stance. Also, I was always taught that especially in a home-defence situation there's every chance that should your gun jam (yes, I know it shouldn't, but any home defence is a worst-case scenario, so why not take it all the way), you'll have to engage the target in close quarters. With that in mind, being able to drop the weapon and immediately be ready to counter body-to-body is far easier from a Weaver stance. Just my 2 cents.

  • Fossil

    Just a few points to add to the discussion. First, I agree with the comments already made about the exaggerated Weaver stance. In addition, most devotees of Cooper's "Modern Pistolcraft" will tell you that the Weaver is best employed with the weak-side elbow pointing straight down, not winging out in the breeze. Second, many proponents of the isosceles correctly point out that the squared-off crouch is a very natural response of most humans to a physical threat, which is true (I am a physician, as well as a firearms instructor). However, I first noticed in myself and then verified in my students the fact that that physical response shifts to a bladed, Weaver-like stance in people who have trained fairly extensively in the martial arts. This is a bit of "the chicken or the egg," but rather than emphasize the Weaver because you can drop the gone and immediately be ready to fight, I choose to think of naturally assuming a bladed stance, whether fighting with hands or guns (skilled knife fighters are necessarily more flexible in their stances). Finally, one point for the isosceles that I am recognizing more and more is that it gets the front sight further away from the eye. Many of us in the "bifocals" age group can find value in that.

  • Sergeant

    As a Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor of 30 years I have seen the need for the isolices stance. Years ago the weaver stance was taught to every Police Officer in the academy. The reason? You presented less of a target if you were bladed to the bad guy and your ability to move was enhanced. Today most Police Officers wear Department issued vest. Thus the reason to shoot from the isolices stance.. Bladed you run the risk of a round striking you in the gap between the front and back panels of the vest. The object of squaring up with the bad guy is so the vest will catch the bullet should you be hit.

    • James Sams

      Then again, by facing the target directly, you expose your groin, both femoral arteries and a larger overall profile to hit. To say I am exposing one armpit by doing the Weaver is countered by the fact that the isosceles exposes your dominant side shoulder more. If you are hit there, your dominant arm is out of the ball game. In the Weaver, the dominant side shoulder is harder to hit. Both stances are right and wrong. If the bad guy hits you in the face, you are no better off in either stance.

      • kraze

        A bullet can go through both your legs in the weaver stance hitting both arteries. I still personally use the weaver stance for self defense practice. Its faster to position draw and aim for me.

        • James Sams

          Both stances have their pluses and minuses. Both can be intuitive in a crisis. Truth be told, if you are standing still in an upright stance in a gunfight, you are probably doing something wrong.

          • kraze

            That is why I use weaver it more natural when you draw to side step and you draw. The isosceles give you upper body range of degree.

  • Newc7

    I taught my wife the Weaver stance; with the right shoulder back some, it allows her to keep the right arm straight, while bending the left. With the gun hand cradled in the left, she can PUSH with the gun hand, while PULLING with the support hand. Instead of the gun wavering around in the air, she is now much more steady, and her ten hits have improved dramatically.
    By the way, GUNMANOO1 – My grandfather was also on a destroyer escort in WWII – He was commander of DE682 USS Underhill.

  • rudy

    It definitely is a matter of comfort but to defend the weaver stance when turning to a threat to the weak side you just don’t turn your upper body, I don’t know about you but if I had a desperate threat I would move my entire body or even take a kneeling stance towards the second threat. You do have to practice and practice different scenarios. I’m sure just standing in one place isn’t in your practice regime

  • rudy

    It definitely is a matter of comfort but to defend the weaver stance when turning to a threat to the weak side you just don’t turn your upper body, I don’t know about you but if I had a desperate threat I would move my entire body or even take a kneeling stance towards the second threat. You do have to practice and practice different scenarios. I’m sure just standing in one place isn’t in your practice regime

  • Tom

    why cannot see this video in full screen? It stays off to the right of my screen and I cant see the entire thing

    • Peter Griffin

      Get a Mac.

  • Robert Paul Doran

    I’ve used Weaver exclusively. Watching this video and reading the responses remind me of how awkward I felt during steel challenge matches. Any shots other than directly in front meant that I had to shift my stance to comfortably engage those targets. As a new gun owner, I didn’t realize I could stand any other way. And no one told me otherwise because I hit everything I shot at. If it ain’t broke… etc., etc. But I’ve recently had to change to isosceles when I bought my new gun. Because the Kahr P45 is so narrow and small compared to my XD45, my grip is more secure when I bring my dominant hand around the grip frame. This is more comfortable with the isosceles stance.

  • Gem

    SOME nice, some funny comments. Combat pistol shooting has a fundamental word in it, “Combat”. Human beings in a gun fight do certain things if they are not the one starting the fight. Usually the strong leg steps back and they duck down slightly. Almost universally into a boxer or fighting stance resembling how a good pro-boxer stands, or a shoot wrestler ready to slide in. Also, where you go when a covey busts cover and you are shooting a shotgun properly and actualy want to hit the birds. It is simply human physiology and human psychology. So if you are going to end up there in a real gun fight why not practice there.most of the time. Watch a good boxing coach teach beginning kids and you will probably see what is good movement techniques as well. (Of course the key word here is “good”) ANYTHING that is taught that is un-natural human movement is wrong. Much like most Asian martial arts by the way. Spending hours practicing unnatural movement simply is harder and makes you less able to actually fight when you really need to. Unnatural movement and stance will not help you in a gun fight OR a physical fight.

  • Figures

    weaver if you have cover, iso if you need to be moving to cover…. it’s not rocket science.

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