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Pistol Shooting Grip For Speed & Accuracy

Establishing a proper shooting grip is critical to firing a pistol with speed and accuracy. Here are some fundamentals.

Pistol Shooting Grip For Speed & Accuracy

(Photo By Alredo Rico)

Have you ever noticed that when someone shoots a pistol well, the muzzle doesn't flip the way it does when most people shoot. Instead, the reciprocating slide seems to be the only indication that the pistol is recoiling. That's what it looks like when someone is employing a proper shooting grip, which is simple but not easy.

Properly gripping a pistol is what enables a person to shoot with speed and accuracy, two factors likely to determine the victor in armed combat. Speed results from reducing muzzle flip and accuracy is a by-product of a proper grip because your sights will recover in the same place, making it easier to aim. With a proper grip, you can deliver accurate hits almost as quickly as you can work the trigger. Of course, the size of your target and the degree of precision required will dictate your rate of fire.

Gun and arm alignment.
For optimal recoil control, your gun should align with your forearm. (Photo By Alfredo Rico)

I was shooting a pistol for years with a less than optimal grip. Since I was a decent shooter, I didn't give much thought to grip. It wasn't until I trained with instructors like Dave Spaulding, Kelly McCann, and Frank Proctor that I began to understand just how much I didn't know about grip. Here's what I've learned about gripping a pistol.

Middle finger placement.
The web of your hand should be as high along the backstrap as possible, with the middle knuckle of your middle finger centered just below the trigger guard. (Photo By Alfredo Rico)

Pistol Selection

The best way to ensure a proper grip is to start with a gun that fits your hand. The grip should be long enough to accommodate all your fingers. If there's no room for your pinky, you'll have a hard time controlling recoil. You'll also want a gun with a grip that you can easily get your hand around. If the grip is too thick, you won't be able to orient it properly in your hand or squeeze as tightly as you should. Finally, you need to be able to reach the trigger comfortably without having to rotate the gun in your hand.


An undercut trigger guard facilitates a higher grip that's conducive controlling recoil. Grip texture is another consideration. I prefer an aggressive texture that helps lock the pistol into my hands, even when sweaty. A solid purchase on the grip of your pistol is critical and as you can see, that's partly dependent on choosing the right pistol. But having an appropriately sized and properly configured pistol is only the beginning.


Proper shooting hand alignment.
Here, the pistol is properly aligned in the strong, or shooting-side, hand. (Photo By Alfredo Rico)

Grip Technique

A proper shooting grip begins in the holster, with the web of your hand indexing as high as possible along the backstrap of your pistol, and the side of your middle finger finding the bottom of the trigger guard. Your ring and pinky fingers wrap around the grip and your trigger finger indexes along the frame. Your thumb is extended upward, not bent. It's important to get this right because in a self-defense scenario, there won't be time to readjust.

Strong hand grip fundamentals.
The dominant hand not only provides front to back pressure on the grip, the pinky also pulls up and back as the heel of the hand drives forward and down. The thumb flagged to accommodate your off-hand. (Photo By Alfredo Rico)

With your gun out and oriented to the threat, it's time to add your off-hand. It fills the void left by your primary hand to establish the popular thumbs forward grip, but there's more to a proper grip than having your thumbs forward. Your off-side wrist should be cammed forward, locking it in place. If this feels comfortable, you're probably not camming your wrist aggressively enough.

Support hand grip fundamentals.
Shown here without the shooting hand, the support hand should fill the grip space, assume a thumbs-forward position, and the wrist should be cammed forward. (Photo By Alfredo Rico)

With both hands properly positioned, it's time to drive the gun out, applying intense 360° inward pressure on the pistol's grip. Your dominant hand applies mostly front-to-back pressure, but there's a caveat. Your pinky pulls up and in, while the heel of your hand presses forward and down. This essentially cams your dominant wrist. Your support-hand provides most of the side-to-side pressure on the grip.

A complete firing grip.
With a strong two-handed grip, your trigger finger should be indexed along the frame until you’re on target and have made a conscious decision to fire. (Photo By Alfredo Rico)

Interestingly, the degree to which you straighten your arms affects grip pressure. With the pistol close to your chest, you'll find it easy to exert side-to-side pressure but difficult to apply front-to-back pressure. Of course, with your arms extended, the reverse is true. You'll have to experiment to find a happy medium where you can apply firm inward pressure all the way around the grip.




Camming your support-side wrist affords you considerable leverage to mitigate muzzle flip. However, if it's cammed too much you will lose contact between the heels of your hands. This is problematic because just as leverage helps control recoil, so does the friction from the heels of your hands.

Choosing the right pistol and employing a proper grip can help you fire with speed and accuracy. Don't be afraid to squeeze. Chances are, you're not gripping tightly enough.

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