Getting a Grip

Getting a Grip

Handgun marksmanship begins with properly gripping the pistol or revolver. The essence of a proper grip is one that is comfortable, enables proper engagement of the trigger, allows all the controls to be accessed and prevents the gun from moving in the hand during recoil. proper trigger engagement is achieved by engaging the face of the trigger with either the first pad or joint of the index finger so that an even amount of pressure is applied directly to the rear to release the hammer or striker.


The revolver is gripped for both one and two-handed shooting by taking a full hold with the strong hand. The web of the hand is placed high on the backstrap just under the hump. The barrel should be in line with the axis of the forearm. The trigger is engaged with either the first pad or joint of the index finger so that pressure can be applied directly to the rear. For single-action shooting, the thumb should be placed high on the frame alongside the hammer. In this position it can also be used to cock the hammer.

For double-action shooting, the grip remains unchanged except that the thumb is locked down to provide maximum leverage for the index finger to control the long, heavy trigger pull.

To assume a two-handed revolver hold, the grip of the shooting hand is unchanged and the supporting hand is simply cupped around the strong hand, applying pressure to provide a steady platform to control the trigger. The thumb of the supporting hand can be placed on top of the strong one or laid across the back of the wrist. From either position the supporting hand thumb can be used to cock the hammer for single-action fire.


Like the revolver, the auto pistol is gripped by taking a full hold with the strong hand. The web of the hand is placed high into the tang of the backstrap with the fingers wrapped firmly around the frontstrap. The index finger engages the trigger with the first pad or joint so that pressure can be applied directly to the rear. With single-action pistols a high thumb position is adopted.

With double-action pistols, a lower thumb hold can be used to help control the heavy, long trigger pull.

With the two-handed auto pistol hold, the supporting hand is cupped over the strong hand, with fingers laid over those gripping the pistol to form a platform under the trigger guard. The thumb of the supporting hand is placed over or alongside that of the strong hand. The supporting hand's thumb must not be placed across the back of the wrist of the strong hand where it can be struck by the cycling of the slide during firing.

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