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Old May 23, 2012, 02:19 PM   #1
aarondhgraham
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Hand to handgun fit,,,

Last weekend my Rifle & Pistol Club held a Ladies Day at the Range.

It was a fun event where shooters laid out tables of different guns for the attendees to try out,,,
I was showing one lady a Bersa Thunder when she asked me this question.

"How do I know if the pistol fits me or not?"

I gave her this general answer.

When you are holding the pistol your thumb and middle finger should overlap a little bit. Maybe as much as one full finger joint. If you can't touch your middle fingertip and your thumb, the grip is probably too fat. Also you should be able to reach the safety, mag release, and slide lock without shifting your grip very much. I also mentioned where the finger should rest on the trigger

Now I'm trying to find something more definitive or detailed on the web,,,
But my Google-Fu is not strong today.

Does anyone have any definitive or more detailed info on this question?

Aarond

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Old May 23, 2012, 06:43 PM   #2
Nnobby45
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Quote:
When you are holding the pistol your thumb and middle finger should overlap a little bit. Maybe as much as one full finger joint. If you can't touch your middle fingertip and your thumb, the grip is probably too fat. Also you should be able to reach the safety, mag release, and slide lock without shifting your grip very much. I also mentioned where the finger should rest on the trigger
NO! Few of us can reach the mag. release and slide lock without shifting the pistol. The safety should, of course, be reachable. And they're positioned so they are.

The trigger must be reachable without a radical shift of the hand, but one of the best determing factors is observing the consistency of bullet holes on the target.

Last edited by Nnobby45; May 23, 2012 at 11:20 PM.
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Old May 23, 2012, 06:57 PM   #3
animal
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IMO : Once one is found that generally "fits"(it should also be comfortable for the person to hold) …
Point it at a target. Then, without moving the pistol, look down the sights to see if the pistol is aimed exactly where you pointed.
The problem is keeping the gun stationary when you look down the sights. A rest can help sometimes.
The sight vs. point check should be done several times to minimize error.
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Old May 23, 2012, 08:00 PM   #4
Frank Ettin
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I look primarily at whether one can reach the trigger to permit a smooth trigger press straight back with the barrel of the handgun roughly lined up with the long bone of the forearm.

I consider trigger reach the critical factor because trigger control is critical to accurate shooting.
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Old May 23, 2012, 08:17 PM   #5
MLeake
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If her hand is too small, she's likely to unconsciously rotate the pistol slightly to the outside (right if she's RH, left if she's LH) to enable her trigger finger to engage on pad or first joint. That will take the barrel offline with the bones of her forearm, and put more recoil into the base of her thumb instead of the web of her hand and her arm.

So, when I look for grip fit, or try to help a newbie find a good grip fit, that's one of the things I look for: Does the pistol allow the shooter to get good trigger engagement (at max trigger reach, EG decocked with a DA/SA) while keeping the pistol aligned with the forearm?

Additionally, the finger should reach the trigger, with the weapon aligned, while maintaining a high grip - which will reduce muzzle flip and make follow-up shots easier and faster. Ideally, there should be no space between the skin of the web of the hand and the curve where grip frame arcs into beavertail. (Note: high grip as a matter of practice will also provide a consistent grip with every draw.)

I have long fingers, and prefer guns that allow me to manipulate all primary controls with my shooting hand only - but that may not be a realistic goal for many shooters, especially those with small hands. However, I think the magazine release should be reachable without a major shift of the grip.

Bear in mind that some guns can be tailored to better fit the shooter. Narrower (or fatter) grip panels on metal framed guns; backstraps of varying sizes on many of the new polymers; extended or oversized controls; grip sleeves; complete replacement grips on revolvers; etc. Some of these changes are free (different sized backstraps included with many new polymer guns); and some are relatively inexpensive ($30ish for a Hogue or Pachmayr rubber grip set). Many can be done by the buyer, and won't require gunsmith intervention.
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Old May 23, 2012, 09:30 PM   #6
dyl
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To elaborate on the idea of grip size,

An additional indicator I found is if when you establish a firing grip with the bore aligned with the long bones of the hand, the pistol does not feel as if it will slip and fall out of your hand should you relax the muscles in your hand. A grip too large depends on muscular strength to hold on with compression forces rather than resting on the bones. This is more apparent with a 1 hand grip.

Also, it pays to remember that to be used practically for self-defense it would be best if the grip size allows for proficiency with 1 hand. MLeake provided a scenario where a small handed shooter (or a gun with a grip stock too large) soon develops a firing grip dependent on 2 hands for effective control. The shooter's strategy becomes more and more to wedge the gun between both hands. I can control a baseball with one hand. But a large exercise ball would take 2 arms (those are actually uncontrollable, don't attempt). I think I've heard an enthusiastic father say: my 12 year old daughter can shoot a Glock 21 and you're complaining about a wide grip!?! - yes but is it optimal for her? Nope.
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Old May 24, 2012, 09:24 AM   #7
aarondhgraham
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Thanks gentlemen,,,

This has been informative for me.

It reminds me of when I went to buy my first business suit,,,
I was raised in a blue-collar family and as a kid,,,
I never wore so much as a sport coat.

The salesman handed me a jacket which I put on,,,
Then asked, "How does it fit?"

My reply was, "How in the heck am I supposed to know?"

That's the question I was trying to answer for the lady,,,
How is she supposed to know what a proper hand to gun fit really is.

Take my situation with my CZ-75B,,,
I can operate the safety lever and drop the magazine without shifting my grip,,,
But I cannot operate the slide lock lever one handed without shifting my handhold a bit.

In my opinion the CZ is just a teeny bit too big for my hand,,,
But It fit better than any other double-stack 9mm I tried.

Pistols of the size of a Walther PPK, Bersa 380, or a Ruger LC9 fit my hand perfectly by my standards,,,
Mainly because I can operate all of the controls one handed.

But now I have more information to use when helping someone pick a gun for themselves.

Thanks gentlemen,,,

Aarond

.
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Caje: The coward dies a thousand times, the brave only once.
Kirby: That's about all it takes, ain't it?
Combat: "A Silent Cry"
Aarond is good,,, Aarond is wise,,, Always trust Aarond! (most of the time)
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Old May 24, 2012, 10:38 AM   #8
doofus47
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If I can hold the pistol comfortably with one hand after getting a proper high grip, that's my starting point.
If I can reach the trigger comfortably and pull it smoothly while holding my one handed grip, that's my 2nd checkpoint.
If I can control the recoil w/out readjusting my grip to return to a good trigger reach, that is the final hurdle. This final point is how I determine that I'm not unconsciously shifting my grip to reach the trigger and thereby compromising my high grip. I don't know if it's an approved method or very scientific, but I've caught myself doing it before so I try to pay attention.

Happy shooting.
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Old May 24, 2012, 02:23 PM   #9
jmr40
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There are some obvious exceptions, but I think the idea of handguns fitting the hand is way over blown. There are some people whose hands are too small for the large frame Glocks, and the old S&W target revolver grips were too big for some, but most any other gun will "fit" in most any other hand. The human hand is amazingly adaptable and will conform to most any shape placed in it. Within reasonable limits of course.
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Old May 24, 2012, 03:50 PM   #10
MLeake
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It's overblown in that training and practice can overcome ergonomic deficiencies.

It's not overblown in that a pistol that fits well is much easier to learn to shoot accurately, and rapidly.

I can qualify Expert (Navy or Army standards) with pretty much any reasonable handgun; there are certain guns I would prefer to have, though, if I had to shoot well, quickly, under stress. Why? They fit me better. Therefore, they point more naturally, get on target more quickly, and allow faster recovery times and shorter splits.

So, if your point is that a shooter should be able to master any handgun that isn't flat out prohibitive with regard to size, then I agree.

If your point is that finding a handgun that makes learning and shooting easier is not worth the bother, then I disagree.
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Old May 24, 2012, 08:00 PM   #11
Nnobby45
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Quote:
I look primarily at whether one can reach the trigger to permit a smooth trigger press straight back with the barrel of the handgun roughly lined up with the long bone of the forearm.

I consider trigger reach the critical factor because trigger control is critical to accurate shooting.
I agree. We're always instructed to keep the arm and wrist straight. But so far, I don't own a pistol that allows me to properly reach the trigger by keeping the wrist in straight alignment with the forearm. My hands are not small. Like most every one else, I have to crook my arm to the right for proper trigger reach.

For some smaller hands, like lots of the gals, larger double stack pistols or large frame revolvers can prove too much for proper trigger reach.

NOTE: I like SIG's short trigger option which can help with the problem. I've found that the short trigger works for my DAK pistols, and standard triggers for DA/SA. If SIG had a trigger in between, that would be the ticket for me.
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Old May 24, 2012, 08:06 PM   #12
Nnobby45
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Oh, forgot to add, I've learned that:

1. You can adjust and learn to shoot most any pistol. You can go to the range and shoot different pistols well. Glock and SIG, for example--two different ergonomics.

2. The pistol that feels less compfy in the hand can be shot as well or, sometimes, better than the one that "feels" so nice.
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Old May 26, 2012, 01:10 AM   #13
MLeake
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Two thoughts on that, Nnobby45

1) You can adjust to shoot any firearm. But then again, most serious competitors end up spending money on optimizing their weapons for themselves. You don't see top-level shotgunners telling people to ignore length of pull - instead, a lot of money gets spent on proper fitting. Same with rifle competitors.

2) There could be many reasons why the weapon that doesn't shoot as well may shoot more accurately. The weapon itself could be just that much better assembled and machined, for a mechanical reason; the shooter could put that much more effort into fundamentals, for a human factors reason. In much the same way, many people shoot better, one-handed, if using the weak hand - because they focus harder on their basics.

However, I suspect that is normally the case with slow, meticulously controlled fire. I doubt all that many people will shoot better, all else being equal, with a less well-fitted gun if shooting fast and under stress.
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Old May 27, 2012, 06:26 PM   #14
Nnobby45
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A shotgun fit is critical for proper wingshooting. A stock that's too long simply doesn't work.

But, just because a pistol doesn't feel as nice in the hand as another, that doesn't mean it doesn't "fit"---as long as the finger properly reaches the trigger.
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Old May 27, 2012, 08:54 PM   #15
Buzzcook
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http://www.corneredcat.com/Trying_On_a_Handgun/

Quote:
Okay, gun's empty. Now, with the gun pointed in a safe direction which includes a safe backstop, put the crease of your trigger finger on the shooting-hand side of the trigger face. Do not simply place the tip or the pad of your trigger finger on the trigger. Use the crease.2
Quote:
With your finger's crease thus on the trigger and without pulling the trigger back, wrap the rest of your hand around the gun to get a good, one-handed firing grip.
Quote:
A Perfect Fit

With the crease of your finger on the trigger, if the gun's backstrap is firmly centered in the web of your hand, midway between your thumb and forefinger, then the gun fits your hand perfectly. Notice how a correctly-sized gun lines up perfectly with the bones in your forearm. The recoil will go directly into the web of the hand and be transferred along the long bones of the arm, allowing a strong and natural grip without much strain.
Pictures and arrows at the Cornered Cat.
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Old May 29, 2012, 07:14 PM   #16
ltc444
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A lot of good thoughts.

For a new shooter (male or female) the pistol should fit comfortably in the hand. It should point naturally on target. The trigger finger should curl onto the trigger without interference from the grip. Trigger pull should be comfortable. The caliber should be comfortable to shoot.

If these factors are accounted for, the new shooter will have a positive experience. A positive experience will encourage another person to join ranks.

In the case of a wife you will probably get another gun or two out of the deal.

I speak from experience. My wife fell in love with my Ruger MkII, Win 94 in 44Mag and my AR 15. Since she has claimed them I get another 1911, AR-15 with more bells and whistles and a third TBD.
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Old May 30, 2012, 08:24 AM   #17
aarondhgraham
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Thanks people,,,

This has been very informative for me.

After I read the guidelines at the Cornered Cat,,,
I found I wasn't all that far off base.

Now I have a more definitive set of answers if asked that question again.

Aarond

.
__________________
Caje: The coward dies a thousand times, the brave only once.
Kirby: That's about all it takes, ain't it?
Combat: "A Silent Cry"
Aarond is good,,, Aarond is wise,,, Always trust Aarond! (most of the time)
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