View Full Version : Handgun "grip": thumb position?

December 22, 2006, 11:51 PM
I carry a Glock 23. I grip the gun with my dominant hand thumb curled down, resting (just barely) on the mag release. The support hand thumb locks down on top of it. This works great for both one hand and two hand shooting...only one basic, firm grip. If I use the "thumbs up" position, the dominant hand thumb FUBARs the slide release lever every time. But this "thumbs down" grip won't work for the tiny little Kahr K-40. The thumbs hang up with the trigger finger in several different (disasterous!) ways. And again, "thumbs up" messes with the slide release lever. Anybody want to discuss this a little and maybe offer some helpful hints? Thanks.


December 23, 2006, 12:00 AM
I'm not saying this is right or best for you, but all of my buddies who shoot "thumbs high" and it causes the slide stop to not engage, they just do a reload on the "click". If it was a malfunction the reload clears it, if it was just and empty gun the reload gets it back online. Either way the gun is back online. Being a lefty I don't have this problem.

December 23, 2006, 12:26 AM
I have seen this problem with the XD at LE qualifications and I teach folks to turn the shooting hand thumb down, and place the offhand thumb on top of it. This resolves all issues about hitting the slide lock inadvertently.


I don't know how it would work with a Kahr, but it has worked for me with both autos & revolvers for 25 years, so I am reluctant to change. One of the things I like best about it, is that the strong hand position stays the same, whether the weak hand is on the gun or not.


This grip however, demonstrated by Jerry Miculek below, has achieved an almost cult following:
I think in the end it's a matter of finding something that works for you, with your gun, and sticking to it.

December 23, 2006, 02:00 AM
i think it depends on the gun, and sometimes gun types. I hold a revolver one of a few ways, and i hold a single action revolver in a posisition where my offset thumb can cock the hammer. Also on revolvers i try to get my dominant hand as high as comfort will allow. I am no instructor, but it works for me.

December 23, 2006, 04:26 AM
I always shoot thumbs forward now since I found I was much more accurate that way. Do you know HOW you're hitting the slide release? I've heard of people hitting it with either thumb so that's why I ask. Are your thumbs actually forward or are they pointing up slightly?

December 24, 2006, 01:05 AM
It's the dominant hand thumb that rides right on top of the Glock's slide release lever (and the Kahr, the SA XD, etc) if I use the "thumbs up" hold. The thumb is straight forward, resting firmly on the support hand. And yeah, I find it more accurate for me too. Bummer because it locks the slide open sometimes even when there are still rounds in the mag, and always fails to lock back the slide when the mag is empty. So, for me, the thumb down is the only way to go. As I mentioned, this also simplifies things in having only one grip, whether using one hand or two. The support thumb is right on top of the dominant thumb and doesn't effect the Glock, but gets in the way with the Kahr. So the Kahr stays home. The S&W 3rd gen. auto format that I first carried is not a problem due to the shape of the frame and position of the slide release lever. The "thumb thing" is also one reason I pick one format and stick with it, rather than switching back and forth with the guns I carry. Things get hectic enough during a negative social encounter without having to try to remember about this lever, or that one, up or down, etc, etc.

December 24, 2006, 02:32 AM
Well, if you *can* then moving your dominant thumb over slightly. I never noticed until I just looked at my grip. My dominant thumb seems to point slightly left (I'm right handed) and forward and this brings it away from the frame. It's not much of a difference but it may be enough.

*edit* I forgot that I also just removed my Hogue grip so I'm not positive where my thumbs usually are. Guess I'll find out next week when I go shooting if it's still the same or not.

December 24, 2006, 06:25 PM
My brother in law always said you could cut your thumbs off and shoot better. They just cause trouble...interfering with slide stops, ambi safties, tip to tip with thumb and trigger finger. Also you can put too much pressure on the frame and change bullet impact.
I'm NOT advocating cutting off your thumb!
This little problem just gives us reason to go shooting...to work out a solution! :D
Bro-in-law has had too much training for me to not listen to him...he shoots circles around me. Good thing is he doesn't beat me over the head with his ability...he just teaches well.

Rob Pincus
December 24, 2006, 07:08 PM
We are always looking for solutions that will be as efficient and consistent as possible. For this reason, we recommend thumbs high and layered. This grip will work as well for 98% of shooters with a Glock, a revolver and a 1911. The trick here is that you will want your thumb on top of the safety if you are shooting a single action. While it is easy to say "I never shoot single action," that doesn't mean that you wont ever want or need to in the future. I haven't found many people who can't get this grip to work easily and intuitively with their chosen full size defensive firearm.
By keeping your thumbs layered, not crossed, you maximize contact with the grip areas of the pistol.

For the same reasons, we do not recommend the "finger on the front of the trigger guard" pictured above... even if you like it, it doesn't work with a huge number of pistols.

-Rob Pincus
-Valhalla Training Center

December 30, 2006, 09:00 PM
I shoot thumbs high, but then again I'm a lefty.... :D

December 30, 2006, 09:21 PM
When shooting two handed... thumb down and under the secondary hand.

When shooting one-handed I use "high thumb"... it keeps the thumb in position for working or releasing the safety on my 1911...

And in both cases, it keeps my thumb from interfering with consistent sight-alignment. :)

December 30, 2006, 11:38 PM
Yeah, I shoot thumbs high with autos.
Doesn't seem to cause problems very often. (only when I don't manage to grip pistol correctly)


January 1, 2007, 01:54 PM
I too shoot thumb high, although when I owned a AMT 380 BU I adapted a totally different grip for the smaller gun.

January 11, 2007, 10:53 PM
There is more to it than thumb position. To the best of my recollection, Rob (Leatham) & Brian (Enos) were the first to use this type of grip and that is who taught it to me. The key is a neutral grip (no undue tension in any direction). If your thumb is interfering with the slide etc, then you are applying undue pressure. The reason you keep your strong hand thumb high is to get your grip as high as possible relative to the bore axis. This allows more control. Your weak hand thumb is is just as high, but in order to equalize the tension (and amount of bend) in your arms, it is necessary to rotate the weak hand slightly forward which is why the weak hand thumb ends up forward of the strong hand thumb. However, just putting your thumbs in that position offers no advantage if your grip/stance is not neutral.