View Full Version : Weaver vs Isosceles

April 17, 2009, 02:40 PM
Today was the first time I'd heard much about the "isosceles" stance ... I had always been taught the push/pull of the Weaver...

I see this is an old thread and hasn't been discussed for a while , so I'm looking for some new opinions.

What seems to work best for you all.

I do ok out to 25 yards with the weaver , but not nearly as good as I would like. I can hit COM at this distance but it's usually in about a 12" group.

Am I understanding correctly thew following ?

In the Iso stance there is no push/pull.
Arms extend out to create the Iso Triangle effect
Shoulders squared
Feet squared or strong leg slightly behind the weak leg

Is there any changes in grip per say that would effect the recoil management better ? In my Glock 23 I get a pretty big muzzle flip , but it's gotten much much less noticeable to me through practice. To the point that my double taps are now hitting in a 4" group at 7 yrds, but again I'm looking for much better improvements.

Is there any special considerations to Grip pressures of the Strong hand vs weak ?

Special things to be aware of as far as "differences" between the two stances ?

I see many people talking about the Iso's use in competitions for speed and accuracy , LEO mention the vests and them wanting to get shot head on and not from the side due to armor.

What about for the average civilian? Presenting a thinner target from the weaver a better method ?

I've also seen some mention that the weaver is better generally for the one eyed shooter ( which is me ) and the Iso is better with the two eyed shooter ( something I'm trying to work on ).

Thanks in advance and my apologies for the Necro resurrection of old threads.

Para Bellum
April 17, 2009, 03:30 PM
Try all you are interested in and do so in IPSC/IDPA matches. Find out what works best for you against the clock and scoring.

Keep one thing in mind: the broader you stand towards your opponent, the less organs he can harm with a single hit. (Trooper Coates died because he moved back sideways)

April 17, 2009, 03:47 PM
I always thought and felt, stance was an important part of shooting until one day i was talking to a instructor about weaver, isosceles, and the modify stances of both, and which he thought was the best stance.

At the Range he told me kneel down and shoot (2 shots), so i did, he told to go to the prone position and shoot, so i did, he sat me in a chair and said draw and shoot, so i did, he said run from point A to point B while shooting, reloading and shooting, i did, he then made me move to cover while drawing and shooting 2 shots, so i did, and then he ask me what stance did i like using better… the weaver or the isosceles, I said I didn’t use them, he said EACTLY.

The point he made me understand and realize that a stance is only a preference of conformability to balance when target shooting and the default position a person goes to when attack.

The important part of shooting is the essentials… Aiming, Grip, trigger pull, and/or arm extension. Whether you're shooting on the run, kneeling, prone, sitting, squatting, or standing still, hitting the target has nothing to do with the weaver or isosceles stance. The conformability of Balance is the only thing needed during moving, standing, prone, kneeling, or sitting position.

I never made a stance an issue after that, i would just default to a balance firm position without focusing on it, and shoot, my focus was on grip, arm extension, front sight/sight pic and trigger pull. If i were handing from a tree with one arm, as long as performed the essentials correctly, I’d hit my target.

April 17, 2009, 03:56 PM
When the weak hand goes over the strong, turn your weak hand just a little with your fingers rotating toward your feet, this takes the last bit of slack out of your weak hand elbow. I heard someone say that you're supposed to grip about 60% using your weak hand and 40% with your strong hand, this is to compensate for the movement of your trigger finger. I personally haven't gotten to the range to try the 60/40 thing, but turning your weak hand to take the slack out of your elbow improved my shooting. I shoot a G23 also.

Edit: The 60/40 thing is in terms of how much strength of the grip comes from each hand.

Jim March
April 17, 2009, 08:25 PM
At some point, big recoil starts to seriously favor the Weaver. The guys shooting serious calibers up past 44Mag are almost always seen shooting from Weaver. The inherent "asymmetry" causes the gun to go up and past your head versus drive the front sight into your forehead if everything else goes wrong.

The Weaver also has advantages in sideways movement which CAN help.

As to Isosceles: Jerry Mikulek has a modified Isosceles in which his arms are still straight as seen from the side, but his elbows are bent outwards. Despite looking like some sort of funky chicken dance, it works well to rapidly absorb mid-power recoil in fast shot strings while keeping the barrel on target. But yet again, the technique is horsepower-limited. For most people somewhere out near the edge of the 357Mag's performance envelope in a mid-size gun like a GP100/686 (my suspicion anyways) your recoil control will fall apart. Jerry can still make major with this, which is what, 400ish foot-lbs energy?

I shoot 800ft/lbs in a mid-size gun from a Weaver and I'm damned glad at that point I'm doing a Weaver hold.

I think you DO need a standard starting point at which you're at peak effectiveness. And I think it should be the same basic hold for all your handguns. If you're into big power, you're going to want that hold to be a Weaver.

The Cross-Dominance Difference

The other big Weaver advantage is that the transition from rifle to handgun feels less abrupt. The Weaver is in many ways a modified rifle hold. In my case even moreso: as a right-hander with dominant left eye, from a Weaver I can do a cheek weld on my right bicep while bring my left eye in line behind the sights. This trick isn't available in Isosceles at all and applies to anyone cross-dominant.

April 17, 2009, 09:09 PM
When I began, a punch was just punch and a kick was just a kick.
As I learned, a punch became so much more than just a punch and a kick became so much more than just a kick.
When I understood, a punch was just a punch and a kick was just a kick.

Excellent post, GUNSITE, it is what it is and what works works. When the real world comes calling, who cares how your standing or holding your gun if you can make it work.

April 17, 2009, 09:10 PM
First off, no two people are exactly alike, therefore no one style fits everyone. You have to work with each individual, to pick a style, modified style, or combination of styles to fit that person.

To say one style is better then another is totally bogus.

April 17, 2009, 09:35 PM
Wow .... I did a ton of research after making the post , Many of the things I read mentioned modified versions of both ... Gunsite that post you made was very profound in that it helped to encourage me to find my own stance and what's most comfortable for me.

Through my dry fire and practice tonight ( Range is tomorrow if I can find Ammo ) I feel more comfortable in the " fighter stance" waist down. But I feel that's mostly familiarity..... The GUN control and steadiness felt so much better in Isosceles. My arms felt more supported and less strain on the muscles trying to plan or and counter the recoil .... I felt like my arms/shoulders/wrists/elbows all were in perfect combination and perfect balance... Even though the leg stance felt a little goofy to me. ( Perhaps too much TV "cool" looking balance )

I'm actually excited to try this out tomorrow and cehck out combinations of the two and modifications to fit me.

Thank you all for the fantastic responses !!

Shane Tuttle
April 17, 2009, 10:05 PM

Randy Cain taught my wife and I the exact same philosophy as you stated. He gave us some valid points of different techniques and then let us decide for ourselves what was most natural. It was amazing to see everyones' methods were so different, yet got measureable results.

April 17, 2009, 11:57 PM
Modified Iso is probably the most natural "high stress" stance. The push pull of the weaver and modified weaver stance is a little more difficult to pull off in a reactionary type gun fight. Also, the squared shoulders and head to the target, seems to be a more natural position for humans to take when faced with someone who is posing a deadly threat to them. Personally, I tend to like mod. iso for shots 5 yards and out. Its very fast because esentially both arms are thrusting the pistol straight out in front of you. This is a gross motor skill. Furthermore, this stance provides a good platform for body-indexing your shots on target. If a shooter has difficulty picking up the sights for any number of reasons, this stance still allows for fast acurate fire because the shots go generally where you look. With a high-thumbs forward grip, this stance works well to control the weapon's recoil. The locked wrists keep the gun in a vice-like hold. The weapon generates less felt recoil from this type of grip/ stance. Additionally, the sights tend to track straight up and down as opposed to up and off to the sides as is common from other types of shooting platforms.

Another point I'd like to make is that the term 'stance' is used rather loosely. Modified / modern isosceles really has to do with the upper body. The feet can be more or less squared up depending on a shooters preference, the weapon type being fired (pistol or long gun) , or the movement pattern.

Iso in a dynamic shooting environment does have some short comings however. Shooting from extreamly tight spaces and at odd angles is next to impossible with an extended platform of any type. Shooting while moving laterally is difficult, albeit not impossible with mod iso. For some of these "special situations" I prefer other stances to mod iso. Also, for extreme close quarters shooting, a traditionaly mod iso stance runs the risk of loosing a weapon to an attacker. I find that stances / shooting systems such as compressed weaver / Center axis relock really fit the bill for the times when mod iso fails. These other types of shooting platforms solve the problems of odd angle engagments, shooting in/ from tight spaces, and weapon retention at close range.

Mod. iso is a great stance and its easy to see why its so well favored in action shooting circles. That being said, its important to understand where it fails and then have alternative techniques to pick up where it leaves off. Learning how to flow from one technique to another at the right time is the name of the game for a complete tactical shooter.

Jim March
April 18, 2009, 12:04 AM
Iso seems to have the advantage in rapid-fire of medium-to-low power (recoil) levels. Weaver starts to dominate the bigger the power levels.

People will come to each differently, yeah, but that tends to hold true in most cases. If your interest is primarily defense shooting with recoil levels similar to modern police and it works for you, consider Iso. If you're into bigger power, consider Weaver, on top of everything else.

Cross-dominants (eye/hand dominance differs) get serious benefits out of Weaver. As a cross-dominant with an interest in power levels beyond typical police handgun ammo, Weaver's for me.

April 18, 2009, 12:58 AM
Jerry Mikulek has a modified Isosceles in which his arms are still straight as seen from the side, but his elbows are bent outwards.It's not so much that he wants them bent as that he wants the elbows rotated so the points are outward. His rationale is that if the elbows are going to flex in recoil, he wants them to flex in a manner that keeps the barrel on target (as you point out.)

If the elbows are pointed down and they flex, the hands (and therefore the gun & muzzle) rise. If they're pointed outward and they flex the hands & gun tend to move straight back rather than rising.

The bend in the elbows is a requirement levied by anatomy. Trying to rotate the elbows so they point outward while keeping the arms straight and maintaining a shooting grip is quite uncomfortable.

Jim March
April 18, 2009, 04:03 AM
Hey, I ain't knockin' Jerry! The dude is the fastest shot string shooter in the world, period, bar none, end of discussion.

Even if his technique looks wacky :).

I will point out though that you can't always extrapolate a truly world-class shooter's personal technique to the general population. There've been some spectacular failures trying to do so. The most extreme was when the FBI tried to emulate Jelly Brice, likely the single most dangerous combat handgunner who ever lived and thank God he was with the good guys. The dude used to personally do solo what we use whole SWAT teams for today, and killed a LOT of goblins.

Problem was, turns out most people can't hip-shoot the way Jelly could. A lot of FBI agents died doing the "FBI crouch" he taught 'em. Oops.

I'm not saying for sure that nobody else can get Jerry's "funky chicken Isosceles" down pat...but I'm also not betting it'll come naturally to most people in a fight.

As good as Jerry is, he's not combat tested that I know of.

April 18, 2009, 05:01 AM
No, I didn't mean to imply you were. I heard him explain the position & the reasons for it at one point during an interview and I thought it might be interesting to post it.

As you point out, not every technique works for every shooter, but the general idea of this one is sound and seems to work well in practice. I'm sure some will find it awkward & difficult, but it's one of those things worth trying at the range to see if it's something to add to the "bag of tools".

I've never explored the horsepower limitations of the technique for various reasons, the primary one being that the recoil ceiling you mention seems to be a good practical limit for a defensive handgun. I shoot bigger handguns and enjoy it thoroughly, but I don't try to control recoil once it gets past a point. I just "roll with it"--if the muzzle rises, it rises.

Jim March
April 18, 2009, 08:35 AM
I just "roll with it"--if the muzzle rises, it rises.

Well yeah, but my point with Weaver is that you can let it RADICALLY rise as need be and it will rise >>past<< your head. Isosceles will let it rise >>into<< your head. Big difference.

Question: what happens if you get ahold of an overcharge that doesn't manage to blow the gun up, but is significantly hotter than you'd expect? It does happen. In my case, I shoot a gun that's abnormally strong by 357 standards, as my NewVaq's cylinder is a good bit beefier than either a GP100 or L-Frame S&W, neither of which are noted as weak. So it should be able to cope damage-free with at least some level of ammo factory booboo (or my own once I start reloading).

If it's too extreme and blows the cylinder up, recoil will actually be pretty mild. It'll be LOUD and make a big flash, but recoil won't be bad. But if it's NOT enough to blow a tough gun up, recoil will be truly nasty, maybe dwarfing an S&W500.

Weaver gives me a safety margin over Iso in such an event.

April 18, 2009, 12:23 PM
The other big Weaver advantage is that the transition from rifle to handgun feels less abrupt. The Weaver is in many ways a modified rifle hold. In my case even moreso: as a right-hander with dominant left eye, from a Weaver I can do a cheek weld on my right bicep while bring my left eye in line behind the sights. This trick isn't available in Isosceles at all and applies to anyone cross-dominant.
Jim March

I taught that for years to the cross dominant group, works kind of well for the rest of us as well.

The radical weaver opened your armpit, heart and lungs to ventilation! But you can use a weaver (modified?) so as to gain the muzzle rise advantage, but still present the flat front of your chest (vest) to the front.

Clamping your gun hand thumb down, and the off hand thumb clamping down on gun hand thumb, is best for hanging on to your weapon when some individual latches on to it in a fight.

Firing a .50 S&W with a thumbs forward hold might be unpleasant! Those gases out of the side of the cylinder are akin to a cutting torch!

IMHO the fast draw that ends in weapon discharge has to match your shooting stance/grip, because you want a bang at the end of your draw stroke, with no adjustment whatsoever.

April 18, 2009, 01:05 PM
Determine early on what works for YOU, and practice, practice, practice!

April 18, 2009, 01:25 PM
In a gunfight you may or may not have the ability to use your "preferred" stance. If you do, you most likely are behind cover or you are standing still.

One will save you and one will get you killed.

I think it's important to know the three basic stances, Iso, Weaver and Chapman in order to have a foundation from which to work from. Then you need to find what works for you.

I myself was a late convert to Iso, having shot the Chapman Stance for years. Now I find the Chapman hard to use and the Weaver fun to shoot from at the Range. Weaver really works well for me when sitting in a car. By using all three stances I can get almost 360 degrees of coverage from a stable platform without moving my feet.

This is not something I advocate doing in a gunfight, just something I practice "just in case." There is no one stance, grip or technique that will work for every situation. The more "tools" you have in your toolbox the better prepared you are.

Just my $0.02.


April 18, 2009, 02:20 PM
Hard to argue that post Biker!

Art Eatman
April 18, 2009, 03:44 PM
I got into IPSC long before race guns. With my rather slender build and 34" sleeve length, the modified Weaver works well for me--particularly when playing high-speed with a Redhawk and full-power loads. Through the years in solo practice at home, I'd do the fall-down-and-draw sort of stuff, and work from all manner of threat directions. So, for me, that stance works well. It's now pretty much reflexively built in. Jim's comment about the transition from a riflle is apropos, given my decades of shooting them.

But there's no such thing as "one size fits all". GUNSITE's comments are well taken. If you're in a car or at a restaurant table, I doubt you're gonna take time to assume some particular stance. :) For all you know, you might have to reach around under your offside armpit and pop a bad guy at three feet.

April 18, 2009, 04:23 PM
I shoot competition: Bullseye, International Center Fire, Cowboy and PPC when I can. Bullseye and ICF are fired one handed. Some Cowboy is fired one handed. PPC is fired two handed. I used to shoot in some proto IPSC type matches with less rules and real guns, but haven't been able to do so for some time. (And my knees are bad.)

For pretty much all the deliberate, carefully sighted fire, I use a 'stiff-arm-locked-elbow-locked-wrist-(semi)death-grip' approach. Shooting two handed, this obviously translates to isosceles. When I shoot multiple targets with broad target areas or do the shoot/move/shoot format, I use more of a bent elbow Weaver method. All two handed shooting puts the weak hand over the fingers of the strong hand and at least a mild 'push-pull' effect. I fear I do very little exactly like shown in the school books.

As Brother March said, the harder recoiling handguns are far more controllable - not to mention comfortable - from a bent arm posture.

Ah; the 'square or sideways' question. This has been argued since the days of the formal duel. The 'square' contingent argued "If hit, less damage is done; sideways gets both lungs penetrated". The 'sideways' faction claimed "Sideways is harder to hit; square presents a bigger target". To my knowledge the question has never been fully resolved. (I've never been able to decide, at any rate.)

I'm of the 'shoot them first and remove the threat' school. I'm not above seeking or taking cover, but many times running from a threat will simply give the threat time to shoot one in the back. It depends on how far it is to cover. If one is far from cover, and the adversary is behind cover, one must have remembered prior to settle one's affairs and make peace with God. But I'm getting far afield from the original question.

One must discover what works best in the immediate situation.

April 18, 2009, 10:17 PM
Well yeah, but my point with Weaver is that you can let it RADICALLY rise as need be and it will rise >>past<< your head. Isosceles will let it rise >>into<< your head.I must be doing the Isosceles wrong. :D Somewhere I've got a picture of myself with a .500S&W in full recoil. The muzzle is vertical but the gun is nowhere near hitting my head.
I guess it could happen, I'll have to think about that one some more.Question: what happens if you get ahold of an overcharge that doesn't manage to blow the gun up, but is significantly hotter than you'd expect?Again, I guess it's possible to hold a gun so that it will recoil into your head if it surprises you, but I've only heard of this happening to children or non-shooters who were holding the gun improperly. The only exception I can recall is the video of the guy shooting the pistol chambered in 600NE.

Jim March
April 19, 2009, 12:34 AM
I'd agree it's not a major concern if you know how to shoot, but I still consider this a Weaver advantage :).

April 19, 2009, 12:44 AM
In my case, I shoot a gun that's abnormally strong by 357 standards...I passed up a chance to purchase a .357Mag Redhawk in excellent condition a couple of months ago. Things like that make me hate gunshows. The list of guns I SHOULD have bought at gunshows haunts me...

April 19, 2009, 06:43 AM
Excellent replies folks... I didn't get to the range yesterday due to sickness and some family stuff that popped up. Still going to try and make it out today. I also want to look a bit more into the Chapman.... I saw a little on that in passing the other day during research , but not nearly as many hits as Weaver or Iso.

Again , Weaver feels more natural to me in a leg stance .... Prior rifle shooting and fighting position I feel more balanced... So I believe a slightly modified Iso will be the most comfortable for me. I can definitely see how in many situation it wouldn't be feasible do to outside restraints.

I really do wish I could find more of the free combat/defensive shooting training videos ( I liked the home defense one from NRA ). I know the local gun shop offers an advanced CCW training , but I'm pretty sure it's mainly classroom and education to laws and allowable situations etc...

April 19, 2009, 10:54 AM
"The other big Weaver advantage is that the transition from rifle to handgun feels less abrupt."

It works both ways, though. Note: squared long guns shooting and tactical stances are a part of the training landscape across much of the military and law enforcement communities. For individuals receiving consistent "squared instruction," switching to bladed presents challenges --> There are more and more of such folks each year as the doctrinal transition marches on.

April 20, 2009, 02:05 AM
If you put in enough practice, either one will become natural to you. I started out with a Chapman stance (extreme, modified weaver), but then trained into ISO. Either one works. Tailor your stance to what is natural, what you practice, and what suits your needs the best.

IMO, each has certain advantages
ISO: The symmetry makes consistency very easy for me. I can bring a pistol back to my chest, and still maintain 6" accuracy out to 10-15 feet. If body armor is worn, the best protection is toward the target (which is part of why LE/mil trainers like it). A squared stance can move in any direction fairly easily (why a lot of IPSC/IDPA competitors use it). One can turn either way without too much difficulty.

Weaver: Initially, pointing to targets was easier for me. You present a smaller target. You can stay steady while taking an impact from the target direction due to the bladed stance. Front/back movement is pretty easy.

Michael Bane
April 22, 2009, 11:42 AM
Interesting thread...I came out of the Cooper/Modern Technique in the 1970s, but shifted to iso when I started shooting a lot of IPSC. When I began shooting more and more heavy caliber revolvers and lots of ARs, I (grudgingly) admitted to Ed Head at GUNSITE that the "square" Weaver did a better job of controlling the heavy recoil than the iso, and it "translated" better when moving to rifle or shotgun.

As I've mentioned before, couple of years ago I lost most of the vision in my dominant right eye (proving categorically that doctors are MUCH more dangerous than firearms!). This forced me to shoot left eye/right hand with the handgun and left-handed with long guns, so now it's almost 100% Weaver (and as yet still a really crappy sporting clays shooter!). Never really appreciated what cross dominance people went through...sorry, guys!

Agree with Biker, however...in a complex scenario you will (or should) typically flow from technique to technique, depending on what the situation calls for. Right barricade, left barricade, traditional rollover prone and some of the newer "urban" prone positions (designed to take advantage of, say, a car's wheel as cover) all can require different shooting techniques.

Back in the early days of IPSC we used to design courses of fire that specifically did not allow that perfect fighting stance, forcing the shooter to take the shot from sometimes seriously awkward positions (I'm thinking of some of the weird "Rhodesian wall" shots)...was a great learning experience!

Michael B

PS: In the documentary on Col. Cooper, JEFF COOPER — A MAN IN FULL, there a sequence of me working the Fun House at GUNSITE, with all my longer shots from iso. The Colonel would no doubt just shake his head sadly...