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Old April 20, 2012, 03:51 PM   #1
Join Date: September 20, 2010
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too much finger?

a question on proper finger placement when squeezing the trigger. I know there are variations and different ways of shooting but the common method, the method taught in Basic Training, is to put the fleshy, fingerprint part of the finger on the trigger. I've mostly fired rifles and pistols on single action. and I didn't used to pay as much attention to my technique. but i just bought a DA revolver and noticed when i squeezed the trigger, it jerked to the right at the very last second. when firing SA, it's either not there or so small that i don't notice. i do know i shoot to the right with a pistol though. so i focused on my trigger squeeze and did it over and over, trying to pull the trigger straight back. always jerked. remembering an article i read by Ayoob, i put my finger through to the first joint and squeezed. no jerke on SA or DA. so, do i need to figure out what's wrong with my trigger pull or do i just need to use more finger from now on, firing "incorrectly" if you listen to what my drill sergeants said all those years ago?
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Old April 20, 2012, 04:12 PM   #2
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People have different size fingers.

Best way I teach people to find the best part of their finger to use is to get a laser sighted pistol/revolver and have them dry fire.

Too much finger and the red dot is off to the left when the hammer falls, not enough finger and its to the right (right handed shooter).

The finger is kind of like the rear sight, push it the way you want your groups to go.
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Old April 20, 2012, 04:26 PM   #3
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I think it may vary from pistol to pistol also.

I learned with my Glock that I had to put a lot of finger on the trigger. I learned it by trial and error, dry-firing.

I fired my P7M8 so many years that I knew exactly where my finger went on the trigger, but that didn't work with the Glock.

When I went to test fire a LC9 I found that by the time I had pulled the trigger about ¾ of the way back my finger is starting to curl, so that's a different motion. Instead of puling straight back using my trigger finger from the second joint -on, I'm using my whole finger - starting with the first knuckle, to complete the trigger pull.

It can be different with each trigger.

Last edited by C0untZer0; April 20, 2012 at 04:31 PM.
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Old April 21, 2012, 12:12 AM   #4
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[this is long winded, I'm not an expert but I like thinking about these kinds of things]

When I started shooting, an older shooter taught me that in general, the "standard" way to shoot a revolver in double action is to center the farthest knuckle / distal joint in the trigger face. Some call it the "power crease/groove". There is a lot of leverage this way. This works very well for smooth combat triggers. I was taught that for any given revolver this is how your grip is determined - start with your preferred trigger finger placement and then wrap the rest of your hand around the grip. I'm guessing it's because the frame sizes for revolvers and the stocks on them vary by a lot - at least the trigger finger placement would be consistent and familiar.

Exceptions: My S&W 27-2 revolver however has a very wide and serrated "target trigger". Using this technique is a bit more difficult in double action - and I read that the serrated target trigger was meant for the other technique of using the pad of the finger for fine control in Single Action. The trigger is so wide that I find placing the joint on the right corner of the trigger moves the front sight the least during dry fire. I've also seen a video segment by Jerry Miculek (see youtube) where he recommends putting the trigger finger "square to the trigger face" - if that means using the pad, then this goes against the generalization. Jerry, being a professional, most likely has extraordinary finger strength and can shoot well this way.

I've also read that piece by Massad Ayoob that he prefers using the joint of the finger for semi-auto pistols as well. It does give a lot of control. If I started doing that however, I'd probably be scolded at the next class I went to (since I'm not Mr. Ayoob)

I too am still experimenting with a couple of my guns, trying to find the sweet spot. Or a sweeter spot. Especially every time I buy/try new stocks for my revolvers. I more or less use the crease of my knuckle for my revolvers.

Is it possible that since you were using the pad of your finger that at the last moment your trigger was sliding into the groove of your finger joint - and the gun shifted to the right? Aside from playing with the trigger finger placement itself, I sometimes play around with rotating my whole hand clockwise or counter-clockwise on the grip.

Have fun experimenting
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Old April 21, 2012, 11:23 AM   #5
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To get the most accuracy you can out of a pistol you need to eliminate as many variables as possible to get consistancy.

The first varible is going to be your grip. The pistol must recoil in a predictable manner. If it doesn't, you will find yourself having to correct your sight picture and often having to move the hand around on the grip. Many times people hold the grip wrong and have the pistol recoiling in a haphazard way. The recoil should drive the pistol straight up and back. If you are having the pistol turning sideways in some manner, then your grip is incorrect or the pistol just does not fit your hand properly.

The second variable is going to be your presentation. If you are lowering your head to acquire the sights, then your sights and eyes are going to align differently each time you discharge the pistol and it will result in a wandering zero. The pistol should be raised to your line of sight and you adjust your sight picture from there.

The third variable is going to be your trigger press. The knuckle of your hand, the one you would use to punch a person, should not flex at all. Only the knuckle of your finger tip and middle knuckle should move. The middle knuckle should act as a hinge and not move around. If the the last one is flexing your palm is flexing and it will push the pistol around in your grip. Also take note that if any part of your trigger finger is touching the pistol it will move the handgun around as well, avoid this.

In regard to triggers.

The serrated wide triggers, commonly found on a revolver, are meant for target shooting and are intended for the shorter SA trigger stroke. The smooth faced triggers are a combat trigger and accomodate the long DA pull. It allows the finger tip to slide a little and affects the press a little less. Provided that you are not allowing your hand itself to flex. Also the combat trigger requires the shooter to be less precise about what part of the finger tip he applies under stress. The target trigger is best left to pistols where you have the time to worry about having your finger tip just so on it. Just make sure that you have a secure contact and don't worry about it sliding a little. Unless your figger is slipping off the trigger. Then you need to go closer to the first joint.

Breathing of course is a factor, but anyone who shoots knows that we must control our breathing to be accurate. I won't go into that.

With all of the previous having been mentioned. The last varible is going to be the shooter themselves. We all at some point will have some sort of anticipation to the recoil and the natural reaction of trying to push back against it. Once your mind learns that the pistol isn't going to jump up and smack you in the face it gets a little easier. Let it recoil and return naturally, try not to compensate for the recoil. All that happens is that you tend to push the pistol around afterwards and have a lot more difficult time to reacquire a sight picture.

In regard to grip.

Milking the grip can often lead to accuracy problems. This is related to anticipation of recoil and inceasing your grip as to begin to discharge the pistol. It will do the same thing to the pistol and move it around. Get a constistant grip. Don't gorilla grip it as this will make you shake. Don't hold it loose as it will allow the pistol to move around under recoil. A medium grip that gets as much of the hand around the pistol as possible will often give the proper traction to be consistant.

Using two hands and having as much surface area make contact in a constant manner helps as well. Two hands is the most accurate, but sometimes you will not have the luxury of using two hands. If the pistol is for self defence. You must be able to shoot it with one hand. This also means you should be able to shoot it with reasonable accuracy with your support hand only. If you cannot control the pistol one handed with either hand, it is too powerful for you. You should then either use lower powered ammuniton and build up or use a caliber that produces less recoil. Also you can consider going with a heavier pistol to help mitigate the recoil.

A handgun being the most difficult firearm to master will require you to dry fire ans live fire as uch as possible to remain proficient with it. Practice as often as you can. Shoot as much as you can afford, especially if you are going to count on it for SD.

I know I must have left something out, but it is what come to mind. Hope this helps in some fashion. Remember consistancy is the primary factor. Once you get it down and don't have to concentrate on all the different possibilities or potential factors that could affect your accuracy you'll find it gets much easier to be accurate. Then you can add other new problems, such as movement and shooting from less than ideal positions.

Good luck and shoot straight.
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Old April 21, 2012, 09:47 PM   #6
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I was JUST coaching a friend of mine at the range this morning on this. He too said he used the tip because he "learned it in basic"

years ago when I was a young joe, I couldn't figure out why I kept stringing shots to the left, and my [substandard.... we'll get to that in a minute] NCO kept smoking me and saying I had "too much finger on the trigger". I kept moving further and further out to the tip and kept stringing more and more.

Then I had a great epiphany: This jerk shoots a 27 (back to the substandard NCO bit), so what the hell does he know. I fooled around a bit, and eventually realized: THERE IS ONLY ONE RULE TO HOW MUCH FINGER YOU PUT ON THE TRIGGER: Place the trigger at the point on your finger that allows you to pull it STRAIGHT BACK. For my hand, it's directly behind the first knuckle. For a good friend of mine it's behind the second knucke (i.e. he has almost his whole damned finger in there... mainly because's he's a big stupid lunkhead), and for another buddy of mine it's right in front of the first knuckle. All of us shoot 40/40.

To figure out how much finger you need, do quarter drills (with a rifle)
. They require a buddy. lay in the prone position, and hold your rifle steady. Charge your weapon and then have a friend balance a quarter on the barrel right behind the flash suppressor. Squeeze the trigger. if done correctly, the quarter will wobble, but remain on the barrel. If your trigger squeeze is off, the quarter will fall off your barrel. Repeat until you can get 10 in a row that stay on the barrel. Do the drill a couple times a week. I did this extensively with a buddy of mine when I was a Private just so I could smirk at said inferior NCO when I shot my first 40/40 and he barely qualified. Felt really good when i did, mainly because I'd brought myself to that level. Best revenge is living well and shooting better!

To translate that to a pistol: you can't raelly do it with a quarter. I like dry firing my pistol and paying attention to how much my sights move. The idea is that the lay of the pistol doesn't change. With my particular pistol, I actually like my finger to be just in front of the first joint. Again, practice practice practice until you get it right.

Last edited by insomni; April 21, 2012 at 09:53 PM.
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Old April 23, 2012, 05:27 PM   #7
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A lot of good observations in this discussion.

I shoot single action auto pistols and DA/SA auto pistols and double action revolvers and Glocks and a Sig DAK. I switch around pretty frequently (although the Sig DAK is currently my duty gun). I have big hands and long fingers. I find I have to switch around a little bit depending upon which gun I'm shooting.

The length of pull from the face of the trigger to the backstrap is critical when achieving a proper fit of the gun to the operator.

With DA revolvers I usually use the crease of the distal joint (What Mas Ayoob often calls "the power crease") and with anything else, I contact the trigger with the pad of the first joint.

Your instructor in basic training wasn't necessarily wrong -- contacting the face of the trigger with the pad of the first joint is usually the first choice with any rifle. (However, one of my friends has been shooting M16/AR15 platform rifles since he was in the Army in the 70s and he uses the "power crease" when running that system, BUT the pad of his finger when shooting any other rifle . . . )

You'll probably just have to experiment to see what works best for YOU on any particular weapons system.
You can only learn from experience if you pay attention!
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