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Old December 16, 2020, 08:34 AM   #1
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Getting a grasp on grip

I'm on the newer side when it coes to handguns, but I've found one issue that stands out in my practice sessions. My big issue is with gripping the handgun properly and consistently. Now I will be the last to claim any level of expertise, seeing as how some folks here have probably been shooting handguns longer than my 23 years on this planet, but I do feel relatively competent in discussing my deficiency in knowledge. Any advice or training material that can be suggested would be appreciated.

It seems prudent to give relevant information when asking for advice. I've been experimenting with styles of grip on my handguns, but my results are all over the board. Here is what I've noticed so far...

The two-handed grip is a struggle for me on two of my handguns, specifically my Ruger Wrangler and my Bersa Thunder. I can fire the Wrangler comfortably using a single hand, but single-action small-bore revolvers seem more suited to that. My accuracy with the Bersa seems worse when I use two hands. That may be due to a combination of factors. First and foremost, I have very large hands with very long fingers. If it gives you any indication, I can hide the entirety of my Bersa under my hand with almost no effort. Secondly, the trigger finger in my dominant hand is both curved towards my middle finger and slightly twisted at the fingertip towards my thumb. Whether that is the result of a birth abnormality or an old injury I am uncertain.

My hands seem to fit my XDm Elite much better, but I've noticed a tendency to press my support hand trigger finger against the front of the trigger guard. Letting go of that makes my grip feel less firm, but seems to improve follow-up shots.

The last handgun in my arsenal is a 1911 style. It feels sacrilegious to me that I haven't made it to the range to test it out, but it feels like a natural fit. The range rental 1911 I've fired fit pretty well in my hand, and this one feels very comfortable to point and grasp. After I go dip into the "fun fund" I will report back. .45 ACP is even more of a punch in the wallet than .380. See you back after the lead flies and the wallet cries.
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Old December 16, 2020, 01:32 PM   #2
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How easily can you reach the trigger with the grips you have? The firearm has to fit your hand first.
"...finger against the front of the trigger guard..." Usually means the grip is too small. A Bersa Thunder is a wee thing to start with.
Then it's like shaking hands. Firm but not a death grip.
It might be an idea to go get some training. How easy that'd be depends on where you are. Ask at the place you shoot.
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Old December 16, 2020, 04:45 PM   #3
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I think my Bersa is likely too small for me, at least for two-handed firing. It isn't my trigger finger hitting the inside of the guard, and I think I worded that part poorly in my original post. It is the pointer finger of my left hand that rides on the exterior face of the trigger guard. I've watched footage of a few demonstrations of the "push/pull" grip. Upon examination I notice that I seem to be doing something wrong with my support hand. It always seems like it "rides high" on my main hand, but that is as much as I can deduce. If I get to go send a few rounds downrange from my 1911, I'll have a point of comparison against my XDm. There is a good chance that fit is the issue, but I need to get new glasses as well. The sights are a bit fuzzy as-is, and my eyes aren't what they used to be.
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Old December 16, 2020, 05:09 PM   #4
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No index finger belongs on the front of the trigger guard, anytime. As you tighten your grip, you will tend to 'pull' the muzzle to one side or the other, depending on right or left handed. This was demonstrated to me long ago, by a NY state pistol champion. Don't ask why some companies put those serrations or checkering there on the front of the trigger guard, - they don't know!
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Old December 16, 2020, 07:37 PM   #5
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No index finger belongs on the front of the trigger guard, anytime.
As a right hand pistol shooter, I place my left index finger on the front of the trigger guard on semi auto pistols, but not revolvers. As long as you do not increase or decrease the pressure of the finger on the front of the trigger guard during the trigger press, not altering the sight picture in any way, there is no problem. I'm sure many people increase pressure with the left index finger as they are increasing pressure on the trigger, so yes, that is a problem. If I was "coaching" a new shooter, I'd tell them to try both ways, and use what works best for them.
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Old December 17, 2020, 12:35 PM   #6
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for smaller guns, don't try to force fingers on that don't fit. I have a couple guns where my pinkies dangle.

for grip, it was explained to me, primary hand, get a grip, fill in the space on the grip you can see with the base of your support palm and wrap your fingers around

Pressure, I have head everything from light handshake, to firm handshake, to death grip. I like what Jerry does, and it helped me. As tight as you can grip without your hands shaking.

jerry teaching shooting, good stuff

as far as the index on the trigger guard, its all about preference, training and consistency. There are competition shooters, jerry Miculek's daughter for example, who do it. If jerry lets her do it, I'm sure its ok.

you can see her here at the 3:20 mark
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Last edited by Shadow9mm; December 17, 2020 at 12:43 PM.
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Old December 21, 2020, 02:06 PM   #7
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I would say that one should always shoot better with two hands, and should do so if circumstances allow. The Bersa and Wrangler are both smallish handguns with which folks with big paws would seem likely to struggle. You may have to accept that one may not do their best shooting with those guns due to the poor fit.

The 1911 and its clones are famous for feeling "right" in the hand, as are many of JM Brownings guns. For me, no other .45acp handgun feels as good.

I am not aware of any agency or teaching body that advises the off hand index finger poised on the front of the trigger guard. Yes it is done, but I think largely inspired by film and media. Some makers went so far as to square the trigger guard on their guns to facilitate it, but I believe that was a mistake. I would encourage the OP to seek the council of a bonafide coach for a few sessions to iron out their technique.

The index finger works opposite the thumb and is likely the single strongest digit of the hand. Why hang it so far forward and less involved in actually grasping the handgun? The thumbs forward grip on the autopistol is now "the way" and truly stablizes the gun for aim. I cannot manage it on some of my handguns, and do not always acquire it (yet) under stress, but I believe it certainly is superior.
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Old December 21, 2020, 07:39 PM   #8
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There are timestamps in the video description, but Tips 2-4 (and even 5 to a certain extent) are pretty helpful imo.

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Old December 22, 2020, 01:13 AM   #9
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Don't choke the gun to death. Firm and flexible is what you want. Not a jellyfish grip but a steady grip with smooth trigger pull and follow through so you are not dipping, flinching, jerking or otherwise fumbling with the grip when the gun goes off. Your wrist and arms should take up any recoil. Don't force the gun to stay down, just find a natural rythm. If you over think the shot, you'll likely miss because it's a coordinated learned cycle that must be controlled by muscle memory from practice. I started my handgun shooting with a Crossman 357 at the age of about 12 and that gun was accurate at close range and it taught me to control my trigger and follow through. People who start with a 45 or something never become as proficient as those who start with a pellet gun or 22 because they are caught up trying to control recoil rather than master the fundamentals. If you can get a 22 conversion for your pistol or a 22 pistol, start there. I haven't tried it in awhile but I used to be able to lob 45 bullets into a coffee can at 50 yards with a 1911 pretty regularly. I believe Rob Letham put out a video talking about handgun shooting and training starting with trigger control with sight picture being secondary. The rational is if you are doing inconsistent things with the trigger, even if sight picture is perfect you'll miss but even if you don't aim but have good trigger control you can still hit most of the time.
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Old December 22, 2020, 05:58 PM   #10
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I have carried for years in 1982 .It was small autos to revolvers .
Then mouse pistols they hurt slide bite banged up trigger finger
Today SIG 365 FITS ME
No Gun Big Or Small Does It All
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Old December 23, 2020, 06:57 PM   #11
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You're on to something that grip is a tremendous part of shooting pistols *well*. On my journey (and i'm no expert either) I'm always surprised at new layers that I uncover as far as muscular control of specific small muscles of the hand/fingers and the impact it makes downrange. And then if you're like me you'll hopefully also have cycles where you make it a point to integrate some practical elements and try your hand to speed things up while doing your best to hold true to your fundamentals. I cycle back and forth on trying to improve the fundamentals while periodically focusing on a skill or acceptable inaccuracy for a minimum standard of speed etc. Don't want to get too lost in the details of technique and forget practical context.

If you let yourself, you'll find that there isn't just 1 type of grip that fits your hands, but for each pistol frame style / genre, there is likely a certain variation / adjustment of the contemporary two handed grip that promotes consistency. Get used to shooting those big boxy polymer frame grips. But at some point when you pick up a 1911 or metal framed CZ maybe take a moment to realize why the narrower rounded front portion of the grip feels different and pick where on your hand you're going to index it in such a way that it leaves enough room for your off hand and you can still reach controls.

A lot of shooters build competence without being able to clearly understand or communicate what is going on with them or their equipment. When it comes to a pistol grip / frame that allows more real estate to clamp down on, better texture, less stressful wrist position, whatever it is, sometimes all someone is able to put into words is "it feels good in the hand".

Sometimes what someone is used to doesn't always mean that the arrangement is optimized for them, just that they are accustomed to it. If I stick a violin and bow in my child's hands that dimensionally is a good fit for their height and arm length, it's still going to feel very awkward for them no matter what. Because right now they specialize in hollering.

If you watch the youtube experts, these days they'll mostly have you point your offhand thumb towards your target, bending that wrist downward towards your pinky as far as possible actively pulling your wrist muscles against the limit of travel, and lay that off hand thumb against the frame, or actually press it into the frame. Polymer 80 pistol frames have a teeny tiny ledge to supposedly resist muzzle flip with your offhand thumb (I don't think it does much) and some raceguns will have a "brake pedal" in that place. Or you'll find a two thumbs up floating in the air type of grip promoted, which is a bit more old school. It depends on your physical limitations, your preference, and the arrangement of your firearm as to whether those are a good idea or one way or another. Seldom do I hear a thumbs crossing grip (like a revolver grip) being promoted. The off hand thumb across the trigger guard supposedly was popular in the 80's. If you focus enough, you could potentially train to deal with the inconsistency of that pulling left (assuming you are right handed) but the more a grip relies on muscles to compensate for asymmetrical contact, the less consistent the grip will be when those muscles fatigue at different rates.

anyhow, good luck and have fun in your journey
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Old January 7, 2021, 01:21 PM   #12
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Try borrowing a identical sidearm that has different grip, or rent from a range.

I found that the Pachmyar professional gripper, due to the longer length and thinner width
are comfortable for my revolvers [j'S and k-frames type for me and the semi the regular pachmyar are best for me/
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Old January 7, 2021, 03:56 PM   #13
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Travis Haley (Haley Strategic) has a couple good videos on handgun grip:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Aron Cowan (Sage Dynamics) also has a couple good ones:

Handgun Grip:

Correcting Grip Issues:

Chris Baker from Lucky Gunner (not in the same league professionally as the other guys, but does have great videos) also has a good video about shooting small handguns:

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Old January 24, 2021, 08:43 PM   #14
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I find it difficult to use a similar grip on all handguns. Each gun to me needs a different grip. Can't grip a revolver with a 9mm grip or the gases will seriously burn your hand. Similarly, my 380 Bodyguard is very small, and pinky finger needs to stay off grip. I accommodate each guns design with a suitable grip.
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Old January 24, 2021, 10:27 PM   #15
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Here is a good video about grip that I found recently.

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Old February 5, 2021, 09:49 AM   #16
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I find that each gun requires a unique grip. I can't grip my 380 Bodyguard the same way I grip my Model 66 357 magnum.
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Old February 6, 2021, 12:57 AM   #17
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I reread my earlier post in #11, i made a typo, the "offhand thumb across the finger guard" nope - it's the non-dominant index finger wrapped around the trigger guard that was popular in the 1980's. It probably feels familiar to hook your fingers into things as we do it regularly in a day - coffee mugs, grocery bags. But on a pistol it will skew the pistol towards the non-dominant hand if your finger happens to twitch the tiniest bit, and inconsistently at that as your muscle fatigues.

Also of note, a single action pistol like the OP's Ruger Wrangler may feel strange to shoot two handed because it was a one handed pistol. And if it's anything like it's competitor single action revolver in 22 LR, it's kind of a small grip. Same with the Bersa Thunder. OP's choice of pistol may have had something to do with price - which is fine. I just hope OP gets to try grips of different shapes and width/volume as that changes the whole experience from one pistol to another.
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Old February 7, 2021, 08:12 PM   #18
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You have a firm grasp of the fundamentals- grip is a crucial skill.

I shoot all my single actions one handed. Even if shooting “two handed”, my left hand is just there for fast thumbing the hammer, which I only used to do for cowboy action shooting.

Bersa Thunder has a great grip IMO. Shoot it one handed as well. Ignore the serrated trigger guard.

In my book, from what I have read and from my High Master rated mentor: “squeeze the living shi#p out of it!”

The concept is that when your muscles are at full strength squeeze, moving your trigger finger can’t cause any muscles to contract by reflex since they are at full contraction.

It’s true that the more hand strength you develop, your point of impact will shift, sometimes by a couple inches at 50’ after a year of training. This is where adjustable sites come in. Move the sights to your point of aim.

The other thing about the “death grip” is consistency. “As hard as you can” is easy to repeat. “Sort of in between” will always be inconsistent.

At my point in life I can afford any pistol I desire. I wanted a .380 and I chose the Bersa over the Glock, S&W, Ruger and Sig choices. It’s a fine little pistol, the largest of all the current production .380s.(excepting the little mini 1911 pistols). Any argument that it’s not enough boom I counter with “i don’t care.” This data point is where I actually put my money after looking/shooting all (except the Sig, which is lovely except it’s too small for my use as a field pistol.)
I hunt, shoot bullseye, plink, reload, and tinker with firearms. I have hung out with the Cowboy Action fellas. I have no interest in carrying firearms in urban areas.
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Old February 8, 2021, 11:19 AM   #19
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I'll go against the grain here and say that on a smaller pistol, like a bersa, you may be able to get away with putting your finger on the front of the trigger guard. If you use that finger to pull against while you push with the rest of your hand against the frame of the pistol you may find that you've eliminated the issues that many people have with the pointer finger resting on the forward face of the trigger guard.

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