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How Should You Hold a Handgun for Maximum Accuracy?

by Ben Jimenez 5 min read

How Should You Hold a Handgun for Maximum Accuracy?

Gina and her husband Tom went to the pistol range last weekend for target practice. A couple of months ago, they learned how to hold and shoot a gun to get their concealed carry licenses.

They entered the range with their guns unloaded. They locked back the slides to show the safety instructor that the chambers were empty. Then they went to their lanes. They locked and loaded and began shooting practice.

Gina hit her targets dead on. But Tom wasn’t doing so well. 

His grouping was awful, and most of his shots didn’t even touch the silhouette on the target.

“I don’t get it,” he said, “I qualified at concealed carry class. Why am I such a bad shot now?”

“Let’s see your stance,” Gina said. Tom raised his gun to shooting level.

“Hmmm … your stance is okay, but what’s with that grip?” Gina said.

Tom had his supporting forefinger extended. His firing hand was about a half-inch below the top of the handle.

“Are you trying to shoot like Kiefer Sutherland on 24?” Gina laughed.

Tom rolled his eyes and sighed. “I guess I got lazy and stopped paying attention to detail.”

Properly holding a handgun is one of the most important basic skills for accurate firing. When you hold with a firm, uniform grip, your gun becomes an extension of your hand. Hitting your target will be as easy and natural as pointing with your finger.

Use a Reliable One-Handed Grip When Necessary

Tom made the mistake of mimicking grips that he’d seen on TV. Had Gina not stepped in, he might have eventually reached the point where he tried to fire his gun with a one-handed grip. Holding a gun with one hand might look cool in the movies, but that kind of grip makes it difficult for you to hit a target in real life.

A two-handed grip gives you more stability and control over your weapon. You should use both hands whenever possible.

With that said, there are times when you might only have one hand available. Perhaps you get injured defending yourself, or you have arthritis that flares up occasionally. Since circumstances might force you to shoot with one hand, it makes sense to devote some time to one-handing shooting.

If you need to use a one-handed grip:

  1. Extend your thumb and index finger on your firing hand to form a V.
  2. Place the webbing of the V on the back of your gun’s grip. You want to get your hand as high on the grip as possible.
  3. Wrap your lower three fingers around the front of the pistol’s grip so that they point back at you.
  4. Let your thumb rest on the side of the pistol grip without applying pressure.
  5. Squeeze the pistol grip with equal pressure from the lower three fingers until your hand starts to tremble. Slowly release pressure until the trembling stops.
  6. For safety, keep your index finger outside the trigger guard. When you’re ready to shoot, place your index finger on the trigger so that the trigger is between the tip and the second joint. 

Use the Straight-Thumbs Grip With Semi-Automatic Pistols

You should use a straight-thumbs grip when shooting a semi-automatic pistol like the Ruger EC9sS&W M&P Bodyguard 380, or Sig Sauer P365. Grand Masters with the United States Practical Shooting Confederation (USPCA) have been getting excellent results from the straight-thumbs grip since they started using it in the 1980s.

To use the straight-thumbs grip:

  1. Hold the gun with your firing hand using the proper one-handed grip.
  2. Raise your gun to the middle of your chest, keeping it close to your body while you form the two-handed grip.
  3. Firmly wrap the fingers of your non-firing hand over the fingers of your firing hand. Place the index finger of your non-firing hand over your firing hand’s middle finger. Grip high so that your index finger touches the bottom of the trigger guard.
  4. Let your firing thumb rest on top of the support thumb. Keep both thumbs parallel to the gun’s frame to avoid interference with the slide function.
  5. Raise your gun to firing position.

Make sure you keep your thumbs away from the slide and ejection port. Keeping them in the wrong position could cause misfiring and injury. Since each type of gun has a different design, you should practice the straight-thumbs grip with every semi-automatic pistol you plan to carry.

Use the Thumbs-Locked Grip When Firing Revolvers

If you happen to prefer carrying a revolver, then you should practice using the thumbs-locked grip. You can improve your accuracy with a revolver by:

  1. Holding the gun with your firing hand using the proper one-handed grip.
  2. Firmly wrapping the fingers of your support hand over the fingers of your firing hand. Place the support index finger over your firing hand’s middle finger. Grip high so that your index finger touches the bottom of the trigger guard.
  3. Place your supporting thumb on top of your firing thumb.

With a revolver, you want to keep your thumbs away from the cylinder. Otherwise, you could get powder burns after firing a round.

Apply Isometric Tension

Training your hands to apply isometric tension will improve your accuracy by reducing barrel rise from recoil between rounds. You can exercise your hand muscles to improve isometric tension by:

  1. Raising your arms to firing position.
  2. Pushing forward with your firing hand while pulling back with equal pressure from your supporting hand. You should apply firm pressure, but not so much that you tremble.
  3. Fully extending your firing arm while keeping your wrist locked.
  4. Bending your supporting arm, keeping your elbow pointed downward.

When you practice firing, try out different amounts of pressure to see what works best for you. You want just enough pressure to keep your gun stable. The more you practice with your weapon, the more natural applying isometric tension will feel.

Find Your Natural Point of Aim

With some practice, you’ll know your natural point of aim. In other words, you’ll find the most relaxed position for holding and firing your gun. Follow these steps to get a feel for the best natural point of aim for your body:

  1. Hold your gun with a proper two-handed grip.
  2. Set your sights on a target in the distance.
  3. Close your eyes for 3 to 5 seconds.
  4. Open your eyes and check the sight picture. It should be the same as before.
  5. If your point of aim is off, adjust your stance.
  6. If the sight alignment is off, release your grip and hold the gun by the barrel in your supporting hand. Follow the steps for proper grip from the beginning.

Keep practicing this until you have the same sight picture before and after.

Quick Tips for Better Accuracy

  • Keep your shoulders squared with your target.
  • Maintain a slight bend in the elbows (do not lock your elbows to hold your arms straight).
  • Focus on your gun instead of the larger target ahead.
  • Squeeze the trigger (never pull!).
  • Hold the grip with your dominant hand and use your non-dominant hand for extra support.
  • Don’t interlock your fingers.
  • Keep your non-dominant index finger off the trigger guard.
  • Practice with the guns you plan to carry. Every handgun has a unique personality.
  • Practice drawing your gun to prepare for real-world situations.

Improve Gun Accuracy by Choosing a Reliable Holster

These instructions probably sound easy enough to follow at the range. What about when you need to confront danger in the real world?

Ideally, you have practiced so much that aiming becomes an instinct that you do not need to think about. Making your practice more like real-world scenarios should improve your accuracy and safety. That means you should spend part of your time at the range drawing your gun and aiming at your target.

At Concealment Express, we sell a variety of CCW holsters that you can use at the range and during your regular day. 

Browse our selection of IWB, tuckable IWB, OWB belt loop, PWB paddle, and hybrid tuckable holsters. Since we have holsters made to match the dimensions of popular handguns, you can draw and holster your weapon confidently.

Ben Jimenez
Ben Jimenez


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