Primary Hand Grasp

Part III In The Continuing Series, “Back To Basics”.

How To Hold The Handgun Is Foundational To How Well You’ll Shoot It.

The grasp of the handgun is the interface between you and the machine. If it isn’t right, you’ll never shoot your best. It’s only the gun hand that really controls the pistol or revolver; if the support hand gets there at all, it’s stabilizing the firing hand more than it’s stabilizing the handgun itself. Let’s look at key elements of the primary hand grasp, sometimes called “master grip” or “firing hand hold.”

Virtually every shooting coach and master shooter agrees that your gun’s barrel should be in line with your forearm, and the web of your hand should be high on the backstrap of your revolver, or high and tight into the grip tang of your semiautomatic pistol. The higher the hand, the lower the muzzle vis-à-vis the arm(s) behind it. The closer the axis of the gun barrel is to the line of the radius, the upper bone in your forearm, the less leverage the muzzle will have to climb upon recoil.

Because most designers built their handguns to be held this way, this also means the higher the hand, the more straight-back the natural movement of the trigger will be, reducing downward “jerks” that send the bullet south of its intended point of impact. With auto pistols, a too-low hand position allows so much handgun movement upon recoil that momentum, which should have been running the slide against the rigid abutment of a firmly-held frame, is dissipated, and the slide runs out of momentum. This can result in ejection failures and “stovepipes,” and failures of the slide to return to battery, either of which can prevent the next shot from being fired.

Having the barrel in line with the forearm is important for similar reasons. In that grasp, there are literally feet of flesh and bone directly aligned against the recoil impulse, resulting in surer auto pistol cycling and faster return of revolver or pistol alike to the point of aim. If the hand is twisted on the gun and only the thumb joint is aligned behind the line of recoil—called the “h-grip,” because the hand in this awkward position describes a lower-case letter “h”—the shooter has only a fraction as much “hand and body into the gun.” Recoil once again goes out of control, and reliability of autoloaders will suffer.
By Massad Ayoob

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