Holding a pistol seems pretty self-explanatory, right? Well, there’s actually more to it than you might think.
Learning how to hold a handgun properly can increase your accuracy and ensure your safety and the safety of those around you. While everyone may hold a weapon slightly differently, there are a few foundational elements every shooter should know.
Before we get into the technical elements of holding a gun, let’s talk about the most critical aspect – safety.
How to Hold a Handgun Safely
Safety is the single most important thing you need to know when holding a firearm. There are two main elements of proper gun safety:
Always Point in a Safe Direction
The number one rule of gun safety is to always keep your weapon pointed in a safe direction. The muzzle should never be pointed at something you don’t intend to shoot. Even when dry firing an unloaded firearm or loading/unloading a gun, the muzzle should never be pointed at you or anyone else.
Many times a safe direction could be “up” or other times “down,” but never at anything you don’t want to destroy. That includes thinking about who or what may be on the other side of your wall.
Being conscious of where your muzzle is pointing is an important habit to form so that nobody gets hurt in the event of an accidental or negligent discharge.
What is trigger discipline? According to the USCCA, “Trigger discipline is a state of mind where the shooter keeps his or her finger outside of the trigger guard area, usually pressing it against the frame above the trigger area and parallel with the barrel, until ready to fire the gun.”
Essentially, trigger discipline means keeping your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire. This ensures you won’t accidentally pull the trigger before you’re ready and helps keep everyone safe.
When you pick up a firearm, your first inclination might be to place your finger on or near the trigger. This is incredibly dangerous, as it raises the risk of an accidental discharge. And the results of that can be tragic.
While it may take time before trigger discipline becomes automatic, it’s essential to be mindful and practice this important safety rule.
Proper Way to Hold a Gun
When a bullet leaves the barrel of a gun, the force that causes the “kick” you feel is recoil. How you hold a firearm can impact your ability to control that recoil, which influences your accuracy, target acquisition, and speed.
When you first pick up a gun, you will likely grip it in a way that feels most comfortable for you. Unfortunately, just because it’s comfortable doesn’t mean it’s correct, and it may take time for you to build the muscle memory of a proper grip.
While not every gun will be held exactly the same, we’ll cover the basics. Here’s a breakdown of how to hold a handgun:
- Use your dominant hand to form a V-shape between your thumb and forefinger and grip the backstrap of your gun.
- Rest the pointer finger of your dominant hand on the side of the pistol outside of the trigger guard. ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
- With your other hand, wrap your fingers over the top of your dominant hand around the grip and point your thumb forward on the same side as your dominant thumb.
- Your non-dominant hand is going to be your supporting hand. While this may feel a bit weird at first, it should not feel uncomfortable.
When gripping a gun, use the 70/30 rule. Your support hand should be doing 70% of the squeezing and your dominant hand covers the other 30%, allowing your dominant hand to focus on trigger control.
Keep in mind that the gun you’re shooting and whether you are right or left-handed may influence how you have to grip your weapon. Once you understand the foundational elements above, you can make adjustments as needed.
How to Hold a Handgun for Maximum Accuracy
Now that you know the basics of gripping a gun, it’s time to cover a few tips and tricks for how to hold a handgun for maximum accuracy.
First and foremost, don’t try to look cool with a one-handed grip like you see in the movies. The most accurate shots are achieved with a firm, two-handed grip.
Next is stance. Having a strong stance can benefit your sight alignment and recoil control. There are a few different stances that can be used when holding and shooting a gun.
One of the most common stances is the weaver stance, in which your non-dominant foot is placed in front of your dominant foot in a boxing position. It’s important to try a few different stances to find the one that works best for you, then practice it consistently.
How you aim also greatly influences your accuracy. Aiming with your dominant eye and making sure your front and rear sights are aligned can significantly increase your accuracy. One of the most challenging techniques when it comes to aiming is focusing on your gun rather than the target. You should be able to focus on your sights and keep them aligned with your target.
If you are still struggling with how to improve your accuracy, speak with a local trainer or another expert for more specific guidance.
What Do I Do Now?
Now that you know the ins and outs of how to hold a pistol, it’s time to head to the range to practice what you have learned. Remember to ALWAYS practice gun safety whether you are at home or on the range. If you want to learn more about firing a gun before putting your skills to the test, check out our “How to Pull a Trigger” article.
Make sure to check out our Range Guide before heading out for a training session so that you have everything you need for a successful range day.
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