Revolvers are definitely making a comeback. Once incredibly popular, they sort of lost favor to concealable single-stack and double-stack handguns over the last 30+ years. But just like fashion trends, what’s old is new again, and that includes revolvers! 

You might be thinking “a gun is a gun is a gun” and wondering why gripping a revolver would be different than your semi-auto Glock pistol. Sure, they’re similar, and a lot of people use the same grip for both. But revolvers can have a variety of grips on them, and they’re often angled very differently from your run-of-the-mill Glock. 

The most popular style for a carry revolver is a J-frame, which can have either an SB (square butt) or an RB (round butt). Both are shaped very differently and will affect how you grip the revolver. Wood grips, popular on revolvers, will feel very different than rubber grips. Either type may or may not have integrated finger grooves in them. These variables all come into play when you’re trying to grip the revolver. 

Related: How to Properly Hold a Handgun

Tips and Tricks for Revolvers

Why is the way you hold a revolver important? There are a few reasons:

  • It distributes the weight of the gun 
  • It keeps the revolver secure 
  • It helps manage recoil 
  • A stable gun gets on target faster

While those are all important, probably the most important factor that comes into play as far as your grip is accuracy. Just like you’ve heard the term “limp wristing” for a handgun, the same rules apply for a revolver. Sometimes, it’s a problem of technique, or it can be due to weakness in your hands. Both can be corrected. 

Gaining Your Grip

A woman holding a revolver
Gaining a high grip and avoiding the cylinder gap is key. (Photo: Annette Doerr)

A weak or improper grip will affect recoil, which in turn impacts your accuracy. This is especially important if you need to put more than one shot on target. The more movement in your upper body, arms, and shoulders from your first shot, the longer it will take to get your sight picture back on target and to fire again. If your grip is really weak, it can cause the revolver to flip out of your hand because you can’t properly control the recoil – We’ve all seen those TikToks, right?

So, how do you properly hold a revolver for best accuracy? Here are some tips so your shots will be on target.

  • Place the web of your dominant hand as high up on the revolver grip as possible. The web, if you’re not familiar, is that fleshy part between your thumb and your index finger. Keeping your hand high on the grip will help you to better manage the recoil when you do fire the revolver. However, check to make sure you aren't so high as to be on the receiving end of hammer bite on wheel guns with an exposed hammer. 
  • Using your support hand, wrap your fingers around those of your dominant hand to stabilize the revolver. Placing your support hand thumb over your dominant hand thumb can make it easier to cock the hammer on a single-action revolver, as it will be easier to reach with your support hand because of its position. Which thumb overlaps the other is a preference, see what feels best and shoots best for you.
  • Take note to be careful that your thumbs stay clear of the cylinder gap to avoid a burn from the gas discharging as the revolver fires. The cylinder gap is the space between the revolver’s cylinder and the frame and barrel. Trust me when I say you’ll only do that once, much like a slide bite from a semiautomatic.
  • If you have large hands and you’re trying to grip a small revolver, some find it better to cross your support hand thumb over the back of the other hand. Most pistol shooters cringe at this because doing that on a semi-auto pistol will draw blood. But a revolver doesn’t have the same mechanics, and it’s an acceptable way to grip a revolver if that’s what feels best and you train for it. 
  • Pressing your thumb against the frame will help secure the revolver in your hand and keep your gun stable while pushing out to the firing position. 
  • Make sure your support hand is as high on the gun as it can go, so you’re not making a tea-cup grip on it. 
  • When you’re ready to shoot, find your trigger and pull it. Your proper grip will help control the recoil by absorbing the shock through your skeletal system, ensuring you get back on target quickly. 
A woman holds a revolver.
Everyone has a slightly different grip based on their hands. (Photo: Annette Doerr/
Revolver Grip
Some folks choose a cross-thumb grip. (Photo: Annette Doerr/
Revolver grip
Others stack their thumbs much like a semi-auto grip. (Photo: Annette Doerr/
Revolver grip
And there is the tucked-thumb grip. (Photo: Annette Doerr/

Revolver grips can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, even if they’re J-frame guns. Some are thicker, some thinner, and some have integrated finger grooves. Your hands are also different from anyone else’s hands. Size and strength vary wildly from your hand to the next guy (or gal). Holding a revolver properly is the great equalizer, however. It will help you get the best accuracy and keep your shots on target.

Correcting bad mechanics takes time and practice, but it is always worth it. Play around with your revolver and see what feels right. Then practice your draw to keep your muscle memory instinctive, so you’re ready to shoot accurately should the need arise.

revolver barrel loading graphic