Many handgun malfunctions come down to simple, fixable shooter errors. Limp-wristing is no exception. In this episode of Shooting Tips & Tricks with Taylor Thorne, we show you how to avoid it.

Not that anyone would ever shoot like this, but here's an exaggeration of a "limp-wrist" on a Sig Sauer X-Five Legion pistol. (Photo: Ben Philippi /


Limp-wristing happens when the shooter’s grip and wrists are not strong enough to keep the firearm from excessively moving when firing. When this happens, the shooter is letting the recoil of the gun take over rather than managing the recoil. 

With a semi-automatic pistol, the slide and spring have nothing to work against. Limp-wristing allows the slide to move with the frame, so it is not able to realize its fully retracted position. This can result in malfunctions such as short stroking the slide, the slide not going into battery, rounds not being able to eject, and failures to feed. 

Even if the firearm is not malfunctioning, it will cause more muzzle rise, affecting the ability to stay on target. This is most common among beginners because they are still learning proper technique, but it also happens with experienced shooters. Sometimes learning a new platform or even being tired will result in your technique diminishing.

Here's another exaggeration of a "limp-wrist" on a Sig Sauer X-Five Legion pistol. You get the idea. (Photo: Ben Philippi /



Limp-wristing can be spotted when you notice the strong hand wrist is not flexed or is not locked out. Typically, the wrist will be angled at an almost downward angle as opposed to being in-line with the arm. 

Locking your wrists is the conscious action of tightening the wrists. Think of it like holding a tight core, same idea. When I lock my wrists, the tendons are obvious. When I’m not, they are relaxed.

Here's a good example of a solid grip on a Sig Sauer X-Five Legion pistol. Note the visible tendons in the wrist. (Photo: Ben Philippi /


Learning proper technique is paramount. Ensure your hand positioning on the grip is correct, high up on the beaver tail and creating as much surface contact as possible (no thumb crossing or tea cupping). Find the pressure that allows for the best recoil mitigation. Lock out those wrists and be conscious of when limp-wristing has set in.

Here's the other side of a good solid grip on a Sig Sauer X-Five Legion pistol. (Photo: Ben Philippi /

Once you notice it, take a moment, re-establish the basics, and stop limp-wristing! It might take time, women in particular can sometimes have a harder time avoiding limp-wristing due to hand strength. Work on hand and wrist strength with exercises and develop a technique that works best for you.

One last example of a good grip and arm extension with a Sig Sauer X-Five Legion pistol. No "limp-wristing" here folks. (Photo: Ben Philippi /

Choosing the right firearm is also important. Lighter, smaller firearms will be more susceptible to a limp wrist malfunction. This is because they have more perceived recoil which can be harder to control. Heavier firearms will absorb the recoil better. However, a larger caliber will also create more recoil, so find what works best for you. 

Want to learn more about grip? Stay tuned! We have an article and video coming soon on the proper handgun grip.

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