How to hold a handgun, also known as grip, is the most important technique to shooting a pistol. Even if your stance is suffering, the proper grip will ensure rounds are on target. The grip I will be giving tips on is geared towards your traditional striker-fired or 1911-style pistol.



Place the web of your strong hand directly on the middle of the beavertail as seen on this Sig Sauer P320 X-Five Legion. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

If you are a righty, this is your right hand – Simple, right? Take the web of your hand and place it directly on the middle of the firearm’s beavertail. Get it as high up on the grip as possible. Wrap your fingers around the grip and make sure the trigger finger is always outside of the trigger guard unless you are actively engaging a target.

Placing your trigger finger on the frame or slide provides a good resting place between shots. The middle finger should be pressed firmly against the bottom of the trigger guard. (A popular modification is a double undercut, which allows the hand to come up higher under the trigger guard.)



As seen on this Sig Sauer P320 X-Five Legion, your support hand should cover as much surface area as possible. (Photo: Ben Philippi/ 

Now for the important part. Most people have good fundamentals with their strong hand. But once the weak hand comes into play, it is as if they are channeling their inner Ricky Bobby and exclaiming, “I don’t know what to do with my hands.” Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through it.

Marry your two hands on the pistol, making sure to create as much surface contact as possible with the firearm. This is needed to maintain control when mitigating recoil. No gaps should exist between the two hands where they meet near your wrists.

Think logically about it. If there is a gap to start, the force of shooting will increase the gap while firing the gun. This will start breaking your grip. If you want to visualize it more, hold your hands out in front of you (yes, right now) and put both palms together at the base. Notice how the curve of the hand between the thumb and outer muscles creates a gap. Rotate the support hand forward. The gap disappears.

With the support hand rotated forward, line up both thumbs on the side of the slide. This is very similar to a golfing grip. Be careful not to cross the thumbs when they are on the slide. Just stack one on top of the other.



Your support hand should provide much of the pressure as seen on this Sig Sauer P320 X-Five Legion. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

How much pressure you should apply to each hand while gripping a pistol will vary for many people. There is an array of thoughts down this rabbit hole. Find what works for you. Go to the range and practice, practice, practice. That is how you will figure out what allows you to control the recoil without yanking the trigger.

Some people will say you should have 60% pressure from the support hand and 40% from the strong hand. Others will say 80/20. Personally, I focus almost all my pressure on the support hand. The strong hand will naturally pick up and apply pressure.

The reason the support hand should always have more pressure is to avoid over tensing the strong hand. This increases the chances you will yank the trigger. This will impact your accuracy. A tight strong hand also prevents the finger from moving freely when trying to shoot quickly.



Limp wristing a handgun is no bueno. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

Loose grip – Many beginners have a loose grip. It might be because they are gun-shy or lack hand strength. But you need to tighten up that grip. A loose grip will cause the firearm to have excessive muzzle flip and felt recoil.

Try to avoid the classic "teacup" grip. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

Teacup and saucer – This grip is popular in FBI movies and action flicks, but the teacup and saucer grip is not good for real life. This happens when the support hand rests far down on the strong hand or even cups it from below. Think about it. The majority of support and the ability to manage recoil is being taken away by almost completely removing the support hand from the gun. This grip can be effective when shooting revolvers, but that is an entirely different platform.

Crossing your fingers on a semi-auto handgun can be dangerous. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

Crossing of thumbs – In an effort to bring both hands together for a strong grip, it can be human nature to cross your thumbs on the back of the beavertail. This is dangerous. The slide of a pistol moves just over the beavertail with a lot of force. Crossing your thumbs will surely result in blood and lost skin. For a revolver, this is a common technique. But it is a no-go situation for semi-auto pistols with moving slides.



A proper handgun grip will greatly increase your accuracy. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

It takes time to change something as fundamental as your grip. You might need to make adjustments to get that grip just right depending on your hand size and firearm type. A great drill is to simply draw your firearm over and over. Find what grip brings the sights up correctly each time. As a side note, grip angles differ. A Glock is different from a Sig Sauer, so practice on one platform until you get it right.

Continue to pay attention to your grip. Understand when you start shooting and get distracted by thinking about your stance, the target, or what you want to eat for dinner. Your grip might suffer as old habits creep back in. Just acknowledge what has happened, re-establish that grip, and get back on track. Take the time to practice and learn what works best for you.


revolver barrel loading graphic