How should you hold a handgun for maximum accuracy?

How should you hold a handgun for maximum accuracy? Since the release of the Colt, handguns have been a popular firearm used by the police and civilians alike.

Handguns are short-barrelled, generally less than or equal to 65 cm (26 in) in length (as measured along the barrel). Handguns are used by the police and officers as a side weapon and by civilians as a weapon of self-defense.

Given the crime rates in modern societies, it makes sense to carry a handgun for self-defense. Having a deadly firearm in your control puts great responsibility in your hands. Should the gun point in the wrong direction, innocents might die.

Not knowing how to hold and handle a gun properly can cause you damage as well. In this article, we will optimize the grip and position to achieve maximum accuracy. We will first clear some basics of handguns.

Types of handguns

Types of handguns

The market for handguns today is full of a variety of guns. We shall look at the two most broadly classified categories and work from there.

The two such categories are the pistol and the revolver.


They are also known as wheel guns. This owes to the central revolver mechanism that might look wheel-like to people who have never seen a revolver before. Revolvers are categorized as repeating guns.

This means that they can be repeatedly fired back to back without the need for manual ammunition reload after each shot. This has made revolvers very popular.

Let us look at some parts of the revolver which are going to help us understand the grip and holding better later on.

  • The barrel: This is the long tube through which the bullets travel through. It is one of the most prominent parts. It plays an important role in aiming correctly.
  • The frame: This part includes the handle and the metal case that houses the firing mechanism. A proper grip means holding the gun firmly from the frame (more on this later).
  • The trigger: Also known as the action, it should not be confused with a trigger. The trigger includes the trigger and other firing components that are essential for the firing of the gun.


Pistols look visibly different than revolvers. The main difference is the revolving cylinder into which the bullets are put.

Pistols don’t have that instead they have a chamber that is integral to the barrel and bullets are separately inserted by the medium of a case called a magazine. Because the magazine can constantly push bullets to the chamber, pistols are also characterized as repeating guns.

In addition to the main parts mentioned in revolvers, pistols have these also:

  • The magazine release: This is a special button placed slightly above the grip that causes the magazine to release from the gun. It is important to place the fingers properly around the magazine release to not release it at the time of the fire.
  • Slide stop: This is a small notch on the side of the gun that works as a visual indicator of whether all the bullets of the gun have been fired or not. Care should be taken while gripping the to not toggle the slide stop.


The final thing we must discuss before we can talk about the grip itself is the recoil.

In the simplest terms recoil is the backward thrust generated as the bullets get fired. The forward momentum gained by the bullets must be balanced back thereby causing the recoil.

This force is felt on the gun and travels down to the ground through the body of the shooter. When entering the body of the shooter (through hands in handguns but also the shoulders in bigger guns), it feels like a ‘kick’.

Without proper recoil management, even the best of the handgun grips will fail to deliver the bull’s eye shots that you’re looking for.

The recoil pushes the gun upwards and might cause the next few bullets to miss the target. The handgun grip must factor in this recoil force so you don’t have to readjust the gun in your hands after every other shot.

See also: What Is The First Step For Both Loading And Unloading a Firearm?

Some don’ts for maximum accuracy

Most people make the mistake of learning what to do when holding a gun early on but not paying any attention to what should not be done. We are going to look at some don’ts so you’re not making any mistakes and getting perfect shots each time:

(1). A great many people tend to put their less dominant hand under the gun handle, so the gun looks like it’s sitting in a saucer made of the hands. This should be avoided. The problem is, as the gun is fired, the recoil is going to cause the gun to kick up.

Since you don’t have anything to stop the gun from going up (because your less dominant hand is placed below the gun), the recoil goes out of control and might cause the gun to fly from your hands. So remember, no cup and saucer style grips.

(2). Another grip mistake that people make is to use their less dominant hand to support their dominant hand from the forearm. They try to support their main hand from underneath the forearm. The point they are missing is that the gun recoil is directed upwards.

When the gun gets pushed up, the entire force is to be contained by the wrist, which is simply not possible because the wrist can freely move in the upwards direction. Result? We have the gun-jumping out of the grip and possibly injuring the wrist tendons in the process.

(3). The third and the most common grip mistake that people make is also related to their non-dominant hand. They wrap their fingers in the front around the fingers of their dominant hand then they bring their thumb and wrap it around the back of the thumb of their dominant hand.

While this does solve the recoil problem, in that the recoil will be properly absorbed by the shooter’s body and taken care of, it can wound the hand.

The slider racks are back and forth faster than the eyes can see it when the gun is shot. In the grip described above, the skin web between the index finger and the thumb can get caught in the slider and lead to a pretty bad wound.

(4). While this is rare, some people certainly do it: They hold the gun primarily by their weak hand. It will not lead to the best aim and the recoil may cause the gun to fly off your hands even.

Read This: Which Shotgun Choke Has The Tightest Shot Pattern?

How should you hold a handgun for maximum accuracy?

How should you hold a handgun for maximum accuracy?

Do’s for maximum accuracy

The best way to hold your gun to get the maximum accuracy should be one that checks all of the following points:

  • Effectively manage the recoil
  • Stay on target
  • Repeatedly shoot
  • Easily able to reach the trigger and pull it
  • Have some room for the index finger to avoid pulling the trigger if you need to
  • Hit the bull’s eye

The ideal grip

Note: Everyone has different-sized hands and no single grip works for everyone. Make sure you hit the range and practice some shots, make minor adjustments, and see what works the best for you.

Now with that out of the way, here is how you should position your hands:

  • Hold the grip as high up as possible from your dominant hand. You should effectively be pushing against the barrel of the gun, that’s how high you have to hold it. Gripping it that high makes for a firm hold and helps absorb the shot recoil, so the gun isn’t umping out of your hand.
  • Now, with your non-dominant hand, take the butt of the hand (the plump part below the thumb) and stick it into the opening between the fingers and the thumb of the right hand.
  • The fingers of the weak hand should wrap around the fingers of the dominant hand. This step reaffirms the gun hold and the gun practically gets locked in your hands.
  • The thumb of the weaker hand should NOT wrap around the thumb of the dominant hand. Like we discussed before that can cause the webbit to cut because of the slider. Instead, the thumb of the weaker hand should sit just under the slider parallel to the index finger of the dominant hand (but of course on the other side of the gun). This is considered the best practice for the thumb of the weaker hand.

Final thoughts

Please ensure that you don’t have a death grip on the gun. What that does is, it makes the index finger tighter and it becomes harder to not shoot and not pull the trigger if needed. So if you’re holding it too tightly, you run the risk of pulling the trigger by mistake.

Just try to have a solid firm grip and you should be good to go. As stated earlier, no single grip works for everyone. These are the basic points which should be kept in mind. The trick is to go out in the range and see what works best for you.

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