Handgun Safety: Gripping a Pistol the Right Way When Shooting

Posted by Team Springfield

Jul 22, 2014 9:00:00 AM

If you’ve ever wondered how to grip a pistol, there’s no need to guess any longer. Review this simple guide to gripping handguns when shooting.


Gripping a pistol correctly is not something you can reliably practice without intending to pull the trigger. Unfortunately, in the many years I’ve been instructing others, the most common problem that arises is an inability to properly grip handguns when shooting. To make the process simple, I’ll break it down into steps. First, allow me to review what can happen if handguns are not gripped properly.

The Dangers of Poor Gripping

Depending on the power and recoil of handguns, an improper grip can lead to injury or accidental discharge of your firearm. Remember: If you’re ever unsure, opt to grip tightly instead of loosely to guarantee maximum control. Now, there are a few tried-and-true ways to master pistol gripping, and I’ll share them with you here.

Gripping a Pistol When Shooting

There are three things to do before pressing the trigger:

  • Stable stance. Much like preparing to lift weights in the gym, firing a gun requires a proper stance. By bending your knees and leaning slightly forward, you can combat the recoil of the gun and achieve better firing results.
  • Two-handed approach. With a two-handed approach to gripping the pistol, you give priority control to your dominant hand while supporting your grip with the other. For example, if you’re right handed, you would, without putting your finger near the trigger, grip the pistol with your right hand high up on the backstrap. The fingers of your left hand will wrap around under the trigger guard area and overlap the right hand. Hold the grip slightly tighter than you might expect to best support the gun.
  • Take your time. While it might sound like common sense, taking your time is important when first learning how to grip a pistol and shoot safely. Always allow adequate time at the range so you don’t feel rushed.

You might notice I said “pressing” the trigger. That’s because “pulling” the trigger doesn’t quite explain it – especially if you’re not accustomed to shooting. To reduce the anxiety felt by many first time shooters when practicing, using handguns should include a slow, steady pressure against the trigger.

Final Thoughts

Gripping a pistol takes practice, patience and determination. Mastering the task is rewarding, potentially life-saving, and even fun, but it is important to practice and perfect your shooting skills. Following the tips I provided can help you to become a more successful shooter and have enjoyable shooting experiences while also avoiding any accidents. If you ever have questions or want more information about proper grip, contact us at Springfield Armory!

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Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual.  These articles are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory®.

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