Understanding the Biomechanics of the Pistol Grip

The thumbs forward grip is considered the modern day standard for handgun shooting. This grip is extremely important in developing good shooting habits.  Although many people use it, many people also do not understand the reasoning behind it. In this short article I will explain the didactic reasoning behind it; when learning the how we must also understand the why!

The grip itself starts at the hands and makes its way through the shoulders. It helps the shooter control the recoil of the gun, stabilize the weapon, and avoid malfunctions.

Strong hand grabs as high as possible on the grip of the pistol, avoiding gaps between the webbing of the fingers and the grip and wrapping the remaining fingers of the grip pushing towards the trigger guard (trigger finger tracing the frame). Ideally, there should be a straight line between the front sight, rear sight, and radius bone. 

Support hand creates a straight line between the thumb and radius bone, the remaining 4 fingers should point down about 45 degrees. The hand is placed in the free space on the frame of the pistol and the fingers wrap around the fingers of the strong hand as close to the trigger guard as possible.. The bases of the thumbs should be connected with the thumb of the strong hand resting on top of the base of the supporting hand's thumb. To make sure that the support hand is in the correct place, simple see that the support hand's thumb is as far forwards as the trigger finger.  

Elbows stay slightly bent, to become shock absorbers. Additionally, the slight bend to the sides create an angle that will counteract the recoil (tips of the elbows facing away from each other, and do not bend upwards). This creates a position that prevents bending upwards in the elbows when shooting. Additionally, this position causes the palms to push towards each other and create torque in the grip. 

Shoulders roll up to create torque in the joint which in turn tightens it. The following come together to create the ideal grip: 

  • torque - shoulders, elbows, palms
  • biomechanics - creating angles that lower points of least resistance. 
  • leverage - creating angles in the hands, wrists and elbows, that lower muzzle rise and the effect of recoil. 
  • anatomical references - understanding the position of the gun in relation to the body. 

Thank you for reading, 

Ron Grobman

Founder & Chief Instructor 

Tactical Fitness