There’s more to a proper grip than picking up a pistol. How much tension you use and where you place your off-hand plays a massive role in taming these hand cannons. A consistent grip will make your shots and aim more intuitive and natural. It becomes even more critical for a bullseye shooter since only one hand is used to shoot. Walking hand in hand with how you hold your gun is trigger-finger placement.

From employing the “teacup” method to limp-wristing, there is a slew of pistol grip don’ts to gripe about.

Friends don’t let friends teacup

A teacup grip is when the non-firing hand acts as a “saucer” to the pistol’s “teacup.” The gun rests on your weak hand and doesn’t offer any help in the retention of the firearm. In recoil, you have to grip 100% using your strong hand. This “torque” makes the pistol twist up and over, making follow-up shots more difficult. This is especially noticeable in timed and rapid-shot stages. The firing hand and arm need to absorb the recoil and aid a quick recovery.

Too loose of a grip, and the pistol will shift in the hand during firing. On the other hand, too tight, and you will tremble, and the trigger finger is partly immobilized. 

The teacup pistol grip technique | Image courtesy of The Shooter’s Log


To discover the best grip for your gun, pick it up with one hand, and squeeze the pistol until the hand starts to shake. Then, slowly, back off the tension until the gun stops shaking. You may need to adjust tension up or down based on the equipment and calibre and the type of shooting you are doing. 

Foil the recoil

Your grip should allow the pistol’s recoil to travel straight up the arm and not rotate around the wrist. When firing with one hand, you should draw a line from the front site through the pistol straight up the arm. This isn’t possible in a two-hand Isosceles stance, but the recoil still needs to come up the arm. Another aspect of the grip, especially with the two-hand hold, is the shooter needs to “choke up” on the pistol. In other words, the shooter needs to get the firing hand as high up on the pistol as possible. This will direct recoil to travel up the arms and keep the gun rotating around the wrist. 

Your booger finger

Another aspect of the grip that many shooters discuss is the placement of the trigger finger. The two most common ways are using the pad of your index finger or pulling at your first joint. Many champion shooters use both, so decide which one is more comfortable and go with it.

This brings up another point: dry fire. Dry firing is one of the biggest and fastest methods a new shooter can use to improve their skills. You can practice almost all the basic fundamentals of shooting: stance, position, grip, sight alignment, trigger control, breathing, mental discipline − and can include loading and unloading safely (with dummy rounds) as well as drawing from a holster. 

Sights move to the left when the hammer falls? There is too little trigger finger pressure, and it’s moving the gun to the left. If the sights move to the right, most likely you’re firing from your joint, and it’s pulling the sights to the right.

The problem with this kind of training is that dry firing to a shooter is like practicing layups to an NBA’er. It’s not a lot of fun. 

The dry fire training technique | Image courtesy of Handguns Mag Life


Take your shots set to a timer and fire a series of five or six shots with your regular grip. Then, fire the five or six, with the same accuracy, with a twice as firm grip. 

The trigger finger is not as responsive if the tension in the hand is excessive. The muscles in the back of the hand are too tight. It also makes the trigger pull feel much heavier than it actually is.

Stop milking it

Avoid “milking the grip.” This is when the pistol is gripped, and then during or before firing, the position/tension of the hand shifts. 

Be natural

A perfect grip allows a natural point of aim. When bringing the firearm up to the target, the front and rear sights should be in natural alignment. There should not be any need to shift the pistol in the hand to get proper sight alignment. This is why a good shooter will develop that muscle memory by dry firing for hundreds of hours. 

Close your eyes.
Raise the pistol. 
Open your eyes.
The sights should be centred on the target.

What’s your stance on your stance? 

You want to place your body into the center of the target. Your shots should have a good recovery, and the front/rear sights go back into alignment out of recoil. With a proper grip, the sights will bounce back to the position they were in. 

Basic two handed shooting stances | Image courtesy of The Armoury Life

Limp wrists

This is when energy is lost from the recoil spring because there isn’t enough tension in the wrist and arm. Sometimes this can even lead to failing to fully eject the round. The pistol will also not have enough energy to feed the next round. 

The world doesn’t revolver around you

Revolver shooters need to stick with a grip, BUT the exposed hammer of the gun needs to be taken into account. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to wrap the non-firing thumb over the back of the firing hand. Both thumbs need to be on the same side of the gun.

Slipping through your hands

The design of a handgun’s grip is often overlooked. When contemplating any firearm, your first decision will be to hold on to and shoot if it’s comfortable. Many grips are slippery, making it hard to get a secure hold, which means you can’t grip the grip. Luckily, there are many stick-on grips  – that improve performance, safety, and confidence so you can maintain control. 

Getting a good handle on your handgun is at the foundation of solid marksmanship. So, the pistol will twist right out of the non-firing hand with this grip, although it does look cool in the movies.

Want more Canadian Gunnie tips, culture, and news? Subscribe here.

Like this? Share it!