View Full Version : Thoughts on the grip

09-19-2014, 12:25 AM
I will first comment, as I mention in the video, that one size does not fit everyone across the board. Many have mentioned the myriad of factors that can play a role in trigger manipulation which I also discuss in the video. I will note that I too have trigger pull variations which are weapon, trigger type, trigger weight, hand fitment and trigger reach dependent. So a heavy revolver trigger, a DA/SA trigger and say a 1911 trigger have variations of pulls that allow me to manipulate the trigger with as little disruption to the sights as possible, but ideally I prefer to be about 2/3 to 3/4 towards the tip of the finger.

Some shooters do indeed shoot well with the trigger making contact in the first joint, but the key to the manipulation is not making contact on the frame of the weapon with the sides of the trigger finger. Having an appropriate gap between the trigger finger and the frame of the weapon is overwhelmingly the key to success for most shooters. Of course there are always exceptions, but generally this holds true. The exceptions are often times shooters who use a counter torque or counter pressure technique with the support hand and do it very well. Many don't even understand that they are doing it. Which leads into the question below on grip.....

Surf, if I may be so bold . . .

Any wisdom you could tolerate repeating on this subject would be fascinating for me and probably many others.Sorry about the delay, but it took some time here and there to punch this out. It is hard to express this in written word. Video is so much easier, but I will give it a go here.

Setting up the Grip -
For the most part I have often taken techniques learned on the rifle with precision long range shooting and adopted them into other weapons such as the carbine and pistol. As far as the grip goes, as soon as I adopted the modern Iso, I was never a fan of keeping the traditional alignment of the pistol's muzzle being in line with the forearm of the shooting hand. This is partially because I have short fingers and need to break that alignment to get a good trigger manipulation, but it also made less sense to me to maintain bone alignment as I will get into shortly. This straight alignment was IMO adopted from the "Weaver" and more from the "Chapman" and the "push / pull" era and recoil management and that was OK for then. Once the move towards the modern ISO with a more triangulation of the body taking place, that bone alignment was not a good thing as it created an incorrect or un-natural "point of aim". That incorrect "point of aim" forced most shooters to utilize muscular tension to torque the gun in alignment with our eyes to force that correct "point of aim".

Now if we take the concept of the long gun where we "get behind" the weapon and create that "natural point of aim" where we move the body in a manner that allows us not to have to use muscular tension to create and maintain a correct or natural "point of aim", we should IMO apply that to a pistol. If a shooter gets into a good modern ISO, hold the pistol in both hands and while being very relaxed let both arms hang at extension and exhale. I stress that you should be very relaxed while doing this with no muscle tension. The muzzle will be almost center line of your body, in front of your dominant eye and pointed downward just in front of your feet. From this position look through your sights with your dominant eye. Do you have a correct sight alignment from this relaxed muzzle down position? If you do not have a correct sight alignment, adjust the grip on the pistol until you do have a correct sight alignment. Do not force a correct alignment with muscle tension or forcing the weapon into a correct sight alignment. When you have a correct or "natural" sight alignment that does not require any muscle tension to maintain, close your eyes and with a very relaxed movement leaving your arms extended, lift your weapon up to where your line of sight would be and then open your eyes. Did you maintain the sight picture? If yes, close your eyes take a few deep breaths and open your eyes. Did your sight alignment remain, or did it move? If you have a problem with the sight picture, repeat the process until you find a relaxed and natural "point of aim".

Many might teach to use "counter torque" or "counter pressure" to create or maintain that correct alignment of the muzzle, however it is truly my belief that a "natural point of aim" should be established as it is less likely that your muzzle orientation and sight alignment will be negatively impacted during the firing process. IMO the muscular or skeletal tension with counter torque or counter pressure will still be more counter productive than a true natural point of aim. Of course some shooters are so good with counter torque or counter pressure that their results are not necessarily the norm, or what others should strive towards, or could ever achieve.

Maintaining a Neutral grip -
It is critical to maintain a neutral grip throughout the trigger pull process. As mentioned in the video, influence from the support hand thumb can be a factor but the biggest issue, especially with the Glock is the amount of pressure that is placed on the grip from front to rear (frontstrap to backstrap) of the weapon when firing the weapon. Generally a left or right only push is trigger finger. When the shots are low it is usually in relation to the grip, or a pre-ignition push (flinch), or a combination of both. Low left or low right is often a combination of trigger finger and grip / pre-ignition push. With the Modern Iso, again IMO, we do want a 360* contact on the grip with no gaps, but what we DO NOT want is front to rear grip pressure, but rather a side to side pressure. Sure we tend to call this "milking" the grip but it goes deeper than that.

Humans are basically apes with opposing thumbs. When we close the hand to grip an object all of the fingers of the hand start to move. It is a sympathetic response. It is actually more difficult to move your trigger finger without the rest of your hand moving. If you are reading this, you are probably trying it out. If not try it out. You don't need to have anything in your hand. With your shooting hand make a letter "C" or mimic holding a soda or beer can but keep your fingers and hand relaxed. Now move your trigger finger, or attempt to pick up an object like a soda can with your trigger finger and thumb only. If you are a trained shooter or concentrate specifically, your hand will stay more steady, but you can see how easily your other fingers want to close, especially the two smaller fingers. This is a sympathetic response which is programmed for gripping an object. For many shooters as they pull trigger and the grip closes, the pinkie and ring finger apply pressure on the bottom of the frontstrap of the pistol and causes the muzzle to dip. So we really need to be able to move our trigger finger without closing our grip especially our pinkie and ring finger and we need to remember that as the explosion happens in our hand. A lot of people have issues in maintaining that neutral grip and not squeezing or applying forces on the grip of the weapon that have a negative impact.

Locking the Grip -
With a modern ISO and the grip I prefer to use, I use the support hands fingers as the "lock" to create a vise like action in the heels of my hand as I press the weapon towards extension. Think of Bob Vogel's grip and how he locks in his support hands pointer finger and "grinds" into the grip. My fingers are too short for my support hands pointer finger to lock onto the trigger guard as he does, but the "lock" with the support hands fingers is critical as we "grind" or press into the grip during extension causing palm swell area of the hands to press into the grip panels and creating a side to side pressure. We should make first contact with our support hands index finger under the trigger guard of the pistol, lock the fingers, then back fill the grip panel with our palm swell as we extend. This will help the "lock" with the fingers. Many will incorrectly establish the palm swell then wrap the fingers.

We should avoid too much rear pressure on the backstrap from the shooting hands thumb. Shooters often clench down on the weapon too hard when firing which contributes to the "milking" effect. I will often demonstrate that I am not applying front to rear pressure on the pistols grip by firing a string of shots with my normal grip. I will then take the thumb of my firing hand and rotate it to the same side of the pistol as my trigger finger and again fire another string of shots with the same control on the weapon as when the thumb is wrapped. This visual demonstration is very effective for showing how I do not want to apply front to rear pressure on the grip and the shooting hands thumb is there to stabilize and not to induce a "crush" from front to rear as that causes the shooter to induce muzzle dip or the "milking" effect.

I will say that from March 2014 to Aug 1, 2014 I did a 2 day pistol transition course where I personally trained 650 Officers. They converted from the DA/SA S&W 5906 to the 5.5 Gen4 Glock 17. I would estimate that about 40-50% of the shooters had the typical issues that many complain about with the Glock in how it shoots low and often low left or low right. In reality it is the shooter. The other big issue faced was trigger finger placement and how to more correctly to manipulate it, especially when going from the DA/SA S&W to the 5.5 striker fired Glock. I learned a great deal about my beliefs, methodology of how to best correct these issues and the actual efficacy of the techniques that I support. I will note that overall marksmanship skills increased greatly in those 2 days for the shooters who came through the course. I am also tracking student performance in real world incidents and am conducting personal debriefs where I am attempting to accumulate or notate a variety of data points throughout the incident.

I have often taken heat for my concepts, beliefs and even for "sharing" too much information for free that is generally reserved for those selling video's or who teach paid courses. I am glad to see much of those early concepts finally coming around more mainstream from other trainers and great shooters out there. Many are coming up with some interesting terminology for concepts in regards to mechanics / science of shooting / kinestheics, blah, blah, blah, that are supposedly "cutting edge" right now. It is too bad however, that many of my follow up video's that I mention in the trigger video didn't actually make it to final edit and make it online for free. :)

10-07-2014, 02:26 PM
The original thread is here: