How Hard Should You Hold Your Pistol?

Gripping too loosely can cause jams; too tightly, and you might miss. Smith & Wesson's Ken Scott explains "just right."

posted on October 20, 2021

How much pressure should you use when you're shooting your semi-automatic handgun? It may seem like an overly picky point, but when you're shooting a semi-auto, your grip can make or break that range session. In this excellent video courtesy of Smith & Wesson's GUNSMARTS series, shooting instructor extraordinaire Ken Scott introduces you to the very real question at hand (sorry, we couldn't resist the pun). 

First, as Scott demonstrates, you need to achieve a good, positive grip on your semi-auto. The "thumbs-forward" grip is considered ideal for getting the best performance out of your firearm. You'll also want to ensure that your strong hand is as high up on the gun's grip as possible for extra control. 

However, that's just the beginning of the story. A grip that is too loose will allow you to fire your gun once ... and then might cause your semi-auto pistol to fail to feed the next round out of your magazine. For many beginning shooters—most of whom are feeling a little tentative anyway—having that failure to feed can be frustrating and hard to understand. 

That said, a grip that's too tight will cause your muzzle to wobble a lot, and that will wreck your sight picture. It's hard to shoot what you can't see, of course, and it will also cause you to fatigue much earlier than you should. So where's the proper balance? Check out Scott's advice on how a good grip should feel and what you can expect to see on the bullseye!

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