The proper grip on your defensive firearm can help with accuracy and keeping your gun functioning. These easy-to-understand methods can ensure proper firing grip whether you’re shooting your pistol right-handed, left-handed or with a two-handed grip.

Using a Shot Indicating Resetting Trigger (SIRT) pistol, Kevin Michalowski demonstrates the basic handgun grips and trigger manipulation. This tool can help you master shooting grip during safe dry-fire training in the privacy of your own home.

Nomenclature of the Firearm

Speaking only on auto-loading pistols, the top of the firearm (as indicated in the video) is the slide. The slide, which on a real handgun would be a reciprocating slide, is attached to the frame. Moving along the frame, there is the trigger guard. It’s important to keep your finger out of the trigger guard and off of the trigger until you have made a conscious decision to shoot. Kevin next shows the back of the SIRT pistol and describes the tang, backstrap and grip panels.

Pistol Grip Tip No. 1

On most modern, auto-loading pistols, the front of the trigger guard is flat and squared off. Do not wrap your index finger around that guard with your supporting hand. Doing so could pull your shots to the left or right depending on your dominant hand and make it difficult to put your shots on target.


There is a front sight and a rear sight. The rear sight is a notch, and the front sight goes in the center of the notch, level across the top. Where you put the front sight is where the bullet goes. If the bullet goes somewhere other than where you want it, you weren’t pointing the front sight at the target. That’s the basis of muzzle management.

The Master Pistol Grip

Using your dominant side, make an “L” with your hand and get the web of that hand high up on the grip, wrapping all three fingers around the bottom of the grip frame. The backstrap should be pushing into the meaty part of your palm and thumb. Kevin’s thumb is up in this position. It is called the “Thumbs-Up” shooting position. This would be how you would shoot with one hand.

The most accurate way to shoot, however, is with two hands. When the gun goes off and the slide reciprocates, the firearm will try to “escape” through any opening. Adding a support hand closes that opening. Place the meaty, fat part of your hand in that opening and wrap all four fingers around the three fingers of the dominant hand. Now your thumbs will be pointing forward.

Where Should Your Index Finger Land?

There’s a lot of discussion around how to put your finger on the trigger. Some say the first pad of your finger should engage the trigger. Others say the first distal joint should engage the trigger. Kevin says simply operate the trigger smoothly, directly to the rear and impart no additional movement.

Focus on Grip When Training

You should have a stable firing platform. If the gun is not stable when the slide reciprocates, it may be moving around a lot, or there may be a failure to eject if the slide can not move enough. So hold the gun firmly. Every time you train, you should shoot with both hands — right-handed, left-handed and with two-handed grip — to become equally proficient with your firearm.

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