Grip Your Way To Better Recoil Management [Video]

One of the easiest ways to up your shooting accuracy and proficiency is by adjusting the way you hold your gun when you're shooting it. Even if you're already currently shooting with a modern, thumbs forward grip, you can still likely improve by following some of the tips in the below video.

If you've never heard of a thumbs forward grip before, read on.

In the industry, we call the way you hold your gun, your “grip.” Grip can actually mean a couple of different things, though, depending on what you're talking about.

First, it is something that you do. You're actually gripping the handgun. Second, it is also actually a part on your handgun — the part you actually grab onto when shooting. While it may sound strange, you grip your grip.

The way you hold your gun when you're shooting is extremely important for both accuracy and control. If you're gripping the gun too low on your gun's grip and allowing a big gap between the web of your thumb and the beaver tail of your gun, it'll feel like it recoils more when you're shooting it.

The muzzle will flip up higher and you'll have a harder time acquiring your target for follow up shots.

You therefore want to have your dominant hand as high up on the gun as possible.

Riley takes it a step further when he instructs students. Just having a high grip isn't enough. He teaches people to bury the gun's beaver tail into the web of the thumb (as can be seen in the below video), thus eliminating any gap.

proper gun grip

Even the slightest gap can decrease the amount of control you have over the firearm as you're shooting it, causing you accuracy drama and increased wait time between follow up shots as you wait for your sights to settle back on the target again.

But there's also another part of this that many shooters don't even think about, as they buy guns with grips that are too tiny to function properly.

The pinky finger's importance for controlling recoil cannot be overstated. Sadly, a lot of folks diminish the importance of the pinky finger's role in a proper grip and end up carrying guns without a grip tall enough to help them control the recoil a bit better.

If you look at the way the gun recoils and the motions it goes through when doing so, it makes sense that a firm grip that includes your pinky finger is extremely important because it acts as a counter lever to that recoil. If you can prevent that lever from moving in that direction as much as you can, it'll in turn limit the amount of movement in the gun, overall.

It's like putting pressure on the very bottom of the thing that moves, to help prevent it from moving. A proper grip, to include your pinky, goes a long way to help shooting accuracy and recoil management.

All of the above takes place before the support hand even comes into play to offer its help in stabilizing the gun as you're shooting it, which is the final step (that we'll talk about here). There is a lot more that goes into it than just support, however.

In the below video (the sound cuts out early but comes back), Riley discusses all we've talked about so far, as well as how he uses his support hand to gain even more control of the gun as it's recoiling:

If you found this video helpful, we do these regularly. Each Monday Riley does what is called a Shop Talk video live on Facebook, so make sure you give us a follow and a like to be notified of when they're taking place.

Then all of these past videos (including all future ones) can be found on our videos page. When you get a chance, go through them. He drops some serious gold nuggets designed to help you achieve the goal of being better prepared for a self-defense encounter. They're all free to watch.

About Joshua Gillem

Josh is a lifelong practitioner and student of the gun. He grew up shooting/hunting with his dad, and was given his first gun, a 12 gauge shotgun, when just a small boy. After high school, he joined the Marines where his love for firearms blossomed as he qualified with an M16A2, an M9, and a 240G. Josh has been writing about firearms and tactics for several years, owns the blog Gunners Den, is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, and believes that each individual person has the right to self-defense by any means necessary. Currently residing in gun-friendly NC, he carries a concealed gun on a daily basis, even in his own house.


  1. Stan Lorang on May 10, 2020 at 6:20 pm

    Excellent! I was taught this basic technique, but you took it too a new level. Can’t wait to give it a try.
    Thank You,
    Stan from Michigan

  2. Dennis Murray on May 10, 2020 at 7:31 pm

    Like ALL my ‘Perishable’ Shootin skills – info I even practice @ range. It’s good to Review the Fundamentals occasionally! ??

    Does anyone in this Q & A have a preference for suitable- & high value, of course-
    Dry-Fire laser drill equipment?? ?

    Dennis in Mich.

  3. Don - Orlando, Fl on May 11, 2020 at 12:19 am

    Excellent video! Thank you for allowing plenty of time to deliver your explanations and examples so very clearly. Well done!

  4. Adam-Gabriel Fernandez Rodriguez on May 11, 2020 at 11:15 pm

    Thanks Riley. For everything.

  5. Brad Butler on May 12, 2020 at 1:40 pm

    Certainly I am not up on the “modern” grip. I cannot condone a grip like the one in the picture. Retention of the handgun is paramount. The grip in the picture is already half broken because the strong hand thumb is not on the gun. The “old” grip of weak hand thumb locking down the strong hand thumb is a stronger grip. It may not be the fastest competition grip but, what is your goal? You have to hold onto your gun to be able to use it.

    I have shot IPS in the ’80s (19th at the World Shoot, IDPA in the 90s (Texas State Champion in the 1911 class whatever that is called), am a SWAT and sniper qualified police officer and have carried concealed for over 20 years. I will admit that I am a 1911 big bullet user. I tried to transition to a Glock around year 2000 but, had too many years behind the 1911. Using a 1911 with my thumb on top of the safety and locked down by my weak thumb, I never shot my grip loose except with a subcompact (which demonstrates the value of the pinky). Just sayin’.

    • Joshua Gillem on May 13, 2020 at 7:33 am

      Hey Brad thanks for the comment. If you know what works for you and you shoot well with it we are by no means telling you to change. This advice is more for the folks who feel they need improvement and don’t really know how to get better.



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