Most people understand that gripping their handgun properly is an essential fundamental to shooting well. However, I believe there are actually three components that go into developing the proper grip. Unfortunately, I think in general, most gun owners and instructors, for that matter, only focus on one of the three.
At the end of this post, I'll provide some links to content designed to help you develop the best grip possible.
Developing Grip: The Mechanics—
The aspect of grip most people focus on, and for good reason, is the positioning of the hands on the grip and the amount of pressure applied. I'll call these aspects the mechanics of grip. Basic tips like getting both hands in contact with the grip, interlocking fingers and getting both thumbs on the same side of the frame (for semi-autos) is all standard operating procedure. But there is more to grip than just this.
Developing Grip: The Physics—
In developing the physical aspects of grip, it really helps to understand how the gun moves during the firing sequence. This second aspect, of developing grip, allows us to maximize the effectiveness of applied grip pressure and hand positioning. I'll refer to this as understanding the physics of grip. For example, because of the reciprocating slide, the forces affecting a semi-automatic handgun during recoil differ from those of a revolver. Analyzing grip in light of the forces affecting it will only provide us with a better understanding of how to achieve the most effective grip.
Developing Grip: The Texture—
Finally, there is a component of grip associated with the surface texture of the gun's grip, which I'll call the texture of grip. I am frankly surprised at how many firearm manufacturers completely overlook or don't care about the grip texture of their guns. Whether it be the smooth grip panels on a CZ75 or 1911, or the abysmal factory grip texture on a Glock, the result is the same: reduced friction and a less than optimal grip.
It isn't just gun manufacturers that fail to recognize this aspect of grip. Many gun owners don't realize the benefit a more aggressively textured grip provides. There are a couple of options for you if you realize your gun has a relatively smooth grip texture.
Replacement Grip Panels—
Guns with removable grip panels are the easiest, as there are numerous companies that make grip panels from all different types of materials and styles with various levels of texture. A couple of companies that I have had success with are AlumaGrips, and LokGrips.
If you have a polymer framed semi-automatic, you can add grip texture through a technique called stippling. This process involves melting the top layer of the polymer, which creates high and low spots. How aggressive depends on the depth, size, and spacing of the pattern. This is a more permanent option as you can't undo a stippling job. Professionals can repair a bad stippling job, but it's probably not something you'll want to experiment with on your own.
A non-permanent way of increasing grip texture is to use an applied grip product like a sleeve or rough adhesive-backed paper. I am not a fan of adding rubber, sleeve-like grip products that slide over the grip, especially in a duty or self defense gun. I find that over time, the sleeves can rotate and slide on the grip. Ive even seen one partially cover the back side of the magazine release, which caused an issue when the person tried to change magazines.
I prefer the adhesive backed, applied products like the ones from TalonGrips. I've used and tested TalonGrips‘ products for several years and find that they are a great addition to any firearm. TalonGrips are on every gun I carry for self-defense. Because they stick to the gun with a strong adhesive, you can always take them off when they wear down, or if you want to go more or less aggressive with the texture.
Okay, so I broke grip into three elements for the sake of this post. However, as you read, you probably saw how all aspects of grip work together and the importance of applying them as a whole. Adding TalonGrips won't do much if you have horrible mechanics. A more aggressive grip texture may be more forgiving when you achieve a sub-optimal grip, your hands are sweaty or you're looking for some additional help because of a condition that affects your hand strength.
Resources for Improving your Grip—
Hopefully, this post helps you analyze your grip and provides some resources for improvement. As promised here are some links to posts on grip as a shooting fundamental.
- Tips for Gripping a Small Pistol
- Grip Your Way To Better Recoil Management [Video]
- Handgun Grip Development Course