How Should you Hold a Handgun For Maximum Accuracy?

If you thought you could hold a handgun the same way that cowboys in westerns or Neo in the Matrix do and hit a bullseye, you’re quite mistaken. In real life, one has to have a proper grip on a handgun to make accurate shots. 

Several factors contribute to accuracy, including your stance and gripping technique.

In this guide, we will focus on the semi-automatic pistol in particular. For a step-by-step guide on holding a revolver correctly, read our article on how to hold a revolver.

So, how should you hold a handgun for maximum accuracy? Read on to find out.

how should you hold a handgun for maximum accuracy

Table of Contents

Shooting Stance

The Isosceles Stance

To position yourself in the isosceles stance:

  1. Square your body in the direction of the target.
  2. Hold your head straight and in line with your body.
  3. Set your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart.
  4. Bend your knees slightly, and point your toes forward.
  5. Fully extend your arms in front of you.
  6. Lean forward slightly and shift your weight forward.

The Weaver Stance

Like the isosceles, this is one of the most common stances. Here is how to do it:

  1. Face your intended target, and instead of setting your feet parallel, step the dominant foot behind your other foot at an angle.
  2. Slightly lean your head to the side to align your sight with the target.
  3. Slightly bend your knees.
  4. Slightly Bend the elbow of your dominant arm and leave the other elbow loose.
  5. You may want to shift most of your weight to the front foot.

how should you hold a handgun for maximum accuracy

The One-Handed Stance

This is sometimes called the power point stance. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Face your target at as close to a 90-degree angle as possible.
  2. Set your feet about shoulder-width apart, and step the dominant foot in front to the other at about 45 degrees.
  3. Try to keep your knees straight in this standing position.
  4. Hold your head straight in the direction of the target.
  5. Fully extend your shooting arm in front of you.
  6. Make a fist with your non-shooting hand, and hold that arm close to your chest.

How to Aim

In these stances, you want to align your front and rear sight so that you can get a clear aim at your intended target with your dominant eye. Focus on the front sight when using an open sight.

Proper Handgun Techniques

how should you hold a handgun for maximum accuracy

Thumbs Forward/Thumbs Straight Grip

Although you don’t see this technique used in movies, it is actually the proper way to grip a semi-automatic handgun. This is a two-handed grip, and as the name implies, it involves pointing your thumbs forward. 

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Using your shooting/dominant hand, firmly grasp the handgun as high up on the grip as possible, keeping in mind that you should also be comfortable.
  2. Wrap the fingers of your supporting hand over the fingers of your shooting hand.
  3. Your trigger finger should rest on the slide parallel to the barrel, and both your thumbs should be on the same side of the gun.
  4. Ensure that your dominant thumb is on top of or beside your supporting thumb. Adjust them to the position that is most comfortable for you.

One-Handed Grip

This one is a bit similar to the handgun techniques you see in police TV dramas. As the name implies, it involves holding the gun with only one hand. Of course, the one-handed stance is ideal when using this technique. Let’s go over how to do it:

  1. Position yourself in the one-handed shooting stance.
  2. Firmly grasp the handgun high up on the grip (as high as comfort allows).
  3. Your trigger finger should rest on the slide, parallel to the barrel. Do not rest your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

Note that if you’re using a revolver, the techniques for holding this type of gun are a bit different. A revolver has a cylinder gap between the front of the cylinder and the barrel, and this part of the gun can blow the shooter’s fingers off if held incorrectly. 

Check out this step-by-step guide on how to hold a revolver the right way. 

Controlling the Trigger

Your breathing, the part of the finger you press the trigger with, the amount of pressure you apply, and how long you take to release the trigger all contribute to how accurate your shot will be. Here are some tips:

  • Use the first joint or the part of your trigger finger between the tip and the first joint to squeeze the trigger.
  • Try not to tense or jerk your shoulder, arm, or hand when pulling the trigger.
  • Don’t hold your finger on the trigger too long before making a shot. In-experienced shooters do this a lot because they try to be too careful. Remember that accuracy comes with practice.
  • Apply even pressure on the center of the trigger, and squeeze toward the rear of the gun.
  • It is best to squeeze the trigger while exhaling rather than inhaling for better handgun accuracy.

Controlling Recoil

Having a proper shooting stance is one of the keys to controlling the recoil of your gun. Perhaps the most important factor is how you hold the gun and how tightly you hold it.

Use proper handgun gripping techniques, and remember to hold the gun high up on the grip and lock your wrists. If you’re unsure how to lock your wrist, remember this tip: when you’re shaking someone’s hand, your wrist is locked in that position.

Your arms also play a role in absorbing the kickback from your gun. When using a two-handed grip, make sure that your elbows are slightly bent, aligned, and parallel with each other in a comfortable position.

Keep the forces on the gun neutral by pushing forward on the weapon with your dominant hand and pulling on the grip with your supporting hand.

Incorrect Handgun Techniques

You always want to make sure you hold a handgun for maximum accuracy and safety. But there are a few common handgun techniques and variations that don’t work with semi-automatic handguns. Here are the ones to avoid:

Thumbs Wrapped/Crossed

In this technique, the shooter wraps the thumb of the supporting hand over the thumb of the shooting hand. This type of grip is ideal for shooting with revolvers, but not with semi-automatic pistols. 

This is because semis have a slide, which kicks back forcefully when the gun fires. If this part hits your thumb, you’ll most likely end up with a painful gash – otherwise known as a “slide bite.”

Teacup Grip

This technique is incorrect for holding any type of handgun. It was taught as a correct handgun technique in the past but was replaced with the proper methods we saw above, simply because it’s not ideal for controlling recoil.

If you’re grasping your gun correctly with your shooting hand, then using your supporting hand to cup the bottom of the grip, then you’re using the teacup technique – which is not ideal.

Holding Your Wrist

In this incorrect method, the shooter firmly grips the gun with their dominant hand but then tightly holds on to the dominant wrist with the supporting hand. This is not ideal for shooting accuracy because it doesn’t give the shooter enough control over the gun’s recoil.

Common Handgun Mistakes

Resting Your Finger on the Trigger Before You Are Ready to Shoot

Every gun user should know that this violates gun safety rules. 

Picture this – your finger is resting on the trigger of your loaded gun when suddenly something spooks you (maybe a bee flies into your ear), and you accidentally pull the trigger. Think of all the things that can go wrong in that scenario.

Now, do you see why it’s important to keep your trigger finger outside the trigger guard when you’re not ready to shoot?

You should also keep your supporting index finger off the front of the trigger guard when aiming or shooting.

Not Locking Your Wrists

Locking your wrists when holding a gun plays a major part in how accurate your shot is and how quickly you can shoot. Remembering to do this essential step significantly helps control the gun’s recoil and keeps your hands and the weapon steady when shooting.

Holding the Gun Close to Your Face to Aim

There is no need to hold a handgun near your face when shooting, even if you’re using a scope. It is not a rifle.

Using the Wrong Size Gun

Handguns come in different sizes, and you should use the right size grip and firearm for your hand.

Putting Your Finger on the Cylinder Gap (For Revolvers)

We mentioned the cylinder gap earlier in this article. If you are using a revolver, this is something that you should always be cautious of. 

The best way to keep your fingers away from the cylinder gap is by repeatedly practicing proper techniques for holding a revolver.

How Should You Hold a Handgun For Maximum Accuracy – Let’s Recap

When reviewing how you should hold a handgun for maximum accuracy, there are a lot of fine points to remember. It all comes down to stance, grip, and technique. Let’s touch on the main points again:

  • Get into a proper stance.
  • Practice holding the gun correctly with the thumbs forward or one-handed grip techniques.
  • Practice good techniques to control the trigger and absorb as much recoil as possible.
  • Take note of incorrect handgun techniques and make sure that you’re not doing them.
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