What exactly is "limp wristing" a gun?


JB Books
March 15, 2009, 05:55 PM
I have shot and collected guns for years and only heard the term on forums.

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March 15, 2009, 06:01 PM
it's when a person spends several hundred dollars on a gun from a reputable manufacturer that isn't properly fitted and tuned and thus won't run right except in the best of circumstances. Thus some other online kool aid drinker with the same firearm essentially says the gun cannot be at fault so it must be the shooter. Hence the term "limp wristing"

Note how cheap autoloaders are said to "jam" or is called a "jam-O-matic" but something that costs $800 is always said to be "limp wristed" when the same malfunction occurs.

What's really funny is when someone post videos of various autoloaders fired and functioning with 2 fingers the "limpwrist" crowd will deny that's what's happening

March 15, 2009, 06:06 PM
Krochus lost me.

Limp wristing is when the shooter doesn't hold a semi-automatic handgun firm enough. When this happens, some of the recoil force needed to cycle the slide is lost and as a result the gun malfunctions (FTE or FTF). It is not necessarily a limp wrist. It can also be caused by too loose of a grip.

March 15, 2009, 06:08 PM
I think what krochus is trying to say is that when somebody spends >600 dollars on a gun and has issues with feed issues its called junk but when they spend more it becomes the shooter's fault.

If I am correct, limp wristing is when you do not hold the firearm firmly enough, or you do not keep your wrist "stiff" enough, so that when the shot is fired and the slide racks all the way back, the gun rotates in the shooter's hand, or with his hands. When this happens the firearm can misfeed because of the way the recoil is directed.

How's my aim on this one?

March 15, 2009, 06:13 PM
I think what krochus is trying to say is that when somebody spends >600 dollars on a gun and has issues with feed issues its called junk but when they spend more it becomes the shooter's fault.


Or in a slight variation it's also the same phenomena when someone inquires about warranty work on a jamming $1200 m1911 and the manufacturer suggest a 800 round break in period, Hoping the owner will either correct the issue on his own or lose interest and unload the piece of garbage before he gets to 800 rds

Bottom line if your gun can be limwristed or requires a break in it's not functioning properly and needs to be fixed

Jim Watson
March 15, 2009, 06:14 PM
Krochus has a point. I have no doubt that a weak grip or "limp wrist" CAN cause malfunctions, I just don't think it is nearly as common as the gunmakers would like you to think. In many cases "limp wristing" is from the same page in the gun company dictionary as "break-in" where both of them mean "Go away and leave us alone."

March 15, 2009, 06:19 PM
no doubt to that some guns limp more easily than others, but I have to agree with Krochus. If a gun for whatever money has a tendency to limp alot if not done exactly right, then for me anyhow that gun is not designed right. We never heard of that "wording' 5 years ago. today it is common to blame the shooter when possably it is gun related. the kt forum used that term alot with their small guns. I have heard it more there than any other forum, and maybe they were more prone to limping than other guns. i do not know I never had one issue with my kt's in that sense of the word. We don't hear it hardly at all on the lcp forum and that gun is almost a direct copy of the kt 380, so go figure........

March 15, 2009, 06:21 PM
Firing a lightweight mini-sized gun like the kel-tec pf-9 will result in cycling failures if the weapon is not held exceptionally firm (at least for me). Full-size guns ime can be fired from a flimsy hand every time, and will still cycle fine.

Hungry Seagull
March 15, 2009, 07:29 PM
Limp-wristed shooters must be trying to lisp thier way through the shoot manual and wondering why the gun does not hit the center of the target.

They need to grow a pair and hold those hand guns right.

Ive always heard dont buy anything you cannot hold and carry.... like a wife... well.. ahem...:neener:

The Lone Haranguer
March 15, 2009, 07:37 PM
The frame of the gun needs to be held as firmly as possible so as not to absorb the force of the recoil, which is needed to fully and quickly propel the slide to the rear. "Limp-wristing" means that you are not holding your hand and wrist still and straight in relation to your forearm. It is not physically possible to literally lock your wrist. What you are doing is using muscle tension to hold your hand and wrist still. When the gun fires, your hand, wrist and forearm need to move in unison, like a pump handle. Some guns are sensitive to this, others not.

I will not accept any pistol that is overly sensitive to a perfect hold to function. You cannot always depend on a perfect hold in a gunfight - you may not be able to form a perfect stance, or you might be wounded. Nor will I accept "You held it wrong" as an excuse for a consistently malfunctioning firearm. I believe the phenomenon exists, but the term is used too often and indiscriminately.

March 15, 2009, 07:40 PM
I don't mind a small(200-300) break in period. With the tight tolerances nowadays its not so bad. However, I have purposely tried to limp wrist all of my guns and make them malfunction. Needless to say, they all passed the test and worked flawless. Lone haranguer said what I wanted to in his 2nd paragraph

March 15, 2009, 08:06 PM
Limp wristing becomes more of a factor when "limp" ammo is being used as well. The wrist acts as a foundation to the cycling of the slide, and the lesser pressure of the "limp" ammo can not compensate for the "moving" foundation.

March 15, 2009, 08:55 PM
Ammo and/or spring changes can fix or cause some of the 'limp wristing'.

I agree it should fire and cycle with two fingers "IF" it is set up correctly for the ammo being used. P. S. mine will.'

IMO A standard handgun should come from the factory ready to shoot without special provisions other than ammo power limits.

March 15, 2009, 09:15 PM
This explains limp-wristing quite well...



March 16, 2009, 01:29 AM
****, if limp wristing is an accepted phenomenon in autos then I am going back to wheelguns.

Steve C
March 16, 2009, 02:18 AM
A semi automatic pistols, other than a few gas operated exceptions, work on the physical principles of kinetic recoil energy from the fired round to operate the slide action of the gun.

When the pistol is fired the recoil energy is used up in the movement of the gun, its parts and everything attached to the gun including the shooter. There is a required amount of resistance to movement by the frame to allow the slide action to work. If the shooter allows too much movement of the frame, commonly by relaxing the wrist of the gun holding hand (limp wristing) the pistols action will not cycle properly. The shooters hand movement uses up too much of the recoil energy essentially stealing it from the slide.

The problem is more common in light framed pistols or when shooting low powered ammo.

It is a real phenomenon. I have a friend that has a real problem jamming pistols due to his relaxed grip. We where at the range once and he was shooting his Norinco 213 9mm Tokarev. He'd jam 2 or 3 rounds of every magazine. I ran 4 magazines of ammo through it and couldn't get it to jam once but hand it back and he'd have it jammed on the second shot. He managed to Jam my Beretta 92, my Glock 19, my Sig 220, all of which I've put many thousands of rounds through with never a jam. He does fine with a full size 1911 or a 7.62 Tokarev. but the 1911's a heavy framed pistol and the 7.62 Tok is a hot round. After some coaching and a bit of chiding regarding limp wristing and holding the gun tighter, his problems cleared up.

March 16, 2009, 08:41 AM
Krochus has a point. I have no doubt that a weak grip or "limp wrist" CAN cause malfunctions, I just don't think it is nearly as common as the gunmakers would like you to think.I have tried to make my 1911's fail by holding them loosely, but have been unsuccessful. I dunno?

March 16, 2009, 09:00 AM
If limpwristing is real, then a pistol will not function if fired from a fixed but loose clamp or stand? Has anyone ever tested whether or not this actually happens?

Jim Watson
March 16, 2009, 09:00 AM
You can shoot a 1911 with light loads and a "tea party" grip; the gun held only by the middle and ring fingers, the pinkie and thumb flying loose in midair.

On the other hand, some of the "modern" pistols require more support for the recoil operation, I have heard enough accounts of females and juveniles unable to shoot Glocks reliably to agree something is going on. I have seen people suddenly presented with a "weak hand only" stage at IDPA have trouble with plastic pistols.

March 16, 2009, 09:12 AM
simply put, limp wristing is shooting with your wrist or grip so weak, that the shooter absorbs too much recoil energy. not enough energy is kept in the recoil spring, resulting in a short cycle of the slide. that short cycle can fail to feed the next round, fail or improperly extract and eject the unfired casing, or any other function of the firearm requiring a full cycle of the slide.

March 16, 2009, 09:21 AM
Its an alternative lifestyle.

March 16, 2009, 09:35 AM
I don't understand why people think that 'limp wristing' is just a cop out for poor design or manufacture. A very light recoil spring will eliminate the limp wristing issue but will also put more stress on the slide and whatever it is in the pistol that acts as the slide stop. I know, for example, with my Camp carbines that they were manufactured with recoil springs that were too light. This resulted in broken hammer strut bridges and broken stocks. Is this a design flaw? Yes, the recoil spring needs to be stiffer.

On the other hand, a recoil spring that is too heavy will not reliably cycle all types of ammo. Take a semi 22 pistol and shoot a CB short or a subsonic LR round from it. Most will not cycle properly with the short and some will even malfunction with the subsonic round. Lightening the spring can often fix this problem but also introduces other problems when shooting higher velocity rounds. Design flaw? I don't think so. I call it making your gun 'fit for purpose'.

When designers go through the exercise of determining what spring to put in their guns I would hope that they don't leave the shooter out of their equations. I'm sure they use some generally accepted numbers that represents the amount of resistance that the shooter's hand, wrist, arm, and body bring represent.

I would be interesting to hear what a real gun designer has to say about this issue.

What about you competition shooters who are constantly trying to shoot with lighter and lighter loads so that you can recover more quickly from recoil for follow-on shots. I would suspect that you play this game all the time. Too little spring pressure and the slide to stop collision flips the muzzle too much. Too much spring and the likelyhood of a malfunction increases.

Just my $.02. Take it for what it's worth.

March 26, 2009, 05:59 PM
i would like some input on this "limp wristing" and the problems that existed with the glock 36. i have a glock 17 and 22C. after i got over the "plastic" i have come to be a glockoholic. i have shot these two guns repeatedly since 2001 when purchased new without one problem. i have used many different loads and brands. i just received my CC permit (what a headache that was) and after much consideration i purchased a new glock 36 for carry. i like the idea of a 45 sort of don't bring a knife to a gunfight mentality. now i find all of this talk about numerous problems with the glock 36, i thought glocks were faultless! freeze 'em, throw "em in the mud, whateverer and they ALWAYS fire. imagine how i felt when i started reading about all the problems this model 36 has or had. i noticed most of the problems were dated in 2001, 2002 and 2003. did glock address these problems and is it now perfect like my other glocks? help me guys. this site seems to be the most updated so somebody tell me i didn't just waste $600.

March 26, 2009, 06:36 PM
These should clear up some of the misconceptions....



March 26, 2009, 06:54 PM
exactly my experience. when i first learned to shoot, on a 22 browning buckmark was no issue. when i started shooting the bereta 92fs, would occassionaly fail to eject due to not holding the gun firmly. a few more issues with the h&k usp 45. Right now.... no issues.

but it is real... and that youtube video above shows you.

I am surprised about the glocks though. hehe.

March 26, 2009, 07:08 PM
I can see it happening in a life or death quick one handed draw and shoot. I actually thought about this last night while at the range with my PM9 so I tried about 30rds firmly one handed and it was fine.

March 26, 2009, 07:49 PM
I thought it was "gay" style shooting

March 26, 2009, 09:32 PM
videos were interesting and thanks. sometimes our strengths are also a weakness. glocks are light, reliable and take a beating as has been proven in the last 20 years. but it looks like this may contribute to problems when not gripped firmly. i couldn't begin to count how many times i've fired my two glocks in the last ten years without ONE problem so i assume my grip is ok. i am definitely now aware of limp wristing and can't believe i never heard the term in fifty years of being around guns. probably due to the fact i have always had revolvers, love my original Colt SA Peacemaker 45 with deer bone handles, therefore i was never exposed to this problem. if that situation ever arises where i must defend myself and shoot to kill i really can't imagine that a loose grip will be a problem and the reality is you will probably only get 1 or 2 shots off anyway. the glock 36 appears to be the perfect CC weapon to me after much consideration. still would appreciate informed thoughts and knowledgeable experience.

March 26, 2009, 11:35 PM
I carry and shoot Glock 19s and 1911s. They all work reliably with the "teacup" grip. That is thumb and one finger only.

I have asked some gunrange/gunshop/gunmagazine commandos to show me how 'limp wrist'. Can't find anyone that can make one of my guns 'limp wrist'.

If you carry a gun to defend your life and it does not work reliably with a weak grip, you need to find a gunsmith to fix it or buy another gun.

March 27, 2009, 03:43 PM
I tried recently to make a Glock26 jam by "limp wristing'.

I could not do it. I tried holding the gun so loosely that I was afraid it was going to fly out of my hand. It was still 100% reliable.

My Glock 19 is 100% reliable in my hands. My girlfriend at the time could not shoot it without several jams every mag.

So I did the right thing. I got rid of her.:D

March 27, 2009, 06:15 PM
Any gun I have had that "limpwrists" is gone, period. If they are that touchy, I don't want them, since I can't really trust them.

All of my present guns, including my .40 Astra A-75, can be fired any way I want to, without any "issues" with feeding, etc.

The Lone Haranguer
March 27, 2009, 08:13 PM
I dislike the term itself, as it is somewhat pejorative.

March 27, 2009, 09:08 PM
To say that Glocks are less reliable than the others, based on those videos, is stretching it. I have never personally seen anyone grip a pistol like that, I don't know anyone who would, and it doesn't fit the typical definition of limp-wristing. It's a stunt, basically.

Also, in my opinion, it's poor firearms safety and irresponsible of someone to make such a video and put it on the web because some fool is gonna try it and put a hole in somebody! Those videos do nothing to promote a positive image of the gun-owning population. Of course You Tube is full of that junk.

March 27, 2009, 09:29 PM
There was no implication made that one was better than another, just what that person encountered.

The whole point was to show that the guns will still shoot, basically without any grip at all, and that limp wristing probably isnt the issue.

If your offended by his fireams handling, tell him.

March 27, 2009, 09:46 PM
My feeling is that a gun that fails to cycle due to limp-wristing is not in proper operating condition: it needs cleaning, adjustment, some hotter ammo, or all of the above.

March 27, 2009, 10:19 PM
Limpwristing is real. It primarily occurs with light guns like mouseguns due to the lack of static inertia. If you lightly hold a P3AT with a limp wrist it will most likely FTE. This light gun must be held firmly with a straight wrist and preferably two hands for reliability.

If you enjoyed reading about "What exactly is "limp wristing" a gun?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!