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What's the proper way to grip a revolver?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by KJS, Nov 4, 2009.

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  1. KJS

    KJS Member

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    Paging through the latest issue of Guns & Ammo I saw a review of the Taurus Judge. The article's author had his non-dominate hand providing support under the gun.

    This differs from the typical grip I see where one hand is gripping the gun and the other is wrapped around the dominant hand, up as high as could be limited only by hitting up against the trigger guard.

    I'm assuming anybody who writes from Guns & Ammo knows very well how to properly hold a gun and I assume they would have not published the pic if it showed an improper grip.

    My question: is there a right way to hold a revolver? A better way & worse way? Or is it just a matter of personal preference to put your other hand under or around depending on which feels better and works better for you?

    I know there are clearly wrong ways to grip a revolver, like any that expose you to gasses blasting out of the cylinder gap. "Mythbusters" after testing with chicken bone & meat to simulate human fingers determined it plausible that a .500 Mag could blow off your finger as submitted by some viewer (though they thought the pic sent to them of a severed thumb was too graphic to actually show on air).
     
  2. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    There are some wrong ways. The "right" way varies from person to person and revolver to revolver. The Weaver, Chapman, etc. have been developed since WWII and emerged out of competition shooting. This is a nice overview:

    http://www.corneredcat.com/Basics/stance.aspx

    http://www.shootingtimes.com/handgun_reviews/st_stayingstance_200803/

    And the older "duelist" stance using one arm and minimizing your profile. This works best for single action shooting in my experience. I use a pinkie wrap as well.

    Point shooting emerged as a combat stance for guys who quite frankly were not going to be getting much training with their sidearms. I've never really understood why people decided it was so fantastic. The sights are there for good reason and if you use them you can do some really amazing things.

    I prefer to keep a relaxed deeply bent left arm and hand slightly under the right rather than trying to grip all the way around the front. My fingers are too stubby. I've been getting some really nice groups with the snubs that way. Everyone is different though. Experiment around and figure out what works best, then practice a lot with it.

    Don't be to quick to fall into any particular dogma. Unless you're training for some very particular kind of competition the rule is it needs to work FOR YOU under a variety of circumstances.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2009
  3. PT1911

    PT1911 Member

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    anything but the damn teacup grip... (weak palm up strong hand gripping gun set in weak palm..) DONT DO IT!!!

    your best bet is to situate the gun in the web of your strong hand so that the recoil goes straight back into your forearm, otherwise you are likely to pull one way or the other with each shot and your off target time will increase. your weak hand should cover all exposed grip on the weak side of the gun and your weak hand should overlap your strong hand under the trigger guard.

    grip firmly yet relaxed with your strong hand and moreso with your support hand. aiming and target acquisition should be done through your hips/knees with the gun straight out in front of your chest both arms slightly bent.
     
  4. NMGonzo

    NMGonzo Member

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    I use the "squeezing the grip with both hands like an orange ... and I am thirsty but I don;t want to make a mess"

    Progressive grip till it shakes, them back up a hair till aim is not shaky again.
     
  5. belus

    belus Member

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  6. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    I read that article and said something out loud my wife repremanded me for!

    The author makes mention of how stout the recoil is with .410 shells, and the picture shows him tea-cupping the flpping thing!

    You assume, way, WAY too much. Those guys are just shooters who happen to have landed a paying gig in the popular press. They aren't any more "expert" than their training or experience would allow them to be, and some are much better/worse than others.

    If you watch Jerry's videos on the subject (and I encourage everyone who wants to shoot revolvers well to do so), he only uses that grip for J-frames. Everything else is the normal thumbs-forward grip.

    -Sam
     
  7. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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  8. belus

    belus Member

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    The J-frame is picture six.
    My strong hand thumb is bent down, but rests on top of and outside of my weak hand.

    If I use straight thumbs forward grip like on a semi-auto my strong hand thumb will jam into the recoil shield during recoil. I'm also concerned about cylinder blast on my weak hand thumb with that grip.
     
  9. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    Hey, I didn't say I could count! :D I see what you're getting at, now.

    Hmmm. I've never had that happen, but I mostly shoot N-frames so maybe that's not as much of an issue with the larger frame. My strong thumb does rest on top of the weak one, just at the first knuckle. We might do nearly the same thing. Hard to say without pics.

    Wow! How long are your thumbs? :eek:

    :D

    -Sam
     
  10. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    The derided teacup grip worked for a lot of folks for a long time before It Was Decided that we shouldn't do it anymore. It has the advantage of being very relaxed and natural, and does help to steady a heavy handgun. I've used a modified version of it for big honking single actions. It helps to control aim while still allowing the revolver to roll on up in recoil, because the left hand is not gripping--just supporting. More modern stances try to hold it down unnaturally. Some revolvers are not designed to deliver recoil directly back into your stance, and they'll punish you for trying to make them.

    Do what works. The only test that matters is what works.
     
  11. TMann

    TMann Member

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    My revolver "collection" consists of three snubby revolvers. So when I started doing more revolver shooting a few months ago, I used the "weak-thumb-to-the-rear" grips seen here:

    [​IMG]

    However, when I was at the range, one of the range officers mentioned that that grip would (obviously) not work well when shooting a semi-auto, since the slide would run right over the top of your thumb. Since I shoot both semi-autos and revolvers, I decided that it would be good to try to minimize the variability of my grip with different guns, so I've gone to the grip seen in this picture:

    [​IMG]

    I have small hands, so I can use this grip even when shooting a J-frame or Colt DS revolver. It also works just fine when shooting my Kahr K9. When I'm shooting my CZ 75, I change to a "thumbs-high" grip, since the CZ has a manual safety.

    TMann
     
  12. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    Cosmoline, I won't argue that you shouldn't do what works for you...but:

    The last thing I want with a heavy recoiling hangun is to only grip it with the fingers of one hand. Especially, as Mr. Jerry points out in those vids, when 70% of your grip strength should come from the fingers of the SUPPORT hand. If you watch through the video on grip, you'll see him shoot a 500 Mag -- and he's not tea-cupping it -- though he does note a slight change of grip to allow it to roll a bit more instead of taking all the recoil force rigidly.

    I understand that's still not a Single Action revolver, and those are a bit different. I don't have nearly as much experience with them, so I'll reserve comment, but I think a "support it loosely and let it move" grip on a heavy recoiling gun is going to be more punishing than a firm grip and staying on top of it.

    I'd go so far as to say "teacupping" a .454, .460, or .500 would be downright dangerous!

    -Sam
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2009
  13. KJS

    KJS Member

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    I think that's the sort of grip I was using a few months ago when I rented a Ruger MKIII. I learned not to grip that gun that way when it ran out of ammo and the bolt came flying back and cut my thumb. I made that mistake because I wasn't thinking about where to put my thumb as I was used to revolvers that don't have things flying back.

    And thanks to all who replied. Looks like another instance of the more I learn the less I know. Seems like holding a gun would be simple -- just grab the darn thing -- but apparently not so straight forward. I'll be sure to look at all the links provided to find the "proper way."
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2009
  14. David E

    David E Member

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    It depends what you want to do and what you think "worked."

    If you're ONLY going to shoot slow-fire, then any grip can work.

    There are pictures of Elmer Keith firing a 4" Model 29 in full recoil that show that his hands have separated from what must've been the "teacup" grip.

    Was he wrong? For slowfire (as in hunting, casual plinking or silhouette shooting) no, he wasn't wrong, providing he hit the intended target.

    Where the "teacup" shows its inherent weakness is during rapid fire. The grip is lost at the first shot, necessitating a major re-gripping of the gun before the next shot can be accurately fired.

    Enter the Weaver and Modern Isosceles. These grips are light years ahead of the "teacup" in firing rapidly with accuracy.
     
  15. tipoc

    tipoc Member

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    You'd be hard pressed to find a pic of Keith using a teacup grip. There are a good many pictures of him aiming a handgun and in none is he using a teacup grip. No where in print did he recommend it that I can recall. What Keith did do was allow more powerful rounds like the .44 Magnum to roll up in recoil and that is what you can see in the pic described. He allowed the gun to rise on it's own with powerful rounds.

    tipoc
     
  16. trickshot

    trickshot Member

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    Elmer Keith wrote that the "teacup" grip is the best grip; and he could shoot circles around most people, both slow fire and rapid fire. He knew more about shooting revolvers than most people ever will.
     
  17. tipoc

    tipoc Member

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    Where did he write that? If I can read it I'll say I'm wrong.

    tipoc
     
  18. David E

    David E Member

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    Which is fine..........for slowfire.

    In an old G&A column, he told of teaching a petite female how to "handle" the recoil of a .44 magnum. Using the "let the recoil roll up" technique, she could "control" the big gun.....one slow paced shot at a time.

    And Keith did do some rapid fire with handguns, but not with full charged .44's. To say he knew more about shooting revolvers than "most people ever will" may be true........but does not mean he knew everything. The picture of him timing himself while holding a stopwatch in one hand and firing the gun in the other is an example.
     
  19. David E

    David E Member

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    A quick googling of Keith firing a .44 magnum did not yield the picture to which I refer. I did find one that shows his grip. Not quite teacup, but not quite anything else, either. His left forefinger isn't actively engaged in the grip at all.

    With that grip, rapid fire with a hard kicking gun will separate the hands, just as in the picture I alluded to shows.
     
  20. tipoc

    tipoc Member

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    David,
    I know which pic you're referring to. Keith used it to emphasize the pronounced recoil of the 44 Magnum IIRC. Likely we agree more than we disagree.

    It's really only in the post war period, and really with the rise of IDPA and IPSC, that two handed shooting becomes the norm. Prior to that most hand gun shooting was one handed. Keith did most of his shooting that way. He also used any kind of braced and two handed position he could for more accurate shot placement at a distance. Many of which are shown in his book "Sixguns". What Keith used, which did vary depending on what he was shooting and whether braced, kneeling, prone or standing, whether shooting for hunting or for fast defensive work, is helpful but it's also beside the point of this thread.

    IMHO the teacup grip is not so useful in defensive shooting, or in shooting for accuracy, as others. What the teacup grip does is act as a rest for the shooting hand, adding some stability. It also adds upward pressure and the support hand does not actually grip the gun much at all. The effect is to emphasize muzzle flip. It's less stable than a true two handed grip.

    tipoc
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2009
  21. trickshot

    trickshot Member

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    Sorry, but I was mistaken about keith and the teacup hold.

    I was recently reading Sixguns and had remembered him saying that was the grip to use when sighting in a pistol. Its on page 108. But he did not say that was always the best grip to use. On page 163 there is a photo of him using a different two handed grip.

    The quote above from what tipoc wrote is very true. From what I read in Sixguns, I think Keith did most of his shooting one handed. Especially when shooting fast and rapid. He was also a master at using the kneeling, sitting, and prone positions; and bracing his body against something when helpful.
    Thats the way I learned to shoot, and it works well for me; but I primarily use single action guns. Everyone is different and people should use what works best for them.
     
  22. David E

    David E Member

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    Says who?

    On July 21st, 1865, when Wild Bill Hickock had his famous duel with Bill Tutt, Hickok drew his gun and steadied it on his opposite forearm. Tutt did not. Tutt missed, Hickok didn't.

    Seems to me that when it was important to make the hit, two hands have been used for a long time.
     
  23. trickshot

    trickshot Member

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    Nineteenth century pistoleers (including soldiers) commonly used a one-handed stance that was developed from dueling tradition. This can be seen in many paintings of the period, as well as contemporary reports. The stocks on muzzleloader pistols were designed for shooting one handed, and I think the stocks on the old single action revolvers were designed for shooting one handed.

    An observer of Hickok noted that when he shot, he held the pistol one handed with a slight bend in the elbow, closed his left eye, and took deliberate aim. Griping the gun with two hands seems to have only become popular in the twentieth century.

    Some accounts say that in the famous shootout with Bill Tutt, Wild Bill rested his pistol on his left arm to steady it for the shot, and if he did, that makes sense considering it was such a long shot.

    On page 97 of Sixguns, Elmer Keith says to use two hands to hold the pistol whenever possible. But he says to never grip the gun with both hands. He says to bring the other hand up loosely under the shooting hand to form a good steady rest for the shooting hand.

    Elmer Keith was taught by veterans of the civil war and real cowboys of the old west. So I assume that the shooting techniques he writes about in Sixguns are the same as those used by those old timers.

    When I was younger I could shoot very accurately one handed, and rarely ever had a need to use two hands. But now because of age and serious health problems, I have a difficult time holding a pistol steady one handed. So now I use two hands most of the time, and I do it the way that Keith says; which means I can grip the stock with my primary hand the same way as if I was shooting one handed.

    Use whatever works best for you.
     
  24. tipoc

    tipoc Member

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    Now people did shoot two handed or from whatever braced positions one could get when needed, but it was not the norm. The standard was one handed shooting. Police were taught this at the academies. The only national competitive shooting sports were NRA bullseye matches and that was done duellist stance, one handed. All branches of the military trained recruits in one handed shooting as the norm, Fairbain and Sykes methods being cutting edge during the war. In the immediate post war period the "FBI crouch" was state of the art. shooting. Ed McGivern's book, Roper's, Chic Gaylord, Bill Jordan, Keith, Weston, etc. all discuss particular grip on a handgun and a bit on stances but read them with an eye to the evolution of handgun shooting and you see, among other things, that the view of the handgun as a defensive tool was different then and has evolved some and with it more emphasis on a two handed hold and particular stances.

    The hand gun was considered truely a back up, a side arm. That has changed some.

    Alot of it had to do with Jeff Cooper and the rise of modern competitive combat shooting. When Jack Weaver showed up at Big Bear and started winning matches with a two handed hold it had an impact. The transition from wheelguns to semis by law enforcement in the U.S. also laied the groundwork.

    This ain't the ops original question though.

    tipoc
     
  25. Colt Smith

    Colt Smith Member

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