Grip Pressure and Fitting Your Gun to Your Hands - Part 2

Posted by Joel Park on Oct 9th 2022

In the previous blog, I explained the grip pressure I use when shooting a handgun. To sum it up, the support hand does most of the work controlling recoil and the firing hand’s main job is just pulling the trigger. Knowing how each hand plays a role in grip greatly influences how the gun should be fit to your hands.

Most pistols have either removable grip panels or interchangeable backstraps that change the shape, texture or circumference of the grip. Most people try different configurations until they find one they like the feel of, but they don’t really inspect how much contact they are making with the frame.

The biggest issue I see is most people set up their handgun to have a grip that is too small for their hands. As I previously explained, the support hand is critical for managing recoil. When the grip is too small, the firing hand will take up most of the real estate on the frame. If gripping your pistol allows your firing hand fingertips to come too close to your palm when they wrap around the grip, you will not have sufficient space for your support hand to contact the gun. This typically results in the support hand mostly resting over the top of your firing hand. Without much contact from your support hand, your firing hand is forced to do the majority of recoil management.

A gun fit properly to your hands should allow the meaty part of your support hand palm to make contact with the grip. Once your support hand is able to contact the grip and apply the proper pressure, grip pressure from your firing hand is not needed to manage recoil.

The second thing to take into consideration is being able to reach the trigger and operate the controls. You should be able to disengage the safety (if applicable) and get your finger on the trigger in a comfortable spot without effort. If you are shooting a DA/SA gun, you could be able to comfortably reach the trigger guard, with the hammer down, in double action mode. Most shooters will need to somewhat shift their grip to reach the slide stop and magazine release. I think that is completely fine. The slide stop isn’t something typically used in practical shooting and extended magazine releases can get activated at times you don’t want them to.

With all those things out of the way, how do you choose which grips to buy? Unfortunately, I don’t have a measurement or formula to help you decide, but here are a few examples I commonly see. Factory grips like the CZ Shadow 2 or Tanfoglio Xtreme grips are likely going to be too thin and will not have sufficient room for your support hand. I really like LOK, Henning, and SSI grips for pistols with removable grip panels. I prefer the palm swell style for the extra room it creates for the support hand, but they are not for everyone. For guns with removable backstraps, most people seem to prefer either the medium size backstrap or building up the frame with grip tape.

If possible, try other people’s handguns to see what you like the feel of before you buy anything. A grip that feels great to me might not be appreciated by someone else. Hopefully, this has been helpful and gives you some things to think about the next time you pickup your handgun. 

Joel Park
Host of Training Group Live by PSTG podcast