Recently, The Perfect Pistol Shot was mentioned in one of the firearm manufacturers’ blogs. A reader asked other bloggers whether they approved of the “light grip” recommended in my book. Generally, they did not. One writer mentioned that his large frame .357 revolver with magnum loads required heavy thumb pressure to keep it in his hand. Another suggested I had written the book to lead astray fellow competitive shooters (I don’t even compete, and I’m not that clever). The point is that most shooters are fully convinced that thumb-pressure is necessary to retain the handgun during shooting. They are wrong.
For service caliber firearms (including traditional pistol caliber magnums) all that is needed to hold onto the weapon is the web of the shooting hand and the trigger finger. I routinely demonstrated this during my law enforcement classes using a S&W 686 with magnum loads and various semi-autos with hot ammo. While instructing in the Marine Corps, I demonstrated web-trigger finger with the .45 ACP. Do I advocate shooting a handgun with the web of the hand and the trigger finger? Of course not. The other three fingers are necessary to retain the weapon in place in-between shots, but a death-grip is not required. Neither are the thumbs which cause downward torquing with many shooters.
Some shooters will say they have large hunting revolvers that produce rifle class energy and recoil, requiring a heavy two-handed “squeeze.” Friends, if you cannot accurately shoot your handgun, get a rifle, and if you are squeezing your revolver beyond what is necessary for retention, your handgun is displacing that excess pressure through movement. That is a scientific certainty.
Your handgun is not your master unless you make it so. There are shooters who adore having mega-caliber handguns in order to take to the range twice a year and publicly complain (boast) about recoil. Certainly, there is a limit to the energy that can be accurately controlled in a handgun. But it is the shooter who chooses the firearm and who is responsible for where the rounds travel. The “my-gun-is-my-personality” crowd is the same group who for decades swore the .45 ACP “kicked like a mule,” and “couldn’t hit the broad-side of a barn.” Marksmanship is based on fact, not voodoo and fables. Let’s keep the emotion out of firearm-use and learn the fundamental principles of marksmanship.