Personal Defense Network Editors

Proper Grip To Manage Handgun Recoil

Personal Defense Network Editors
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Duration:   6  mins

PDN’s Training Talk co-hosts, Barret Kendrick and Deryck Poole, team up on the range to demonstrate the importance of grip on a handgun when it comes to recoil management. In a self-defense incident, we can’t predict the number of rounds we may have to fire, and data shows it will likely be more than one round.

If, for example, we need to fire eight rounds, we must keep that recoil under control so we can keep the rounds on target.


Deryck fires three rounds utilizing a good, solid grip and we see that there is some slight muzzle rise. During handgun training sessions, both instructors have noticed new and/or poorly trained students who have significant muzzle rise when they shoot. One frequent culprit is a weapon that does not fit the hand properly. The strong-hand thumb knuckle should come around to the weak side of the gun. If it doesn’t, this hurts the ability of the shooter to manage recoil and to quickly fire follow-up shots.

Another problem is when the hand is not high up on the gun. The higher above your grip the gun is, the more organic flip you’ll have, and muzzle rise will be greater. Sometimes the weak-hand thumb knuckle is beneath the frame and along the trigger guard, resulting in even more muzzle flip. With the gun bouncing around, the group size really opens up.

This also results in the student firing at a slower pace in an attempt to keep the rounds on target.


When using self-defense weapons, whether in training or in a defensive incident, get your hands up as high on the firearm as possible but without interfering with the operation or controls of the gun (for example, do not impede the slide movement). You want the hands high enough to minimize organic muzzle flip.

Hold the weak hand firmly enough that it does not bounce off the gun.

This is the first in a series. Barret and Deryck will be covering all eight points of proper grip of a handgun.

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