Why tight is right: some say 'don't hold your handgun too hard.' Mas begs to differ.

Author:Ayoob, Massad

There are many theories on how hard to grasp your handgun. I've heard, "Hold the pistol as you would a quail; firmly enough it won't fly away, but not hard enough to crush its tiny bones." I've often heard (and so have you], "Grasp with 40 percent strength with your firing hand and 60 percent with your support hand."

After almost 60 years of shooting handguns and 44 years of teaching others to do so, I must respectfully disagree.

We need to hold the gun steady against a trigger pull probably multiple times the weight of the firearm, sometimes when the finger is pulling the trigger as fast as humanly possible. We need to hold it firmly enough to keep it from twisting in the hand. And we usually want to bring it back on target from the recoil just as swiftly. I respectfully submit the harder we're holding it, the better we'll accomplish all these tasks.

Don't take my word for it. Let's hear from some legendary experts.


As a kid, long before I ever fired my first pistol shot in competition, I had read the words of the great Col. Charles Askins, Jr., who killed a whole lot of bad guys in his career, and in the 1930's won the National Pistol Championship of the USA. He advocated "a grip that could crush granite." When I started in bull's-eye competition in my late teens, I got to meet Don Mara, a Marine combat vet who had lost a good bit of his hearing as a "tunnel rat" in Vietnam killing enemy fighters in the tiny confines of the tunnels, firing 1-handed with a 1911 .45 automatic. He was also the odds-on favorite to win the New Hampshire State Championship most years, firing with a crush grip. He mentioned when on the Marine Corps pistol team, the highest accolade you could win from his teammates was, "He's a hard-holder."

Time went on. I got to meet another legendary figure, Col. Rex Applegate, who advocated in print a "convulsive grip." When I asked him what he meant by this, he replied, "Hold the damn pistol as hard as you can!" Lesson learned. In more recent times, self-taught national champ Ben Stoeger was asked how hard he held his pistol, and he replied, "Hard as (expletive deleted)." Rob Leatham, who has won so many world championships in practical pistol shooting he should need no introduction, told me during an interview for the ProArms Podcast, he holds his Springfield Armory pistols, 'As hard as I can." Watch my old friend Jerry Miculek shooting on YouTube: he's holding so hard his corded muscles and veins are sculpted in his...

To continue reading