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What You Need to Know About Properly Fitting A Handgun

September 15, 2021

Ever listened to someone who has picked up a handgun and made the comment “this just feels right?”  Truth is, there is a lot of truth in that statement, since a handgun that doesn’t “feel right” probably won’t shoot right for you.

How to Properly Fit a Handgun

I frequently use the analogy of fitting a gun to your hand to that of buying a pair of shoes.  None of us want a pair of shoes that don’t fit right – shoes that pinch, rub our heel, or are wobbly due to a too loose fit.  Instead, they want it because they like the color, the style, the material, or it has a “brand name” that their friend has or they have seen advertised in the media.  They spend good money buying something that really doesn’t work for them because of their misperceived needs.

It’s the same way with a handgun.  I’ve had people buy a handgun because their boyfriend, husband, friend etc. said it was the “best.”  I’ve had people want a gun because it was “cute.”  I’ve had people buy firearms because they like the color. I’ve had people buy a particular brand because it was the cheapest gun we had.

So, let’s forget shoes.  As I tell my students there are basically three types of handguns:  Target Guns, Concealed Carry guns, and Home Defense guns.  While they are each set up for a slightly different purpose, they all go “bang” and put holes in targets, bad guns, or both.

When you go shooting, the question of whether or not you hit your target lies largely in how the pistol/handgun fits your hand.

Proper fit promotes the following:

  1. adequate control of recoil
  2. provides for a natural “point of aim.”
  3. allows your trigger to rest properly on the trigger
  4. makes your gun a natural extension of your arm.
  5. allows the use of single hand or double hand technique.

When fitting a gun to a student, the first thing I ask them to do is to hold the firearm in their shooting hand, and take aim single handed with their arm extended (after first clearing the firearm).  I then inspect their grip.  I am looking first at the size of the grip vs. the size of their shooting hand.  If the gun fits right, the middle knuckles of the shooting hand should center on the middle of the grip.  Dead center is ideal, but in between either side is okay too.  When a firearm fits in this manner, it promotes a straight extension of the hand and arm, and allows the sights to naturally point at the target.  It also allows the wrist to be held “straight.”  Some people will try to compensate by twisting the gun in their hand to force a fit, but in reality, this doesn’t work – a twisted wrist will force the gun off target when you fire, making for a slower second shot.  If the gun doesn’t fit properly, I suggest they try another.  Yes, you can compensate by using two hands, but how do you know your off-hand won’t be injured and unable to assist.

Second, I ask them to place their finger on the front of the trigger.  Ideally, the center of the last knuckle should center on the center of the trigger.  I see many people place their finger tip on the trigger, some even try to center the pad of their finger on the trigger.  Typically, right-handed people that place their tip on the trigger will see their shots to impact to the left of the target.  Opposite for lefties.  About once a month a shooter will come in and ask about sight adjustment on their pistol.  When I ask why, they usually say that they are missing the target.  If I see they are right-handed, I casually ask if their shots are going to the left.  Almost invariably the answer is yes.

Also, all of your fingers on your firing hand should fit around the grip.  On some “pocket rockets” you may only be able to get two fingers on the grip, but remember, these pistols are made for “deep concealment” and are not designed to be used for more than several yards.  To get proper accuracy, and recoil control, you should be able to hold the grip with all three fingers – the fourth being your trigger finger.

Bottom line up front.  Currently we are blessed with a plethora of well-designed accurate pistols.  Forget about having to have your “favorite brand.”  I admire the accuracy and durability of Glocks, but don’t own any full -ones because my hands are too small to hold one properly.  Regardless of the brand name, if it doesn’t fit you will not do well with it.  Some of the best concealed carry pistols on the market, that I am familiar with:

  1. Glock 43 and 43X and the Glock 42
  2. Glock 48
  3. Sig Sauer P365 series, particularly the XL
  4. Springfield Hellcat series
  5. Smith and Wesson Shield and Shield +
  6. Smith and Wesson EZ rack series
  7. CZ P-10C and S series
  8. FN 509 compact series

These will fit a majority of persons looking for a concealed carry firearm.  For some, they may be too small.  In this case, those with larger hands may have to look at “medium” framed pistols to get the correct fit.

For those who desire one of the deep carry pistols, I can personally recommend the Ruger LCP-II series (if you can find one).  If you do, I recommend purchasing a Hogue Grip cover to assist in smoothing out the recoil and giving you a better grip.