Best Ways to Grip a Pistol
The goal of the grip when we are shooting a pistol is to grip the gun firmly enough that it cannot move within our grip.
Two posts ago, we talked about having as much of our hand in contact with our pistol as possible. In this blog, I’m going to show you a few ways to personalize your grip to help you have as much of your hand in contact with the grip as possible. These are things competition shooters do, but for someone who wants to enjoy shooting, these can be helpful and a lot of fun for kids to practice.
One simple way to make sure you grip the gun better that doesn’t require you to do anything to your gun is to get a bottle of pro grip. Dry hands, rosin for tennis…whatever you call it; these things help you grip more surely, and that can make a big difference. In the heat of summer, we always take a bottle of progrip to the range with us. And it doesn’t require a gunsmith or changing your gun.
The next step that doesn’t really involve changing your gun is adding skateboard tape or grip tape. There are kits you can buy, and they tend to have thinner tape than regular skateboard tape, but skateboard tape can work fine. The pre-cut sets specific for your model of handgun will have curves and tabs cut in that help someone new to taping a gun know where to put the tape and stretch it. You will want a heat gun to help make the tape more flexible. Read the instructions thoroughly or find some good videos on it. My youngest used to shoot a Glock that we taped with colorful, patterned skateboard tape, just for fun. He enjoyed making it, but it was definitely a rougher tape than the pre-made kits. But kids enjoy picking out colors and patterns and to be honest, for our family, it helps find things in the safe.
The next level of commitment to grip in my opinion is stippling (creating a pattern) the grip. Shooters will do this with a heated tool, like a wood-burner with a special tip. This is NOT something to just do on the fly. Heating the pistol grip too much can cause deformity and performance issues with how the magazines seat and fit. Sending your gun to a professional for this is what is recommended. Once we start shooting, if our hand slides, we have less contact with the gun. A goal is to have as much of our hand in contact with the gun as possible. So, strippling can provide better friction. The downside to stippling is that it wears, so you can’t really “add” it back to the gun. Re-stippling might not be easy. For my guns that are stippled…I take the grip or forend off every few months during shooting season and scrub it with glass cleaner and a stiff bristled brush because that gets out the accumulated dirt and oil and gives a little new life to the texture. But my experience overall is that stippling gives more friction to your grip, yet will eventually wear.
Another option is silicone carbine. This is real commitment, but I love it! Essentially, a layer of epoxy is added to the grip and silicone carbide grit is embedded to give you a skateboard tape texture. However with permanence and without the hassle of the tape coming off in extremes of heat and cold, or being removed from solvents and oil when you clean your gun. The only downside I can see for pistol is that the texture can catch onto your clothing. So, not ideal for a concealed carry gun. It will eventually wear, but since you are not heating the grip like you do when stippling, re-applying silicone carbide cane be done with less chance that the grip becomes warped or damaged.
I’ve personally used silicone carbide on shotgun foregrips by removing a thin layer of material and then adding black epoxy and a 60/90 silicone carbide mix. When my hands are sweaty, being able to grab the gun is very important! I would recommend using skateboard tape to see if you like a texture before you commit, and then seek out an experienced gunsmith that works in this area.
Next, I’m going to touch on a few other ways competition shooters often adjust their handguns. First is an undercut on the trigger guard. It’s simply removing a little material from under the trigger guard, but this can often help a smaller person get a better grip on the gun. Keep in mind that just like we would adjust the length of pull on a shotgun stock to help a shooter hold the gun properly, undercutting the trigger guard or adding grip tape to help a shooter manage recoil will help a shooter hold and control the gun properly.
Two last ways competition shooters often adjust their handguns are aftermarket sights and adding a weighted magwell…these things can give a gun balance and perhaps a fiber optic reinforces focus on the front sight to a new shooter…simple changes that can make the experience more positive.
Wrapping this up, don’t chase material solutions…what’s going to help you the most is PRACTICE. Rounds downrange with specific goals is going to be the plan that helps you grow your skills. There are handgun divisions like Production in USPSA that don’t allow any changes besides some grip tape and better sights…those guys and gals shoot well because of their skill, not any gear that gives them an edge.
Becky Yackley primarily competes in 3 Gun, USPSA, Bianchi pistol, but has competed in shooting since 1989 in disciplines from service-rifle, to NCAA Air Rifle & Smallbore, air pistol, and a little bit of long range rifle.