Maximizing Grip For Small Guns or Big Hands

I had a student write in today asking about what to do since his pinkie finger hangs off of the bottom of the grip of his pistol.

This is a very common issue…either for people shooting small pistols or shooters with big hands.

Here’s an example…this is what my grip looks like with a standard magazine in a Glock 26.

This isn’t ideal, but it is reality for a lot of shooters.

But how big of a difference does it make, and what can you do to make the best of the situation?

Let’s go back to principles…there are 2 places on the gun where grip force matters most.  High on the back and low on the front.

During recoil, the pistol will rotate around the highest point where you’re pushing forward on the back of the grip.

You’ve probably seen the video where I demonstrate managing recoil from a subcompact Glock and a .45 caliber Sig P220 with only 2 fingers.  If you haven’t here’s the video:

*Quick note–I’ve had some people get confused on this.  Do NOT use a 2 finger grip for shooting.  This video is a demonstration of a principle.*

And the longer the distance between the highest point where you’re applying force on the rear of the grip and the lowest point that you’re applying rearward pressure on the front of the grip, the more leverage you’ll have.

Your ring finger is going to have roughly 66% more leverage than your middle finger and your pinkie is going to have 2x the leverage…simply because of how far away they are from the beavertail.

The more force you can apply high on the back and low on the front and the further those 2 points are away from each other, the less muzzle flip you’ll have and the quicker you’ll be able to make accurate followup shots.

Most people can apply 50%-100% more force with their ring finger than with their pinkie.  (You can test this by gripping an electronic scale with one finger at a time)  That means that if you’re going to take one finger out of the game…the pinkie is the one to bench.

Ideally, you’d be able to have all of your fingers on the grip…but we live in a reality based world where compromise and adaptation is the norm.  And the faster and more effectively you adapt to non-ideal situations, the better you’ll perform.

You may choose to take a different approach, but here’s how this plays out for me.

I carry a Glock 26 subcompact.  My pinkie hangs off of the end of the grip with a normal magazine inserted.

In the summer, I carry a flush magazine and a full size backup magazine.  The full size backup magazine lets me get my pinkie into the grip.

In the winter, I carry a +2 extension and a full size backup mag.

Either way, in the winter months, my pinkie is on the grip.

Year round, I practice using a with my pinkie on the grip.

I also do hand sensory drills, grip strength exercises like hammer drills, isometric gripping of my steering wheel, gripmasters, hanging from a pullup bar for time, etc.

The majority of the times when I unexpectedly draw my pistol and shoot critters (coyotes, porcupines, raccoons, etc.) is in the warmer months when I’ve got my short magazine and my pinkie is hanging off of the end.  They’re usually rapidly evolving situations that include one or both of my dogs and I don’t have the luxury of thinking a lot about my pinkie.  I just shoot and my pinkie hanging off of the end of the grip isn’t a problem…even if I’ve been doing the majority of my practice with my pinkie on the grip.

The key to being able to practice with your finger on the grip and still perform at a high level when your pinkie is hanging off of the end is HOW you practice.

When you understand and practice simple, mechanically sound fundamentals, you can immediately apply them to any handgun you have in your hand and perform at a high level…no matter how different it may be from what you’re used to.  You’ll probably always be best with the pistol that you practice the most with, but the more solid your fundamentals, the easier it is to adapt to non-ideal situations.

That’s one of the keys to why the 21 Day Alpha Shooter course is so incredibly effective.  When you focus on the fundamentals, you can apply them to any pistol you pick up.  To learn more, and see how you can improve more as a shooter over the next 21 days than you have in the last 12 months, click >HERE<

If you carry a small pistol and/or have big hands, what do you do with your pinkie?  Does it bother you when it’s hanging off of the grip?  Share your thoughts by commenting below.


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  • Les

    Reply Reply October 3, 2019

    I carry a Taurus 380 frequently and my pinkie is off the pistol. However I also shoot a black powder navy 44 with small grips and my pinkie is off there also so I’m not bothered.
    Most of those revolvers were utilised pinkie off to return the revolver to a proper firing position and assist cocking the hammer more rapidly during recoil.
    It was not an impetiment for them and should not be for us with practice.

  • David T-G

    Reply Reply October 2, 2019

    My bigger problem on a subcompact is my hand wrapping all the way around and my index finger hitting the trigger at or past the knuckle, especially (but not only) on a single-stack. In order to pull with control, I have to awkwardly pull my finger out so that my middle knuckle sticks way off to the side. I’ve been sticking with compacts but think that I may have found a double-stack sub that will work … once I can buy it 🙂

  • Douglas Roberson

    Reply Reply February 5, 2018

    Does it matter? If I’m exerting the force on the lowest portion of the front of the grip with my supporting hand, not my shooting hand. Or do I have this wrong.

    • Ox

      Reply Reply February 5, 2018

      That depends.

      You want the middle finger of your shooting hand up against the bottom of the trigger guard.

      You want the index finger of your support hand up against the bottom of the trigger guard.

      Is that how you’re holding the pistol, or is there a gap between the bottom of the trigger guard and the index finger on your support hand?

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