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How to Find a Handgun that Fits Your Hand

Before you spend your money on that handgun you've been eyeing, you're going to need to make sure it fits your hand correctly. Whether you use your firearm for target shooting or concealed-carry, having a good grip on your gun is essential every time you pull the trigger.

How do you make sure a handgun fits your hand? Read these tips to find out how to test a gun to make sure it's a good fit for you.

Getting your grip

When shopping for your handgun, you will want to acquire a shooting grip to test how the gun fits your hand (make sure it is unloaded first). The back of the grip, often referred to as the backstrap, should fit right in the middle of your palm. The web between your thumb and index finger should be as high up on the grip (under the beavertail) as you can get it. If you hold the gun out in front of you with only your shooting hand, you should be able to visualize a straight line from the muzzle of your gun up your arm towards your elbow.

With your grip in place, using only your main shooting hand no support hand), you will want to check and make sure you can reach all the necessary elements. First, can you reach the trigger? There are many schools of thought on how much of your index finger should be on the trigger, but generally speaking, you want the pad of your index finger between the tip and the first crease to rest on the trigger.

If you can’t get enough of your finger on the trigger with a proper grip, the gun is too large for your hand and it will be difficult to place your shots where you want them.

Many handguns come with some type of grip that will allow you to adjust the fit. With removable backstraps or grip parts, the size can be adjusted to fit many hand sizes. For example, the Smith & Wesson, M&P 2.0 comes with four different size backstraps to help the shooter find the best grip size.

You will also want to be able to flip the safety off with your thumb while maintaining your grip with your shooting hand. It is not as important to be able to reach the magazine release with the thumb of your shooting hand. To do so is ideal, but you can always use your support hand to activate the magazine release.

The Gap

Take a look at your grip from above the gun. With your finger on the trigger, you will want to have a space between the side of the gun and the base of your index finger. This allows for a good front to back trigger press. If your index finger is flat against the gun from the trigger back, the gun is a little bit too big for you, but may still be manageable. If you have to shift the gun toward your thumb so you can pull the trigger, the gun is too big for your hand.

What about small guns?

So far, the discussion has centered on guns that are big. Is there such a thing as a gun that is too small for someone? In general, handguns that are too small do not present as much of a problem as guns that are too big as far as grip is concerned but there are some things to consider. If the gun is too small, you might be inclined to put too much of your trigger finger into the trigger guard on the trigger, which will result in inaccurate shooting.


Also, when you grip a handgun that is too small, you might find there is no place to put your little finger. In many cases, small handguns such as this offer extended magazines which give you more to hold on to and a place to grip with that pinkie. However, if the handgun is really too small, when you try to get a shooting grip snug under the beavertail, you might find that your hand interferes with the controls, such as it may cover the safety lever or even worse, be a position to be cut or pinched by the slide during recoil. These are the things to be aware of when purchasing a small handgun.

The most important considerations for handgun fit are the ability to get a solid grip, proper trigger finger placement, and being able to disengage the safety without compromising your grip. When shopping for a new gun, be sure to check those things first. Then consider how well you can manipulate the slide stop and magazine release too. Even though you like a particular handgun, the fit may not be right for you. Good fit makes a difference in good shooting.

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