In Stock .223/5.56 | Flash Sale on Select Calibers

Free Shipping Over $199 Shop Now

45-Day Guarantee Learn more

Save 20% Using Promo Code: AMERICA

Looking for the perfect 2A gift? Order a gift card.

How to Hold a Pistol – Exploring Different Pistol-Holding Techniques

How to Hold a Pistol – Exploring Different Pistol-Holding Techniques

Many first-time pistol holders quickly realize after their first try at holding a pistol that it requires a certain level of control and technique to pull it off excellently and safely.

If you are new to firearms training and usage, one of the fundamentals of firearms handling that you should know is how to hold a pistol and any kind of firearm for that matter.

How you hold your pistol can greatly affect your accuracy, comfort, and safety. Holding a pistol the wrong way makes you prone to getting injured while shooting. It doesn’t matter if you are shooting with live ammunition or a dry-fire system. It is important to master the right pistol-holding technique.

We will explore some of the most common and effective pistol-holding techniques you can adopt to enhance your shooting performance.

The Basics of Holding a Pistol

Before discussing some of the most common and effective techniques for holding pistols, it is important to dive into the basic principles of holding a gun properly - we'll reference this as the basic principles of a good pistol grip.

Regardless of the kind of handgun you have, it is important to follow these guides as they are necessary for safely handling a pistol. It will not matter if you know how to hold a pistol if you don’t understand the basics.

Below are some of the basic principles of a proper pistol grip:

  • Ensure you hold the pistol high on the backstrap or behind the pistol grip. This ensures you have control over the muzzle movement and pistol recoil.
  • You should wrap your dominant hand around the grip when holding your pistol. Make sure that your index finger rests along the frame and not on the trigger! Your thumb should be pointed forward while resting on the side of the barrel.
  • Ensure that your support hand is over your dominant hand and it fills the gap between the fingers of your dominant hand and the front of the grip. The thumb of your support hand should also be pointing forward and parallel to the barrel.
  • Make sure you are gripping the pistol with consistent pressure all around, firmly but not too tightly. The goal is to ensure you control the pistol movement without causing muscle fatigue. A loose rule of thumb (pun intended) says you should grip the gun with 60% grip strength in your dominant hand and 40% in your support hand.
  • Ensure you have a solid stance with your legs standing firmly on a stable surface. Point your wrists and elbows until you have a straight line from your forearm to your wrist and the pistol. This straight line ensures you can absorb the gun's anticipated recoil and maintain a stable aim.

You can use the Strikeman app to track your progress and receive feedback on your shooting.

The Different Pistol Techniques

Now that you understand the basics of a pistol grip, it’s time to dive into the specifics of pistol-holding techniques that work in most situations. Don’t think of these techniques as mutually exclusive. Instead, think of them as variations of one another that can be used depending on the situation and your preference.

After setting up your shooting environment, what technique is best to use?

Here are some of the most common and effective techniques for beginner and pro pistol shooters alike:

The Isosceles Technique

It is safe to say the Isosceles pistol-holding technique is one of the most common and popular pistol-holding techniques. And it is for good reasons.

The Isosceles pistol holding method requires that you stand with your feet wide apart and your two hands grip the pistol with equal length like an Isosceles triangle.

Here are the basics steps for the Isosceles technique:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and face your target squarely.
  • Ensure that both arms are fully extended in front of you and that your elbows are locked.
  • Lean forward a little towards your target while still maintaining balance.
  • Keep both eyes open and align your sight with your target.

This method of holding and firing a pistol is popular because it is simple and offers a natural and intuitive stance. This also gives you good shooting posture and a wide view of your target and surroundings.

Its main disadvantage is that it exposes a larger area of your body to potential threats and may not be the best at managing recoil like the other pistol-holding techniques.

However, this technique should be right up your alley if you are a beginner shooter.

The Weaver Technique

The Weaver technique, just like the Isosceles technique, is a commonly used and effective gun-holding method. It was created by Jack Weaver, a competitive shooter and once a deputy sheriff in California.

Here are the basics of this technique:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, just like in the Isosceles method, but this time, put your dominant foot slightly behind your support foot.
  • At this point, you should be tilted a bit toward the target. Your firing arm should be fully extended, while the support arm’s elbow should bend slightly.
  • While the firing arm pulls on the trigger, the supporting arm with the bent elbow provides both recoil support and aim balance.
  • Ensure you push forward with the firing arm and pull back with the support arm. This helps to create a stabilizing tension for the pistol.

This technique's main advantage is its control over recoil and muzzle flip. Also, it presents a smaller body profile to your attackers.

Its disadvantage is that it feels less natural than other pistol-holding techniques. Plus, your field of view and mobility may be impeded.

Note: The foot on the side of the firing arm is the dominant foot, while the foot on the side of the supporting arm is the supporting foot.

The Modified Weaver Technique

Another way to hold a pistol is with the modified Weaver technique. The modified Weaver technique is sometimes called the modified Isosceles, fighting, or tactical stance.

This pistol-holding method is more commonly used by law enforcement officers or military personnel. While similar to the Weaver technique, a few prominent differences make it a unique handgun holding method.

Here is how to use the modified Weaver technique:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Put your dominant foot slightly behind the support foot, just like in the Weaver method.
  • Bend both knees slightly towards the target as you lean forward a little at your waist.
  • Have both arms extended in front of you but with both elbows bent slightly.
  • Push your firing arm forward while you pull back with your support hand. This helps to create a stabilizing tension for your pistol.

One major advantage of the modified Weaver method is its flexibility and better mobility.

The modified Weaver method also makes it easy to transition between high ready and low ready positions with your pistol.

The disadvantage of the modified Weaver technique is that it is not as accurate as the other pistol-holding stances and may require more practice to master.

The Chapman Technique

Another way to hold a pistol is with the Chapman technique. Ray Chapman, a world-champion shooter and firearms instructor, developed this pistol-holding technique. The Chapman technique is similar to the Weaver method but has a few variations.

Here is how to hold a pistol using the Chapman technique:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, just like in the Weaver technique, with your firing/dominant foot slightly behind the support foot.
  • Bend both knees slightly towards the target and lean forward from the waist up.
  • Extend your firing hand, lock the elbow, and bend the support arm slightly at the elbow while keeping it close to your body.
  • Make sure the support hand is over the dominant hand and in front of the grip.
  • Align your sight with the target but with one eye closed.

The advantage of this method is that it provides more precision and accuracy than other methods where you have both eyes open.

However, its main disadvantage is that it may not be as comfortable as the other pistol shooting techniques, and it causes you to have a limited field of view. This results in reduced situational awareness.


Shooting a pistol takes a thorough understanding of the basics of pistol grip and knowing what pistol-holding method works for you and the situation that you find yourself in.

Learning to hold a pistol properly and practicing various pistol-holding techniques guarantees safety for yourself and those around you when shooting at a target.

One of the best ways to practice pistol holding techniques is with a dry-fire system, as it allows you to practice shooting without the risk involved with the use of live ammunition.

Continue practicing how to hold a pistol consistently with all the fundamentals intact, and you will be able to shoot a pistol like a pro in no time.

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.