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What (not) to do while gripping a revolver.

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Mike M.
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Post by mikemyers 3/13/2020, 8:42 pm

I would like to think that what I learned today will be of use in my future.  That assumes the virus will pass me by.  Anyway….

I’ve been gripping a revolver mostly the same since I bought my first revolver.  My ability shooting revolvers at 25 yards seems to be equal to the size of “the black” on a B-8 target.  I was at the range today, trying to improve (showing no improvement), and one of the fellows who shoots at the range, and competes in the Combat Matches was shooting fairly close to me.  With nothing to lose, I walked up to him, and asked if he would look at my grip, and make suggestions for two-hand shooting.  Tom works for the Secret Service, and usually wins his matches, so I thought I would get useful advice.  (Gun is S&W Model 17-5, that I bought from someone on this forum a year or so ago, when I was overly frustrated with 22 cal semi-autos.)

Here is how I used to grip my revolvers.  My hand is low enough to give me a good grip on the gun.  At least that’s what I thought.  (It’s a lousy photo, because I’m trying to take a photo, and it’s not quite where my hand would be if I were shooting.

What (not) to do while gripping a revolver. Img_5112

The first thing Tom told me was to get my hand as high up on the back of the gun as possible.  That puts it more in-line with the barrel, which I understand from shooting semi-auto guns.  So, up went my hand.  My trigger finger was to fit flat on the trigger, pushing straight back.  I didn’t show that very well in the photos.  Next was to do what I already know, wrapping my support hand around the left side, including the rear of the backstop.  Tom told me thumbs was an issue he’s still working on.  He suggested the right thumb under the left, or just to aim the left thumb at the moon or something.

Here’s the revised grip:

What (not) to do while gripping a revolver. Img_1212

The KN Nill-Griffe grips in the photo are larger than my S&W grips - I changed from them to the standard S&W grips last night, as I thought the Nill grips were too big for me - but that was when gripping the gun lower.  When I moved up my hands, my fingers fit perfectly.  I could then grip the gun just as Tom wanted me to do.  Here’s the result:

What (not) to do while gripping a revolver. Img_9911

I shot two more targets after this, then packed up to go home.  My groups were half the size they have been until today.  I told Tom that the only thing I did differently from what he suggested, was to put my right thumb on top of the left thumb.  I guess it’s the shape of my hands, but this helped me get the best grip I’ve ever had on a revolver.  Tom assured me this was fine.  


When I got home, I put the Nill grips back on the gun.  With my hand up higher, they fit me fine (better than the S&W grips, which now feel too small for me).

I should add that I have absolutely no idea how I’m supposed to grip the gun for one-hand shooting.  The first photo is close to what I have been doing.  The gun never feels “stable”, even with the stock S&W grips.
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Post by Wobbley 3/13/2020, 9:07 pm

How to grip a wheelgunWhat (not) to do while gripping a revolver. Bb6ad210
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Post by LenV 3/13/2020, 9:59 pm

How much are you selling it for Mike? Just picking on you.  Evil or Very Mad


Last edited by LenV on 3/14/2020, 12:32 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post by mikemyers 3/13/2020, 11:18 pm

LenV - oops - I thought this went into the proper forum.   My fault.  Maybe someone can move it for me?   ......I paid $900 for it, but the price came down by $100 because the rear sight was broken. There was another one that someone here offered me, same price, but this one had the nice grips.  I thought it had "target trigger" and "target hammer", but it didn't - I'm not sure if the person selling it was aware of the difference.

Wobbley, thanks!  Lesson learned.
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Post by mikemyers 3/14/2020, 1:01 pm

If I knew yesterday, what I know now, this thread never would have been created.  Fine by me if it just gets left here, where it will soon get buried with new posts.
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Post by willnewton 3/14/2020, 4:04 pm

I just noticed it was in the Commercial forum!  No big deal, it happens.  I moved it to the Fundamentals forum.

No problem to send me a message if you need something relocated.  Smile
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Post by mikemyers 3/14/2020, 4:07 pm

If I send you a message Will, can you relocate me to someplace safe?  I think Antartica is the only safe place on this planet right now.
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Post by mikemyers 3/14/2020, 4:14 pm

Wobbley wrote:How to grip a wheelgunWhat (not) to do while gripping a revolver. Bb6ad210
I need to wait until I get to the range to try it for real, but amazingly I think I grip and shoot better with just my right hand.  I've been dry-firing since yesterday, and the gun just sits there, rock steady. and when the trigger 'clicks', nothing moves.  It's easier to shoot than a semi-auto.  This is with steel sights, too.  For the past hour I've been dry-firing, trying not to "think", just watching the sights.  I wish I knew this stuff when I was younger.  

Oh, and thanks for moving it, Will.
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Post by Guest 3/14/2020, 4:24 pm

Wobbley, what is the document containing that information?

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Post by Wobbley 3/14/2020, 4:31 pm

Pistol shooters Treasury, 1971(.?) edition...
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Post by chopper 3/14/2020, 9:16 pm

Nice revolver Mike, I picked up a model 17 this year also. I wouldn't think not having a target hammer or trigger would bother your shooting at all if your double action shooting.
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Post by CrankyThunder 3/14/2020, 11:27 pm

Not sure I agree with that trigger finger placement for serious target shooting on that picture from pistol shooters treasury.  Combat shooting?  probably good enough but not for ten ring accuracy.
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Post by mikemyers 3/14/2020, 11:29 pm

Stan, my plan was just to enjoy the gun, and shoot it double-action.  Something unexpected happened though - holding it properly, the gun feels just as stable with one hand.  Maybe more so.  I was dry-firing it tonight one-handed, and probably because the upper part of the Nill grips fit my hand so nicely, the gun felt secure, didn't move, and the trigger still doesn't disturb the gun, just like when I shot it two-handed.  If I can shoot it equally well one-handed or two, I'll stick with one.

I think you answered something I was puzzled about - as in what use are the target trigger and target hammer.  You're saying that's to make the gun more suitable for one hand shooting?

I've got a larger revolver, I forget the model number, that shoots the same ammo as I use in my Model 52.  It has the target trigger and hammer.  Maybe I'll try that Tuesday.
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Post by mikemyers 3/14/2020, 11:30 pm

CrankyThunder wrote:Not sure I agree with that trigger finger placement for serious target shooting on that picture from pistol shooters treasury.  Combat shooting?  probably good enough but not for ten ring accuracy.
Maybe he held the gun that way because that gun was so small?
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Post by mikemyers 3/14/2020, 11:36 pm

Cranky, you'll be pleased to know that what you helped me learn about my trigger control carried right over to the revolver.  Maybe because of the weight, on the revolver it's even easier.  The High Standard has a nicer trigger, but I'm perfectly happy with the revolver trigger, at least in Single Action.  I guess I need to learn how to shoot it properly in double-action as well.
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Post by chopper 3/15/2020, 9:40 am

"Cranky" I don't shoot double action, I'm not good at it one handed. I have a friend that shoots it in TF and RF very well and he does bring his thumb to rest on his middle finger like in that  picture and he stages the trigger, but that's all he shoots is a 625 and 617. That trigger finger in the picture looks like he's at the 2nd joint and the finger tip is touching the frame, which is about the only way I can shoot DA.
 Mike, those Nills are recommended by a few guys here, I bet they are very good. I shoot single action S T R fire and the wider hammer and trigger help out a lot when thumbing. My thumb rest high on the frame and the V of my hand is comfortably high also.
  The revolver is one fun gun to shoot, I love my K frames 14 and 17, I'm not real proficient yet, I need to devote more time for that.
  Have lots of fun with them.
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Post by Wobbley 3/15/2020, 11:50 am

CrankyThunder wrote:Not sure I agree with that trigger finger placement for serious target shooting on that picture from pistol shooters treasury.  Combat shooting?  probably good enough but not for ten ring accuracy.
It was from an article on PPC which was DA only.  The only difference in that and a Bullseye grip is the hand is rolled around to put the trigger inside the first knuckle joint as depicted.  It gives better control of the DA trigger.
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Post by mikemyers 3/15/2020, 12:17 pm

Quick question - is the reason for what you wrote, that the trigger finger when pushed through the trigger guard so much more, has more leverage?  That would make it easier to control...
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Post by Wobbley 3/15/2020, 12:37 pm

Yes.  For the same reason that most of the gripping force on a (particularly for slab sided grips) pistol is in that same area.  A DA pull is usually north of 6 pounds usually 8 or 9 pounds.  The terminal phalanx can’t do that consistently. The second phalanx can.
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Post by Mike M. 3/15/2020, 7:15 pm

For single-action shooting with one hand, I'd put the thumb high.  Exert no side-force on the gun with it.  And get used to recocking the gun.  A S&W K-frame is deadly shot single action, it's one of the reasons it still gets used in ISSF Centerfire matches.

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Post by mikemyers 3/15/2020, 7:30 pm

If I don't get scared off by tonight's news reports, I'll get to try it that way tomorrow.  I know about no side force, but I'll see where my thumb works best.  If I can, I'll take a photo of my hand, right before I shoot.

I never got used to "K-frames" and so on; I know the    44 Magnums just from their name (still have two of them).  If tomorrow goes well, I'll try my 38 specials in my bullseye gun tomorrow, using my ammo for my Model 52.

Recocking - with two hands, no problem.  I guess I need to learn this for one hand shooting.   My intent was to shoot it just for fun, with two hands, but if I can shoot it just as well with one hand, I'll do that.

I've got three guns to check out my ability with tomorrow - I figure I'm just as safe at an  almost empty range, as if I stay in my apartment.  I'll decide all this in the morning.

If I dig out the 44 Magnums (with 44 Special reloads), I'm assuming these are to be shot two-handed?  

Regardless of what I shoot, I've got a lot of work to do if I want to shoot them double-action.  In my short dry-firing session last night, there was so much effort used to move the trigger, that any of my "fine control" was overwhelmed.  Maybe I'll find that out tomorrow as well.
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Post by orpheoet 4/1/2020, 4:11 am

I grip my revolvers very high. The hammer will usually just touch the web between thumb and index finger when firing DA for timed and rapid. My grip is the same for all SF, TF and RF. 
I am absolutely not an advocate of staging the trigger. You dont stop the trigger moving on a 1911 why would you stop the trigger moving on a revolver? Just my opinion but I have had far better results pulling all the way through the shot. 
I prefer the narrow serated trigger and place it on the crease of the first joint. Same as I do on the 1911. I went Distinguished pretty quickly with these techniques and Federal 158gr RN for the long line, Zero 158gr SWC over 3.3gr WST for the the short. None of this is new info, I got a lot of good instruction from fellow shooters.
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Post by mikemyers 4/1/2020, 8:31 am

'orpheoet', thanks for the reply.  When I just read it, my earlier post from March 15 was right above it.  Geez, how ignorant I have been.  In that two weeks I went from shooting most days a week, and trying to improve my revolver skills, to not shooting at all, with no idea when/if I'll be able to do so again.  My "world" has shrunk to the size of my rather small apartment, with a weekly lifeline to Publix.

Regarding "staging the trigger", I'm far away from that - I only shoot my revolvers single-action.  If I ever get back to shooting, I will also start shooting double-action.  

I bought, and read from cover to cover, this wonderful book:  "Target Shooting Today" by Captain Paul B. Weston.  The whole book is about everything one needs to learn, to get the most out of a revolver.


I was pleasantly surprised to find that the book brings something up that I posted on a different forum many years ago, and just got laughed at.  Weston says it better than I was able to.  It's about going through all the motions as if you were going to take a shot, but instead of following through, release the pressure and remove your finger from the trigger.  If the gun reacts by moving one way or the other, that proves you were exerting sideways force on the gun, degrading your accuracy.  Quick test, and back then, I failed miserably.

I hope that in a couple of months, I can continue where I left off.

About what you wrote, the only limit for how high up my hand can go on a revolver seems to be my ability to cock the hammer for single-action shooting.  Weston writes a lot about that, and the other details.  It's difficult to find, but this 1950's book seems perfectly relevant in today's Bullseye world, as back then a person's left hand was to go in is pocket.
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Post by mikemyers 9/26/2020, 7:57 pm

It's been half a year since I posted this, and lots of the information has been very useful.  

I now shoot a revolver about the same as my pistols.
I now think I can shoot with iron sights about the same as with a red dot.
I haven't really decided if I shoot better with one hand, or two.

I guess that's all good - I can either go to the range with my bullseye gun(s) and work at improving, following Cecil's advice on top of what I get from CrankyThunder, Dave, and everyone else who has jumped in with advice.   .....or, I can go to the range with my revolver, forget about "training" and enjoy my "shooting".  It's all mental, but with the bullseye guns, I want a decent score (for me) and with the revolvers I just want a "decent target", so I go home pleased.

I bought the second set of Nill Grips so they are now on both my Model 14 and my Model 17.  Today's range excursion was with the Model 17, and only 4 holes were outside of the 10-ring on a B-8 target.  Today was the first day with the Nill Grips, so things should improve as I get used to things, but this is with steel sights, that I'm slowly improving with.


I do have a puzzle I can't sort out.  On Monday this week I was able to buy a gun I've wanted since the late 1970's, a 6" Python in like new condition.  A fellow I know from the range was selling it, and I couldn't resist.  My brother and I have both wanted one for going on 50 years.  He bought a new 4 1/4" 2020 Python, and mine dates to 1980.  I took it with me to the range today, and shot two targets, one that looks like how I shot a year or so ago, and one that I'll post below.  The only difference from what I normally do, is I loaded just one round, shot, then lowered the gun to reload.  Ammo was Federal 38 Special that I bought from my Model 52.  As far as I know, I don't have the ability to shoot a target like this at 25 yards.  

  • Maybe the large group is due to my loading one round at a time?
  • Maybe the large group is due to luck?
  • Maybe a Python really is so much better than my other guns?
  • Maybe, maybe, maybe....   but 8 holes in one cluster is more than what I could get from luck.


I didn't do anything "special" - loaded the gun, raised it, then let it settle, then adjusted the steel sights, as I was putting pressure on the trigger, and just like CrankyThunder told me it would, at some point the gun surprised me as it fired.  Oh, and if it matters, it was raining.  Backing board melted, so I peeled off the shoot-n-see target and stuck it on the back of someone else's used target.

I hope I can repeat next time, again loading one round at a time.

What (not) to do while gripping a revolver. Img_3314
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Post by james r chapman 9/26/2020, 8:43 pm

as I recall, the python used a 1-14 twist barrel and was a bit tighter bore than the S&W.
This contributed to the renown accuracy of the gun especially with 148 gr match ammo.
That would make an excellent DR revolver.
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