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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, 7:42 pm

First topic message reminder :

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. - Page 2 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. - Page 2 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. - Page 2 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 9/27/2020, 2:58 pm

Try shooting a cylinder of five rounds.  You might just find that there is no diff....

A month or two after I got my Python I went to a turkey shoot at a local range.  I entered the pistol event which was at 25 yards, 5 shots on a B-8 center.  I shot my 5 shots (Federal match in the old red boxes) and the second last shot I called low right.  My score was 50-4X.  That turkey tasted good at Thanksgiving..,   Pythons can really shoot.
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Post by mikemyers 9/27/2020, 4:20 pm

Wobbley wrote:Try shooting a cylinder of five rounds.  You might just find that there is no diff....

.............That turkey tasted good at Thanksgiving........Pythons can really shoot.
Sounds like a good plan to try tomorrow.  Maybe the big thing is to sit the gun down on a rest, between shots.

Dave Salyer told me to do two things I was already doing - use a sub-6-o'clock hold (check!), and apply 99.999% of my concentration to the sight picture as I gradually added pressure to the trigger.  Interesting.  I know about **FRONT SIGHT** but maybe I never gave it the proper attention.  Maybe it's my imagination, but it seems easier to maintain a good sight picture with the Python than my other guns with steel sights.  I need to think about that some more.....

I spent much of today trying different things with the Python.  I was curious if I could shoot fast enough for "rapid fire".  Nope.  .....but then I found a video of a guy doing this double action.  So I started to practice.  One handed I found it impossible.  With two hands the more I dry-fired, the easier it got to get "close".  No idea if it's "close enough" for a match.

I won a turkey in the 1980's, and my mom ended up in charge of the cooking.  I had turkey leftovers for ages!  Sure tasted good though!  Those "turkey matches" were great fun!!!!   (I never understood them, until at the end of the match they handed me a huge frozen turkey!  Without my mom, I'd have been lost.)
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Post by Allgoodhits 10/6/2020, 1:20 pm

The short of it is:

Considering equal and proper grip tension, the higher up your hand is on the grip, the less muzzle flip or rise you should experience. Less muzzle flip should reduce time to reacquire target, which should increase aiming time.

As far as trigger finger placement, the answer lies in what position of your finger on the trigger, does it best contribute to you being able to press the trigger and not disturb the sight alignment in the process. Some people need oversized grips to get this correct, some people need grips which DO NOT add grip material to the rear of the backstrap to achieve this.

A third factor is, if shooting SA, then of course you MUST be able to pull the hammer back without breaking the grip, and still be able to pull the trigger straight to the rear. 

Shooting DA, my suggestion would be high on the backstrap, finger placement on trigger at about the first joint of finger, and grip very firmly, then tighter than that, then a little tighter. In DA you do not align the sights, then pull the trigger. You align the sights while pulling the trigger, or pull the trigger while aligning the sights. In shooting DA, IMO many want everything perfect from the start. Unfortunately, things change during the 1/4 - 1/2" of trigger travel. What matters most while shooting DA is, getting things perfect at the end of the trigger press. At the time the hammer falls. Once you start the trigger press, either keep it moving, or abort the shot, if possible. Stopping and going on a DA trigger, usually leads to a worse result, than the reason you stopped to begin with.

Cheers,

MJ
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Post by mikemyers 10/6/2020, 7:58 pm

MJ, what you wrote sums up not only what I'm doing, but gives good reasons, some of which I hadn't thought of, for doing so.  My hand is up as far as feels comfortable on the backstop, and both 22 and 38 revolvers "feel good".  Lots of grip tension, because if I don't grip the revolver so hard not only does the revolver sometimes move in my hand(s), my hands sometimes seem to move on their own.

I gave up on DA - I don't have enough control of the gun.  With 22 and SA, I barely have enough time, and some of my shots would have the targets turning by then.   Finger placement, just as you suggested, first joint.

There is a trade-off.  Too much grip, and the gun trembles.  Not enough grip, and the grip seems to change as I shoot.  That's especially true with 38.

For reasons I don't understand, I get better groups with the Python than the S&W Model 14. 

Final thoughts, I am comfortable shooting the Model 17 S&W with one hand.  It's light enough, and everything "just works".  Not so for my 38 revolvers - maybe because of the weight, and the weight distribution, I feel like I need that second hand.  

CrankyThunder and Dave tell me I'm shooting too many different guns.  I know they're right, as far as Bullseye goes, but enjoy shooting my other guns!!!  What (not) to do while gripping a revolver. - Page 2 2935285009
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Post by Allgoodhits 10/7/2020, 9:16 pm

If the gun is moving or twisting, in other words causing your grip to permit the gun to change the grip which you had during the firing process, then the short answer is not firm enough grip for the recoil generated by "that" gun or that caliber or load. 

A heavier gun helps to reduce felt recoil. "Newton" is your friend when it comes to recoil. A higher grip helps reduce muzzle flip upward during recoil, but actually may increase the recoil impact, as that energy has to go somewhere. Changing grips help to a degree. 

My suggestion is grip the gun firmer. The amount of the shaking caused by firm grip, likely is not anywhere near as bad as if the gun moves in your hand during the firing process. Typically, the tighter the grip, the tighter the group! 

Most likely your hold is still enough to permit good enough shots. What causes the shots to be bad, is that the "still enough hold" changes when you start on the trigger. A firmer grip may cause some shaking, but it likely looks worse than it really is. Regardless, shaking or not shaking, the gun must not move in the hand during the firing process, or you will never master being able to shoot a consistent group.  Next time out, grip the gun tighter than ever before. I would say the result will likely be the most "round" group you have experienced. It probably will be the smallest too. Learn to shoot a round group. Size does not matter. Work on that after you have learned how to grip the gun and work the trigger. 

If no matter what you do, the gun still moves in your hand while firing, then you either need a heavier gun (less recoil) or less powerful gun (also less recoil) or go to a gun which has something to absorb some of that recoil. Maybe a compensator, or even a semi-automatic. A compensator on a revolver does take some of the bite out of the recoil.

I believe you stated that you shoot because it is fun. It is more fun to shoot guns that one can control better. Stick with those, and keep it fun. Shooting soft loads in a CF revolver is fun. Pick up a good used .38 spl PPC revolver and shoot 148 gr wadcutters @ 675 - 775 fps. Lots of fun there and mild recoil and likely more than sufficient accuracy. Yes, they are heavy, but don't hold it out there all day, or shoot two handed. Have fun.
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Post by Jack H 10/8/2020, 12:07 am

I always shot the 38 OMM in SF setting up the grip the same as you would your 45.  But that grip no way works for thumbing T&R.  So my grips were different between SF and T&R.  Double action was not on the table. 

The Colt grip was better than the S&W target grip for SF.  The S&W grip has slightly more volume.  And for thumbing I liked the Colt hammer better than the S&W. 
  One time I actually held a real Roper grip.  Wish I had one now.
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Post by mikemyers 10/8/2020, 8:03 am

Allgoodhits wrote:.........My suggestion is grip the gun firmer. The amount of the shaking caused by firm grip, likely is not anywhere near as bad as if the gun moves in your hand during the firing process. Typically, the tighter the grip, the tighter the group!......... Most likely your hold is still enough to permit good enough shots. What causes the shots to be bad, is that the "still enough hold" changes when you start on the trigger. A firmer grip may cause some shaking, but it likely looks worse than it really is. Regardless, shaking or not shaking, the gun must not move in the hand during the firing process, or you will never master being able to shoot a consistent group.  Next time out, grip the gun tighter than ever before. I would say the result will likely be the most "round" group you have experienced. It probably will be the smallest too. Learn to shoot a round group. Size does not matter. Work on that after you have learned how to grip the gun and work the trigger.......................I believe you stated that you shoot because it is fun. It is more fun to shoot guns that one can control better. Stick with those, and keep it fun. Shooting soft loads in a CF revolver is fun. Pick up a good used .38 spl PPC revolver and shoot 148 gr wadcutters @ 675 - 775 fps. Lots of fun there and mild recoil and likely more than sufficient accuracy. Yes, they are heavy, but don't hold it out there all day, or shoot two handed. Have fun.

Thinking about your advice - I have started loading my own 38 Special rounds for my Model 52 again, and you are right, shooting them from any of my 38/357 revolvers is almost as enjoyable as shooting them with my Model 52.  For Bullseye, I feel I need to concentrate on 22 and 45 pistols, only.  That means my Salyer wad gun, and one of my High Standards or my Nelson- and the winner so far is the High Standard X-Series.  Both get shot one handed, with Bullseye loads, and I usually score and compare targets.

As to revolvers, with the exception of my S&W Model 17, they are heavier than I feel comfortable with shooting one handed, but that concern vanishes if I shoot them two-handed.  I will grip them as you suggested, and see what kind of difference that makes.  Hopefully you will have solved my problem with your suggestions.

People I respect have told me to concentrate on only my Bullseye Guns, preferably just one of them.  Apparently shooting other guns interferes with my training/practice/shooting Bullseye. I'm hoping I can resolve that by simply shooting my Bullseye Guns one-handed, and shooting all my other guns two-handed.  

As to the reason why I shoot, I enjoy it very much, I feel that over time I'm getting better, and to be honest, with the virus situation going on, I no longer do much of other things.  So I go to the range four or five times a week, and reload between range visits.  As to Matches, I have two - my "fun match" once a week with my friend Tony, and the weekly forum thread here for match results.

You mentioned the weight of these guns - as of today, I'm physically strong enough to shoot my new Python, but my S&W Model 14 with the longer barrel is not comfortable for me to hold up.  I won't blame it on my age, but instead I'll "blame it" on not enough hand strength.  So, I've decided to shoot both of those, and my other S&W revolvers, two handed.  It must be because of the weight - but my Model 17 is easier for me to shoot one handed than two handed.  I guess I ought to shoot that two handed as well, so it doesn't interfere with my Bullseye training.


I think what I just wrote is appropriate, but who knows.  I'm mostly just guessing here, and making adjustments based on how things feel at the range.

Oh yeah, "fun".  The most "fun" (and sometimes "frustrating") gun I own is my Model 52.  There is minimal recoil, it fits my hand, it is light enough that it just becomes part of "me".  Sometimes I get five overlapping holes at 25 yards, and other times I get much worse than that.  It is usually "reliable", but sometimes I get a FTL.  Next in line for "fun" is most of my revolvers.  Very simple, if I do my part right, I get pleasing results.  My first gun was a revolver.  Steel sights for me feel more "real", along with being "more challenging".   There's also no "challenge" most of the time - I just plain enjoy shooting them - like what Hickock45 explains it.  .......that's enough for now.  Thanks for the advice - I'll try to follow what you suggested later today or tomorrow, whenever I get back to the range.
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