Thumbs Up… Er, Forward!

Mastering the thumbs-forward grip involves more than just the thumbs.

STORY AND PHOTOS BY ROB REED

The thumbs-forward grip started with competition shooters and spread to defensive pistol instructors and others who recognized the benefits of this once unorthodox style. The grip grew popular because it provides excellent recoil management that allows for faster and more accurate shooting. To get the most from this technique it needs to be performed correctly. Some shooters simply point their thumbs forward without completely understanding the mechanics of the grip. The name aside, the key is really in the position of the support-side wrist, not the thumbs, and once that is understood, mastering the grip becomes easy.

STEP 1: GIVE IT TWO ‘THUMBS UP

To learn how to execute the thumbs-forward grip start by putting both thumbs up in the classic “Fonzie” or “double hitchhiker” position. Try to get as close to a 90-degree angle between the thumb and the index finger as possible.

STEP 2: CLEAR A SPACE FOR THE SUPPORT HAND

Place the pistol in the dominant hand, while keeping the dominant thumb high and out of the way. The trigger finger should index on the side of the slide and the second finger should be up tight against the underside of the trigger guard. The empty area on the grip is where the palm of the support hand will go.

STEP 3: FILL THAT SPACE WITH THE SUPPORT PALM

Now take the support hand, open it, and cock the wrist downward at about a 45-degree angle. Make sure to keep the almost 90-degree angle between the thumb and the fingers. While keeping the support hand’s wrist rotated down, place the meaty part of the support hand’s palm on the open area of the pistol grip to obtain as much hand-to-gun contact as possible. The support hand’s thumb rests alongside the slide and naturally points forward.

STEP 4: CLOSE THE SUPPORT HAND

Next, close the support hand’s fingers. The index finger on the support hand should be as high as possible under the trigger guard. The wrist remains cocked at the same downward angle and should feel “locked.” At the same time bring the dominant thumb down onto the support hand thumb until both thumbs point forward. (The strong hand thumb should ride the safety on 1911 or similar pistols). The support hand should provide most of the force of the grip. This makes it easier to isolate the trigger finger of the dominant hand to allow for better trigger control. While the thumbs-forward grip works well overall, there are a couple potential issues. The first is that the grip does not work as well onehanded due to the high thumb placement. Many shooters will lock the thumb down if shooting with only one hand. The other issue is that the slide may not lock open on an empty magazine if the shooter’s thumbs engage the slide release. In many cases a slight repositioning of the thumbs will avoid this. ASJ

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May 21st, 2017 by