Glock answered the call for shooters with small hands with their “Short Frame” (SF) series of handguns. The SF frames provide a small diameter grip. This makes it easier for people with smaller hands to reach the trigger and is more comfortable to hold.
The SF is 0.3″ (3 tenths of an inch) shorter from back to front strap – meaning the grip is slightly smaller to accommodate those with smaller hands who could not comfortably hold a G20. The “SF” magazines will fit in standard G20’s but the old standard magazines will not fit in the “SF”. Then, Glock followed through with the Gen4 series of handguns that have interchangeable back straps, which makes accommodating small hands an easy task. Use of a small punch or a Glock Tool makes changing back straps a quick process.
The Springfield XDm series of pistols, like Glock, utilize interchangeable back straps that are changed out using a small 3/32″ punch. The Springfield XDs pistols, although small, provide an interchangeable back strap so that small hands can really get a grip on this pistol – especially in .40 calibers and .45 acp.
Most 1911-based pistol grip panels can be swapped out with thinner grip panels, although the grip screw bushings may have to be replaced with those that are compatible with thinner grips.With a few exceptions, most manufacturers attempt, through research and ergonomics, to create a balance of handgun and grip that will work for most people. With polymer handguns, the grip area leaves little for modification without moving into custom work when a thinner grip area is desired. Revolvers are different animals. While I usually try to find a grip that is larger than what came on the gun, there are some standard grips that are too large, or that do not fit my hand comfortably. Luckily, replacement grips for revolvers are plentiful. For large revolvers, selecting a grip that exposes the back strap may be a simple answer for reducing trigger reach without sacrificing control. On revolvers like the Ruger series of large double-action revolvers, the selection is somewhat limited. I did not care for the Packmyr grips that came with my Ruger GP100 and I opted to exchange them with exotic wood Hogue grips with finger grooves and side checkering. They are very pleasing to the eye, the finger grooves fit my hand, and the grips have a palm swell that adds girth to the grip, yet the grips are not as comfortable when firing full .357 magnum loads as are the rubber type of grip. Since I do not push hot loads through my guns on a constant basis, and I wear shooting gloves when doing so, recoil is not a serious consideration for me. However, for some people, recoil may be a factor in poor handgun control. With that said, I will soon be changing the Hogue exotic wood grips to new Hogue grips with recoil control (essentially, a blue “gel” pad inside of the grip). With revolvers like the Smith & Wesson Mdl 586/686 .357 magnum and Mdl 29/629 .44 magnum, a good set of rubber grips that expose the back strap can help those with small hands control the handgun by increasing the amount of grip purchase while shortening the distance to the trigger. The exposed back strap may make felt recoil worse, however. A large caliber such as a .44 cannot accommodate a very small grip; the grip has to be proportionate to the gun size to start. Again, everything is a trade-off of sorts.
When choosing the best pistol grip material and design for your handgun, you will be somewhat limited by the model and features of your gun. Some handguns require pistol grips with particular materials. For example, a high-powered handgun should be equipped with a grip that will not become harder to maneuver in the event that your hand becomes sweaty. Hardwood grips are noted for their beauty and warmth in the hand but may exaggerate recoil or twist in the hand if not properly checkered. Rubber pistol grips are popular because they are flexible, soft, and absorb recoil. Ivory pistol grips, noted for their beauty after aging, may not be the best.
Whether your hands are large or small, choosing the correct pistol grip is an extremely important aspect of owning and using a handgun. The correct handgun grip will improve the effectiveness and accuracy whenever shooting. Keep in mind, selecting a grip that simply makes your handgun look better may be counterproductive. Every handgun grip has a direct impact on shooting performance.If you have small hands, but wish for a large caliber pistol or revolver to handle your defensive needs, you may need to do some research; hold and shoot many guns until you find one, in your desired caliber, that fits your hand as correctly as possible. Luckily, it is becoming easier for the small-handed person to find a handgun with grips that already fit the hand correctly without spending a lot of money on after-market grips.