Big Guns – Small Hands

Big Gun, Small Hands, Perfect Grip

Big Gun, Small Hands, Perfect Grip

I recently produced an article about little guns and big hands. It seems to me that I would be talking out of one side of my mouth by not expressing an opinion about big guns and little hands. Since I like talking out of both sides of my mouth equally, and since a coin has two sides, here is the other side of the argument – big guns and small hands.

A Fantasy Ruger SP101 w/Small Grips

A Fantasy Ruger SP101 w/Small Grips

I have a fairly good-size hand and wrapping my mitt around large firearms can be a challenge at times. Rarely do I look at “grip reducers” when handling a pistol or revolver. In fact, the opposite is true. However, there have been demonstrations of what can happen when a person with small hands tries to shoot a firearms that is obviously too large and too powerful – and it is usually not pretty. In fact, we have seen evidence of when even a large person tries to handle a too powerful of firearm. Having small hands and trying to shoot a major caliber pistol or revolver is extremely challenging.

Most 1911-Based Pistols Have Easily Replaceable Grip Panels

Most 1911-Based Pistols Have Easily Replaceable Grip Panels

Glock G19SF GEN4 Has Several Features to Accommodate Different Hand Sizes

Glock G19SF GEN4 Has Several Features to Accommodate Different Hand Sizes

Springfield XDm Features Interchangeable Back Straps

Springfield XDm Features Interchangeable Back Straps

Springfield XDs - A Powerful, Diminutive Pistol for Big Hands or Small

Springfield XDs – A Powerful, Diminutive Pistol for Big Hands or Small

Luckily, some major handgun manufacturers recognize that some people with small hands like to shoot major caliber handguns and make concessions for it. For example, the Glock Gen 4 line of pistols. In the 1911-based pistols, some standard grips are thin enough that even one with a diminutive hand size can feel comfortable holding the handle of the 1911.

The Ruger SR45. Remove the back strap pin, slide the back strap out, turn it around, insert back strap, insert pin. Voila! A new grip!

The Ruger SR45. Remove the back strap pin, slide the back strap out, turn it around, insert back strap, insert pin. Voila! A new grip!

The Ruger SR22 w/Grip Panel Options

The Ruger SR22 w/Grip Panel Options. While not a large gun, it can accommodate small paws

The Ruger SR9 chambered for the 9x19mm Parabellum cartridge was introduced in October 2007. The Ruger SR40 chambered for the .40 S&W cartridge came out in October 2010 and the Ruger SR45 chambered in .45 ACP was announced in January 2013. Ruger introduced the SR22 in 2012. Each of these firearms, with the exception of the SR22, is unique in that the back strap is simply reversed to provide for small and large hands. This feature follows in the compact versions of the SR9 and SR40. The two interchangeable complete lower grip assemblies on the SR22 provide for different size hands.

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.

The Kahr Series of Pistols Fit Many Size Hands - What you See is What You Get

The Kahr Series of Pistols Fit Many Size Hands – What you See is What You Get

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.

Grips Need to be in Proportion to the Gun - Like Those on this S&W Mdl 60

Grips Need to be in Proportion to the Gun – Like Those on this S&W Mdl 60

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.
The Ruger GP100 Is Handful of Gun - Some With Small Hands May Be Challenged With  Grip This Size

The Ruger GP100 Is Handful of Gun – Some With Small Hands May Be Challenged With Grip This Size

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).

Personally, I would be adding larger grips on this S&W Mdl 629 .44 magnum.

Personally, I would be adding larger grips on this S&W Mdl 629 .44 magnum.

The S&W Mdl 686. Almost a Perfect balance Between Gun and Grip.

The S&W Mdl 686. Almost a Perfect balance between gun and grip.

The Ruger SP101 in .357 Magnum - Powerful Gun with Small Grips

The Ruger SP101 in .357 Magnum – Powerful Gun with Small Grips

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.

Colt Anaconda with Textured Rubber Grips

Colt Anaconda with Textured Rubber Grips

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.

Categories: Uncategorized

About Taurian

Taurian is an Oath Keeper, veteran, former LEO and Defensive Tactics Instructor. Until retirement, Taurian had over forty-seven years of experience as a Technical Writer and Training Program Developer. After leaving home at the age of ten without any shoes, Taurian continues on with many years devoted to the keeping and bearing of arms.

3 Responses to Big Guns – Small Hands

  1. wow!!! this has been an amazing read. Never knew that the grip can make such a difference in holding and firing the gun. Yes small hands and big guns can be a deadly combination but still if you do some research, there are many services that can help you modify and customize the guns as per the need and grip. Firm grip are very essential in order to avoid any tragedy. Good read and very nicely explained.

  2. Addison P says:

    Good write up. I am 5’6, my first serious handgun was a glock model 20 10mm, after firing about 400rds I realized I couldn’t get the accuracy I wanted because the grip was so large the gun torqued in my hand while firing. This bad fit wasn’t apparent when holding/handling the gun. I tried and m&p40 and with its adjustable backstrap it felt so much better, felt like it was made for me. The trigger on that s&w was disgusting so I had to ditch it. I decided I was done with striker fired guns. I ended up with a 1911 which fits OK but it the grip front to back is very long, yet narrow. I can get good accuracy out of my 1911 with the help of the trigger and sweet recoil of the .45 but I still would like a smaller grip

    • Taurian says:

      You might consider thinner grips for your 1911. They are available through Amazon and other vendors. I have to go the other direction and make the grip wider. A set of Hogue rubber wrap-a-round finger groove grips work for me.

      Also, consider the Ruger SR line of pistol. These are good striker pistols. The grip is thin and I have had good luck with three of mine (SR9, SR9c, and SR45). The trigger on these pistols are good and they get better as the pistol breaks in.

      Unfortunately, it takes some work to find the pistol that works for you. When you do find it; however, it is well worth the effort.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.