Thumbs forward pistol grip

I got a couple of emails from people asking me what I meant when I said “thumbs forward hold” on an autopistol.  This image below is of the “thumbs forward hold”.  The thing about this grip is that it’s very easy to teach, as it utilizes the body’s mechanics to lock down on the gun.  Those hands in the picture belong to a woman with small hands, who was able to assume a proper thumbs forward hold on my .38 Super with about 10 minutes of instruction.

Note that both thumbs are indexed on top of one another, and both are pointing towards the shooter’s intended target.  This allows the gun to come back faster on target in recoil (nevermind the big ol’ Wilson Accu-Comp on the gun) which will lead to faster splits in matches…or when your life depends on it.

The thumbs forward grip isn’t just for 1911 patter pistols, either.  Top level competition shooters such as Dave Sevigny use it when shooting Glocks, Julie Golob uses it on her S&W M&P, and the list goes on.

Of course, this is not “the way”.  It is “a way”, that I’ve found works very well for me, and for most people that I’ve helped along.  Again, while it’s not the only way to hold a pistol, it is the most common way you see competitive shooters hold their guns.


  1. Dude… I don’t think your wife has to pull the trigger…

    The glare/laser beam from that gargantuan rock should do the trick!!

    I mean, hot damn!

  2. Technically that’s a forward thumb grip. High thumb is… higher. It doesn’t have the wrist break on the off hand, and you might well see one or both thumbs protruding above the slide.

  3. Yeah, that’s not “high thumbs”, at least for fossils like me.

    You kids today and your thumbs.

  4. Fine fine, we’ll call it “thumbs forward” then. I guess no one really uses the true high thumbs grip except for dinosaurs.

  5. I shoot with a similar grip, but with my left thumb on top of the right, and the right on the safety (if it’s a 1911 or compatible).

    With all the questions of nomenclature, I have NO idea what I call it. I have called it “High Thumbs” but maybe I’m wrong.

    It DOES get that muzzle back on target quick!

  6. Soooo…….you’re saying that I need to put my thumbs somewhere on the gun…….

    I know it was Navy training instead of, you know, real pistol training, but the Gunnersmate that showed me how to shoot the M-9 had me put my right thumb down over my left which tightened my grip considerably. Heck, I qualified (Navy again) expert the first time I shot…..

    How does the Thumbs High improve my technique?

  7. Back in my day, we didn’t have thumbs and we liked it.

    We had to glue thumbs onto our flippers after we walked uphill to school in the snow, both ways.

  8. Recently (last few months) started using thumbs high after asking the instructor at my NRA Basic Pistol course for some options. Thumbs high seems to work best for me.

  9. How does the Thumbs High improve my technique?

    Cargosquid: Maybe it will, maybe it won’t… You’ll never know until you try it.

    Enos and Sevigny seem to do pretty well and describe it in great detail here.

  10. Oh, I agree that it would probably help. I can definitely improve. As I wrote, Navy training.

    But, why does it improve over the “locked thumbs” or does it?

    i’ll be quiet now and go look at the link…..

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