Gun term of the day

Teacup Hollywood Weaver: How most people who have learned how to shoot from TV hold a gun.  And now we’d like to welcome Jack Bauer to Gun Nuts to demonstrate the Teacup Hollywood Weaver stance

Operational Operators operating operationally
Teacup Hollywood Weaver stance

and grip.  Take it away, Jack!  Thanks Jack, that was great.  I really appreciate you showing up to demonstrate the exact wrong way to hold a gun.  Thanks!

Now, I say the above in jest, but the point I’m trying to make is serious.  Do you see how Mr. Sutherland is holding his gun and standing?  That is the wrong way to hold a gun.  This isn’t a subjective “weaver vs. iso” thing here, this is just facts.  The teacup grip is incorrect.  Always.

I’ve been to Gunsite twice now.  Even the school that teaches the Weaver stance teaches the thumbs-forward grip of the pistol, because it’s the best grip for recoil control.  Here’s Gunsite instructor Ed Head demonstrating one of the two proper stances for a pistol.

The modern Weaver stance

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a good picture of his thumbs, but I assure you that they are not “locked down”.  His strong hand thumb is riding on the safety, and his support thumb is indexed just under the slide.  Note how his hands come together to form the grip on the pistol, and that there isn’t any “air” between his support hand and his strong hand.  That allows for much, much, much better recoil control that the Teacup Hollywood Weaver.

Humans are pretty good at mimicking stuff, which is where a lot of people have picked up bad pistol habits.  If you’re going to mimic someone’s shooting stance though, don’t pick some hollywood idiot.  Try imitating what this guy does instead.


  1. Teacup weaver is intuitive. Modern two-hand combat grip is somewhat awkward to do at the beginning but offer much better recoil control. However, some many intuitive things in life are very wrong, or at least very ineffective. Intuition is far from the best way to learn things.

  2. I don’t think the teacup is intuitive at all. What else do you hold like that? You don’t hold a baseball bet with one hand over the end.

    1. Yeah, I’ve got to agree with Jeff on this one. A million years of evolution has taught us to wrap our hands around stuff, not gently rest it in our hand.

    2. Give a handgun to someone who never fired one and see how they holds one. They may recall it right from TV/movies. Fine, let them fire a few rounds then see how they hold it, lots of times, it’s still teacup weaver + lean back only because it’s a very stable stance for slow fire as the gun stays closer. That’s also explain lots of range shooters still lean back (without knowing it) even when they use wrap around grip and isosceles stance.
      Ask them to wrap around the gun and extend their arms make them uneasy. You just have to teach them a good grip and stance that they’ll gradually realize the benefits when they pick up the speed. It’s just like good running techniques cannot be fully appreciated by mere walkers.

      1. Sounds like a good time to ask: What am I doing wrong that I shoot better leaning slightly back (weight on the heels) that I do if I lean forward (weight on the balls of my feet).

        Hand grip is as the weaver stance pictured above (though, if it matters, the thumbs are parallel with the right knuckle just touching the left ball joint) on a G17L.

        Shots are not grouped in any particular area – I have printouts of one of those “diagnostic” targets and I don’t seem to be grouping in a meaningful way.

        1. Lean forward can counter balance repeated recoil impulse from rapid fire and recover point of aim faster. This is quite important in IDPA/USPSA or combat shooting. Leaning back usually takes longer time to get the sights back on target and may through you out of balance with powerful rounds. Again, that’s fine in slow fire and have fun. Leaning forward is just a well recognized technique in speed shooting. Check out some videos on YouTube about IDPA/USPSA shooters and casual range shooters to see the difference.

          1. I only do slow-fire with 9mm, true.

            I’ve tried weight-forward and am not as comfortable with it. (Wii Fit says by balance is pretty poor, too, so that may be part of it).

            If I ever get into action shooting I’ll probably have to work at it, then

        2. This may be a strange question, but how’s your eyesight? I know as I’m getting older I can’t focus as close I used to, which makes me almost automatically lean away from things in my hands.

          That may contribute to leaning away from the gun. And eyesight might contribute to quality of aim. If you lean forward you can’t focus on the front sight as well.

          Just a theory with absolutely no evidence to back it up.

          1. Eye doc says I might need reading glasses in the next few years; but I’m otherwise 20/15 overall, and better than that in my right eye. I have no eyestrain seeing the back of the gun at arms-length, either.

  3. The Magpul boys do a fantastic breakdown of how and why a proper thumbs-forward grip works on the Handgun DVD set.

    It’s also the primary reason I have thumb safeties on my M&P. It’s a good reference point for that right thumb.

  4. Another grip I see all the time is the “Wrist Hold”.

    A shooter will hold the gun with their strong hand, then hold their strong hand wrist with the other.

    I usually will not correct someone if they’re teacupping (hell, I used to), but I cannot abide by the wrist hold.

  5. “It’s also the primary reason I have thumb safeties on my M&P. It’s a good reference point for that right thumb.”

    Man, I’m glad to that I’m not the only one. I had to special order mine since the local store only had versions with no thumb safety. I’m used to carrying 1911 style pistols anyway, so my thumb “wants” to find that safety as a reference point. I do with the pro model had been out when I was looking. Now I have to get a second one past “purchasing” without her noticing..

  6. It’s worth noting that the primary reason the tea cup grip is used in Hollywood is to show off the gun. If you notice, most times that it’s used the gun is shot from the support hand side. If a good grip was used, a lot more of the gun would be covered up. Credit goes to some magazine article I read a year or so back that interviewed a director.

    1. I think the other reason that tea cupping happens is that these are often extended shots (in the film sense) of the gun being held. So the gun gets heavy of course, and the actor knows he is going to be doing multiple takes, so even if he wants to hold the gun right by the end he might be tea cupping to keep the gun in frame as the director wants it.

      1. It also allows more of the actor’s face to show. A strong isosceles stance would hide too many of those great facial expressions Jack made. Oh wait, he only had one…

  7. It’s funny because for me I have moved away from ISO and thumbs forward along slide. I used that style for over 25 years.

    Now I am Weaver and strong hand gripping the gun as it would one handed (usually within the built in finger rests of plastic modern pistols) while my support hand wraps around the front of my strong hand. I don’t care too much where my support hands thumb goes at this point, but it usually rests on the other but more vertical.

    I did this because every once in a while I would get premature slide lock on 1911 design pistols with the old thumbs forward grip. I also was using more of a 360° vice type grip along with isometric tension, where now I am more just push-pull when two handed. It uses much less energy and is a stable platform to shoot from.

    I went to Weaver because it made sense to me to practice since it works better in my eyes behind cover. It also feels more like shooting a rifle to me. Really I figure that in a real gunfight that I’m not paying attention to my stance and actually doing whatever is required to survive. I may be upside down for all I know.

    Anyways, I’m not for the “Teacup Hollywood Weaver”, but I do believe there are options in style. 😉

    1. Nice to hear someone else say that!

      “Now I am Weaver and strong hand gripping the gun as it would one handed (usually within the built in finger rests of plastic modern pistols) while my support hand wraps around the front of my strong hand. I don’t care too much where my support hands thumb goes at this point, but it usually rests on the other but more vertical.”

      Me too, I also shoot one handed alot, as I figure if I ever need to defend myself with my gun my off side arm may be busy holding off the jerk attacking me while I draw. So to me 2 handed is a secondary grip.
      This is also why I don’t like any gun that can’t be safely carried with one in the chamber, I don’t want to have to depend on having 2 hands free to ready my weapon!

      The cupping stance makes sense for target or hunting if you rest your elbow into your rib cage and hold your breath for the shot, but it’s to inflexible of a position for defense or anything dealing with multiple targets IMO.

      1. I’m with you on figuring there may be a need for only one hand on the gun. In a close quarters defense type situation there is a good chance that my other hand and arm may be used to control my attacker for distance and I may be shooting from rention as well.

        I want maximum ability to retain my weapon and with my grip there is no change at all in my strong hand when transitioning to two hands.

        One thing that is maybe odd for me is that if I am going to setup for best accuracy while shooting one handed, I will turn my body 180 degrees (strong arm leading of course) to the target. I shoot one handed from just about every stance/angle though.

        I don’t carry a gun requiring more than one hand to operate either.

        1. lol *retention

          also not only controlling for distance but also I may need to control his weapon or attack as well.

  8. Speaking of teacup – anyone notice a suprising amount of teacupping in Top Shot season 2?

    I was yelling at the TV every time I saw it.

    1. Yeah, I noticed that, too. I was very surprised about that.

      Not that the issues with it are going to show up in the standard Top Shot “1 shot and hand it to the next person” challenges, though.

    2. I wouldn’t be surprised to see non action pistol shooters to use teacup. At the same time, it’s nearly impossible to see teacup in any action pistol shooters, not even at club practice. Some weaver stance shooters for sure but all wraparound grip with more or less lean forward stance.

  9. When I was regularly instructing, I would look for the teacup, wrist-grip, and gratuitous insistence on Weaver to tell me how much “reverse engineering” I was going to need to do. I also remember how many of those folks would ask me how to adjust fixed sights to correct low-left groups 😉

  10. teacup grip, love the name. That’s how I was first taught how to shoot a Hi-Po, don’t remember it being called that in the manual though

  11. Hell, the Army manual ( FM 3-23.35) actually TEACHES the teacup grip as an acceptable alternative in a manual that is dated 2003!

    The equivalent USMC manual (MCRP 3-01B) thankfully does NOT teach the teacup grip.

  12. Caleb,

    What’s up with Ed’s 1911? Is that some sort of a cut-away model for demonstrating weapon functions or something? ‘Cause there is a large hole/opening in the chamber/barrel hood area of the pistol’s barrel and you can see the round in the barrel.

  13. Once saw a young gal who was teacupping – and shooting all over the paper. As the hubby and I were getting ready to leave, I talked to her and tole her that she would have more control if she held it with both hands.

    She told me she shot better that way. “Yeah?” I questioned. she went on to explain that the first shot of her boyfriends 44-mag was way off the paper (don’t get me started on shooting that for the first shots of her life) so she changed to teacup and at least hit the (very large) target.

    Didn’t seem to dawn on her that she was more prepared for the recoil after the first shot. I repeated my advise. I hope she tried a 2-handed grip again, but we left so I will never know.

  14. In about 1960, you could see pictures of Jeff Cooper demonstrating the cup & saucer and wrist holds, although by the time those photos were published he was already discarding them for the Weaver.
    The point is not to denigrate Cooper (still a god to me) but to point out that those holds were once respectable and not only idiots might conceive of them.

    1. Or the older military form of laying your shooting wrist across your weak side forearm as if your arm was a solid barrier you could rest off.

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