The Seven Deadly Sins of Handgun Shooting: The Cup and Saucer Grip

   06.04.13

We’re starting a new weekly column here at OutdoorHub.com and we’ll be covering a variety of shooting-related topics including how-tos, industry observations, and some occasional commentary about shooting and Second Amendment issues. I thought it might be fun to start with a how-to series on what I consider the Seven Deadly Sins of Handgun Shooting.

One of my very favorite things is to take new shooters to the range. My second favorite thing is simply seeing new shooters at the range. My least favorite thing is to see folks launch into their shooting career without any instruction, thereby developing a bunch of bad, and sometimes unsafe, habits. To help them along, I’ve put together some tips that will help improve anyone’s handgun shooting skills. After all, it’s much cooler to look like a pro on the range, even when you’re brand new to the sport.

I have scientific proof that the “cup and saucer” handgun grip is bad and bordering on evil. Check this out. If you rearrange the letters in “cup and saucer” you get the following secret phrases:

Arcane Cud Pus

Uncaused Crap

Rude Caca Puns

Freaky isn’t it? Who knew that “cup and saucer” was some type of satanic code?

Now that we can agree that a cup and saucer grip is bad form and just plain spooky, what exactly is it? More importantly, how does one go about exorcising that demon?

Cup and saucer golf club grip
Here’s a cup and saucer grip being used for golf. Don’t see this much on the PGA tour do you?

The cup and saucer grip

The cup and saucer grip simply refers to a handgun grip style where your support hand acts more like a tea set saucer than a support. The butt of your handgun simply rests on top of your open support hand palm.

Let’s face it, if you’re having tea with Prince Harry, you’ve got a tea cup on one hand and a saucer in the other. The cup holds the tea, so what purpose does the saucer underneath serve? Obviously it drives up the stock price for Royal Doulton China and adds complexity to the job description of footmen. Other than that, the saucer only serves to catch things that spill. It’s a waste of a perfectly good hand that could be used to eat scones.

It’s exactly the same with shooting. While your dominant shooting hand will be a little stronger, why waste all those nearly-as-strong muscles in the non-dominant hand? If you’re simply resting your dominant hand and gun on top of a wimpy-looking hand-saucer, you’re not getting any benefit from the support hand, are you?

Other sports figured this out a long time ago. Ever see a golfer use a cup and saucer grip? Or a designated hitter in Major League Baseball? Even fishermen figured out the value of using two hands. Apparently we shooters can be a little slow on the uptake.

Performing the exorcism

Well, for starters, we can blame the guy who invented the term “handgun.” After all, if the best way to shoot them is with two hands, so shouldn’t they be called “hands-guns?” If the name were more intuitive, that would certainly help people think about using both hands effectively. Just saying.

Since that’s not likely to happen, let’s focus on some things we can do. Here’s how to achieve a solid and proper handgun grip.

Proper handgun grip With your primary shooting hand, open your thumb and index finger. Push the web of your hand as high as it will comfortably go on the handgun grip, making sure that the barrel of the gun lines up with the bones in your forearm. Wrap your fingers around the front of the grip, making sure to keep your index finger out of the trigger.
Proper handgun grip (1) Do you see some free space on the inside grip panel of your handgun? Good, that’s where the bottom part of your support hand palm is going to go. Smack it on there and don’t worry if there’s not enough room to get your whole palm on the inside grip panel. There won’t be and that’s OK.
Proper handgun grip (2) Now wrap your support hand fingers around the front of your dominant hand fingers. Your support hand fingers should be high–to the point of pressing against the bottom of the trigger guard.
Proper handgun grip (3) You’ll know you’ve got it right if both of your thumbs are somewhere near parallel to each other and touching.

Next time you shoot, notice how much less your muzzle jumps. Your support hand can do wonders to help control recoil when you actually put it to work! Plus, a proper handgun grip looks really cool–you’ll be a hit at the range. And those forward-facing thumbs? They naturally help you aim. Things tend to go where you point.

If you have trouble shaking the cup and saucer grip habit, try these emergency counter measures:

  • Bag the tea and drink coffee.
  • Next time you go fishing with a buddy, use a cup and saucer grip with your fishing rod. The tsunami of taunting and hazing will break your cup and saucer habit almost instantly.
  • Smear a dab of crazy glue on the bottom of your handgun butt. You’ll only make the cup and saucer mistake once! On second thought, using Crazy Glue may not be the wisest idea. Perhaps some lard?

Happy (and safe) shooting folks! See you next week!

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