Handgun Fit is one of the most important keys to being able to use your firearm efficiently. In fact, after reliability, it is probably the most important aspect in selecting a defensive handgun.
Proper handgun fit will make it easier for you to hold the gun, aim the gun, shoot the gun, manage recoil, reload the gun and clear malfunctions. If your gun doesn’t fit your hand as well as possible, it will compromise your performance in one or more of those areas. Proper Handgun fit starts with making sure that you can hold the gun in a way that deactivates any grip safety and allows you to actuate the trigger while the first knuckle of your strong hand thumb is positioned to the weak side of the frame of the gun.
If you cannot deactivate the safety or press the trigger, you will obviously not be able to use the gun at all. The proper position of the thumb empowers efficient alignment, recoil management and the use of the thumb to release the magazine, operate a safety and de-cock the gun if necessary.
The most common sign of poor gun fit I see on the range is the thumb knuckle being under the beavertail and not to the side of the gun. This commonly results in a blister or raw skin on the knuckle after any extended shooting sessions.
If you can achieve the proper thumb knuckle position, the next thing you want to look for is that you an actuate all of the necessary levers or buttons on your gun with your strong hand only, without changing your grip on the gun much, if at all. Safeties, magazine releases, the trigger and de-cocking levers all should be able to be reached and used without requiring your weak hand’s involvement. Many people will install an oversized magazine release on their pistol to meet this aspect of handgun fit and, of course, choosing a striker fired defensive gun without a manual safety lever or de-cocker is what I recommend … alleviating the need to worry about using those items.
Lastly, remember that handgun fit is a very personal issue. You have to put the guns in your hands and take them to the range to see if they really fit YOU. Don’t just go by someone else’s recommendation or a list of measurements. All gun contours are slightly different and you have a unique hand shape, size and flexibility.