Get A Grip On Yourself

Dear Technoid,

Is there any difference or advantage, other than asthetics and personal feel to a pistol grip vs a rounded grip?


Dear Peter,

Good question. Yes. I think that there is a substantive difference in pistol grip configurations. Field guns often have no pistol grip at all (the English stock) or only a slight pistol grip (the round knob or Prince of Wales grip). Some field guns have standard pistol grips. ALL target guns have full pistol grips. Some target gun pistol grips, especially some Italian guns, would even be described as “massive” or “monstrous” as is your wont.

With field guns tending towards smaller or no pistol grips and target guns tending towards larger ones, there has to be a reason. That reason is control. A full pistol grip aids the right hand in controlling the shotgun. It gives you something to hang on to. A full grip places the trigger hand in a comfortable more-or-less vertical position when the gun is mounted to the shoulder. The better you and hold onto the gun, the better you can repeatedly point it and also the better your can control recoil.

In the field, the gun spends very little time on the shoulder. Most of the time, it is carried. The raked back angle of the PoW round knob or English stock makes the wrist angle much more comfortable when carrying, though a bit less so when shooting. It’s the opposite with the more vertical large target grip. Each grip has a purpose.

Many people think that the straight English stock was designed to permit the shooter to slide his hand back to engage the second trigger. While I have no doubt that some people do slide their hand back, most don’t. You simply crook your finger to pull the second trigger. Sliding the hand back means that you have to loosen your grip, move your hand, tighten your grip and then pull the second trigger. All this while the gun is bouncing about from the first shot. I don’t think so.

The round knob Prince of Wales grip is sort of a compromise. It has a raked angle to permit comfortable carry and gun mounting, but it also has a bit of a nub to wrap your fingers around for better gun control. I have come to prefer them on my O/U field guns. I think Browning got that part right.

On my SxSs, I fear that I bow to fashion and very much like the English stock and splinter forend. I’ve shot Italian SxS pigeon guns with pistol grips and they do shoot well, but I just can’t bear to look at them any more than I can embrace the very practical beaver tail forend on the SxS. I’d probably shoot the SxS a bit better with the PoW grip because of it’s extra control, but I just couldn’t bear it.

I’ve also heard it said that the English stock is gripless to reduce weight. No doubt it does, but I don’t think that is the main reason because the amount of additional wood required for a PoW grip would add very little weight.

All my target guns, without exception, have standard pistol grips. I don’t particularly like the very vertical grips used on some Italian trap guns, but the slightly raked grips on most Browning (Belgium and Japan) target guns suits me very well. As we speak, I’m having a Perazzi target gun made and have asked for a pistol grip, but one of more modest field size rather than the full, giganto Perazzi size.

Much of grip angle is personal taste. I shoot a lot of bullseye pistol. I could never handle the vertical style grip of my 1911 or S&W 52 worth a darn. Obviously, others can, but I couldn’t. I found that the vertical grip made recoil harder to control and kept tension in my wrist when aiming. I shot by far better with raked Olympic-style grips as found on air guns and high end .22s such as my Pardini. I also prefer the Glock for this reason (though not for targets). These grips allow me to almost relax my hand as if I were pointing a finger.

Back to shotguns: aesthetics and personal feel aside, I think that there are good, solid mechanical reasons behind each grip configuration and their use. I don’t think that the grip alone will determine how well you shoot, but every little bit adds up.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

This entry was posted in Shotguns. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

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