Firearms

Grip Angle Doesn’t Matter: Why I Rock a (Nearly) Stock Glock

Three pistols highlighting different grip angles

One of the most prolific cottage industries to crop up in the world of practical handgunnery in recent years has been that of polymer-framed pistol modifications. Talented artists and machinists have taken to soldering irons and mills en masse to create customized solutions for ergonomic shortcomings in the world of firearms, and demand isn’t slowing down.

Many of these changes are far from cosmetic, and are designed to fundamentally alter the relation of the grip to the bore—commonly known as the “grip angle.” Many shooters find fault with this supposedly critical dimension of their handgun, and find that sending their polymer-framed pistol to a custom ‘smith is often the best solution.

But are these extensive modifications actually needed to make a pistol shootable, or are they simply the product of pride in ownership and a desire to own a custom firearm? And is the grip angle issue actually big enough to really warrant basing your handgun choice on it (as many do), let alone adding a significant cost to ownership via customization? Let’s step back a bit and really break it down.


Sale ends July 28, 2019


Sale ends July 28, 2019


For the purposes of this discussion, I’ll be directly comparing the Glock and 1911, simply for convenience of terminology. To be very, very clear:

Every single principal here can be applied to every single handgun on the market. This post isn’t hating on Glocks or 1911s in particular. They are simply an effective engine for discussion.

With that out of the way, let’s begin.

Pistol “Ergonomics” are a Sham

If between the flexible joints in your hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder, neck and eyes you can’t create a proper sight picture with any handgun on the market, you need to put the gun down and see an orthopedic surgeon, because something in your body is broken and/or not functioning.

The angle of your handgun’s grip in relation to the bore simply does not matter, in any practical consideration.

If you aren’t willing to practice enough so that you’re accustomed to shooting your primary handgun, then a magic grip angle isn’t going to help you. It’s simply not going to make you a better shot.

The ergonomics of the 1911 pitted against Glock’s “severe” grip angle are a mixture of sales hype and folklore, pure and simple. Anybody who tells you that you need one pistol or the other based solely on the ergonomics and grip angle is selling you something.

Three pistols highlighting different grip angles
The differences in grip angle among major brands are not great enough to matter.

Fit vs. Ergonomics

Now, don’t misunderstand the point here. A handgun must fit you in order to establish a proper grip. But the fit of a handgun is a completely different story from the marketing myth of ergonomics.

For example, my grandmother cannot shoot a Beretta 92, because her finger is not physically long enough to even reach the trigger with anything resembling a proper grip.

But, assuming you’re an average guy or gal and not my grandma, you will be able to pick up any handgun made by a major manufacturer and it will fit your hand. Can you reach the trigger? Depress the magazine release with little or no grip shifting? Release the slide?

If so, the pistol fits you.

To be finally clear: Fit has nothing to do with grip angle and everything to do with where the controls are located in relation to your hand. And the grip angle has little, if anything, to do with that.

Glock vs. 1911: It Simply Doesn’t Matter

Fact from above: The “ergonomics” of a handgun do not really matter.

Fact from knowledgeable sources: 1911 handguns require more maintenance and attention than Glocks and similar handguns.

Because of this, I find very little needs changing on my carry gun. Much like any grip angle, a Glock trigger can be learned. And like the popularly maligned Glock finger grooves, the intricacies of a 1911 must also be mastered.

It’s amazing to me that the concept of the “correct grip angle” is so prevalent, and that many shooters choose to select their pistol with said “correct angle” as a primary factor.

Ask yourself this question: What’s going to make a bigger difference in how well you can handle a firearm? The grip angle, or consistent practice?

If you’re not going to practice regularly with your handgun, either dry firing or with live ammunition, then it really doesn’t matter which one you buy. Just get the one that will make you happy. After all, a stock Glock rests in your safe the same way the finest custom 1911 does.

And don’t talk about how certain pistols have more “soul” than others do. They’re all inanimate objects. Put your “soul” into developing skills, not acquiring shiny toys for the sake of intangible, non-quantifiable benefits.

Because of these two above listed principals, I shoot a stock Glock. I’d rather focus on improving skills than becoming a 1911 gunsmith. With Glocks, there’s simply nothing to change… or is there?

Get Rid of Those Plastic Sights

The reliability of your firearm is far more important than perceived ergonomics. You can readily learn to shoot any handgun very proficiently; but you cannot practice enough to make one objectively more reliable.

As bombproof as Glock pistols generally are, they tend to have one big weakness: the sights. If you carry and shoot one long enough, you’ll notice that these plastic parts start to get chewed up quite a bit just from normal use. Bottom line: They need to be replaced, especially if you’re serious about your training.

There’s no reason to fight a lumpy Glock sight picture, especially with the many steel aftermarket choices available. Out of the many fine options for aftermarket Glock sights, I favor the Defoor Tactical versions for their simplicity, well-executed design and attractive price point.

Defoor Sights Mini-Review

I’ll keep this short: There’s practically no reason not to have Kyle Defoor’s sights on your Glock. The sight ratio is the same as that favored by competitive shooters, yet the height is optimized for carry. An all-steel construction means they aren’t going anywhere, and Ameriglo produces them.

All of these features come at an exceptionally attractive price point. You can likely afford to put them on all of the Glock pistols you own for consistency across the board. They’re even newly available with illuminated options, if that’s your cup of tea. And if it’s not, there are a myriad of other Glock sight options available. Just ditch the plastic sights.

Conclusion

So, those are the reasons I shoot a (mostly) stock Glock. There’s no magic grip angle, only what you’re used to—and that is very easily changed with consistent practice. Glocks don’t “point high” for me, and neither do 1911s, or any other handgun for that matter. I simply put the sights on the target and press the trigger. I’m able to do this because I have a normal, functioning human body and only fire a shot when I have achieved an acceptable sight picture.

Don’t worry about whether or not your pistol “points” right for you or not. Do your research, and purchase the most reliable firearm your budget allows. For everything else, a little bit of intentional, focused practice can be truly priceless.

What do you think about the author’s conclusion? Are pistol ergonomics a “sham?” What evidence do you have to support your argument? Share your experiences with us in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (95)

  1. I’ve shot everything from combat Kimbers to Mauser Broomhandles, (yes, real ones) and it just takes a few shots to figure out the gun, and each of them is effective at combat ranges. We’re not talking Gold Cup standards here, just . . can I cap the bad guy before he caps me.

    When I was in SFQA they would hand us a canvas bag with several disassembled handguns or long guns in it. We would have to assemble them by sorting the parts and putting them together, and then go to the range and shoot to a minimum standard with them. They would range from Browning Hi Powers to 1911s to Makarovs. No fancy customization, just basic pistol marksmanship.

    I’m not saying there isn’t a certain benefit to custom grips and frames, just that in the long run, you learn to make the best and operate everything, and all the rest is gravy.

  2. I usually support Shooter’s Log writers given that when readers find themselves at odds with an article’s content it was most often their own fault for skimming or not catching an italicized warning which usually clarifies something the author knows will be controversial. Frequently others must point that out to the would-be antagonist to show how they missed a line of definement by an author.

    However, I am utterly floored that CTD allowed this to be published. Whoever authored this article is undoubtedly an amateur on this topic. The author is only correct in one aspect when they essentially stated that with enough practice any handgun can eventually be fired with effective result. Maybe so, during calm practice sessions at a paper target, but that is where it ends.

    The author’s following quote completely destroys any possible credibility of the content:

    “The angle of your handgun’s grip in relation to the bore simply does not matter, in any practical consideration.”

    A “practical consideration” is ALL that really does matter when faced with having to neutralize a real deadly threat. Given the fact that most ACTUAL engagements occur quickly and at distances of less than 20 feet, there is rarely enough time to even acquire your pre-rehearsed sight picture no matter how much you train. Instead, our bodies have a tendency to react by default with a more natural and instinctive point and fire method when faced with such stressful conditions.

    Therefore, when selecting any gun the natural grip angle suddenly becomes one of THE MOST important “practical considerations” when it comes to effectively neutralizing a threat to save your life.

    Further destruction of the article’s credibility came when the author stated the following:

    “But the fit of a handgun is a completely different story from the marketing myth of ergonomics.”

    You do not get to separate “Fit vs. Ergonomics” because ergonomics defines the entire handgun which MUST also include the characteristics caused by the grip angle. There is no way to around it. The very word “ergonomics” is used in the gun industry, police, and military to describe the science of a piece of equipment designed to fit the individual human, rather than forcing the human to fit or train to accommodate an odd design of the equipment.

    In closing I wish to add that training through repetition to develop and maintain muscle memory should always be a priority, but only after you have selected the MOST ergonomically designed weapon that best fits every possible aspect of your personal human design.

    1. G-Man,

      You know i agree with you most of the time and I have come to respect you, but if you’re trying to tell me that you can only shoot well under pressure with a gun that is a perfect ergonomic fit, then you and I have had some significant differences in our training and experiences.

      Yes, there are certain guns for any shooter that just fit well from the first moment you pick them up. A Walther PPX is a great example. But the fit to the hand is only one small aspect of shooting well. A PPX is one of the most natural fits I have ever picked up, but it is also a gun with a lot of muzzle flip every time you shoot it.

      You have to feel how each gun shoots.

      When I go to the range, I usually take about 5 different handguns with me, and I shoot pretty much an equal number of rounds through each one, each trip. Conventional wisdom is to always train mostly with the gun you’re going to carry. I was trained to learn to shoot whatever is available at any given moment quickly and efficiently by not having any preconceived ideas of what you “need” a gun to be in order to shoot it effectively.

      Many of you are LEOs and I respect that. Some of you are actual combat vets and I respect that. But I have operated from Iraq to Afghanistan to Lebanon and many times I had whatever was available at any given moment.

      A gun is a tool, and sometimes not a very refined tool, but it is a poor craftsman who blames his tools.

    2. @ Mikial,

      I am fairly certain you know this from previous posts, but before I continue, I’ll iterate my background so any new readers may better understand.

      My dual Military and Law Enforcement careers, which now spans just over 33 years, has taken me through deployments to the jungles of Asia and South America to combat in the middle-east, time spent in Europe and then back to various U.S. cities as an LEA.

      While I attempt to make a point, please bear in mind the following rough statistics – since WWII an average less than 7.3 percent of the living U.S. population is serving or has served in in the Military at any given moment. Likewise only 4 percent of the living U.S. population consists of sworn or retired Law Enforcement. That is an exceptionally small percentage of persons professionally trained in a manner similar to that which you or me has been exposed.

      Keeping that in mind, I must kindly respond that you have overlooked that very important characteristic which makes dialogue between you and me quite exclusive when compared to the rest of the gun-owning American population in general. Like me, your experiences and training make you exceptionally trained and thereby places you in a very small minority of specialists qualified to do a job with many weapons that few others have ever been afforded the opportunity, training, or practice time to accomplish.

      So while exchanges between you and I can and do encompass your philosophy, it does not apply to the majority of Americans that own or will own a gun. Nor does it necessarily apply to an equivalent amount of representative Shooter’s Log members that may read our comments. It is from this perspective that I chose to address the majority and not the exceptional minority, and therefore I stand by my original statements.

      I would humbly implore you to reconsider and do the same.

    3. @ Mikial,

      No apology necessary. As I’ve stated, your position was 100% correct… assuming we were all SF sitting around chewing the fat after an op together. So I can see how easily frustrating it must have been for you to read something like that from someone like me… that is until I clarified my intended audience to you.

      I’ve done it too. We can sometimes forget in forums we are not always in the company of people with the same experiences or training as us. And while I could win a bet the Shooter’s Log does attract quite a few of us, the majority of readers are more likely civilian gun enthusiasts trying to increase their knowledge any way they can. I highly respect them for that and therefor will cater to that noble cause.

      Thanks for being so understanding.

    4. @Mikial:

      I’m in total agreement with your “grab any gun and shoot it effectively” theory.

      I have NEVER said to myself “hey this gun doesn’t fit me”. One time I messed with the optional back plate on my Glock 20 Gen4, but quickly found out it was best to stay with the way it came out of the box.

      Comparing this to my previous hobby of golf, where shaft length, stiffness, grip, and club head angle all make huge differences in performance, basically there is no comparison. Gun ergonomics are a misnomer and a marketing tool.

      Plus even if some people do customize their guns for that perfect fit or perfect feel, remember that our bodies change every day. Some days we are weaker or stronger, nervous/shaky or confident/calm. On some days that custom fit/feel may not be the same.

      Even though I have no military or law enforcement credentials, I have common sense and intelligence and plenty of practice with plenty of guns.

    5. @ss1

      Thank you, my friend. And I want to say that G-Man made a good point that ‘most’ shooters do not have the training or outlook that a person should be able to pick up any gun and shoot it well under pressure. Of course, practice and training are critical. No argument there. And yes, there are modifications to guns that make them fit better and feel more natural.

      But, MOST, not all, but most modern guns take ergonomics into consideration when they are designed and refined over the years. Consequently, I would invite all shooters to open up to the concept that if you are willing to learn to adapt to a wide range of grip angles and shapes and not limit yourselves to the perfect grip angle, they will find that their shooting improves, and with it, their confidence and capacity to effectively shoot a wider range of guns.

    6. You nailed it. Very well said. Pathetic article. Seemed like another arrogant guy trying to say he’s a good shooter only because of HIM, and the gun has nothing to do with it.

  3. Grip angle is one of many factors in ergonomics, but will not by itself determine how well a pistol fits your hand or points naturally. Claiming that grip angle doesn’t matter is just as misleading as claiming it’s the only thing that matters.

    Unfortunately, within the next 12-18 hours any attempt to constructively discuss the content of this post will be utterly futile. Within that time this comment section will be overflowing with hundreds of posts with the same basic content.

    “I [love|hate] [Glock|1911] pistols, and they’re the [best|worst] pistol that has been or ever will be. Anyone who disagrees with me is an idiot and a dirty liberal gun-grabber.”

    While I know it was merely meant as an example, I don’t think the author could have chosen a more divisive comparison to use.

    1. @Adam:

      OMG I love your humor!!!! There should be more humor on these blogs!!

      But I have to correct you on your “hundreds of posts” comment. From my experience here, to get to HUNDREDS of posts, the topic either has to be about Obama or California, 🙂

  4. It seems that we are again involved in a discussion that has no basis in reality accept to the individual who is making the choice in the first place. Blanket statements are, for the most part, just plain BS. What the author says may well be true …. For him. It is man and likely is true for others as well.
    Is it true for all handgun owners, shooters, LEO, and military?
    Not likely, and I’d go so far as to say not at all, in any way, period.
    It’s a shame that CTD/TSL allowed this kind of narrow thought process to be aired here. There seems to only be a couple of good writers who blog here any more, Woody, Dave Dolbee and maybe one or two others. Blogs here used to be informative and somewhat neutral offering several pinpoints of view supporting a healthy debate and discussion. Not so much it seems any more.
    I respect the Un-named Bloggers opinion as his perspective and what works best for him. Equally for those those who find some value in this perspective, more power to you.
    That its stated as if it’s the only truth or reality that matters and everything else is crap. No, sorry, but I gotta call BS on it.
    I can’t shoot a Glock, it’s never been a comfortable (ergonomic) fit in either hand. However, Any of the Springfield XD or XDm series are as if it was my hand that they were designed to fit. Maybe by generation 18 or 19 Glock will get around to correcting my issue with sir frame. Not very likely, right?
    Point? Ergonomics does count. It counts for a lot. If this fundamental concept didn’t matter all firearms today might still look and be designed like a 1500’s Wheel Lock pistol or rifle. But guess what?? They don’t! Why? Because designers evolved their platforms as an understanding of “ergonomics” became part of their design process.
    Forward to current design practices today and it’s become a refined art. One that Just Dosnt Work For Everyone! Which brings us right around to the After Market Parts thru DYI soldering irons mod’s. It’s a fact of our nature to make a device fit our use.
    Sorry, did not intend to lecture or preach. I don’t agree with the sum nation derived in the above blog but will defend the bloggers right to express it.

  5. The author hit it spot on!

    I own Glocks, XDs, 1911s, Berettas, Taurus, Rugers, Hi Points, Desert Eagles, etc. Yes, some have little idiosyncrasies that you need to learn to shoot them at optimal effectiveness, but it’s just a matter of practice with your guns so that you can shoot any of them effectively. The only modification I have ever done is a 4 pound trigger for my Glock 21, which is what I used for USPSA Stock division shoots.

    You can learn to shoot any gun well. I took a new Hi Point .45 to the range the other day for the first time. It is a gun i keep in one of my caches and I wanted to function check it before putting it away. I told my wife (who is a dead shot with her Beretta 92) that it was an inexpensive gun so it may not be as accurate. She watched as I shot out the Red X circle on the silhouette. We both looked at each other and she said, “Doesn’t look all that cheap to me.”

    The point is, a good marksman can learn to shoot any gun well. Sure, we all like some guns better than others, but this whole ergonomics thing has been blown out of proportion.

  6. Fit IS ergonomics – your over simplification and dismissal of this fact in my opinion renders the whole article nothing more than a Glock apology/justification

    The ergonomics of a gun goes beyond whether you can reach the trigger and mag release – it very much includes how it feels in your hand and how comfortable it is for you to shoot

    Can I practice sufficiently to hit my target holding a gun upside down? Sure. Do I want to? No

    Whether or not someone can practice enough with the awkward feeling Glock is irrelevant – you’re effectively saying that the shooter’s personal feeling of what is ergonomic or a good fit is meaningless and they should learn to overcome it and shoot a Glock – baloney

    For everyone who likes Glocks, that’s great for you – everyone should shoot what works best for them – personally I hate Glocks – they feel awkward and sloppy and I dislike the triggers and their general ergonomics – my Beretta 92 and PX4, Colt 45, and Sig P232 all feel much more natural in my hand and with each one I shot dead center where I pointed out of the box without special practice – I have no problem hitting the target with any of the Glocks I’ve tried, I just don’t like them and why should anyone spend time practicing to deal with issues with a gun they personally don’t like – it’s great you like your Glock, but you frankly have no business insinuating to people it’s THEIR fault for not practicing enough if they don’t like them

    1. Agreed on everyone should shoot what they like and do best with, but the author clearly said they were simply using Glocks and 1911s as examples. Not sure why you are so upset about this.

      The author was simply saying that custom grips and frames are not necessary. The point here was simply, practice with what you have, and as long as it’s reliable, you can reach the controls, and you practice with it, you will be fine.

    2. I reread it just in case, but I have to say it still reads like a giant “if you don’t shoot a Glock it’s because you don’t have a functioning brain and/or aren’t willing to put in enough practice time” – the opening salvo was a foolish declaration that the man-machine interface ergonomics of pistol shooting is a sham, which is somewhere between hyperbole and utter BS – his “advice” is dangerous – telling anyone to ignore how a gun feels in your hand, how it points for you, etc is very poor advice – I’m upset by such myopia having been through a self-defense shooting, the point made by someone else earlier couldn’t be more true – in a suddenly evolving life and death situation, there was only time to act and no time to “take a sight picture” – all that “sight picture” practice to overcome an awkward feeling gun is useless when the situation devolves into draw, point, shoot before the other guy – when that happens, you better have a gun in your hand that you can instinctively and accurately point shoot without even raising it to eye level, let alone line up your sight picture – in my case, two punks in Rogers Park stepped out to rob us, one pulled up his shirt to reach for a gun, I got to mine first and had to literally shoot from the hip – he lost with four holes in his chest, the other f’er turned and ran – the Chicago cops were surprisingly cool about it although having my wife and daughter and two other witnesses and the punk’s gun on the ground next to him probably had something to do with it – but I still expected to have to call USCCA

      Everyone should find the guns that are comfortable and feel right for them and ignore BS about fit and feel being unimportant – aside from no one should sign up to shoot a gun they don’t like because some blogger told they just need to put the practice to get over your dislike, it’s because when push comes to shove your life may just depend on how well that gun fits and feels in your hand – but that will be different for each person, not some fool blogger trying to excuse why people don’t like his preferred gun

      If you like a particular gun, great – tell people why YOU like it – don’t tell them the reasons THEY don’t like it are stupid or BS and imply is because they must not have a functioning brain or aren’t willing to practice enough – now THAT is stupid and BS

    3. Whatever.

      My EDC is an XD. I also love my Glock, my Walther PPX, my Taurus 24/7, my Beretta, my Desert Eagles, and really all the other handguns I own. I shoot pretty consistently well with all of them. Even my Hi Point.

      I’m not easily insulted by a shooter who likes a specific gun or who disagrees with me on a shooting topic.

      If it works for you, and you are one of the good guys . . more the better. If that requires that you spend an additional thousand dollars above the cost of the gun to customize it, then go for it.

  7. I’m with Tom on the fit thing. I find that if a pistol approximates the grip of a 1911 w/flat mainspring housing, I shoot it well with almost no effort. I had a Walther P38 for a while, good gun, reliable, decent trigger and sights, but it took all I had to shoot it well. Sold it to a buddy for whom it was a perfect fit, like my 1911 was for me. Can I shoot Glocks well? With care, yes. But they don’t fit my hand. They say that in a fight you are half as good as you are in practice. Given that, I want all the edge I can get, and a natural point of aim is an edge. So are good sights! But YMMV.

    1. Excellent point re: what each person considers a natural point of aim and why that is an important factor in a critical situation – that is an often ignored fact

  8. Okay the stippling thing is more for grip, that’s why I did my G21 and 17. The polymer frame is slick after your hand start to sweat. The angle of the grip on the Glock pistol is to keep the muzzle flip to a minimum vs. the 1911 which I do own 3. I own 3 glocks as well. In order to have the 1911s fit my hand relatively well I need to have a the main spring housing (palm swell) a bit more rounded so the grip fills up my hand more that also changes the grip angle a little. Remember that with the Glocks the barrel sits lower in the frame than with the 1911 but the 1911 is also a heavier gun. Why in gods name you would be comparing the two is beyond me. Its like comparing a corvette to a telescope.

  9. I had carry a 1911 in the service and I loved it,but it had a small magazine, now I carry one of two Glocks 45 Larger magazine and same fire power from a 45 semi auto. And on either of my Glocks I have not changed any parts and test fire on a regular basis. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Only difference I keep one in the chamber.

  10. But sometimes you pick up a pistol or revolver and it just “fits” your hand. I don’t know what the difference but every now and then you find a weapon that just feels good. ( and they are usually priced out of my wallets range) but really, some guns just feel better. But I like all guns , except for my little Jennings J 22. Its a chore to keep running well. peace out!

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