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. During my years in the Israeli spec -ops I carried and used my personal Bul M-5 1911 and many service issued Glocks, Zigs and Jerichos (Baby Eagle) in 9mm, 10mm and 40 S&W.
    I was trained to shoot instinctive since in battle you rarely have time to acquire a proper sight picture. Hours upon hours at the range and op simulations have made the point n’ shoot an instinct that served me and my brothers in arms well and helped most of us come home alive. Grip angle was never once discussed or acknowledged as we knew we had to make do with what the unit provides or what is available in the heat of battle.
    Although I loved my Bul M-5 9mm with its 18 round magazines, I found it to be a pain to take apart and clean when compared to Glocks. It was also a beast that once I retired didn’t feel enticing to carry around.
    Living in Cali, my daily carry is a Glock 31c in 357 sig which I love to shoot (but hate the cost of ammo). As with any of the 20 to 30 handguns I’ve shot in the past 25 years, it feels natural and instinctive and its low-recoil and flat trajectory allows me to stick them in the bulls eye even when double, triple, and quadruple-tapping.
    My advise – find a reliable gun that fits your budget and with the caliber you like, and shoot it as much as you can. Carry what you shoot and shoot what you carry. I like guns and have a few and there’s nothing wrong with that, but focus on the one your daily sidearm.
    One more piece of advise – save some money, by not buying that tricked-out 1911 and by limiting the size of your arsenal, and invest it in practical, real-world simulating shooter training and in lots of hours at the range.
    Stay safe.

  2. All right already. enough with the grip angle. How about is a hot 380 a good round for self defense , as in a 380 hollow point ??

  3. Sorry, but let me call the article BS.

    As a product designer I’m always taking ergonomics into my designs.

    I understand instinctive shooting with shoot guns to Tradititonal Bows.

    I’ve shot both left-handed and right-handed since I was a child with a BB gun to 22s.

    I’m cross eyed dominant, which makes shooting interesting and a correct fitting shotgun or pistol makes all the difference!

    When I have time to line up sights, great, but most of us who carry and ever have to use our pistol are going to end up in a panic situation.

    During a panic situation, a “Natural Pointing” pistol, for you, is going to help you live!

    Anyone with training can use sights, but a Panic, Fight or Flight confrontation is a different animal.

    Finding a pistol that “Naturally” fits you is a huge bonus. A pistol that “Points” where you look is a huge advantage in a gun fight!

    I challenge anyone to take three or four pistol that you’re looking at for Conceal and Carry to the range.

    Try and shoot them without using the sights, just bring them up and point them at the target.

    The one that shoots the most accurately for you is probable the best for conceal carry.

    The three or four you pick should fit your hand size.

    You can weight heavily the “Functioni” of the pistol, or what you’re use to shooting…

    Are you use to shooting a 911 or a Glock, stick to what you’re comfortable and instinctively Know.

    IMHO

    1. Interesting. I also shoot left and right handed and am cross eye dominant. I also can shoot almost any handgun well because I’ve learned not to rely on the ergonomics. I shoot well because I practice with the firearms that don’t ‘naturally’ fit my hand, frame, and strength.
      In regards to perfect aim in high stress situations–good luck. Even highly trained individuals who regularly employ their skills in these situations (i.e. not LE), aren’t perfectly accurate from any major distance. For the average conceal carry citizen, you better not be shooting someone who’s that far away unless you’re in a Hollywood situation. You don’t need to be dead on in most of those shots anyway. Good thing too, because chances are you won’t be.
      Lesson: find a gun that fits your needs, not that feels good on first grip. Practice and in no time your grip will naturally adjust out of necessity. Isn’t it more important to have a gun that performs the way you want than a gun that feels good, but the trigger, feed, release, kick, grip, etc. feels just right as soon as you pick it up?
      Learn to shoot well and suddenly your world of available guns opens up immensely!

  4. Glad he wasn’t trying to “sell something” . Anyone need sights? Anyone who thinks natural point-ability and good hand fit is nothing more than lack of training is missing something. Grip angle, height of bore axis, thickness of the grip are important factors when choosing a gun. The author is correct, guns don’t have a soul but I do, and when I want to shoot for the very pleasure of the sport, to feel the steel in my hand I shoot a 1911. I do carry a G26 daily but it is a tool. It is a cheap affordable practical tool. The fact I don’t enjoy shooting it, does not diminish its use as a tool. I would not hesitate to depend on any of my 1911’s for personal defense, I keep one in my nightstand for that express purpose, but why not take advantage of modern engineering and carry a lighter smaller cheaper package with added round count for every day use and replace it every few years as use and abuse dictate. Yes I will continue to make use of modern plastic engineering for my tools but when I shoot for enjoyment I will pick what feels good in my hand.

  5. I am 74 y/o and part time clerk @ A very busy retail gun store/25 yard indoor range. Most folks who know anything about guns never mention anything about grip angle. They preach shoot em and shoot em some more. Worthwhile and purposeful practice with a certain objective and routine that re enforces good shooting skills is paramount.
    Set up drills to fire shots like 2 to the body 1 to the head. also thrust and
    shoot aka point and shoot at a 10′ distant large silouette (sic) for 2 to 3 rounds to the core/torso ignoring the sights, and resting between shot groups can be a big plus to hone your basic skills.
    None of the certified instructors that give lessons at our facility ever say
    buy several boxes of 50 rounds of ammo, go into the range take up a stance in your lane and blaze away the only exercise is how many shots can you put in your target just short of committing rapid firing.
    grip angle per se is only brought up by the armchair shot experts, whose opinions get swept up with the empty shell casings.

    1. @ Tom,

      Yeah, I’m going to have to call you on that one. You are speaking for way too many people in an effort to bolster your personal opinion.

      The clincher is when you wrote, “grip angle per se is only brought up by the armchair shot experts”. That is impossible given that “grip angle” is an indisputable science that affects all shooters and must be addressed with each and every gun ever designed. That would mean professionals often discuss it.

      I think where you are confused is the actual term “grip angle” itself. That is the professional term and rarely used by the common shooter. However, “grip angle” is referred to by many other common terms which you may be more familiar with.

      Regardless of the actual term used, it must be addressed during a course of fire by any respectable certified instructor or they wouldn’t be doing their job properly. They may not actually use the term “grip angle”, but they are still speaking in terms of its effects.

    2. @G-Man:

      I must come to the defense of Tom because I found his post to be very refreshing and based on reality.

      Sure you can talk about grip angle being a science, but you could also talk about a computer mouse’s contour being a science for the most precise click ratios. You could take any mechanical thing and drill it to death until it’s minutia.

      But gun makers don’t make adjustable grip angles. I have never heard this term discussed until this article. Why? Because the gun makers design guns that can be shot by most everyone.

      A police officer can have huge military experience, SWAT team practice, and the best weaponry, including ergonomic grips, but a drug addict with a saturday night special can kill him if he gets the first shot. This happened to 2 officers in separate incidents in Phoenix in the past 2 or 3 years.

      The point is that the velocity of a bullet is so overwhelmingly faster than human movement, that the ergonomics being argued about here are reduced to the ridiculous.

      And one more point I’ve been wanting to make. I have a Zastava AK-47 pistol with the ugliest, skinniest, shortest plastic grip, and I can easily nail the 100 yard target with it’s iron sights. And it’s a true pistol with nothing to rest on my shoulder.

      @Tom:

      Regarding this quote: “grip angle per se is only brought up by the armchair shot experts, whose opinions get swept up with the empty shell casings”………….Yesterday when I read this I almost did a fist pump, because I feel it’s a classic comment!!

    3. @ss1,

      Okay, let me try another approach in hopes you guys will finally understand…

      What you are saying is synonymous with claiming aerodynamics have little bearing on how a fighter pilot handles his jet. But what you fail to realize is that as aerodynamics is to a jet, “grip angel” is to a gun, therefore placing it as one of the foremost factors considered in the proper design of any gun.

      Why you never hear about “grip angel” is similar to why the flight attendant doesn’t discuss aerodynamics with you every time you board a plane, but that still does not mean it is an inconsequential aspect to why you make it safely to your destination… or not.

      The reason is because the work behind the science of flight has already been done by design engineers years ago, and thus established a solid foundational dynamic required for all basic flight. Like aerodynamics, the science behind “grip angle” doesn’t change often, but it is always a very important factor. It simply exists with or without anyone’s opinion of it, and is a part of every single handgun ever made. No one has a choice in that matter.

      So while Glock has decided upon their ideal all–around best “grip angle” and the 1911 another, there are factors that can still offset the intended factory “grip angle” on any gun for better or worse for each individual. These factors include, but are not limited to: hand size, grip style, wrist strength, standing height, changeable back straps, ammo load, and even aftermarket sights.

      My point was that “Grip Angle” is a factor in every single shot that has been fired or will ever be fired on this planet. So regardless whether you’ve heard of it, discussed it, believe in it, or consciously employ shooting techniques whilst considering the utter science behind it – none of that will ever change the fundamental aspect of its importance.

      I hope this helps clarify things a bit more.

  6. This seems like the best forum to throw out a question to about 2 sweet 10mm pistols I have my eye on.

    Does anyone here have any experience and/or comments about the STI 1911 10mm, or the STI 2011 Perfect 10? The main difference between the 2 are 5″ barrel vs 6″ barrel on The Perfect 10, and also a $1000 price difference.

    For all you 1911 fans, is The Perfect 10 still a 1911 in your eyes?

    STI has a cool website. I’m not including it here because it will delaying my comments being posted.

  7. As I have said in the past I own six Glocks and they are a good fit. I would not change a thing on them, kept clean and out of reach of everyone else.They have always did the job. A very good weapon to depend on. Better Gun Control, Use both hands. Over and under.

  8. The author is correct that the best marksmanship only occurs when a proper sight picture is acquired before the trigger is depressed & maintained during the trigger stroke. Anything less is just spray & pray. I am also amongst those who do not feel grip angle prevents myself from acquiring a sight picture before firing. Even with novelty guns that are inherently ergonomically challenging, I can still hit the target if good marksmanship is applied. However, I do recognize there may be tactical and emergency situations where a good sight picture cannot be acquired, and spray & pray is all you have. Laser devices are one solution for this situation, and it would also help to have a good instinctive pointing characteristic with the given firearm. This may be an issue for some, but for myself any good defensive handgun will work.

  9. I agree with the fact grip angle doesn’t matter and practice being the key point. However, for those that shoot on a very regular basis, changing the grip angle on a Glock or preferring the angle of something similar to the newer Sig Sauer P320, could be substantial to others. As far as an everyday carry gun, factory characteristics would be my choice without a doubt.

  10. I’m in my “sunset years” and have some arthritis in both wrists. The recoil of a 1911 is downright painful so I carry a 13 year old Gen3 G17. No pain and 3″ groupings, and I never cared about grip angle.

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