S&W 460XVR blew my thumb off today! No joke, about 1/2 of my left thumb is gone … what’s left is a friggin mess.
This AR-15.com urban legend really is no joke. The escaping gasses from a revolver can seriously injure you. Due to the higher pressures in the round, the bigger the caliber, the higher your risk for injury is. When your fire a revolver hot gasses and particles released will come out of the cylinder gap. If your fingers are near or covering the cylinder gap, you can be severely burned, cut, or worse. The cylinder gap is the gap between the cylinder and the barrel. The back part of the cylinder, closest to the grip will not hurt you.
In 2008, a man named Todd Brown shot his S&W model 460 revolver, chambered for .460 S&W Magnum, and blew off the top of his thumb. He filed a frivolous lawsuit against S&W saying he “placed his support hand under the trigger guard to support the weight of the gun.” Brown and his lawyer attempted to sue S&W for negligence on not warning the shooter on how to hold the gun properly. S&W puts a warning in their revolver manuals to keep your fingers away from the cylinder gap.
There is a correct way to hold a firearm. Rifles, shotguns, semi-automatic pistols, and revolvers are different in the proper way to grip them. If you have been shooting a semi-automatic pistol for a while, you might think that the grip on a revolver is the same, but it is not. Most likely, your grip on your pistol is what we call “thumbs forward.” This is when you have both your dominant thumb and support thumb along the side of the gun’s frame, pointing forward and away from the back of the slide. If you were to grip your revolver the same way, your thumb can be in the danger zone of the cylinder gap.
To properly grip a revolver and avoid an injury, take the grip in your dominant hand and place the top of the backstrap directly into the web of your hand. This will place your hand high up on the grip. This helps manage recoil. Then cup your support hand over your dominant hand. Point your dominant thumb down under the cylinder release and cross your support thumb over your dominant thumb. Both should be pointing down and nowhere near the cylinder gap. This grip is the “thumb over thumb” grip. Julie Golob in her book, Shoot describes it as, “The thumb of the support hand hooks over the thumb of the strong hand.” The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) reported in the year 2000 that there were 23,237 firearm-related non-fatal accidents. The best way to prevent any accident is to make safety your number one priority. Training and practice helps a lot, as well. Before cleaning, dry firing, target practice, transporting, or any time you are around your gun, follow these basic firearm safety rules:
- Make sure the gun is unloaded. Check it twice to make sure.
- Always keep the barrel pointed in a safe direction. Never point a gun at something you are not willing to shoot.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
- Know your target and what is behind it.
Do you own a revolver? How do you grip it? Talk about it in the comments section.
To read about how to grip a semi-automatic pistol, read our blog post “The Proper Pistol Grip.”