Girl Shooting Problems: Shooting With Small Hands

Feature | Girl Shooting Problems: Shooting With Small Hands | Pistol Grip Sizing

October 27, 2023 / Comments (0)

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Women aren’t all built the same, but there are a few physical challenges that tend to pop up more with us than the guys when it comes to shooting.

Problems like shooting with small hands or pistol grip pressure are just some of these girl shooting problems.

In this series, I’m going to talk about some of those challenges and dig into how we can address them. Of course, men are welcome here too!

Girl Shooting Problems: How to Deal with Small Hands

Pistol Grip Sizing

One of the big ones (ahem) is that, on average, women have smaller hands than men. Unfortunately, most handguns are designed for the average man's hands. Therefore, more women than men will struggle with getting their hands around the grip of a pistol.

Total hand size, palm size, and finger length all play a role in how easy or hard it is to be able to comfortably hold a handgun, reach its controls, and manage its recoil. Fortunately, there are several strategies those of us with smaller hands can try.

Start by making sure that the gun is properly set up for you. While a major selling point of many modern pistols is the replaceable grip panel, not everyone actually takes advantage of the feature.

That means using the small backstrap that came with your M&P, buying the “small” grip module for your P320, taking the beavertail off your Gen 4 Glock, and actually trying the bits and pieces that came with your VP9.

If your pistol grip has side panels that come off with a screwdriver, you should check with both the manufacturer and aftermarket sellers like Hogue or VZ Grips to see if they make a “slim” version for your gun. While the dimensions might not seem dramatically different, going a little smaller can really help.

Personalize Your Handgun With a Custom Grip

If you really love your gun, you can also go the extra mile and get permanent customization done to make the grip smaller.

It’s called grip reduction and it can be both expensive and time-consuming, not to mention potentially making your gun worthless or harder to sell if the work isn’t done well.

Personalize Your Handgun with a Custom Grip | Girl Shooting Problems: Shooting With Small Hands | Pistol Grip Sizing

While the differences in the large, medium, and small (left to right) Smith & Wesson M&P backstraps might not seem dramatic, they can make a big difference for a small-handed shooter (Photo by Tracy Hughes/Brilliant Backstraps).

You shouldn’t DIY it because grip reductions will void your warranty, and going with a good professional gunsmith will help ensure that the reduction is done correctly and safely, without causing structural problems that can cause your gun to literally fall apart in the future.

Grip reductions are most common for Glock handguns, with some of the top gunsmiths being Robar, Boresight Solutions, and Bowie Tactical Concepts.

Their work is in demand enough that if the reduction still isn’t small enough or comfortable for you, your gun could end up more valuable with the right buyer.

Look for the Best Pistol for Small Hands

You can also buy a new gun. I know that many of us don’t need more excuses to go gun shopping, but this time it would be in the service of getting something that fits you a little better.

You don’t need to go all the way down to the “micro” guns to find a smaller grip.

Look for the Best Pistol for Small Hands | Girl Shooting Problems: Shooting With Small Hands | Pistol Grip Sizing

Look for the Best Pistol for Small Hands Photo by Pinterest

If your gun doesn’t already have replaceable grip panels, try one that does. If your gun has a reputation for being kind of gigantic, try one that is a little less enormous.

Glocks, for instance, are often considered rather large, so an M&P or a P320 might be easier to get your hands around.

Just don’t make the mistake of always thinking that a “compact” model is smaller in circumference, which is the dimension that matters for reaching your pistol controls.

Learn Handgun Technique for Small Hands

Changing your equipment isn’t the only option. As long as your hands are in the right neighborhood size-wise, you can adjust your grip and change how you manipulate the other controls on your gun.

For example, most new shooters now learn a “thumbs forward” grip, but a “crush grip”, where your firing hand grasps the gun in a fist and the non-firing hand is wrapped around in another fist, can help small hands get better control over a large gun.

You can also scooch the firing hand around a bit to reach the trigger because you don’t need to perfectly align your firing hand’s forearm to be straight with the barrel of your gun. And if your firing hand doesn’t reach your slide release or safety? You can always use your other hand.

In this video, I demonstrate a number of ways someone with small hands can reload a pistol:

While we women can do what men can, our bodies are sometimes just not built for all of it. It's a good thing there are ways around girl shooting problems.

We trust these tips, tricks, and firearm techniques, to take care of your troubles. Practice makes perfect so get on the firing range; find out how your hands are doing with your favorite handgun and go from there with these firearm tricks around girl shooting problems!

Are you a pistol shooter with small hands? If you’ve tried any of these strategies, how did they work out for you?

And if you haven’t, now’s the time to run out, give them a shot, and report back over at the Gun Carrier Facebook page. Or, let us know in the comments section below!

Up Next: A Woman’s Response To Concealed Carry Advice

Check out American Tactical FX45 1911 | Gun Carrier Handgun Review at

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Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer here.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on November 15, 2016, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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