Friday, June 25, 2010

On Pearce grip extensions

Pearce grip extensions are very popular for subcompact handguns like the Glock 26/27 or Springfield XD subcompact.  It's basically an extended piece of plastic that replaces your magazine's baseplate and gives your pinky a place to rest when gripping the gun.

I'm not a big fan.  There's nothing wrong with them, but it's a solution in search of a problem (which happens to cost at least around 6 bucks per mag).

Try this: grab your left wrist with your right hand.  Try using all five fingers gripping equally hard.  It will actually feel somewhat weak and your hand will feel like it's getting tired fast. Take your index finger out of the picture by relaxing it.  The grip will get much stronger.  Then take your pinky finger out of the picture by relaxing it a little.  It's still making contact but just not pulling hard compared to the other fingers.  The grip will get stronger(at least it does for me).   This is pretty common way of gripping when training wristlocks in martial arts.

Why does this work?  To be strong, your grip needs to have good alignment, with all fingers besides the thumb pulling in more or less the same direction.   Your index finger doesn't grip well with the others because it isn't aligned with the other three, so it's gripping on a different vector than they are.  If you look at your knuckles, your middle finger, ring finger, and pinky knuckles are on a line, that the index knuckle is not on. 

Your pinky finger is also not aligned with the middle and ring fingers relative to the thumb. 
If you touch your pinky fingertip to your thumb tip, or otherwise pull your thumb and pinky towards each other, your hand is sort of folded in half, which is not a strong, natural position.  If you touch your middle and ring fingertips to your thumb, it forms a natural O shape that is comfortable and strong.

I think that people who feel uncomfortable shooting a subcompact without grip extensions are trying to grip hard with their pinky, leading to discomfort when they can't get a firm grip with it.  If you just relax your pinky, which is preferable, then it doesn't really matter either way.

For the record I have an XD 9 subcompact that I have shot with or without Pearce grip extensions and it makes no difference to me.  Just my perspective, not saying I know anything about anything, or that what works for me is best for everyone.

When I took a handgun shooting course from Louis Awerbuck, he mentioned the same thing; he sees no need for grip extensions, and in fact they hinder people by tempting them to grip hard with the pinky.

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