WON Landing Page OCT 2022

Tips for Managing Recoil for All Hand Sizes

The high-capacity, micro-compact everyday carry gun has escalated in popularity. And why shouldn’t it? These EDCs are incredibly discreet for concealment and provide more peace of mind with more capacity. It’s no secret that bigger guns are easier to shoot. But most women can’t easily conceal a full size, double-stack handgun. Enter the micro-compact. However, let’s understand that science is science. The micro has less mass, making it smaller and lighter, thus it is receptive to more felt recoil and being downright unpleasant to shoot. Those new to these handguns also may notice a significant decrease in their shooting proficiency the first several times to the range. Don’t be alarmed. It happens. I’m going to share several tips that may help you better manage recoil, so you can have a more enjoyable shooting experience, regardless of hand size and strength.

Springfield Armory Hellcat, the worlds hiest capacity micro compact pistol.

Sponsored by Springfield Armory

Five ladies joined me on the range to experience firsthand how changing their standard grips made a positive difference in managing recoil. The ladies ranged in age from 27 to 72 and were from beginner to advanced in shooting experience. We used the Springfield Armory Hellcat.

Kelly Pidgeon with Hellcat in portrait taken by Katy Gibson
(Katy Gibson photo)

5 Tips for Managing Recoil

Recoil Photo

Tip 1:  Grip, Grip, Grip

The natural force of recoil wants to push the gun backward and upward. Those are the motions we want to combat to better control the gun and to get back on target quickly. 

Tips for Managing Recoil for All Hand Sizes coaching to really squeeze grip taken by Katy Gibson
Coaching to really squeeze grip (Katy Gibson photo)

A strong grip is essential to good shooting. I usually use the analogy of squeezing a lemon. You put that lemon between your two palms, at chest height, and SMASH it to get out the most juice. Well, convert that action to the grip of the gun. The strong hand will squeeze the grip front to back, and the support hand will squeeze the grip from side to side. All the bases are covered. 

Tip 2: Use East-West Elbows

Tips for Managing Recoil for All Hand Sizes east west elbows with alternate grip
East-west elbows with alternate grip

To increase pressure on the grip, like that lemon, don’t fully extend your arms. If you use what I call east-west elbows, you will generate more pressure as you pull your arms toward you. A slight to moderate bend in the elbows, nearer to your chest, will increase the pressure you apply to your grip. More pressure means more control.

Tip 3:  Cant Your Strong Hand

Tips for Managing Recoil for All Hand Sizes cant from standard to the right

The fit of these EDCs will most likely not be perfect for most people. Smaller hands can try rotating the strong hand so that the rear knuckle is aligned with the rear angle of the slide. No, it won’t be comfortable. But, it will change the angle of your index finger onto the trigger, allowing for a more evenly pressured trigger press. One trainer I had always said, “If it’s comfortable, you’re doing it wrong.”

Tip 4: Use the Front of the Trigger Guard

lefty older smaller hands with alternative grip
Lefty, older, smaller hands with alternative grip

You may have seen this and thought, “That is weird.” Yes, it is, but it works. I had the opportunity to train with Jerry and Lena Miculek last year and it’s a method they teach and keep in their toolboxes to control recoil to quickly get back on target. 

indexing trigger guard
Indexing trigger guard

Remember, the gun wants to go back and UP. Applying pressure to the front of the trigger guard straight back toward your chest with the support hand index finger helps to combat that. Many semi-auto handguns are equipped with a flat, serrated trigger guard front that aides in exactly this tip. Those with rounded fronts on the trigger guard can still be effective. You just need to work a little more to keep the index finger in place. Note: this should NOT be used with a revolver.

Tip 5: Make Sure Your Pinky has a Home

Tips for Managing Recoil for All Hand Sizes using pinky extender to improve grip
Pinky extender to improve grip

Many short, stacked guns don’t have much room for a full grip from every digit. The pinky can get left out. You NEED to make room for your pinky! It applies pressure down to help to offset the force of the gun, which wants to go up.

Use an extended magazine or apply an extender to mags you already have. Give your pinky a proper resting place to do its job.

various hand sizes shoot the same gun well
Various hand sizes shoot the same gun well

If you don’t manage recoil, you won’t shoot well or enjoy shooting. Any time you notice recoil being too excessive from the handgun you are shooting, (and not just the micros), try one or more of these tips together and note if you find a difference like these ladies did. It’ll help you appreciate the other great features of the gun.

Kelly Ann Pidgeon Headshot
Kelly Ann Pidgeon

Meet Kelly Ann Pidgeon

Kelly is the owner of ARMED and Feminine, LLC, a company specializing in firearms training for women. She also is a National 2A advocate, appearing as a guest speaker at conferences and rallies and is the northeast regional director for DC Project. You can also find educational content on her YouTube channel.

Kelly Ann’s company has trained nearly 1,000 women and youth in just a few years in firearms and personal safety, where the students ranged in age from 11 to 83. She earned multiple firearms certifications through the USCCA, NRA and I.C.E. Training. She is also a certified ALICE Instructor for Active Shooter Training.  

Kelly is a retired health care executive, an ATHENA award recipient and a community volunteer for multiple non-profit organizations.

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    The Women's Outdoor News, aka The WON, features news, reviews and stories about women who are shooting, hunting, fishing and actively engaging in outdoor adventure. This publication is for women, by women.