One-Handed Shooting: Let It Tilt 10 O’Clock High

Editor’s Note: The following is a syndicated article by author CR Williams that first appeared in USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine Volume 11, Issue 4, May/June 2014 under the title, “Let It Tilt 10 O’Clock High.” 

You don’t always have to hold the pistol vertically. When firing with one hand, tilting the gun slightly helps to align your muscles to create a better firing platform. This is not a different grip. It is a different hold.

There is a difference between how you grip the gun and how you hold the gun. The grip is one of the fundamental things that should hardly ever change. On a semi-auto that means the web of the hand goes high up, fingers wrap around to put as much skin in contact with the gun as possible, thumb either points forward or curls slightly, depending on what you’re comfortable with. The grip is one of the two fundamentals (the other being alignment of the eye and the gun) that I believe and teach should remain the same almost every time, almost every shot you take, no matter what else changes.

How you hold the gun, though, can change with each shot as the situation dictates. There are many variations, including—but not limited to—the level of the firearm (waist, close-contact, full extension, one or two hands, etc.), the direction the gun is pointed, and—the basis for this story—the angle at which you hold the gun when shooting one-handed. All of those can and will change, often without a thought.

What I’m going to advocate is a change in your default one-hand hold. Specifically that you stop trying to hold the gun vertically all the time when shooting one-handed. Instead, let me suggest that you allow the gun to tilt a bit to the inside. This is what Gabe Suarez calls the “half-homie” position, as it falls in between the commonly-taught vertical hold and the sideways hold often adopted by thugs and gangster wannabes. Don’t let any remote association with the bad guys get in the way of learning the benefits of this position; it goes with the body and not against it.

POINT AT SOMETHING! POINT NOW! DON’T THINK, JUST POINT!

Now look at how your hand is set. Is it vertical? Would a line across the palm extend straight down to the floor? No? Now turn the pointing hand so that a line across the palm does go straight to the ground. Feel any tension? Now pull the hand back in and point again, this time keeping the hand vertical. Take a second or two and see how the arm feels. Now let it turn naturally to whatever angle it wants to. Feel as much tension?

Repeat this with a gun in hand if you want to. Point the gun like you point a finger. (Extending the trigger finger along the slide not only encourages trigger discipline, but helps you do this more smoothly.) You should see a tilt, somewhere between 15 and 50 degrees if you just let it happen and don’t try to align it. You may also feel additional tension when you try moving to a vertical hold from there, and a release of that tension when you let it drop back to the natural pointing position. (I say “may” because you’re now holding a weight out at the end of your arm. This may mask the addition or release of tension when the angle changes.)

NOW: WHAT IS YOUR BODY TRYING TO TELL YOU?

We know from martial arts, other physical sports, and studies of conditioning and exercise that the body generates, and resists force much more effectively if the body structure is aligned properly. In the case of firing a handgun, it’s resistance that we’re most interested in; specifically, resistance to and rapid recovery from recoil.

Because the arm and shoulder align more naturally, allowing the hand to tilt naturally will result in less felt recoil per shot, less fatigue, and more endurance during long shooting sessions. The hand and arm are more relaxed (even though under extension and holding weight) in this position. Relaxed structures are stronger and more resilient structures, and natural alignment of the hand and arm facilitates that beneficial relaxation. The relaxed, aligned structure should also allow for more rapid shot-to-shot recovery and less chance of injury to joints and the muscles, tendons and ligaments that support them.

Don’t worry about it affecting sight alignment or sight picture, either. The sights are still straight in line on the gun, and changing the angle won’t change that. It might seem a bit odd at first to see the sight picture tilted, but that should not be a long-term issue. Give yourself a little time and you will become accustomed to it.

Not only that, but the angled hold can also provide additional sighting options you may not have considered before. There are several alternative aiming methods along what Suarez International Specialist Instructor Roger Phillips calls the “sight continuum.” Most of you should be familiar with two of them: the standard sight alignment/sight picture that we all prefer to get to, and an overlay of the slide (seen from behind the gun) onto the target that is used in short-range/short-time situations. This is often called “metal on meat.” Both of those are still available with the angled hold, but a third option also presents itself. With the firearm tilted slightly you may sight along the line formed by the corner of the slide to the point on the target you want to hit. This sighting method falls between metal-on-meat and full-on sighting when you are fighting in close at high speed. It is immediately available when the hold is allowed to find its natural angle. You could, for example, if you started at close range and chose to move away, engage the target with metal-on-meat first, move to and then through the sight-along-the-corner as the range opens, and finally, if necessary, end by being completely on the sights as you continue to create distance.

IT IS GOOD TO HAVE OPTIONS LIKE THAT

Like it or not, the gun is still a physical weapon. When you take up the gun you are practicing a martial art and have become a martial arts student. Martial artists have always known that it is better to use the natural structure, strength and movement of the body. It has always been more efficient and effective, and increased the chances of winning the fight, to go with the body rather than against it. When seeking to project and control force, using the body’s structure and natural strengths in a controlled and intelligent manner will surely increase your ability to see the fight ended quickly and reduce the chance of loss to yourself and to your loved ones.

Take some time to look at all the angles. You may find that you will shoot easier and straighter if you opt for a little angle in your one-handed shooting hold.

CR Williams: is a former Suarez International Staff Instructor and author of the Gunfighting, and Other Thoughts about Doing Violence series of books. To find out more about the books and access additional material or to ask questions or make comments or requests, contact him through his website at www.inshadowinlight.com.

Discover how you can join nearly 300,000 responsibly armed Americans who already rely on the USCCA to protect their families, futures and freedoms: USCCA.com/gunsamerica.

***Buy and Sell on GunsAmerica! All Local Sales are FREE!***

{ 28 comments… add one }
  • Gary Edwards December 4, 2020, 7:24 pm

    If I’m understanding the above commentary as made by Mahatma, the correct word for forearm position should be “pronation”, not “supination” which is when the palm is held facing up, thus the thumb would be rotated laterally (outward.) Pronation is palm down with medial (inward) thumb rotation. Therefore, a rotation from vertical to a 10:00 cant (for a right hander) would be pronation. For a left hander with a “2:00” cant, the brass dump downward would be a nice side benefit.

  • Art Joslin August 21, 2020, 10:30 am

    I believe the correct name for this 15-40degree cant is called the McMillian Cant. It goes way back to the early mid 1970’s. It is especially good for cross dominant shooters.

  • Gem Gram August 4, 2019, 5:59 am

    Two back to back sentences that could not be more wrong and more right. “Martial artists have always known that it is better to use the natural structure, strength and movement of the body. It has always been more efficient and effective, and increased the chances of winning the fight, to go with the body rather than against it.”

    Sorry but “Martial Arts” have NOT always known this. There has ALWAYS been forced, unnatural body movement and position taught in traditional martial arts. Especially in Karate and Kung Fu. But the author could not be more correct about it having always been more efficient and effective, and increased the chances of winning a fight, to go with the body rather than against it. Whether it is fist fighting, kicking, shooting a pistol in stress situations, shooting a shotgun or snap shooting a rifle, it is always best to go with the natural movements of the body. Modern kinesiology has changed both the understanding of “Martial Arts and of shooting. We are all human animals and “natural movement” takes that reality of as a given and goes from there. Train for what your body will do naturally during stress.

    When I have taught classes in combat pistol shooting to couples it was sometimes disconcerting to those husbands who had prior “shooting experience”. Most of the time the wife with little or no experience shooting a pistol does at least as well, and often better than the husband. She has never learned unnatural movement, while he has to unlearn unnatural movement before going on to progressing with the right way a human body naturally works and moves.

    • Mahatma Muhjesbud September 6, 2019, 12:34 pm

      Right on with the martial arts reference, Gem. I caught that also. I go back far enough in the evolution of modern hand to hand fighting combat to appreciate the comparison to today’s high speed low drag take outs. Like night and day from the ‘old days’.

  • GuitarsNguns March 30, 2019, 2:39 pm

    I have used this grip one handed for years. I think what most commenters are missing is that the cant is slight. Most sound like they are afraid of looking like a gangster but this grip is a long way from looking like that. And I would not call it a half homie because it is not even close to close to halfway to gangsta. Having trained with Gabe I might not disagree in person and I know none of you dissenting fools would but it is a slight can’t inboard. If you ever grab your gun in a situation where your dominant hand is all you have, the situation has become physical, the bad guy is too close for you to aim and your stress level is such that you don’t have time to think, check the angle of your gun. It will be slightly canted. If you were forced to backhand someone with your gun, which would be the stronger grip- a slight cant or straight up and down? Don’t mean to insult but try it. Only liberal leftists are closed minded.

  • Jack March 25, 2019, 6:40 am

    Maybe we can get the gun companys to start making their pistols with canted grips and the receiver up-right, 5 o’clock position for right hander’s and 7 o’clock for south-paws,hmmmm, sounds like a new marketing gimmick, they’ll be swarming out by the millions for these, huh???

  • Carl March 23, 2019, 6:37 pm

    The concept of tilting or canting a pistol has been messed up by the movies and the gangstas. Canting is fine when the purpose is there and may be important in some situations. If the ejection port is against a wall or door frame, canting slightly can help prevent a stovepipe malfunction. If you are right-handed and left eye dominant, you will benefit from a cant to the left towards the left eye (and vice versa). Eye dominance is seldom 100% in either direction, so canting can come into play to help your eyes work well with your effort to point the gun. If you are right-handed and right eye dominant, but shooting with your left, weak hand only, then canting to the right eye becomes important. Other aspects of your body geometry may come into play, especially when in the continuum of potential defensive stances and positions. It is best to learn to shoot the way you need to when you need to. PS – don’t forget those crazy folks who pursue CAR techniques.

    • Mahatma Muhjesbud September 6, 2019, 1:51 pm

      I think it was Antonio Bandaras who started the over exaggeration ‘gangsta’ tilt to almost parallel to the floor and then it caught on like a meth lab on fire with the gang banging movies and the rest is absurdity history, LOL! I don’t recall for sure, but I think it’s an inside joke among the stars in the movies like John Wick and Denzel where i’m pretty sure one of them or a bad guy they were shooting it out with took the deep dive and was almost holding the pistol upside down as they shot!!

      I quit teaching regular NRA style pistol shooting years and years ago because almost no real life situations happen like that and went exclusively to CQB training with one handed pistol shooting. And mostly instinctive/reflexive. With complimentary weapon retention and hand to hand techniques. I think this is the only way police officers should train. It made me cringe to see that fight (in Aurora, Colorado I think) between the female deputy and the bad guy who went for her gun, took it away from her, and shot at her. she was fast enough to jump out of the way as he fired at her but never tried to counter attack which she could have done very easily with some training. If back up didn’t arrive and shoot the punk literally in seconds, that would have been it for her.)

      If they want to use two hands and sights to hit something further out than ten yards then use a short AR carbine. Otherwise, as statistics show you’ll probably miss your first couple shots at distance and more the further out you go with the pistol, and waste a valuable split second trying to aim if you are not a well practiced shooter.

      And as some mentioned here, the NATURAL posture and supination of the arm/wrist move is much better for rapid instinctive shooting when split seconds can mean your life. The old standard notion that speed doesn’t matter if you don’t hit what you’re aiming at must be put into tactical perspective to exist as a reality assumption. Thanks to super reliable high capacity carry pistols with high power ammo, who hits first is often more important than aiming. Although high percentage accuracy with instinctive shooting can be easily attained.

      Quick draw Cowboy artists often draw and shoot without extending the arm for better times This hand and gun position is usually straight vertical when the shot goes off because it is more natural for arms to position that way because of elbow and wrist mechanics when held close to the body. Shooting like this is purely ‘instinctive’ and requires more practice but it’s amazing how deadly accurate these people can be in competition under stress.

      When the arm is extended, as someone here explained, to point at something with the eyes looking over the finger, or with holding a pistol which allows the eyes to see both the target and the length of the gun barrel/slide at the same time. This is actually closer to aiming than hip shooting is. And if you’re quick enough to line up only the front sight, it doesn’t take a lifetime of competitive shooting to blast off several fast rounds with high percentages of multiple hits to CM out to 10 or so yards. You don’t need to do one inch groups like all the top shooters do regularly. That level of precision ability would be severely compromised and diminished in an abrupt confrontation with someone getting ready to shoot, or is coming at you fast with a gun or knife, or has fired and missed, and is moving. Especially if you’ve never experienced this type of stress action.

      When the arm extends, it naturally does some supination, and this does not hurt and as said by others, probably helps. It’s the way I straight punch with the top two knuckles. And it’s even the way proficient archers hold their bows so that the steadiest power hold alignment is achieved and adverse wrist torque mitigated. The top knuckle is around 45 degrees of the vertical position of the bow. And the bow, like the back of pistol grip is pressed between the thumb and index finger against the upper inside part of the thumb pad.

      However, when the

  • The Bearded Pretender March 23, 2019, 5:36 pm

    I find this hold works really well when I use it in a drive by in the “HOOD”
    That way I look like I belong there instead of someone that knows how to shoot a pistol.
    I always shoot my rifle from the hip too cuss that’s how it be done!

  • DaveGinOly March 23, 2019, 5:03 pm

    Ask someone to point at something. Is the person’s hand vertical (thumb up)? Almost certainly not.
    Take a high guard boxing position. Are you hands vertical? No, they’re slightly pronated.
    Both of these tests show where the body wants to be when its doing something naturally. When you were taught to hold a handgun vertically, you were being taught to do something to accommodate the design of the gun (sights over bore, magwell pointing down), but it is a very unnatural position for your hand. This doesn’t matter a whole lot when shooting two-handed because two hands (albeit both positioned sub-optimally) are being used to control the gun. But when shooting one-handed, you need all the help you can get. Don’t fight what your body wants to do, let it help you.

  • Anthony Romano March 23, 2019, 7:11 am

    Similar to ghetto shooting! I would never use this technique! Really dumb!

  • AJ March 22, 2019, 3:07 pm

    Some comments here are laughable, in that they are ignorant.

    This is a combat technique, not a match technique. It can be adapted to competition, but it is mainly suited for actual gunfighting.

    The tilt of the arm aligns bone to be more stable with recoil, while at the same time reduces stress on muscle, increasing endurance in tactical movement. Reaction time is actually reduced because of the tilt being more natural. Center mass follow up shots are easier to acheive due to this.

    The tilt is also effective when used with a ballistic sheild. It allows the firearm to be utilized while exposing minimal soft tissue of the arm, and allows for effective target engagement when you aren’t directly behind the bore or sights. In simple terms, it’s easier to point and shoot using hand eye coordination.

    Leave the gun fighting to the professionals.

    • Carl March 23, 2019, 6:40 pm

      The rigid mindset can get you killed. There are pros and cons. To each their own in their own way.

      • AJ March 25, 2019, 1:19 am

        Absolutely… SHTF situations are about fluidity and adapting to the field. If you can’t transition to one handed manipulation, and be effective, you better hope both arms are made of steel. Even the smallest bit of shrapnel can compromise an arm and render it useless in a fight.

  • Mike Morgenstern March 22, 2019, 11:19 am

    The technique is what bow hunters have used for instinct shooting. You concentrate on point on target not on the sights. It works!

  • RBC Gunsmithing LLC March 22, 2019, 10:40 am

    And to think, I’ve been telling people for years that they only hold em’ that way because “that’s how they come out of the box!” Who’d thought there was more to it.

  • chet223 March 22, 2019, 9:36 am

    Being left-handed, I’ve found that this 10 O’clock half-homie hold didn’t help me a bit. I guess I’m doing something wrong.

    • Jerry Jones March 22, 2019, 10:54 am

      Duh…..Left hand would be 2:00

    • Old Rogue March 22, 2019, 11:45 am

      You are, joking, right?

    • AJ March 22, 2019, 2:52 pm

      You can’t expect to transition from two hand to one hand and maintain efficiency without training. And the 45 degree tilt isn’t a “homie” hold. It’s a tactical technique that has been proven not just by experts, but also by professionals.

  • DEFENDER March 22, 2019, 9:32 am

    Yup It “can” work.
    I could not shoot Weak-Hand for S*it.
    I am old 70+ and not strong like I was.
    But I still shoot a Match of some kind every Sat.
    IDPA, 3Gun, Defensive Rifle, etc.

    Anyway
    I tried a 2 oclock hold with my weak LH.
    It worked.
    Hand does not wobble all over the place now.
    Won an IDPA stage with that grip.
    Against some “Really ” Good shooters.

    WAY easier to control, speed shoot, shot on shot.
    Hand/gun, on recoil, does not Wobble now.

    Not a Dr or medical expert but:
    Seems the bones and muscles line up better at that angle.

    I did have to change my POA(Point of Aim), took some practice.

    • Carl March 23, 2019, 6:41 pm

      Very good point.

  • Cea March 22, 2019, 9:21 am

    I don’t think that I’ve ever seen Jerry take/make a long distance shot, one handed. Have you? Firing one handed doesn’t offer the same mechanics of stability as does firing two handed. There is more natural strength provided by tilting your hand in slightly. If you do watch Jerry shoot one handed, he does tilt in slightly. That is because he recognizes and understands that the comments in the article are correct.
    Try it some time…

  • Mad Mac March 22, 2019, 8:55 am

    Well, I can see what he means. In a way, it is like indexing on the target. You move your feet or your body so that the hold of the pistol or rifle naturally points on target. In this case you only have one hand.

    Try this. Point your hand toward 3 o’clock. Your hand is close to vertical, which is great for Bullseye competition or a duel. Now sweep your arm toward 10 o’clock. Your hand rolled over didn’t it. So it sort of depends on what the rest of your body is doing under the circumstances.

    It would be useful for shooting around the left side of a barricade, one or two handed. Here is another consideration. One of my USPSA friends used a “half-homey” grip on a one-handed stage and everyone ribbed him about it. He said that the recoil helped him move from one target to the next. He shot better than most of us did.

    I’m going to try it.

  • Steve in Detroit March 22, 2019, 7:25 am

    Half Homey, I hope this phrase gets use.

  • randy March 19, 2019, 1:43 pm

    I thought it was April 1st when i read this.

    • SELDEN DENTON March 22, 2019, 7:23 am

      Me too Randy

    • BR549 March 22, 2019, 8:38 am

      Different strokes, I guess, but I can tell you Jerry Miculek wouldn’t be using this on his long distance shots.

      If the iron sights or optics are set for the distance one is firing within, who cares, ……. although I would add that these homey or half-homey positions are more likely to dump hot brass down your shirt.

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend