Concealed Carry & Home Defense

CCW Weekend: One Hand


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By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters

Yes, you need to be practicing one-handed shooting. Start reading into police shootings or watch some bodycam footage, look into some civilian-involved defensive shootings and you’ll find that assuming the perfect modified Isosceles, Weaver or Chapman stance doesn’t happen nearly as often as you’d think.

There’s something to be said for training how you’ll shoot and you’ll shoot how you train of course.

Watch enough videos, read enough reports, and what becomes clear is that you may or may not have the opportunity to assume a two-handed shooting stance. Often enough, people are fending an attacker off with one hand. Additionally, it may happen so fast that you may only have enough time to get the gun out with one hand. This is also why it’s good to practice drawing from concealment with only one hand; you may not have a hand free to clear a cover garment.

If anyone wants to get into the caliber war and the “this is why 9mm is better than .45” in the comments, I suppose this is a good time to do it.

With that said, how to get started?

Well, start small and move up, like with anything else.

First, you need the highest, tightest grip possible. A firm grip on the gun leads to good shooting, one-handed and otherwise; grip it as tight as you can. You can grip too hard, though; what you do is take your carry gun and start to squeeze. Pay attention to the sights.

When the sights start to move or shake, that’s too hard. Let off a little until the gun isn’t moving anymore. If you need to, try to strengthen your hands. Use a hand exerciser and/or do more compound lifts. Barbell rows and deadlifts build grip strength (legs and back too!) and are just good for you anyway.

There are a few different techniques for shooting one-handed. Most common is to just straight-arm it. Extend the shooting hand until your elbow is locking out. Align sights, fire and get back on target.

Some people modify it by canting the gun inward. Doing so ostensibly directs the recoil force more into the trunk of the body rather than torquing the wrist, though some find it makes no difference. Just make sure that you can still get a good sight picture.

Another technique is to essentially use half of a Weaver or Chapman stance, just without the support hand. You want your shooting hand to extend as far and straight out as possible while keeping the elbow tucked into the body. You may have to lean into the gun until you find a good sight picture. Again, the theory is to direct recoil into the body as much as possible, combating muzzle rise and so on.

Massad Ayoob has been teaching a one-handed technique for years that he refers to as the
“Shotokan Punch,” similar to the punching technique taught in Shotokan karate. The gun hand goes straight out, fully extended with the elbow locked. You put your strong side foot out, slightly ahead of your weak-side foot, like stepping into the punch. While getting into this stance, tuck your support hand up into your sternum, like you’re cradling a football.

Come to think of it, he should have called it the Heisman because it’s basically like an RB giving a stiff-arm, but one digresses.

This gets you leaning into the gun and presents a bit of counter-balance, which can help mitigate recoil as well.

If you haven’t worked on shooting one-handed before, start slow. Starting out with controlled pairs is a good idea, as you want to build accuracy and recoil control before you start in with the 5 by 5 or the Bill drill. Do some work with the weak hand too, as it also gets neglected.

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Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit