Choosing a Handgun: Hand Size & Strength Matters

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While the revolver is simpler to operate than an autoloader, it requires hand strength to fire - sometimes both hands.
While the revolver is simpler to operate than an autoloader, it requires hand strength to fire – sometimes both hands.

No matter what you like to shoot, there is a handgun for you. Whether you’re interested in hunting, competition, concealed carry or self defense, you can find a handgun that fits. When deciding between a revolver and an autoloader, one important factor is the size and strength of your hands. Consider this perspective, from Combat Focus Shooting Instructor Grant Cunningham:

Sometimes physical needs come into play. The autoloaders will generally have a fatter grip than the revolver, making it harder to handle by shooters with shorter fingers or smaller hands. The revolver can be more easily modified for smaller or larger hand sizes simply by changing the grips. Some autoloaders have interchangeable grip parts, but overall still don’t have the adjustability of the revolver.

The autoloader’s slide can be harder to manipulate for those with muscular issues, while the revolver’s cylinder is easy to open and close. Similarly, the revolver’s heavy double action trigger requires more finger strength than does the typical autoloader. For someone whose hands are a little on the weak side, the revolver presents a greater challenge than the auto.

One deciding factor is that the auto’s slide manipulation is more a matter of technique than strength, but there is no corresponding solution for the person who can’t pull the revolver’s long and heavy trigger. (In the chapter on shooting techniques, we’ll go over the procedure that allows almost anyone to operate almost any autoloader slide, regardless of upper body strength.) In most such cases the autoloader is the better choice.


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