Sunday, May 20, 2012

Handgun Shooting Positions: Bad Stances - 3

Continuing our series on bad shooting positions, we will now study a bad method of holding a handgun, which has become very popular due to Hollywood gangster films and numerous rap videos. Yes, it is none other than the infamous "sideways grip", otherwise known as the "gangsta grip" or the "sideways gangsta grip".

A couple of examples of the "gangsta grip". Click on images to enlarge.

In the above two images, we see two people demonstrating the infamous sideways gangsta grip style. Some people think that this style of holding a handgun originated in the 1990s, but it has actually been seen in movies made in the 1960s as well. For example:

Marlon Brando as "Rio" in the movie One-Eyed Jacks released in 1961

Eli Wallach as "Tuco", the ugly guy in the 1966 classic cowboy movie, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, starring Clint Eastwood

While these movies did briefly show characters using the sideways grip, it was the Hughes brothers 1993 movie "Menace II Society", that really popularized it. It was after Menace II Society was released to theaters that it started to appear in a lot of other Hollywood movies, TV shows and rap music videos.

Russell Crowe demonstrating the sideways grip, from the movie No Way Back.

One theory on why this shows up a lot on film and videos is because it allows the director to show a dramatic view of the actor's face as well as the firearm, all in the same scene, as can be seen in the picture of the movie poster above. If the actor was holding the pistol vertically, a larger portion of his face would be blocked by his hand and the firearm. Another theory is that movie actors and stuntmen don't wear protective eye-wear during shooting scenes and many got tired of getting hit in the face by a hot cartridge and so they started shooting sideways, so that the empty cartridges would drop to the ground.

So why is this grip such a bad idea. Well, if a user holds his handgun like this, then he cannot use the sights of the weapon. There is a very good reason that firearms have sights and they are there to help the user aim the firearm properly. Accuracy suffers a lot, as demonstrated by the Mythbusters TV show here:

As you can see, it may look cool in the movies, but in real life, the sideways gangsta grip is pretty darn useless unless the user is very close to the target.


  1. I know this is an older post (really enjoy reading your blog so far), but as a one-handed shooter (gimp right hand) I think something can be said for holding a gun somewhat sideways. In your one handed stance, you only covered the duelist stance (which I lean to personally). But I have been told also to face forward like one would with the isoceles and tilt the gun sideways (not as dramatically as the gansta style-- maybe 30° rather than 90°) so that I can use the sights and not have to turn my body to have it in the center of my vision. The idea being in a self defense situation you may not have time to change the direction you are facing. I wonder, too, if that is the origin of the gangsta style, as in all these depictions they tend to be both feet forward.

    1. Stomachus, thank you for your useful observation. I'm not sure about whether it has anything to do with the origins of the gangsta style, but it is an interesting theory. The main difference being that you're tilting the gun only slightly, so that you can use the sights quickly and effectively. Gangsta grip users invariably don't use the sights at all :).

      It is always nice to hear back from readers of this blog and thank you again for your kind comments and encouragement.