The Myth of Trigger Finger Placement

“What difference does it make if it means you can press the trigger straight to the rear?” I have never found a reason to doubt Jerry Jones, but just for a second, I thought he couldn’t be right.  We all know that the middle of the first pad of the index finger is the only place the trigger can be properly indexed, right?  Still, I had the data points backing Jerry’s argument from my range time that very day.  The proof was on the paper.  Using what would be considered by many as an incorrect trigger finger placement, I tightened my groups substantially.   After decades of intellectual inertia, I gave myself permission to experiment.

I started by using the largest (and least comfortable) grips on my M&P pistols.  Then, I pushed my finger in on the trigger to nearly the first knuckle and found success.  With this in mind, I went to a snubby revolver school taught by Chuck Haggard at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference.  Chuck went as far as to encourage students to use the first knuckle of the firing digit to properly execute a trigger press on those tiny wheelguns.  I went even further and used the second (middle) phalanx  of my index finger.  The results were amazing.  I could suddenly shoot a J-Frame revolver at 12 yards almost as accurately as I could a duty pistol.

Granted, this article will likely give some readers an old-fashioned case of the vapors, but consider this:  Were everyone the same, instructors could teach shooting techniques like the imagination-deprived architects of seemingly every new middle-class, cookie-cutter housing addition.  However, the human design does not allow for that luxury.  Consider yours truly as an example.  I am slightly less than 74 inches tall with a 36 inch inseam and my, “wingspan” is 79 inches.   From finger tip to fingertip, I am five inches wider than I am tall…and I ain’t exactly short.   My hands are very large.  In fact, I have never met another human being with hands longer than mine who wasn’t at least five or six inches taller than me.  Considering all this and that firearms aren’t generally designed for lower primates, isn’t it possible that what works for less malformed folks doesn’t work for me?

I know.  I know.  “It works for me,” is an expression widely criticized by firearms and use of force experts, but I don’t think that is an appropriate assessment of what we’re discussing here.  The simple fact is that using, “too much” trigger finger does, indeed, work for me.  It may very well work for you, too.  If your trigger control isn’t exactly what you want it to be, experiment a little with your finger placement.

Be safe and appropriately dangerous.

2 replies
  1. TW
    TW says:

    I Googled “finger trigger placement” today after recently stumbling onto this same idea. I have been an avid shooter since I began my law enforcement career 19 years ago. In addition to the firearms training programs of LAPD and two federal agencies, I have also attended private schools (such as Gunsite). Every professional instructor I have ever trained with has told me to press the trigger with the pad of my trigger finger. It never occurred to me to question this bit of received knowledge.
    The firearms qualification course for my current agency includes strings of fire where the shooter engages a silhouette from 7 yards while shooting one-handed. Despite the short distance, these strings have tormented me for years. I never really knew where my one handed shots were going to land. No amount of dry fire or live fire practice seemed to make any difference. I could make these shots with no time limits just fine, but whenever a shot clock was running, I would jerk the shots all over the place.
    During dry-fire practice a few days ago, on a whim, I began experimenting with finger placement. I noticed that when I used the first crease of my trigger finger to press the trigger while shooting one-handed, my sights remained motionless. When I reverted to the standard finger-pad trigger placement, my sights would move all over. Also, I noted that the trigger press simply felt more confident and controlled using the crease. I took this new observation to the range yesterday to put it to the test. The results were staggering. From seven yards, I was effortlessly hitting five-inch circles one-handed, both weak and strong hand, even under moderate time constraints. I went through a box of 50 rounds without a single miss.
    Why is the shooting community so dogmatic about trigger finger placement? Why couldn’t I have figured this out years ago? From my Google search results, I could see that I’m not the first one to reach the conclusion that finger placement is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.

    • Tadd Zarry Mansilla
      Tadd Zarry Mansilla says:

      Hello. I discovered the same thing tonight when dry firing my shield 9. The front sight would move when I shot with the center of the pad of my finger. When I used th crease, the dry fire was steady.

      I then looked at how my finger was positioned and not touching the grip when using the center pad of my finger but when I went to use the crease of my finger, my trigger finger from the knuckle to where my finger was in the trigger guard was making contact with the grip of the pistol and it all of a sudden made sense that I had better control and more hand Realestate on the grip.

      I was going to trade in my shield for a PPS m2 later today because I was convinced that the ergonomics and the trigger on my shield were the reason for the moving front sight when I pulled the trigger.

      When I figured it out that everything I was told about my center pad of the trigger didn’t actually apply to every person, especially me, I found that making sure my trigger finger is flush on the handle allowing me to actually pull the trigger straight back is what works for me in the case of my shield.

      Now to test this out at the range later today and bring all of my other pistols as well to see if this actually holds true and improves my ability to shoot my pistols better.

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