Finger Position, Triggers, & Accuracy

I’m guilty of it. I’m guilty of telling people the amount of finger they put on the trigger matters; in fact, I used to think it mattered a lot. The problem was that I never really went out and tried it myself. By the time I considered myself a decent shooter, I had forgotten the importance of the trigger finger. I remember the classic graph someone made that said if you’re using too much trigger finger your rounds will hit here. If you use too little trigger finger, your shots will hit here. Does finger position matter?

Remember those diagnostic targets that were popular a decade or two ago? They advised the same thing. The question is, does it matter? Does it really? To what degree does it matter, and is it universal or maybe applies more to one weapon and one task than all of them? Before we go out and find out, I have a theory. I’m betting with a handgun within 25 yards. It doesn’t matter at all. I grabbed the Sig Sauer P365 I carry everyday and a few boxes of ammo, and went to the range. 

Finger Position — Too Little & Too Much 

I started with a simple printed Sage Dynamics target at a mere ten yards. I began with too little finger on the trigger and fired a simple three round group. My finger was on the trigger only enough to pull it. Not bad, fairly typical. I repeated the process with way too much trigger finger, literally as much as I could put through the triggerguard. I fired my three round group and it was near identical to the first group. 

Finally, as a control group, I fired three rounds with what I figured was the perfect grip. Again, the groups were identical. I seriously have a problem keeping one round tight to the first two. I’m not sure why, but with each group, I dropped a round a good bit away from the main two rounds. That’s a major annoyance for me personally, but it’s not tied to my finger position. 

I backed off to 25 yards and used a steel gong. I repeated the three-round test, with my finger position in the too little, too much, and just right positions. The end result was the same. I landed all three shots on target without any issues. Even at 25 yards, there isn’t a variable that is big enough to cause a miss. So, does finger position matter, specifically with a handgun? 

No, but yes. 

Let Me Explain 

My finger position doesn’t matter for overall accuracy. Regardless of where it is, I can still hit the target and generate the same accuracy. When it comes down to our accuracy testing, there isn’t a problem. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to use just the right finger position. You don’t have to be incredibly specific, but you should be somewhat specific. 

I did a little more than accuracy testing slow fire. I ran a few Bill Drills and 10-10-10s and discovered there are some limiting factors with improper finger position. 

Too little finger on the trigger means you are going to lose control of your trigger and it will slip off the trigger. When it slips off the trigger your firing cadence goes to hell. Then you have to find the trigger again and get back on target and resume firing. You’re losing fractions of a second and risking speed. 

Too much trigger finger, especially on a small gun, is just uncomfortable. Too much trigger will find your finger rubbing on your support hand in a not-so-comfy manner. Plus, it might catch on your support hand and prevent you from fully pulling the trigger or allowing the trigger to fully reset. 

Finger position matters a little. When it comes to accuracy, the most important thing is grip. A strong, consistent grip is what allows you to shoot accurately and consistently. You can pull the trigger any which way but loose and still shoot accurately, as long as your grip is steady. 

Outside of Handguns 

When it comes to precision rifles, I’d assume the trigger finger position matters a good bit more than with handguns. I’m no precision shooter, but I did some research and found plenty of precision shooters with accolades advising of proper finger position. To the degree it matter I can’t rightly say. I’m willing to bet it is more about consistency than the measurement of position. It just turns out pulling with the pad of your finger is the easiest way to be consistent. 

Overall, if you want to shoot accurately, worry less about your trigger finger position and more about your grip. However, make sure the trigger finger can consistently pull the trigger without unintended interruption. It’s that simple. 

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.