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A few weeks ago, Robb Allen got himself a Kel-Tec P-3AT but, being a Glock and 1911 type of guy, was getting frustrated with trying to hold it. I suggested using a different grip and tried to describe it, but because I had lost my digital camera was unable to show what I meant. Well, that’s been rectified, so now I present Wolfwood’s Guide to Holding the Kel-Tec P-3AT and Being Popular*.

To be clear, I’m not an expert by any means, and I’m a mediocre shot (at best) with any weapon. However, I can shoot a P-3AT all day long** without getting worn out or having to readjust my grip, so I’m going to claim experience in lieu of expertise. I’m also not an expert on digital photography, so you may have to excuse the quality of these photos, as they were taken above my desk and with my left hand. The red mark at the base of my thumb isn’t a birthmark but is, rather, a reminder to pay closer attention when re-attaching AR-15 handguards.

First off is a picture of my Springfield full-sized Mil-Spec 1911 and my Kel-Tec P-3AT, placed so that the trigger guards are above each other (bad angle, I know). The P-3AT is wearing the smallest Hogue grip I could find, and I still had to trim the bottom (which I did badly). You’ll noticed that compared to the 1911, the P-3AT has virtually no grip at all.

1911-P3AT Comparison

Next is the 1911 being held in one type of proper grip***. Again, I don’t claim to be an expert by any means, so if any of you pros out there think I’m doing it wrong then, well, you’re most likely correct. What’s important to realize is that the pressure is mostly being applied by the bottom of the hand, being the base of the thumb, the ring finger, and the pinkie. The middle finger is mostly just along for the ride, and the thumb itself does very little.

1911 Proper Grip

What’s next isn’t a gang sign but rather is meant to show what I meant in the above description. Even with the middle finger and thumb off the gun, I’ve still got probably 80% or more of my grip strength left.

1911 Minimum Grip

Here’s the P-3AT as I hold it. Here, the strength of the grip comes from the middle finger and the web of the thumb. The middle finger is on the edge of the grip and helps a little, but it’s not crucial. The pinkie wraps underneath, as there’s nowhere else for it to go.

P3AT Proper Grip

Next up on the pseudo- gang signs is the “minimum grip” for the P-3AT. Just as before, I probably have nearly all of my grip strength remaining without the extended fingers as I had before.

P3AT Minimum Grip

The P-3AT is also available with an extended grip, although it’s of an odd size for my medium/large hands.

P3AT Extended Grip

Here’s how I hold it with the extended grip. The problem is that the lip of the extension gets in the way of my pinkie. Try moving each of your fingers without moving any of the others. For most of us, at some point the others do move, and when one finger is still trying to clench and the one next to it has already stopped, it messes with your grip. If you had (much) smaller hands than mine or big beefy hands, the extension might help you, but for me it’s in exactly the wrong place.

P3AT Pinkie Grip

Well, there you have it. Hopefully it’s helped; please let me know in the comments if you try this method and it works for you!****

*Okay, so I lied.
**Another lie, although more like an exaggeration than a flat-out falsehood.
***Several gunbloggers mentioned a new way of holding a 1911 after the big shindig sponsored by Para, Blackhawk(!), and Blackwater/Xe. The main difference that I took from it was to hold your dominant thumb high, rather than touching it to your middle finger. This gives a very slightly less solid hold when firing one-handed, but makes for a perfect set-up when shooting two-handed. When I take people shooting for their first time I teach them this grip, and I’ve noticed that they tend to do much better than those who used the “traditional” grip.
****That was a joke. I know none of you have any .380acp to spare. This is also where I rub in how I found 200 rounds of WWB in the back of my closet the other day, as I know how endearing bragging can be.

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