Thumb Over Bore

One of the shooting communities most influential and controversial phenomenon is what many people refer to as the “C-clamp” grip or “thumb over bore.” This technique was probably revolutionized by Chris Costa and Travis Haley during the Magpul heydays and has gradually spread into the mainstream over time.

Now I want to be clear that when I am addressing this subject I am not referring to the exaggerated version where the shooter’s elbow is at an almost awkwardly high angle or so far locked out that hyper extension is occurring but in fact I am referring to the practical variations. While I cannot deny this is an applicable technique that can be employed to great effect and I still tend to run my offhand thumb over the bore axis, I try to keep my elbow down while pulled in somewhat close to the body.

An American merc gets some range time in with his Kalash


For starters I do believe, I’ll call them “C grips” from here on out, give the shooter the ability to transition between targets faster and possibly gives a slight advantage in recoil management although that would be dependent on caliber. That being said, It was a grip developed to enhance a shooter’s speed in competition. These competition rounds often last only a fraction of a minute. If we take the technique into this context and realize its limitations then we can also get a decent idea of what would be a suitable application in a tactical context.

Suitable Roles

Some suitable roles where the C grip might apply in my opinion could be during military or SWAT raids, small dwelling CQB scenarios, personal security details, first responders to any lethal force encounter or anything along this train of thought. One thing these have in common is that the shooting is often, but not always, short-lived. In any situation where a close quarters threat needs to immediately be put down and quickly; I think this is an ideal pairing of technique and application.

A good idea of the grip posture I prefer

Why I Don’t Use It

I choose to not utilize this technique for several reasons. Primarily longevity is what I worry about, the C grip can be incredibly fatiguing and difficult to employ properly if you’re already exhausted. Sure you can train your ass off at the gym but it still puts a lot of strain on the shoulder  and when lugging around gear and kit, I don’t like to work harder than I have to.

Second I never know what weapon I’ll be using so I try to find a technique that is synonymous with most if not all of the possibilities, a more traditional grip seems to accomplish that nicely, given most firearms are designed around it or a close variant. Lastly I do what works for me as an individual and I base my system of techniques and tactics around my most likely applications. You should always use whatever works best for you regardless of the current trends.

My goal isn’t to bash the technique but get shooters thinking about what they use and why. What are you training for: a long-range patrol gunfight or burglary at zero dark thirty in the morning?