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The BEST Shooting Stance and Grip

Today I’m going to write about the BEST shooting stance and grip that you can take for airsofting when using your primary/rifle, or to be more precise, I’m going to talk about the fact that there is no such thing! I was prompted to write this after seeing certain groups of airsofters (mainly guys in teams) using the Overhand C-Clamp grip and specific tactics out of context,and when asked why, some claimed that it was THE BEST thing to do, which, as you’ll read, is wrong.

Overhand C Clamp

Starting with the Overhand C Clamp grip, because it seems to be quite popular within the airsofting community, I see this used all the time, and some times I see guys struggling to do it properly because the situation just doesn’t call for it. Firstly though, for those of you who have no idea what it is. The Overhand C Clamp grip is a method of holding your rifle with your support hand (that’s the hand that doesn’t hold the trigger) extended as far forward as you can. By doing this you are increasing the distance between the three points of contact (shoulder, trigger hand and support hand)  which allows more control and faster target switching. It also reduces muzzle rise due to the grip forcing recoil energy straight backwards, although this is not something that we as airsofters have to deal with. Sounds great doesn’t it, but like everything in life it has it’s drawbacks, but before we look at those, lets look at where it came from. Many reading this might be surprised to know that the Overhand C Clamp grip is nothing new. It seems to have jumped into the spotlight in recent years in both airsofting and in real steel military/tactical circles, probably thanks to Magpul Dynamics and Chris Costa’s DVD’s, but where it originated from is within competition shooting many moons ago. It was developed primarily to assist competitive shooters in transitioning between multiple targets as accurately and quickly as possible and has since been adopted as a grip for tactical/combat roles, and thus airsoft has also adopted it. The way in which it allows faster target switching is because of how far forward your support hand and grip is. You literally direct the muzzle of your weapon onto target and this far reaching grip also allows for a more stable firing platform because of the increased distance between your contact points on the weapon. To simplify the explanation, imagine you have two planks of wood. One has three rocks underneath it all in the middle and the other has three rocks with one set at each end and one in the middle. The first plank is going to be wobbling all over the place because all of the stones are in the middle, where as the second plank won’t move at all because it has a stable platform. Sounds great doesn’t it, but like everything it has it’s downsides.

Bad Points

As I’ve already said, the Overhand C Clamp has some great points, two that benefit airsofters the most being the ability to faster transition between targets and weapon stability, but these requirements are not always needed and in some situations the Overhand C Clamp can actually be a hindrance. Let’s take a corridor scenario in a large building with lots of side rooms. It’s a CQB environment with lots of potential targets all over the place, a great environment for the C Clamp…. you would think. But in reality this technique is not best suited to that type of environment because of the constant switches in cover and whether or not you are firing round a left or right hand corner. Now lets imagine a long corridor with no rooms coming off except for two either side at the far end. In this case the C Clamp can be very effective because you know any potential threat are either coming from the left or right room at the end of the corridor. It is a very “range like” scenario.  Also a concern for many with this type of grip is the restriction it places on your peripheral vision. Notice in the first image below how the gap between the shooters arm and the bottom of his cap is narrow. This will reduce peripheral vision and thus reduce your situational awareness. This is a bad thing in combat, and in airsoft, because unlike a competitive shoot, or on a range, your targets are not stationary and in front of you. An airsoft environment is very dynamic and things change in an instant. Battle lines are never clearly defined unless you’re playing a strict MilSim (even then it’s not always definitive), and because of this, reducing your peripheral vision is a bad idea. Now I know there are going to be some people reading this thinking, “well my team is there to cover my flank so that’s not important” but you’re wrong. What if your team mates get taken out, what if one of them moves and you can’t see him because your vision is restricted?! The enemy isn’t always to your front, especially in urban ops. Notice in the second picture that the disruption to peripheral vision is minimal. The shooters arm is low and out of the way allowing greater situational awareness. He can see more therefore will know more about what is going on around him.

Overhand C Clamp Rifle Grip

Notice how the gap between this shooters arm and the bottom of his cap is narrow. This restricts his peripheral vision.

Standard Rifle Grip

Although taken from a different angle, this picture clearly shows how much more space this type of grip provides for peripheral vision.

Another point to note about the Overhand C Clamp is the sustainability of the grip. Because your arm is extended further forward than when using a traditional grip it creates more muscle fatigue due to an increased load on muscle function. In short, it is harder to use the Overhand C Clamp for extended periods of time than the more traditional style grip placement. And finally not everyone can carry out and hold an extended grip. Personally, for me, the Overhand C Clamp is uncomfortable due to wide shoulders. I am much more comfortable in a tight, traditional grip as the second picture above shows.

Mobile Stacking Up

This is another thing that happens a lot within airsoft at times when it isn’t necessary for both a mobile stack (where a team moves through an area stacked up holding onto the team mate in front) and for a door stack (where you stack up outside the door prior to clearing). The mobile stack is something which rarely, if at all, becomes useful within airsoft because it is a tactic primarily used by Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) teams. For those that don’t know, SWAT teams are generally specialist armed police units, you’ve probably all heard or seen them on the news predominantly in America. But SWAT tactics are completely different to airsoft because a SWAT team would never operate in a full blown war scenario, which is what Airsoft generally is. A mobile stack means that your support hand is grasping the man in front which means you only have one hand on your weapon and thus, you have less control. A SWAT team, generally speaking, will only ever be dealing with a handful of people and it’s never a guaranteed gunfight so this tactic is a bit of a wasted effort within airsoft. Stacking up on doors can sometimes be the same. Waiting for your whole team to stack up behind you can waste time, especially when, for small rooms, your whole team will not be entering.

But my DVD Says it’s the Best

There’s no doubt about the fact that most guys on these DVD’s know their stuff. Chris Costa for example definitely know’s what he’s talking about. He has years of experience within Law Enforcement and the US Coast Guard  both as an operator and as an instructor and Magpul Dynamics are no new kid on the tactical/gun scene, but you have to remember that these things are ultimately business’s. They’re selling products and it wouldn’t make good business sense if they didn’t declare their method as the best. You wouldn’t buy a washing machine and find a list of all the things it can’t do in the instruction manual, or buy an Airsoft gun from Tokyo Marui only to find the instructions telling you how much better ICS guns are, and these DVD’s are the same. They are products that make money for the company supplying it to you. Personally I have attended many civilian tactical/security courses and guess what. Every single one of them proclaimed that their method was the best, because they want your business. That’s not to say that they’re all talking crap and are just trying to get your cash,  far from it. Generally speaking they are all good methods and tactics and they all work. 

Getting to the Point!

The point of this article isn’t to rubbish or slag off tactics used and advertised by guys who have a hell of a lot more experience than me. Not at all. Personally I’d love to train with the likes of Chris Costa, it would be a privilege. My gripe with this type of thing isn’t the use of such techniques, rather, its the manner in which they are proclaimed, by a few, to be “the best” to those who are unsure or new to the sport. If you like to C Clamp because it suits your shootings style, or because you want to emulate a particular Hollywood movie about Navy SEALs then great, go for it. If you want to stack up and move about for the experience of it, because you find it fun, or because you’re trying to emulate a specific unit, then crack on. Airsoft is all about having fun after all, and I’m certainly not trying to discourage that. But, try to understand the context in which these tactics were designed for and bare that in mind when explaining it to someone who doesn’t know. By understanding the context in which these methods and tactics are used you can then educate those who ask about them and pass on knowledge and it will also allow you to become a better player. Education is a good thing and knowledge is power, as they say! Just don’t declare it’s “the best there is” because, well, it isn’t. Nothing is. All tactics have some limitations and all are, at sometime or another, governed by outside variables such as body type, terrain, situation, and even what rifle you are using. Combat is a fluid situation with an infinite amount variables that can change the outcome at the click of a finger. No one thing works in every situation. As I explained in my article titled: Do Real World Tactics And Methods Work In Airsoft? There is no such thing as “the best” tactic, or “a one size fits all” method, for combat situations and that is what we are trying to emulate within airsoft. Don’t be scared of trying new things out and don’t stick to just one thing for the sole reason that you’ve been told it’s the best.

Stay SAFE!

Got an opinion on this article then please comment below!

Michael Perridge
About the Author
Mike is an ex British soldier who now works full time as a private security contractor. He has carried out numerous tasks within the military and within the private sector that involve similar tactics to which can be used in airsoft. He started playing airsoft in 2012 and has since launched this website to share his knowledge with the airsofting community. To find out more about Mike, visit the About Templar Airsoft Page.

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  1. Paul Goodman Reply

    As a total “tactics” nube I read this with interest. I was hoping a few more styles would be covered. I tend to hold my gun at the magwell and would have liked the pros n cons discussed. One thing I am a bit unclear on though, if you are holding the gun right at the front (c clamp) and needed to move the muzzle 10º you would have to physically move your hand twice as far compared to holding it halfway between the trigger and the muzzle. Undeniably you would hane finer controt over the barrel but wouldn’t it be slower to move?

    • Michael Perridge
      Mike Reply

      Hi Paul,
      Thanks for your comment. I had posted a lot more content within this article regarding different grip positions but felt it was just too much information for one article (it was getting on for essay length!). Another reason was that I didn’t want to detract too much from the main point regarding how some people perceive something to be the best without understanding the reasons why or just because someone else has told them so . Don’t worry though, I shall be writing a follow up article going into more detail regarding the various grip positions with the pros and cons of each.

      Regarding your point about having to love the weapon twice as far, you are correct. Muscle function is increased due to the larger angle but a lot of shooters using real steal actually find that this method decrease their trigger response time and target engagement. One reason for that is that when you take a magazine well grip as you do, people have a tendency to over compensate causing the need for a correction. Basically people with a less stable grip tend to move their weapon sights past the target and then need to come back on to engage. With the C Clamp this is less likely to happen meaning you can get that first round down range quicker!

      If you have any further questions fire away, and keep an eye out for the follow up.

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