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Origins of the Sideways Grip

Over at Slate:

What’s the point of holding a gun sideways?

To look Hollywood, of course. Journalists and gun experts point to the 1993 Hughes brothers film Menace II Society, which depicts the side grip in its opening scene, as the movie that popularized the style. Although the directors claim to have witnessed a side grip robbery in Detroit in 1987, there are few reports of street gangs using the technique until after the movie came out. The Hughes brothers didn’t invent the grip, though. In 1961’s One-Eyed Jacks, Marlon Brando used it, as did Eli Wallach in 1966’s The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. Directors may prefer the style because it makes it easier to see both the weapon and the actor’s face in a tight camera shot.

I wonder what else Hollywood can do to make criminals continue to choose style over function?

17 Responses to “Origins of the Sideways Grip”

  1. ctdonath says:

    Rumor has it that back in the early glory days of gangsters (a la Capone) Tommyguns would be fired sideways so the “muzzle rise” would facilitate spraying a horizontal area.

  2. Sebastian says:

    They mention that in the article.

  3. Weer'd Beard says:

    Well Hollywood seems to glorify full-auto as well. If we ever get rid of the NFA it might mean we’ll have plenty of time to return fire after the thug empties his mag into the ceiling and is fumbling for a fresh one!

  4. JamesLee says:

    I had understood that one reason given for the sideways firing was for aiming. Lay your index finger straight, trigger with your middle finger. Just point at what you want to hit.

    If you are careful not to get it caught on the slide, it seems like it *might* work. At least for a round or two.

    Of course, that might just be someone trying to justify “looking cool” with something of some substance.

  5. Ed says:

    I don’t think Eli Wallach was using a Glock in “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.” I have yet to see a Crip, Blood, Mara, Norteno, etc. use a Single Action Army, or any standard frame revolver, in a holdup. Yet.

  6. kahr40 says:

    There are some instructors that teach holding the weapon single-handed at a slight cant as more natural and stronger than vertical. Head must be at the same angle as the weapon if you’re using the sights. I’ve tried it and like it. But horizonal? Hollywood bushwah.

  7. Mik says:

    kahr40, that looks like the case with this training website: http://www.tacticalresponse.com/

  8. Wolfwood says:

    I wonder what else Hollywood can do to make criminals continue to choose style over function?

    Well, they helped the general public do that with the 2008 election…

  9. Chas Clifton says:

    Fascinating discussion there at Slate. I am not sure about the G.W. Cable quote, since semiautomatic pistols were not much evident in 1894.

    “Directors may prefer the style because it makes it easier to see both the weapon and the actor’s face in a tight camera shot.”

    Now that sounds more likely!

    Moviemakers should also encourage the use of a pistol in each hand so that aiming is impossible.

  10. Wai says:

    Didn’t Hollywood also give us the gangsta pants-around-the-butt look?

  11. mikeb302000 says:

    How many of you guys have tried it? Tell the truth now.

  12. Sebastian says:

    I haven’t, believe it or not.

  13. Bob S. says:

    MikeB302000,

    I notice that you don’t talk about your own grip style.

    Although the directors claim to have witnessed a side grip robbery in Detroit in 1987, there are few reports of street gangs using the technique until after the movie came out

    Isn’t that around the time that you “legally and illegally owned” firearms?

    So, tell us, Did you ever try the sideways grip?

    Speaking of telling the truth, you ever going to fess up to why you “illegally owned” firearms?

    Or what happened to them, especially considering how much you write about the “flow of firearms” from legal owners to illegal?

    Come on MikeB302000, here is an opportunity to share insight into things that many of us (law abiding gun owners) don’t know about!

  14. mikeb302000 says:

    Bob, I’ve addressed all those questions once. Were you so dissatisfied with my explanation that you can’t help but ask over and over again? I suppose you think you’re harming me in some way by all this persistence. I think it just makes you seem obsessed and silly.

  15. Bob S. says:

    MikeB302000,

    You explained nothing, you stated you weren’t going to explain anything, remember?

    About my having owned legal and illegal guns, I don’t plan to expand on it. Sorry to disappoint. My personal life’s experiences, including my experience with firearms, all contribute to making me who I am today.

    So, once again we see that you are lying, big surprise there, eh?

    You continually refer to gun owners as people likely to break the law. Yet, you who have broken the law by your own admission, won’t talk about subject related to that.

    I initially asked if you had ever used a sideways grip. You haven’t answered. Even though you asked that question of others, you refuse to answer it. Kind of defines “hypocritical” doesn’t it?

    You talk about guns flowing from legal to illegal hands ad nauseum on your blog. I’m just asking for your personal insight into the problem.

    If the law didn’t stop you from purchasing/owning firearms illegally, what law will stop another person?

  16. Weer'd Beard says:

    I once shot a pair of 1911s at once. One mag was enough to teach me that’s a dumb technique and a total dead-end.

    A friend took my picture doing it….it even looked stupid. : ]

  17. Jdude says:

    I’ve tried the sideways grip. I have all of my new shooters try it once as well, to prove that it is a waste of time and ammo. Nobody I know has successfully or consistently hit a 10 yard target that way.

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