View Full Version : Pistol Handles

-24th November 2003, 18:22
From looking at this forum I think that most people here prefer pistol handles to french, I have just started and was interested when and why people normally change from french.

Andy W.
-24th November 2003, 18:59
I too have just started and the club weapons have the straight handles. But my daughter who has been fencing for four years started with pistol grip at her club. She can't imagine changing to straight grips. Having tried both I imagine most peole change over when they buy their 'first' weapon, I would if i were ever to buy one. Until, then I agree the pistol grip does seem easier and more responsive.:)

-24th November 2003, 19:04
Originally posted by Clavious
... I have just started and was interested when and why people normally change from french.

The conventional wisdom is that you begin with a french in order to learn small tight finger movements and move to a pistol after you can handle the blade(for fear that you will grip the pistol too tightly if you start with it).

I think this is stuffy and old fashioned. Unless you plan to fence to the strengths of a french grip (tight disengages, lots of point in line, no flicks) then start straight on a pistol (try a few different types and sizes until you have one you are comfortable with).
My suspicion is that all beginners should be started on pistols. If you want to retrain to use a french or italian later then you can do so.

As a side note, I am neither a good fencer nor a coach, my only qualification is that I fence at opens and I use a french grip.


-25th November 2003, 08:37
My coach would agree with Robert - if you plan on using pistol grips, start on pistol grip. Having said that I personally believe that the stuffy and old fasioned view that starting on french to get the point control and fingerwork habit is a good idea. We don't as people prefer fencing with pistol grip, so that's what the club buys, but i started on my own french grip (reconditioned weapon from my dad) and I am certain that it greatly helped develop good control habits where so many of our beginners now hold the pistol in a death grip and their fencing consists of punching and circles from the wrist and (yuk!) elbow. For a while anyway.

I also found that being used to pommeling a foil made coping with the extra weight when switching to an epee much easier (pistol there all the way, althoughI have been known to experiment with a lightweight carbon fibre paul handle).

Interestingly, a good half of the beginners at my club who are just getting to the point of buying their own kit are choosing french grip foils.

-25th November 2003, 10:44
Originally posted by Andy W.
I too have just started and the club weapons have the straight handles. But my daughter who has been fencing for four years started with pistol grip at her club. She can't imagine changing to straight grips. Having tried both I imagine most peole change over when they buy their 'first' weapon, I would if i were ever to buy one. Until, then I agree the pistol grip does seem easier and more responsive.:)

Having tried Trevor's sword last week, I am a definite convert. Trevor sword has an orthopaedic grip - I'm not sure of the difference between that and a pistol grip. It was much easier to use and I agree with your daughter, much more responsive.

There are two pistol grips lurking about at the Club, Andrew, if you look hard enough, though you might have to fight me to get hold of one!

In the long term, I have my eyes on my son's old electric foil with pistol grip, surely no longer needed now he's a sabreur!:pirate:

-25th November 2003, 14:16
Definitely think it is better to start fencing with a french grip. You DO learn all the small finger movements much better. Also the balance on a french grip foil is much further back which makes the weapon feel much lighter (hence not hanging on to it with a death grip).

I swapped to a type of pistol grip (still don't know its proper name) far too early and have spent the last two years struggling with back / neck / shoulder problems from gripping the foil too tightly (think I have finally started to iron out the problems!).

-25th November 2003, 20:36
French grips may fit someones hand but they certainly don't fit mine. I abandoned the frence grip after 6 months when I bought my first foil and have used the same pattern of grip for the last thirty (Gosh it can't be that long) years even during my switch to epee. Recently I've tried the Pauls Carbon fibre varient (for tactical reasons) and that works nearly as well except for pronated parries. Most of which I can get round except for prime where the supinated alternative (septime) simply isn't as effective. Any ideas?

-26th November 2003, 13:07
After an absence from fencing, I came back and went straight to the pistol grip. (Then again, I am drawn to whatever is new, innovative, and seems to make sense.) I must say, that at least for me, I get so much more control and even power out of the pistol. It is just a matter of playing around with the various varieties until you find one that suits you. In the final analysis, I say, if you plan on fencing pistol, go with pistol! (Just relax and DON'T CHOKE IT TO DEATH!!) :eek:

-26th November 2003, 15:25
I started out with a french grip 3-4 yrs ago, and then moved to orthopedic, then the LP crosse (which I think might be illegal for opens and A grades)....

This semester I'm taking a module that asks that I invent or improve a product in any field, so I chose fencing and looked at existing grip designs.

I was surprised to find out that there are quite a few, some of which I haven't seen on offer in the UK.

I took a look at ergonomics of grips, which was a tad difficult cos most textbooks only relate to tool grips, whilst the fencing grip is a bit more than that.

I've come to the following conclusions, some based on stuff i've read, in fencing media and general engineering.design; and some based on personal experience and conversations with other fencers:

French gives tighter, more correct movement, but is way too long for most people, and can't be adjusted. In terms of weight it's better than plastic grips cos of its pommel.

Pistol is good for power and the choice for flicking, the problem it raises is the death-grip thats already been mentioned in this thread.

The choice of material used has its own adv/disadvantages:

Resin as used for French cannot be cut down in length to suit everyone, but it does come with its own pommel that gives it better weight distribution

Metal as used for most pistol grips has the weight of a pomelled grip, but again cannot be adjusted lengthwise

Plastic such as ortho or crosse grips can (apparently) be cut down to size, and whilst it is a bit too light the crosse does have a pommel, so it looks the best of the lot in that respect.

Of course the two main problems with the cross are that death-grip gives u trigger-finger (as I found out after one particularly stressful comp :() and that it may be illegal by FIE rules :(

I'm certainly gonna continue my researchinto the matter, might even try to set up an online questionairre about it (in which case this forum will be the place to test it out first for any glitches and stupidity) and appart from that I have the beginnings of a design for an amalgum of all the good points and (hopefully) none of the bad points of the grips available.

To that effect I would love feedback from u folks, pretty please with sugar on top :grin:


-27th November 2003, 17:45
italian grip?

-27th November 2003, 17:55
Italian grip as a pistol grip?? (Now that can be interesting!) By the way I found a grip that I like, but no one is able to identify it. It has a longer tang, where the middle finger rests, therby keeping it from slipping. Supposedly it is available in a short and a long version, so you need to cut it to suit. The general consensus over here is that it is Belgian. I think it's crosse. Any ideas!!?


-27th November 2003, 17:58
.......I just noticed what Nev said about the crosse having a pommell. This particular grip does not have one. (Maybe it is Belgian!):confused:

-27th November 2003, 21:56
Originally posted by devalleassoc
.......I just noticed what Nev said about the crosse having a pommell. This particular grip does not have one. (Maybe it is Belgian!):confused:

my bad, you prolly do have a crosse, I meant to say gardere in my post above, sorry bout the mix-up :)


-27th November 2003, 22:30
No problem Nev. Thanks for clearning that up. Also thanks for the link, I'll be checking that out! (I'm stuffed, Thanksgiving over here ya know!!:)

-27th November 2003, 22:34
btw Nev, I want to say that I will be looking forward, as I am sure others will, to checking out whatever new grip designs you might come up with!!!:cool:

-28th November 2003, 13:12
Originally posted by J.Harris
italian grip?

Italian is a short grip very straight and thin about ten cm and a cross bar on the inside of the guard called a ricasso they used to be strapped to the wrist at the pommel along time ago but not many people did on the ground you could not parry prime among others easily. I used to use one a while back but now i use a pistol grip mainly cos getting replacement electric blades cut for italian grips is a pain

-28th November 2003, 17:00
It rquires a diffferent style of fencing that would have to be coached specially.

If ou have a lot of people with the same name in the club, then one should take it up to ease identification - Itaian Rick, Pistol Rick, French Rick etc)

-28th November 2003, 17:13
I agree. When I think of Italian, I immediately think "Classical".:mad:

Pointy stick
-29th November 2003, 00:05
Here's one case where being a fairly recent beginner might make my very limited experience relevant for once.

I was initially disappointed to find that there were sword handles which didn't look or feel like sword handles. I took up fencing to play at sword fighting, and Conan, D'Artagnan, Zorro and even Hornblower all managed without pistol grips and the like.

So I was initially dead set against pistol grips. I made a point of selecting French gripped foils at the club. I bought one. I concentrated on the 'proper' way of holding it, and tried as far as I could to use finger play - or at least hand rather than wrist, or wrist rather than forearm...

Then I bought my first electric foil and I reluctantly allowed myself to be persuaded to buy a pistol grip, and I hated it. It didn't fit my hand well and I found my arm was tensing up as far as the shoulder, even though I was consciously holding it loosely unless the moment required me to hold it tightly.

Then I experimented with a couple of other grips, found one I liked, and now I'm perfectly happy. The new grip has some of the characteristics of a French grip, in the way it fits my hand, but it has the extra prongs to give me more control and a stronger grip *when I need it*.

The experience with the French grip was vital. In fact, I remember making a conscious effort to hold the grip 'properly' part way through a fight this evening. But on the other hand, the pistol grip gives a wider range of angulation, and makes flicks possible - not that I can do them very well.

So I'd say my recent experience as a keen beginner has been that there is some benefit in starting with a French. Then when you have an idea what you need, try a few different pistol grips and choose one you like. Going straight to a pistol grip could mean you end up with one which doesn't suit you, but you don't realise it doesn't suit you. A tense hand is a tense forearm, is a tense upper arm, is a clumsy parry, disengage or attack.

In many action sports, equipment that is best for intermediates or experts may be totally inappropriate for beginners. I think this might be an example.

-29th November 2003, 02:53
I could not agree with you more Sir Pointy Stick. I did neglect to say, that throughout my years of fencing prior to my taking a break, I did indeed learn to use and fought with a french grip. I actually still play with it on occasion, and well, lets say that it does have many good features. As you mentioned, and actually so did I on an earlier post, try several, in differnt sizes, and just choose the one that suits you best, and don't be disappointed, if for some reason,none do! :)

-29th November 2003, 14:19
I have a totally different reason for using a pistol grip for point weapons, I can't accidentally forget that it isn't a sabre and so it gives me some chance of hitting with the point occasionally. I occasionally use a French grip foil for coaching and agree that they can be better, but no-one, least of all my opponents want be wielding a foil like its a sabre in the heat of the moment

-29th November 2003, 14:29
....AMEN TO THAT!!!!!:eek: :grin: :transport

-1st December 2003, 18:56
thanks eddie