Tips For Lefties Shooting In a Right Handed World
by R.K. Campbell

"And Ehud put forth his left hand and took the dagger from his right thigh and thrust it into his (Eglon's) belly.

Many of us regard the scripture as a guide for life, but few realize that examples of the crossdraw exists within these passages.

Ehud was something of a hero and certainly used the fact that he was left-handed to his advantage. But left-handed people have often been viewed with distrust. The Latin word sinestera, for left, is the root word of the modern sinister. Dexter, or right, is the root word of dexterious.

And, it isn't hard to find cultural prejudices against left-handed people.

Even the most fair-minded individuals realize the left-handed person is at a disadvantage in a right-handed world. Common tools are designed for right hand use. When it comes to firearms, it is truly a right-handed market.

Means to Adapt
But it isn't all bad, because lefties must be masters of adaption. There are few modern handguns that cannot be manipulated by lefties, but the efficiency with which we do so is another issue.

Noted gunwriter Evan Marshall once carried a Colt .45 auto on duty with the Detroit Police Department. Being left-handed, cocked and locked carry was not an option. He simply carried cocked and unlocked, relying upon the holster safety strap and grip safety to prevent the gun from firing.

Frankly, I would not have done so. At certain times I have carried single-action auto pistols on my left side and carried them hammer-down. But Marshall worked rough areas.

In any case, this would be a non-issue today. The modern Browning Hi Power has excellent dual safeties and there are numerous ambidextrous safeties available for the Colt 1911.

Special Ordering
Some firearms are more suitable to left hand use than others. In the late '50s, a few companies took the lead in producing left hand bolt-action rifles. Problem is, I have never seen a used one. This means a special order in most cases. Still, we should be grateful we have them available.
I am a dyed-in-the-wool handgunner above all else. I have seen many left-handed pistol shooters who have become quite adept at handling their revolvers and autos with the "wrong" hand. Any trainer must learn the tricks that allow lefties to operate at full potential, most of them simple adaptions. Right-handed shooters would do well to use their left hand for a day or so to build empathy. The experience will be interesting.

After all, you may become injured, as I have, and rather quickly become accustomed to use the weak hand.

Semi-auto Pistols

Modern Beretta, Smith and Wesson and Browning pistols have ambidextrous safeties. And the double-action pistols have slide-mounted safeties. This solves one problem for the lefty. How about the slide and magazine release? This is also no problem.

The lefty's forefinger is capable of actuating either with good precision. The lefty probably operates these controls more quickly with his forefinger than the right-handed shooter may with his thumb. The only real need to change the magazine release to the opposite side-and it can be done with most pistols-is when the magazine release is exposed to being bumped by left-handed carry. It is more important by far that the magazine stay in place than we have a rapid reload available. We run out of time before we run out of bullets.

The double action SIG has a handy frame-mounted decocker. The Golan does also, but goes a step further with dual controls. It is not really a left-handed pistol; it is fully ambidextrous. This is a distinct tactical advantage. The SIG, however, is easily worked by a left-handed shooter.

No matter how the pistol is set up, the ejector and extractor will be right-handed. This is not normally a problem, but it brings to light an advantage of being left-handed. When right-handed shooters fire off the barricade, there is a danger of a case bouncing off the barricade and back into the ejection port upon firing. This happens regularly and some shooters cant their gun to avoid it.

But when a lefty fires off the barricade his case is ejected cleanly away. If you can make the tactical choice, left-handed barricade shooting works well. (Right shoulder away from barricade to make the picture more clear.)

I have been through several training classes in which the majority of shooters used the SIG pistol. A common problem-especially with former 1911 shooters-is that when a normal firing grip is taken, the shooter's thumb rides on the SIG's slide lock. The gun will not lock back on the last shot. Left-handed shooters do not have this problem.

Neutral-Handling Guns

There are few handguns indeed that are neutral-handling, but the last great examples are the cap-and-ball revolvers. These guns were truly mirror-image, just as easy to use with either hand.

A few modern pistols are standouts-the Ruger P94 .40-caliber pistol is, in my opinion, the best pistol in the Ruger lineup for any auto pistol shooter. The balance is far better than that of the P90 .45, but the Ruger undeniably hits hard. The big Taurus pistols are very good as well.

I've had to draw and fire the Ruger .45-caliber in the heat of an attack, which colors my opinion. It is quite a handgun. For those going in harm's way, it doesn't scream cop as some handguns do but is scarcely less effective than a SIG or Glock.

Is there a gun that favors the left-handed shooter? Yes. The single-action revolver is a fine choice for the modern outdoorsman. The left-handed shooter will find he or she can open the single-action revolver's loading gate easily with the thumb.

Don't we pass the single-action to our left hand to reload? This is a good point for the single-action, the one revolver that will never die. I like the compactness and easy handling of these guns. I have to admit that for most uses, I like them better than the double-action revolver!

It can be a hassle ordering a left-handed holster, but most concerns are very accommodating. And if you order a belt slide, chances are it will be ambidextrous. Among the best choices for concealed carry are the LAW and the CATO Pit Bull.

These holsters have dual pouches to allow several draw angles and ambidextrous carry. They work well with many types of handguns. Frankly, they are among the most comfortable of all holsters when wearing really heavy handguns such as the Colt 1911 or lighter, but bulky handguns such as the Glock Model 20.

K Holsters (phone: 409-743-5000) advertises right on their business card Left or Right handed-smart folks.

Is there a difference in the effectiveness of left-handed shooters? Don't laugh-there are still those who say blue-eyed riflemen are the best shots.

Shooting Factors
Depending upon the stance used, certain factors are clear. It is more difficult to swing toward the strong side when the pistol is grasped properly in a two-hand grip and difficult when using a one-hand hold as well.

Partners in competition should definitely place the left-handed man on the left side for maximum advantage to sweep targets to the right. A tactical team might do the opposite, depending upon the situation.

And, the left-handed shooter might be respected as much as a switch hitter. Some are real Randy Johnsons of the handgun.

Left-handed shooters are ambidextrous by nature since they live in a right-handed world, an advantage the right-handed shooter does not have.

Long Guns
When it comes to long guns, left-handed shooters have learned to work around the safety latches. When reloading the pump shotgun a left-handed shooter can simply pop a round into the ejection port when the gun runs empty. The right-handed shooter will be more able at pushing rounds into the magazine.

The M-1 safeties, which are triggerguard-mounted, are no problem for left-handed shooters. The tang-mounted Mossberg is even more ideal.

In some cases, as with the Steyr Aug, the bolt must be changed to make the gun left-handed-a left-handed shooter cannot use this bullpup.

We could go on, but I think this is food for thought. The left-handed shooter is not forgotten in modern times. Lefties are great at adaption, but sometimes adaption is not necessary.


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