Competitive Shooting World and The Real Life – Part 1

"Scorpion grip"
“Scorpion grip”
Click to enlarge

Nobody can deny popularity of practical shooting sports in USA these days. “3 gun competition”, USPSA and etc, have huge influence on shooting community all over the world. Some of the techniques learned from the competitive shooting were even adapted by many different militaries from around the world and by mastering and improving some of these techniques, many people build their franchises on it.

"Scorpion grip" in action.
“Scorpion grip” in action.
Click to enlarge

Generally, I’m very open to what competitive shooting offers, but recently I’m getting really annoyed by some of the techniques which are being pushed down our throats by “industry leaders” on AK community. Let me pick on so called “scorpion grip” first. I see people “suffering” from it all over the places these days. You can see on their faces that they really feel uncomfortable with it when running AK, but some DVD / YouTube celebrities said that this type of grip is the best, so they have to learn how to use it. Now to be perfectly clear, I would agree that in short run, “scorpion grip” is the best grip you can have on the rifle. Keyword here is “short run”. The problem with it is, that it is very impractical way of gripping AK rifle. First of all, AK has large portion of the weight upfront – this is because of the piston design, but also regular AK muzzle brake and front post are not helping either.

Dima "running" with magazine well grip.  Picture by Dmitry Moroz
Dima “running” with magazine well grip.
Picture by Dmitry Moroz
Click to enlarge

AK operators could be limited from utilizing “scorpion grip” by their rifle hand guards as well – especially if someone would like to use iron sights, there is huge probability that line of sight would be blocked by hand wrapping upper portion of the hand guard…but going back to the weight upfront problem, why is this important? Simply because of the mechanics. Operator arm is at disadvantage now and must deal with much more physical stress, because it has more weight to handle at the end of the rifle. The easiest way to witness physical consequences of “scorpion grip” on your body is to run with that grip constantly for few minutes without the rest. I can almost guarantee you that your arm is going to scream for break. That failure to understand AK mechanics and lack of respect for its design puts often AK users on the collision course with the reality in this situation. Mag well grip may not be as sexy as “scorpion grip”, but it works very well, so in my honest opinion, unless you are competitive shooter, I don’t see the real need to train a lot with “scorpion grip”.

Magazine well grip.
Magazine well grip.
Click to enlarge

Yes, it is good idea to be familiar with it, know the limitations and maybe find the way where it could be used best, but I would rather spend my time on mastering something what I’m going to use most of the time in the real life which is magazine well grip…You may not agree with my arguments and I’m perfectly OK with it. If something works great for you, I don’t see the reason why anyone should change it, but please, don’t blindly jump on some idea only because some famous person on YouTube said so…

Stay tuned for Part 2.

More about ways to hold your AK rifle in this very good video from Dima:

YouTube video

I have also discussed some AK rifles grip issues before in this video:

YouTube video

– Rob Ski

9 responses to “Competitive Shooting World and The Real Life – Part 1”

  1. Brian Avatar

    I completely agree Rob! Too many people want to be in with the “cool kids” and thus damage their own abilities with the AK rifle.

  2. drew Avatar

    I personally advocate whatever works best with the shooter. I also like both styles of gripping an AK and I have shot and trained with both. However what works best with me is a vertical fore-grip. I don’t care what other people think or how they hold their rifles, as long as I’m capable of operating mine. I don’t know why there are arguments about which is best and “you should do this” or “you should do that” lalalala. Run what you brung and run it how you know you can run it.

  3. Romper Avatar

    Not sure I would call it scorpion grip, but ok….I will disagree with the crowd. Depending on the shooter, I believe that holding the rifle by the magazine causes the shooter to loose control over the muzzle end of the rifle.
    The “grip” made popular my Magpul Dynamics was not invented by them. It actually came about during the Rhodesian Civil War. Shooters running FALs with rounded hand guards. Many competitive shooters there at the time. Between that and the popularity of whatever drug they were using at the time. The rounds would punch through threats and not incapacitate right away. The “grip” allowed shooters faster follow up shots to put the threat in the dirt.
    I have to admit that what it has evolved into I do no 100% agree with….elbow to high. But basic principal I must say that it does give me more control over the front of the weapon. Allowing faster follow up shots on target where needed.
    I am not a fan of static shooting on flat ranges, like you. I like to move and shoot. Probably one of my favorite drills is the modified Navy qual, 3, 5 round magazines, fired from 3 different shooting positions at 50 yards within an 8 inch circle in 25 seconds or less. 5 rounds standing w/reload, 5 rounds kneeling w/ reload, and 5 rounds prone.
    I like the drill because of all the things it covers/tests. Created by Jeff Gonzales it is a standard in weapon handling and combat accuracy.
    Run this yourself and tell me how you do with a magazine grip.
    Always interested,

    1. Rob Ski Avatar
      Rob Ski

      Romper, I’m not sure why you think that I’m fan of flat ranges and static shooting – i have done this video for fun, but it should give you a better idea on what i like to do (link below). Anyhow, there is a big difference between M4 and AK. Out of the box, recoil on AK74 is smaller than on M4. Ergonomics between M4 and AK are different and mechanics of AK and Me are different as well. What people are trying to do with “scorpion grip”, C grip or whatever name is for it, is getting totally out of control. I have seen guys placing their thumbs over the front hand guard, while effectively obscuring their line of sight when using iron sights…how you can neutralize target if you can’t see target? That being said, as I have stated at the begging, the most important thing is to find where this type of the grip could be used and what limitations you may encounter using it. Don’t use it only because some other people are using it…this is especially true on AK.
      – Rob Ski
      Link to video:

  4. Keith Swearingen Avatar
    Keith Swearingen

    I agree. It is what works best for the shooter.
    If this grip works for you than great. In my line of work. I still have guys that teacup grip their sidearms during quals… they pass they dont care to hear about the new cool-aide. I even have people that shoot the primary (AR15 w/M68) with one eye closed… I fuss at them all the time. As soon as we change it up they get frustrated and dont change their bad habit. No need to force it on them I only merely ask the consider the new.
    Mehh glad my life doesn’t depend on these people… oh wait ???!!!!!

  5. Tom Avatar

    The “Scorpion” or “Magpul” grip is well and good when used with an AR platform, FAL, or CETME, but never an AK. Even then, i find that running this grip with an M4 is really of optimum use in an open street at medium range, as it changes body position too much in the confines of a building, and isn’t all that stable for distance shooting. People just need to give up trying to run an AK like an AR.

    1. Rob Ski Avatar
      Rob Ski

      Well said Tom. I agree with your take on this.

  6. WinAndLegend Avatar

    I take training classes put on by some retired Marines in my local area, one of them still uses a vertical fore grip on his AR, the other uses the AFG. Everyone’s body is different and they don’t force you to do it “their way” because simply put their body structure may be completely different. You adapt a method to your body or abandon it all together if it just isn’t possible. And I agree, with an AK, the recoil is substantially less out of the box (AR has about 4.75j of recoil energy, AK-74 is about 2.5j and AK-M is about 5.6j), that’s one of the primary focus points of the entire 5.45 / AK-74 design, extremely low recoil which allows you to put a lot of rounds down range in a tight group. In fact for IPSIC type matches, if you ran a stock AR against a stock 74 I have no doubt the 74 will group tighter.

    With muzzle breaks like the Jet / Battle Comp / Venom you can lower that even further. But unless you have an extra $850 cash to send your rifle to Rifle Dynamics to have the front end lightened up and a long rail, the AR style C-grip / Scorpion Grip has limited application. From everything I have seen from the Spetsnaz are as good as or darn close to their American counterparts, I don’t seem them exclusively using that type of grip. It has applications, but it also works best with lightweight rifles that recoil more due to their lower weight. The heavier mass of the AK absorbs recoil better than an AR (think of the purpose of a “bull barrel” or “heavy barrel”), but causes more operator fatigue. It’s all a trade off. I think the best idea is to set up your AK to be able to use a form of the C-Grip / Scorpion grip but also to train equally with the mag well grip and know what the situation dictates. For extended engagements you can switch back to mag well, for short and intense engagements a C / Scorpion grip may be more advantageous for controllability, but again I’ll bet my bottom dollar an AK-74 with a mag well grip has the controllability of a stock AR with a C / Scorpion grip due to the combination of higher weight / low recoil impulse of the 5.45 cartridge and superior muzzle compensation, so it may not be as “necessary” with a 74 as with an AR.

    1. Rob Ski Avatar
      Rob Ski

      I agree with you. Very well stated!

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