Why Do Gangsters Hold Their Guns Sideways?

Is the question which was given a comprehensive answer by Jon Davis, a former Marine Corps marksmanship instructor:

The reason is actually to help them aim faster by utilizing a technique known as “Flash Sight Picture”. 

I wouldn’t advise it though. I specialized in pistols and have fired these weapons thousands of times. That said, the thought has crossed my mind. The answer didn’t come to me until another coach (from the “hood”) gave me a good reason why this technique would be used. In practice it actually does utilize one very important sighting practice, but fails overall. This is a good idea in theory, but fails miserably in the actual execution.

Full explanation with diagrams over at Quora.

If you want more sideways gun gangsta action check out Urban Shooting Grips, and how FBI endorses sideways shooting.




Tim Ellwood November 22, 2012 at 02:32 am

Gangsters hold there guns that way, because they did it in a movie. They did it in a movie because they were shown that way by some Israelis. Want to know the truth, I am old and was there so listen up. Back in the day El Al airlines had
security on each plane due to hijackings. The security guys used Beretta model 70 22 lr single action semi autos. They were taught to carry the handgun in condition three ( hammer down on a empty chamber) at the draw stroke, they brought up the Beretta with their strong hand, thrusting it in front of them at the “gangster” flat angle, grasping the slide with their weak hand. Then they snapped the slide back cambering a round and touched off the first shot like that, this was meant to be done as you were charging the hijacker or in very close proximity of him, you would straighten up the pistol and go two handed for followup shots if needed. Some of these security people left El-al and came to the US to start a company to train US Law enforcement. We were still using mostly revolvers back then so that did not pan out, but they did transition out to Hollywood and work as technical advisers for that industry, they showed this move to a director, he thought it looked cool and so was born the “gangster style. Although it sucks to be old like me, I got to see some cool stuff in my life, so endth tonight’s history lesson.


Tim Ellwood November 22, 2012 at 09:04 am

All classes are free, you get what you pay for! This post 1st showed up on Gizmodo about a month ago, wow the comments on that one were fun.


ENDO-Mike November 24, 2012 at 02:49 am

That’s really interesting, thanks Tim!


nakedgun November 22, 2012 at 03:47 am

That’s pretty fuckin cool, Tim… How much does your next class cost? lol


stan winston November 22, 2012 at 08:25 am

No, thats a reasonable person trying to find a reasonable answer to a stupid behavior. If you watch closely, you will see the gangstas hold the pistols not only sideways, but over the top of their heads.. Impossible to see the sights up there in the clouds.

I do have some light to shed on this tho. When I as a deputy, I once ‘axed’ one of them why he shot like that. He told me IN ALL SERIOUSNESS that it was because “de bullet go fasta” (presumably because it starts higher) and causes more damage. I lie not.


Joe Lester November 22, 2012 at 08:46 am

A gansta holds his gun sideways, because that’s the way it came in the box….


dave w November 22, 2012 at 09:01 am

I always assumed it was the same reason they do anything the way they do, too lazy to do it right.


Bull November 22, 2012 at 09:37 am

hewre is the only reason i can find to shoot “gangsta” style:


Church November 22, 2012 at 06:19 pm

Some of the worlds most experienced gun fighters suggest angling(sp?) the gun sideways… Not 90 degrees. But still sideways. They say that if you throw a punch, your hand naturally turns, and you can basically, point/throw a punch and be very acurate.


ozwald November 22, 2012 at 09:54 pm

i only shoot gangsta style when there are LEOs in adjacent lanes so they don’t suspect i know what i’m doing…


Punish3r November 23, 2012 at 12:25 am

If you’ve ever had to qualify your weapon in an NBC mask then you have had to do some of this.


JWhite November 23, 2012 at 02:50 am

reminds me of the Civilian Arms Training (CAT) Modified Gangstah method… Bummer I cant find it anywhere…

It’s basically the same thing, only you cant the pistol 45degs, and turn slightly to the rear. It’s a defensive “Shooting from vehicle” stance. It’s awkward and looks very unconventional. A buddy of mine shoots that way all the time since he took the training. TBH, I dont expect to be in that kind of situation here in cali. CCW/LTC is non existent here… For the most part. BUt yeah… It’s awkward.


ENDO-Mike November 24, 2012 at 02:51 am

Do you maybe mean the CAR (Center Axis Relock) system? That’s another sideways one that sounds similar what you’re talking about.


Quint Young November 24, 2012 at 08:55 pm

I always heard 2 other theories.

1- That gangsters started holding their gun sideways because it made it much harder to see what was happening during convenience store robberies. If a witness saw it and ht gun was facing away they might not realize what was happening, it just looks like they are pointing. even if the top of the gun is facing them it still is not OBVIOUSLY the silhouette of a pistol and makes things like identification harder.

2- That it came from an old shooting technique for clearing rooms were you hold the pistol sideways so that the recoil of the firearm helps you sweep the gun from right to left. Especially effective with small full-auto SMG style guns. (In fact the Chinese named this specific technique “Bandit Shooting” back in the 20’s, I believe)



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