March 28, 2023

Spotter Up

In Depth Tactical Solutions

Firearm Trigger Standards: Beneficial Or Problematic?

6 min read

If you haven’t noticed it yet, it is very common for people to judge a firearm solely based on the characteristics of the specific firearm trigger. The judgement is primarily conducted dry with an unloaded firearm with an emphasis on the feel of the trigger during the slowest possible rearward travel. People will buy aftermarket triggers and spring kits in order to get as close to the perfect trigger they can get. But is this standard for a trigger feel useful or is it problematic?


The standard seems to be different from person to person, but in general it would seem that the average judgement of a good trigger is to have very little take up to the wall, and then a crisp break with very little travel after the break(overtravel). Also I have noticed that the lighter the trigger is, the BETTER the trigger is graded. You will hear words used like SMOOTH, CRISP, POSITIVE, CLEAN, etc to describe good characteristics in a trigger pull.


After testing the TRIGGER PULL, it is common for users to pin the trigger to the rear with their trigger finger, manually cycle the slide, and SLOWLY let the trigger move forward. The goal here is to test the distance to the point that the trigger resets, the feel, the audible feedback, and if there is any rearward travel from the reset point to get the trigger to break again. You will hear words like POSITIVE, TACTILE, SHORT, etc to describe a trigger with a good reset.


Today, we have a vast amount of aftermarket products at our fingertips to get any trigger pull we want. People have varying requirements for their trigger characteristics, and the aftermarket companies are happy to provided springs and entire trigger kits to help accommodate individuals based on their specific tastes. If you do not appreciate the way a certain trigger feels, you can most likely either find a kit to fix it yourself, or a gunsmith that can fix it to your liking for a generous fee.


Now comes the time to evaluate this ritual of judgement. First thing I want to point out is how the test is being conducted. As I mentioned, the triggers are pulled very slowly, which is counter to the speed at which the trigger will be pulled when using it defensively, or in competition. We do not do the same things when we go fast as we do going slow. This is one of the reasons that I only test triggers at the speed I intend to pull the trigger, which is as fast as I can. Many seem to be under the impression that a short and light trigger make it easier to set a gun off, and therefore cuts the time needed to practice. I would agree if all they are doing is shooting one round every five seconds at a static range with one eye closed. But, as I stated earlier, you will most likely find that the characteristics while manipulating the trigger quickly will generate much different results than you doing it incredibly slow. The feeling of weight and any movement is severely hidden when manipulating the trigger quickly. Also, pulling the trigger fast will do a better job of showing how you will most likely perform when the clock is ticking, which means you will see if you flinch or have sympathetic movement while quickly pulling a trigger.

When resetting the trigger fast, some shooters have suggested that they use the tactile response of the reset to tell them when they can fire again, or at the least train their trigger finger to reset only to that pistols’ reset point for faster follow-up shots. This technique is countered often by shooters in higher ends of the competition and tactical arena who will argue that the time it takes to register the reset and get another shot off is a waste of time. They suggest instead that you can relax your finger under recoil and let it naturally reset the trigger. This method is supposed to help you be able to shoot faster since your trigger will supposedly already be long reset before you register the sight picture being acceptable for another shot. Who is right? You are the only one who can judge that.


A possible look at the range performance with these two different triggers will tell an interesting tale. I am sure many of us have watched YouTube reviews, or at least have read reviews where the reviewer claims that the trigger is not good and doesn’t suit their preference, yet they perform very well with it anyways. Heck, this could even be someone you know of at the range that is trying out a new gun. You may have noticed that they encounter that the pistol is easy to shoot when they are shooting quickly and shooting multiple shots as fast as possible, regardless of the trigger characteristics. I don’t know about you, but this is one of the reasons, I do not hold alot of stock in the opinion of those who dry fire a pistol slowly but have not actually ran the firearm quickly to test how quickly they can shoot it.

On the other hand, I have also seen plenty of people that do not like the trigger and it reflects in their shooting. I have seen it where people have a hard time shooting well even though they liked the trigger feel, etc. And that is really just kind of the way it works. I would say that dry fire evaluations can only tell you so much. You may get alot of friction on your trigger finger that irritates you so much that shooting it becomes unpleasant. I know that was the case with a couple of my own pistols. Perhaps we can realize that range performance is half of the test and stop putting a full on judgement of a pistol and your capability to competently shoot it just by dry firing the trigger.


From my experience, there are patterns that have made their way into the main stream. I noticed from my time shooting that many people seem to not even realize that they judge triggers based on characteristics that are mostly omitted during shooting. Of course, as I mentioned, some people have techniques of trigger manipulation that require lots of coordination and concentration, which would be a logical reason to have strict standards for trigger characteristics.

Overall I cannot say that I have the right or the desire to dictate who is right or wrong in how they evaluate a pistol, but I figured that this is something alot of people do not even notice. Perhaps noticing the common thing we do and looking at it from another perspective will get people to do more than just take standards at face value ad adopt the as their own standard because everyone else is doing it. Why am I even bothering to bring up this pattern in the current main stream? I personally feel that people take things at face value and fail to question the logic behind certain things before adopting them as their own standards. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and standards, but I feel that it is better that people are better off when they have knowledge and can make their own choices from there.


*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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