Good Triggers: A Must-Have for Self-Defense Guns

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posted on May 17, 2019
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I was recently working with a class of new shooters. It was pleasing to see that the vast majority of them had gone to the trouble of acquiring decent pistols that were really suitable for personal defense. However, I noticed that several in the class were obviously jerking their triggers and putting their shots low on the targets. Calling a break in the class, I checked several of these guns and found that, in every case, one of the contributing culprits was a creepy trigger that was entirely too heavy.

It has been said that a defensive handgun needs two things: high-visibility sights and a good trigger. Fortunately, today, most handguns designed for personal defense come with fairly decent sights. However, the same cannot always be said for the trigger pull on these guns. I suspect that this is because there are too many lawyers involved who know more about lawsuits than they do about safe, serviceable triggers.

Now, I am not saying that defense guns need what we used to call a hair trigger, which is one that will cause the gun to fire with just the slightest pressure on the trigger. Those are simply not safe in most hands. What the defensive pistol needs is a trigger that is free from burrs and doesn’t creep. It should break clean when the proper amount of pressure is applied. It should be smooth enough to be an aid to accurate shooting, not a deterrent.

The smart thing for the defensive shooter to do is to take that new gun to a professional gunsmith and have a trigger job done. I am not going to try to get into the proper trigger pull weight for a handgun, because there are too many different kinds of guns and too many shooters with different skill levels. Defensive shooters need smooth more than they need light. One has only to shoot a properly tuned pistol next to an out-of-the-box pistol to begin to tell the difference.

I often get questions on social media that read like, “I just got a new (fill in the blank) gun. What accessories should I get for it?” My answer is nearly always, “Congratulations! Now go get a trigger job.”

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