concealed carry with a striker fire pistol

Striker-Fired Pistols Are Popular For Good Reason

One could be forgiven for thinking hammer-fired pistols are becoming a thing of the past, as striker-fired pistols have become so wildly popular. They're ubiquitous, really, as a growing amount of gun manufacturers make them.

However, due to a relative lack of safety features (many models lack a positive safety) there are a number of people that think striker-fired for concealed carry is hazardous. In truth, such pistols are completely safe when handled properly.

The Rise Of Striker-Fired

striker fire pistols taking over concealed carry

Striker-fired is a somewhat nebulous term. The "striker" is a rod that connects with the primer and discharges a round, which is otherwise called a firing pin.

That said, what makes striker-fired pistols popular is there's no hammer to cock and trigger pull is often light. Unlike double-action or double/single action pistols in double action mode, which usually require close to ten pounds of pressure to break, trigger pull in such pistols is closer to five pounds. Basically, you get a single-action pull on a quasi-double-action gun.

The reason is that striker guns - typically - place the firing pin in half-cock after the slide is actuated. The trigger pull fully cocks the pistol before discharge, making trigger pull very manageable. Double action only (or DAO) pistols (be they revolvers or autos) have heavier pulls. Thus, you get the light break of the single action but without the pesky hammer to deal with.

In truth, striker-fired pistols occupy a gray area between double-action and single-action. Some striker-fired designs are double-action only (with corresponding heavy trigger pull) and some are not; the lack of a hammer would seem to mean some striker-fired designs are double action pistols with a light trigger pull. Whether this merits a standalone classification or not is a discussion for another time and/or internet forums. Or the comments section.

Obviously, striker-fired pistol designs are associated with Glocks. However, Glock did not invent them, nor the passive integrated trigger safety or polymer frame. Iver Johnson beat them to the punch regarding the trigger in the 1890s and the polymer-framed, striker-fired DAO H&K VP70 was released in 1970.

However, the Glock 17 made the design wildly popular, as the ease of use (and fantastic reliability) of Austria's biggest export since fried cutlets and Mozart showed everyone there was an easier way of doing things. Thus, they became one of the most popular things to carry besides a good gun belt.

Why Some Still Prefer A Gun Hammer Fired

hammer fire pistol for concealed carry

Despite the salient benefits of the striker-only design in a gun, hammer fired designs still have a large number of fans. There are a number of reasons the older design has hung around as long as it has and continues to perpetuate.

One good reason that many prefer a hammer-fired design is that DA/SA pistols have a long first trigger pull, which can function as a deterrent against accidental discharges. A number of incidents have arisen where accidental snags or handling with less than assiduous care have resulted in discharges and even accidental woundings. A single-action pistol with the hammer down, or DA/SA or DAO pistol may not, in these situations, have achieved the same result.

Another reason why the modern striker-fired plastic wonder nine isn't the rage with everyone is the safety systems. Glock pistols and the...well, basically Glock rip-offs...feature only passive safety systems in most cases. Most popular is an integrated trigger safety system. When the the trigger safety lever is not depressed, the trigger is not connected to the striker via the transfer bar, the striker is at half-cock and a block is in place between the striker (firing pin) and a chambered cartridge. Actuate the trigger lever and the safeties are removed.

Some believe such a safety system is inadequate compared to a positive safety, which has to be disengaged in order for the gun to fire.

That and there are some other attributes to other pistol designs that people just like. Some people just prefer all-metal construction, and others prefer cocked-and-locked carry, which is only possible with a single or DA/SA pistol with a manual safety; this (Condition One) was the preferred carry position of Jeff Cooper, more or less the father of nearly everything regarding modern defensive pistol use.

Both Striker Fired and Hammer Fired Have Pros and Cons

concealed carry pistols comparison

Striker fired and hammer fired pistols have their advantages and disadvantages when carrying concealed. Striker pistols usually don't have a positive safety that has to be deactivated in order to fire. When a threat presents itself, one merely has to draw and squeeze the trigger.

By contrast, a pistol with a hammer may need to be cocked or have the manual safety disengaged before it can fire. Likewise, a DA/SA pistol will have a long first trigger pull, which can throw off some people's aim.

Hammer-fired pistols also have a hammer sticking out. While being concealed on one's body, the hammer can dig into the flesh of the wearer in some cases, though this can be countered with a holster that has adequate protection.

The lack of a manual safety is likewise a deal-breaker to some people. However, some striker-fired pistols can be obtained with a manual safety (such as the Smith & Wesson M&P line, which can be had with or without a manual safety) or even a decocker (such as the Canik TP9 or Walther P99) if someone so chooses.

However, this isn't to say that negligent discharges can't occur with a hammer-fired pistol; they can. The only way to completely guard against them is by proper handling and mindfulness.

Ultimately, everyone has to find what they like and carry it. The best pistol to carry with is one a person is comfortable with and can carry easily and safely.

Sam Hoober 

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

purchase gun belt