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What is a Striker-Fired Pistol?

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A striker-fired pistol is a type of semi-automatic handgun that uses a firing mechanism without a traditional hammer and firing pin system to ignite a cartridge.

Glock striker fired pistol

This design, first appearing in 1919 and gaining traction in the 1980s with the growth of Glock, has garnered widespread popularity among law enforcement agencies, military units, and civilians due to its simplicity, dependability, and versatility.

The striker in a striker-fired pistol is a spring-loaded piece of metal under spring tension that awaits activation from a trigger squeeze. Once the trigger is squeezed, the striker is released, striking the cartridge’s primer and igniting the propellant–resulting in firing a round in the chamber.

Striker fired pistol internal parts

Unlike hammer-fired pistols, no external hammer must be cocked and released. Squeezing the trigger releases the striker, resulting in a single, consistent trigger squeeze with a predictable break and reset.

Advantages of Striker-Fired Pistols

One of the key benefits of striker-fired pistols is their straightforward design, which translates to fewer parts that can malfunction or require maintenance. This makes them cost-effective, too, because they require fewer parts and machining.

Glock Internal Parts Disassembled

The ease of disassembly and reassembly also makes them practical for law enforcement and military use in the field and for gun owners with less experience with firearms. Additionally, with fewer moving parts, striker-fired pistols demonstrate exceptional reliability in high-stress scenarios.

A consistent trigger pull, a hallmark of striker-fired pistols, contributes to accuracy and consistency in shooting. Because the striker is partially cocked when the gun is loaded, and there is no hammer to cock or release, striker-fired handguns often have a lighter and shorter trigger squeeze than double-action guns (though a bit heavier than a single-action only pistol).

The absence of an external hammer improves the low profile of striker-fired pistols, making them easier to carry and conceal. This also lends itself to most striker-fired guns having a completely sealed action, which helps prevent dirt and debris from entering the action and causing malfunctions. 

Disadvantages of Striker-Fired Pistols

The design of striker-fired pistols also presents some drawbacks.

The consistent striker-fired trigger squeeze we discussed will never be as crisp and light as a single-action break with a 1911 or 2011 platform. For example, many experienced shooters state that Sig Sauer stock triggers tend to feel slightly spongy between the trigger’s wall and the actual break.

As a result, striker-fired pistols are generally less suitable for target shooting or competition shooting, where a lighter trigger squeeze is preferable.

Strike-fired pistols aren’t the most ideal for competition.

Additionally, some people have safety concerns with striker-fired pistols. Because the striker is partially cocked when a gun is loaded, it is more likely to discharge if the trigger is accidentally pulled or if the pistol is dropped.

Lastly, some gun owners may prefer the feel of traditional hammer-fired pistols, as striker-fired pistols can lack the tactile feedback that hammers provide. The lack of an external hammer may also make striker-fired pistols less aesthetically appealing to some.

Are Striker-Fired Handguns Good?

Despite some disadvantages, striker-fired pistols have become very popular among law enforcement agencies, military units, and civilian gun owners.

Some of the most popular striker-fired pistols today include the Glock 19, the Smith & Wesson M&P, and the Sig Sauer P320.

These pistols are widely regarded as being among the most dependable handguns available, which explains why many organizations have adopted them.

You can’t go wrong with a striker-fired pistol for duty use and self-defense. And keep in mind, if you buy one and don’t like it for any reason, you can always buy a new gun!

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Tactical Hyve Cadre

A group of our cadre members who cannot or do not want to be in the public's eye, often because they are on active duty, but who still want to provide you with vetted information and recommendations.

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