Gun Guys author and TTAGonist Dan Baum is setting-up a new gun safety organization. No really. Gun safety. Not gun control. His group will urge Americans to lock-up their guns (when not on body) and teach all family members the four rules of gun safety. I’m down with that. As I’ve said before, I reckon muzzle control is the One Rule to Rule Them All. But trigger finger discipline is a very close second. When it comes to self-defense . . .

You really want to shoot the person you want to shoot when you want to shoot them – and not a second sooner. The trick to that trick: keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot (being aware of your target and what’s behind and in front of it and all). By no means is this easy.

When I was huffing and puffing my way through a Patriot Protection sim session, as I entered the “funnel of death” in their murderous maze, I remember thinking to myself screw-it, I’m going to put my finger on the trigger of the modded GLOCK 19 and be ready to shoot. I admit it: I did just that.

In retrospect, WTF? Did a moment of monumental stress obviate years of practice? Yes. Yes it did. And that was a truly scary moment, because this gun guy sometimes carries a Wilson Combat 1911 (which conceals way better than my GLOCK). There’s no “registering” the trigger with that gun. If I touch that go-pedal it’s going off.

I like to think I wouldn’t have registered the trigger if I’d been carrying the 1911. Anyway, the experience taught me I need to train some more – which I’m doing. Keeping your finger off the trigger requires some serious self-control – at a time when adrenalin is lighting-up your reptilian brain like a Christmas tree. Given the catastrophic possibilities of touching off a round at the wrong time, it’s just as important to practice not shooting as it is to practice shooting. Here’s one way you can do that, by throwing a curve ball during a training drill . . .

Trigger discipline issues raise an interesting question about trigger weight. Should most self-defense guns have heavy triggers given that most shooters will put their finger on the trigger ahead of a defensive gun use? I think the answer has to be yes – despite the fact that the heavier the trigger the less accurate the shooter. Then again, most self-defense scenarios follow the 3-3-3 rule: three yards, three shots, three seconds. So how accurate do you have to be, really?

In the same sense, should most shooters looking for a defensive firearm eschew John Moses Browning’s meisterwerk 1911 with its touch-‘n-go bang switch? I think the answer has to be yes. The 1911 is an expert’s gun.

But don’t get me wrong: it’s a free country. Americans should be free to buy whatever gun they want to buy, regardless of the trigger pull weight. If they buy the “wrong” gun and shoot the wrong person “by mistake” so be it – in the same sense that if they lose control of a high-powered sports car that’s the way it goes. It’s not the government’s responsibility to protect citizens from their own malfeasance. Oh wait . . .

The Bay State reckons it’s their job to “dumb down” handguns for public safety by making the trigger really hard to squeeze, just as New York police do for their officers. But this caveat disadvantages women. Old people. People with arthritis. People with small hands. People who want to shoot accurately. Why should all these Americans sacrifice their safety for the safety of the majority of shooters? No reason.

That said, it’s really important for all shooters to understand the differences in trigger pull and how stress changes everything, so they can make an informed purchase decision. Unless we want to defer to the government, trigger weight education is the responsibility of manufacturers, gun stores, firearms instructors, experienced shooters and the media. I’ve done my part here. Make sure you do yours.

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31 Responses to Random Thoughts About Booger Hooks and Bang Switches

  1. I understand the issue, RF, but the sheer number of DGU suggests that it’s not as big an issue among RKBArmers as your experience indicates.

    • Perhaps I’m a bit dense today, but I must be missing something about that first video clip.

      How is it relevant to this discussion?

  2. @RF, “When I was huffing and puffing my way through a Patriot Tactical sim session, as I entered the “funnel of death” in their murderous maze, I remember thinking to myself screw-it, I’m going to put my finger on the trigger and be ready to shoot. I admit it: I did just that.”

    You did that even though you knew not to. That tells me it’s not training you are lacking, but rather discipline.

    One thing you did not mention…did you also take the safety off your 1911 before laying your finger on the trigger? That would be a double discipline failure on your part.

  3. This is what the military “two-stage” trigger was all about. It gave you that extra fraction of a second to confirm. Unfortunately, it has been largely abandoned as “old fashioned”, like most other good ideas that can longer be figured out by a population that has largely forgotten how to think.

  4. You have to know your gun. I am like so not worried about keeping my finger outside the guard when holding a DA revolver. But I also have Kimber 1911s, so establishing a pattern accommodating all possible eventualities is good. The gun I carry is an LCP, not so worried, but one of those Kimbers is close by. In short, since familiarity is good, ergo practice is good.

  5. Training without stress tests is just another day at the range.

    It is always remarkable to notice how added stress reveals bad habits and the need for more practice.

    • Too true. All my life or death situations have involved sport or technical diving, but the confidence I’ve gotten from both saving my own life and those of others in high stress situations has really been great because I have a good assurance that hopefully I’ll respond the same way in the future.

      No guarantees of course, but it’s a real confidence builder to know you’ve done it before.

  6. Concerning the 1911, I actually find it to be safer in this sense as to use it correctly, the safety should only be swept off while presenting to target. If it is a “no shoot” moment then the safety should be re-engaged. But the gun requires more training, so I would agree it is a good choice only for serious shooters.

  7. As a city prosecutor getting death threats, I carried and practiced with a Colt Officer’s .45. I figured that any attempt on my life would be close and fast, with a need for decisive stopping power. (230 gr. Hydra-Shoks)
    After I left that position and general self-defense scenarios in all their variety were likely, I switched back to my Glock 19 for EDC. The trigger and the extra rounds for various scenarios just made more sense. LFI One vindicated my choice.

  8. RF said… “His group will urge Americans to lock-up their guns (when not on body) and teach all family members the four rules of gun safety. I’m down with that.

    With reference to the locking up of guns….for an absolutist RF I am surprised at you. Personally, I object to every instance where this is raised as some sort of unarguable point of “common sense”. I call BS on it EVERY TIME. I don’t care if it is Mr. Baum, RF, the NSSF or the NRA. It is a trick of the leftist anti-gun NAZIs to control SOME PART OF GUN OWNERS BEHAVIOR AND THINKING. The proverbial camels’ nose under the tent.

    There are plenty of reasons why a gun should NOT be locked up when off body. So my take is the following; There are locks, and safes that are great and wonderful and provide all sorts of security. The gun owners of the world are adults. They can make adult decisions on when to use these devices. Get out of my life and don’t tell me what to do Mr. Baum.

    • I see nothing wrong with an organization advising gun owners to lock-up their guns when not on-body. I happen to agree with the practice, and practice it at home.

      I see everything wrong with the government getting involved in any aspect of firearms ownership. Period. If you want to stash guns around your house, or leave a shotgun propped up against the wall when you sleep, that’s your business.

      Fair enough?

      • @RF, “I see nothing wrong with an organization advising gun owners to lock-up their guns when not on-body. I happen to agree with the practice, and practice it at home.”

        I fail to see how this new org is covering new ground that isn’t already covered by the NRA and various state pro-2A orgs…

      • I’m always amazed at how many people fail to separate the questions “should people do this thing?” and “should government coerce people to do this thing?”

  9. RF I respectfully disagree with your reasoning here. There’s a reason it’s called trigger discipline and not trigger training. Training will never be able to replace discipline, but please don’t try to turn your momentary lapse in discipline into a training issue. If you were training in the military & they caught you doin that you’d still be doin push ups by the front door. RF in the end you need to take more high stress training like that and focus on your trigger discipline & building that muscle memory that the safety doesn’t come off and your finger don’t move to the trigger until you are taking aim at a hostile target. You’ve found your weakness now start training hard to minimize or eliminate it.

  10. Trigger discipline is the “One Ring to Rule Them All”, and muzzle control is the close second. I submit, trigger discipline accomplishes everything that muzzle control does, with the added bonus that NO property at all gets damaged. Your experience bears that out. The safest place for a bullet to be, is still in the gun.

    • Trigger discipline is the “One Ring to Rule Them All”, and muzzle control is the close second.

      Jeff Cooper would agree. He called trigger discipline “The Golden Rule.”

      • “Jeff Cooper would agree. He called trigger discipline “The Golden Rule.””

        I would think that he would have switched, even if only temporarily, to the Safe Direction rule being #1, after the gas meter incident. It certainly is a near-perfect example of why it should be so.

  11. I have made this point before but again you don’t know how good your trigger discipline is until you draw on a false alarm because unlike a training scenero, your mental state is “I am going have to shoot” if that ever happens and your trigger finger is not outside the trigger guard parallel to the slide you need some work. It has only happen once and to my pleasant surprice I found myself dropping behind concealment (a couch) and having perfect finger positioning.

    Registering your finger on standard Glock style trigger when the adrenaline is flowing is going to result in a trigger pull.

  12. Trigger design definitely influences safe handling. I have nothing against a long travel but most carry guns (early Ruger LCP’s for example) are notorious for being awkward to shoot. One big problem with a long trigger is the tendency to pull to the left (if you’re right handed) when shooting. This is dangerous, although with enough work you can train around the problem. But why have the problem in the first place? Here’s what I think. Manufacturers need to pay more attention to ergonomics. 1. The physical shape of the trigger ought to be a no brainer. But why, then, do some triggers cut your finger after 50 rounds? 2. The actual movement of the trigger needs good tactile response. Initial take-up needs to be smooth but it should be followed by a clear-cut second-stage change in hysterisis which signals that the gun is about to fire. 3. The reset needs to happen at this second-stage change in hysterisis. Simply put, if a gun communicates good information during the firing sequence, it’s a hell of a lot safer to use. Pay attention to a trigger’s ergonomics and you’ll have a reliable weapon anybody, young or old, can use more effectively.

  13. We are trained to do the following:

    Sights come on target while safety goes off and finger goes on trigger a one smooth motion.

    Keep finger on trigger as long as sights are on target saying to ourselves, “Is he down?”

    Sights come off target, finger off trigger back to high index away from trigger, safety goes on in one smooth motion.

    Works for either long gun or handgun.

    Practice. Practice. Practice which is perfected under stress testing and drilling.

  14. Id say ive seen alot of 3 gun or just competition shooters make this mistake. Its one if the many reasons i dot consider competition shooting a good supplement in a training regimine. Not all comp shooters do it but it seems to be more common from what i have seen

  15. The “booger hook” goes to the “bang switch” so readily because gunmakers have spent the last 500 years making firearms as ergonomic as possible, putting the trigger exactly where the finger wants to go. They’ve done a damn good job of it too.

    It’s up to users to control their body parts, including Mr. Pointer.

  16. Adrenaline dumps under stress makes things interesting. Keep your head and keep thinking things through. All easier said than done.

  17. There is already an organization that teaches 3 properly worded, positively stated and intelligently ordered gun safety rules (not the outdated “Gunsite” 4 rules which have never been a part of NRA curriculum) and all other aspects of safe gun handling. There are more than 97,000 active NRA instructors, and the NRA is soon to be offering blended learning courses that include online training in fundamentals paired with range time conducted by certified instructors.

    Mr. Baum’s organization is unnecessary and will have no impact on real gun owners. It’s transparently obvious his only purpose in founding the group is to enable him to be yet another “I support the 2nd amendment, but…” talking head the mainstream media will trot out as a fake “average gun owner”, in their ongoing anti-NRA propaganda war.

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