Dan Z. for TTAG
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Reader JS writes . . .

I know, striker-fired pistols are the future (like genderless bathrooms and electric cars), and hammer-fired guns like my personal favorite, the Beretta 92, are relics of an ancient past. Allegedly. It’s just a matter of time until all of those antiquated guns with those pesky external hammers take their place alongside pagers and Palm Pilots in the dustbin of history, right?

I sure hope not, let me explain why.

Chris Heuss for TTAG

I fully recognize the benefits of the modern striker-fired pistol; namely, consistency of trigger pull and simplicity of operation. Additionally, this is in no way meant to try to persuade people not to use striker-fired pistols.

This is simply my attempt to explain why I continue to cling bitterly to the more classic hammer-fired designs, and to make clear that there are practical reasons why I do so beyond my natural abhorrence of change.

Dan Z for TTAG

1)  I believe that DA/SA pistols with external hammers are inherently safer. I know that guns don’t shoot by themselves—if they did I would be under constant attack in my own home.

But it’s impossible to deny that it’s more likely that you’ll unintentionally pull a five-pound trigger than a 10 to 12-pound trigger. Though I majored in the liberal arts, I’m sure there is some law of science that governs that principle.

The Truth About Guns

As all of the real “operators” out there are currently shouting at the screen, “My trigger finger is my safety!” True, if you don’t put your finger on the trigger, your pistol won’t fire.

In a perfect world that’s easy. But, as cases such as the NYPD cop who inadvertently shot a man in a darkened hallway demonstrates, mistakes can and do happen in the real world. Even to those who have allegedly professional training.

Nick Leghorn for TTAG

2) Re-holstering is a much safer affair for DA/SA pistols with external hammers. In addition to the heavier trigger pull of a de-cocked pistol decreasing the likelihood of mistakenly snagging the trigger during insertion in the holster, the ability to place your thumb on the hammer provides a second line of defense against unintentionally perforating any of your lower extremities.

Jeremy S. for TTAG

For those who appendix carry that’s especially significant considering the extremities in the immediate vicinity tend to be of great sentimental importance to most men. And there’s the femoral artery, too.

If you don’t believe me, just go to your nearest Google machine and search for Larry Vickers’ ban on appendix carry in his classes. In his comments on the matter, the highly respected firearms guru specifically referenced the safety issues endemic to appendix carry when you “add in a pistol like a GLOCK or an M&P.”

Hmmm. What do those pistols have in common?


3) There’s just something about shooting a hammer-fired pistol that feels right. I think of it like driving a stick shift (remember those?). Yes, an automatic is easier to learn, is more conducive to texting while driving (not that I have ever done that or condone it), and saves you from those embarrassing stalls at stop lights.

But there just seems to be something missing…the relationship between the driver and the car is non-existent.

Or, for the carnivores among us, compare it to the difference between cooking on a propane grill and the glorious aroma and flavor of charcoal. It requires a little more work, some extra time, practice, and finesse, but the end result is gastronomical greatness.

For me, mastering the double action pull of the Beretta 92 was much the same. It took a little bit of time, but was certainly not an insurmountable obstacle. And the end result was worth the struggle.

Chris Hamilton for TTAG

Every shooter should be intimately familiar with his or her firearm, so practice shouldn’t be shied away from in any case, no matter the firearm in question.

For all of these reasons, I’m a DA/SA hammer kind of guy. And the truth is, I’m in some great company. Think of all of those historic figures who have preferred the hammer; M.C., Thor, Jesus (a bit of a stretch, but he was a carpenter, right?). How can you go wrong with company like that?

Though I admit there are plenty of fantastic striker-fired pistols on the market that are accurate, reliable, and affordable, I hope that gun companies don’t stop developing new hammer-fired pistols.

Unfortunately, the future doesn’t look great based on current market trends. Nevertheless, in my house it will always be hammer time.

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  1. Didn’t that NYPD cop had a 35lb trigger pull on his gun or did they stop making them carry cartoonishly modified Glocks?

    • NYPD guns have a 12 pound DA only trigger. Not a great data point for the safety argument.

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      • Preach it. My fave, like author JS above, is a hammer-fired 1911. No question. But I’m also a Glock Boi and I love ’em. But wait…a good revolver is always an option, too.

        But DA/SA I’ve just never understood. I’ve fired my fair share, borrowing from others and putting them through the paces at the range. I’ve never, ever, ever liked the feel of a trigger that doesn’t feel the same each time you pull it.

        • Been carrying a Ruger P89 DC, off and on since ’94. Only handgun, I’ve ever owned that feels like it belongs in my hand and yes it is a Tank. In thousands of rounds downrange it has always been reliable and as accurate as (I) could make it. I also have some striker fired handguns. When clothing or situation dictate. I’ve never confused the 2 and have no problem with the 9ish lbs. DA trigger. It just takes time. Like it did for me almost 30 years ago. I do understand how you feel about certain handgun operations. I have my pet peeves also.

  2. Thor’s hammer got crushed one handed. By a gurl. MC got hammered by life. And as for Jesus…….whose hammer do you think the Romans used to nail him and his cross together.

    As for the ancient past. I prefer a j frame snubbie. Flame away.

    • A six shot revolver with a 3″ barrel. More than enough to take care of business … if you practice.

        • Yes, in the event of running out of ammo, it make an excellent hammer when vigorously applied to body parts.

      • 7 shots is even better (think S&W 686+). Big surprise coming for the bad guy counting to 6 (Do ya feel lucky, punk?).

      • Don’t carry it much any more but my 11oz off duty charter arms .38 special with +P hollow point carrying round is my favorite piece.

    • My favorite J-Frame is an L-Frame (model 69 Combat Magnum). Other than that, I’m right there with you.

  3. Damn straight, hammer-fired.

    It’s my preferred carry for semi-auto, in a particular variety :

    Hammer-fired with a de-cocker instead of a safety. For me, it’s the best of both worlds, with the hammer down, a double-action pull gets you going with no hesitation.

    I own several striker-fired, but I personally will not trust striker-fired for appendix carry. those with the ‘brass cajones’ to do so, I salute you… 🙂

      • As a guy on another blog called it, eventually it’s a-endix carry because you have no PP

      • “Appendix carry is a good way to become a nutless wonder.”

        I’ve carried my LCR in .357 appendix, the long, kinda-heavy trigger pull is all the safety I need…

    • @geoff

      “a double-action pull gets you going with no hesitation.”

      And no accuracy, lol…

      • “And no accuracy, lol…”

        At bad-breath distance (where you most likely will need a gun) it won’t make a damn bit of difference, LOL 😉

        • True.

          But what if?

          I am rural, personally. The vast majority of need or want-to-hit targets are at least 10m distant. And smaller than human. Sometimes much smaller.

          For me, a belly gun ain’t likely useful. The first shot has to count, which is what single-action does well.

        • I’m semi-rural. Carried concealed and drawn, DA doesn’t bother me in the least.

          I can always thumb back the hammer as I’m drawing, anyways…

    • Yep. P229 appendix. Extremely fast to draw and very concealable. I’d NEVER a carry striker let alone appendix.

  4. “…the relationship between the driver and the car is non-existent.”

    I hope you don’t drive.

      • Yep.
        Any metal CZ pistol for the win !!

        But beware the CGW mods !
        They have mod pkgs that make triggers too slick for CC.
        But man are they great at the range.

        • og
          I agree on metal cz’s. my p01 decocker only is my carry if I want something more than the 642 thats my always carry
          Kinda want one that’s da only for consistency because I’ve always liked da

      • I have no opinion.

        Wait.. no, that’s onions. I have no onions.
        I need to go to the grocery store, BRB.

  5. As I’ve said a gazillion times, my daily carry is a Sig P229. I’ve never owned a striker nor will I. I started carrying at age 21 a S&W Model 39. That’s what I learned and don’t fix it if it ain’t broken. I like that heavy first pull.

  6. Age takes a toll and as one ages carelessness becomes a problem which is why I prefer SAO.
    Similar to carrying with one in the chamber or an empty chamber, it boils down to a person’s choice based on their personal circumstances. One size does not fit all.

  7. Heavy DA vs light SA or striker with a manual safety. Compare and contrast time and accuracy of draw and first shot.

    • The timer needs to stop when the first bullet hits the target. Not before.

      Dangerous research, but useful, imo…

      (Don’t forget the solid steel jockstrap and boots, lol.)

  8. “And I always will” is a phrase only used to declare that you’re done applying any thinking to a matter and have stubbornly closed your eyes to new information. That’s not a good thing… Hopefully the title was just an editorial decision for clicks.

  9. The most often returned gun to some gun stores is a Glock. New gun owners are returning them all the time. Because they find out too late, that the Glock does not have an external safety. Massad Ayoob has said that the Glock requires additional training because of its low trigger pull weight, and the fact that it has no external safety.

    I prefer my ruger p89 hammer fired DA/SA with a de-cocker. At 17 +1 it’s just fire for me.

    A Glock is not the best self-defense handgun. That is going to depend on the individual. Their lifestyle. They’re required daily dress. The time of the year. Or they just don’t like how a Glock feels in their hand.

    “THIS Is The Gun [glocks] Most Returned By Gun Panic Buyers!” video 4 min long

    • IF that stat was even true (who even accepts gun returns??), it’s most likely just because Glocks are the most purchased by a ridiculous factor in the first place. The shops I’ve seen stock 3+ times as many Glocks compared to other brands because they sell so much faster.

      • Thats what i was thinking, sounds like Chris was making that one up as he went along. Can you even “return” guns. And wouldn’t you see it has no safety when you put your hands on it at the gun store. Dont know where you’re shopping

        • to AW
          We have millions of brand new gun owners who know absolutely nothing about guns. They know nothing about the gun business. They know nothing about the laws or the procedures. And I have been in the gun stores when all of this has unfolded.

          And it’s actually a sad thing to watch.

        • edit.
          They think guns are like a pair of shoes or underwear. That you can return to the store because they don’t fit properly.
          And I have been in the gun stores when all of this has unfolded.

          And it’s actually a sad thing to watch.

        • As a seller of handguns you’re also the first instructor on handguns many buyers will have. If you let someone buy a gun without talking about safety (in all of it’s meanings) first, then you’re doing it wrong.
          And yes, I do sell guns, and want every one of my customers to feel like their choice matters as much to me as it does to them.

      • to Eric in Oregon
        You are correct. Glocks are the most popular. That’s why people who know nothing about guns at all, that’s the only gun they hear people talking about.
        And because they know nothing about guns, and most gun store clerks are trained just to make the sale. They’re not trained to ensure the customer is getting the gun they actually need.

        The gun that fits them the best at that time of their needs.

        • As Generac gensets (consumer generators are HUGE POS). As most everything that is mass advertising driven.

  10. I like hammer-fired hand guns but it has nothing to do with safety or fitness for use. I just happen to like mechanisms. In fact, one of the things that attracted me to firearms in the first place was the mechanical processes involved. Also, I’m a big fan of energy applied to a target at distance but, that has little to do with the mechanics. To me, this debate is a lot like the caliber wars – some have a definitive position while others say, “learn what the differences are, try out your options and choose what works for you.” I guess I am in the latter camp.

    That said, I have several striker-fired hand guns.

  11. I’m usually carrying one of my GP100s but I have a Beretta 92 compact INOX that I will carry on occasion. I’ve installed lighter hammer springs in all of them and they all break at 8-1/2 to 9-1/2 pounds in DA but you’d swear the revolvers have much lighter pulls. And in SA the Beretta breaks at 4-1/2 pounds vs 2-1/2 and 2-3/4 on the GPs.

    I always figured I’d rather have one crappy trigger pull and 15 good ones than 16 crappy ones.

  12. My main CC weapon is an old 1911. My main open carry is an old S&W M-25. Well used/loved. Yes, I have and have used striker fired handguns. I have DA/SA handguns. I have and have used SA handguns. Occasionally switch out depending on need or desire to carry something smaller, lighter, or more potent.
    Not everyone wants a hammer fired sidearm. Not everyone wants a striker fired handgun. To each their own. And opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one and no one really wants to hear someone else’s.

  13. Well like Dirty Harry said “a man should know his limitations” and you definitely have them

    • Meh…I have no preference. I’ve had hammer fired & striker fired as well as 2 revolvers. Safeties & no safety. And why have some no name “reader” with no identifying tells TTAG??? And Larry Vickers Mr “why I’m fat”? And had his gats confiscated? I’ll pass on his advice🙄

  14. I’m still surprised that neither Sig nor Beretta have made a DA/SA micro 9, something in the p365xl size range with similar capacity. I personally know several people who would love to have one and know of dozens more online. It seems like a missed opportunity, and I’m sure whoever came out with the first one would pretty much corner that niche market.

  15. What the author failed to mention is that pre-loaded (not full cock) striker fired pistols have anemic ignition systems. In a past German Police test trial they had to modify the striker energy requirements to absurdly low levels so the pre-loaded striker fired pistols could pass the test.

    One can verify all of this for yourself if you are a hand loader. Take a pre-loaded striker fired handgun like the ubiquitous Glock and take an empty case and deliberately insert a “high primer”, no gun powder, and no bullet. Insert the high primed case into the chamber and gently close the slide by pushing it closed with your thumb or thumbs while wearing safety glasses or better yet a full face shield. Now point the gun in a safe direction and pull the trigger. Nothing will happen as the Glocks anemic striker fired mechanism does not have enough energy to push the primer down into the pocket and then crush it. I have tried this test on 4 handguns, 3 Glocks and 1 Walther P99 and repeated the test 3 times on each gun ON THE SAME PRIMER and all 3 times all 4 guns failed the test. As a comparison I tried most of my hammer fired military handguns and everyone of them passed the test on the first try.

    So what does all of this mean? It means that under severe conditions of ice and snow or an accumulation of debris in the pre-loaded striker fired guns it makes it much more likely they would fail to fire when needed.

    I might ad that guns like the Glock not only have open striker channels (as compared to the closed firing pin channels on most hammer fired guns) but the Glock also has a gapping hole in the bottom of the grip which is a highway for debris to enter the striker fired channel.

    I might also add that “What people cannot see they do not fear”. In other words carrying a 1911 locked and cocked is actually safer than carrying a Glock with has neither, but you have the scary hammer on the 1911 and no hammer on a Glock so the average Moron gun owner thinks nothing of carrying the unsafe Glock but is horrified to carry a locked and cocked 1911.

    • You know that no one pays attention to your ” I have all the knowledge ” posts, right? They all know you are a paid troll who neither owns nor understands firearms, while you shill for ” Universal Background Checks and Safe Storage Laws”. Give us all a break and just stop, Cisco/ Vlad/ Dacian. It’s gotten very tired.

  16. Ehh, my old Sig Pro has been my own carry gun for years. I’m no purist about it, in fact I own a Glock as well. But my Sig just works well and I don’t see a huge benefit for changing it out for some newer design.

  17. In my opinion, I don’t want to carry any handgun that stores enough energy in the firing mechanism to dent the primer under any possible condition. I want the energy to fire the cartridge to be generated by pulling the trigger only. Double-action only (DAO) pistols and revolvers fit that requirement perfectly.

  18. The P30SK (LEM) Precocked hammer has a very nice trigger, not sure if the restrike is that important, most train to manually eject the none fired round.

  19. “…striker-fired pistols are the future…”

    Striker-fired pistols were the future in 1980. Good grief.

  20. I just can’t overcome my DA decocked flinch. I try watching the hammer come back to anticipate the release but it surprises the shit out of me every time. Then the SA pull is so light that messes me up too. I’ve had that SW for 30 years and fired it a lot but I just can’t get past that flinch.

  21. I have yet to find a DA/SA pistol that fits me. Either the reach to the trigger is too long in DA mode (most common) or it’s too short in SA mode. For me to carry a DA/SA gun would be like carrying a 1911 with the hammer down (DA) or the hammer cocked and no thumb safety (SA). There are a few DA/SA guns that can be carried cocked and locked but that’s what DA/SA is designed to avoid.

  22. Amen!
    My preference is for Smith and Wesson Third generation pistols. The came in a plethora of calibers and magazine capacities.
    I might feel like a neanderthal if not for encountering people who were suffering from the crippling condition of Glock Walk or the humiliation of Glock Cock, aka “Glock No Cock.”

  23. Introduced to the 1911, 45 acp 52 years ago in the Army.

    The 1911 has been my carry gun all these years.

    I’m never without a 1911 in 45acp.

    • For decades the 1911 was considered the ideal, then some Austrian shovel maker came along and suddenly we had all these sheep fanboys spouting nonsense about “my safety is between my ears!” and “safeties are dangerous!”.

  24. Oh geez not this again.
    I have both hammer fired and striker fired and love them both.
    Bottom line use what works best for you and what you have trained with to be safe, proficient, and confident. Also a good holster is a must and personally I only use kydex holsters for striker fired pistols.

    What hammer fired pistol fans never seem to talk about is how inaccurate someone can be with that long and heavy first shot when they have not taken the time to practice with it and continue to practice with it but rather only practice with the hammer cocked at the range.

  25. I’ve appendix carried a Glock 19 for years without issue. I like my DA/SA guns but I don’t find the a safety necessary with a proper holster.

    If you spend all day playing with your gun and reholstering then by all means carry something with a safety.

    Or just learn not to play with you gun.

  26. I don’t remember writing this article but I must have because I agree with every word of it. One other thing: there is no way to make a pistol more cheaply than polymer frame and striker fired.

  27. Beretta 92 is the 2nd worst pistol trigger I ever pulled. THe first worst being an original Desert Eagle. Never liked the triggers on the DA/SA Sigs either. Havent shot one with the X trigger. Did shoot a Legend with the SA only. Meh. Have two Sig 250’s with the DAO trigger. I can live with that. Aint carrying any pistol in appendicks’s position. Like my junk and my femoral artery too much. Peace out.

  28. #2 is why I was Da/Sa for so long. Reholstering a striker didn’t suit me as safe. But the first round trigger pull was detrimental in my training. So when I switched I went to Springfield and inherited the grip safety. So I switched, but kept the level of safety I could control.

  29. Yup me too sir, I carry a cajunized CZ 75D pcr, I prefer this for the same reason. Not to mention solid metal, tight slide, etc.

  30. Other than a quality DA revolver, DA/SA pistol ALWAYS safer than SA only. Millions of gun owners are only occasional shooters and thus lack the muscle memory frequent practicers have. That first DA pull is a big safety plus same as a DA revolver. And for those saying that DA trigger pull decreases accuracy, thousands (millions) of cop oldies like me who trained and worked shooting DA revolvers spit on any poor accuracy claims. Getting accuracy medals shooting DA only was EASY. Those who choose striker-fired SA only have made their choice and good for them. But the snobbery of SA only is like any snobbery. It’s all about what works best for you. Gun snobs are no better than wine snobs or motorcycle snobs.

  31. FNX40 is my woods piece. Just wish FN made a 20+ mag so it would be even heavier. Safest handgun I own.

  32. I’m comfortable with either, and swap back and forth depending on what I’m doing that day. I was raised on DA/SA, and it’ll always feel the most comfortable in my hand. Took years of practice to get DAO down to where I’m consistent accuracy wise, and I’d hate to lose that muscle memory, so I still run the drills 40+ years later.
    So you won’t hear me diss anyone for what they choose to carry, unless it’s something completely junk.

  33. While DA/SA pistols are nice, my one introduction to the Beretta 92 was not good. I was testing pistols with a trainer, looking to upgrade or departments weapons, and we were given a Sig and Beretta 92 by a sales person for our evaluation. The SIG was nice. Smooth DA and crisp SA. The Beretta was garbage. A very long and creepy DA trigger pull and SA was heavy and without any feel. It may have been that particular weapon but if I was supplying someone with weapons for revaluations, I would make sure they were top notch.

  34. Consider this: under normal operation, a cocked hammer on those Berettas 92s or PX-4s will only drop when the trigger is pulled to actuate the sear. If, somehow, the hammer is released without the trigger being pulled, the hammer will get caught in the half-cock notch which is only disengaged when the trigger is pulled. If, even more improbably, both the sear and the half-cock notch fail to stop the hammer from striking the firing pin, there is a pin block that will stop the pin before it strikes the printer, and it also is only disengaged when the trigger is pulled. In short, three independent safety mechanisms have to fail in order for a cocked Beretta to fire without pulling the trigger. To put it another way, the only real difference in safety between carrying a Glock and carrying a Beretta cocked and unlocked is how easy it is to actuate the trigger. You would have to be an idiot to carry a cocked Beretta with the safety off on a regular basis. I don’t care how good your holster is; that trigger would be far too easy to set off accidentally. Don’t do it. A Glock is obviously much safer than a Beretta in condition 0, but in acknowledging that, you must also admit that a decocked Beretta with the safety off is safer than the Glock. What it comes down to is, how much safety do you need for your method of carry? If you’re open carrying in a duty holster all day, then a Glock is a great choice. If, on the other hand, you’re carrying under several layers of clothing, and your job requires you to unholster and reholster your weapon several times a day, the Beretta makes a lot more sense.

  35. Uh, James Bond’s PPK is a classic DA/SA hammer-fired semi-auto. Conspicuous by its absence from the article’s canon.

    FWIW, it was my first EDC long ago.

  36. I hope a company like CZ, Beretta, or S&W will come out with a micro DA/SA, if it’s possible to engineer one that small. I know there’s a lot of guys out there carrying a P07 or P30sk that would love to carry a Hellcat sized ccw in the summer. I know i would! I’m glad Beretta came out with the 80x, it’s a step in the right direction.

    And especially now with even more P320 hysteria, whether any of it’s true or not. i bet some guys carrying striker fired guns are reconsidering and will go back to DA/SA. And Sig has a history of making great hammer fired guns, they should make the first micro!🤩🤩🤩🤩🙉🍌🥞👌

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