Accuracy Tip: Practice Proper Trigger Management

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Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 Compact (courtesy

Most of the problems people have with accuracy are due to improper trigger management. Each shooter may experience slightly different errors, but they generally fall into three categories: placement, position or movement.

Most modern firearms — not 1911’s — use a trigger based on a lever design. Placing your finger lower on the trigger gives you more leverage and leverage equals power.

Power makes it easier to move the trigger smoothly through all its stages. It also minimizes the “stall point” or “wall” that can occur as you pull the trigger to its break point.

Trigger finger placement — which part of your finger you place on the trigger shoe — is critical to good trigger management and thus, to accuracy.

Finger on the trigger of the Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 Compact (courtesy

Most shooters place too little of their finger on the trigger shoe. Many position their finger on the trigger shoe so that it sits just before the first distal joint (a.k.a., crease). Placing your finger deeper on the trigger gives you more of the pulling power mentioned above.

But there’s a potential danger to that advice. Depending on the gun and your hand and finger size, your trigger finger may rub against the side of firearm’s frame. Applying pressure to the frame while pulling the trigger will shift the point of impact.

Mind the gap on the Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 Compact (courtesy

Position as much of your finger on the shoe as you can without rubbing the side of the frame. But remember to place your finger on the trigger face. Riding the trigger’s edge may pull the shot off target.

Modern striker-fired pistols have three stages; slop, slack and squeeze. The slop is the free travel or take-up. Slack is the incremental movement up to the sear wall. The squeeze is what breaks past the sear wall.

Most people think of trigger movement as a single motion. While that may be your goal, it’s best to start by mastering each stage individually. Do plenty of dry fire practice. Slow the movement down and isolate each stage. Feel them in real time. Practice them while holding the gun on a target and trying to minimize sight disruption.

Practice and proper trigger management enable peak accuracy. Everything else is semantics and subject to debate. Mastering the pull and moving the trigger without disrupting the sights is not.


Jeff Gonzales is a former Navy SEAL and a preeminent weapons and tactics instructor. He brings his Naval Special Warfare mindset, operational success and lessons learned to the world at large. He is the president of Trident Concepts in Austin, Texas. 

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    • That article makes some good points, but at the same time I’m not sure if a gun control group masquerading as a gun rights group is the best authority on marksmanship. His overall point about proper grip over trigger pulling is a valid one, but I don’t agree with the extent to which he discounts a proper trigger pull. And his point about speed and relative force is laughable for the way it totally discounts leverage or the way a poor trigger pull can move a gun slightly off target *before* the sear is released

      • I disagree about the gun control group masquerading, but I pay more attention to the credentials and experience of the writer.

        He makes a good case, based on his experience and videotaping of students. Of course, his is not the only viewpoint out there. Still, I agree with his assertion that grip is more important than trigger-pull technique (although I prefer a constant repeatable trigger pull method in addition to the proper strong grip).

    • truth.
      not a single one that ttag has ever reviewed.
      and remember, possum’s domain is now available.

      • might’ve been one of those rivian things. probably depends on whether animal control revives him or just scrapes him up.

      • “…and remember, possum’s domain is now available.”

        I’m gonna miss the furry little fella… 🙁

    • Yup. Whenever I see an author refer to “trigger shoe” instead of trigger face or just trigger, I just add them to my mental ignore list and move on. I would have thought this one knew better. Sorry, Jeremy, you had a good run, too.

    • I had to look up what a trigger shoe is. Never heard of it. Then again, I purchased my first gun just prior to the 2016 election…so compared to you all, I an a relative newcomer.!

      • Well, to tell you a story. As a cop, I carried a Smith J frame as a backup and off duty gun. It initially had a trigger shoe on as I have large fingers. One day at the station, I shoved it into my leather waist holster and the trigger shoe caught on the leather, firing the pistol. Bullet didn’t penetrate my butt but left a nice burn mark for several months, plus the rest of the watch knew what happened. No more trigger shoes for me!

        • I, too, had to look up “trigger shoe” and found a bunch of metal extensions that bolt to the trigger face.

          What’s the purpose of a shoe on a duty weapon?

          And I think that the author of this article meant to say “trigger face” rather than shoe.

  1. I have found while good trigger squeeze is important but for me even more importance was really good grip technique and anything one can do to strengthen their grip will help improve accuracy also. I found farmers walk exercise really helps with grip strength.

  2. First in trigger management is to make sure your trigger finger flicks the rubber do-dad out from behind the trigger, so you can fire the gun.

    That is, according to the stupidest TTAG commenter ever, deb the ding-bat… 🙁

    • Hey oldshtgeoff you stupid pasty mouth pompos democRat lint licking pos…That rubber thing is a successful patented product. A product an ignorant pos like you couldn’t develop and market if your life depended on it…now gfy.

      • I agree with Geoff — putting anything inside the trigger guard of a defensive weapon is dangerous. Pushing a plug out of the guard could lead to a ND.

        Trigger locks are successful and patented as well, but I sure wouldn’t want one on my carry weapon.

        • noname…Do you enjoy making yourself look dumber than a fence post? Trying to tie flinch with grip is just plain jane dumb. Any instructor worth their salt does not initially load dummy rounds for an understudy to fire away in order to test for flinch. The initial test for an understudy is an unloaded chamber as I described. If an instructor wants to load dummies that comes later in the game. In other words…you trying to tell me something I do not know already about firearms explains why you are dumb enough to have your lips all over oldsht’s behind.

        • “The initial test for an understudy is an unloaded chamber as I described.”

          How would you do a flinch drill with a semi-automatic handgun, you know, the kind of handgun that most people use today?

          I still say that your shilling for a rubber plug for Glocks is a dangerous idea.

          And I’m the stupid one here? I think not.

        • “Do you enjoy making yourself look dumber than a fence post?”

          Honey, every time you open your (most likely fat) yap, you prove a fence post is Albert Einstein compared to *you*… 🙂

      • Is widdel deb cranky?


        Now take your menopause meds and shut the fvck up… 🙂

        • oldshtgeoff…I would love to see you try to shut me up. Your dentures would be in orbit around the moon…Take it to the bank.

        • The question is why bother with another potential failure point? If it is that much a concern get a different gun, Israeli carry, or accept the marginal risk with a well designed holster and train till you don’t fuck up. But everyone has their oddball sticking points I guess.

        • I’ve been lingering here for longer than you have deb. I think most people agree with 99% of what you say. You are polluting the comments with your toxic insecurities. Be normal. Just stop.

        • state…RE: “The question is why bother with another potential failure point?”

          The “failure point” on a Glock and its variants without manual safeties has always been the trigger. Hopefully you are not saying you see the Glock dingus as the safety?
          The Israeli Carry you suggest is another point of failure especially if one has not spent time practicing it while walking, running, crawling, etc.
          Frankly if one claims to be proficient with a Glock and its variants and they cannot handle a plug then they are by no means proficient A plug is elementry and certainly not a failure point unless the operator is a total buffoon.

        • joe…I do not recall seeing a joe or a joe blow posting. In fact newbes pop like Tulips in Springtime when the demoRat Party shill oldshtgeoff needs help. With that said joe…you are full of crap and much too sensitive to be anywhere around firearms therefore pipsqueak you should take up knitting.

          Hopefully the next slanderous oldshtgeoff butt kisser can do better…

        • So you are fixated on a novelty product….k then nothing of value to learn here.

        • he said lingering, not posting.
          and if you don’t remember joe r. then you ain’t been around.
          which you haven’t.
          but not ‘cuz you didn’t want to. and now it’s way too late.

        • “With that said joe…you are full of crap and much too sensitive to be anywhere around firearms therefore pipsqueak…”

          Observe what’s happening here, people –

          Someone expresses an opinion different than the fascist frau deb, and she immediately attacks him.

          Understand something Deborah, we’re tired of you attacking anyone who doesn’t fascist goose-step with YOU.

          Stop attacking people who have a difference of opinion, or we will come down on you like a mountain of bricks.



        • There’s a similar product that claims to be better than the Saf-T-Blok because the Saf-T-Blok fits behind the Glock trigger, necessitating two separate movements to access the trigger:

          “This block gives me the peace of mind I need to carry a Glock with one in the pipe and the trigger area exposed and not sitting inside a holster. Unlike the other guy’s block, this device comes out in one smooth natural movement. Whereas the other block will have the shooter push out the stopper from behind the trigger then move their trigger finger to the front for firing.”

          I still wouldn’t have either one on my Glock if I owned one.

  3. When I was a wee lass beginning shooting the first range thing my formal instructor did was place in my hand a 9 ready to shoot a target. Unknown to me the chamber was empty and my instructor was giving me a flinch test. Well much to his surprise I didn’t flinch. So to trigger pullers who flinch learn to overcome it as it can cause a problem stopping an attacker, etc.

    • Load a few dummy rounds mixed in with regular ammo — best way to teach new shooters to avoid the flinch.

      But the flinch is a grip problem, not a trigger-pull issue.

      • noname…A grip problem? I have yet to see any flinch the result of a grip problem. One can have the best grip or a bad grip and a flinch does not happen until the trigger is pulled while knowing recoil and a bang is coming. I suggest you look up the definition of, “flinch.” And again, change your moniker to something that fits the oldshtgeoff butt kisser you are.

        • “Trying to tie flinch with grip is just plain jane dumb.”
          “I suggest you look up the definition of, “flinch.” ”

          Let’s do that:

          “Flinching refers to involuntary movement of the gun, and in some cases the trigger, prior to and sometimes during the shot-delivery process. It is a natural response to the loud noise created by firing the gun and the movement of the gun in the hands when it fires.” —

          How does that crow taste? Seasoned to your preference?

        • “And again, change your moniker to something that fits the oldshtgeoff butt kisser you are.”

          The Fascist Frau debbie has spoken!

          Attacking anyone that doesn’t goose-step with her opinion.

          That’s what actual fascists do, cupcake.


    • “When I was a wee lass beginning shooting…”

      Was electricity invented by then, you bitter old bat? 😉

        • “Geoff, remind me not to piss you off.”

          That’s what’s happening, people. We’re training debbie to be civil. When she attacks people, we attack back.

          And like a typical bully, she cries when she gets what she dishes out… 🙂

          Sooner or later, she will learn. Just ask pg2… 🙂

      • oldshtgeoff…If you were honest about yourself you would not be trying so desperately to save face for being a geniune democRat Party lint licker…I hate to pee on you and your parade of stupidity but far bigger gutless wonders than you have tried and failed to discredit me, frankly they make you look like a joke little man.

        • And the Judges say. USA:2, Canada:2, United Kingdom:2, France:3 and Poland:7. 7? WTF Cotton?…Well it is a bold strategy.

        • “If you were honest about yourself”

          Oh, I am, compared to you. Smarter, by far… 😉

    • I’m responding to your earlier comment to me. I use throw away names and email addresses since this administration wants to jail us all. It probably won’t work but what the hey. You are alienating people who agree with you most of the time. We are all tired of hearing the racism trope. Anyone right of JFK is a racist. Just stop. Also get a thicker skin.

  4. Sorry to tell y’all this, but the only hope we have for dealing with the Debbie W issue is to ignore her and her rants and her bitter old poo flinging and hope she goes away.

    Oh, and holy cow, who in their right mind stuffs home made rubber things (what a strange fetish) into their trigger guard?! The whole point to using a holster is to hold the gun in position while keeping stuff out of the trigger guard!

    • RE: “Sorry to tell y’all this, but the only hope we have for dealing with the Debbie W issue is to ignore her and her rants and her bitter old poo flinging and hope she goes away.”

      I see a cry for help coming from an incognito oldshtgeoff…And the stupid pathetic lying pos thinks a holster is a, “Safety.”

      Next time you snesk around like gutless wonder you are and lie about me you better be damned sure you can back it up…Hot air from a lying gasbag doesn’t cut it.

      • “I see a cry for help coming from an incognito oldshtgeoff…”

        Uhm, that’s not me, cupcake. PAY ATTENTION to the writing style. That shows the differences… 🙂

  5. As a long time firearms instructor I agree that trigger control is the most important step in the firing sequence. Followed quickly by focusing on the front sight. Every student that I had that was flinching denied doing so. Until I loaded their weapon with dummy rounds/spent brass. After that the look on their face was best described as chagrined.
    Geoff, don’t worry about Debbie. If you’ve read one of her posts, you’ve read them all. I just scroll past them.

      • This gunwriter seems to think so:

        :The first thing to do is remove the word squeeze from your vocabulary when referencing trigger operation. Squeeze in any other sense of the word means compressing all of your fingers as well as the palm of the hand together to hold or apply pressure to an object. Think of squeezing a tube of toothpaste or the hand of another with whom you don’t want to lose contact. Making those types of motion with a gun in hand will cause the muzzle to move off the target, low and to the inside as the trigger is being moved to the rear, therefore resulting in a miss.

        “In this case the trigger jerk comes from the tightening of the whole hand on the gun trying to make the shot as quickly as possible without regard to the muzzle’s position on the target.”

        • I see what he’s saying, but I personally don’t squeeze my whole hand when firing.

          I was unaware there were people who actually did that…

        • Geoff, I can’t figure how someone can jerk only the trigger of a pistol when firing. If one flinches while firing a gun, the gun has to move in the hand resulting in a miss. If the grip is strong and steady, the gun won’t move.

  6. gadsdenfag…RE” As a long time firearms instructor I agree that trigger control is the most important step in the firing sequence. Followed quickly by focusing on the front sight.”

    Bad advice you oldshtgeoff buttkisser. You do not look here and then there you moron…you point and shoot perps instinctively. Perhaps dueling pistols are your speed.

  7. Debbie, where did you get “instinctive shooting?’ There’s no such thing. For something to be instinctive, if you believe in Darwinism. Humans would have been using firearms for tens of thousands of years. Guns just ain’t been around that long. I said, “trigger control and front sight.” Geoff’s right, You ought to think about sitting down and shutting up.

  8. Even through the entertaining wit, vituperation, and invective in this thread, it has caused me to think about testing my understanding of how the triggers operate on each of my handguns. Will be using laser bullets to do so.

    Thanks all!!

    • Less jarring than primed brass and great for testing how easy/difficult it is to inadvertently trigger an ND on holstering improperly.

        • Done properly it “should” only cost 12-36 odd cents currently. It was surprisingly difficult to ND a 365 on appendix carry. But attention to detail/not getting lazy with reholstering are the key points there even moreso than a glock.

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