striker fired vs hammer fired
Jeremy S. for TTAG
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There’s no firing a gun without denting a primer (if you aren’t sure what that means, start with how a gun works). There are two primary ways to do that: hammer fired and striker fired. So, what’s the difference, and is one better than the other?

striker fired vs hammer fired
Jeremy S. for TTAG

First and foremost, striker fired vs. hammer fired is totally distinct from double action vs. single action, DA/SA, SAO, DAO, etc. Both hammers and strikers offer all of these forms of operation.

Double action means that pulling the trigger performs two actions: (1) it cocks or finishes cocking the spring responsible for denting the primer, and (2) it then releases the hammer or the striker.

Single action means pulling the trigger does one action: it releases the hammer or the striker.

Hybrid designs (forms of DA/SA, or double-action/single-action) are available in both hammer-fired and striker-fired guns. Popularity of certain action types aside, there is nothing inherent about hammers or strikers that prohibits or really even favors any given action type.

So, then, what’s the difference?

striker fired vs hammer fired
Jeremy S. for TTAG

Hammer fired guns

A spring-powered weight – typically steel – swings into the firing pin when released by the trigger.

That weight is called a hammer, and its impact on the back of the firing pin drives the pin into the cartridge’s primer. In some cases (revolvers — mostly old ones) the firing pin is integral to or attached to the hammer itself.

Hammers are more commonly seen on the outside of a handgun (an external hammer), but there are many designs with internal hammers. In almost all cases, the hammer and its spring – typically called the mainspring or hammer spring – are components of the frame of a pistol, while the firing pin is within the slide.

An external hammer provides manual control to the operator, whether that’s cocking or decocking the action, without the need to manipulate the slide.

striker fired vs hammer fired
Jeremy S. for TTAG

Striker fired guns

In a striker fired gun, the hammer and mainspring have been eliminated from the frame. Instead, the mainspring has been moved up into the slide and acts on the firing pin directly. Except, now, the firing pin is called a striker. Rather than being hit by a hammer, it does the hitting itself.

When cocked against the tension of the striker spring, the striker contains all of the energy necessary to ignite a primer. Some striker fired guns are single action: the cycling of the slide fully cocks the striker and the trigger serves only to release it. Others are double action: the trigger pull fully cocks or finishes cocking the striker, then releases it. Some are DA/SA and may even have an external decocker (so you can keep a round chambered with the hammer down, for example). The Beretta M9 and the Sig Sauer P229 are among the best-known DA/SA handguns.

However, there is very rarely a mechanism other than racking the slide by which the operator can pre-cock an at-rest striker. The Heckler & Koch P7, seen above, is one exception.

striker fired vs hammer fired
Jeremy S. for TTAG

Striker vs Hammer

A partial list of typical advantages of hammer fired handguns:

•  Easy visual and tactile indication of cocked / not cocked status
•  Manual manipulation to cock and decock
•  More space for a larger, stronger mainspring and a thicker, heavier hammer (as opposed to an in-the-slide striker, which tends to have less mass)
•  Additional options for remedial action, thanks to the ability to manually re-cock the hammer
•  It’s often easier to manipulate the slide (with the hammer cocked) vs that of a typical striker fired pistol
•  The average hammer fired pistol in single action has a better trigger than the average striker fired pistol

striker fired vs hammer fired
Jeremy S. for TTAG

A partial list of typical advantages of a striker fired handgun:

•  Fewer parts. This is true in most, but not all cases (see the Hudson H9 above). A Glock has 34 parts. A 1911 has 58. That’s total parts, and the difference in moving parts is even more pronounced.
•  Lower cost
•  Improved simplicity in function (“manual of arms” a.k.a. learning how to operate it), disassembly, and maintenance
•  Lighter weight
•  Smaller size
•  A lower bore axis (how high the bore of the barrel is above the shooter’s hand)

In the hammer vs. striker debate, there are exceptions to every one of the generalities above, and there’s a gun of each type that can suit every safety, concealed carry, and shooting preference. Just about any combination is possible with either a hammer or a striker: cocked with safety on, partially cocked with a safety, partially cocked without a safety, double action only, DA/SA (with a decocker, with a safety, with neither, or with both), single action only with a safety, single action only with no safety, single action only with a trigger safety, etc.

If there’s one generality that holds up better than any other, it’s that striker fired pistols tend to be simpler with fewer parts and are therefore less expensive. They are often preferred by law enforcement.

striker fired vs hammer fired
Jeremy S. for TTAG

At the end of the day, both hammer and striker serve the same function – to ignite a primer – and they can do it equally well. Rather than focusing on hammer vs striker, most of us would be better served by focusing on how well we shoot a given [reliable] firearm and how good of a fit it is for our hands and our carry and use preferences. Options and preferences for things like external safeties and methods of operation are much more important than whether it’s a hammer and firing pin or a striker that’s ultimately denting those primers.


This post was originally published in 2018.

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    • Also, let me add…talk to Ernest Langdon at Langdon Tactical, and examine his philosophies and approaches.

    • Have both, but when shooting for fun it’s usually a hammer equipped gun. Lever, revolver, CZ etc…

    • When JM Browning crawls out of his grave to make a striker fired answer to the 1911 and hi power, then MAYBE a striker will be on par. I choose hammer every day of the week and twice Sunday. I do own striker fired pistols and I have Tupperware in the pantry, it’s just a lot harder to get as excited about something with no wood and hardly any metal.

  1. I have both. My hammer semi auto pistols give second strike capability and are safer when the hammer is down. That’s about it.

    • Bingo. that’s why I insisted on hammer-fired for my new carry CZ.

      The hammer lowered makes an effective safety all on its own…

    • Taurus’s G2 and G3 pistols are striker-fired and have second strike capability, and their trigger safeties make them just as safe as a hammer-fired pistol with the hammer down. Lock time of a striker-fired gun is shorter than that of a hammer-fired gun, improving accuracy. I vote striker-fired superior, as did John Browning. And I am NOT a striker bigot; I loves me my 1911s!

  2. It’s interesting because last night while walking my dog, I stopped and spoke to a woman and she is a new gun owner. My guess is a panic buying COVID purchase because she is VERY green. She has a Springfield striker of some kind but she was pretty clueless over the entire semi-auto….having to rack it thing. She said as much. She was even more clueless over hammer vs striker. Naturally she asked what I carried and as anyone who frequents this site knows I daily carry a Sig P229. She was VERY inexperienced and told me about being corrected already for mishandling her weapon by some men who knew trigger and muzzle discipline. She really didn’t know what the hammer was and wanted to know and since we were in her garage, I un-holstered my weapon, dropped the magazine and cleared the chamber and explained the DA/SA operation and heavy first pull of a hammer and the difference between that and a striker. She seemed to grasp it. I had her dry fire my P229 on DA so she could feel that heavy first pull then pulled the hammer back and let her feel the SA of it. I’m unsure what Springfield she has but she said it was a .380 and had a grip safety on it. She wants to carry but Spokane is not processing new CPLs due to the pandemic, only renewals. She was totally clueless about everything but was eager to learn and I strongly suggested formal training when everything settles down.
    She was a little startled at my appendix carry wondering if I was worried about shooting my …..important things. I suspect she’s a single mother for all you horn-dogs out there so get your minds out of the gutter, I was a gentleman.

    • I have had several neighbors ask to learn. Kudos to you for teaching patiently.

      While I too prefer SA/DA, in my opinion, it takes the 2nd or third time at the range, from my experience, for new shooters to get subtle things like “pull back the hammer.” So I recommend striker fired for most new shooters.

      In this market, it is buy whatever quality gun is available and learn to shoot it If they eventually become a trigger snob, good for them.

      This article did a good job of explaining the mechanics. I might prefer a stick shift, but I won’t teach most people. For new shooters, 50 rounds down range with what they own is a good start. With a patient teacher, better.


      • I’ve been teaching new drivers….forever and the ones I teach learn stick shift FIRST. They learn in a beat up old truck with a granny low gear. When they can driver that, they can drive anything. I have a proven method for teaching the clutch and have been using that method for decades. It seems rather important to me that people know how to drive a clutch. They may be in some sort of situation or emergency and need someone to drive and to look at a gear shift with a clueless retarded look on ones face seems terribly ridiculous but then I am admittedly old school. My first vehicle was a 1951 Jeep pickup

        • I have several times benefitted knowing stick shift. A group of us rented a car in Europe and I was the only one willing to drive a stick with the other hand. I was a designated driver in my yoot on many a stick shift. (Somehow knowing how to dance reduces drinking).

          But after trying to teach my ex wife stick, I stopped teaching it.

          My gun collection is much larger post divorce… She hates guns. and dancing… back to both.

        • Neil now days a stick shift is almost an antitheft device. When I was still working I had a few younger guys who wanted to try my Miata but as soon as they noticed the clutch and shifter some decided not to.
          Mine was a not a hair dressers car though, mildly massaged LS2, T56 tranny and a silly horsepower to weight ratio. Still was close to 50/50 weight distribution too. Actually was kinda useless but impressive fun.
          I’m thinking when I finally shift into SS ( waiting on 70 so its getting close ) I might try a kit Cobra or a 34 coupe ( California Kid ) since I will finally have some spare cash.
          Still have most of the tools and such needed to do the work, although the body is not as up to snuff.

        • Its too much to be practical, but learning to shift a semi tractor with a non-synchronized transmission and double clutching is the gold standard. You very quickly learn to shift with enough skill to avoid the clutch most of the time and to think ahead on everything to minimize shifts. Same with black powder guns, every shot is so costly in terms of time you learn very quickly to plan each shot and not waste any with a miss.

          I like single actions because most are legacy designs with fine workmanship. That said, my daily shoots tend to be striker fired.

        • I can remember when ALL pickups were std. Whether on the column or floor.
          Now, you can’t even buy a work truck with a standard trans without ordering it.
          Both kids plus wife grew up driving standards.
          If it has wheels, any of us can drive it! Including an Autocar with a Brownlite trans!

        • I agree totally. Driving a stick shift means you have to listen to the engine, be one with the vehicle.
          You can push start it and use the engine to brake. drivers 101.

    • mlee, i had no idea what you carried. still don’t. at this point, to place anything new into my storage bank i have to push something out.

    • This is one of the reasons I like this site. I’ve learned a lot….just from everyone’s opinions. I’m still learning and getting a little opinionated, too. (Just like some people chose butter over margarine over lard over oil, and argue why they’re right. ) It’s fun.

    • Should have offered to take her to the range and show her more detail. She drive her car and yours. Gentleman way of doing things. (-:
      Thank you sir for offering the knowledge and advise.

    • “She wants to carry but Spokane is not processing new CPLs due to the pandemic…” And right there we see one of the problems with turning what should be a right into a government-controlled privilege.

    • Absolutely nothing wrong with letting a curious single mom know that your important things are in fine condition.

    • I’m in “Redneckville”! These rubes and shysters around here are too stupid to be carrying and too egotistical to ask questions.
      Went to a social gathering some time ago. A “preacher” in the crowd approached me and asked loudly, “Do you carry a gun?”
      “No,”, I lied, “but keep it down.”
      “I bought this today. Do you like it?” as he whipped some type “El Cheapo” trot line weight out of his guitar bag and began waving it around.
      We had a quick, sharp, irreverent talk about the term “brandishing”, the term “licensed” and not letting the whole world know you’re armed!
      Thankfully, he didn’t think to buy ammo. Therefore, the gun was unloaded. (WHEW!)
      I’ll take an inquisitive female over some knot head who thinks a set of testicles qualifies him to be a firearms instructor!

      • That’s what scares the bejeezus out of me with this recent massive upsurge in new gun owners; how many of them have any idea what they are doing? Were the riots left uncontrolled to encourage thousands or millions of new, inept, and dangerously-careless, clueless, untrained new gun owners to appear out of panic, and provide the anti-gunners with inevitable bloody incidents and legislative fodder to justify their control freak, anti-American confiscation attempts? Most, but certainly not all, frightened and new gun owners will diligently train and become proficient – but what about those who can’t afford training, or – worse – don’t even know they need it?

        • “Were the riots left uncontrolled to encourage thousands or millions of new, inept, and dangerously-careless, clueless, untrained new gun owners to appear out of panic, and provide the anti-gunners with inevitable bloody incidents and legislative fodder to justify their control freak, anti-American confiscation attempts?”

          Bravo George! At first I LMAO reading that but quickly sobered up when considering how evil and dangerous the agenda really is. What a brilliant train of thought that could POSSIBLY be a correct description of the orchestration of events and hopes for the desired outcome. The more components added to the scenario greatly reduces the chances of suspicion by the general public because it would appear too far fetched. But the overlords, (unlike their sheep), are absolute masters in the understanding and manipulation of human psychology. Their predictions of our reactions and responses are deadly accurate.

    • I’m a new gun owner as well and just as green as the rest of them. I recently picked up the P320 Compact (it’s striker fired) and I absolutely love it. But I spent the time learning the ins and outs, so I know the different types of 9mm ammos, the modularity of the P320, how to take it apart, clean it, oil it, and not to mention safety measures and gun discipline.

      A little research goes a very long way, as does reading the manual. I also have spent the last week just keeping it next to me, holding it in my hand, swapping out the magazines and taking it apart/putting it back together… dry firing, just getting a general feel for it because I know being comfortable with it is important.

      I’ve also taken the time to learn about the different Sigs, the differences between them (P226, P229, P320, the Legions, Matches, etc). Recently picked up a holster for IWB carry. Maybe you should suggest your neighbor do the same. It would likely make her feel way more confident and informed.

    • To Grumpy Old Guy – Why did you double clutch a non-synchro. Even in modern syncho manuals the only time the clutch is needed is to start the vehicle from a dead stop. After that you only touch the clutch if you screw up the the shift (without the clutch) or come back to a stop.

  3. My cheap Tauruses have 2nd strike capability. And they run just fine. I’ve had hammer fired guns. They ran fine No preference!

      • My thought exactly, and can’t say I blame him. That is one beautiful and interesting lineup.

        • Thought this was forgotten weapons with the Hudson H9… And an FK BRNO? The fact that it is hammer fired is the least interesting thing about it…. But props for taking it in a different direction instead of just 1911 vs Glock, or M9 vs Glock. And the P7 kinda muddies the comparison since it doesn’t compare to most hammer or striker fired guns with its squeeze cocker, fixed barrel, gas retarded system. Could be titled “check out some crazy, unique guns.”

    • Loved my wife’s little striker fired pocket pistol until ammo got scarce and we started shooting cheap foreign stuff. The occasional light strike was disappointing. Not an issue with my hammer guns.

  4. Only have experience with Glocks and Ruger GP100. I notice the trigger is so much smoother on the revolver. Is this a function of revolver vs semiauto or striker vs hammer/pin? Or just the nature of the particular makes?

    • The Ruger GP100 has a phenomenal trigger for a revolver. Stock Glocks have a poor trigger. Any trigger kit on a Glock dramatically improves the experience.

      Or buy a Sig, Walther, or CZ and find out what a fine trigger out of the box is like. But a Sig SA/DA or CZ SA/DA to understand why so many like hammers.

      But my gunsmithed (professional, not at home) Sig 5x easily has the best trigger of all my guns. I had my P226 polished, but putting another 5,000 rounds through it did a better job, my SP2022 was “self-polished” by firing 28,000 rounds. 🙂

      There are many good guns out there. A stock Glock is reliable (unless, like myself, you bought one during when they had sloppier spring tolerances, but that was fun to diagnose/fix). I would try a Sig P320 or CZ P10C for a better comparison. The H&K VP9 is also good as well as any Walther (CCP M2 though, the original CCP needed a redesign).

      • “my SP2022 was “self-polished” by firing 28,000 rounds.”

        Not everyone can afford spending nearly 50 thousand for a manual ‘trigger job’ like that.

        Will 28 thousand dry-fires get the same result?

        • About 18 cents a round. Yea, a $4k+ trigger job. Honestly, the sp2022 needs 300 fires to smooth out. Dry fires do just as well. The higher end Sigs need a few thousand to become awesome.

          $50,000 would be well over 250,000 rounds. But yea, I spent more firing than on the gun. My friends like to play battleship targets or cards… We’ve tried other game targets, but those are our favorites.

          play battleship with S&W shields. That will humble anyone.

  5. I own both (hammer and striker) and have fired probably every combination out there (internal/external/striker/etc). I can find things I like about most guns but I keep coming back to my 1911; it’s just a masterpiece of ergonomics, functionality and aesthetics.
    So I gotta go with hammer.

  6. That P7 triggers me. I go silent and start twitching every time I see it. Envy is such a dark emotion.

  7. Welp, I’m kinda gonna bum ALL y’all out.

    From and aesthetic/historic POV? I’m a gun snob. Used to own a Colt Python (how I came not to own it is a story I prefer not to dwell upon) – best effin’ stock trigger EVER on a handgun (although my 1911 in SA comes close). And I love the look and feel of classic guns – 1911, Python, S&W wheelguns, etc., etc. Just flat love ’em. So, MOSTLY my aesthetic preference (for trigger pull as well as looks) is a hammer.

    Now let’s talk carry/defense weapon. Whatever TF works best for you – fits your hand, you can use/access the slide release/mag release/cocking-decocking controls, points well, has recoil you can handle and make a good follow-up shot. Discussions around “it’s reliable and it shoots great, but I don’t like how it looks” simply p*** me off. If I’m carrying it (concealed) or it’s in the nightstand (home defense) I simply don’t give a rat’s @$$ what it looks like. DOES IT WORK??? First time, every time. Can I reload it quickly? Does it point well? Will it hit my target at normal defense distances? Does the trigger allow me to make an accurate first shot? Do the controls fall readily to hand?

    THOSE are the important issues for a defense/carry pistol; the rest is errant nonsense. And those criteria yield different answers for most every shooter. Everyone’s hands are different. As I get older, with arthritis setting in, as much as I love my 1911 and S&W 629, the recoil does make it tougher to make that second shot. Not a fan of polymer frame pistols, but . . . I carry a Glock. Have NEVER had a jam (which actually surprises me). I can make the first shot, quickly, on target. Follow up shots are no problem. Controls work for me. I have pistols that point better (a little), but it is definitely good enough.

    All the rest of the nonsense is like a late night, drunken dorm room discussion – fun to have, but who actually gives a s***?????? Gimme a gun I can carry comfortably and safely, works when I need it to, will hit what I aim it at, I can cycle/clear/reload when I’m groggy or amped on adrenaline.

    The rest of it? Go spark a bowl and argue about it with your dorm crew at 2am on Saturday. I don’t have the time or the patience.

    • It was just an article to induce conversation and a little traffic. You sure write like you have been drinking. A guy that knows and has done everything when you get a few drinks in him.

      • Gosh, so, since you are SUCH an analytical and intelligent commenter, perhaps you could actually respond to my point. What did I say that was incorrect? Is there a “better” value than focusing on a firearm that is usable for you?? If so, what is it???

        Or perhaps you’re just an idiot.

    • “Not a fan of polymer frame pistols, but . . . I carry a Glock. Have NEVER had a jam (which actually surprises me). I can make the first shot, quickly, on target. Follow up shots are no problem. Controls work for me,”

      I AM a fan of polymer frame pistols and I agree with most of what you say. Why are you surprised about a Glock not jamming? The four I own have never “jammed” i.e. ftf and fte. Why do you think it is the preferred sidearm of so many LEO’s? It’s not the looks or the price. Metro in my state can afford anything.

      • Totally fair comment, but I was just (pleasantly) surprised by HOW reliable the Glock was. As I said, I have literally never had a jam (and, yes, you were also correct to call me out for not being precise – I did mean FTF or FTE). I have a Kimber 1911 and a Beretta M9, both of which I truly enjoy shooting, but the Kimber is picky about what it will eat (if I use cheap ammo at the range, I will get a jam about every 1,000 rounds or so. If I use REALLY cheap ammo – range reloads – maybe more like every 200 or 300. With good ammunition, it almost never jams.). The M9 is even better, but will still give the occasional FTE (once every 2 or 3 thousand).

        Wasn’t meant to be a knock on the Glock, just that I was pleasantly surprised. I have five semi-auto pistols. I usually use “factory” ammunition in them, but occasionally I’ll get to the range and be low, and I’ll get range ammo just so I can practice. ALL of my other semi-autos jam occasionally. The Glock? Never. Still not a huge fan of the way the frame flexes when I fire (the gun is still more accurate than I am, so it isn’t a function issue, it’s a “feel” issue).

        My point was simply that, at least to me, the ONLY issue that matters is . . . does it work? I wouldn’t try to use the Glock in a 3 gun competition, but I wouldn’t carry my Kimber, even with expensive ammunition.

        • An honest and sincere response. I respect that. Agreed. Carry what you want and don’t mind the cuckoo birds who sometimes drop by these forums.

    • Gee – you must be a real joy at parties. Howsabout mebbe not reading forum comments you feel so superior to, so you don’t feel compelled to act like a jerk?

  8. The only striker fired gun I won’t bother with is the Sig 320/M17,even if they have just settled the latest lawsuit over firing without human intervention..

    • Did the Army actually test the guns? A drop test is mandatory for any firearms test.

      • Yes, and they passed just fine. Like all MIL-PRFs, the requirements are fairly detailed and specific. The guns don’t go off when dropped at the test angles.

  9. I have owned and carried them.

    Put many thousands of rounds through them.

    The best one is the one I have on my person at that time.

  10. I love the second strike capability that a hammer fired gun affords me. It’s comforting to know that if I pull the trigger in a life or death situation and my gun doesn’t go bang, rather than take a sensible remedial action that might correct the problem, I can just keep pulling the trigger while I get shot in the face.
    -Every Hammer-Fired Aficionado Ever

      • Considering lots of the comments are guys talking about muh second strike capability….tells me it went over your head.

  11. I purchased my first gun four years ago. Did not know a striker from a hammer, a 1911 from a plastic-fantastic. New nothing about triggers except that you pull them. My only concern was about making the gun work for me. Learning safety, learning accuracy, keeping it clean. I didn’t understand very much about gun mechanics; this is the gun I bought, now how do I master it?

    Yes, learning how to draw, get on target; learning the law, and working through shoot/don’t shoot scenarios.

    It was not about the gun, it was about mastery of the gun.

    All of you on TTAG have taught me a great deal. I have purchased several other hand guns, and, when money frees up, will purchase a few more. Thanks to all of you for this continuing education.

  12. What we do know from the history of firearms is that a long hammer fall effects accuracy. With muzzle loading accuracy it is important to keep still between the trigger pull and the ignition of the primer. So too with the hammer fired pistol as the hammer has to travel further than the striker. It means that striker fired pistols are inherently more accurate while the hammer fired pistol is still crawling out of the stone age.
    Taurus is working on this problem with the shorter hammer HMP+, and the results are pretty spectacular.

  13. One of my daily carry guns is hammer fired. But that’s a KelTec P3AT, and the hammer may as well be internal, it’s not like you can do anything with it. Just a pocket gun, very small, looks like a wallet in the pocket because the holster is designed to give that impression if it is even noticed at all.

    The gun on the belt when I open carry is a striker, Ruger SR9. Because it works for me and with two spare magazines on the belt I’m prepared for the Alien Vampire Zombie Virus Apocalypse.

    At times I have carried my Charter Arms Off-Duty, .38 Spcl five shot. So, SA or DA as you like.

    Have not carried my PARA USA 1911 Exprt, just enjoy shooting it. I’ve thought of buying a drum magazine and adding suspenders to keep the pants up, but that rig would make for one expensive and lumpy holster.

    Have not carried my Remington R51, but I do like how it shoots. That’s an internal hammer by the way. Haven’t had much time to shoot it, possibly it will replace the KelTec eventually, time will tell.

    I miss the S&W 59 I carried for 20 years. Always tempted to pick up another, even though it was a poor fit to my hand. Don’t know why, just liked it anyway.

    • “I’ve thought of buying a drum magazine and adding suspenders to keep the pants up” .

      The sarcasm of firearms writers and commenters is good stuff. I read it late at night when I can’t sleep and every few minutes I wake up the old lady when I can’t help but laugh out loud. You guys need a “tip jar”.

  14. “Others are double action: the trigger pull … finishes cocking the striker…”

    OK, so you are using a definition for ‘double action’ which allows the hammer/striker to be carried 99.999999% cocked? How is that materially different from a ‘single action’ where the hammer is 100% cocked?

    And you wonder why Glock users keep shooting themselves.

    OK, I suggest you change your definitions, because otherwise you are misleading everyone big-time. Single-action: The hammer/striker is NOT cocked by the trigger, only by the slide or manually using the operator’s thumb. Double-Action: The hammer/striker is completely uncocked until the operator cocks it using the trigger or his thumb.

    In other words, the Ruger LCP II is NOT single- or double-action, but some third kind of beast. Call it ‘partial-action’, if you want. But to call it ‘double-action’ is a dangerous fraud because it perpetuates accidental discharges when holstering. A weapon with short 4-lb trigger-pull is just NOT as safe as one which requires an 8-lb long pull.

  15. This argument goes back clear to the trials that chose which pistol design was going to be the sidearm of the US Army before WWI, when the Luger and the pistol that became the 1911 went head-to-head at the pistol trials.

    Yes, that’s right the P08 Luger is a striker-fired handgun. It lost at the trials to the 1911.

    I just want folks be cognizant that striker-fired guns aren’t always cheaper, simpler, or more reliable than hammer-fired guns. The Luger lost due to reliability issues. Today, there’s no way you can make a Luger as cheaply as you can a 1911.

    The above lists of comparison points are generally correct. Two other issues:

    – Many hammer-fired pistols have floating firing pins, which might become an issue in drop tests, and
    – Hammer fired guns have triggers that can be made better with work by a gunsmith. Most striker-fired pistols can’t do much to improve their trigger pull “crispness” as you can on a hammer-fired gun.

    I should make it clear here that even 100+ years ago, gun company marketing people were often telling lies about their products.

    The 1903/1908 Colt Pocket Hammerless (in .32 and .380) had hammers. They were concealed inside the slide. These were both JM Browning designs.

    The 1908 Colt Vest Pocket Hammerless (in .25 ACP) did not have a hammer. It was a striker-fired action, as was its forerunner, the 1906 FN. These were the first “vest pocket” pistols, and were sometimes called the “Baby Brownings” and were both designed by JM Browning.

    Moral of the story: Just because a gun has no externally visible hammer does not mean it lacks a hammer.

    I’ve not seen a striker-fired pistol where the trigger could be made as good as the best hammer-fired handguns. As a result, most all accuracy competition handguns are hammer-fired, even when the hammer isn’t visible (eg S&W Model 41, High Standards, etc).

  16. Carry what you like; like what you carry. I prefer hammer-fired steel, but that’s me. I’m old, and therefor entitled to be grumpy and opinionated.

  17. I prefer hammer fired. My favorite pistols that I own are a Beretta 92 and a Ruger SP101.

  18. Necessary:
    1) Reliability
    2) Grip and trigger reach that allow for proper trigger control
    Everything else is something you can train around. There are many pistols of either style that fit those requirements.

  19. I was recently given a bunch of small rifle magnum primers and have been using them to load 9mm since primers are impossible to find right now.

    They work fine in anything hammer fired. MP-5, KP-9 and AR-9 carbines or a Beretta M9-a1. Glocks rarely fire on the first try, the primers are just too hard. I’ve got a lighter ‘D’ hammer spring for the Beretta, but I’m not putting it in until I can get regular pistol primers again.

    I generally prefer either striker fired or single action guns for the consistent trigger pull.

    DA is fun now and then. I’ve never bought the argument that they are better because you can pull the trigger again if the gun doesn’t fire. You are better off racking the slide and getting rid of the bad round. The only time I can remember a factory centerfire round misfiring, the case didn’t have a flash hole. The primer blew itself out of its pocket. It was yellow box RP 9mm FMJ.

    • which manufacturer uses glock primers; i’ll avoid them.
      unless you mean dao, da/ sa guns can be utilized as sao with 2nd strike capability.

  20. Never used a striker. But a hammer on a firearm is like a stick shift on a vehicle. Raised with it, used to it.

  21. I’m a revolver guy, so when it comes to semi-autos a DA/SA seems to make the most sense. I went a year or so without a semi-auto pistol after I sold my Ruger P95 but recently replaced it with a Beretta 92 Compact Inox. I previously owned a full size 92fs, which I very much liked, but I have to say I’m quite enamored with the Compact. Like any 92 that doesn’t come with a price tag several hundred $ more than the basic ones, a lighter hammer spring is a must though, especially if you’re looking for something akin to your DA/SA revolver (the elite, performance, etc. models already come with a ‘D’ spring – 16lbs vs 20lbs).

    When it comes to reliability, I can’t see that striker or hammer fired has a significant advantage, if there’s two guns out there that you can count on going bang every time it’s the Beretta 92 and the Glocks.

    • Re: Reliability: The only issues I think I’ve encountered on striker-fired pistols are these:

      – broken strikers. This, I attribute to techniques used to make small parts in guns, eg, MIM that was done on the cheap, etc.

      – as time goes on, the striker spring might start to fade, and light strikes can happen. A replacement of the striker spring brings them right back into full function.

      Hammer fired guns have their own issues:
      – mainspring powering the hammer fades – again, replace the spring, you’re back in business
      – Some hammer-fired guns that have a ‘half-cock’ notch can suffer when/if someone has the hammer in the half-cock notch and they drop it, causing the sear or hammer to chip/break. This is a bummer, because replacing the sear or hammer (or both) will mean that it will take re-doing any trigger job that the gun used to have.

      That’s about it from my perspective, but, to each their own.

  22. According to my humble opion,

    – Impact elements of hammer pistols should be more stable. They carry both hammer and sear in the same location… In the frame…Their connections seem unchangeable. Striker pistols carry striker in the slide and sear in the frame… their connections seem not as stable as hammer kinds…
    – Striker pistols might be cheaper to make for the manufacturers only having good tolerance machines under good control… Others could not maintain needed precision to make this kind of production… Trying to make them would create more cost than hammer pistols…
    – Low barrel axis should not be a measure for both kinds… Remington 51 is a hammer gun for instance and Lebedev also…
    – Striker pistols cocking against the recoil spring, might have an advantage not giving battery off firing if slide not reaching to the foremost place over the pistol since the mainspring would not get its needed compression… Semi cocked strikers should have more advantage at this concept… Striker pistols cocking against to frame, like old FN 1910 can not get use of this advantage of course.
    – Hammer pistols having the advantage of using the mainspring force through leverage, would give more powerfull impacts to detonate the primer… Striker impacts, through their unchangeable linear motion, would not provide this…

  23. The Walther P99 anti-stress is another interesting striker fired design that can pre-load the striker. I love mine and chose it over the PPQ for that reason. Also has a phenomenal trigger and de-cocker.


    • You are clearly a poor and not used to the excellence of german guns that can fire rounds no matter which way you put them in a magazine.

      • Oh it was a joke? -So funny.. I can’t stop laughing….(not)….

        I wouldn’t get into the habit of making ‘jokes’ with live bullets and handguns…play stupid games…win stupid prizes…….what’s the next ‘joke’?- a pic of the barrel stuffed up with plasticine?

        • Several years ago, H&K had a marketing brochure at SHOT where the cover art had the rounds loaded backward. H&K didn’t notice, but everyone else did. Since then, loading rounds backward in an H&K mag has become a running joke.

        • …So he puts the mag in the HK thinking ‘yeah they’re loaded in backwards… just as I left them for the ‘joke photo shoot’….but doesn’t realise his wife noticed the badly loaded mag and she reloaded them all in correctly…… He then picks up his Hk for some ‘dry fire’ around the house….and then……Boom……….
          Play stupid games……. just sayin…..

        • With every ND that ever happened….. the person who pulled the trigger thought beforehand about the likelihood of an ND “yeah that sounds realistic hahahahaha derrrr”…..

    • Agreed that it may not be the best choice for a competitive shooter… but other than that I struggle to think of anyone putting hundreds of rounds downrange with a pistol without a break.

      • When I go to an outdoor range I shoot 400-600 rounds of 9mm at steel in around 1.5 hours with an M and P. I hear the HK ‘stapler’ will have to cool off for 20 minutes after every 50 or so rounds….Am I right?

  25. Striker Fired vs. Hammer Fired Guns: What’s the Difference?

    One uses a hammer and the other a striker.

    Next question.

  26. My old gun is a ruger p89. I really like an external decocker. My new handgun is a North American Arms Pug. I have rented stricker guns before. But I will stick with hammer guns.

  27. I keep reading about the vaunted second strike capability of hammer fired guns. Yet, in my experience, it’s only been with hammer fired handguns that I’ve even needed a second strike capability. That is, my cases of light strikes have always been on hammer fired handguns, never on striker fired. The apparent benefit of second strike capability of hammer fired handguns, therefore, sounds a lot like the risk of first strike deficiency of hammer fired handguns.

    • There are plenty of striker fired guns with that capability and plenty of hammer fired guns without it. The main point of this article is that the action type (DA, SA, hybrid, etc) is completely separate from whether it’s a striker or a hammer. “Second Strike Capability” is marketing speak for double action.

  28. You forgot to mention that striker-fired pistols tend to have a quicker lock-time vs. hammer guns (which also lends itself to a faster cyclic-rate).


  29. Own both.
    Despise the long, hard, drawn out trigger pull of a hammer gun.
    I’ll keep my striker fired S&W M&P, thank you very much.

    I like being able to know if a gun is safe simply by looking at the hammer.

    My EDC has no safety.
    It’s striker fire and it’s draw and fire. No fumbling with a safety. No getting hung up in an OODA Loop!
    After carrying it for over 4 years, every time I touch it, even if I’m just checking to be certain it’s still in my holster, I’m thinking, “No safety!”.

  30. I prefer hammer fired sa/da, with or witout decocker. In my head i know those cocked and locked guns cant go off due to pin safetys and trigger safety i still like having a hammer down even if that first pull will be harder. But im near 50 and my first real semi auto was a beretta. Does anyone have a recomendation for a sriker fired sa/da with decocker. Something like that might change my mind

  31. The debate should include carrying loaded with a round in the chamber. Suddenly that can focus the debate. On a sig p320 that I bought I find that I would be worried about carrying it with a round in the chamber. You can’t decock it!!! Then you’ll have to clear before reholstering it. Even my old Walter p38 has those mechanisms in place and I like it that way.

    • It doesn’t include that because carrying cocked isn’t a necessary feature of striker vs hammer. There are plenty of striker-fired guns that are double action only or DA/SA and can be safely decocked from SA down to DA and carried with no tension on the striker or that only partially tension the striker and require the trigger pull to finish cocking it (like GLOCK and many if not most others). You’re conflating operation type (DA/SA/DAO/hybrid, etc) with striker vs. hammer mechanism. This is discussed in the second and subsequent paragraphs…

  32. Shoot yourself often with the P7? (;-) (your photographer needs a lesson in how to load a magazine).

    My striker fired guns don’t pinch the web of my thumb, like my 1911s. Just bought a bunch of Commander bobbed hammers to fix that. Lock times are better with striker fired, so accuracy is better, all else held even. Only my Colt 1911 Series 70 comes close in trigger feel to my python, and the striker-fired DA/SA guns don’t come close. But they’re fine, nonetheless.

    Interesting article – and nice photos (except . . . )

  33. My P-38, P-1, Kimber Crimson Carry, S&W M&P .40, are soon to be sold. None of them can be racked easily (if at all) by these 80 yr old hands and the first-round-firing DA trigger force of the first two is no longer do-able (“Old age is not for sissies”). However, my Sig P320 is a pure wonder and a pleasure to handle. Consistent, light trigger pull with better accuracy than that of which I am capable. Since I have always carried the former hammer-fired weapons (the last three plus an issue 1911) locked, loaded, cocked, thumb safety on, that aspect never mattered. Incidentally, that 1911 was a bit unique — the Air Force gunsmiths at Kelly AFB, TX modified about 500 or so, still in cosmoline, new guns to make them easily concealable by shorting the barrel/slide 1 inch and removing one rd from the mags. I used to joke about mine turning out 4 dresses a week, lo-ong before knowing what I had. When Clinton ordered them destroyed because the slides cracked, that ended it. THAT’s when I found out what a War-Time 1911 stamped with Singer Manufacturing Company (without the “Property of US Government” stamp) was worth. True story. . One of 500 made there.

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