Let’s clear something up from the get-go. A binary trigger is just that. It’s a trigger that fires when pressed and also when released. That’s a distinction some people don’t seem to get. It’s not select fire and it certainly isn’t a forced reset trigger. Okay?
As Franklin Armory puts it in their marketing materials . . .
The Binary trigger is Franklin Armory’s patented pull-and-release trigger system (Binary Firing System) that fires one round on pull and one round on release. Franklin Armory’s patented Binary semi-automatic trigger provides users with the ability to select between semi-automatic and Binary modes and to safely cancel the release round. Unlike bump stocks or forced-reset triggers, pull-and-release triggers comply with federal and most state regulations.
With that said, Franklin Armory has been making binary triggers for more than five years now. Back in 2018 they announced their BFS III triggers for AR and then AK, CZ Scorpions and other rifles. And then they designed one for 10/22 rifles. Because why not?
The latest iteration of binary fun is a trigger for handguns. That’s a little more involved undertaking than it is for rifles where drop-in triggers make conversion a lot easier. In a pistol, you’re also talking about modifications to the slide. That’s no doubt why it’s taken Franklin Armory more than 18 months to bring their G-S173 Binary Trigger and Slide for GLOCK 17 Gen3 pistols to market after first announcing it.
The good news is, the final product has been worth the wait. We first saw and shot Franklin Armory’s prototype for the G-S173 at SHOT Show 2022. The final product is much more refined with some added features that you’d really want in a pistol equipped with a binary trigger.
The G-S173 consists of two parts, the slide and trigger assembly. You’ll need to use your own barrel and recoil spring. If you’re not comfortable swapping out the stock trigger with the G-S173 trigger, take it to a local gunsmith. It takes about five minutes to change them out. Then just put your barrel and recoil spring in the Franklin Armory slide and you’re good to go.
The G-S173 isn’t an inexpensive proposition. The MSRP is $899. You can buy a new standard semi-automatic Gen3 G17 for about $525. That said, Franklin Armory has built some nice upgrades into the G-S173 slide that you won’t get with the stock GLOCK.
Before you get your heart set on a G-S173, check your local laws. Most of the usual suspect states ban them (California, Hawaii, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware and D.C. as of this writing) but they’re A-OK in the other 41 free states.
Unlike the Gen3, the Franklin slide has forward serrations. It also comes with AMERIGLO tritium night sights fore and aft.
The G-S173 slide also has an optic cut. You can mount the red dot sight of your choice using mounting plates Franklin sells separately.
The prototype we tried lo those many moons ago only had a switch on the slide letting you toggle between standard semi-automatic and binary fire.
Franklin Armory has wisely added an additional way to tell what mode your pistol is in.
The final product has an end plate indicator. That lets you look down at the pistol in your holster or at the back as its pointed downrange and easily be able to tell whether the pistol is set for semi-auto or binary. That’s a useful safety feature.
Here’s a (poor) video of the G-S173 in action.
You can see that I squeeze off three rounds in semi-automatic mode. Then I switch the toggle to binary.
I then pull the trigger three times, firing off six rounds. Three on each pull and three on each release. After a short pause, I pull the trigger again and, while keeping pressure on the trigger, I turn the switch back to semi-auto and…release the trigger without firing another round. Then I squeeze off five more rounds just for fun.
As for feel, the G-S173 it’s a mixed bag. When you’re dry-firing the gun, the pull is kind of sproing-y and it’s clicky on the release. But when you’ve got live ammo in the pistol, things get much better. The pull is every bit as good as a standard GLOCK Gen3 (in other words, it’s OK). The release feels like a normal reset…only with a bang after the click.
While they’re a lot of fun to use and shoot, binary triggers aren’t for everyone. You have to be cognizant of the trigger, what it’s designed to do, and how it operates. If you are, you’ll love the G-S173. If you’re the type who’s easily distracted or are worried about touching off rounds inadvertently, then a binary trigger may not be for you.
It definitely allows you to squeeze off more rounds more quickly. Your split times will definitely be reduced. Release rounds also tend to be more accurate as there’s less effort required than with a five to seven pound trigger pull. It’s a smoother, more natural motion.
As always, practice makes perfect (or darned close). Once you get some trigger time in with the G-S173, you’ll see how much fun it can be. And as always, as long as you’re observing the Four Rules of Firearm Safety, you’ll be just fine.
Some will consider the G-S173 an expensive range toy. If that includes you, okay then. Lots of people have a lot of expensive range toys. Others will love the option of faster fire capability a binary trigger gives you, especially after a decent amount of range time.
There’s no reason a G-S173-equipped GLOCK can’t be your carry or home defense gun. You’ll certainly want to be sure to bring it with you on every range trip. Franklin Armory’s made good on the promise they made at SHOT in 2022 and the G-S173 is everything it should (and needs) to be. Whether it’s for you, well, only you can decide that.