Recommending Only Striker-Fired Pistols?

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 4 months ago

Personal Defense Network:

Striker-fired semi-automatics were made popular in the 1980s by Glock. Although the company was not well received in the beginning, it has become one of the most popular defensive pistol brands in the world. The striker firing mechanism uses a spring-loaded firing pin that works more like the launcher in a pinball machine than that of a traditional pistol with a hammer. This spring-loaded pin is partially cocked by the movement of the slide. The trigger then cocks the pin the remainder of the way and releases it to strike the primer and ignite the cartridge. Why does this make a difference to the beginning defensive shooting student?

[ … ]

Why does this affect the decision between these two action types? The amount of force or weight of the trigger pull in many of these firearms is very similar, in about the six- to seven-pound range. But the duration or length of that weight is far greater on the double action only. Imagine you need to move an 80-pound bag of concrete from point A to point B. If point A is five feet away from point B, it is going to be much easier than if point A is 20 feet away. Similarly, completing a rudimentary test of a Ruger LC9 (double action only) to determine where the weight begins on the trigger, it took moving the trigger approximately ½ inch to activate the trigger. By comparison, an M&P 9 (striker-fired) took approximately 1/8 inch, after the weight began, to activate the trigger. You need to utilize more trigger control on the double action only, since the length of the trigger pull tends to amplify the deviation caused by lack of trigger control.

[ … ]

Here is a list of striker-fired pistols that you can consider as suitable options — but you should still dry fire the gun prior to purchasing to be sure it is right for you.

  • Glock: All models are striker fire action. Find one that fits your hand comfortably and is in the caliber you want.

  • Smith & Wesson M&P series: All semi-automatic models except Bodyguard. M&P Shield offers the striker-fire action in a very compact slim design. I suggest this if ease of concealment is an important consideration for you.

  • Ruger: SR9 and SR9c.

  • Springfield Armory: XD series.

Well … okay … whatever.  His comparison is only with double-action pistols.  Furthermore, I’m not convinced that if you’re well-rehearsed enough you can’t make that first shot as accurate as any other.  I’ve shot revolvers for a long time and I would entrust my life to them – in fact, I do under certain carry scenarios (smallish wheel gun on my ankle when the need arises for absolute concealment or in non-permissive carry situations).

But I still say, give me my 1911 any day, even with its additional weight.  With its reliability, its narrow frame (which fits my fingers knurled up from RA), and its ability to chamber a round and yet use a mechanical safety with a single sweep of the thumb as I obtain purchase on the gun, my option works for me, and is probably better.  Besides, I don’t like the feel of the springy, spongy, striker fired pistols.  If you don’t think a single stack design with its narrow frame is better for my hands, then go back in time, ask God to give you RA your entire life, knurl your knuckles up like mine (with ligaments turned into scar tissue from attacks from white blood cells), and then we’ll talk.  Until then, you’re not an expert on my situation in life.

I like the light touch of the trigger for a hammer-fired 1911, and I’m used to it.  I’m accurate with it, I’m consistent with it, it fits my hand, its safe, and I like the grip angle.  I don’t really care if it works for you.  It works for me.

I consider this to be of the same genre as debates over holsters (I’ve seen some hating on leather holsters lately).  For the most part I’m pretty unimpressed with folks asserting their bonafides and telling you what you should and shouldn’t do.  I rarely use leather, but when I do I’ve got a nice one with a retention strap.  I don’t like the feel of Kydex and I find it to run counter to concealability and unforgiving in terms freedom of movement and bending.  I prefer a Cordura holster with a retention strap for both IWB and OWB carry, and as readers know, I absolutely hate IWB carry.

I recommend that you shoot what you like, like what you shoot, and get good at whatever that is.  I recommend the same thing with holsters.  Wear what you like and whatever works for you and meets your needs.  I realize that it may run counter for a gun blog not to try to boss you around and bark orders out at people, but I respect my readers enough to believe that you’re capable of making your own educated choices.


  1. On May 26, 2019 at 10:46 pm, Ratus said:

    Hmm… Article from 2014-ish on what handgun to get.

    All I can say is, all handguns suck. Some suck less.

    Get the one that you think sucks the least.

  2. On May 26, 2019 at 11:15 pm, George said:

    The guy seems to completely blow off single action semi-autos like the 1911, and the Browning HP. Too antiquated for the high-speed low drag dudes these days I guess. I think 1911s are awesome weapons. I do not carry one as I have never trained enough with the type. Spent the early part of my handgun carrying career with revolvers and then later on some double action only semi-autos.

    I have shot handguns with some of my Vietnam Veteran friends and many of them can knock the wings off a mosquito at 40 yards with a 1911, so to speak. Give them a Glock and most of them don’t do as well. So, like Herschel says, shoot what you like. Shoot what works well for you. I was in a gun store about 10 years ago and they had a large poster of Han Solo with what looked like a 1911 in his holster. The caption said: ” Hokey Religions and plastic guns are no match for a good 1911 kid.”

  3. On May 27, 2019 at 5:34 am, Roger J said:

    I recently bought a FNX-45, made right here in the Palmetto State. The selling point for me is that this pistol can be carried either cocked and locked (like a 1911) with SA trigger pull on 1st shot or, hammer down on a loaded round like a CZ75 with an initial DA trigger pull. Oh yeah, there was also that 15 round magazine capacity…it does have a polymer frame, however.

  4. On May 27, 2019 at 5:47 am, The Old Coach said:

    DA-to-SA for me. A thing that’s never mentioned about Glock types is that the recoil spring(s) must be powerful enough to overcome the striker spring as the gun goes into battery. Thus, the action of racking the slide takes more strength and stronger grip than any other semi-auto. Being yet another old fart with Arthuritis, this means a LOT to me.

    Other factor is that, despite the claims, that little dingus in the trigger IS NOT a safety. A safety will prevent the gun from firing even if the trigger pulled.

    I’ve been revolvers-only for many years, but about 6-7 years ago I came into a P-38, and now I’m also a fan of the Walther lockwork. Current object of obsession being a Beretta 92. Looking for a CZ that I can afford. Not because I need another pistol, I just got the wants.

  5. On May 27, 2019 at 6:11 am, DAN III said:


    Both of my M&P9, Gen 1 pistols experience light primer strikes on 20% of all ammo fired. Brass, aluminum or steel-cased ammo = light primer strikes courtesy S&W.

    My 1911 pistols, my Hi-Power, my CZs and my Glock fire faithfully every trigger pull.


  6. On May 27, 2019 at 8:25 am, Bill said:

    Herschel strikes the right note; all shooters are not the same. What works for you may not be the right choice for me. This penchant to declare what The Right Choice is, is one of the ways I watch out for frauds and wantabes.

  7. On May 27, 2019 at 8:46 am, Fred said:

    3” Kimber Ultra Carry II
    Leather w/retention strap right hip
    Quality gun belt

  8. On May 27, 2019 at 9:38 am, Herschel Smith said:


    Yea it’s a 2014 article, but PDN sent it out via email blast so I thought I would respond. I had never read this one.


    Yea, I would eventually like to get an FNX pistol as they are hammer fired.

  9. On May 27, 2019 at 10:09 am, Thomas Madere said:

    Most of my adult life, I am 75, I shot and carried single action autos. I was and still am a 1911 guy. About 8 years ago I took my first defensive pistol class, out of about 15 in the class I was the only one shooting a 1911. What I learned about capacity, seemed I was constantly reloading magazines while others were shooting I began thinking about a high capacity pistol. Glocks and M&P’s were the most common.
    I bought a Glock 19 and haven’t looked back. Yes it took a while to master the trigger and I am still slightly more accurate with my 1911 than the Glock. I find the Glock faster on reloads and the lack of a manual safety one less thing to think about. I had been carrying a Colt Defender and an extra mag, now with the Glock I have one round more without the extra mag although in certain situation I may carry one.
    I still shoot my 1911’s but they are now strictly range guns.

  10. On May 27, 2019 at 11:02 am, Fred said:

    I agree with @Ratus but not about the date of the article. It’s still an important discussion.

    And @old coach, yeah, I shoot a double stack .45 but it’s hard to rack a Glock. Weird are the ways that the body breaks down.

    From the article: “but you should still dry fire the gun prior to purchasing to be sure it is right for you.”
    At the risk of trying to “boss you around” I will say plainly that this statement is wrong, or more accurately incomplete. Yes you should dry fire it, then rent and shoot one BEFORE you buy, and then rent 10 other brands and wheel guns and SA only and try those.

    Springfield 4″ duty OWB, mix of kydex and leather. And Alien Gear gun belt, best belt I’ve ever owned. Used this belt for years and always carry. It shows no appreciable signs of wear.

    Like Herschel, I don’t much care what anybody thinks of this. The first time I picked up a Springfield 4″ duty, a rental by the way, pop and pop, dead on, easy peasy. I Carry the weapon that I can hit with, oh and, that’s right snappy mac happy, it goes BANG. Every. Single. Time.

  11. On May 27, 2019 at 12:21 pm, MTHead said:

    When adrenaline hits, you will pull a 40 lbs. 1.5 in. trigger and not look back. it seems to be the most forgotten aspect of “combat” shooting. and most people will never train to level necessary to over come it.
    Find a gun that fits your hand, points well. (instinctive). and practice as much as possible. Being your honest with yourself is the hard part.

  12. On May 27, 2019 at 12:47 pm, Georgiaboy61 said:

    Started off life as a M1911 guy, probably because most all of the dads, uncles and grand-fathers in my town at the time were veterans of World War One (yeah, I’m that old), World War Two or Korea. Then got caught up in the latest fashions for a while as a member of an IPSC club, i.e. striker-fired designs.

    Now, have come full circle and am considering something like a CZ75 or similar hammer-fired design. Want the utility of a positive safety, plus a double-action pull on the first shot (from hammer down and safety on with one in the pipe) and single-action thereafter.

    If I had to choose one handgun and ditch all the rest, I’m still a M1911 guy. John Moses Browning got it right the first time.

  13. On May 27, 2019 at 1:28 pm, TRX said:

    I love the 1911, own several, and carry one often. Even though I’m not at all fond of its right-handed controls and ejection, it fits my hand and I can hit stuff with it.

    Those cute “ambi” safeties depend on a tiny tab fitting into a tiny slot in a small shaft. They work fine, carefully working the safety at the counter, but get a little too exuberant at the range, and you wind up spending $50-$100 and file-fitting a replacement…

    I don’t bother any more. I just leave the hammer down during normal carry and thumb it back as I draw. Which gives the Range Safety goobers indigestion, but people have cocked single action revolvers since 1836…

  14. On May 27, 2019 at 2:48 pm, =TW= said:

    There is no doubt the Glock is a popular and successful weapon. It has influenced the design of numerous similar pistols. However I am not convinced the trigger safety is adequate. (Proper training and care when handling, especially when reholstering is advised.)
    I prefer hammer-fired pistols- 1911, BHP, CZ75 and S&W gen 3 semiautos. Or, for something smaller, a PPK/S. Trigger break on the SA pistols is superior. The DA>SA transition on the others takes some getting used to but is less likely to result in a ND.
    The best action type for defensive carry might be DAO, in pistols such as Kahr and certain older Ruger P-series and S&W pistols.
    I reckon these are as shootable and as safe to carry as any double action revolver.

  15. On May 27, 2019 at 4:00 pm, Heywood said:

    “I recommend that you shoot what you like, like what you shoot, and get good at whatever that is.”


  16. On May 27, 2019 at 7:50 pm, Fred said:

    =TW=, and all, holstering your weapon. This is solid.

  17. On May 28, 2019 at 2:04 am, Dan said:

    With the possible exception of people with physical ailments that limit their strength and mobility the type of and design of a pistol is a MINOR
    issue. What is FAR MORE IMPORTANT is practice and familiarity with
    the pistol. The most brilliant design in the world isn’t worth much in the
    hands of someone who hasn’t practiced and the most godawful piece of
    junk handgun is a deadly weapon when held by someone with years of
    practice and thousands of rounds down range. So the correct advice to
    ANYONE is to PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE…..and get competent training to help minimize bad habits.

  18. On May 28, 2019 at 7:45 am, Chris Mallory said:

    I have tried to like striker fired plastic pistols. I can’t count the number of them I have bought. But usually before six months pass, I end up selling them. Give me my 1911’s and revolvers.

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You are currently reading "Recommending Only Striker-Fired Pistols?", entry #21309 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns and was published May 26th, 2019 by Herschel Smith.

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