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Thread: Hammer vs. Striker question

  1. #1
    Junior Member

    Join Date : Feb 2011
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    Default Hammer vs. Striker question

    I have only owned hammer style pistols. Ruger P-85, 1911, H&K USP & P30, Sig 226. I have shot a Springfield once.

    Now my novice question. What are the differences between Hammer and Striker designs and what are the pros and cons?

    Thanks, John

  2. #2
    Junior Member

    Join Date : May 2011
    Posts : 18

    Default Hope it's okay to copy and paste this. Just a great explanation.

    "In the past quarter century semi-automatic handgun design and development has exploded. There are so many trigger mechanisms out there that it's confusing to even experienced handgunners. In this thread I'll try to cover the types, names, basic operation, and major examples of each.

    The Basics
    We'll start with the three primary trigger mechanisms and build from there.

    SA - Single Action. In this mechanism the firearm's hammer is fully cocked, and the trigger pull performs the single action of dropping the hammer to hit the firing pin and fire the round. These pistols are generally carried "cocked & locked", where the hammer is back and safety is engaged. Well known examples of this are the M1911, Browning/FN Hi-Power, some variants of the HK USP, SIG P-Series SAO pistols, CZ-75 SA, and FN FNP SA.

    DA - Double Action. In this mechanism the trigger pull performs the two actions of cocking the hammer, and then releasing it to fire the round. The British often refer to DA as "Trigger Cocking" for this reason, and it helps many folks to think of DA in this way. DA autos are further split into three other categories as follows.
    DA/SA - Double Action / Single Action. These pistols fire the first round Double Action, and all following shots are fired single action. They generally use a decocking lever to safely lower the hammer, but block contact with the firing pin so the chambered round is not fired.
    Caution Decockers can fail, so always point the pistol in a safe direction when decocking. Decocker failures are rare in modern firearms, but do occasionally happen. Some older designs are more prone to failure. If you have any doubt that a decocker is not working properly have the firearm checked by a competent gunsmith or armorer.
    DAO - Double Action Only. In these pistols the hammer always stays down, and the trigger operates only in Double Action.
    Many well known brands of pistols are available in the Double Actions. Some are only available DA/SA or DAO, and many are available in either mechanism. Well known examples include SIG, H&K, CZs and Clones, Ruger, Taurus, Kel-Tec, Walther, FN, Beretta, and Smith & Wesson metal frame autos.
    DAO with reduced trigger pull - These are the new breed of DA pistols, pioneered by Para Ordnace's "LDA" - Light Double Action. These pistols keep the hammer down, but cycling the slide pre-tentions the main spring / hammer spring. The result is a lighter weight DAO trigger pull, and some also provide for a shorter trigger pull & reset. Some also have the ability to revert back to a full weight DA trigger pull to give a second try if the round does not initially fire - this is known as restrike capability. Beyond Para's LDA, examples are SIG's DAK, H&K's LEM, and some Kel-Tec and Smith & Wesson Pistols. Edit: It has been brought to my attention that the hammer rests in a partially cocked position on the Kel-Tec PF-9, P-32, and P3AT; and possibly a few other pistols as well

    SFA - Striker Fired Action. These pistols use a Striker, basically a hammer & firing pin in one. Most operate similarly to a lightened Double Action. Cycling the slide partially pre-cocks the striker, and the trigger pull finishes cocking the striker before releasing it to fire the round. Some pistols have the striker pre cocked only a small to moderate amount and are much like DAO in a traditional hammer & firing pin pistol. Others almost fully pre-cock the striker and are much like SA in a hammer & firing pin pistol. Others yet have striker mechanisms that are much like DA/SA. Glocks are undoubtedly the best known SFA pistols; others include Springfield Armory XD, Walther P-99 / S&W99, S&W M&P and Sigma, Taurus Millenium, Mil. Pro, 24/7, and CZ 100.

    No doubt I've left some things out. If I've left any glaring omissions, or made any major or minor errors, please send me a PM and I'll edit to correct them.

    If you'd like to add anything please feel free to post a follow up. If you could, please also stick with the definitions of trigger/operating mechanisms I listed above to keep things simple and avoid confusion. In your follow ups please stick to objective information and avoid being subjective. We can debate our preferences & the merits of the various mechanisms in another thread, but please keep this focused as an informative reference.

    Thank You.

    Edit 17 Jan 07: I corrected the first glaring omission I noticed and added Beretta to the major examples of DA pistols along with a couple of other tweak"



    Trigger Mechanisms; A Guide to What's What - THR

  3. #3
    Very Senior Member

    Join Date : Jan 2011
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    Default

    Hammer-fired pistols are usually easier to rack the slide if the hammer is already cocked, and usually harder if decocked. Hammer-fired pistols generally hit the primers harder than striker-fired pistols do. Striker fired pistols usually have a constant trigger pull where the trigger pull is the same from the first to last shot. Hammer-fired pistols can be safer to holster if you keep your thumb on the hammer while holstering.

    There are exceptions to everything I've said in this post, but this is just a general comparison. There are too many variations of either to make any specific pro and con list of either IMO, just general statements. I would have no problem carrying either. Personal preferance.

  4. #4
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    Default

    Striker fired pistols generally allow for a lower centerline of the bore because you don't need a hammer and axle positioned high in the grip to strike the firing pin. This allows the centerline of the bore to be lowered in the hand to improve control.

    Most striker fired pistols do not have second strike capability w/o retracting the slide but many shooters do not include that in their misfire procedure so it is a non-issue.

    Striker fired pistols generally allow for a lighter and sometimes shorter trigger pull compared to DA or DAO (or LEM, LDA) style trigger systems used with hammer fired pistols.

    Hammer fired pistols generally allow a visual check of the "cocked" status of the pistol (except pistols like the HK P9S wherein the hammer is concealed w/i the slide). Most striker fired pistols do not.

    Hammers can get caught on clothing during concealed carry or impacted during drops. Strikers not.

    Hammer fired pistols can provide a greater degree of firing pin indent under harsh conditions but not always depending on execution.

    Hammer fired pistols wherein the hammer remains in a cocked SA position require some form of either manual safety or decocking lever to carry them safely. Striker fired pistols do not.

    Most modular trigger systems (like the USP with 9/10 different interchangeable variants) allows that degree of interchange. Most striker fired do not.

    Striker fired pistols (most anyway) always remain at least "half cocked" and often contain the drop safety as part of the trigger proper.

    Which one is superior? Each has to decide based on need, shooter/carrying comfort and how the design of the particular brand/model is executed.

    G3Kurz

  5. #5
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by G3Kurz View Post


    Hammer fired pistols generally allow a visual check of the "cocked" status of the pistol (except pistols like the HK P9S wherein the hammer is concealed w/i the slide). Most striker fired pistols do not.


    Striker fired pistols (most anyway) always remain at least "half cocked" and often contain the drop safety as part of the trigger proper.

    G3Kurz
    Just wanted to clarify these two points. Most striker fire do remain half cocked-just think of it as cocked - so it's never really uncocked. Therefor there's nothing to really show.

    Most striker fire have a loaded chamber indicated so you know when a round is chambered. On a glock it's a little piece protruding from the slide.

    You know when its cocked when the center part of the trigger, the safety, will be protruding.
    Last edited by Thlax; 05-22-2011 at 10:34 PM.

  6. #6
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    The Walther P99 and Taurus 24/7 are stiker fire pistol with w/ re-strke capability similar to DA on hammer fire pistol.

  7. #7
    Very Senior Member
    5wire's Avatar
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    Default

    Nice, concise description, G3 Kurz.

    mar15, If I remember correctly, with the P99 I had, there were three different trigger conditions each with a different position. With some effort to learn these positions, there was something of a striker condition indicator. My P99 had a very short reset and a very crisp pull after the first shot providing very quick follow up shot potential. I believe there was an admonition printed in red, boldface letters: "If you want the gun to fire, pull the trigger!" The exclamation point could be just me, but those words say it all.

    I didn't shoot it enough to get use to it and I sold it but it was a fine pistol. I like the system on my P7 M8, myself. Is that a striker system? There's no hammer.
    Last edited by 5wire; 05-23-2011 at 03:51 AM.
    Bob

  8. #8
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    Join Date : Oct 2010
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    There are two aspects I like better about external, hammer fired pistols over internal, striker fired pistols.

    One...I'm visual. The gun is more like a revolver and it gives more clues to when the shot breaks.

    Two...Holstering the weapon is safer. A great technique is putting your thumb over the hammer. If you carry in the 5 o'clock position, this acts as a safety to prevent unintentional discharges.

    I do not have anything negative to say about striker fired guns. I simply prefer external hammer fired pistols.

  9. #9
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    Hk is superior to all.
    Hk pistols are currently hammer fired.
    Therefore...hammer fired pistols are superior.

    /thread
    HK USPc 40 SS LEM

    "The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed." - Alexander Hamilton

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by smacintush View Post
    Hk is superior to all.
    Hk pistols are currently hammer fired.
    Therefore...hammer fired pistols are superior.

    /thread
    Wow, I love HK handguns but this is a very bold statement.
    Study strategy over the years and achieve the spirit
    of the warrior. Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is
    your victory over lesser men.
    Miyamoto Musashi

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