Trigger Pull Weight

I am old-fashioned and still cling to the idea that a handgun is primarily for personal defense and that every shot should be aimed and hit something. I know that there are handgun competitions where a high volume of fire is acceptable. This has led to gun modifications that are not really a good idea.  Trigger pull weight is one such modification. By far, the most common handgun type you'll find in my hands is the 1911 pistol, followed closely by DA/SA revolvers. Both types of guns have SA or DA trigger systems that lend themselves to modification. 

In the case of the 1911 and its SA trigger, modification can do two different things. One is to reduce the amount of pressure required to fire; the other is to smooth the release to make it a single uninterrupted motion. Go easy on the former, since a too-light trigger pull is not a good idea on a defense gun. When the adrenaline is flowing, the wimpiest clerk at the ribbon counter will make a 1911 with a 6 1/2-pound trigger work just fine, but a 3-pounder might go before he is really ready to have that happen. The smoothness of the trigger motion is far more important the weight. Experienced shooters are usually more annoyed with a trigger that creeps to the rear with fits and starts than they are with one that is heavy. The website of ace pistolsmith Wayne Novak recommends a crisp, 5-pound-plus trigger pull on a custom 1911 used for defensive work.

DA revolvers are a little different in that the trigger has to move in order to turn the cylinder and fully flex the mainspring. For many years, we have accepted that the DA revolver trigger pull averaged about 12 pounds, but improvements in springs has lowered that to around 10. It is possible to make it less than that, but the risk of misfires grows exponentially as the effort to do so increases. It is better to put training effort into managing heavier trigger pulls than it is to risk problems with premature discharges and misfires. In short, if it ain't (really) broke, don't fix it.

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7 Responses to Trigger Pull Weight

Chris wrote:
November 01, 2011

Ever been mugged. I don't putting my finger on the trigger until I know its needed. Too much stress involved, I PROMISE an ND or at least a premature discharge.

Gary wrote:
August 31, 2011

Wally wrote: Since your finger will not be on the trigger until you are going to fire I find your argument a moot point. In a defensive situation, my finger would be on the trigger but at zero pressure. That way, if it comes time to shoot, you don't have to lunge for the trigger and commence your pull because that all takes valuable time. If that's too scary, just put your finger in the trigger guard but not quite touching the trigger.

Wally wrote:
August 30, 2011

Since your finger will not be on the trigger until you are going to fire I find your argument a moot point.

PaulK wrote:
August 23, 2011

I agree with everything you say -- with the qualification that whatever the trigger pull, if you are going to have to practice with the carry gun for at least 2 hrs per week.

Keven John wrote:
August 23, 2011

I agree. I have been at the range and handed a Ruger MkII and as I was bringing the gun on target my finger started into the trigger guard. The pistol went off just as I was making it to the center of the target. I didn't even feel the trigger! For competition this might be ok but for defensive handguns this is dangerous. I wasn't told the trigger was light and certainly not expecting what happened. Another reason to keep finger off trigger until sights are on target and ready to shoot. I will take smooth over light any day!

Ratbite wrote:
August 23, 2011

Don't forget there are those of us who have physically restrictive strength in our trigger fingers, and really need a reduced trigger pull.

ntrudr_800 wrote:
August 23, 2011

My Ruger is supposed to have a 4lb trigger pull. Now I am no expert. I have no gauge to measure this. But if it really is a 4lb trigger pull, that is the lowest I will ever need. I see no point in having less than a 4lb pull---all in the name of safety. I require full control of my firearms. I don't want to misstep & shoot accidentally. Stupid.