Shooting Illustrated | Good Triggers: A Must-Have for Self-Defense Guns

I recently worked with a class of new shooters. It was gratifying to see that the vast majority of them had gone out of their way to acquire decent pistols that were really suitable for personal defense. I did notice, however, that some in the class were obviously pulling their triggers and putting their shots low on the targets. When I took a break in class, I checked out some of these weapons and found that in each case one of the culprits was a creepy trigger that was completely too heavy.

It has been said that a defensive pistol needs two things: clearly visible sights and a good trigger. Fortunately, most handguns designed for personal defense these days have quite a decent sight. However, this does not always apply to the trigger on these pistols. I suspect this is because there are too many attorneys involved who know more about lawsuits than safe, serviceable triggers.

Well, I’m not saying that defensive weapons require something called a hair trigger, which results in the weapon being fired with just the slightest pressure on the trigger. These are just not safe in most hands. What the defensive pistol needs is a ridge that is free of burrs and does not creep. It should break cleanly if the right amount of pressure is applied. It should be smooth enough to allow for an accurate shot, not daunting.

For the defensive marksman, it is wise to take this new weapon to a professional gunsmith and pull a trigger. I’m not going to try and get the right trigger trigger weight for a pistol because there are too many different types of guns and too many shooters with different skills. Defensive shooters need more smoothness than light. All you have to do is fire a properly tuned pistol next to an out-of-the-box pistol to tell the difference.

I often get questions on social media that say, “I just got a new gun (fill in the blank). Which accessories should I get for it? “My answer is almost always:“ Congratulations! Now get yourself a trigger job. “

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