Published on February 28th, 2013 | by Destinee (FateofDestinee)

How Guns Work: Striker Fired Pistols

Due to their lack of protruding hammer, many striker fired pistol designs have flooded the concealed carry market. Manufacturers such as Glock, Smith & Wesson, Springfield Armory all have popular models of striker fired pistols. But, how does striker fire actually work?

How Guns Work: Striker Fired Pistols - TheArmsGuide.com

The center circle on the casing’s rear houses the primer in centerfire ammo, such as this 9mm. Image courtesy of bulkammo.com

To propel a bullet from its cartridge, the gun powder within the casing must be ignited. Centerfire and rimfire rounds have two slightly different means to accomplish this. Both feature primers on the back end of the casing. Centerfire ammo features primer only in the center of the back of the cartridge, whereas the primer covers the entire base of the casing of rimfire rounds.
With either type of ammunition, the rear of the casing must be struck with enough force to ignite the primer, which catalyzes the gunpowder explosion that ultimately propels the bullet from the cartridge through the gun barrel.

How Guns Work: Striker Fired Pistols - TheArmsGuide.com

Lightning Strike’s titanium [captured] Glock striker. Image courtesy of lspi.com

In striker fired pistols, the striker is the component that strikes the casing, dimpling it and igniting the primer within. Glock calls their striker fired system “safe action.” As the trigger is pulled, the three inline safety mechanisms are disengaged, and the striker is moved rearward within the pistol. This increases the tension on the firing pin spring. When the trigger bar releases the firing pin lug, the striker moves forward as the firing pin spring relaxes. This motion causes the striker to impact the base of the round in the chamber, which fires the round. The video in this post features an excellent depiction of this action with visible firing internals.

Manufacturers such as Kahr Arms, Beretta, and Springfield Armory all utilize similar variations of this function. For example, Springfield’s XD series fully tensions the firing pin spring upon chambering a round, compared to Glock’s partial tension until the trigger pulls and increases the spring tension.

Striker firing seems somewhat complex, but, in fact, it involves fewer parts than the older hammer fired system (which will be the subject of future posts). There are a couple of benefits to striker fired pistols in the area of concealed carry. Firstly, there is no external hammer, allowing for a more snag-free design. It also ensures that each trigger pull, from the first through the final round of the magazine, has the same weight of pull. Some consider the lack of external safety on striker fired guns to be an advantage in self defense situations because it allows the operator to fire upon their assailant(s) with fewer steps (no need to disengage a manual safety before firing). But, there are others who feel that it presents a safety risk to carry a pistol without external safeties. The preference for the more traditional hammer fired or the more efficient striker fired systems is still a subject of much debate. What is your opinion of striker fired guns?

About the Author

In addition to writing for The Arms Guide and her personal blog, Destinee is also a vlogger. She publishes videos on weapons, gear, and fitness on her YouTube channel every Tuesday and Thursday.


27 comments
zemelb
zemelb

I just bought my first handgun last week, striker fired S&W SD9VE.  Very happy with it.  Unfortunately, I live in NJ so until I move out of state I'll never really be able to comment on how it feels to carry it, but for now I'm perfectly happy with the long trigger pull as my safety.

adcon2
adcon2

I prefer to carry hammer fired handguns only because it seems to me that if a striker fired handgun is in the "cocked" position, which it is when a round is chambered, that over time the springs will become relaxed. My hammer fired handguns have de-cocking levers. This is the same reason why I switch out magazines on a regular basis. I'm sure that all sounds stupid to someone more knowledgeable then I, but it's almost impossible to find any actual data, not just personal opinion, on this topic.  

zacfisher0419
zacfisher0419

dont listen to people like deweybrooks who made the comment below this one, he doesnt know what hes talking about. striker fired pistols have internal safeties, just because they have no external safeties does not mean they are not safe. and they usually have longer trigger pulls. he claims he carries a "peacemaker", a colt single action is what its actually called, but it is actually less safe, no firing pin block, so if the hammer is down and hit hard enough it can go off, or if he goes to cock the hammer and slips it can hit the firing pin firing it. if carried with hammer cocked and in single action, the trigger is extremely short and easier to set off and this is what gives him away as a fake all together it has no external safety either which he would know if he actually carried one. he clearly has no idea what hes talking about. the internal safeties on the new guns like glock are safe, they call it a safe action for a reason, the trigger is usually a decent length pull, with the smaller trigger safety on it that stops accidental firing and other brands have other methods that are proven to be safe to carry. people who actually carry single action revolvers carry only with 5 in the chamber, with the empty chamber in front of the hammer. i think deweybrooks is anti-gunner in disguise just talking crap, hes one of those idiots who would rather us carry a six shooter with absolutely no safeties because its not black and "scary" hes an ignorant fool whose comment should be removed before it misleads people actually trying to learn something.

Hyok Kim
Hyok Kim

Thanks for the response.

DeweyBrooks
DeweyBrooks

i carry a peacemaker. don't accidentally shoot me with your high tech crap.

abmarkg
abmarkg

"But, there are others who feel that it presents a safety risk to carry a pistol without external safeties."

Obviously they were not around when the double action revolver was the norm for LE to carry. No external safety there and they were carried for more years than semi-auto pistols have been the norm. I keep hearing that over and over from some who carry that they believe those guns without an external safety are "dangerous". All guns are dangerous if not used properly. If you follow the four basic rules of gun safety, this is not an issue. If my pistol was not "dangerous", I wouldn't carry it and it wouldn't be of much use to me as a defensive tool. Bottom line, if you are scared of carrying a pistol, you need to train more with it, until it becomes second nature. You must know your weapon and respect it, but you have no business carrying it if you are scared of it. Far too many who carry train far too little.

Tokenn
Tokenn

I became a convert to striker-fire guns when my company issued us M&P40s.  I was vastly impressed [I had tried Glocks previously and was seriously UNimpressed] by the simplicity and great ergonomics.  There's nothing wrong with hammer-fire autos or even revolvers in their proper application...but the M&P in .40, .357 Sig or .45ACP is the gun for me.

hartcreek
hartcreek

Missed a name in the brand so I must be getting tired manufacturer was Deutsche Werke  Werkfrurt.

hartcreek
hartcreek

I carry striker fired weapons but I carry mine with the tension off the fireing pins by snapcaps simply because mine were made by Deutsche Werkfrurt  (also known as Ortgies) in the 1920s in Nazi Germany.  They work very well but the safties are  grip safties and some of the parts seem a bit frail after 90 some years.  Newer stiker syle weapons I would have no problem carring with one in the pipe except I would wonder about spring fatigue.

One thing that everyone needs to consider is dryfireing a striker fired weapon should only be done with snapcaps.  Sooner or later if you do not use snapcaps you will break the tip off your fireing pin and you might not see it and then your weapon is useless and you may not know it and need it.

I am not concerned about the time it takes to work the action.  I am not concerned about someone coming up from behind because I am constatantly checking my surroundings so that someone can not come up on me from behind.  This is something that every person should be doing reguardless of being armed.

ksdad2two
ksdad2two

I like the striker fire on my XD.45 service model.

peter3101
peter3101

For me it’s down to personal preference, my favorite gun is my 229 but it does take a bit of getting used to the different trigger pulls. That’s where the striker fire guns have an advantage ever pull is the same. I understand people’s hesitancy with carrying condition one, especially with a Glock but feel proper training and practice makes carrying these guns no less safe than any other gun. The problem with the theory of only allowing experienced shooters to have access to these guns is how do we define experience, registration, that would identify new shooters and suit the gun grabbers as would the theory that some guns are intrinsically unsafe.

As for my preference of carrying a Glock or Sig in condition one, well I feel we carry to protect ourselves and loved ones, so when doing so I think of the risks and do a mental assessment. It’s great if we could always see the threat coming it would first and foremost allow us to avoid the situation altogether, and secondly if we had to engage allow us time to chamber a round and remove safeties once we had acquired and verified the target.

 

But what if we are going to our car, or walking along and the threat blindsides us grabbing one arm? Our ability to chamber a round is now severely limited, and drawing your weapon might just escalate the situation. That’s the type of scenario where I like to know my weapon is ready to go, yes it brings additional concerns regarding holstering and carry, but should these concerns not remain regardless of gun type, are we not told all guns are loaded, on target on trigger etc.

 

Just my opinion and choice but the control of threat though a risk assessment of probability X impact brings me to the conclusion of carrying condition one.

 

Gunner777
Gunner777

I guess I'm one of those old guys who would rather carry a 1911 or a pistol with a manual safety. Reading police stats there have been many AD's with Glocks especially. Of course there are more of these in police use.

 

Really I'm just not comfortable with them.

NateGranzow
NateGranzow

Not a fan, personally. I'm one of those types that prefers to carry a weapon where all internal parts are completely at rest (I'm a fan of revolver or SA/DA trigger systems), ie. not under tension (1911s carried stage three and striker-fired guns with one in the tube are ready to buck, save for the safety mechanisms). Makes me feel a little better about having the barrel pointed at vulnerable areas of my body while carrying.

JoeFabeetz
JoeFabeetz

Magtech ammo.  Dang that stuff is expensive.  Oh...sorry, I got distracted.  I like my striker fired weapon.  :)

 

SavageHenry
SavageHenry

My position on striker fire weapons? I am for them!

 

JasonMittelstet
JasonMittelstet

@zacfisher0419 All New Ruger single action revolvers since 1973 have had transfer blocks and can be safely carried with all six rounds loaded.

zacfisher0419
zacfisher0419

@DeweyBrooks oh and i almost forgot, your talking about accidentally shooting people because of no external safety, when the colt single action has no safety either you idiot, which completely exposes you as a fake, your suppose to carry it with only 5 in the cylinder because of it, with the empty chamber in front of the hammer. these new pistols are much safer then a peace maker. dont make comments when you dont know what the hell your talking about

zacfisher0419
zacfisher0419

@DeweyBrooks its actually safer then your peacemaker, if you really even carry that..if you carry with no hammer down, and your hammer is bumped it can fire, because old revolver have no firing pin block, and you have to pull your hammer back and release it to decock it, something these new pistols dont have to do, and when they do, they have decocker switches...you should do your homework before spewing crap that would mislead people, and no external safety doesnt mean no safety all together, it means no external safety, these new pistols usually have internal safeties, like glocks trigger safety....you sound like your just talking crap for no reason. maybe your anti gunner in disguise? or just not educated on how these new pistols work..

zacfisher0419
zacfisher0419

@DeweyBrooks they have usually have longer triggers like double action revolvers, or have a smaller trigger on the main trigger that has to be depressed, its not that hi tech, they just dont have external safeties...

NateGranzow
NateGranzow

@abmarkg Not really an apples to apples comparison there. DA revolvers historically have very heavy trigger pulls (12-15 pounds, commonly), whereas striker-fired pistols can often have as little as a five-pound-or-less trigger pull from the factory. Much easier to accidentally discharge a round from the striker-fired pistol.

I agree that trigger discipline is crucial, but that doesn't mean that amateur shooters aren't still going to have a higher percentage of NDs with striker-fired pistols.

Gunner777
Gunner777

@Tokenn I sure agree with you're statement. I hated having to carry a Glock. It was like pointing a two by four. The M&P is vastly better.

Hyok Kim
Hyok Kim

@hartcreek


"Newer stiker syle weapons I would have no problem carring with one in the pipe except I would wonder about spring fatigue."


Me, too.   I read that the spring fatigue for hammer fired guns does not come from the hammer being cocked, but in the process of hammer being cocked.    Once cocked, there is not spring fatigue.


I  read that  Glock used to have a big problem with spring fatigue to the point NY State police request ultra heavy trigger for durability.

Hyok Kim
Hyok Kim

@NateGranzow


"......ie. not under tension (1911s carried stage three"


I read that one could have 1911 hammer cocked with no spring fatigue.    So long as one does not keep cocking the hammer, there is no spring fatigue.

daveS52
daveS52

@Gunner777 @Tokenn I'm looking at purchasing one of these pistols and just looking for information and recommendations.  What exactly is it the you like about the M&P or don't like about the Glock?

NateGranzow
NateGranzow

@Hyok Kim Not really the spring fatigue I'm worried about. It's the idea that there's a mechanical safety under perpetual pressure holding the hammer/striker in place. No matter how robust the safety, parts do fail. With modern metallurgy and quality design, it's really not a huge issue, but it's more of a peace-of-mind sort of thing for me.


Tokenn
Tokenn

@Gunner777 

1] Ergonomics:  The low bore axis, the angle and shape of the grip makes the M&P more natural to point, more comfortable to hold and  reduces muzzle flip.  The replaceable grip swells also serve to fit the gun to the hand better.


2] The M&P trigger has the same basic function as the Glock SafeAction trigger, but does so without the weird and distracting lever.  The trigger feels more like a traditional trigger, which I greatly prefer.


3] Better barrel support for chambered round of ammo.  I believe that the Gen 4 Glocks have improved in this area, so maybe not so significant any more.


4] M&Ps have steel sights...Glock sights are plastic and somewhat easy to break [this may have changed as well].

5] last but maybe not least...the M&P looks a lot nicer than the blocky, slab-sided Glock.  Smith and Wesson have been making guns for a long time, and they know what looks good. [yeah, that's scraping the bottom of the barrel...but lots of people do care how a gun looks].


None of this is to say that the M&P is better in any real objective sense...they are both fine pistols.  These are merely the reasons they work better for me.  Note too that the M&Ps have converted lots of Glock folks.  The best course of action is to try both guns and see what works best for you.

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