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Thread: Striker fired V. Hammer fired

  1. #1
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    Striker fired V. Hammer fired

    Simple question, can some one explain the relative merits of a striker fired pistol vs. a hammer fired pistol?
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    A good discussion took place on THR almost 4 years ago about the relative merits of each method:

    http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=247039
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    ABBOBERG wrote I'd be curious to see what brand of guns that can have a non pre-cock striker with the same trigger force as a hammer operated gun. In practice, a well-designed DAO hammer system needs a minimum of about 6-1/2 pounds of trigger pull to properly dent a primer. That is why so many DAO guns are in the 7-8 lb range; with some more poorly-designed systems in the 10-12 lb range.

    Pre-cocked strikers tend to operate in the 3-6 lb range, but non-precocked strikers would have to be operating in the 15 pound range. Why? Because a striker's straight compression spring loses force at it expands, making it a very inefficient energy-delivery device. That is why, for example, the pre-cock force on an HK P7 (squeeze-cocker) is in the 17 lb range (but then single action force is about 2 lb).

    A hammer is much more efficient at delivering the energy to the primer because clever gun designers use leverage to make the mainspring provide the same force to the hammer over its entire stroke. So far, I have not seen anyone succeed at doing this with a striker.
    And
    JamieC wrote There are mechanical advantages and disadvantages to both systems.

    Strikers, for the most part, take up less room, and because of their linear action, also need lighter springs than a hammer-operated gun. They are generally more mechanically efficient

    Because of this, a DAO pistol with a striker can have a pretty light trigger pull... although it'll probably be a little longer than a DAO hammer-operated gun's will be.

    A good example of this is the "take-up" in a Glock's trigger... That first part of the trigger pull is actually finishing the cocking of the striker. And how little effort does that take? A pound or two?

    Now take a look at, say, a Sig P220... it's trigger pull in the DA mode starts off pretty much at what it ends with. This is mostly because the hammer requires the trigger bar to move in a straight line, but transfer that linear motion into an arc. The same thing is happening with the hammer spring as well. And both the trigger and the hammer spring are generally moving over a shorter distance than the end of the hammer is.
    Not exactly the most efficient way to transfer energy, but it does work. The drawback though is that it requires a stronger spring to deliver the needed force to dent the primer, and more force from the user to compress that spring.

    For SA guns, the only advantage a striker has over a hammer is one of space... it takes up less room. It's disadvantage is that there's no way to re-set the striker without cycling the slide.

    The funny thing is, both systems can be set up to give really light, crisp trigger pulls... except that the lawyers won't let the gun companies do it.
    I guess those two cover my questions but I'd love to hear other input
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    Well, Hammer Fired vs Striker fired has the additional wrinkle of DA/SA potential in the case of Hammer fired. SA on most hammer fired sidearms is a lot smoother and easier to be accurate with than Striker fired sidearms for similar amounts of training.

    That being said there is something about adrenaline rushes making trigger pull lengths unimportant, yadda yadda yadda.

    Striker Fired Sidearms seem to be a bit easier to conceal, just due to the fact of not having a hammer to snag on.

    Hammer fired Sidearms in some cases have a decocker, where I don't know how many, if any at all in the Striker category have that. The ability to either manipulate the hammer or decock a live pistol is important to some people.

    Other than that, the only other difference for Hammer fired DA's vs Striker Fired is the chance to fire a misfiring primer again, IE for some reason you get a light primer strike, the primer is not cooperating, you could in theory pull the trigger again to attempt to fire that round, Or perhaps any crud in your firing pin channel is now cleared out by the first misfire. You would not have to rack the slide to do this, Striker Fired sidearms you would have to manipulate the slide to some degree. (Though if you have to do that, your better off just plain shucking the round and trying again)
    Really this last argument is one of the more common ones that seems to crop up.

    Myself, I have both systems. I have a Springfield XD, and a Glock, as well as a Sig, A Colt Detective Special, and a 1911. My personal tastes leads me to the hammer more often, but I do not feel unarmed with a Striker.
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    If all you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a firing pin.
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    I've always considered the striker's main advantage one of engineering efficiency: less room, fewer moving parts, lighter spring, and often shorter lock-time.

    External hammers used to have the advantage of acting as a pseudo-safety in SA guns: hammer down, it's safe; hammer cocked, it's ready. It is very easy to check or change the "status" of the hammer.

    It may be easier to finely tune a hammer action: as the sear and the hammer are both held by the frame, their spatial relationship is relatively constant. With the sear in the frame, and the engagement surface of the striker in the slide--maybe less consistent pull?

    Also, for those who might do this, an external hammer also allows you to cock the hammer to go to SA mode--whether you need a lighter trigger for a most-accurate shot, or just want to punctuate the conversation, Hollywood style!

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    Tallpine wrote:If all you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a firing pin.
    So, if all yu have is a striker every problem lks like a primer?
    It is your dissatisfaction with what IS that is the source of all of your unhappiness. Matthew Scudder

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    Personally, I don't think there is any difference. All of the advantages/disadvantages you could mention could be found in either type depending on the gun's design. The only exception I can think of would be the possible easy thumb cock/decock with hammers.

    Everything else (trigger pulls, SA/DASA/DAO, precock/non-precock, decockers, etc) depends more on the rest of the mechanism's design rather than whether the mechanism use a hammer or striker.
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    Striker = simpler.

    My GF was having all sorts of problems with the controls on my Sig 220...decocker and hammer, plus the first DA trigger pull.

    She much prefers my new G21 SF.
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    US sworn law enforcement ADs-NDs; hammer fired vs striker...

    I'd be curious to know how many of the documented or reported ADs or NDs of all US sworn LE officers involved striker fired vs hammer fired systems for the last 10 years or so; 2000-2010.

    With the increased use of striker models like the Glock, XD, S&W MP, Kahr etc it could have been a factor.

    I agree with using a hammer system because it's safer and more "user-friendly" for armed professionals/sworn LEOs/licensed citizens. As a gun magazine article explained with a hammer fired pistol, you can hold your strong side thumb down to know exactly where it is, . Even in low-light or darkness. Striker fired pistols can be used or carried safely but require knowing exactly how the trigger is set and if the pistol could fire.
    The same could be said for the single action 1911A1 series but "cocked & locked" or condition one isn't as common as 20 years ago.

    I also heard of a US airline pilot/FFDO(flight deck officer) who had a AD with a HK USP .40S&W(LEM-DA only). That took place about 3 years ago. Many industry experts blamed the stupid regulations & poorly designed issued holster for the FFDO airline pilots. A recorded demo is on www.YouTube.com of how easy a discharge could occur with the hammer fired USPcompact(LEM).

    The Springfield XD system to me is better than the Glock or Kahr but many like these brands more.
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  11. #11
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    Hammer fired Sidearms in some cases have a decocker, where I don't know how many, if any at all in the Striker category have that. The ability to either manipulate the hammer or decock a live pistol is important to some people.
    Yeah, I'd be one of those people. I openly acknowledge that it's just a quirk of mine but I have an intense dislike of having the hammer or striker "under tension" on my carry guns.

    Intellectually I am fully aware that there are other safety devices (firing pin interrupters and so forth) that only disengage with a trigger pull but even after many years of dealing with firearms I still can't get away from feeling like a cocked firing mechanism (cocked hammer or cocked striker) is a "Sword of Damocles" on my hip.

    So I have a strong preference for a DAO or DA/SA (preferably with decocker) system and in current design circles that means hammer-fired.
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    ZeSpectre, I'm with you on that one. I love my Decocker. Just pull the trigger and it fires, but won't without pulling the trigger. About the nearest you can get to a good Double-Action Revolver.
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    Yeah, I'd be one of those people. I openly acknowledge that it's just a quirk of mine but I have an intense dislike of having the hammer or striker "under tension" on my carry guns.

    Intellectually I am fully aware that there are other safety devices (firing pin interrupters and so forth) that only disengage with a trigger pull but even after many years of dealing with firearms I still can't get away from feeling like a cocked firing mechanism (cocked hammer or cocked striker) is a "Sword of Damocles" on my hip.

    So I have a strong preference for a DAO or DA/SA (preferably with decocker) system and in current design circles that means hammer-fired.
    Right there with you Ze. I know it's (suppose to be) safe. But with the hammer down or a manual safety on, I KNOW it's safe.

    Also a lot less likely for an accident to happen.

    Wyman

  14. #14
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    I am kinda the same way I like my DA/SA pistols
    It is your dissatisfaction with what IS that is the source of all of your unhappiness. Matthew Scudder

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