Quick Hit: The Lowdown on Striker Fired Pistols
Dr. John Woods 06.13.15
There is a lot of hype in the gun media news and gun advertising about “striker” fired pistols. As a general shooting consumer, you might be led to think this system is something completely new and revolutionary. Many pistol shooters think they have to run out to get the latest and greatest in handgun designs in order to stay on the cutting edge of the state-of-the-art firearm engineering. In fact, striker fired pistols have been around for quite a while.
Upon the initial inspection of a semi-auto pistol, if it does not have an external hammer to be cocked back prior to firing, then it basically has to have a striker firing mechanism. In general, all pistol fire control systems are actuated by the pulling of a trigger. When you pull the trigger it either releases a hammer or it releases a striker; the latter is basically an in-line firing pin that hits the round’s primer in the chamber to fire the round.
Strikers are just spring loaded firing pins that run on an axis in line with the chamber, which does away with the need for an external hammer to be manually cocked or cocked via double action by the trigger.
A prime example of a semi-auto pistol design using the striker mechanism is the Glock. Obviously there is no external hammer. The pistol is “cocked” by retracting the slide, which pre-sets the striker. One disadvantage to the striker format is in the case of a failure to fire initially, a second pull on the trigger will not re-release the striker a second time. The slide must be retracted again. In practice this essentially becomes a non-issue.
Upon firing a striker fired pistol, the recoil serves to completely cycle the cocking striker mechanism for follow up shots. When the pistol chamber is loaded or fired, the striker is set to “rest” in a partially cocked position. When the trigger is fully engaged, then the striker is released to fire the round.
Many modern pistols use the striker system including the Glock, Smith and Wesson M&P, Springfield Armory XDS, Kahr Arms, Ruger SR series, H&K, Sig Arms, and Walther pistols.