Precise Handgun Trigger Control
Dr. John Woods 11.14.16
Handgun trigger control subtleties were noted recently during an observational opportunity at a handgun training course using a virtual reality training system.
The instructor continued to press the trainees on proper handgun hold and more specifically on trigger control, including the proper placement of the trigger finger. I learned to shoot handguns in the backyard of my rural Missouri home at the age of 10. I just simply pulled the trigger until the gun went off.
Handgun triggers have as much variability as girl or guy friends. Essentially no two handguns, either revolvers or pistols, have triggers that react to engagement exactly the same, even the same models off the assembly line the same day.
Handguns can be single action or double action. This is true for revolvers or pistols. Handguns functioning single action means the hammer has to be cocked back manually, then the trigger released with finger pressure. Double action guns require more pressure that in effect uses the trigger to “cock” the hammer or striker mechanisms. It is the amount of pressure on the trigger to release it that demands the practice to attain the precision.
Precision trigger control adds immensely to the accurate shooting of a handheld gun. It is difficult enough to hold a handgun on target given the short line of sight. Add to that a temperamental mechanical trigger that can either release with little pressure or one that requires considerable pressing to release. It takes practice and lots of it with each individual gun you own and use.
For the truly self-conscious shooter there are also finger positions to consider. Most competitive pistol shooters learn which finger pad to use for the most precise control of trigger pressure to apply for the best release. I generally use the tip of the trigger finger, but others use the second pad back, which I personally find more difficult to control the trigger pressure.
The key factor here again is real practice. Some guns you can practice trigger pull with, but I recommend using the practice rounds with the spring in the primer pocket to soften the punch of the firing pin to avoid damage. Otherwise copious live round practice is the best teacher of trigger control.