Pros and Cons of Striker vs. External Hammer


Pros and Cons of Striker vs. External Hammer

To each his own as they say, but working gun shows I still get a lot of inquiries for advice on whether to buy a striker fired pistol or one with an external hammer. For me this is akin to whether you like a stick shift or an automatic transmission. One is more or less manual and the other just moves in the appropriate gear.

If you choose the external hammer pistol, then you have to learn some specifics on how to properly and safety operate this cocking-shooting mechanism. The striker fired mode is just taking off the safety (assuming it has a safety), pointing, squeezing the trigger and shooting. Of course, all this is somewhat over simplified.

I like shooting guns, and handguns are a favorite, so either striker fired or thumbing back the hammer is fine with me. You have to learn and adapt to either for proper grip, handling, safety, and accurate shooting.

Striker fired guns are “cocked” upon loading the magazine and charging the slide to chamber a round. You have to learn the safety mechanisms or know that when loaded, it is ready to be fired with just a pull of the trigger. Striker fired pistols are all double action, meaning only trigger movement alone will discharge the weapon when the safety is off.

A pistol with an external hammer can be fired single action by pulling back the hammer into its full rearward locked position, assuming a round is chambered. Take the safety off and squeeze the trigger. The pistol will fire, the slide will cycle, the empty case is extracted and ejected, and the hammer is recocked. The slide moves forward (unless that was the last round in the magazine), strips a fresh cartridge from the magazine, and the pistol is ready to be fired again with the pull of the trigger.

Or when the slide is cycled to chamber a round and the hammer lowered, the pistol can be fired by simply pulling the trigger with the safety in the fire position. Again, the gun functions, cycles, and goes through the process again. If you decide not to shoot again, the hammer should be lowered by a decock lever or by manually lowering the hammer, which can be tricky.

So, these are the essential basics of each. Range practice is essential to become completely familiar with either mode. Only then can you decide which mode is best for you.

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