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“Will Bill Wilson come to court and tell the jury, on your behalf, why it is acceptable to put a 3-pound trigger in a defensive handgun?” If I carried this gun, I would want to know the answer. I thought that it was prudent to find out what custom 1911 makers believe is a responsible trigger pull weight, so I checked out some websites and called other gunsmithing businesses that didn’t list trigger pull weight specifications on their websites. Wilson Combat pistols come with a 3.5 to 3.75 pound trigger pull. When I phoned Wilson Combat, I learned they would increase trigger pull weight if the customer stipulated, in other words, you can order a Wilson Combat gun with a 5-pound trigger pull.

Others sellers of custom 1911s specified–
Heirloom Precision, 4 pounds
Les Baer, 4 pounds
Nighthawk Custom, 3.75 pounds, but they will customize pull weight upwards if requested
Kimber, 4 pounds
Smith and Wesson 4 pounds
Springfield Armory 4 pounds
Para Ordnance, 4 pounds
These are the specifications of either custom gunsmiths, or the custom shops at the larger gun manufacturers. When I called to ask Colt about the topic, they refused to tell me over the phone.

Wondering what is the norm for a non-custom, stock 1911 trigger pull, I weighed some single-action semi-automatic pistol trigger pulls from my family collection.
Here are the results:
Para Ordnance, 5.25 pounds
Springfield Armory EMP, 6.5 pounds
Detonics Combat Master, 6 pounds
Colt Defender, 5.25 pounds

While, my survey of gunsmiths showed that a 4-pound trigger is the norm for a custom 1911, the stock guns will likely average over 5 pounds. This is important, because if a prosecutor argues this issue to a jury, he or she is trying to portray you as behaving recklessly or below normal standards of care. You want the jury to see you as normal, like one of them.

Expert Opinions

One of the best things about being part of the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network is the ability to tap into the collective knowledge of its members, some of whom have worked for decades providing expert witness testimony on exactly these questions. Wanting this article to reach far beyond my own opinion as just one expert witness, I posted the question to several members of our advisory board.

Their thoughts on the topic follow.


At a 3-gun program here in Colorado earlier this week, a female student was with us, sporting an expensive, custom 5-inch 1911 from a well-known manufacturer, for whom I have a great deal of respect. However, the trigger, crisp and breaking-glass-like as it was, was far too light for a serious, carry pistol. It broke at 3 pounds, and I indicated to her that it was too light for a defensive pistol, in my opinion. She graciously accepted my comments, but she clearly loved her beautiful pistol!

She loved it a little less after a high-stress exercise in which she was required to transition from her rifle (which had just run out of ammunition), to her pistol, and engage a close threat. She smoothly made the transition, drew her pistol, and fired 3 rounds at the immediate threat.

The first 2 were carefully aimed and struck the target in the center, as planned and intended. The third shot was an AD (accidental discharge). The pistol was in full recoil from the second shot and it discharged while still angled upward. It startled her. The round struck the top of the berm, a good distance over the target. She recovered nicely and finished the drill. She transitioned back to her rifle, reloaded it, and then immediately used it to engage several more targets.

Afterward, I asked her about the AD. She was trying to catch the link after the second shot, and it just caught her by surprise. No harm done, but here is the point: