Article Index

One can extrapolate from my Glock recommendations to other brands of striker-fired and double action only (DAO) pistols; a pistol with no manual safety, a healthy amount of trigger travel, and a pull weight in the range of about 5.5 to 8.5 pounds is fine for a defensive handgun of these action types. Single-action/double-action semi-autos with double action (DA) pulls of 8 to 11 pounds, and single action (SA) pulls in the 4 to 6 pound range are fine. Revolvers with DA pulls of 8.5 to 11 pounds are fine. The DA revolver’s SA trigger pull weight doesn’t concern me much, because I think revolvers should rarely ever be fired single action in defensive use, but 3.5 pounds is the industry’s minimum standard here. When I carry a revolver, it’s usually a double action only.

As to whether a highly trained individual can reasonably use a lighter, shorter trigger pull, my opinion is that almost none of us are as highly skilled as we like to think we are. Keep the game guns (and the tactics that go along with them) separate from the serious weapons.

About 400 years ago, Miyamoto Musashi cautioned us, “Weapons should be sturdy, not decorative.” Words to live by. I am willing, however, to have a trigger pull lightened, within reason, for use by an individual whose hand size and strength don’t allow a heavier pull to be used effectively. But before lightening the pull for such a shooter I would try to find a handgun with a shorter reach to the trigger, smaller grip circumference, etc., even as a custom option if necessary.


Network board member and trial attorney James Fleming did some research for us into court cases in which the question of light triggers arose. This is what he wrote:

Boy, is this not an easy question to work with. Good luck on the article. Gleaning nationwide cases, here is one illustrative case from California from 2008, a civil action:

Max Birchfield died after a handgun he was holding discharged, apparently accidently, and shot him in the chest. This happened in the bedroom of Leandra Sweatt, Max’s girlfriend, who had been given or lent the gun by her father, Charles Sweatt, to use for self defense. When he gave Leandra the gun, Charles knew it had a hair trigger-it could be fired with substantially less pressure on the trigger than an average gun of its type.

The court found–
“We will begin by assuming some outer boundaries for the sake of argument. We will take it as given that the donor of a well-maintained, properly functioning handgun with an average trigger pull weight has no duty of care to persons injured by accidental discharges occurring after the gun passes out of the donor’s control, so long as the donee is competent. On the other hand, we will assume for the sake of argument that if a donor of a gun knows it is defective and has a tendency to blow up in the user’s hand, causing injury, then he has a duty of care to persons foreseeably injured.

“The hair-trigger gun at issue here is somewhere between these outer boundaries. According to plaintiffs’ expert, the trigger pressure necessary to fire the gun was less than one pound, which was less than half of the pressure typically required for guns of its type. In addition to saying, as we have noted, that this was similar to the amount of pressure needed to click a ball-point pen, the expert also opined as follows:

“That trigger pull is considered to be extremely light, and is dangerous in function. [¶] One pound of force could have been easily applied to the trigger of the weapon accidentally, e.g., one could have inserted a finger into the trigger guard area and applied that amount of force by brushing the finger against the trigger without an intent to discharge the weapon. (The trigger guard is a band of metal which encircles the trigger.) [¶] Also, a weapon which can be discharged with such little force is subject to other types of accidental discharge.