If you’re building your own firearm, or if you are looking at a selection of excellent hardware and trying to compare two similar models that differ mostly in terms of trigger pull weight, you might wonder what trigger weight is best for your needs.
The truth is that lots of folks don’t fully understand what role the trigger pull weight plays in how a firearm handles. Lighter may not always be better.
Getting to Know Trigger Pull Weight
What Affects Trigger Weight?
Trigger weight is a description of the force required to pull the trigger back enough to squeeze off a round.
For instance, if a trigger has a 2-pound pull weight, it takes 2 pounds of force to pull the trigger far enough to fire a bullet.
For the majority of firearms, the“work” the trigger needs to do to fire a round greatly affects trigger pull weight.
Single action triggers are only designed to release a hammer, which ignites the primer and starts the chemical chain reaction that fires a bullet.
Double action triggers both draw the hammer back and release the hammer.
As a result, double-action triggers require more pull weight to operate, so single-action triggers are usually “lighter”.
However, some weapon manufacturers deliberately make their trigger pull weights heavier than they mechanically need to be for other purposes.
What Trigger Weights Are Common for Firearm Types?
- 1-5 pounds: most single-action revolvers and semiautomatic weapons, some hunting rifles, most target rifles, some shotguns
- 5-8 pounds: some other hunting rifles, some shotguns, many striker-fired semiautomatic weapons
- Over 8 pounds: double-action semiautomatic weapons and revolvers
There are exceptions to all of these general categories, but this is a good rule of thumb you can use when comparing the trigger pull weight of a new weapon against the trend.
Heavier or Lighter: Which Is Better?
Is it better to have a heavier or lighter trigger pull? The answer is neither: it depends on what you need.
Heavier trigger pulls require a little more time and energy to fully squeeze.
This makes firing a rapid shot slower by tenths of a second compared to someone squeezing a trigger with a light pull weight. However, heavy trigger pulls can serve a purpose.
In some cases, the heavier trigger pull is a necessity if you want the convenience of a double-action trigger (i.e. you don’t want to use your thumb to pull the hammer back yourself, which can sometimes be longer than squeezing a heavy trigger anyway).
Other times, weapon manufacturers will make weapons with heavy trigger pulls for safety reasons.
Because it takes more effort to squeeze a heavy trigger, someone using one of these weapons will need to strongly consider if they want to really fire off a round.
For instance, many police officer duty pistols have heavy trigger pulls on initial firing but also feature a mechanism to make subsequent trigger pulls a little easier.
The point is that it takes more effort to fire the first shot, so they'd better be sure before possibly killing someone.
Secondly, heavy trigger pulls can be helpful if you have a self-defense or concealed carry weapon. Because these triggers take more effort to pull, they’re less likely to accidentally discharge, especially if they are ever caught on an article of clothing or something similar.
Lighter trigger pulls can also be advantageous. They’re overall easier to use and faster for taking shots.
Furthermore, light trigger pull weights facilitate better accuracy and you don’t “jerk” the weapon as much when squeezing the trigger.
What Trigger Weight Is Right for You?
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Ultimately, the right trigger weight depends on what you’ll be using the weapon for and what you’re comfortable with.
In most cases, the trigger weight of your weapon “class” is a good fit for that type of firearm.
Do you have anything else to add about trigger pull weight? Let us know in the comments section!