Firearms

Pros and Cons of Striker-Fired Pistols

A gun shooter holds 9mm automatic pistol in right hand in front

Pistol designs have come a long way from the classic steel offerings. The majority of modern handguns are polymer-frame, striker-fired pistols. Every handgun manufacturer worth its salt has a striker-fired option, but what makes them so popular? And why should you consider a striker-fired pistol over a more traditional option?

What Striker-Fired Means… 

First off, let’s set a baseline for what we mean by “striker-fired.” Striker-fired refers to the firing mechanism of the firearm. Striker-fired pistols utilize a striker/firing pin combo that typically cocks as the slide is cycled. There is no hammer to pull back and release, pulling the trigger simply releases the striker. The result is a single, consistent trigger pull with a predictable break and reset. The trigger pull weight is usually much lighter than a traditional double-action and a bit heavier than a single-action-only.

Glock striker assembly
This is a Glock striker assembly.

Some of the most popular pistols use a striker-fired action, such as all Glocks, the SIG P320, Smith and Wesson M&P, and Springfield XD. They’re popular for military, law enforcement, and civilian use. If you’ve spent any time around firearms, you’ve likely handled — or at least seen — a striker-fired action, whether you knew it at the time or not.

Pros

There’s a reason striker-fired pistols are so popular, and they definitely have their advantages. One of the biggest reasons to own a striker-fired pistol is its simplicity. The striker action requires very few parts. This means there’s not a lot to go wrong or malfunction. It also allows the guns to be very cost-effective, as there’s not as much machining and parts fitting required.

This simplicity makes disassembly and maintenance easier, especially for those with less experience with firearms. Fieldstripping is completed in a few steps, and complete disassembly is typically not much harder.

Additionally, most striker-fired pistols have a completely sealed action. This prevents dirt and debris from entering the action and causing malfunctions. This makes striker-fired pistols incredibly reliable and durable, two requirements for a self-defense or duty firearm.

Glock 26 and Ruger LCP Max
You can see that this striker-fired action of the Glock (bottom) is more sealed than the Ruger LCP Max (top).

Cons

Even though striker-fired pistols are great, they do have some disadvantages. That same consistent striker-fired trigger pull that I praised above will also never be as great as a crisp single-action break. Some budget examples can be spongy and gritty, but most are decent. Even in the best examples, a striker-fired trigger break will never be as good as a crisp 1911.

Additionally, the striker-fired action is typically found on polymer pistols, which is great if you want a cost-effective firearm that simply does its job. However, if you’re looking for something more detailed and refined, you’ll likely need to turn to a hammer-fired option.

SIG P229, SIG P226, and Glock 26
A single-action pistol (top), striker-fired pistol (middle), and double-action/single-action pistol (bottom).

Another criticism often made of striker-fired pistols has to do with safety. The lighter trigger pull can be concerning to some shooters who feel light the gun may accidentally go off. Further, there’s often no manual thumb safety on striker-fired pistols, though there are many models with that option. 

All I will say is that if you practice safe firearm handling, stay aware, and keep your finger off the trigger until you want to fire, you’ll likely have no issues. However, if you’re more comfortable with a pistol that has a heavier trigger pull and manual safety, then a striker-fire is probably not for you.

Glock 26 with extended magazine
Glock pistols are some of the most popular striker-fired pistols.

Conclusion

Striker-fired pistols certainly have their place in every gun collection. They’re great for concealed carry, duty, home defense, and even competition. They do have their drawbacks, but I believe they are outweighed by their benefits. The great thing is, you can always own more than one firearm.

Do you like striker-fired pistols? Why or why not? Share your answers in the comment section.

About the Author:

Alex Cole

Alex is a younger firearms enthusiast who’s been shooting since he was a kid. He loves consuming all information related to guns and is constantly trying to enhance his knowledge, understanding, and use of firearms. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t do something firearms-related and he tries to visit the range at least a couple of times a month to maintain and improve his shooting skills.

His primary focus is on handguns, but he loves all types of firearms. He enjoys disassembling and reassembling firearms to see how they work and installs most of the upgrades to his firearms himself, taking it as a chance to learn. He’s not only interested in modern handguns and rifles, he appreciates the classics for both historical value and real-world use.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (18)

  1. A safety is useless to me and I cannot see the benefit of keeping a round chambered unless you’re in a combat situation. Driving, camping, shopping or siting around my house are not combat situations. But if I’m a rough neighborhood alone or pumping gas in Atlanta, there IS temporarily one in the chamber; no safety, with one hand on the weapon…those are the closest I ever get to combat situations. I figure in most other cases, if I don’t have time to chamber a round then I’m not taking time to use good judgement regarding the seriousness of the threat. Talk about proficiency or negligence just sounds like tough talk to me…no matter how much I’ve trained over 50 yrs of shooting, I still slip up now and then like everyone else. Slip-ups and ready-to-fire guns are way more dangerous than the usual threats I face in civilian life

  2. Safety ? No safety ? All good to go with your idea of whats best up until the moment you yourself are not in control . You drop dead of God knows what and some kid or passer by or your wife has ti take control of it and make it safe . A safety is a small measure of hopefully keeping someone else from harm when conditions are not of your control . At some point you will not be .

  3. Something that no one has mentioned that could be a lifesaver is if you get into a fight and the attacker gets your gun it might take him some time to figure out the safety and give you time to escape!

  4. @NICK, I don’t know I agree that appendix carry has NEVER ever resulted in an addadicktome operation, but I do agree we will NEVER hear about it. 🙂

  5. While I have two striker fired pistols; the lack of an external hammer and the lack of an external thumb safety are a concern for me to leave a round chambered in these guns. The second issue I have with these guns are the lack of a crisp trigger pull. I was able to have my gunsmith pretty much correct the crispness issue with my Sig P320 9mm though. I am having my gunsmith look at my FN510 10mm today and hope he will be able to improve that trigger pull to be more to my liking.

  6. So, for the guy who said he doesn’t trust one in the pipe with no safety, that’s fine and your prerogative, but if you’re “sneaking up” on someone, you’re not defending yourself, you’re committing murder.

    For all the “never hurts to have extra safety”, “accidental discharge” and the “appendix carry is asking to have that operation” people, there’s no such thing as an accidental discharge, there is negligent and intentional. Accidents do not happen, only negligence. If your brain and your finger work you don’t need any other safeties. And honestly how often do y’all hear of someone appy carrying shooting themself? Like never, right? It never happens.

    Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire, and you won’t shoot yourself. If you like manual safeties, that’s fine, you do you, i like my decocker model SIG as much as the next guy, and use the thumb safety when I carry my 1911, but don’t spread misinformation like that striker-fired pistols are unsafe. You are unsafe.

  7. I like the hammer double action and use the deco led hammer as a safety with one in the chamber! That way it doesn’t give warning if your trying to be quite, all you have to do is pull the trigger and it will cock it’s self and discharge, I don’t trust having one in the chamber without safety or being able to device gun! I feel like it’s wasting time to have to chamber one and like I say make noise if your trying to sneak up on someone!

  8. Hi. Ive been shooting and mentoring for over 40 years. When someone new-ish to firearms is ready to make a purchase I always recommend to try a Springfield or SW model with a grip safety. Ergonomics aside, seems to be the perfect combination of safety, presentation, fire. Very intuitive,
    Without additional small motor nerve learning and movement. W/o proper (and quantity) of training there’s very little time to remember and perform additional functions in the kind of situations we civilians would most likely find ourselves in.

  9. I have been carrying concealed for almost 20 years . When i first started was was more comfortable with my S&W 357 revolver with in a year went with my Springfield XD 9mm striker fired pistol . I liked more ammo in my firearm and the ease to add more even the speed loader it is not as efficient as loading 10 round mag and firing almost instantly . I still feel comfortable with the 357 by my bed at night though . Just a little safety that the trigger is more hard to pull when I pull it from the holster half asleep.

  10. I am79 pushing 80 years old I have carried 2.5″ 357 revolvers for off duty and a Model 66 S&W 4″ barrel for a duty weapon. In my 10 years in the US Army I carried a 1911 45acp. Today I carry by choice a custom 1911 with a 3 pound trigger pull, it is equip. with a match grade barrel and custom sights. I carry 3 8round mags and 1 in the barrel with the hammer cocked with the thumb safety on (cocked & locked) or reddy 1 position for a total of 25 rounds, I am the Safety Leader at my Congregation. When I test anyone for our safety Team we go to the range and I place the weapon on the firing line on a shelf w/ the safety on. Then they face me and we talk about anything foe several minutes and I say the the go word “GUN” in the conversation and they have to turn around pick up their weapon and fire two rounds into the 10 ring at 7 yards and the have a total of 5 seconds then gun down and hands up (For Safety) I stop the clock at 5 seconds. Most of my regular team members can do it in 3 to 3.5 seconds some go to 4.5 seconds. The reason is in the Texas Church shooting it only took 5 seconds to shoot and kill 3 people with only 1 bad guy and one safety officer shooting. The bad guy died at the scene and two church members died all in 5 seconds start to finish. I can do the test in 3 to 3.5 seconds and like I said I am pushing 80 years old with a 1911 45acp. I love my 1911.

  11. I grew up in the 1960’s. The first pistol I ever shot was a 1911 A 1. I never cared much for the palm safety but I love the thumb safety. In this day and age so few pistols have the thumb safety, the M17/18 does along with the P365 XL. Even thou I’ve been around pistols for so long the thumb safety, to me, is a comfort which I prefer. No matter how safe you are with a pistol an added safety is never a bad thing when Murphy shows up.

  12. New to the gun scene without any experience, Purchased a Mossberg MC2c 9mm striker fired unit.
    Easy to field strip and reassemble. So far, okay.

  13. Striker or hammer fired, I am a safety guy. Once a striker fired with a safety, like the P365 is holstered, if you don’t want to worry about it, you can turn it off. Same holds true for many hammer fired usually those equipped with a de-cocker lever, hammer down for double action mode, safety can be turned off. Not so much with a 1911 style. Even Glocks have an aftermarket accessory used to be called “the Glock gadget”. It is a complete replacement for the rear slide plate, it is just there, and never needs to be turned on or off. What it does is: when Holstering the Glock equipped with the Glock gadget, use like a hammer down re-holstering, one simply puts their thumb on the slide back plate, which like a hammer down firearm, if the trigger is being moved while re-holstering, one can feel the hammer move, and STOP. The Glock gadget works the same way, and enough pressure on the Glock gadget, and the trigger CANNOT be pulled. It does NOT have to be turned off to fire. My thinking is for those who appended carry without any safety, it is not a matter of if, but rather when, you will need “that” operation. Hurts just thinking about it.

  14. I always appreciate your articles and want to put in my two cents worth of information. I’ve considered myself a ‘gun-guy’ since I was 16 (I’m 7*) but only with a .22 rifle and 20ga shotgun. Being married, owning a home, and raising kids in an not-so-safe area, I joined an NRA pistol club with a Ruger .357 and a Ruger MKII .22 and achieved a 12 bar sharpshooters award. Today my collection includes an 8mm Mauser and other handguns and long guns. Both my wife and I are CPL licensed and keep a Taurus G2C close by at home or in the car. The Taurus has both a trigger blade and a thumb safety, and we have never had a failure.

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