Hand-Picked Daily GUN DEALS, and Exclusive Coupons Codes >>>

Striker-Fired vs. Hammer-Fired: Which Is Better?

Striker fired vs. hammer fired...what's the difference? We give you the rundown on what these terms mean and which you should consider when shopping.

Are you new to guns and wondering what, exactly, the difference between a striker-fired and hammer-fired gun is? Or maybe you’ve shot for a while, missed the difference between the two, and are now too afraid to ask.

Mid Sized Handguns

Whatever your reason for wanting to know, we’ve got you covered.

First, for any of this to make sense, you need to have a basic understanding of how a gun works.

In order to fire, a firearm needs to ignite the primer on the ammo cartridge so that the gunpowder can burn. The two main ways a firearm will do that will be with either a hammer or striker driving a firing pin.

Primer
Primer

Firearms that use the first are described as “hammer-fired,” while those that use the latter are called “striker-fired.” Not a lot of creative terminology here, I know.

Now let’s break down hammer-fired and striker-fired guns, one at a time.

Table of Contents

Loading...

What Does “Hammer-Fired” Mean?

Hammer-fired guns have a spring-powered weight, called the hammer, that drives the firing pin into the primer. The firing pin and hammer may be attached or separate.

The attached setup is more common in revolvers, particularly older models.

Similarly, the hammer can be internal or external. If it’s external, it’ll be visible, and you can operate it manually without messing with the slide.

If it’s internal, the hammer will be part of the frame of the gun, and the firing pin will be located in the slide.

LCP Max Hammer
LCP Max Hammer

Hammer-fired guns can be either both double-action and single-action or double-action-only.

With a double-action hammer-fired pistol, you either have a longer trigger pull, which both cocks the hammer and fires the gun, or you cock the hammer manually before firing.

CZ-97B
CZ-97B — DA/SA model

With that longer trigger pull, the pull is also heavier, making it more difficult, especially for those with smaller or weaker hands. With that said, every shot after the first is single-action and has a lighter trigger pull.

With a single-action gun, you have to rack the slide to cock the hammer. You can’t cock it by pulling the trigger.

Most hammer-fired guns have double-action and single-action modes that you can choose between. There are some that are double-action-only, though.

The Taurus Executive 856 is a DAO.

Some popular hammer-fired guns you may have seen include the Colt M1911, Sig Sauer P226, Beretta M9, Browning Hi-Power, Springfield Armory XD-E, CZ 75, and H&K P30.

Advantages of a Hammer-Fired Gun

  • Manually cock or decock the gun
  • Easy to tell if the gun is cocked or not
  • Easier to manipulate the slide
  • Hammer-fired pistols usually have better triggers
  • Single actions can potentially have a shorter trigger stroke and lighter trigger pull

Disadvantages of a Hammer-Fired Gun

  • Heavier first trigger pull with double-action
  • Must remember to decock double-actions
  • Have to remember the manual safeties with a single-action

What Does “Striker-Fired” Mean?

Striker-fired guns have a simpler design.

There’s no hammer. Instead, the spring acts directly on the firing pin, called a striker, rather than affecting the hammer, which would then act on the pin.

Glock G43X
Glock G43X is a striker fired gun.

For single-action striker-fired guns, the slide cocks the striker, so all the trigger has to do is release the striker.

For double-action striker-fired guns, the trigger pull is responsible for both cocking and releasing the striker. There are some double-action/single-action striker-fired pistols, and some also have an external decocker.

M&P Shield 9 Plus extended
M&P Shield 9 Plus

All in all, the striker-fired design leads to a gun that’s easier to learn and shoot.

They’re a great option for beginners, and some are even designed specifically with beginners in mind. These are also popular for defense because firing off a shot is quick and easy.

All you have to do is rack the slide and pull the trigger. And that trigger pull is typically lighter than you’d experience on a hammer-fired gun, too.

In addition, the simpler design means that striker-fired guns tend to be lighter and cheaper.

On the other hand, the lack of external safety on most striker-fired guns, combined with the lighter trigger pull, which can make accidental discharges easier, trigger discipline, and other gun safety practices are even more important with striker-fired guns. Of course, you should be using safe practices whenever you handle a gun, but it’s worth emphasizing.

Micro Compacts Sig Sauer P365XL
Micro Compacts Sig Sauer P365XL

Popular striker-fired guns include the Sig Sauer P320, Smith & Wesson M&P Series, Springfield Armory XD, Walther PPQ, H&K VP9, and Ruger SR9, plus anything Glock makes.

Advantages of a Striker Fired Gun

  • Easier to learn and operate
  • Usually cheaper
  • Lighter trigger pull
  • Tend to be lighter
  • Don’t typically have to deal with a manual safety

Disadvantages of a Striker Fired Gun

  • Frequently do not have external safeties
  • Trigger may be easier to accidentally discharge

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve got the basics down, I want to emphasize that everything I said above is a generalization.

Every striker-fired gun isn’t going to have a lighter trigger pull than every hammer-fired gun. Some striker-fired guns have manual safeties, while some hammer-fired guns don’t.

HK VP9 Trigger
HK VP9 Trigger

A beginner won’t necessarily struggle with a hammer-fired gun, even though a striker-fired gun will typically be a bit easier.

And there are both striker-fired and hammer-fired guns for any purpose under the sun.

More CA Roster CCW Handguns

Ultimately, the thing that matters the most is what you like. If you can, it’s a good idea to try a few guns of both types to get a feel for what you like.

Do you prefer one design over the other? Let us know in the comments. Ready to pick a gun for carry? Check out our article on the 12 Best Concealed Carry Guns.

The Best Gun Deals, Coupons and Finds

Subscribe to Pew Pew Tactical's sales and deals email.

3 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Johnny Perkins

    Cocked and locked baby, cocked and locked.

    June 21, 2022 5:54 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Gregorio

    The possibility of an accidental discharge is the reason I sold my striker fired guns. Yes, training helps prevent those, but there is a reason they call it accidental. I just took a chambered weapon with a light trigger pull out of the equation. Plus, hammer fired guns are more versatile. You can still carry in condition one, with a safety, for a light first trigger pull.

    June 21, 2022 8:18 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Ken

    I feel like DA/SA pistols are much safer. I have no concern about CZ pistols loaded and chambered for home defense. I know that the hammer has to go back for anything to happen. It's visible and stoppable even if something somehow hits the trigger.

    I've always felt more comfortable with a double action than a safety.

    You also don't even have to have a DA pull. Just cock the hammer back and it's single action. It's little different than a safety.

    June 20, 2022 10:59 am
Join the community! Log in
Please provide a valid email address.
Password is required.
or
Register
Please provide a valid display name.
Please provide a valid email address.
The password should contain at least 8 characters with at least one number or special character.
Please accept in order to continue.
or
Trouble logging in?
Type your email address and we’ll send you a link to reset your password.
Please provide a valid email.
Password
Type your new password and hit button below to confirm it.
Field is required.
Account already exists
We already have an account registered for email address () which is linked to your Facebook account.
To log in type your Pew Pew Meter password below.
Field is required.
Account already exists
We noticed that you have previously logged in with your Account which is linked to the same email address () - we can link both of your accounts together.
In order to link your accounts, hit button below and log in to your Account with the same email as above.

Account in Pew Pew Meter means more

Check what do you get by creating an account
Check and save your reviews!
Bookmark and compare your favorite firearms
Manage your newsletter subscription
pew pew tactical logo

new here?

Personalize your experience.
Select what level shooter you are!

pew pew tactical logo

level up your gun knowledge

Thanks! We'll send you the latest guides and training tips geared towards your level.

pew pew tactical logo

welcome!

You'll now receive newsletters of our best articles on techniques, guns & gear.

$47 value

yours free!

targets targets
free

practice targets

printer icon printable

our 9 favorite targets and drills

free

practice targets

printer icon printable

enter your email to download

We'll only use the information provided according to our privacy policy.

success icon

Ready to Download

Click below to begin your download

download pdf