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Old May 17, 2017, 08:44 AM   #1
dgludwig
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Hammer-fired vs Striker-fired

A discussion came up a few days ago regarding the difference(s) between the two systems. The short definitions that I've come to accept as valid are that a hammer-fired gun relies on the sear tripping the hammer (concealed or not) to strike the primer on the cartridge directly or by striking a firing pin to hit the primer or via a transfer bar that strikes a firing pin to hit the primer. A striker-fired gun relies on the sear tripping the spring-loaded firing pin to hit the primer directly.

Are these "definitions" too simplistic or even wrong? Are there caveats that need to be considered to fully understand the principles involved? Just curious; not looking for an argument.
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Old May 17, 2017, 11:27 AM   #2
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Sounds like you have things pretty well covered with your definitions. There are variations of design that may look like one, and actually be the other, and you seem to understand that, as well.

One thing to avoid, and something many don't do these days, is to talk about a certain design of mechanism that falls under a broad heading (like "striker fired") and assume that every design of mechanism that falls under that heading is the same. They aren't.

What I mean is the tendency for people to talk about "striker fired" pistols, such as the GLock and those that essentially copy that system as if they are the ONLY striker fired pistols. Some think a "striker fired" pistol is a modern polymer frame semi auto, only. When I hear that, I like to point out that a LUGER P.08 is a striker fired pistol, and so is a Remington XP-100 (bolt action).

The Ruger Mark series semi auto .22s LOOK like striker fired guns, but aren't, they have internal hammers.

I had an old pocket pistol some years back (Savage) that had a hammer, BUT was actually a striker fired pistol. The "hammer" was actually just a visible cocking indicator, and didn't fire the gun.

The original Thompson submachine gun is technically a hammer fired gun, though its hammer differs considerably from the usual system.

So, being aware that specific designs can vary widely, I think your terms are workable.
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Old May 17, 2017, 12:02 PM   #3
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I am finding that I have a strong preference for hammer fired. Not sure why I guess its growing up with revolvers everything about it just feels more natural.
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Old May 17, 2017, 12:32 PM   #4
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Id say your description is pretty accurate.
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Old May 17, 2017, 01:07 PM   #5
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Also not really looking for a fight, but I'd like to see what folks think the advantages/disadvantages of the two are. Personally I like the idea of striker fired pistols due to nothing external (I don't know of any striker fired pistols that have anything external). But at the same time, I can also see why a hammer would be nice to be able to decock if that's something you wanted.

Would like more data though.
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Old May 17, 2017, 01:30 PM   #6
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"Id say your description is pretty accurate. " +1


I prefer exposed hammer guns.
Those are easy to decock if need be and I can clearly see the status of the hammer.

Pro's and Con's?

Hammer Pros:
Easy to manipulate (does not apply to internal)
Seem to hit with more force than your avg striker gun.
.. I've seen more people have light strikes on striker guns then hammer.
Easier to clear debris from it without field stripping.

Hammer Cons:
Easier for debris to block it's movement.
lock time should be longer given the weight of the hammer compared to a striker.
Increase part count and cost
Some hammer springs are strong enough that hammers impact can actually cause the gun to dip in the hand.

Striker Pros:
Simplified design = fewer parts, cost savings, and theoretically more reliable.
Internally concealed means it is protected from manipulation and debris resistant.
Given the striker is generally very light and most of the impact force is provided by the spring a striker gun "should" have faster lock time.

Striker Cons:
Most designs are sensitive to having liquid getting into the strikers channel.
.. dunk it in water good chance it won't fire.
Most designs can not be decocked once charged.. only dry fired.
Most designs are SA, meaning the striker has to be charged to fire.


Honestly though pro's, con's, (and there's probably some I missed) I think in practice there isn't really any clear winner and it's going to boil down to preference more than anything, both systems seem to do the fundamental job.

Almost all new handgun designs are polymer framed, striker fired however.
both of those things make the gun cheaper to manufacture if for no other reason.
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Old May 17, 2017, 01:48 PM   #7
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Definition is accurate, but not all striker fired guns work the same. Most striker fired handguns including Glocks are DAO. The striker is partially cocked. Pulling the trigger pulls the striker the rest of the way back before releasing it. Others including The XD series are true SA. The striker is fully cocked and pulling the trigger only releases the striker.

I prefer striker fired. The same proven system used on bolt action rifles which are known to be the most reliable rifles. It is a simpler system with no external moving parts to get tangled in clothing in close combat situations or damaged if dropped. One less place for dirt and debris to get into the gun.

You do give up 2nd strike capability, but it is rare for a round to fire on the 2nd strike if it didn't on the 1st. Most people advise clearing that round rather than wasting the time.
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Old May 17, 2017, 03:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
"Definition is accurate, but not all striker fired guns work the same. Most striker fired handguns including Glocks are DAO. The striker is partially cocked. Pulling the trigger pulls the striker the rest of the way back before releasing it. Others including The XD series are true SA. The striker is fully cocked and pulling the trigger only releases the striker."
See I disagree with that, Glocks can not be fired without first charging the striker, whether or not that's 25,50 or 100% charged it will not fire without first charging it back with the slide..

On a personal level I don't consider that double action, true the trigger is doing 2 functions (charging the striker the rest of the way and releasing sear).. but in practical terms it operates no differently then SA

It's like a hammer gun that only fires from half cocked


Quote:
"You do give up 2nd strike capability, but it is rare for a round to fire on the 2nd strike if it didn't on the 1st. Most people advise clearing that round rather than wasting the time. "
I dunno.. I agree on rim fires, but I think I can count the number times on 1 hand a centerfire cartage failed to fire on me.

I do however pick up and fire stuff I find at the range you clearly see have been struck.
(Yes I know it's a bad practice)
And it pretty much always goes bang.. so imo 2nd strikes seem quite successful.
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Old May 17, 2017, 04:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Most striker fired handguns including Glocks are DAO.
I've not done a serious study but my impression is that most strikers are actually single action. I'd give Glock a pass but many makers want to fudge terms and claim that their strikers are only 98% pre-cocked and therefore DAO. It's kind of weaselly IMO.
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Old May 17, 2017, 05:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Honestly though pro's, con's, (and there's probably some I missed) I think in practice there isn't really any clear winner and it's going to boil down to preference more than anything, both systems seem to do the fundamental job.
I agree with the reasons for your "pros and cons", JoeSixpack, and also your bottom line, they all do the job. I have a lot of handguns and, though I've never been concerned with the mode of primer ignition as a consideration when buying one, I just now reviewed my inventory of semi-autos and was surprised to see that everyone of them are hammer-fired (I'm pretty sure the S&W Model 41 is hammer-fired, albeit concealed). Guess I'm a "hammer guy" and never knew it.

There is one possible drawback to "fire control systems" on pistols that rely on the hammer being kept under tension by the mainspring that I was made aware of many years ago. I read a review in 2004 of the then new HK Model P2000 pistol having the "Law Enforcement Modification" (LEM) configured trigger/fire system, written by Charlie Cutshaw. Though Mr. Cutshaw, in general, praised the pistol he did report this caution:

"...A final note regarding the LEM: When the slide is worked to the rear and sets the hammer against the sear, the hammer is under tension by the mainspring. For this reason, HK recommends that the pistol be cleared and the hammer dropped on an empty chamber prior to placing the pistol into long-term storage. This is probably a good idea, as it is not advisable to place any device into long-term storage with springs under tension."

It would seem that a lot of pistols are theoretically time restrained by this admonition, including most, if not all, "striker-fired" pistols as well as sa pistols like the 1911 kept in a "condition 1" state of readiness, not to mention the great magazine compressed springs debate.

Because I seldom clear my EDC auto on a regular basis, I was interested in what HK considers "long-term" and I wrote a letter to them expressing my concerns and asked them what they mean specifically by the term "long term storage"; additionally asking "is a month between times too long?"

On 8-10-2004, they responded with the following (maybe cya or maybe not) "explanation": "HK recommends that the P2000 pistol be cleared and the hammer dropped on an empty chamber prior to long term storage to protect the life of the spring."
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Old May 17, 2017, 11:17 PM   #11
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Since the beginning of firearms, the standing advice has always been to store them uncocked, so the spring(s) are not under tension. Leaf springs are especially vulnerable to "taking a set", or even breaking.

Modern coil springs since a bit before the WWII era are remarkably resistant to this, IF MADE CORRECTLY. The down side to this is that there is no way to tell if the spring was made correctly UNLESS it fails early, in which case, it was not made correctly.

One of the biggest perceived advantages of the revolver is that it can be stored fully loaded (hammer down) for YEARS or decades, and all springs are in the most relaxed condition.

One of the hammer "pros" that was missed is a little something most people never need bother with. With a hammer gun, you can tell by FEEL, even in total darkness, if the gun is cocked. Some guns with internal hammers or striker fired have a protruding pin one can feel in the dark to tell if they are cocked, but most do not.

Another small hammer pro, is that in the daylight, you can see if the gun the guy next to you has is cocked, or not. This MIGHT be an important safety matter, depending on the exact situation. Some striker fired rifles allow this, but only some.
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Old May 18, 2017, 09:58 AM   #12
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Awesome, thanks for all the replies.

I would contend that many striker-fired pistols DO have a second strike capability. Mostly they are single action, but they have a double action trigger when the firing pin is forward. Agreed, I've never had a center-fire cartridge fail to ignite (minus a few low brass shotshells), but it's still there.
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Old May 18, 2017, 06:15 PM   #13
dgludwig
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Sensible additions to the "Hammer Pros" column, 44 AMP.
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Old May 18, 2017, 11:12 PM   #14
Bill DeShivs
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Properly made and designed springs-both leaf or coil, will not take a set or get weak from being compressed.
Because people think it so, does not make it true.
If your spring is going to break, it will break when it is BEING compressed, not WHILE it's compressed.
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Old May 19, 2017, 12:42 AM   #15
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My garage door springs always broke/snapped when the door was closed for hours if not days/weeks. Never during opening/closing or when the door is open. The springs are stretched when closed. The sound of it breaking is loud and unique and many have broke over a period of 30 years.
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Old May 19, 2017, 01:17 AM   #16
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I don't trust a striker fired pistol beyond 9mm. If I recall correctly the slide of my Glock 19C 4" (9mm) is heavier than one of my full size (5") hammered 45ACP pistols. I believe the high weight is needed to help ensure the slide goes all the way home to battery. Even if slightly out of battery the 9mm cartridge should or is said to be able to prevent case head rupture.

I have plenty of experience of the slide not going fully into battery with hammered 45ACP pistols because of my handloads. The hammer will hit the slide first causing the slide to go into battery and still have enough energy to hit the firing pin and set off the cartridge.
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Old May 19, 2017, 07:11 AM   #17
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Difference between a hammer gun and a striker gun is - one is elegant & the other is chunky and ugly......
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Old May 19, 2017, 07:31 AM   #18
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Relatively few striker-fired guns have second strike capability whether they call themselves DAO or not. In the great majority, slide reciprocation pretensions the striker partly or completely. If the slide does not reciprocate as a result of a light primer strike, the striker does not get pretensioned. The trigger is incapable of completely tensioning the striker.
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Old May 19, 2017, 07:51 AM   #19
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I like versatility and options. And the very visible and tactile hammer. Im a little old school I guess. That being said, my handgun experience is still in it's infancy and my opinions may change in the future.
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Old May 19, 2017, 12:13 PM   #20
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I like the "da/sa" hammer fired semi. I never have trusted safeties and being able to lower the hammer on a chambered round allows me to have a ready to shoot gun without using a safety. (the safety can't be used on my gun if the hammer isn't cocked)
The ultimate safety, and the only one I trust is my trigger finger.
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Old May 19, 2017, 04:25 PM   #21
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I prefer hammer fired but probably don't have any logical teasons. It's what I'm used to, so I am more comfortable with it. I have a few striker fired pistols. They work just fine, but I prefer the look and feel of hammer fired.
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Old May 19, 2017, 05:05 PM   #22
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Quote:
Difference between a hammer gun and a striker gun is - one is elegant & the other is chunky and ugly.....
ok, in your opinion, which one is which????


I've always found the P.08 Luger and the Remington XP-100 to be elegant. Sweeping curves and rounded contours, and not at all chunky. Both are striker fired.

Not all striker fired pistols look like Austrian combat Tupperware.
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Old May 19, 2017, 06:01 PM   #23
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Many S&W fans like the hammer fired revolvers, which were discontinued around 2000ish. I can't tell the difference as for shooting. I have read atleast one post, saying there was issues, that we forgot about, with old style.

In theory though I would think you would have to keep it cleaner, and that could be an issue.
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Old May 19, 2017, 06:47 PM   #24
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S&W fans like the hammer fired revolvers, which were discontinued around 2000ish.
News to me...
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Old May 19, 2017, 07:20 PM   #25
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News they were discontinued or news fans like them? Go read a discussion on which dashes are best. First MIM comes up, then this comes up pretty quick.

Unless I am saying this wrong. Many like the firing pin on the hammer, and not in the frame.
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