What’s the Difference: Hammer vs. Striker-fired

One of the most fascinating parts of being a lover of guns is being able to delve deeply into the history of firearms, and more especially how firearms have developed over the years.  Looking back, we can see how firearms evolved from the hand-cannons invented centuries ago by the Chinese, to the Blunderbuss used by the English and Portuguese mariners, to the Kalashnikov rifles introduced by the Russians.

Handgun technology has also experienced significant advances over the years.  We have received several requests from our readers to provide you guys with a discussion on the differences between hammer and striker-fired pistols.  As always, when we get a request to post, we do our best to provide to our readers with exactly what the Dr. ordered!  Without further adieu, we will give you wacky pistoleers a rundown of how these two differ and some of the reasons why the gun world has seemed to begin to gravitate towards striker-fired pistols.


The picture above shows the hammer on a traditional styled 1911 pistol.  As we all know, 1911’s are single action pistols and come with the option to place the hammer (silver in color in the picture) in what we call the half-cock position (which is displayed above).  For hammer fired pistols, the hammer is part of the mechanism that makes the firearm go BANG!!!  As the trigger is pulled the hammer is cocked, and as the trigger breaks, the hammer is released with distinct force.  Hammer strikes the firing pin, which impacts the primer of the cartridge, thus firing.  Historically, up until recent times, 95% of all handguns came equipped with hammers.

As the number of concealed carry firearms owners continues to grow, the market has cried out for smaller, more concealable, more easily drawable firearms.  As with most things in life, invention follows the demands of consumers.  As firearm manufacturers continued to strive to meet the needs of consumers, striker-fired pistols were invented.


This picture shows the same view (from a different pistol of course!) of a striker-fired pistol.  As you can see, where the hammer would normally be, it is flush with the slide of the pistol.  Pistols that are striker-fired have internal mechanisms that, as the trigger is pulled, the striker moves rearward within the pistol.  This puts more tension on the firing spring. As the trigger breaks, the spring is relaxes, and the striker is propelled forward.  This motion causes the striker to impact the round in the primer, thus firing.

Proponents of the striker-fired pistols argue that they are more easily drawable as they are designed with nice rounded edges, and nothing to get hung-up on (in clothing, etc.) when being drawn in a defensive situation.  One of the most expressed draw back to some striker-fired pistols is their lack of ability to be able to be dry fired (for training purposes of course!!!!).

As for the preference of PSA, we love any pistol that works!!!  We value both hammer fired and striker-fired pistols.  The venerable 1911 styled pistols would not have that iconic look if not for that hammer cocked all the way back.  But at the same time, what would we do without our Springfield XDs?!?!?!?   Rock and a hard place!  Like with anything that we tell you here on PSA’s blog, please do your research.  Find what works for you and your budget.  Make sure that if you aren’t familiar, you readily seek qualified advice.

We want to thank you for stopping by our lane at the shooting range.  We hope that you enjoyed yourself and that we were able to hit the target.  We also hope that you stop by soon and often to stay on top of PSA updates!  We look forward to shooting some gun talk with you soon.

And as always……remember to watch your six and stay low.

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