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Shooting Accuracy and Trigger Pull Weight

Shooting Accuracy and Trigger Pull Weight

I learn quite a bit from my students in nearly every class I teach and sometimes I’m simply reminded of things I forget to emphasize when teaching. One of these is the importance of having the right “trigger pull weight” for your gun and grip.

What is pull weight? The amount of force, in “pounds”, it takes for the trigger to be pulled to release the firing pin so the gun goes bang. This can be measured with a trigger meter.

Shooting accurately is really a simple concept. It consists of aligning the front site to the center of the target and then pulling the trigger without moving the front sight. If you can do that you will hit the target as intended.

Recently a student in her upper teens, took my intro to shooting class. She was using her father’s stock Glock 19. She made nice progress in the class but not as nicely as I always hope for. We do a before and after shooting test of a 8” circle target from 21’. Her after test wasn’t much better than her before. Disappointing to say the least.

Trigger GaugeI asked her to allow me to work the gun and sure enough it had the stock trigger, no modification. That means that it took about 6-7 pounds of pressure on the finger to pull the trigger to get the bang. As an experienced shooter I had little trouble nailing it but instantly I felt her problem.

I switched guns and asked her to shoot my personal gun. Most all my guns are CZs. I’ve tried others, owned and carried others. For me nothing shoots better than CZ. Anyway, my CZ trigger is specifically tuned to a 3# trigger in single action. That means it takes about half the effort to pull the trigger. In the process there is less tendency to move the front sight accidentally trying to pull it. It’s smooth.

I gave her 3 rounds and had her shoot at a 3×5 card, same distance. Her first shot was 1/2” high, dead center. Her next 2 ate the middle of the card. So she went from all over an 8” circle to nailing a 3×5 card. Was the problem her shooting or the effort it took as a new shooter to pull the tigger without moving the gun in the process? The answer is obvious.

With a firm grip and strong hands a good shooter can be accurate with a 6# trigger. It’s nearly impossible for a newer shooter and even more so with women who tend not to grip the gun as tightly as men.

Even a new CZ has a 5# stock trigger. Both Glock and CZ and any other gun can be modified by a qualified gunsmith to get the custom pull weight you need to shoot accurately. My wife has a Ruger .22. It’s a beast to pull the trigger, has to be an 8 pounder. Big mistake, but we never shoot it, safe queen.

Why do guns come with heavy triggers? Because manufacturers are assuming most guns will be sold to customers who don’t know proper gun/trigger handling skills. They are right. The heavier the pull weight the less likely it will be accidentally pulled and the owners injured.

In addition, if your holster has one of those safety straps to lock the gun in place, it can get tangled during holstering and trip a light trigger. Also windbreaker drawstrings have been known to get into holsters and make it go boom while holstering. Same with knotted shirt tails. These are called “accidental discharges”. “Negligent discharge” can happened when you forget to take your finger off the trigger and because of flinching or moving your finger pulls the trigger when you didn’t intend to. That’s just negligent.

Take Always:

  1. When buying a gun don’t forget to test the trigger weight and learn if it can be easily adjusted. I’m pretty sure any trigger can be lightened. Is it gritty felling or smooth?
  2. If you are fighting a trigger already, that could be one reason you can’t seem to be able to shoot straight.
  3. Be on a first name basis with a good gunsmith. If you live close to Greenville, we have one of the best gunsmiths I’ve ever met. He’s in Royce City (Caddo Mills side) off I-30. He’s Penty Wheeler, Penty’s Gun Clinic. He can make you a whole gun from solid bar stock if you want.

Hope to see you at the range soon.

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