Modifying The Trigger On Your Defensive Firearm: The Case For And Against
By Robert Farago via The Truth About Guns
We recently ran a story about a cop who shot someone with an AR inscribed with the words “You’re F*cked.” A modification that was used against him in court. Responding to that incident, the Yankee Marshall advises against modifying your handgun’s trigger. “If you ever have to use that gun for self-defense and it’s a questionable shoot, a prosecutor could easily say ‘Maybe you didn’t intend to shoot them but you made your trigger so light you fired accidentally.’” Yes, well, I’m generally pro trigger modification . . .
Other than a handgun’s ergonomics (how it feels in your hand), the trigger is the key to user accuracy. A gun with a heavy, gritty and/or unpredictable trigger is difficult to shoot well. A handgun with a light, crisp, perfectly predictable trigger brings out the best of any shooter’s ability.
Think of it this way: you can play a lousy piano well. But a Steinway automatically ups your game.
So why wouldn’t you modify your handgun’s trigger to increase your shooting accuracy? Because you bought one with a Steinway-class trigger. The FNS-9c, Walther PPQ, SIG SAUER Legion, any Performance Center Smith & Wesson revolver and the Ruger LCR spring immediately to mind (so to speak). Why mess with perfection? Which reminds me . . .
While GLOCK detractors point out that Gaston’s gats don’t have a natural point of aim, the Austrian handgun’s trigger is the real “challenge.” So as not to antagonize firearms fanboys, let’s just say a GLOCK 19 with a Ghost trigger is a blessing whereas a stock GLOCK’s trigger-related accuracy issues can be a curse (especially if you’re a New York City police officer).
Again, you can master a less-than-wonderful trigger. Jessie Duff could outshoot me with a NYPD duty GLOCK, regardless of what handgun I had to hand. But if you want to improve your shooting accuracy and pleasure without trading in your gun, I say go for it. Modify your trigger. Lower the pull weight (if you like) and improve its function. Enjoy the extra accuracy — which could save your life.
That said . . .
If we’re talking about a handgun used for self-defense, the Yankee Marshall’s case against modifying your handgun’s trigger pull weight isn’t entirely wrong.
Under stress, blood flows away from your extremities towards you internal organs; you can’t “feel” your fingers as much. Or maybe even at all. Worse, under stress, most shooters “register” their handgun’s trigger (i.e. place their finger on the trigger before they intend to shoot). This is not an ideal combination.
If you think it’s impossible to trigger a gun before you consciously decide to fire, try switching straight from a standard GLOCK to a Walther PPQ. I’ve seen it happen lots of times: that surprised look of “Holy sh*it, the gun went off before I meant to shoot!” Once a shooter acclimatizes to the trigger, all is well.
The way to avoid that unfortunate occurrence: consider buying a gun with a DA/SA trigger (heavy initial trigger pull, followed by a lighter one). Alternatively, recognize the danger and train accordingly. I know of only one way to know you’ve got that sussed: force-on-force training. If you can keep your booger hook off the bang switch under that kind of stress, you’re good to stow.
As for a prosecutor suggesting that your modified, lighter trigger indicates a cavalier attitude towards human life or a lack of ballistic control, I’ve never heard it argued. More than that, as the Yankee Marshall rightly informs, a judge or jury examines the totality of circumstances surrounding a defensive gun use.
If you don’t have Molon Labe tattooed on your forehead or some other indication that you’re an irresponsibly hot-headed gun owner (e.g., “You’re F*cked” inscribed on the inside of you AR’s dust cover) , it would be hard for a prosecutor to argue that making your gun more accurate makes you a trigger-happy killer. Which, of course, you’re not.