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Posted on June 29, 2020 by in Training



Three definitions of the term “hair trigger” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary are set out below:

  • A gun trigger so adjusted as to permit the firearm to be fired by very slight pressure.
  • Immediately responsive to the slightest stimulus (a hair-trigger temper).
  • Delicately adjusted or easily disrupted.

Why does all of this matter? In the event that a concealed carrier is forced to use their handgun and shoot a violent criminal actor in self-defense and they are criminally indicted, the possibility exists that the prosecutor will look for anything that they can use to win their case.

This might include an examination of the concealed carrier’s handgun in order to see if there were modifications made to it that made it “more deadly”. It is not inconceivable that an after-market trigger modification that noticeably lightened the weight of the trigger on a handgun used for concealed carry might be described in court by the same prosecutor as a “hair-trigger”, which is a term that often has negative connotations for the general public. The same is equally true, if not more so, should the concealed carrier find him or herself named in a civil lawsuit. I am a firm believer that I want to do everything reasonable to avoid getting into a shooting, and if I do then avoid being charged with a crime. In addition, I see no reason to make it any harder than possible for CCW Safe to defend me if indeed I find myself in the sights of the legal system. My carry semi-automatic pistols all have stock triggers.

Another reason that I am not an advocate of lightening the trigger pull on concealed carry pistols has everything to do with avoiding negligent discharges. I am not talking about a negligent discharge that occurs when a concealed carrier discharges the handgun at a time when he or she had no intent to even fire a single shot. There is absolutely no reason for the concealed carrier to ever touch the trigger unless they intentionally intend to shoot and the sights of the handgun are aimed at the target. Any time that the concealed carrier’s finger is on the trigger the probability of a negligent discharge increases substantially.

Even a heavy trigger may not prevent negligent discharges in this instance. I believe that a major concern for even trained shooters is resetting the trigger too aggressively during rapid fire while under stress and inadvertently firing an unintended shot that may have serious consequences. The reason that concealed carriers might need to fire rapidly in order to save their life is that it may take multiple rounds to stop their attacker, and the best way to accomplish that is to reset the trigger during recoil so that by the time sights return on the target the concealed carrier is prepared to fire again with a strong expectation of hitting his or her intended point of impact.

Consequences of firing an unintentional round include complete misses that strike innocent parties or inadvertently firing an unintended round at an attacker immediately after the same suddenly drops a weapon, halts forward movement if attacking with a knife or club, or even turns around unexpectedly in an attempt to run away. Quickly resetting a lighter than normal trigger without incident during a normal range session or action pistol competition may be harder to accomplish if the concealed carrier finds him or herself in a state of heightened stress during the fight for their life.

Here is the part where I say something that may sound contradictory. I personally do not have an issue with after-market triggers or slight modifications on semi-automatic pistols that clean up the trigger as long as the trigger pull weight remains close to factory standards when it comes to a striker-fired pistol like the Glock or a single-action semi-automatic pistols like the 1911 Government model. Removing creep and hitches from the trigger is a good thing, which can sometimes be accomplished by a little judicious polishing of certain internal parts performed by highly knowledgeable persons.

In regard to such things as shortening trigger reset distance and installing over-travel screws, I would urge concealed carriers to use their best judgement. My business partner has several Glock 19 pistols with aftermarket Zev triggers, and my first impression after shooting two of them was very favorable. My concern at first was that they would be significantly lighter than stock, but that was not the case.  The trigger shoe stands out and is obviously not stock, but an adversarial prosecutor or plaintiff’s attorney would most likely have difficulty convincing a jury that either of those pistols have “hair-triggers.”

I would always encourage readers to keep in mind that my articles reflect my opinion only and are anything but gospel. Hopefully, concealed carriers who are considering trigger modifications or already carrying concealed handguns with trigger modifications may perhaps be prompted to give this subject some thought and come to an informed conclusion that ultimately works best for them.

Steve Moses

Steve is a long-time defensive weapons instructor based out of Texas who has trained hundreds of men and women of all ages for more than two decades on how to better prepare to defend themselves and their loved ones. Steve has completed over 80 private-sector and law enforcement-only defensive weapons and tactics classes, and has trained civilian and law-enforcement officers in six states. Moses is a reserve deputy, former member of a multi-precinct Special Response Team, competitive shooter, and martial artist. Steve has written numerous articles for SWAT Magazine and other publications. Steve is a licensed Texas Level 4 Personal Security Officer and Instructor who was Shift Lead on a mega-church security detail for seven years, and has provided close protection for several former foreign Heads of State. He is currently an instructor at Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu/Krav Maga in Tyler, Texas and Director of Training for Palisade Training Group (