Striker vs Hammer


April 2, 2003, 03:25 AM
Yeah I'm a newbie to this forum. I wanted to know what are the pros and cons of a striker-fired guns and hammer type guns? Is any one better than the other?

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April 2, 2003, 04:22 AM
One isn't any better than the other, really. They're different.

Hammer fired guns are older, I think, but striker fired guns date back to the 1800s. The first striker-fired pistol was NOT the Glock, despite what some of the Faithful will have you believe. It was the Roth-Steyr pistol, circa 1912.

In any case, in pistols, hammer fired and striker fired guns have very different trigger pulls. Plus, there are different kinds of hammer fired and different kinds of striker fired guns.

The best way to tell what you like best? Go to a well-stocked gun store and try out these guns:

Glock (striker)
Springfield XD (striker, but different than Glock)
Sig (Double Action Hammer fired)
1911 (single action hammer fired)

You can replace the sig with any other double action automatic, but keep in mind that not all trigger pulls are created equal.

FWIW, striker fired guns usually lack manual safeties and have a consistent shot-to-shot trigger pull.

April 2, 2003, 05:10 AM
But the the thing that was left out is that hammer fired guns (single action automatics and single action cowboy guns) generally also have a consistent shot with each pull plus they have the incentive of having a stronger primer striker than the striker fired guns.

However the striker fired guns are usually considered "faster" as in they hit the primer quicker than a hammer fired gun.

But what does that matter if they don't set the bullet off because of a hard primer or if you don't hit any thing anyways because the trigger sucks? :scrutiny:

April 2, 2003, 06:02 AM
while we're on the topic ... I'm not a newbie to this site (or TFL) but I've never actually learned what a striker fired gun means.

so, what is it? I know a glock is one, but what does that mean? how does a striker gun work? it still has to smack the firing pin to hit the primer because that's how the cartridge is designed.

so in simpler terms, what is the mechanical difference between a striker and a hammer gun? links to explanations are cool, but obviously it would be easier to see it here ('cause I'm lazy).

thanks a bunch, all!

April 2, 2003, 08:17 AM
Simple terms:

A hammer swings in an arc from a pivot point.

A striker slides in a straight line.

April 2, 2003, 11:05 AM
As Hd1 aludes, a striker and a hammer are the same concept. A striker works in-line with its mainspring, a hammer pivots away from its mainspring. But they are essentially both hammers.

Current trends aside, anything you can do with a striker you can do with a hammer. The striker fired P99 is DA/SA like the Sig, and the USP LEM is very light DA, like a Kahr.

Striker guns with Full DA/SA, partial DA, DAO, and SA are all available.

The main difference is that the hammer generally hits with more force. This is due to mass, acceleration distance and the need to overcome inertial firing pin resistance.

The striker, since its mainspring opposes the recoil spring, can only have so much force. It's lock time is generally smaller, but doesn't strike as forcefully, generally.

Lock time doesn't seem to be an issue. Every bullseye gun I can think of has a hammer.

April 2, 2003, 11:14 AM
One of the problems of a striker fired gun is that the striker spring fights the recoil spring. That puts a firm limit on the strength of the striker spring, limiting the primer indent.

It is also somewhat more difficult to manufacture, because the slide and frame must have tighter tolerances to be able to produce guns in quantity. The interaction between the striker and the sear in the frame is very important to the quality of the trigger pull.

Strikers also require (usually) several deep, very concentric holes. That type of operation is a PITA.

As a designer, hammer guns are easier to make, and more reliable.

April 2, 2003, 02:52 PM
Hey Nightcrawler,

The Steyr 1912 pistol had a hammer. Is that the gun you mean?


I've got to strongly disagree on the ease of manufacture thing. The Glock is a great example of a quality, but reasonably simple top end mated to a toy frame with the most basic (and cheap) trigger parts. The slide does not appear any more difficult to manufacture than any hammered gun I've seen. The most similar hammered guns, like the USP or P95, are much more complicated.

ALL auto pistols rely on a certain amount of good frame/slide fit to function. Some need it for the striker, the hammer guns need good fit for the disconnector.

April 2, 2003, 03:07 PM
There were several versions of the Roth-Steyr pistol, one of which was striker fired. Read and article about it in the Shotgun News, but no longer have the copy. There were hammer-fired versions as well, actually.

April 2, 2003, 03:32 PM
Ah. My firearms disassembly book only showed the hammer version.

Such a flexible design.

April 2, 2003, 05:07 PM
thanks a bunch! that helped a lot.

April 2, 2003, 06:27 PM
With a hammer driven pistol, the hammer spring pushes the hammer towards the firing pin (in some revolvers the firing pin is part of the hammer itself). (Of course, all revolvers have hammers.) With a striker driven pistol there is no hammer (obviously) and the spring at the rear of the firing pin drives it into the primer of the round. A DAO with striker doesn't allow the trigger to lock the firing pin/striker back--the trigger cocks and releases the striker all in one seamless motion. With a single or double action/single striker handgun, the trigger or trigger bar engages a detent that holds the cocked striker in place and then a further trigger pull releases the striker spring and the firing pin hits the primer in the round. Or something like that. Some people must have a hammer that they can see and thumb cock. Doing away with the hammer makes the pistol lighter, simpler, and more compact. Or something like that.


April 2, 2003, 06:58 PM

The difficulty is in the tolerances. Te geometry is fairly simple, but the tolerances that are required are quite tight.

The relationship between the trigger parts and the doodad (whatchmacallit on S&W, thingee on SIG) on the striker is pretty tight. If you start adding up the tolerances in the frame, the sear, the rails, etc on the lower half, and the tolerances in the striker holes, the rails in the slide, etc. They can very quickly add up to .020" or .030". Looking at my G17, I suspect that the rails are ground in the frame. I have a G21 in the safe at work, I will throw an indicator on it tommorrow.

That Glocks run as consistently as they do is a testament to both the design, and the manufacture. Glock does an extremely good job.

In a hammer gun, the tolerances between the slide and the frame never get added up, because they don't matter, as far as the actual firing goes.

As I said above, its not the basic geometry thats the problem, its the tolerances that must be applied to that geometry.

April 2, 2003, 07:16 PM
In a hammer gun, the tolerances between the slide and the frame never get added up, because they don't matter, as far as the actual firing goes.

Take a look at the disconnector in a 1911. The slide to frame tolerance is a big deal, unless you want a machinegun.

On the Glock, all you need is a striker hook that is long enough to positively contact the trigger bar plus whatever is necessary to make up for the slop. The Glock striker hook is 1/4" or so, but if they wanted, they could have made it 1/2" long. It wouldn't have mattered.

Aside from proper action of the firing parts, a relatively close slide/frame fit is necessary in Browning actions to get safe lockup.

Some of the cheapest handguns in the world use strikers, successfully. So I'm really not sure where you are coming from on this.

April 2, 2003, 07:47 PM

Where I am coming from is 7 months of working on a S&W Sigma, and messing with the FN 40-9 from time to time.

If the hook is to long (to far into the sear) the gun won't fire at all, the trigger will stop on the frame long before it gets there.

I just measure the travel of the sear on my Glock. The travel is around .065" or close to 1/16. If you add 1/4", the striker will never fall. I bet if you add .015 to the position of the striker hookrelative to the sear it will never fall. If you move the striker hook .015 the other direction, you will get repeated light hits. I'm not betting money, because I have never done a tolerance study on that exact mechanism. However, I have studied tolerance studies on other striker fired pistols, and they are EXTREMELY sensitive to part variations.

Where is this variation found?

1) the size of the slide rails
2) the size of the frame rails
3) the position of the frame rails
4) the parallelism of the frame rails
5) the location of the track that the sear follows.
6) the dimensions of the sear itself
7) the parallelism of the slide rails to the striker hole
8)the length of the striker hook
9)the angularity of the striker hook (looking at the back of the gun, is the striker hook perfectly horzontal, relative to the sear)
10)the position of the slide rails relative to the striker hole.

There are quite a few more, but I think I got most of the big ones.
When you apply typical machning, injection molding, and sheet metal tolerances to all of those features, you run out tolerance quick.

I worked on the S&W Sigma for about 7 months as a manufacturing engineer at Smith and Wesson, mostly trying to maintain the relationship between the slide rails and the striker hole. I also do some support work on the FN 40-9.

I am trying to remember how the 1911 disconnector works, could you refresh me?

Al Thompson
April 2, 2003, 08:43 PM
Owen, I have to side with handy on this one. My Raven .25 is striker fired and reliable as a rock. :)

Let me know if you want to measure it and we'll link up.. I'm in Harbison.

April 2, 2003, 08:52 PM
im not saying individual guns aren't reliable

I am saying that its toughER to make 10,000 striker guns that work versus 10,000 hammer guns.

One gun doesn't mean anything. Measuring the raven would only be worthwhile if i could get 30 or 40 of the same model

Al Thompson
April 2, 2003, 08:56 PM
Well, the ring of fire inexpensive gun makers used an awful lot of striker fired designs. Don't you think they would have used hammer fired designs if it was cheaper?

April 2, 2003, 09:03 PM
the striker fired gun is cheaper because it uses fewer parts, but those parts are more sensitive to variation.

Honestly, I've heard more good than bad (that is substantiated stories) about the ring of fire guns.

IOW, I have heard a lot more "I own one, and it works!" than "I own one and it is stinky"

I would like to look at it tho.

April 2, 2003, 10:59 PM
Owen, my long striker hook example was just to illustrate that the Glock (or Sigma) could have been made with a much longer hook and a trigger bar that drops down far enough to accomodate it. It could have been made that way if the tolerance problem was a big deal.

It isn't a big deal because all modern autos, regardless of design, have a lot of interaction between slide and frame. Aside from the disconnector (or connector in Glock and Sigma), you also have decocker linkages, firing pin blocks and the locking block to barrel to barrel hood relationship.

If there is too much tolerance (or clearance) in any of those relationships, the gun will either not fire, fire full auto or shear off it's locking surfaces.

Compared to any of those problem, getting the vertical shaft of the striker hook to positively engage the sear/triggerbar is easy.

April 3, 2003, 03:13 PM
Thanks guys...Well i'm going to try a glock 19, walther p99, and a HK usp 9mm later on this week or weekend. So i'll let you guys know how that goes. I'm a little hesitant on polymer guns but its a lot lighter to carry....Later guys:neener:

April 4, 2003, 08:34 PM
Don't worry about polymer in the P99, it have enough metal where it matters... Own one myself and haven't had a single problem out of it... Dead on the money right out of teh box out to 40 yrds... haven't tried a longer distance yet!

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