Trigger terms...and: "Are all 1911's like this?"


December 11, 2006, 09:10 AM
I usually shoot an HK USP. In SA mode, I'm a reasonably good shot. In DA, not so much. I just don't practice this enough. Someone at the range was commenting how horrilble the USP trigger is and when I asked him for specifics he shot my gun and commented that the SA mode was "better than expected" but the SA pull was "typical HK badness". I never really got details on what he meant. In a related story, I shot two 1911's recently (A Les Bauer and a Springfield, both range rental guns) and found their triggers felt much different. So some questions (when I refer to my USP below, I mean while shooting it single-action):

- What makes a good trigger? (Yea, this is the "why is the sky blue?" question)

- What are the various terms people use to describer trigger problems, what do they mean? What do they feel like?

- "less travel before breaking?" The weight of both 1911 triggers was less than my USP. But more than that, the 1911 triggers seem to not travel much (or at all?) before breaking. This isn't true of my USP. I really liked those triggers but I want to know why they felt different. Also, can I expect that of all 1911-style guns? Is that typical of SA-only guns?

Thanks for the help.

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December 11, 2006, 10:04 AM
Where do babies come from? Hahahah… Just kidding.:p

I too have a HK USP. Mine is a full size USP45, and it too has the “HK trigger”. The 1911, because of its basic design will have (arguably) the best trigger. This is due to the very simple design that it is based on. It has a straight back pull, and very few moving parts, thus, not only are they usually very good, but are excellent for modifying for those reasons. The HK is not at all “bad”, IMHO. It is a good, happy middle ground. If you have ever looked at an exploded view of a USP, you can see that there are a lot of moving parts in there, and it has to function as both a double and single action trigger. So cut it some slack, huh.

Some typical terms that you will hear are:
Creep- this is how much the trigger moves before engaging the sear.
Over-travel- this is how much the trigger continues to move rearward after the sear releases the hammer or striker.
Gritty- This is when a trigger feels inconsistent. Think about dragging something across rough sandpaper.

There are many more, but these are the ones that I can think of now… its early and I haven’t finished my coffee yet.

December 11, 2006, 10:16 AM
I think you've answered your own question to an extent. The great advantages of the 1911 trigger are that the pull weight can be made very light (by someone who knows what he or she is doing), and the pull is straight back, not following an arc as with pin-mounted triggers. A really good 1911 trigger will have little to no creep or take-up, and break cleanly (like the proverbial glass rod) with little to no overtravel. This type of pull is hard to achieve with typical double-action pistol triggers. That doesn't mean it can't be done, but it's asking alot. Generally, I've found that SIG triggers tend to be the best when it comes to stock double action service automatics. All the HK's I've fired have had mushier triggers, but then again I've never fired one 'o' them "Tactical" jobs either - perhaps they're better.

ETA: The above poster beat me to it. Good info there DogBonz


December 11, 2006, 11:09 AM
I wasn't saying "HK triggers are bad". I was saying that it's fine for me, but what do I know? The DA pull is pretty hard for me, both in increased trigger weight (gotta cock the hammer somehow!) and in this "grittiness". They guy who tried to give me a quick lesson in triggers seemed to otherwise be not full of it, and he liked SIGs as well.

The real question for me: These two range guns were stock and had thousands of rounds through them. The thing I liked about thier trigger was this lack of "creep" (thanks, I learned a new word today!). Is it likely I'll find this on all 1911s from major manufacturers? It's not likely I'll be able to rent the exact model that I'll decide upon.

December 11, 2006, 11:15 AM
Try this page for any unfamiliar terms:

And take a look at this excellent article by pistolsmith Grant Cunningham:


Steve C
December 11, 2006, 11:28 AM
Iíve only shot one HK USP and that was a compact .45 that belonged to a friend. I was rather impressed with the trigger on his. It broke cleanly at around 4.5 lbs without any perceivable creep. There was some slack to take up, typical of a double action, but nothing excessive, no more than my Sig 220. His gun was stock, nothing special.

December 11, 2006, 11:29 AM

Thanks so much. That's what I'm looking for!

December 11, 2006, 12:43 PM
Another great thing about a 1911 trigger is the reset. Try this for a little test. Make sure the gun is unloaded, then dry fire. Keep the trigger pressed all the way back (don't let it reset), then rack the slide. With the hammer cocked again, release the trigger slowly to see how soon it resets. It will be very soon. That means very fast follow up shots. I thoght the trigger on my Walther P99 was great until I shot a 1911. Even though I have bought other DA/SA guns, and I own revolvers too, the 1911 will always be my favorite.

December 11, 2006, 12:52 PM
ya 1911's are great for rapid fire and I have shot 9mm's with more recoil

December 11, 2006, 11:29 PM
I like the triggers on the USP - I guess I'm goofy that way :scrutiny: For me, their like my favorite jeans....smooth, predictable, comfy :D

December 12, 2006, 08:12 AM
I like my USP trigger (well, not the DA trigger, but I just need practice). It's just that I REALLY liked the 1911 trigger. I was shocked, I really didn't expect to find a better trigger and I wouldn't consider myself a trigger afficionado. But, shooting it just felt better.

December 12, 2006, 07:13 PM
In answer to your question if all 1911 triggers are going to be as silky smooth. the answer is no. I have owned a good many and some were much better than others. All of them however could be tuned to have the perfect crisp trigger that you seem to like. I currently have a Kimber Pro Carry and havent touched anything on it. It was perfect for me out of the box.

December 13, 2006, 03:34 AM
Perhaps one of the best characteristics of the 1911 is that trigger.

Modern DA/SA triggers pivot. Even the SAO Browning Hi Power pivots. The 1911 trigger simply moves to the rear, and must do nothing more than release the sear. DA/SA triggers usually must also cock the hammer. Even if the hammer is already cocked by motion of the slide, the design must allow for it, and that makes for a different trigger pull.

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