Striker-fired pistols have a reputation for poor triggers because many designs are effectively a double action. As the shooter presses the trigger that press is pushing the striker to its rear-most point, then releasing it. As we'll discuss with some of my picks that's not the case with every striker-fired pistol.
After reviewing somewhere around 400 handguns I'm often asked which has "the best" trigger. As we discussed in "The Perfect Trigger Fallacy" I've come to learn with time and experience that while there are bad, good, and even great triggers out there, I can't say that any one trigger is ideal for all applications. Accepting that, what do people even mean by "best trigger"?
The Best Trigger to me, regardless of pull weight, is one that is predictable. The trigger is afterall the user interface for determining when a shot fires. The more predictable and learnable a trigger is, the easier it is to control the firearm's core function. With that attitude I've come to ignore trigger pull weights unless they're absurdly light or heavy. I've felt light triggers that were bad in my opinion, and also come to love triggers as heavy as ten pounds. This is the main reason I stopped measuring pull weights in videos as I find it a misleading waste of time. A more accurate description of a trigger is the feel, however describing feel accurately is a difficult task requiring strong knowledge of language by both the speaker and the listener, so I can't fault folks for using pull weight as a safer way to describe a trigger.
A Good pull feel in my opinion is one that comes to a distinct wall which then breaks without sliding or stacking. Overtravel beyond the break may cost some split times, but also creates miliseconds of salvation if the shooter was too heavy on the trigger. If the trigger is pinned through firing and then released to the rest point, I like that point to be back at the wall so the pistol is ready to fire as soon as I am. Such triggers are where "too light" can exist. A little extra weight can prevent an accidental discharge.
Which Pistol are Best and Why
This list is a sampling, but hopefully gets you looking in the right direction. There are some wildcards in this list that deserve more attention than they've gotten in the past with regards to trigger quality. To see the travel and hear a description of these trigger check out the video here. Let us know which models are your favorites in the comment section below.
The Popular Classics: Walther and Canik
To the best of my knowledge it was the Walther P99 that first commonly-introduced the concept of a pre-cocked striker. Visible from the slide end plate, the striker is pre-cocked. Pressing the trigger simply releases the striker. Aside from internal safeties, there is no spongy feel to the trigger as many had come to expect from striker-fired guns. This is effectively a single-action pull and as a result it feels like one.
Walther P99 AS: One last mass production for the US market of this model after 26 years in production. The Final Edition P99 AS is currently available, and features an effective three trigger modes.
Walther PPQ & PDP: The PDP line was an update to the PPQ line, fortunately they retained the PPQ triggers, which are essentially the same greatness of the P99, but without the multiple modes. We also have a guide to the PDP models .
Pricing across PDP Models:
Walther Dynamic Preformance Trigger: If you've already got a Walther PPQ or PDP and want to take it to the next level these triggers are it. Since about day 2 of these being on the market they've been hard to find, and now it appears they are coming factory in selected models.
Canik TP9 & METE Series: Beginning essentially as a Walther clone, these pistols have a VERY similar trigger to Walther. With the METE line I feel Canik has finally tweaked things enough to be their own pistol, but the trigger remains awesome. These too use a pre-cocked striker system which makes thetrigger feel more liike a hammer-fired gun. See our Canik Guide here.
Pricing across various METE models:
Canik Rival S: As far as I can tell it's the same internal parts, but between the steel frame's unflexing hold on pins and the flat-faced trigger shoe some find The Rival S to have a better trigger than a regular Canik. Flat-faced triggers have had a strong trend as they are said to be more forgiving of poor finger placement, but I haven't seen evidence to support or deny this claim. Something could also be theorized that the heavy weight of this pistol helps prevent shooter-induced error while pressing the trigger; the gun's weight resists movement.
The "Wildcards" are some of the excellent triggers I've encountered on pistols that are either not so popular, or at least I've never heard much discussion about the trigger. Aside from the Steyr, all are still available on the market as of the time this was written.
Great for Everyone, Tisas Zigana PX-9 Gen 3: As we've covered in a complete review here on GBGuns Depot, the Gen 3 really is a complete generational advancement from the older PX-9s. The trigger of the PX-9 Gen 3 is crips and predictable, but also with a reasonable weight that makes it acceptable for carry or duty use.
Alternate Universe, Grand power Q-Series: Grand Power's long-known for excellent single-action and smooth double-action, so when they decided to make a striker-fired gun they had a reputation to maintain. The early Q-series guns (curved trigger) were disturbingly light and had no defined wall, it was like shooting a 2lb double action. That was quickly remedied with the introduction of a new system easily identified by a flat trigger. All the benefits of Grand Power's build style (more information in our Grand Power Pistol Guide), with the longer sight radius and debris-resistance of a striker-fired sytem.
That Little Thing? Bersa BP Series: Available in both 9mm and 380ACP. These super slim pistols are hiding one of the quickest triggers I've ever experienced. Takeup and weight feels like a carry gun, but the reset is incredibly short. If you can double-click a mouse you can hammer out pairs from a Bersa BP pistol. For years I've been hoping Bersa will put this trigger into a double-stack pistol. If so they could have a winner. For now it's just for single-stacks you want to empty rapidly (just for the fun of it I tried and once dumped all 9 rounds of 9mm in about 1.5s).
Space Gun from The Past, Older Steyr A1 models: With a wealth of Bubbits design elements, the Steyr pistols look like a ray gun and have a few features that feel alien at first encounter, but their triggers were great. It's unfortunate that the newer A2 models seem to have lost the great triggers while introducing other features the market wanted.
Glock Feels Good? MCARBO Glock Trigger: The Glock trigger was perhaps best described by a friend of mine who said, "like dragging a trash can through gravel". While 3-Gunning a decade ago I spent a lot of time and money trying to improve the feel of my Glock 34. Recently I was offered the chance to try MCARBO's Short Stroke Flat Trigger which allows the user to adjust travel. The Glock I put it in was of course not stock, but the MCARBO trigger still made a world of a difference. VIDEO
I hope this piece answers a few of the questions I've received over the years about triggers. It should also show you that it's not always about pull weight or even cost. The price range of good triggers right out of the box on this list starts below $300.