Yesterday we ran Part 1 of a Critical Look at Trigger Weight. Today’s conclusion is going to discuss training – realistic training and training needs vs. training tradition. We will also be looking at whether or not trigger weight litigation concerns are bullshit. As expected, the article created a lot of discussion. Unexpectedly, the discussion was civil and thought-provoking. That’s a Good Thing, as whether you agree with Breach-Bang-COWAN! or not, we all have room to improve and the need for critical thinking. Dig it. MD
Yesterday I explained how two things seem to be the most common concerns when it comes to trigger weight: safety and liability. We’ll hit the litigation angle in a minute, but let me talk one final thing when it comes to safety – training.
Training traditions, handed down for decades give us many rules or practices that make little sense. Think about them critically, in the context of what we’re really training for. Ranges or instructors that don’t allow movement, drawing from the holster or proper use of cover/concealment in training (among other things) are negligent for it. If they use the excuse it’s a safety issue then I have this to say: guns shoot bullets. They are inherently dangerous and they make loud noises. If you can’t/wont train your students/officers to a level where they can perform realistic range movements, you should be fired.
If they use the excuse it’s a safety issue then I have this to say: guns shoot bullets. They are inherently dangerous and they make loud noises.
Everything in firearms is a safety issue; our job as instructors is to train as safe and realistic as possible, not train our students with a range leash mentality. I don’t go to the range to learn how to go to the range; I go to the range to learn how to win gun fights. If you aren’t teaching skills based in reality, then what in the hell are you teaching? Teaching becomes practice and practiced skills are handed on to others. If I am sold a wolf ticket by an instructor, how many people can suffer from that bad instruction point? No matter the pull weight, trigger discipline is trigger discipline. I have no issue with students running 3.5 triggers on the range or for personal carry once they demonstrate a confident understanding of trigger safety and muzzle awareness. I refuse to parrot an opinion just because it is a popular song to sing if it is unrealistic and unnecessary in the context of correct training and practice.
Someone may say well accidents happen. To that I say, no, negligence happens. It is the shooter’s responsibility to be confident in their equipment and skill to use it, it’s my job to train them to that point and give them the skills to solve realistic problems with their tools.
Everything in firearms is a safety issue; our job as instructors is to train as safe and realistic as possible, not train our students with a range leash mentality.
Now let’s talk about lawsuit potentiality. I have been hearing this trigger pull liability nonsense my entire professional career without any objective evidence to support it. I hear vague references, or people who “know a guy/cop/buddy who” but when I ask for specifics, I get shrugs and weird looks, as if I shouldn’t question the information based on its otherwise reputable source. I have seen it written on by other instructors, some of them considered industry pillars, yet none of them cited any specific cases…is that because they didn’t bother to look, or when they did, they couldn’t find anything either?
I’m just going to come out and say it; I believe a large majority of the trigger weight advice when it comes to potential litigation is meme garbage. It’s parroted nationwide from gun ranges to guns stores and despite the length of time I’ve been hearing it, I’ve yet to have someone point to specific case. No one can show me a case in which a handgun with a lightened trigger pull resulted in liability or conviction…how about you?
Of course I wasn’t satisfied with relying on someone else to do my research for me, so I went looking myself and you know what I found? Nothing. I found not a single case in which a factory trigger had been reduced in weight being a contributing cause to a conviction or liability of an individual that otherwise was justified in the use of deadly force. Do you know why I couldn’t find anything? One good reason is that the object of self-defense is immaterial to the act of self-defense. If the item is illegal, that is a separate legal issue. Any defense attorney worth their hourly fee can get such nonsensical items such as weapon modification thrown out in a suppression hearing before it ever sees a jury. I can beat someone to incapacitation with a pillow slip full of dead cats or a homemade battle axe and it’s just as legal so long as the use of force is justified.
I can beat someone to incapacitation with a pillow slip full of dead cats or a homemade battle axe and it’s just as legal so long as the use of force is justified.
Does that mean no such case exists? No, but I did not find one. After an exhaustive search of Westlaw and LexusNexis, phone calls and emails to other instructors and LEOs, as well as a few calls to prosecutors I had worked with in the past, I came up with nothing. I encourage the reader to do their own search and find, if they can, and actual case. Do not subscribe to the opinion of someone referencing a vague case who cannot, if asked, provide recorded specifics. If you know of one, engage us in the comment section or contact me (see below). Let’s look at facts and eschew innuendo. (Grunts: eschew)
Or maybe is it because they are guilty of parroting the same type of information I heard as they progressed through their career? I’m not going to say, or point fingers because I don’t know why they don’t know, or bother to say.
Does that mean your trigger weight won’t be an issue in your self-defense case, either criminal or civil? No. If the prosecution/plaintiff’s attorney is any good at what they do, it ceratinly will be. So will a laundry list of other things, and quite a few of them are going to be chaff used to confuse a jury. Trigger pull weight is a chaff issue. If it’s legal, it’s legal. If you shot someone in justified self-defense, the weight of the trigger pull is immaterial to the action and your legal counsel should have little problem countering any allegations to the contrary – just as your firearms instructor should have no problem doing the same when they testify on your behalf (you do get professional training, right?).
Put bluntly, if you are worried about litigation for a justified use of force, you have the wrong mindset. A concern, yes, but it should not be a reason to avoid a common sense force multiplier lin the form of a modification that increases speed and accuracy.&
nbsp; Firearms are modified in many ways; stippling, night sights, reflex sights, custom colors, engraving, frame lightening…the list goes on and on. All of this can be used against you and all of it is chaff so long as the modifications are legal. Now, I am not advocating that people carry “race guns” at all, because a race gun is not a combat gun. A combat gun is going to be far more reliable when you really need it than a finely tuned (and cost prohibitive) competition machine.
The trigger is pulled by you, not circumstance.
That said, common sense, solid modifications do not a race gun make. An OEM/third party trigger (or springs) installed by a qualified gunsmith is a perfectly reasonable modification for defensive carry if you are safe and confident in your weapon. The trigger is pulled by you, not circumstance. I have been carrying a Glock 19 (off duty) with a 3.5 LBS trigger for close to 5 years without a single negligent issue; this includes the few times I have drawn it with the intention of using it. If the stars were to align in the favor of negligence and I did have an unintentional discharge, I would have no one to blame but myself.
I know this is going to be a somewhat controversial article. I knew that when I began writing. I felt it needed to be written though, quite frankly because I didn’t want to wait around for someone else to do it and the topic deserves the attention. Trigger weight, just like many other aspects with firearms, is an individual choice. Provided a modification is common sense, correctly installed and safe, I can see no advantage to not having it should you want it. I would like to see the myths and misinformation regarding this subject expelled from conversation and expunged from the industry. Unfortunately I know this will be an uphill battle, as some of these “facts” are so ingrained that many readers who disagree with me will do so quite passionately – and that’s okay.
Disagree. So long as you have an objective leg to stand on, I support disagreement i the interest of improving our critical thinking and ultimate performance when things go bad. However, if you disagree based on incomplete information or myths, I will be forced to question the grounds and content of your argument. If you have read this far it’s because you were curious, objective, have not broken your computer screen, agree with me or are open minded.
Whatever the reason, weigh the advantages and objective disadvantages presented by a lighter trigger and you may find that I am right (or at least not as wrong as some might have first assumed). For anyone who wants clarification on anything or has a reasonable counter point, I am always willing to field e-mails. Note: if you type in all caps, I will assume you are yelling at me and will probably delete it. You can contact me at sage(at)sagedynamics.org . If you happen to be in the camp that does agree with me, feel free to mass email this to everyone who doesn’t.
The discussion should take place.
Mad Duo, Breach-Bang-CLEAR!