To learn more, visit https://www.smith-wesson.com/.
A few months ago, I received an invite to the Smith and Wesson factory, which tells me they don’t have much of a background check. I was required to keep my hands in my pockets for the duration of the factory tour, which also tells me they aren’t totally behind the curve. At some point, I was mocking my hosts for building products that they aren’t even allowed to buy in their home state, because 1.) I’m an asshole and 2.) Now that I live in the free states of America, not the People’s Republic of Taxachussets (or Californistan, or the Democratic Republic People’s Workers Paradise of New York), I like to rub that in at every opportunity. Much to my surprise, I was told you can, in fact, own a handgun in Massachusetts, it just requires a bunch of blah blah blah, and it has to have a 10.5-pound trigger. After I recovered from a paralyzing fit of laughter, I of course inquired “Does Smith and Wesson build Mass-compliant handguns for this market?”. And they answer is “Yes, Yes they do.”
Now I am something of an evolutionist when it relates to firearms and training. I like the idea that we constantly evolve and get better. Our hardware gets better. Our training becomes more suited to the task. I embrace my heritage as a warrior, and I honor my lineage of Raiders, MACV-SOG, Blue Light, Project Omega, and the Berlin Brigade to name but a few. Those were better and harder men than us, and they paved the way for what we are. We stand on their shoulders for all that Special Operations is today. But the one thing we unquestionably do better today is shoot. And our toys are much superior. Thank you grandfather. This is just as it should be, and if we couldn’t perform as such, we would be disgraceful. Every next generation is duty bound to build forward. This is a long way of saying I hate stupidity, and the idea that someone would have to take a modern firearm and intentionally make it suck due to stupid laws induces a rage to break the machine and piss in its ashes.
The idea of forcing a firearm to have a heavy trigger clearly is the brainchild of lawyers. This from the same no-talent ass clowns that made an industry of medical malpractice and can debate for hours “What the definition of is, is” directly related to perjury. Yes, I’m looking at you William Jefferson. Anyway, my belief is that only a complete moron would think a trigger that is harder to pull makes anyone safer. Also, coffee tends to be served hot. You’re welcome.
I have shot “mil-spec” AR-15 triggers against good triggers, and I know the result there. You can do magic with a sub-optimal military trigger, but it takes a lot of practice and skill. Putting a high-quality trigger in reduces the needed training time, and results in higher scored efficiency across the board. I know this because I have tested it. I have never had the opportunity to try the same thing with a pistol though, so I jumped at the chance. Hopefully, this provides some ammo to anyone in a department that forces you to have a heavy trigger, or any poor bastard that lives in a state that forces this on its citizens. Or serfs. Probably subjects is the right word. Let’s use that one.
First off, I would like to thank Smith and Wesson for supporting me in this test. They sent me an M&P built for Massachusetts and one built for the free world without even blinking. Apples to Apples, the only difference is the trigger. I hate that a company like this with such great products has to modify them like this to address stupid laws, but it is what it is. And, I want to specify that I am talking about duty-style, semi-auto, striker-fired pistols. I know that there are a lot of great revolvers out there with “heavy” trigger pulls.
Also, for our readers, a bit about me so you know my opinion comes from an informed place. I am a USPSA Master-rated shooter in Production, which is a class of competitive shooting that requires use of firearms that are basically out of the box factory. Single-action triggers are specifically prohibited in this class, so no 1911s. Glock, M&P, and other striker-fired plastic wonders make up the bulk of the weapons competitors use in this shooting. I made my Master rating with a Glock 34. I am also a retired Special Forces Veteran, and I spent the bulk of my career in a counter-terrorism unit. My last three years of service, I ran a Close Quarters Battle school training other assaulters. I have been tested and certified at the highest levels of pistol shooting demand by USSOCOM, and that is a pretty high bar. My point here is not that I’m a bad ass and my way is the only way, but merely to state that I do at least sorta know what I am doing with a pistol. There is some weight and experience behind my opinion.
When we talk about using pistols for their intended purpose, that purpose is self-defense. I carry a pistol because it is more polite than carrying a rifle. When I was in the Army I carried a pistol in case my rifle stopped working, and for the very, very few times a pistol fit the job better. There aren’t many of those. Police officers don’t carry a pistol as a symbol of authority, they carry it in case they need to shoot someone. A pistol is a defensive tool in case lethal force is needed, and we didn’t have the foresight to be 50 yards away with a machine gun in our hands and a bunch of our friends for back up. Nothing more, nothing less. The two factors at play when we shoot another human being, besides caliber choice, are speed and accuracy. Accuracy—did we hit what we intended to hit. Speed—did we hit it enough times, in a short enough time frame, to not be killed ourselves. Use of lethal force almost always requires the counter threat of lethal force to be employed, outside of specialized military applications.
Now, down to my testing of the two pistols with the different triggers. So how did doubling the trigger weight on a pistol affect my speed and accuracy? More than I would have thought. Much more. In accuracy testing, my group was twice as big with the heavier trigger. Balance that with the fact that I have a lot of pistol experience. Most police officers get about 50 rounds a year to train. I’ve burned that testing a single magazine to see if it would malfunction. Having shot this trigger, I can absolutely see why NY cops are famous for shooting 70 rounds, missing the bad guy completely, and hitting 9 bystanders.
How about speed? There was also a noticeable degrading of my ability to hit targets under a par time. For a speed test, I shot a modified el pres drill, two hits per target with a two second par time. I made it well under 2 seconds every time with the normal M&P 2.0. With the 10.5-pound trigger, not only did I go over the par time, I had misses from trying to shoot that fast. This is a pretty definitive conclusion to me that heavy triggers are a bad idea.
The counter argument here is that you can get enough skills to overcome a badly designed trigger. I don’t disagree. You can make 200 yard hits with a snub nose revolver with enough practice. The question is the time and commitment it takes to get that skill set, at the expense of every other task you are required to know and do. If we can find an off-the-shelf solution to making all of our people better shooters instantly, what kind of idiots are we to instead pay extra for an intentionally worse product?
I think we need to push back at Massachusetts ( and other similar states) for putting a dangerous product on the streets. This ultimately helps both our armed citizens and our police officers, it gets them a tool that will enhance their survivability in a gun fight.
To learn more, visit https://www.smith-wesson.com/.