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how to do a trigger reset

Trigger Reset - The Importance of Understanding and Practicing Trigger Reset

Read enough gun reviews and you'll start seeing the trigger reset getting mentioned a lot. What is it?

And why is it such a big deal?

The reset is the portion of the trigger's return stroke, where the sear - the portion of the trigger mechanism that engages the firing mechanism - re-engages with the hammer or firing pin, which allows the pistol to fire. The shorter the reset - it's measured in distance - the quicker a person can make follow-up shots.

Let's get into it a bit more.

How A Trigger Works

trigger mechanism

To explain trigger reset a little better, trigger mechanisms themselves need to be explained.

A trigger group is almost like a Rube Goldberg machine. One part of the mechanism interacts with another part, which interacts with another part, which interacts...you get the idea.

First, the firing mechanism is cocked, either by pre-cocking a hammer or striker mechanism, or by virtue of a long trigger pull in double action pistols and revolvers. In the case of a cocked hammer or striker mechanism, the hammer or striker is held under spring tension. In the case of a double action gun, the tension is created by the trigger, sear and hammer spring as the trigger is brought to the rear. The sear holds the hammer or firing pin in place.

A trigger itself is a lever, and what it does is trip another lever - the sear - that releases the hammer or striker. Once the hammer or striker is tripped, contact is made with the primer and the round fires. When this happens, the sear is disconnected from the hammer and the trigger.

When the pistol is recocked - in semi-autos it's done by the slide and revolvers recock either by cocking the hammer or the next trigger pull - the sear re-engages with the hammer or firing pin/striker mechanism. Meanwhile, the trigger begins to travel back to its resting position. During the return stroke, the trigger re-engages the sear whilst the sear re-engages with the hammer or firing pin/striker.

The trigger reset is the point at which the trigger and the sear are re-engaged and the pistol can be fired again.

The reset is measured in distance of trigger travel. Generally, shorter and more audibly and tactile resets are preferred, as the shooter can more easily perceive when the trigger has reset and also can be fired again more quickly.

This lattermost aspect - quicker follow-up shots - is also tactically important.

Trigger Reset Cuts Down On Excessive Movement

When every millisecond counts, the less movement – the better. If you're able to play the trigger reset of your firearm correctly, you can learn to quickly put rounds on target. Rather than fully releasing the trigger, relax your trigger finger until it “clicks” into place. That's the trigger reset threshold.

It may be different for each pistol you own – so be sure to get a feel for each while at the range.


3 Ways To Train For Trigger Reset

trigger reset training

When you do your regular practice at the range, train to discover the trigger reset for your daily carry concealed carry firearm.


• Slow Trigger Reset

Focus on feeling the trigger snap back into place. This is getting the muscle memory in place to use the trigger reset to your advantage later on.

Practice Drill: Load one magazine with 10 rounds. Aim at your target and keep your finger closely tuned with the trigger. Each time the trigger resets, feel that sensation. Use slow, steady squeezes and try for good shot groupings.

• Practice Quick, Successive Follow-Up Shots

The best way to see the fruits of your labor is to practice it! Once you've discovered the trigger reset threshold for your concealed carry pistol, practice firing in groups of two. The first round is the initial trigger squeeze and the second is a follow-up shot. This will train you in the habit of using your trigger reset skills.

Practice Drill: Load one magazine with 10 rounds. Draw your concealed carry pistol from your inside the waistband holster. Your first round should be followed by a quick follow-up round. Put your concealed carry pistol back in your holster. Repeat five times.

• Three Round Magazine Swaps

The best way to experience consistency is by practicing to change magazines. Not only does this force you to reacquire your target, but it also necessitates you learn the trigger reset point in your firearm.

Practice Drill: Take two or more magazines and fill them with three rounds. On the range, load the first magazine. Switching to a new magazine every three rounds will get you used to instinctively relying on the trigger reset no matter which magazine you have in the pistol. After you expend the first magazine, release it and load a second. And continue to the third. Look at your shot groupings and see if you felt comfortable with the trigger reset.

trigger reset practice for concealed carry

Will Trigger Reset Matter When Adrenaline Kicks?

This is a hard question for concealed carriers who depend on their everyday carry to save their lives. When an emergency occurs and it's a life or death situation, adrenaline is soaring! That's why it's important to practice trigger reset – so your body is ready to respond at a moment's notice.

Should multiple shots be necessary in a defensive encounter - and they may be - the quick follow-up shots and tight groups will part of muscle memory. This gives you a firepower advantage over an attacker.

Sam Hoober

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.