Only after your sights are on the target and you have made the decision to fire should your finger contact the trigger and compress it. There have been over the years several theories about the best contact point on the finger for the trigger. Classic marksmen used the tip for sensitivity when the weapons were often cocked before firing. For pure marksmanship this position may have had some validity but for today’s double action only snub shooter it does not. The time and dexterity required to position the tip of the finger on the face of the trigger under the constraints of a lethal encounter may well prove to be fatally demanding. Other theories include the use of the pad of the finger, the area between the pad and the first distal joint, and the crease of the first distal joint.
Many shooters find that the size of their hands as well as the style of the revolver’s stocks will effect optimum finger contact position. The majority of men with average sized hands will often put too much of their finger through the trigger guard of the J-frame sized revolvers, a frame size designed for an average woman’s hand.
Subsequently there has developed two schools of though regarding trigger contact on the self-defense revolver.
First, that using the crease of the first distal joint offers the best combination of mechanical leverage and practical sensitivity. Advocates for this trigger contact point rightly consider the fingers crease and easy spot to consistently locate when firing. To aid in using the finger’s crease they argue that the face of the trigger should be polished mirror smooth so that the face of the trigger will stay in the crease like a ball bearing in a grove.
The second (and distinctly minority) theory is that the trigger should be pulled in a line straight to the rear of the trigger guard. That the face of the trigger should be lightly grooved in the fashion of the classic Colt triggers or the “combat” triggers originally on the self-defense revolvers Smith and Wesson made for police style service weapons.
Because I have average size adult male hands I find several ways to cheat this question. First, my day-to-day carry guns are a K-frame Smith backed up by a D-frame Colt. Both guns were built for the adult male’s hand and I find on both a more comfortable trigger contact location that I can find on any small frame .38 or .357 without having to add oversized stocks.
Before moving on I will admit to being in the “pull the trigger in a line straight to the rear of the trigger guard” crowd. I find that this is ridiculously easy to do with either a D-frame or a K-frame over a J-frame. Take a moment to look at your fist. Extend your index finger as if you were going to stroke an imaginary trigger. Now curl you finger in-and-out several times as if you were pulling the trigger for several shots. Note that there is a slight but perceptible arc in the line of movement if you follow the crease of the index finger’s first distal joint. This is easy to note if you put the knuckles of your fist against the edge of a table and your index finger on the table top. Put a slip of paper between your index finger and the table. Then ask someone to hold a pen in the crease with the pen’s tip on the paper while to “pull the trigger” several times. Remove your hand and the arc should be plainly visible. How can pressure for this arc not be disruptive to your aim when you applying pressure to your small frame revolver?
Second, when trying to cheat the trigger contact/trigger compression issue and when using a small frame revolver – like a Smith and Wesson J-frame – I will apply a set of over sized stocks like Hogue’s nylon Monogrips. Be sure to use one with the backstrap covers as this moves the web of your hand farther away from the trigger and gives you a trigger reach more in keeping with a K-frame.
I have one last cheat I hope to test once I locate the correct trigger. Combat triggers are narrow and target triggers are wide. I hope to test a target trigger that will be narrowed on the right of its center line to a combat trigger width and left wide to the left of its center line like a target trigger. I am interested in determining if – if I keep the majority of the combat trigger’s face in the crease of the first distal joint if I can get the mechanical leverage advantage of the “keep it in the crease” crowd while by keeping the left side of the target trigger’s face on a portion of the trigger finger’s pad I will get a more consistent “pull to the rear of the trigger guard” pull and avoid pulling the sights off line during the trigger stroke.
Once I know I will let you know.
Special note – I will be away for two days and will not have any postings until Monday. But when I return we turn to what Conceal Carry Magazine refers to as “the controversial manual of arms.”