My Search for a Hammer Fired EDC

I’ve been carrying a striker-fired 9mm for about 8 years now, and I think I’m ready to move on. First, a little background:

There are four kinds of semiauto pistols: Striker fired, Double Action Only, Double/Single Action, and Single Action Only. Only the striker fired option isn’t hammer fired. Striker is by far the most common pistol type, though. I’m also not currently entertaining the idea of a revolver as my main EDC (Sorry Justin). So, what am I looking at? Well, I’m trying to get into either a single action or a double/single action.

Why am I going away from what is undoubtedly the most popular style of pistol for even experienced CCW? Because I carry appendix, and appendix carry is very unforgiving of mistakes. Striker fired guns are also very unforgiving. Combining the two is stacking the odds against me, and I’m not sure the cost-benefit analysis works in my favor anymore.

What I’m Not Considering

Striker-Fired

These are by far the most common and what I currently carry. They are a good option for most serious gun carriers. Glock is the archetypal striker-fired carry gun. Obviously one gun does not adequately represent all the guns in this category, but it will do for the most part.

Striker-Fired (SF) guns are usually double stack, polymer frame/grip, and no manual safety (although some can be had with one). Since most SF guns feature no manual external safety (the trigger blade doesn’t count), the guns are designed to compress the striker spring 5-10% more with the trigger pull (most market this as making them ‘double action’, but in reality it just makes the trigger pull worse. They don’t have the actual weight, length, or double-strike capability of a double action pull, nor the ever-present manual safety of a single action. In usage, a striker fired gun is like a single action with a terrible trigger and no manual safety. Not a fan.

Double Action Only

Next on the list is Double Action Only (DAO). This is probably the safest type of pistol for a newer or less experienced gun carrier. Every trigger pull cocks the hammer and releases it. Every trigger pull is 1/2-3/4″ in travel and 6-8 lb in weight. There is no ‘accidently’ setting off the trigger, no dropping and it accidently going off. Every single trigger pull is deliberate.

Now, this isn’t the death sentence it’s often made out to be. A decent DAO has a good double action pull. That means the pull is smooth, no hint of crunchy-ness. The pull shouldn’t get progressively heavier as the trigger is pulled, it should be a consistent pull weight the whole time. My first carry gun was a Sig P250, which is a DAO, and I didn’t end up killed in the streets. That being said, it definitely had drawbacks inherent to the design, most concerning was the fact that I could not get my shot-to-shot split times down much without throwing rounds completely off target. It simply takes a ton of practice to do well, and other types of pistol don’t have such a hard time in this regard. Also, your trigger finger literally gets tired!

What I Am Considering

Single Action

The Single Action Only (SAO) type of pistol is the oldest type of semiauto pistol. The trigger does not cock a hammer, but only releases it. This means that the trigger can be made very short, light, and crisp. The downside of an SAO gun is that, since the trigger does not cock the hammer but only release it, the gun must be carried with the hammer cocked. The only non-suicidal way to carry a cocked SAO is with some sort of manual safety, and it engaged all the time. The things that make an SAO trigger good to shoot make them inherently unsafe to carry unless they are guarded by a safety of some sort.

The manual safety is the thing that scares most people off. Some dedicated training needs to be given to make sure that you can unconsciously manipulate the safety, but I think that problem has been blown out of proportion. SAO trigger characteristics are what experienced shooters seek out in a gun, hence why SAO pistols are what most people use in competition when allowed to get what they want. People who carry SAO tend to be experienced and skilled, or completely uninformed. Very little in between.

Double Action/Single Action

The DA/SA, or Traditional Double Action, pistol is probably the most complicated pistol type. The trigger can cock the hammer like a DAO, but the hammer can stay cocked like an SAO. It gives you the safety of a DAO without the concerns that come along with a manual safety. The trade-off is that you have two different trigger pulls to learn, the first double action pull and the following single action pulls. You also have to train to de-cock after each string of fire, since carrying a hammer fired gun with a cocked hammer w/o a safety on is a recipe for disaster. These can be trained through and overcome of course, and gives you a very robust and versatile weapon with a competent user.

The counterpoint is that if you’re willing to train a DA/SA enough to become competent with it, you should have just spent that time with an SAO and had an undeniably better trigger pull from the beginning. I literally had a guy tell me “..or just carry a single action like a real man.” I’m not entirely sure he’s wrong, either…

Options

CZ

I’m heavily leaning towards an offering from CZ. When you consider the affordability, high quality triggers, frame-mounted safety/de-cocker levers, and track record, CZ makes a good option. I would go with the P07/09 line of guns for a double stack polymer framed option. The de-cocker is user-swappable for a manual safety, meaning that if I find the DA/SA lifestyle too hard, I can just go SAO and call it good. The only downside is that CZ doesn’t have a lot of optic mounting options outside of Cajun Gun Works or their custom shop, although I am not afraid of sending something out to get milled.

Beretta

Beretta makes the only real competitor to CZ for me at the moment, and tough competition at that! The 92X-series of pistols is frankly quite an impressive factory offering. Everything good about the 92FS, but de-cock-only lever instead of the ‘accidently dead trigger’-safety the -FS was known for. The 92X series also comes with the slimmer and much more grippy grip panels, a front rail, 17-round magazines, and also has optics-ready models from the factory. The 92X is a lot to love! But, it has one thing to hate: the slide-mounted de-cocker. The slide is just not a good place to put that kind of lever. The 92X Performance and Performance Defensive both have frame-mounted safeties, but they are SAO competition guns that cost $1,500+.

Beretta also has the PX4 Storm series of guns. The PX4 is a poly-frame double stack DA/SA option, although they aren’t easily converted to de-cock only. One would need to purchase either the ‘Carry’ version, an LTT version, or a de-cock-only conversion kit and do the work to make it so. Adding a red dot requires either custom milling or a new LTT slide. Also, I just can’t make my brain like the PX4. I think it’s the aesthetics, its the only explanation that makes sense.

Sig Sauer

I love my P210 and the P210 Carry is… not what I’m looking for. Maybe when they release a version with a provision to mount a dot and a light, then I’ll be interested. As of now, I can’t justify the price, lack of dot & rail, and only 7 rounds of 9mm. Out.

Smith & Wesson

Big Blue’s newest offering, the CSX is the perf- sorry, sorry. I couldn’t even type that sentence out, much less actually convince someone that the CSX isn’t a giant piece of junk. The one thing that a SAO gun is supposed to have is a good trigger, and that’s the biggest downside to the CSX. I personally want it to have a provision for a red dot, but the market won’t support that gun with its current crappy trigger. Improve the trigger, remove the baffling Glock-style trigger blade safety, add a red dot mount, and chamber in .30 Super Carry and I’m on board. I know that’s a lot to ask, but that gun kinda sucks as of April 2022. Until they fix it, I’m out.

FN

I’m considering the Hi Power, but not likely to go with it. I have yet to see one in person, and at an MSRP of ~$1200? And it doesn’t have a red dot option yet (though I speculate it will be announced before too long). The SA-35 Hi Power isn’t option, because the thought of supporting Springfield Armory leaves a bad taste in my mouth. [click here and here for more FN Hi-Power thoughts]

FN also has a DA/SA polymer framed offering, the FNX series. This could be a very serious third competitor against the P07 and the 92X, but I just have so little experience with them that I can’t put them on the list at this time. I have lots of first hand experience with Beretta and CZ and am comfortable choosing one of them. I’d like to get my hands on a FNX9, I just have never had the opportunity.

1911/2011

I’m not considering these guns primarily on price. A 1911 I’d feel comfortable carrying is going to start hundreds more above the 92X and CZ P07, and it’s half the capacity. A 2011 even more so. The most affordable 2011 is going to be a Rock Island, and I expect to put $200-$300 in gunsmithing into it, and then it still won’t be red dot ready.

TL;DR- I’m not there as a shooter to justify the expense.

A Striker-Fired Gun with a Manual Safety?

Sir, I’m going to ask you to leave.

Conclusion

I’m probably going to end up with a CZ P07. The frame-mounted safety, that I can switch to a de-cocker at home with included parts, lets me cross the line between DA/SA and SAO at will. The fact that Beretta’s 92X excludes SAO function gives me pause, and the slide mounted de-cocker really ruins it for me. In contrast, the FNX9 has a great 3-position de-cocker/safety but I just have no first hand experience with one.

Keep upgrading your skills, never settle. We’ll see you next Friday.

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23 thoughts on “My Search for a Hammer Fired EDC

  1. I mean, I’m fully supportive of the P07. Just curious why you didn’t consider the FNX or HK P30 in your lineup.

    You could also consider one of the classic CZ lineup designed for carry cocked/locked. The 75 compact (not the D model) fits here. The P01 Omega has the same trigger system as the P07, so you can swap that one to SAO as well, and it has a rail for a light.

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    1. I considered a number of other guns too. It’s just that when I first picked up the P-07, it felt right and my search stopped. Actually shooting and manipulating this gun has confirmed that it was a good choice – for me. Funny thing is, I initially thought it was a butt-ugly, clunky-looking pistol. Obviously, I got over that. Pretty is as pretty does. I tried to find a P01, but they were either unavailable or over-priced.

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  2. I noticed you didn’t really mention 2011’s specifically – they seem to be making a strong comeback lately for EDC and I’d love to hear why they’re not in the final running for your consideration?

    Also, I carry an LTT 92X and it’s great! …Aside from the weight & frame-mounted-safety digging into my gut when I’m driving. XD

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  3. Pro-gun boomer here.

    A while back, I went through a similar decision process as you’re doing right now. I had owned and occasionally carried a gen 4 Glock 19 for five years, and finally decided that it just wasn’t the right gun for me. The things I didn’t like about the Glock are as follows:

    1. Perception that the striker-fired trigger is not as safe to operate as other trigger mechanisms. For the same reasons you talk about, I never could get completely comfortable with the Glock as a carry gun. This gave me a nagging sense of anxiety every time I put it on. I quickly decided that appendix carry was out of the question for me, so a shoulder holster or small-of-back IWB were the only methods I ever used, and neither are exactly ideal.
    2. Handling quality, or lack thereof. The Glock’s trigger just feels like hammered shit to me. I could deal with the crunchy, flexy nature of it, but I NEVER liked it. The frame of the gun also just feels cheap, both to hold and to shoot. If you’ve ever seen a high-speed video of a Glock being fired, you’ll notice that the front of the frame is flexing and flopping around like a wet fish. Maybe it’s just psychological, but I swear I could feel that flexing while shooting the gun. Finally, the angle of the grip was wrong for me; it always tended to go muzzle-high when taking a relaxed, natural hold.

    Never-the-less, that G19 never malfunctioned over the course of a few thousand rounds of fire, except for a couple of instances that were entirely ammunition related. So it was very reliable. It’s also configured well for concealed carry, with its low-profile controls and relatively slim profile.

    But I finally had to admit to myself that I would never be entirely happy with the Glock, and started researching other options. Since I grew up shooting double-action revolvers and had also owned a few SA/DA semis over the years, I decided that some sort of SA/DA hammer-fired semi-auto was probably my best bet. I had owned a Ruger P95 immediately prior to the Glock, but it was kind of bulky and hadn’t been entirely reliable, so I started looking at other options. After borrowing and shooting a few different guns, SIG and CZ quickly went to the top of the list. I decided in favor of the CZ P-07 mostly for ergonomic reasons as it felt the most natural in my hands. The grip angle and shape are very appealing and overall, the gun feels much more substantial than a Glock. It is a bit heavier and bulkier than the 19, but not by much. Initially, I considered sending my CZ to CGW for a trigger job, but after a few hundred rounds, the trigger started smoothing out very nicely on its own. The trigger pull weight is perfectly acceptable too. With my shooting background, the DA/SA transition is no big deal and constitutes a return to what I’m already familiar with. The other nice thing about the CZ is that I experience almost no anxiety with appendix carry now. It may be mostly a psychological thing, but that improved sense of comfort and safety counts for a lot.

    Anyway, I just thought I would relate my journey down a similar path to what you’re on now. Good luck, and it’ll be interesting to see which way you decide to go.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. To echo a comment above, the HK P30 and P2000 might be worth a look. Can be had in DAO, TDA, and LEM versions, as well. Granted, I haven’t fired one since TLG’s P30 endurance sample around…oh, probably May of 2010.
    Plus also the Aluminum-frame CZs. I know there aren’t a lot of them, but the 75D PCR or P01 (in either the original or Omega Convertible flavor) are decently compact and can be slicked up.
    I like my steel-frame CZ, but I really wish it were aluminum and had the decocker instead of the manual safety only.

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    1. Can the aluminum framed PCR air P01 be converted to manual safety so they can be carried cocked and locked (my preference for carry)?

      I had thought that only the steel framed 75 compact was available with the frame-mounted safety for C&L carry; it was too heavy for me to consider, but the AL framed version with manual frame-mounted safety? Yes!

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  5. I want to try out a DA/SA, even rented range time on a .40 Sig 226 Legion once. The double action on my P250 was both smoother and lighter. I also have a Shield in .45, and resigned myself to mostly pulling the holster off my belt to make sure I was reholstering safely, and that’s me using strong side carry.

    I have tried Glocks a little as well, but perhaps I haven’t found my ideal holster for them yet. The striker control gadget might be another solution for that route. The Beretta APX has something similar built in.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Just forward of the rear sight on top of the slide the APX has a little round nub that raises up when the trigger is depressed. Holding down on that nub while holstering might look odd, but it seems like it keeps the trigger from moving. Probably meant to ensure the gun can’t fire when holstered properly.

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  6. Ever look at a ParaOrdnance LDA? I’ve got a P 14.45 and a Carry 7.45, like them both a lot. The LDA trigger is smooth and crisp, not as good as my 1911’s but I’m not comfortable carrying cocked and locked IWB, so the Para is a nice compromise for concealed carry.

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  7. No Sig P Series in consideration?
    I carried different flavors of 226/220 for decades till my Job switched to Austrian Tupperware Perfection and am still a fan.
    One advantaged to DA/SA over striker fired is its easy to dryfire the bejesus out of the gun in DA mode.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I have been carrying since about 1998. I’m now in the latter half of my 40’s. Since I starting carrying IIRC I started with a 6” Rossi 357 revolver. Yeah, it was big. More often than not it was carried off body in a small backpack. That didn’t last long.

    I think then I got a Hipower. That lasted for a couple years. Then I had a run-in with a possum and was less than impressed. This was before I understood bullet design. But I went to the 1911. That lasted for about three years. Then I went back to a Browning BDM as I schooled myself on good expanding bullets. That didn’t last long though. Back to revolver. I had a 2.75” Security Six and then a 3” SP101, and that SP101 was my main carry gun for nearly ten years.

    Then Sutherland Springs happened. That was a wake up call for me. I was not willing to rely on only five cartridges any more. The past few years I finally choked on my own vomit and moved to a Glock…but it’s a 43. It was that or the Sig P365 at the time. I ended up going G43. Then I’ve put thousands of rounds through it. I still also have a 4” GP100 I sometimes carry, but the Glock has been everywhere like only the SP101 has. I’ve worn both for days on end. Hiked wolf/cougar/black bear (and now reportedly jaguar) infested mountains and mesas. I can keep my hits in the black at 20 yards w/ the G43…not so much the SP101. And I typically have one spare mag, and sometimes up to three spares. (Church security team).

    I guess my point is that as I’ve aged I’ve gravitated to smaller guns. The G43 is my “always” gun and can be 100% discreet. Heck, I even belly band it…just did to a wedding where I had to be tucked in and moving around chasing my kids all night. Eventually I want to get the thumb safety that goes on the back of the slide. I guess my point is, I’ve learned to stop worrying and love the striker fired Tupperware guns, but nothing wrong with change. And a sidearm is a very personal thing. You do you, but realize that you’ll likely change it again a few years from now as you get older and ounces turn into pounds.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I came across this post while searching for DA/SAs on google. A highly regarded DA/SA with a decocker and manual safety is the Arex Rex Zero 1. Some don’t like that it has both, but just leave the safety off after decocking the hammer.

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