The Cornered Cat
Revolver trigger finger

Many years back, as a fairly new shooter, I took a two-day defensive handgun class. At that time, although I practiced regularly with a semi-auto, I’d never really learned to run a revolver and felt as though I needed to. So for the class I borrowed a friend’s Smith & Wesson 686 L-frame revolver, intending to learn the basic revolver manipulations under an instructor’s watchful eye.

Firing in double-action mode throughout the weekend, I found the trigger pull long and heavy, but butter-smooth, and the gun itself was astonishingly accurate in my hands. Even though it was a lot of work to pull the trigger, the gun was still lots of fun to shoot and I was enjoying it – right up until I ran into unexpected trouble.

Late in the afternoon on Day One of the class, I rolled the trigger halfway back, and then was shocked to suddenly discover that I literally could not complete the pull. My finger just froze! It was a very weird sensation. At first I thought something mechanical was wrong with the gun, so I called the instructor over to give it a try. The instructor dry fired a few times and said, “It’s not the gun.”

After I relaxed and shook the tension out my hand, I tried pulling the trigger again and it worked without a hitch. No problem with the next shot, or with the next string of fire, but two shots after that my finger quit entirely for the rest of the day. My trigger finger simply could not get that trigger back again for love nor money.

The next morning, despite some mild swelling and minor soreness, my trigger finger seemed to be working okay, so I continued using the revolver. It wasn’t long before I experienced the same “my hand just quit” sensation that I’d felt the day before. I finally finished the class by pulling the trigger with both index fingers, taking lots of breaks in between shots.

What in the world was going on here?

Experienced revolver shooters are probably grinning at this point, having accurately diagnosed the cause of my mysterious trouble: lack of hand strength. The 686 I’d borrowed features a 12-pound trigger pull in double action. Do the math: 12 pounds per pull meant that by the end of the weekend, after firing 500 live rounds and performing at least that many dryfires, my poor little trigger finger had moved at least three tons in cumulative effort. No wonder it was pooped!

2 Responses to Revolver trigger finger

  1. piraticalbob says:

    You don’t have that problem with a single-action revolver, although you do learn why single-actions are often called “thumbbusters.”

  2. Old NFO says:

    And this is a SIGNIFICANT problem to older folks with arthritis also… especially if they are taking a training course. A friend has switched to a 1911 after 50 years because his fingers lock up the same way. It’s called, I believe, torsional nerve injury.

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