Development of a Novel Finger-Trigger Interface for Trigger Pull Measurement

J Forensic Sci. 2020 Nov;65(6):1954-1960. doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.14538. Epub 2020 Aug 13.


Trigger pull is the force that needs to be exerted on the trigger to discharge a firearm. The measurement of trigger pull can assist in the evaluation of the safety, function, and manufacturing characteristics associated with a firearm during the forensic firearm examination process. Nonetheless, the accuracy and uncertainty of trigger pull measurements may be affected by the measuring device, test procedure, and environmental conditions. In this work, an innovative finger-trigger interface device was developed to facilitate accurate trigger pull measurements. The idea was to reduce the variation related to the position of the measurement device on the trigger in existing measuring methods and devices. Three force sensors based on different technologies were initially evaluated. While two of the three sensors failed to produce data, the miniature capacitive plate sensor exhibited high precision and a linear response over the range of typical trigger pulls. To examine the effects of the finger-trigger interface on trigger pull measurement, different sensor housing prototypes were designed in silico and 3D printed for the construction of three finger-trigger interface devices. The performance of each finger-trigger interface device was evaluated by measuring the trigger pulls of several selected firearms and comparing the data to a previously published study. Our preliminary results demonstrated the novel finger-trigger interface device offered a new way to measure trigger pull in situ with acceptable accuracy and precision.

Keywords: 3D printed device; finger-trigger interface; firearms examination; force sensor; trigger pull; unintentional discharge.