My Ghost Rocket Experience
This is a discussion on My Ghost Rocket Experience within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I debated where to post this; since it is about carry guns, a Glock, I decided here.
This is long. If you like reading about ...
February 18th, 2006 10:36 AM
My Ghost Rocket Experience
I debated where to post this; since it is about carry guns, a Glock, I decided here.
This is long. If you like reading about guns and how they work, esp. Glocks, it should be interesting.
Before I get into this, some background might be in order. I have built five 1911s from scratch, i.e. bought the slides, frames, sears, hammers, everything and fit them together and they all work. On one gun, a Wilson Combat based 1911, I even cut the beavertail away from the grip safety, fitted the beavertail to the frame, and used a very high tensile strength silver solder to attach the beavertail to the frame. This was an attempt to reduce the problem of grip safety trigger blocks. I have the gun, hard chromed, and it works every time.
I only said this because what follows kinda runs “counter” to just about everything I’ve read about the Ghost Rocket, installation and performance. IF YOU ARE A GLOCK GUY (non-generic term of endearment) AND YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT INSTALLING A GHOST ROCKET IN YOUR GLOCK, YOU NEED TO READ THIS!
The short version is, THE GHOST ROCKET DID NOT WORK IN MY NEW GLOCK 17. I’m not saying it didn’t improve the trigger, I’m saying it didn’t work reliably, period! I think you’ll agree if you read this. If you’ve installed a Ghost Rocket in your Glock or had one installed, try this simple test: Unload the gun, make sure the gun is unloaded, then rack the slide to “set” the trigger. Hold the gun in your shooting hand (one hand grip) and pull the trigger. The striker should be released. But here’s the tricky part. Rack the slide again, hold the gun in a one hand grip, press down on the top of the slide near the back of the slide with your support hand and pull the trigger. There’s a good chance the sear won’t release the striker. THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED IN MY G-17. Not ever gonna apply pressure like that in the real world? Well, that same block also occurs if you grasp and squeeze the front of the slide and frame – like a guy grabbing your gun. That presses the slide down enough to keep the sear from releasing also.
You may be thinking that my experience was due to improper installation, but as you will see, that’s not the problem. First, just so we’re all on the same page, let me describe how a Glock fires and then what the Ghost Rocket is suppose to do.
When you rack the slide, the striker, located in the slide, is put under some spring pressure. It is engaged and held by the sear on the trigger bar located in the frame. When you pull the trigger, the striker is moved rearward by the trigger bar. As the trigger continues rearward, a small slanted tab on the connector begins to force the trigger bar downward. Continued rearward motion of the trigger causes more downward motion until the trigger bar sear drops below the sear on the striker and releases the striker.
When the slide cycles rearward by as little as an 1/8”, a small tab on the connector is engaged by a small extrusion in the slide which “springs” the connector inward which releases the trigger bar from it’s “down” position, so the trigger bar “pops” up. When the slide completes it’s rearward motion and moves forward, the sear on the trigger bar (in the frame) engages the sear on the striker (in the slide) and holds the striker in a full rearward position as the slide continues it’s forward motion. Remember at this point the trigger would be fully rearward which would in turn hold the striker fully rearward. As you release the trigger, the trigger bar and striker move forward to the “reset” position and if the trigger is further released, it comes to rest at the full forward position.
So how do the 5# and 3.5# connectors affect trigger pull? The angle of the small tab on the connector that forces the trigger bar down to release the striker determines part of the trigger pull. The 5# connector is “steeper” and the 3.5# is less steep. They work on the principle of an inclined ramp - the steeper the ramp the harder the push, or in the case of the trigger bar the heavier the pull.
Other than friction, three other things also affect trigger pull weight, the trigger spring, the striker spring, and the firing pin block (FPB) spring. It may be surprising to learn that the trigger spring is actually trying to pull the trigger – not release it! IF you want confirmation of this, unload and remove the slide. You’ll see that the trigger is fully rearward. Try to move it forward. The resistance you feel is the force from the trigger spring exerting a rearward force on the trigger. Look at the spring. It is a tension spring with one end attached to the rear of the connector housing and the other to the trigger bar. It exerts a rearward, not forward force on the trigger. So it’s really helping you pull the trigger. So what returns the trigger?
The short answer is the striker spring. The striker spring exerts a force in the forward direction on the trigger bar through the sear engagement. So there’s a somewhat critical balance between the trigger spring and the striker spring. So to lighten the trigger, you would install a stronger, not weaker, trigger spring. IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING, LEAVE TRIGGER SPRINGS ALONE! For example, did you realize when you pull the trigger on a Glock, the force from the trigger produces a rearward force on the slide? The ONLY thing that keeps the slide in battery is the recoil spring. If the trigger spring is too strong, the trigger could actually pull the slide out of battery! Or, if the trigger spring is too strong and the recoil spring loses some strength over time, you’ve got a similar situation. Stock springs seem to take all this into account. IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING, LEAVE TRIGGER SPRINGS ALONE!
The other spring that contributes to trigger resistance is the FPB spring. The FPB is a plunger that is spring loaded downward (gun oriented in a normal shooting position). With the trigger released, the FPB blocks the striker so if the striker were somehow released, the striker couldn’t reach the primer. When the trigger is pulled rearward, another slanted tab on the trigger bar pushes the FPB upward to release the striker. The heavier the FPB spring is, the more drag and resistance it exerts on the trigger bar and hence the trigger. Have I mentioned, IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING, LEAVE THE SPRINGS ALONE!
So why not just leave the gun stock? It does work well that way you know! Well some of us are compulsive tinkers and we want out gun to be everything it can be. And that’s often where the trouble begins. A little here, a little there, that’s good enough for government work, will mess a gun up in a hurry. And, what’s worse, it may take a while for it to show up.
But anyway, some of us seem to be addicted to tinkering – I can stop at any time. Anyway, next some of the terms bantered about that describe trigger actions. We all know what trigger pull weight is, but the terms trigger over-travel and trigger reset are not so commonly known. First over-travel. When you pull the trigger on any gun, some sort of sear mechanism is released to fire the gun. Trigger over-travel is how far the trigger can travel past the break point. Does that really matter? Well the theory is, that any motion of the trigger past the break point can impart motion to the gun, which in turn changes the point of impact slightly. So over-travel, or the minimization of it, is an accuracy thing, but as you will see, it also contributes to speed.
Do all guns have over-travel? Yes. It is common for 1911’s to have an adjustable over-travel. Let me say right here, if you don’t know for sure what you are doing, don’t mess with the over-travel adjustment screw in the 1911 trigger. It doesn’t affect trigger pull weight at all. What it does do is let the trigger move just enough to break the shot and very slightly more. If it’s just a bit too tight, the sear/hammer interface could be damaged. Many opine that over-travel adjustment should not be on a defensive handgun because if it moves and gets too tight, the gun may not even fire. I’m gonna talk more about that when I get to the Ghost Rocket.
Then there’s trigger reset. When you pull the trigger on any gun, the trigger has to be released by some inherent minimum amount in order to reset the trigger mechanism(s) so the next shot can be fired. Some wish to limit trigger reset to a minimum. Trigger reset affects speed more than accuracy. Trigger reset is dependent upon the trigger design of the particular gun and directly dependent on trigger over-travel. Think about that last part. The further the trigger travels rearward, the longer the trigger has to return to the reset point. So it is practically impossible to minimize over-travel without reducing trigger reset as well - kind of a two for the price of one deal. For example, Ernst Langdon used to sell a “speed” bump trigger. The trigger had a small bump on the back of it that contacted the frame to limit the over-travel, which in turn reduces reset travel which in turn requires less time for trigger reset and the next shot. Therefore, it is faster.
Another method that is sometimes used to reduce trigger motion is to reduce the amount of travel the trigger has past the reset point. This is purely for speed – less trigger travel, the faster it can be cycled – that’s the theory anyway. So sometimes adjustments can be made to minimize trigger reset over-travel. Confused yet or just bored to tears? For example, in my XD, the trigger forward travel is limited by a set screw in the trigger bar. This removes unnecessary trigger “take-up”. Springfield Armory did this as part of a defensive carry trigger job. Do I need to say if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t do it! Another example is a 1911 trigger. A 1911 trigger commonly has over-travel adjustment and inherent by design, the shortest reset of any semi. But I have not seen or even heard anything mentioned about reducing trigger take up.
One of the things that can “go wrong” with tinkering with your gun is you can mess up timing. A very important timing consideration is that of the FPB. For example, if say, the trigger reset is minimized AND the trigger reset over-travel is minimized, the trigger mechanisms may no longer activate/deactivate the FPB correctly or at the right time which could result in a no fire or a drop fire, depending on how the components line up.
So with all that behind us, let’s go to the Ghost Rocket. First the purpose of the Ghost Rocket is two, maybe threefold: one, lighten the trigger pull, two, minimize trigger release over-travel which as we know will reduce trigger reset travel also. And, third, smooth the trigger.
Here’s how the Rocket accomplishes those three things. The Rocket connector has a less steep ramp than the stock 5# connector, so it’s of the 3.5# variety. That reduces trigger pull weight by itself, but the Rocket kit also comes with a new striker spring, trigger spring, and FPB spring, but I don’t know how they compare in strength to the stock springs they replace. I got the defensive version of the Rocket rather than the competition version. I could tell by looking that the FPB spring was a little lighter than the stock spring, but the others were not so obvious. Also the connector looks to have a highly polished, slick finish that would make it smooth and a bit lighter trigger pull.
Trigger over-travel, and hence an accompanying trigger reset reduction, is adjusted (minimized) by a tab on the connector that is not on a stock connector. The connector is in a fixed position in the frame and the tab is designed to stop the rearward travel of the trigger bar at just the right place, thereby eliminating over-travel.
The idea is to file down the tab and try the fit repeatedly until it’s just right. I actually spent over 2-1/2 hours of carefully adjusting this tab only do discover that finally with the tab completely gone, my G-17 still would not release reliably.
Here’s what I discovered. First, installing these things is not rocket (pardon the pun) science and I found it to require more patience than anything. If you can file with any kind of precision at all, disassemble and reassemble a Glock dozens of times, you should be able to install a Ghost Rocket.
I got the Rocket to that “sweet spot” and it felt pretty good except I noticed a little extra “click” or something in the trigger. I discovered the problem is subtle motion between the slide and frame. Striker fired guns, have a sear on the striker, located in the slide and a mating sear on the trigger bar in the frame. The release comes from lowering the sear on the trigger bar to the point it releases the sear on the striker.
Imagine that the tab on the Rocket is finely adjusted with just enough travel to release the sear. Now imagine what happens when you press down on the slide. The small amount of “clearance” in the slide to frame fit, allows the slide to move downward slightly. Now think about that sear release that's precisely adjusted. The downward pressure on the slide won’t let the sears break at the end of the trigger travel! That’s a problem.
No problem? Just take little more off the tab? I did, and did, and did, and it still wouldn’t release with downward pressure applied to the slide. Since Ghost will do a one-time free replacement if you mess up your first connector, I decided to experiment and see just how much tab had to be removed to get the sears to release with downward pressure on the slide. I completely removed the tab and went even beyond that and it still wouldn’t release!!!!! I put a stock, Glock 3.5# connector in and it worked first time every time.
I called Ghost many times for an hour and left a message too, but never got through to them. I can’t wait to discuss this with them!
So the moral of all this is; don’t read stuff I post – it’s just too long.
And now, I’m off to try my own idea about how to reduce the reset in my gen 2 Glock trigger.
February 18th, 2006 10:36 AM
February 18th, 2006 12:09 PM
So am I right in thinking that the angle of the connector was too shallow to allow release, with the downward pressure(vs anything to do with the tab)? This was not something I experienced with the stock-weight connector-no other Ghost parts installed, just their mod'd connector, 5#.
(Yes, I have been known to whack a slide on a nylon cutting board, to make sure installed sights won't move! )
Definitely curious as to what Ghost has to say!
February 18th, 2006 12:45 PM
I don't think it's the angle of the connector. It seems that the over-travel on my particular Glock was pretty mininimal to start with and the "de-tabbed" Rocket connector is large enough to stop my trigger before the trigger bar sear can move down enough to release the striker.
Originally Posted by Rob72
As you alluded to, it may be more sensitive to the 3.5# connector than the 5# version. But either way they are supposed to work. I have no doubt that if I keep filing, the Rocket would eventually work - just like a stock 3.5# connector. It's just strange that all the tab and then some has to be removed.
Again, it may be something peculiar to my particular Glock. I'm sure Ghost will have some thoughts and suggestions.
The main thing, I think, is to realize that the Rocket connector may not work if the slide is forced downward. Yours seems to be ok.
February 18th, 2006 01:47 PM
I installed a Ghost Rocket 3.5 connector on a G21, removing only a couple of millimeters of the tab in about a dozen grind-assemble-test cycles. It worked OK for 290 test rounds, but in the next group of 28 test fired rounds, I got 2 light strikes. Arthur Viani (Mr. Ghost) noted that in the .45 caliber this sometimes occurred and could be compensated with a different firing pin spring. This is a spring I choose not to mess with on a carry gun, so I removed the Ghost Rocket and now use a Ghost Ultimate 3.5 connector with a competition trigger spring. This gives a true 3.5 pound trigger force and I live with the overtravel.
Whatever your problem is with the G17, you proved it is not related to the length of the tab. The only consequence of removing the entire tab is reverting to allowing trigger overtravel.
I never tried calling Mr. Viani, but he responded quickly to all of my email messages.
February 18th, 2006 02:15 PM
Wow Ron - a most detailed exposition on the Glock functioning - and if I had one I certainly would feel better informed.
I am most certainly of the opinion that too much ''tinkering'' even with good smithing skills and experience, is not always the best thing to do - at least not with a carry gun.
I would prefer to have a slight excess of ''factory margins'' even if function was a tad less smooth let's say. Once we reduce those margins to a minimum then just perhaps we are either carrying a super-sensitive piece, ergo not even as safe. Or simply leaving ourselves prone to a critical failure sometime.
Fascinating to read thru that Ron - thx for taking all the time to put it together.
Chris - P95
NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.
"To own a gun and assume that you are armed
is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."
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February 18th, 2006 04:59 PM
Thanks for the kind words Chris; glad you enjoyed it.
I agree on the margins. I'm tinkering with a gen 2 G-17 that I don't carry.
I just ruined one trigger bar but thankfully had a spare and did some work on it. Now, with a mildly modified Glock 3.5# connector, some polishing, and some trigger bar profiling, I 've got the trigger to a 4.25# pull, just a bit of over-travel, and a very positive 1/16" trigger reset - measured at the center of the trigger. That's a little better than half the stock reset.
The things I did have also moved the trigger rearward a bit so it operates closer to the grip than stock. That's really nice.
Now the tough part - reliability testing. I'm gonna have to shoot at least 1000 rounds through it before I trust it for anything. That should take about 5 weeks.
I'll post updates.
I don't know what I'm gonna do with the Ghost Rocket; it looks like I've accomplished the same results with out it.
February 18th, 2006 05:04 PM
Good info and Thoughts .. For this type of thing i think a Glock or other make 3.5 connector and a Lone Wolf adjustable trigger stop would be the combo
February 19th, 2006 09:51 AM
Thanks for this thread!
I posted in the other thread on this subject, that I'd wait before making any changes to my G23. I don't think I'd want to do the actual "tinkering," myself, I'd take it to a "local Glock armorer."
From what you've posted so far, I'm inclined to leave the trigger alone. It does work, work well, and I've fired less than 1,000 rounds with it, to date.
Right now, I think I'll just work with what I've got. Maybe if I ever get to the point where I suspect I can "out-shoot" my gun, then I'll reconsider having some work done on it.
That, or get my head examined!
Think you just saved me some bucks, Dude!
Political Correctness has now "evolved" into Political Cowardice.
February 19th, 2006 10:57 AM
Sound logic mm. Mods take time, effort, and money and sometimes isn't a whole lot better than stock.
Originally Posted by madmike
Because of the problem I had with the Ghost Rocket, I realized that I could tune any Glock trigger to reduce over travel and dramatically decrease reset without buying any thing. But, I'm still not going to modify my carry guns -well, other than non-critical polishing and replacing the stock 5# connector with a Glock 3.5# connector. And I don't know that I can actually demonstrate that the lighter connector accomplishes anything.
I've pretty radically tuned my G-17 2nd gen, non-carry gun. I should do some stringent testing to see if I can measure any difference in shooting performance over stock. Of course that would also reveal durability problems in the mods. Unforunately the way the mods have to be done, it results in a non-fail-safe mode. Meaning that if parts wear, the gun could fail to fire. It would be nice if wear would simply "de-tune" a bit, but still fire. Stock Glocks operate in the non-fail-safe mode as well, but they have to wear soooo much to get to a failure that it would never happen. My mods may not wear enough to fail either, but that's yet to be demonstrated.
After all this, my conclusion is that radical mods, special connectors, stops, etc. just aren't worth the money, trouble, or risk in a carry gun. Glocks work great just the way they are.
Oh yeah, I forgot. mm, I think you are wise to save the money and not do any mods - buy ammo instead and shoot it - that'll help more IMO.
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