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What is a Light Strike, and how do I Identify it?

Light strikes are when the detonating portion of the cartridge (primer) is not hit hard enough by the striker. When you have a series of misfires your first step (after ensuring your firearm is safe and unloaded), is to check your primer on your misfired round. If it looks like the picture below, then your issue is a light strike.

Light Primer Strikes in hand

Causes of Light Strike (Recommend checking in this order)


All major firearm companies recommend using top American name-brand ammunition. The majority of light strikes occur from using foreign, off-brand, or homemade (reloaded) ammunition. If you are consistently seeing light strikes, switch your ammunition. If the issue persists then check the following parts below.

Recommended Ammo Manufacturers

  • Buffalo Bore.
  • CCI.
  • Federal.
  • Fiocchi.
  • Hevi-Shot.
  • Hornady.
  • Remington.
  • Winchester Ammo.
Boxes of Ammo

Striker Channel/Firing Pin Channel

The next most common issue is carbon/dirt/lubricant build-up in the striker channel. Any debris in the firing channel can decrease the impact force of the striker on the primer. If you begin seeing light strikes on your ammo primers you should clean your striker channel. Regardless if you have light strikes or not, you should clean your firearm after every 300-500 rounds but is highly recommended you clean after each use. DO NOT USE LUBRICANT in the striker assembly. Always keep your striker assembly dry and free of any build-up. Use a clean Q-tip to clean out any carbon build-up. Make sure all the parts in the striker assembly are cleaned (example below), reassemble, and attempt to fire again.

Sig Sauer P365 Striker Assembly Cutaway

Slide/Feed Ramp Not Chambering Rounds Properly

The third most common issue for light striking is the rounds not being properly chambered. This can be caused by the following:

  • Worn magazine springs
  • Improperly seated rounds in the magazine
  • Carbon build-up in chamber/slide/ recoil spring/ extractor
  • Worn our recoil spring
  • Cartridge design

If your firearm is clean and the rounds are not seating properly, first check the round fired. Then check both the recoil/striker spring and the magazine spring for loss of tension, binding, breaks, and the seating on the striker cups. If it's loose (not fitting over the striker cup/cover), worn, or broken it is recommended you replace them. If the round is not chambered, it can't be fired.

Damaged Round Diagram
Round not feeding in a pistol
Sig P320 Troubleshooting Guide

Resources/User Manuals

AR-15 User Manual

SIG SAUER P365 User Manual

SIG SAUER P320 User Manual

KEL-TEC Sub 2000 Manual

KEL-TEC KSG User Manual

KEL-TEC PMR-30 User Manual

RUGER PC Carbine User Manual

RUGER PC Charger User Manual

SPRINGFIELD Hellcat User Manual