A striker is a striking mechanism that uses linear force by means of a compressed coil spring to fire the gun. The striker is usually the firing pin itself. More recently designed pistols tend to be striker fired and also tend to have smaller slides, not needing to make room for a rotating hammer. Think of a ballpoint pen. Pressing the button makes the pen emerge and lock in place, just like when a striker-fired pistol is loaded and cocked. Pressing the button again causes the pen to forcibly return upward, similar to the firing pin slamming forward to impact the cartridge primer.
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