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Hickok45 doesn’t want to say it so I will: double action to single action handguns are a lousy idea. They only exist to compensate for a lack of trigger discipline. Long hard trigger pull for safety, followed by short easier pulls for accuracy. While I understand that police, military and your average yutz subconsciously “registers” their handgun’s trigger (i.e. make contact with the go pedal) immediately before letting loose the ballistic dogs of war, there’s enough take-up in your average striker-fired Glock, Smith, XD, etc. to allow for the problem—without dishing-up two distinctly different trigger pulls. A state of affairs that reduces accuracy. Even for Hickok45. Which is saying something. That he doesn’t want to say. But I did. Am I wrong?

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34 Responses to Question of the Day: Double Action to Single Action Handguns. What’s That All About?

  1. Totally agree on a personal level. My first handgun was Beretta 92FS, then a P226. I’m not what you’d call a particularly strong person and the mushy trigger pulls, even in SA mode, had me constantly pulling left. I realize with enough practice and build-up of my grip strength I could probably correct this as those are both fine guns in the proper hands, but it wasn’t something upon which I wanted to risk my life.

    Tried out a Kimber and a Walther PPQ, couldn’t be happier.

  2. Yes I think so and you touch on the reason why in your article. Both “triggers” are, as you so graciously put it, distinctly different. “Learning” each trigger is simple, requires relatively little practice, and (for me at least) results in very fast and very accurate follow-up shots. There are no grey (or gray) areas between DA and SA. The transition is smooth and, when I carried my SIG P220, barely noticed.

    I find it interesting that you say that DA/SA guns only make up for a lake of trigger discipline. I assume from this statement then that when you carry your Wilson .45ACP, that you do so with the hammer cocked and with the safety “off”. After all, with proper trigger discipline there is nothing to worry about.

    Personally, I much prefer a DA/SA gun to a striker-fired gun with a thumb safety. The truth is that DA/SA, striker fired, SA, DAK, SAO, etc are all very different guns for a reason. Different folks for different strokes, or whatever the hell that saying is 🙂

  3. I never understood this either. If you want a safety step, then the cocked and locked approach of the 1911 makes more sense for hammer fired pistols. Arguably, the da/sa guns increase the risk of an unintentional second shot…

    However, I am a strong believer that personal preference trumps theory.

    • I prefer a consistent trigger. Primarily SAO, or 1.5A guns that fire from a partially pre-cocked hammer/striker.

      However, I have found a use for a DA/SA trigger: A woman with small hands, mild arthritis, and limited range of motion in her thumb that prevents her from properly riding a 1911’s safety. She can’t reach a DA pull either. But she can thumb cock a DA gun, so that becomes her safety, along with the decocker. It’s not what I prefer, or what I would recommend for the average non-handicapped person, but it suits her fine, so I’m glad the option is out there for her.

  4. The idea sounds spectacular in theory. I don’t like them as much because they are hard to teach people who haven’t held guns. I’ve yelled more about decocking them before setting them down than I care to repeat. The triggers are inconsistent since they change and do not consistently break the same every time like your DAO or SAO weapons.

    They have their place and it’s a reliable enough action type so to each their own. The M9 has a lot of respect and with good reason but I’ve never personally liked it.

  5. Your theory sounds good when read, but I still love the action on my Sig P229, and it’s accurate as hell (in my hands, when compared to other pistols in my hands). I don’t know why, that’s just the way it is.

  6. I’ve got to say that I disagree with the lousy idea statement I shoot my Sigs as accurately or better than any of my other guns, Glock, Springfield XD, etc. There’s a reason that my duty gun is a Sig…

    Granted, I’ve had thousands of rounds through DA/SA Sigs and routinely shoot DA at the range to work on the transition. If someone wants to carry a DA gun, they’ve got to get the DA/SA transition down. Taking the gun to the range and never (or rarely) firing DA will not cut it.

  7. Beretta does make the Px4 in a Type C which is one trigger pull….However, even as a lover of the 92FS….there really is no need for two different triggers…and I think that single actions make people put too much trigger finger in the trigger guard.

  8. I had a PX4 Storm. I traded it in on my Glock. I never bothered to fire it in SA mode because the first shot was so inaccurate as to be worthless.

  9. I believe a DA/SA handgun is a really good training tool. The DA pull will give you a consistent heavy pull that is a very good trainer for proper trigger control. Also transitioning from DA to SA shots makes learning how to achive control pairs much easier.

    I personally don’t think it affects anything that a gun is in a DA/SA configuration cause anyways you still have the preferred choice of trigger pull.

    • BINGO Leo,

      I could not agree more with your post. The D/A trigger builds confidence around trigger control; no question about it. S/A triggers are too light and simple and from a trainers perspective, I always teach confidence around the D/A trigger press.

      If you own a D/A, S/A gun you need to be intimately familiar with both triggers.

      Well said.

  10. I won’t own one.
    I had a P226 for awhile as a duty weapon and it sucked.
    I could shoot okay with it,but the whole double to single thing was unnatural.
    I’ll take the Glock action or the 1911 action-either one-any day over this abomination.

  11. I learned to shoot with rifles. Any firearm that, by design, significantly changes its trigger pull from 1st to subsequent rounds makes no sense to me. But, to each his own…

  12. I have no use for a single action trigger in a defensive pistol. The combination of double and single is the only thing worse than a single action trigger.

  13. I like single action pistols, but I just do not know how thrilled I am carrying cocked and locked with a round in the chamber.
    I do like the DA/SA on my Walther PP for carry with a round in the chamber, but the initial DA is heavy and will not lead to accuracy.
    The Glock striker with no safety is an accident waiting to happen.
    I do like the Ruger SR9 as it is striker fired with an external safety.
    I have actually been considering buying a Ruger SR9.

  14. My first gun was DA/SA, I’ve had striker fires, SAs, even a few revolvers. I still shoot DA/SA better than anything else. When I’m shooting USPSA I don’t even notice the longer first pull and my first two hits are always the best of the stage. I understand the allure of the same trigger pull all the time, but I absolutely love my DA/SA guns and wouldn’t trade them for anything.

  15. Shooting USPSA I have to shoot my CZ75 DA, though I normally carry it SA.
    Heck I even try to thumb the safety off on my KelTec p11.
    Shoot a snub nose revolver or a Keltec P11 for a while, it will give you trigger control.

  16. “Am I wrong?”

    Maybe. That long DA pull compensates for having the safety off, or not having a safety at all, but not bad trigger discipline. There are a lot of DA/SA shooters out there who swear by their pistols and who have mastered the design through practice. Other people hate ’em. The bottom line: one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Shoot what you like, and like what you shoot. And now I’m all out of cliches.

  17. Doesn’t matter. Any self defensive use will most likely be a gut shot without aiming. Anything more than 9 feet on average is pretty hard to justify why you shot instead of ran. The DA/SA is for ones own safety. I never understood why guys carried 1911’s locked. That’s one more step between you and certain death.

    • I think guys carry the 1911 locked since you can barely breathe on that trigger and it drops the hammer. A 4 lb 1911 trigger feels lighter than a 4 lb rifle trigger to me. It’s the same reason why I wouldn’t carry a revolver cocked.

  18. The Navy SEALs use the Sig P226, which would seem to answer the trigger discipline question. And speaking of Sigs, I just seem to shoot them far better than anything else. Shoot the pistol that reliably hits what you’re aiming at.

  19. I had a SIG P232 for a while. It’s a DA/SA with a decocked, and I loved it. I can see where the transition could potentially cause problems but I never worried about it.

  20. I don’t like ’em because they aren’t very lefty friendly, not because I have a problem with the design. There just isn’t a easy way for me to work the decocker smoothly.

  21. I think the DA/SA setup is a relic of gun mechanical design. It’s relatively straight forward to design a SA only semiautomatic, although then you’re forced to add some type of safety. And you have to manually cock the gun before the first round. If you want to carry hammer down safety off, then you need to add a DA style trigger. But the first time the slide cycles, you’re back to SA. So to maintain DA only, you’ll need an automatic de-cocker after every round which adds more mechanical complexity. Skipping that added complexity creates the DA/SA style pistols.

    So a mechanical issue (deficiency?) creates a need for shooters to compensate a little. One can either stick with that style gun and compensate, or move to a less complex gun (SA only) or more complex gun (DA only w/ decocker) or something inbetween (monstrosity named Glock).

  22. Not saying I’m a fan but DA/SA do have a purpose. For people who don’t want to carry a cocked handgun and don’t want a to carry a revolver. Or people who want to carry condition 2, safely with a handgun designed specifically to do this.

    -D

  23. DA/SA do have a purpose. For people who don’t want to carry a cocked handgun and don’t want a to carry a revolver. Or people who want to carry condition 2, safely with a handgun designed specifically to do this. It is a form that works for some people.

    -D

  24. Have carried Sig P226 Enhanced Elite (9mm) for many years.
    Shooting from concealment and timed, don’t even notice 2 different trigger presses out to 15 yards.
    I do notice it at 25 yards though – have a lot more time to “think”.
    Tried Glock, and can’t figure out who would make a mushy trigger like that.
    Tried the Sig P320 – much better trigger, but happy with the P226
    Oh, I occasionally carry a Sig P232 – same DA/SA.

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