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By Russel Phagan

I teach armed guard and CCW classes in Arizona. The students I teach have very diverse backgrounds. Some just bought a gun for the first time, some have done multiple deployments in the military, some were police officers for 30 years, some have been shooting their entire lives.

The armed guard class is 16 hours total with four hours of range time (there is a lot of legal curriculum mandated by the state). There’s no longer a state-mandated curriculum for CCW in Arizona, but I teach four hours in the classroom and four hours on the range as I feel this is the bare minimum necessary for a novice to carry a gun safely and not get themselves in legal trouble.

I run the same AZPOST derived qualification course for both classes. It’s mandated by the state for armed guards, and it is more than the minimum required for CCW. The armed guards come back annually to re-qualify as required by law. I will usually never see the CCW holders in training again. CCW holders renew their permits every five years by paying a fee again; there is no longer a training renewal requirement.

People who take armed self-defense seriously should continually seek out more and higher levels of training.  Unfortunately many people do not practice after taking training or seek out higher levels of training.  Understandably budgets are limited, ammo is more expensive year after year, and time is limited. I take my duty as an instructor seriously. I am teaching these students potentially life-saving skills. I often question how I can help my students get the most out of four hours on the range; if they only shoot 100-200 rounds a year or never take any more training? The easiest and most efficient answer seems to be convincing them to use guns/equipment that will maximize the efficiency of minimal training time.

Double action/single action pistols consistently demonstrate a high learning curve in my classes. The students most proficient with DA/SA pistols are former military personnel who carried M9s, or former law enforcement that carried SIGs. In either case they have years of experience using these platforms and have trained to the point of getting accustomed to the trigger and controls. For everyone else, it’s a lot to get used to in four hours.

I start each range session with a half hour of dry fire. During dry fire, I work on trigger control and grip techniques with the students. Double action mode is emphasized with students who have DA/SA guns. I have the students do 50 rounds of live fire starting at three yards, backing up to 15. The qualification is 50 rounds on a TQ-15 target and starts at 15 yards then eventually ends at three.  Roughly 1/3 of the qualification shots should be fired on double action mode as that is the way it should be carried in the holster.  More often than not the first round on Double Action is low and the second and/or third shots are closer to center of mass. During qualification, some people get stressed, and their fundamentals start to degrade. Pulling rounds completely off the target at 15 and 10 yards is not uncommon.

The second issue with students using DA/SA pistols is getting them to decock to make the gun safe to reholster between each string. Of all the DA/SA guns, SIGs are the easiest to use because the decocker has a single function and it is easily accessed by the thumb of the right hand. Decockers that also function as safeties introduce another level of complexity; the student must remember to decock then turn the safety back off. I remind students to turn off the safety until they have it down. During the stress of the qualification, forgetting to turn the safety back off is a common occurrence and they may fail to get all the rounds off in the time allotted.

Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers all too often approach manual safety devices as a selling point. They assume their customers will not seek training and a manual safety device will help prevent them from having a negligent discharge. Teaching people to use firearms has given me exactly the opposite opinion.

Using a mechanical device as a substitute for following basic gun safety rules is a mistake. I can easily condition people to keep their finger off of the trigger until they are ready to shoot. It’s much harder to train them to consistently actuate a mechanical safety, particularly one that also functions as a de-cocker. If people have a hard time using these controls under the mild stress of a square range qualification, it will be significantly worse if they’re in a fight for their lives. I view manual safety devices as a liability on a defensive pistol, tools that someone must be able to use as quickly as possible with as little conscious thought as possible.

Striker fired pistols like GLOCKSs, M&Ps, XDs, and now the SIG 320 are significantly easier to train a number of shooters of varying skill on in an institutional setting with fewer rounds fired. The trigger pull being the same for every shot with less take-up simplifies trigger control. They don’t need to worry about two different pull weights. The lack of a de-cocker and/or safety is one less thing for the shooter to worry about. The student’s mind is freed to think about grip, stance, sight alignment and trigger control. With a single trigger pull weight and no manual safety, there’s only one state of readiness that the pistol can be carried in. Consistency is critical in maximizing training value in limited time frames with limited ammunition.

I recently had a student who was using a Beretta PX4 Storm. The student had the right mindset and was eager to learn. The PX4 is not a badly-made or unreliable pistol, but it does have a long double action trigger pull, and a de-cocker/safety.  This particular student had limited experience with semi-auto pistols. It became apparent during training that he likely would not qualify; too many of his shots were going low into the unscored zone or off the paper at further distances.

I handed him my GLOCK 17 and let him try it at the same distances. Immediately his group size decreased to 1/3 of what it was before, and all the shots were closer to center of mass. He easily qualified using the GLOCK simply because the trigger pull was the same for every shot.  With the right amount of practice he could shoot his PX4 just as well. However, why should one spend more time and money and work harder to accomplish the same result as a platform that requires less time in training and money invested in ammo?

Not every student shows such a remarkable difference in performance when using a striker fired design, but some improvement is immediately apparent and they always get all their rounds off during qualification. Class after class, these things remain consistent; double action pistols and manual safeties/de-cockers force students to work harder to do the same things other students accomplish with less effort using striker-fired designs. If someone knows their training budget and time are limited, I strongly encourage them to pick a platform that will set them up for success by reducing the learning curve through consistent trigger pull and simplified controls.


Russell Phagan is assistant director of training and competition at Route 66 Tactical


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    • A striker-fired CZ?

      CZ was raised better than that. I personally don’t like striker-fired guns, they feel mushy on the trigger.

      I am a big fan of single-action triggers and a decocker.

      • Really this isn’t a striker-fired thing, but how most manufacturers are choosing to design them. You could design a striker-fired gun to work in the exact same way as a hammer-fired gun (from the perspective of trigger, safety/decocker) if you wanted to. There are true single-action striker guns like the H&K P7 out there. There are hybrid guns like Glock and the vast majority that aren’t single or double action. There are true double action ones. The design of the striker spring and channel and how it is cocked and how it is released makes all the difference in the world in what you feel through the trigger, how long the trigger pull needs to be, etc.

        • The Walther P99 is a striker fired gun that works exactly like a DA/SA. It even has a decocker. It is also an amazing gun.

      • If you want to try a striker fired gun with a great trigger, check out the Walther PPQ. Better out of the box trigger than my CZ.

    • I believe their first and last attempt was pretty much a total failure. Of course, that was some time ago and they’re doing pretty dang well these days in the polymer frame game and such.

      At any rate, CZ doesn’t make the combo decocker/safeties that are problematic in the author’s experience. A CZ has either a decocker or a safety and it only serves the one function. On the safety models, they are intended to be carried “cocked & locked” so this also solves the apparent issue of two different trigger pulls. Yes, there’s still a safety to be disengaged but the 1911 still suits folks just fine after all these years and it ain’t going anywhere. I understand the “nothing to do but pull the trigger” mindset 100%, but training to flip a safety off certainly has worked and continues to work for many folks.

      • i was always taught to “sweep” my thumb over the safety of my CZ when I reach for it whle it is in the holster. My natural instinct is to get a high grip anyways, so its not wasting any movement.. Hard to describe though, but it took me all of 15 seconds to get it and less than 5 minutes to perfect it.

      • … and the decocker is really *just* a decocker on the “D” models–and it leaves the gun at half cock, so that first pull isn’t as bad.

        I personally prefer the cocked and locked mode (e.g., the 75B-without-theD). And if you ever have a stiff primer, you DO have the option of simply pulling the trigger again, unlike with 1911 SAO pistols. Other than that, you never need to fire DA. I was talking to a guy who was shooting his B-without-the-D double action repeatedly to practice it, and I had to ask him, “Why?” I don’t recall his answer.

        • I carry my 75B the same way, with the hammer at half cock. Reason being, when I tried carrying the CZ in SA, cocked and locked, I didn’t perform as quickly as I did with the DA first shot. I fumbled with the safety from time to time as well, so to keep consistent between all my carry guns I won’t carry a gun with a safety (Since the safety on the 75b can’t be activated with the hammer decocked it doesn’t count).

          I don’t know what reasoning your friend gave though, of course.

        • As I think back on that conversation, the only answer I recall getting was he felt like since he *could* fire the gun that way, he *should* practice it. I suppose there is something to be said for that but it doesn’t address the point that he won’t ever NEED to fire the gun that way–unlike with the decocker safety DA/SAs like the Beretta 92.

          Your idea of carrying the 75B as if it were a 75BD is an interesting one; it never really occurred to me that one could do that (though the disadvantage is having to be *very* careful with the (necessarily manual) decocking before holstering). I’d bet that you now wish you had bought the BD.

          I try for consistency between my carry pieces as well. Most of them are CZs of one sort or another, but I do sometimes carry a Beretta Nano–I hesitate because it has distinctly failed to earn my trust (no truly small and thin gun has). In that case I might make a superfluous “take the safety off” action but doing so is no harm done, so it’s not incompatible with 75B-ish/1911-ish habits. I keep hoping to be able to give a RAMI a try–the only one I ever fired was a range rental; filthy and jammed almost immediately.

      • “Cocked and locked” is a very pointless hang-on from a time when that was ostensibly the only option in a semi-auto platform for US buyers and US Servicemen… If it’s DA/SA it should have a Decocker (ala the king of the hill SP-01 Tactical) and THAT’S IT. Safeties on DA/SA guns make ZERO sense other then to satisfy uniformed or stodgy buyers who “always did it that way” (We learn new things every day so stop being lazy and making excuses for “why” you “can’t”, aka WON’T, learn something new and just do it already) and now have this religious-like narrow mindedness towards new things.

  1. On the other hand, not too many people shoot themselves trying to clean their SIGs. But Glocks? Oh, yeah.

    • Stupid design IMO requiring the trigger to be pulled for regular takedown. Even worse being negligent enough to not clear your gun.

      • Describing the need to pull a trigger to strip as “stupid” is a touch strong. An insensitive jerk (perhaps like me) may consider such a requirement (from a Darwin Award POV) as smart.

      • Yeah, if you can’t holster a glock or store it in a drawer then you probably shouldn’t own a gun. Furthermore, holstering problems arise when the idiot using the gun has a worn out leather holster and for some reason they are too stupid to look at their gun while they put it in the holster. Either use a kydex holster or watch what you are doing (preferably both).

        People who praise DA/SA or SA pistols with a safety for this reason are basically saying, “Look how superior my gun is! I can shove things inside the trigger guard and it won’t fire! Look how smart I am at choosing a pistol!” No, you are just being an idiot for choosing to rely on your pistol to compensate for you being unsafe instead of responsibly using a gun by not letting stuff get inside the trigger guard.

        We are supposed to practice trigger discipline for a reason. We shouldn’t consider ourselves to be wise just because our gun helps us practice poor gun safety.

        • As regarding being stupid about allowing something inside the trigger guard? This might have some merit and I happen to like the da/sa. But I also like having a bit of extra safety in case an accident happens and something gets in the trigger guard. Odds may be slim, but yet people are struck by lighting, are involved in headon collisions while just minding their own business.

          I prefer to each their own and training and practice. In my opinion there are so many who have CCL with no idea of what they are doing. Something I tell many is to think about what they are doing, could they in fact shoot someone. Do they realize that if they hesitate that they will probably end up being the victim. I often show them 20 feet and inform them that the have but a blink to react.

    • But they still violated one of the basic gun safety rules for that to happen.

      I do think designs like the M&P and 320 that do not require pulling the trigger for disassembly are a better idea from a liability perspective.

      • What about all the Glocks that go off in the holster due to a shirt, lock (see the brilliant holster for the government’s armed pilot program), or other foreign object getting in the trigger guard? A 1911, Hi-Power, CZ-75, XD, Sig, etc… won’t go off in that case.

        • This right here was why I ultimately went with the XD over all the other striker fire options when I chose my carry gun. The grip safety gets a lot of haters, but when you consider that most of your true accidental discharges (not negligence in trigger/muzzle control) occur during reholstering, being able to rotate your thumb up to the back of slide and disengage the grip lever makes for a genuinely useful external safety. With very little practice it becomes habitual to do so every time you go to reholster, and clothing (or anything else, for that matter) snagging the trigger ceases to be a life threatening issue.

          As for having to pull the trigger to field strip a striker gun, well, besides having a fanatical devotion to clearing and reclearing (and then sticking your pinky into the chamber), that’s where five gallon buckets of sand come in handy (see also: Gun Safety Rule #2 and Backstops are Your Friend!).

        • Seeing as all of the professional trainers I am familiar with direct you to train to reholster without looking at what you are doing, ensuring your holster is totally cleared prior to reholstering, assuming you even carry in a position you could see in the first place (I know I can’t twist around to see an IWB at 5:00), is a wee bit problematic. Add in an adrenaline dump associated with a DGU and a snag is a possible hazard to consider.

        • Ensuring your jacket or shirt tail is free and clear of the holster do not necessarily require that you look at the holster; rather pull it up and out of the way before reholstering.

        • My instructor must be unusual then–he INSISTED you watch your gun go into the holster and even made me move my holster forward when I moved too much trying to see over my equator and 3 o’clock meridian while doing so.

          He IS a glock fanboy and maybe that’s his way of addressing the clothing snag issue–much less of a problem for manual safety lever pistols–which he just hates.

  2. Very well written and very well thought out. I’m sure that won’t stop the Polymer-Haters though…

  3. In a nutshell:

    -I sell training, people don’t train enough. BUY MORE TRAINING!

    -People are stupid, and can’t properly operate their “complex” firearms, BUY GLOCKS!

    -I like strikers and don’t like manual safeties, BUY A GLOCK!

        • None. I own a Sig P226, 1911, and a Ruger LCR.

          What Mr. Phagan is saying is that if money is tight and one cannot afford to train past the long trigger pull of double action, a striker fired may be a better option as it lets new shooters concentrate on other areas that translate to better shooting overall, like stance, breath, etc.

          But thanks for playing.

        • So what you’re saying is you agree that the average person is too stupid to operate a piece of machinery that requires more than one action to make it “go.”

          The average person operates two pedals, a steering wheel, engages/disengages a manual brake, and manages to shift between park, drive and reverse in a single commute. (And I excluded those crazy f*cking people who drive vehicles with manual transmissions!!!!!!) Somehow though, you’re in agreement that we shortbus riders can’t manually engage/disengage a safety or de-cock a hammer? Stop stealing my oxygen…

        • First of all, lighten up Francis. I’m not attacking your choice of carry. If you can shoot it well and overcome the long pull, bully for you. So can I, I love the Sig P226. You are reading the article like its a personal attack on your carry piece.

          The article is saying that some people are too lazy or too poor to train adequately enough to overcome a long DA trigger pull. If someone can’t put in that training (for whatever reason) a consistent trigger pull from a striker fired might be a better idea for them.

    • +1 Matt…good content. A bit long & boring. I believe being willing to shoot is never emphasized enough. Do I SEE the REPLY BUTTON is back???

    • -Training is a part time job for me 4-6 days out of the month. I do entry to intermediate level classes; advanced stuff I pass on to other schools that specialize in those things.

      -People aren’t stupid, most are unmotivated to train.

      -I quantifiably see better results with less ammo and less time on a regular basis without decockers/safeties and striker fired pistols than anything else. Step back for a second and assume you only shoot 100-200 rounds a year and you will do no other training. That is the context this article is written in.

  4. I still don’t get the DA/SA hate that has become so popular lately. I learned on that platform and never found it difficult even though I had minimal training and close to zero handgun experience when I purchased my first handgun.

    Everything comes down to training. I’ve fired every type of handgun. Double-action revolvers, Single-action revolvers, single-action autos, striker-fired, DAO, and plenty of DA/SA. I’m having a hard time believing that there is much of a performance degradation since follow-up shots should be in SA mode. I would imagine the toughest part is getting new students to get used to the long trigger pull of the first shot.

    Also, if you don’t like safeties, that’s fine. However, a DA/SA should be carried with a round in the chamber, decocked, with the safety OFF. If you are properly teaching how to use them, they should actually be using the safety/decocker only if they need to return the firearm to a carry state.

    All-in-all, no one platform fits everyone perfectly. It does not somehow invalidate your Glock if I decide to use a Magnum Research and someone else prefers a Colt.

    • All-in-all I won’t “disagree” with you. Your post is solid and fundamentally sound. That said I carry, chambered, cocked, and safety on.

      Like you I started shooting DA/SA and adjusting to other platforms is stupid easy. (I don’t dislike glocks, I dislike glock fanboys. Disengaging the safety is part of the draw, so is brushing the hammer to verify that it’s cocked. Oddly enough, when I de-holster for the night I decock and disengage the safety. Not for me, mind you, but because my fiance and I haven’t spent enough time training on disengaging safety when bringing the weapon to target and until she is more confident and competent I want the trigger in double-action.

      • Well, here we have one problem of the DA/SA platform. Inconsistency. I own a Ruger P89 and a Magnum Research Jericho. Neither of which can be carried “Condition One”. They also use slide mounted safeties, which I despise. For storage I keep the Jericho with the safety on when it’s not being carried. This is because it is my home defense gun and I don’t need groggy adrenaline fueled me trying to retrieve the weapon in the middle of the night and having a ND.

        However, on hand it’s decocked with the safety off. Would I carry condition one if I could? I don’t know.

        I’m in agreement about Glock fanboys though. I don’t hate on other guns and not sure why everyone is so determined to prove how “superior” their platform is. EVERY gun has its drawbacks and anyone who doesn’t admit the drawbacks of their platform is asking for a problem. I have used striker-fired handguns that I really liked (S&W Shield, anyone?) and I have fired a Colt 1911A1 and liked it fine but didn’t find it the end all be all of handguns. Every gun guy should fire a Glock at some point. You just should.

        I think it is dangerous how some people make recommendations on their preference rather than what is right for the individual though.

    • Nah, a DA/SA should be carried with a round in the chamber, decocked, and no safety on the gun to confuse me. ie, a Sig.

    • I’m wondering myself what all the worry is with the long DA pull, it’s only for the first shot. And if you’re close enough that you only get one shot then if you have any kind of aim at all you should hit the bad guy. Also glad I’m not the only one who carries decocked with the safety off. My opinion probably doesn’t count for much, though. I’ve never had occasion to call a gun a “platform”–for me, it has always just been a gun. 😉

        • When you get right down to it though, that first shot is no different than a revolver. You’re probably already at bad breath distances anyway if you don’t have time to manually cock the hammer or don’t have time to make sure you have a nice smooth trigger pull. If you do miss the first shot, follow-up shots are single-action.

          The fact is though, if you’re at a point where you actually NEED a gun, the situation already sucks. That’s why weapon familiarization and practice are so important. You’ll be relying on muscle memory before your rational brain kicks in.

    • When did “DA/SA” become a thing? Reading through the comments, 90% are using this redundant and pedantic abbreviation.

      A pistol that is double action for the first shot and single action for follow on shots has been referred to as “Double Action” for decades. A pistol that is DA for every shot is “DAO”. DA/SA is a completely unnecessary category, as we already have a name for DA/SA pistols: Double Action.

      Revolvers are a different category, and differ in operation (in both SA and DA): don’t even bring it to the discussion.

      I won’t even get into the TDA (Traditional Double Action) nonsense I’ve seen elsewhere.

      Seriously, just call them DA.

  5. Interesting. My first gun was an XDm. Striker Fired. No manual safety. 9mm. It’s still my daily carry as it’s the one I find most comfortable and am most proficient with (as one would expect).

    I specifically sought out an HK45c for my second pistol. Hammer fired. Manual safety. .45 caliber. I wanted to have a platform I could train these different skills on (and of course, was of a quality level I find acceptable, which is high).

    Nice to see my thought process validated.

  6. I don’t like ’em either. I know, worthless comment, but I don’t. Like ’em, I mean.

    And strikers? I REALLY don’t like those. It goes against my ideas of what a semiauto pistol should be. I like HAMMERS.

  7. The learning curve I experienced with the de-cocker on my SIG – the second semiauto pistol I ever fired – took all of fifteen minutes. Not sure where the difficulty Dan talks about comes from. I bought a SIG because I liked the de-cocker and its placement. Using it is second-nature and the DA trigger pull is simply not that bad.

    Who are these people who run into such debilitating difficulty?

    • I don’t get it either, I specifically own a P226 and a Glock 35.

      Sometimes…SOMETIMES… it throws me off guard if I haven’t shot one or the other for a long time and the first shot feels funny. Then it all comes screaming back to me.

      To the Author, it’s called dry firing, do it, have your clients do it, it solves a lot of these issues.

      • As I mentioned in the article I have them do a half hour of dry practice before they start shooting.

        I demonstrate how to do dry fire properly.

        I encourage them to do dry fire the night before qualification.

        I make a point of stating that being intimately familiar with the trigger before firing live ammo makes firing live ammo more effective.

        Most simply will not dry fire on their own time at home. They just won’t do it.

    • I know the where your coming from, because I was there once.

      Then I met this person, a co-worker. Scared to drive in snow, yet lives in the sierra nevada foothills. refuses my repeated offer to teach them, on my private property how to drive safely in the snow. Stubborn, panicky and ruled by emotions seem to be the defining characteristics. No logical argument will sway them, they are right and you are wrong because thats how they “feel”. My personal fave, refuses to let 3 children, aged 12,13 & 17 walk home after dark, only 150 yards, WITHIN sight of a ARMED guard, because something might “get them”.

      I will leave gender and hair color out of this, but I think this individual is the type that learning a DA/SA with decocker would actually be dangerous.

  8. ” The second issue with students using DA/SA pistols is getting them to decock to make the gun safe to reholster between each string. ”

    As a rabid CZ fanatic, I completely disagree with decocking my gun to make it safe to holster. I cannot activate the safety on my firearm with the hammer down, only when it is cocked and locked. Either which way, it is good to know another trainer in Arizona. I loves me some training and will have to explore this instructor / school so I can finally get my CCW stuff all finished up finally, lol.

    • Obviously you don’t one one of the many CZ models that comes with a decocker. (Neither do I.) CZ seems to be pushing that option more than the traditional “cocked and locked but still an SA/DA” CZ.)

      I saw a guy try a CZ at the range and he professed to hate it. Turns out he was a 1911 guy, and they had handed him one with a decocker. So he kept decocking when his muscle memory was trying to take the pistol off “safe.” I should have offered to let him borrow mine. Meanwhile, there’s a guy walking around there that is convinced CZs are exactly what he hates–when they needn’t be.

      • Eh, I prefer having DA/SA vrs a decocker. I’m already trained and have plenty of muscle memory on the action.. So much so that I sweep my Steyr M9-A1 all the same when I go to draw that, and it is striker fired.

        As far as a guy hating a CZ.. Eh, sucks for him I guess. More CZ’s for us.

    • If you have a CZ with safety only, the way to carry that is hammer back with the safety on.

      I have no issues with CZs with safeties only, or 1911s. It’s actually easier to get people to consistently turn those safeties off on the draw. The people who buy either platform are generally more educated and have a reason for picking it.

      Ruger P series, Berettas, Taurus, and Smith and Wesson DA/SA with safeties/decockers present novices with the most trouble. They are attracted to these guns because many of them are available on the used market at cheaper prices.

    • As most CZs don’t have a manual safety instead of a decocker, they have a completely different manual-of-arms.

      You can carry it cocked-and-locked like a 1911/SA, and safe to holster.

      Or, you can carry it hammer down, with a DA first shot option, BUT, you still have to safe to holster (unless empty).

      In short, CZs are a different beast with a bit of both DA and SA in the mix.

  9. Love the decocker feature. Dream would be a CZ 10mm decocker. The 3rd gen Smith and Wesson are nice. Tanks.

    • Bren Ten?
      I think that’s as close as you’ll get, but you’ll have to manually lower it to half cock.

      • EAA has several Witness pistols in 10mm, and those are really just CZ 75s with a bit more meat on them.

  10. He doesn’t recommend people shoot DA/SAs because of the trigger. Instead he hands them glocks…with the worst trigger I’ve ever experienced: inconsistent pull, bad ergonomics, and that stupid flippy thing in the middle that is more likely to get jammed up in an emergency than prevent an ND.

    But that’s fine, that just means there will be more CZs on the shelves for us smart folks to buy.

    • How come DA/SA people automatically = CZ XD It’s like nobody cares about Sig, HK, or FN XD

      • I’m not a CZ fanboy at all… If anything I’d rave about Sig and FNH, but I’m smart enough to know that guns are like shoes. What feels good for me is going to pinch your toes….

        • I’ve got plenty of CZ’s because I don’t want anything else. It just amuses me that CZ has sort of become a go-to DA/SA handgun now.

        • I think people are waking up to the fact that DA/SA with a decocking safety is pretty complicated and needlessly so–and actively gets in the way of a consistent trigger pull. They want that same pull every time (one of the Glock’s virtues) but ALSO want a manual safety. There are, as far as I know, only three ways to get that, 1911, CZ (or clone) and Browning High Power. CZ is far and away the least expensive of those and doesn’t have a bad rep for malfs and jams like 1911s do (I wish I could like 1911s, I really do, but I see them fail constantly). Even the decocker CZs are done right if that’s your speed–you decock, and don’t have to worry about remembering to flip the safety off because it isn’t a decocker-safety.

  11. I suppose a striker fired weapon would be a better choice for self defense carry, but for casual plinking and target shooting the single action wins for me, simply because the trigger can be honed to ones liking.
    A trigger pull that suits me is unobtainable in a striker fired weapon.

  12. I carried, trained with & fired pistols in the Army. I can operate a safety & a decocker (several of my pistols have them). But for concealed carry, it’s my Glock 23 all the time everytime. It goes bang when I want it to, & not when I don’t. It makes holes in things I want holes put in, not things I wish holes not to be in. Those are good things. Why is that so difficult for some people to accept? Next you’ll be insisting what church I must attend? Which end of the egg to crack first with a Liliputian spoon?

  13. “People who take armed self-defense seriously should continually seek out more and higher levels of training. ”

    I disagree with that premise.
    Ordinary folks with zero time at a gun class ,state mandated or otherwise, routinely defend themselves with firearms SA, DA, striker fired, and gasp, even revolvers .

    Advanced gun classes are fun, cool, and are great events. But by no means should they be pushed as anything approaching a necessity. Most of us ordinary folks stand a greater chance of dying or being hurt driving a car then ever having to pull a gun. Yet, there’s no push for us to attend Bondurant driving school- even though that’s a skill set with literally daily applications. Even razor edge special forces folks don’t shoot people dead twice a day for years on end.

    Personally, I think the trigger action and caliber of the gun is irrelevant. So’s how many hours you’ve spent at a gun training class. What is relevant is that your gun works, you know the laws of your area regarding self defense, and you’re willing to go to the mat for your survival.

    • Best post in this thread. There is a lot of guys who believe that there training is all that they need to do. While I agree that training is important, the WILL to do so in the end outweighs a heck of a lot of training. Just look at Medal of Honor winners. Most of them had the same training as their squad and yet that intangible will led them to act when others wilted.
      Good hunters are good for the exact same damn reason in my opinion.
      Great post…

      • “Best post in this thread.”

        I agree.

        As for the training question, William Aprill has pointed out that “Some” training may actually be WORSE than “no” training.

  14. You can’t force people to be responsible. When I bought my first pistol, before I even shot it for the first time I dry fired it a bunch. That was almost 3 years ago. I still dry-fire a lot because I don’t get to go shooting that much.

    I don’t think it has anything to do with DA/SA pistols. Just different levels of willingness to learn. I used to own a P-64. For those that don’t know, it has about a 20 pound DA pull. I learned to shoot accurately with it before I put a spring kit in it.

    It’s all about responsibility, commitment, and interest. I wanted to be a good shot, and I want to be as good of a shot as possible if I ever have to defend myself with a firearm. Therefore, I put in the required practice.

    I personally like DA/SA triggers because they seem to have a much cleaner break than striker triggers, and most have a safety if that’s your thing.

    • I still own a P-64. It is my carry gun–come to think of it, it is pretty much my everything gun (handgun-wise) since I sold my Makarov to my son. My trigger isn’t quite that bad, I seem to have gotten an exceptionally good example in that regard. And I shoot fine with it at SD range.

  15. So, because people can’t figure out a particular platform in four hours on the range with you, they should just go with something else? Right….

    • Also, whenever I take new shooters to the range, I always start Ruger SR22 in DA/SA with a decocker safety and then progress up to a Beretta 92A1. I don’t bring out the striker fired guns until they get a hang of the DA/SA. Why? Precisely because of the “greater complexity.” It forces them to pay closer attention. Also, a cocked hammer is a good visual reminder that the weapon is hot. The single action is usually a lot crisper and easier to shoot than most stock striker fired guns. Having some success hitting the target from the beginning is a huge morale and confidence booster. Also, most DA/SA guns are full metal framed. Again, easier to handle than a polymer striker fired gun for a newbie.

    • They will likely never take training again and very rarely practice. That four hours is it and I would like to see them get the most out of it.

      If you care enough to read this website and debate the issue it is unlikely that you are the type of student I am talking about.

      • Our shop also does HCP and Armed Guard training. I preach and preach the necessity to practice and know your firearm inside and out and yet most don’t seem to do so. We have to constantly tell folks to de-cock when holstering, in Tennessee guards have to re-certify every 2 years and most of the people we get have not fired/practiced in the 2 years between recerts. I agree that high level training isn’t always a necessity but you would think people would train sometimes.

      • But for the students you’re talking about, I’ve always heard that the best gun for them is a DA revolver – while it’s harder to shoot accurately, it’s also harder to shoot yourself accidentally. The light trigger pull on the striker-fired guns, on the other hand, are effectively (though not mechanically) single-action without a safety.

        While I agree that they’re much easier to shoot for a novice, I’m not sure I agree that’s all that desirable. ND’s are typically caused by mental errors, not physical ones, and the types of shooters you’re talking about seem more likely to cause a ND with a striker-fired pistol than a heavy DA.

        • Convincing them to use a Revolver would be an even harder sell. Most of the places they are going to work require a semi auto. Agencies that use revolvers generally issue them.

          I use a Smart Firearms training devices training gun in class to cure people of trigger finger issues. Discussing the causes of NDs, showing videos of it, and constantly emphasizing the 4 basic firearms safety rules has resulted in good trigger finger discipline.

  16. I couldn’t agree more. I love DA/SA, but have been shooting since I was 4. Anytime one of my friends wants to get into firearms, I recommend a Glock/M&P/XD, and after a while they want to try my CZs or Sigs. Most like them, but rarely do they beg to trade me.

    Striker pistols are great regardless, but to new shooters they are the best call IMO. Simple, reliable, accurate, (generally) cheaper. Easy call.


  17. To each his own. I started out with a DAO revolver, and then moved on to single-actions, DA/SA, striker-fired, and then DAO automatics. I still prefer the SIG DA/SA trigger above everything else.

  18. My duty gun is a DA / SA Smith 4006 Tactical, and my usual carry guns are a Glock 27 and Glock 23. I also have a Smith 340 PD DAO .357 which gets a lot of carry time. I also enjoy the single action trigger pull of a high quality 1911, or shooting the single action trigger pull of my .460 Smith XVR.

    I don’t have polymer hate or 1911 hate. I believe the author when he reports his observations that a Glock brand Glock trigger pull is easier for some students to master. The again, it is a little creepy that a Glock needs a trigger pull to disassemble. The stories of negligent discharges abound. A double action auto usually takes 11-14 pounds of pressure to set off, Glocks and carry / duty 1911s usually run 5-6 pounds. Those trigger pulls could mean the difference between a gut check safety warning and a new hole in a ceiling. Or worse.

    At the end of the day, different strokes for different folks. I know to be extra careful with my Glocks, and that I have to rack a DA / SA auto if I want a lighter trigger pull.

  19. I must be in a minority around here…I own a number of Sigs and Glocks…..and for EDC I have a Colt Defender that was worked over by Robar. You are welcome to keep tupperware, and I do like my Sig P229 Platinum….but I am more comfortable and confident with a 1911 carried in Condition 1. Did enjoy the article though.

  20. Those ridiculing Mr. Phagan’s arguments here are people who have never had to fire a gun in the face of an immediate threat to their lives.

    Y’all can carry whatever you want, but I find a lot of sense in Mr. Phagan’s logic.

  21. A well written, thought provoking article. My WWII Remington Rand M1911A1 is my favorite gun to shoot, but all of my carry guns are DAO.

  22. I think a better title would have been “Why DA/SA sucks for newbie shooters who only have 4 hours and two boxes of WWB.” But that may have been too long.

    For me, the first rule is to find a gun you like, and are comfortable with. Doesn’t matter if it’s a Glock, M&P, FNX, 1911, Luger, P7M8…. Whatever you like and feels good, go with that. Then learn how to use it.

    I respect your recommendation of a simple, striker fired defensive pistol. It makes sense and has a shallow learning curve. But you seem to have a bias against DA/SA. I have taken several courses over the years, most recently last year, I took beginners defensive pistol, simply to help knock the rust off and update my legal knowledge. And I will say that nobody seemed to have the issues you are talking about for long. The instructors would simply correct the students before proceeding.

    Perhaps you should recommend that your DA/SA owner students seek another instructor, add assistant instructors, or reduce your class sizes to allow more individual attention.

    • The key difference is willingness to be there.

      Generally speaking people who independently seek out training are more motivated and willing to accept advice and improve. There are more of these in CCW class, because they are self-selecting to be there

      If it’s for a state certification, that is a routine thing year after year the mindset of most is dramatically different.

      I can demo how to pull a DA/SA fine. I will teach them how to do it. They reach some level of success until it’s qual time and then even if they chose to learn to do it better….”OMG I have to qualify to keep my license to work” pushes out most of what they learned and they fall back to the screwed up way they’ve done it before for however many years.

      • I call BS.

        DoD has been teaching newbs how to shoot and qualify on DoD pistols for nearly three decades. A vast majority qualify the first time, with minimal training or practice.

        Sorry I’m grumpy; I just finished a 69 hour work week.

        • I’m unfamiliar with DOD training doctrine for the M9. How many hours of instruction and practice do they get before qualification. How many rounds fired? They also have a default advantage in that everyone has the same gun, and training groups of people en masse on manual of arms is simplified when everyone has the same equipment.

          Students having the exact same guns in my class is a rare occurrence. I’ve never had two of the same models of DA/SA or Decocker/Safety guns in any class I’ve taught. I have had Ruger P89, Smith and Wesson 5900 series, Beretta, and Sig all at the same time.

        • The DOD quals vs the AZ Armed Guard quals are two different standards.

          The AZ Armed Guard qual requires 35/50 hits to pass or 70%, which apparently is higher than the M9 qual course I could find online for the Army.

          Par times aren’t apples to apples comparison. And if drawing from the holster isn’t part of the par time, it really isn’t.

  23. Certainly a DA/SA with a decocking safety (e.g., Makarov, Beretta 92/M9) is much more complicated to operate than a Glock or a double action revolver. It’s not insurmountably so, however, *if* one is willing to put some time into it. And many are not. I used to carry such weapons. I eventually decided that the different first trigger pull was something I’d rather not *have* to deal with, so I went to a CZ, where there are two options–one is a gun that decocks to half cock (less of a difference in that first shot) but does NOT go on safe, so you don’t have to train yourself to take it off safe either while holstering or drawing. That’s about as good as a decocker gets, IMHO. The second option–my favorite–is a DA/SA that can be cocked and locked. You have the ability to do DA, but will almost never need or want to with that one (maybe you will encounter a stiff primer some day). Decocker CZ75 variants will have a D in the model number (eg., CZ-75 BD), the ones with no decocker, i.e., the traditional ones, don’t, e.g., CZ 75 B.

    • “Certainly a DA/SA with a decocking safety (e.g., Makarov, Beretta 92/M9) is much more complicated to operate than a Glock or a double action revolver.”

      How hard is it to push a lever before holstering?

      Much ado is made of two trigger-pulls; most of it is bunk.

  24. I agree that the DA/SA is a bad design. Like Russell said I can’t hit the target at 5 yards with my wife’s M-9 when it is in DA mode. On the other hand, she has no such problems. I chalk this up to 40+ years experience with the 1911.

    Just because your gun has a safety doesn’t mean that you have to carry it engaged. I carry both my 1911 and Hi Power with the safety disengaged. I only engage the safety when I handle it. Even so my muscle memory push down on the safety as I draw because that is what I conditioned my self to do. Besides, the grip safety makes the 1911 with the safety disengaged safer than a Glock.

    There is another big advantage to a single action hammer fired pistol. You can visibly tell if the gun is safe just by looking at it. If the hammer is down it can’t fire.

    • “I agree that the DA/SA is a bad design. Like Russell said I can’t hit the target at 5 yards with my wife’s M-9 when it is in DA mode. On the other hand, she has no such problems.”

      It is not a bad design. You are experiencing operator error.

      “Just because your gun has a safety doesn’t mean that you have to carry it engaged. I carry both my 1911 and Hi Power with the safety disengaged.”

      This is not the recommended manual-of-arms for those pistols, one of which has more than 100 years of experience and wisdom behind it. Also, Hi Powers do not have grip safeties.

      “There is another big advantage to a single action hammer fired pistol. You can visibly tell if the gun is safe just by looking at it. If the hammer is down it can’t fire.”

      If it hasn’t been cleared, it isn’t safe.

      I’m beginning to suspect you are trolling. I hope you are, as the alternative is darwin-award candidate.

      • No. I am not trolling and no I am not a candidate for a Darwin award. I have 40+ years of experience with 1911s and never had an ND or shot something that I was not intending to shoot. A pistol sitting in your holster with the trigger covered isn’t going off on its own. If you have the proper trigger discipline then you aren’t going to shoot yourself in the foot when you draw. If the use of the safety were required 100% of the time for a JMB design to be safe then the Glock is a very dangerous pistol. The safety device is on the trigger and is useless if the user has poor trigger discipline. Even a DA or DAO pistol is unsafe in the hands of a person who has no trigger discipline. And if the hammer is released on a SA only pistol there is not way that the pistol can fire. That doesn’t mean you can wave it around with wild abandon and fiddle with the trigger. It just means that it is not in firing condition.

        No grip safety on a Hi Power, No $hit Sherlock.

  25. I thought more about this article. It seems to discuss the two extremes (striker fired vs. DA/SA decocker-safety) without really going into anything in between. I sometimes wonder if some people are even aware other DA/SA options exist!

    I know one instructor who seems to be allergic to ANY hammer fired gun for some reason.

    The number of different DA/SA options out there is a lot greater than just “DA/SA with a decocker safety.” I’ve pointed out the CZ-75 B which might as well be a single action but is DA/SA, and there are also those guns that decock *without* a safety. Either one is easier to use than the DA/SA with decocker safety, and the first avoids any issue of a different first pull.

    @tdiinva yes, that’s a good point re the 1911 and the grip safety. I do like that SD has gone with that as well for its striker-fired design (I might try one soon, as an alternative to my rather flaky Nano–which eats some ammo flawlessly and chokes on other kinds). Still, some people REALLY lighten the triggers on their 1911s and when that is done I’d prefer a glock over an unsafetied 1911 with super light trigger. (Of course one can put the safety on until the gun is in its holster, and that makes ANY 1911–even one with a hair trigger–better than a glock in that regard, one is less likely to have an ND due to something (not necessarily a booger hook) engaging the trigger as one holsters.)

    Yeah, here’s my prejudice–I lilke manual safeties. I hate different first pulls. That makes me either a SA, or CZ-75-without-the-D kind of guy. (I could go with a striker fired–I own some.) My reason for going with the latter rather than 1911s is OT for this thread.

  26. I agree with the author whole-heartedly. But, I would much rather carry my Sig M11A1 than my Glock 19. Why? Because the Sig is more reliable or better suited for defense? Heck no. It’s because it’s so darn purdy! (Don’t flame me bro!)

  27. I don’t mind DA/SA, it’s not preferred, but doable.

    The majority of DGU’s are going to be at 7 yards and under, combat accuracy can be achieved at this distance, if any accuracy is needed at all. Just pulling the weapon might get you get there.

    I’m Glock guy, but own and like other pistols, all guns’ capablity are only limited by the shooter’s ability.

  28. +1000 ST. ESPECIALLY the last paragraph. Its way more likely I’ll shoot some lowlife breaking into my house. With a shotgun loaded with 00buckshot. I don’t carry a gun( yet ) in Illinois but I’m still ” armed”.

        • I teach Isosceles, getting them to do it is a different story.

          I shoot Isosceles myself it’s quicker more reactive and actually makes use of the body armor that many of the security guards wear.

          For many of these classes the people are there because the state is requiring them to be there. A lot of them honestly do not care what I have to say as a more experienced shooter. They will not change what they are doing even if I can quantifiably show them that another technique is faster or more accurate.

          In a class of 10 to 15 students, with only four hours on the range. I seriously have to pick my battles and make the most of what I have available. If they shoot well enough to qualify and are unreceptive to instruction there isn’t a lot I can do about it.

          I encourage people to bring more than the minimum amount of ammunition. Most won’t. If I require more they will go to a different instructor that doesn’t care at all about the quality of instruction.

  29. I like to carry something with a “second strike” ability; be it my DA/SA P226 or my P2000LEM, its nice to have that ability regardless of the trigger pull mechanics.

    • Like many other things, this is a simple training issue.

      Even with a DA pistol, second strike is unnecessary. Why? Because the proper action for a ‘click’ when you expected a ‘bang’ is SLAP RACK FIRE.

      What makes you think a dud round will change it’s mind, given a second chance? There’s a reason we teach failure drills.

  30. I think the main trouble with DA/SA is instructors telling students they are hard. Glad I never learned that “lesson”

      • You aren’t looking at the whole picture.

        You are focusing on only the ‘shooting’ part of ‘harder’.

        Glock action may make it easier for students to gain consistency faster, but there are other aspects of striker fired systems that are harder than DA to master.

        Cops have a lot more NDs with glocks than DA pistols. A lot more GSW during dissassembly or cleaning occur with Glocks.

        The price you pay for a shallower shooting learning curve is a steeper safety learning curve (which is on a much longer timeline).

  31. 1. Yes, it’s easier to learn on a striker fired pistol. Let’s get that out of the way.
    2. However, learning DA/SA is not that much harder than learning on strikers.
    3. If an instructor is WELL-experienced in teaching DA/SA, it’s even less hard for beginners to learn it. Too few modern instructors have sufficient experience teaching DA/SA. Even less instructors have sufficient experience teaching revolver.
    4. DA/SA pistols have long-proven safety advantages when legally shooting under stress.
    5. This entire issue raises a bigger question — ccw carriers are inadequately trained. We all talk about guns rights, but we rarely talk about gun responsibilities. Is it responsible to put gun carriers on the street who struggle with a DA/SA trigger? No, it is not. There are so many skills to master to become a safe and effective defensive gunfighter. If they struggle with a DA/SA system, I’m pretty sure they’re not hitting the streets with sufficient skills required to avoid shooting the wrong person, including you and me.

  32. “I’m pretty sure they’re not hitting the streets with sufficient skills required to avoid shooting the wrong person, including you and me”

    And yet the empirical data says that private citizens are less likely to shoot the wrong person than the police.

  33. Relating to the car analogy some people have used. After driving school you drive a car every day of your life or pretty close to it. You continually practice using those controls.

    By comparison how well would you drive if you only drove 100-200 miles annually? Probably not very well.

    That would be the equivalent to only shooting 100-200 rounds annually.

  34. My first and only handgun is a DP51, so I have no reason to ever shoot it DA (and even if I did the DA trigger is not that much different, IMO). My wife recently shot it for the first time as well and she didn’t really have much ‘learning curve’ with it. YMMV.

  35. With all due respect the author is full of crap. First he assumes that his students are not going to continue their training or even bother with some range shooting after they leave his class. Second, he assumes they are too dumb to figure out they need to hold high on the first DA shot (perhaps he should suggest that to his students in the first place). He then assumes that anyone who has a safety has poor trigger discipline. He also assumes that smart people don’t ever do dumb things, like getting the drawstring of your windbreaker caught on the trigger when holstering your Glock. I’d wager that for every one of his students who fires a shot in self defense there will be 10 negligent discharges and at least one causing injury from the others.

    There are advantages and disadvantages to every design. If you enjoy your range time a SA/DA pistol is easy enough to master. For a novice who doesn’t want to shoot much I’d recommend a DA revolver. Novices often don’t handle jams well and they certainly don’t need a pistol that has to be dry fired to be taken down. That’s just asking for trouble. Also, if you choose a firearm with a safety use it. I’ve found they can on occasion be accidentally bumped off safe and I’m sure the opposite is just as true. If you practice flicking the safety off when you draw it will become second nature and you won’t have to worry about forgetting it in a DGU, but it will take a couple of seconds to figure out why your pistol isn’t firing and place it back off safe and that could prove fatal.

    • I’ve had enough students come through class and come back requalification later that this is more than a casual observation.
      The majority will not train they will not practice. Students that actually do are 1
      of 50 or one 1 of 100. They are taking this class to get a state certification not because they are passionate about shooting or actually want to learn to shoot better.

      Teaching them to aim high because they won’t dry fire enough to get trigger pull down is shitty training methodology. Recommending that would be irresponsible.

      The basic safety rules are emphasized throughout the course. You know them, these rules apply all the time and everywhere. Mechanical safeties and heavy trigger pulls don’t stop people from violating these rules.

      There have been 6 guards shot in Phoenix, and 2 killed in the past year. They are exposing themselves to more risk than the average concealed carrier, and have a greater likelihood of needing to use their guns. Still most won’t train more and won’t even dry fire at home.

      • Russell. I disagree wholeheartedly about your assertions on the DA/SA platform and I think you’re taking the easy way out. At the same time, I respect your observations and I’m sorry this article seems to be causing some people to question your abilities as an instructor.

        For some perspective, but not offered as an excuse, I think a lot of gun guys here at TTAG spend so much time reading up on guns, tactics, and actually practicing that they forget that a majority of gun owners are going to buy a gun, maybe put a few boxes through it, then throw it in a drawer at their house where it will gather dust. I feel like I just described many of your students.

        So keep fighting the good fight.

        • I’m not anti DA/SA…I’m anti DA/SA for people who don’t care enough to master it or put the time into learning to use it effectively. It may seem its the easy way out, I view it as the pragmatic solution for people who just simply won’t train or practice.

          People are projecting their own:
          -open minded reception of training
          -willingness to train
          -willingness to practice
          -interest level in firearms
          -disposable income to pay for guns/ammo/training
          …onto every student I deal with.

        • Here’s an example of the worse end of the spectrum I deal with:

          This week I had a student that brought a Jimenez pistol.
          He was generally negative about Gun Ownership and Arizona.
          He questioned every example of armed self defense we used as the shooter being lucky rather than skilled projecting his own ignorance and lack of experience onto everyone else.
          He only brought 50 rounds for qual
          He did not do any live fire practice
          He grudgingly did dry fire practive
          He did not respond to any instruction on how to grip his handgun, how to draw, or how to correct his stance.
          He then scored the lowest in the class and was pissed at me about it.

          That’s on the worse end of the spectrum. The middle is filled with people that don’t care enough to do more than the minimum.

        • That’s fair enough. I just wanted to be clear that I feel like I can disagree with your stance without calling into question your ability as an instructor. I’m glad someone is out there trying to help.

      • “Mechanical safeties and heavy trigger pulls don’t stop people from violating these rules.”

        Agreed. The only difference is that the guns don’t go boom when they do.

  36. I agree about the higher learning curve. I competed with a DA/SA so I am very used to it. For me, all I do is pull the trigger the first time and then letup to the reset point and fire again and again. It really is no different than shooting any other gun where the first trigger pull is longer than the one with the reset. The only difference is the weight of the trigger and travel distance. I am an old time so all of my guns have hammers and either DAO or DA/SA (love Sigs and HKs). I also like SA 1911 type guns. I need a manual safety or long/heavy trigger pull to feel comfortable after seeing what happens with a 5.5 lb. and short trigger pull.

  37. Funny! instructor shoots a Glock so dislikes all firearms with a De-Cocker, bet he doesn’t carry a 1911 very often nor a revolver, those DA triggers are just so hard to pull and safety’s must all be super glued. be real; In a fight, worrying about the trigger pull is probably the least of your worry’s! Consistent practice is usually the best cure, Gee I wonder about those NY triggers for a Glock set at six lbs!

    • You missed the entire context of the article. I dislike double action guns with safeties/decockers for people who will only shoot 100-200 rounds a year and never/rarely train or practice. Consistent practice is best, but how would you address people who simply won’t but are still going to carry a gun for self defense? The article is about my observations and answer to that question.

      I carried a J-frame as a back up gun for several years. Note it doesn’t have a manual safety.

      I have also used CZ SP01 (safety model) in the past. Note that would be carried cocked and locked like a 1911.

      Neither the revolver you mention or a 1911 has the combination of features I am discussing.

      Glock NY triggers can be 8-12 pounds and feel like breaking a pencil with every pull. A factory standard trigger is 5.5 pounds.

  38. are you kidding me? is this not a shill for block. I finally acquired a CCW permit. With a Browning Hi Power in the safe for 20 years, I knew one thing: carrying this thing, chambered, with the safety, was not going to cut it for me. I looked at guns. And realized Sig offered in DA/SA that I always wanted my Hi Power to do. Nirvana. No safety. Chamber, de cock it, now i have a higher resistance pull….bingo. I bought an M11, P226, and most recently my carry gun P224 DA/SA. For me its nirvana.

    to me a Glock is not well balanced, has a safety which i hate, is polymer and feels cheap. It seems like its low priced, and when someone buys it as their first gun they think it is the end all beat all. It is not. Its inexpensive to produce, has a marketing machine behind it, and overall is reliable. But just because it has a certain mechanism does not make it superior, at all.

    why any pistol would have a safety is beyond me. And if putting in time to know a pistol inside and out, to the point of disassembling and reassembling blindfolded, let alone practice/practice/practice, is just too time consuming or you cannot handle it, then don’t carry. No wonder this article has so many comments.

  39. I personally dislike DA/SA auto’s unless they can be carried Condition One and at that point it’s not really a DA/SA gun for practical purposes. I shoot a lot, have run IPSC with an HKUSP that was DA/SA but I used it as an SA only gun (yes, I know you can set them up to only run that way but I never bothered). I fully agree that having two different trigger pulls on one gun is an issue not just for new shooters but just generally. Even going from my .380 bodyguard (long heavy DA only trigger) to anything SA or striker fired is problematic and I’m one of those dedicated gun nuts who loves to practice and train. Perhaps it’s not the same for every one but I agree with OP that it’s a problem for beginners that doesn’t need to be there.

    My first semi-auto carry pistol was a 1911 and in time wiping the safety off during the draw stroke became so ingrained that I still habitually attempt it on every auto I draw, even those without any external manual safeties. I know I’m not going to end up with the safety on in a DGU but I also know that it’s a real possibility that someone else could if they haven’t trained that action into their draw stroke to the point that it’s automatic and ever present.

    I used to think that a striker fired pistol with no manual safety was insanely dangerous in it’s design. I was used to a CZ-75, an HKUSP and a 1911 and considered an auto pistol without a manual safety or else a DA only long heavy trigger pull to be ridiculously unsafe, akin to carrying a 1911 cocked and unlocked.

    My thinking has changed over the years and point in fact I often carry a Springfield XDs. Striker fired pistols without manual safeties are more prone to ND than an SA pistol with a manual safety, this is impossible to avoid if the safety is actually used all the time. However, if proper safety rules are observed and one is cognizant of the risk of ND the likelihood of an ND with a striker pistol is still so low as to be negligible. Just like the 1911 requires one to learn to wipe the safety off every time, without thinking, striker pistols require the user to be diligent that nothing gets in the trigger guard (including their fingers) when holstering and handling.
    Depending on a manual safety isn’t safe in the first place, it’s just safer. The rules that apply to striker pistols pretty much apply to SA guns with safeties. You still have to keep you finger and everything else out of the trigger guard to actually be safe. I find it unforgivable to get anything, including a shirt tail or jacket string caught in the trigger guard with any pistol under basically any conditions that don’t also include being seriously wounded, grappling or perhaps actively falling while re-holstering. If one of these seems likely for you I strongly recommend something with a manual safety and the training to use it every time (thinking mostly of police here, grappling while holstering at least).

    In the end I think it still all comes down to training. Someone who won’t train to use a DA gun accurately, to use a striker gun safely, or an SA gun with safety effectively just isn’t much of a gun user. These will always exist, and it’s their lack of training that is the problem, not the equipment their using.

    Just as I wouldn’t ever train someone to ‘aim high’ to compensate for throwing rounds low (that’s just absurd to me) I wouldn’t suggest different equipment to solve a training problem. That’s not to say different equipment can’t improve performance because it certainly can and some weapons/systems are easier to learn for some people than others. That’s the problem with mass training situations. Different people, different levels of skill and commitment. I realize a professional training would starve teaching only one on one but since I train others as a side thing that’s mostly what I do, one on one training. If someone is training with me then their commitment level is high and the one on one allows me to teach what they need to learn for their purposes. I just don’t even know how to approach training more than 3 or 4 at a time, I suppose that’s a skill set I haven’t developed, and it probably means my theories might not be all that useful to someone who trains large groups.

  40. Well covered, well reviewed and properly stated.
    I am not against them as if you remember most LEO’s in AZ and the DPS were furnished with DA/SA pistols as standard for many years.
    I spent many hours shooting these weapons and after a couple thousand rounds you learn the feel and it becomes normal. I carried an HKUPS or a Taurus PT for many years after w/o knowing any better, I am a bit bigger than average with large hands and long fingers (for a guy) so the long trigger pull never bothered me. It also made switching back and shooting my Python easy in DA mode for combat target.
    I will say that trying to train someone with the DA/SA trigger takes a long time and small handed people often need to re-grip after the first shot.
    I am not a Glock or any striker fired weapon fan but they do serve an excellent purpose especially for new shooters or those trying to get their CCW and they have proven easier in training and safer for someone who shoots only occasionally.
    I would truly like to disagree with your evaluation but given new technology and the current state of firearms and training I’d say well put.

  41. So a SA/DA pistol needs to be holstered in double action mode but you are ok with glocks?

  42. While not a great CCW pistol (heavy & large), the S&W 4566 may be a the best compromise in the SA/DA world. They made a few variants but mine has a spring loaded de-cocker that always returns to fire mode. Originally the hammer was bobbed as this was a LEO sidearm. I found a traditional hammer/strut replacement and now I can thumb it to SA if needed. Comes in handy at the range but not a realistic thing to do in a split second perhaps unless you train. I concur that first shot on DA even when not under stress is usually a flier or high, aim low then normal works for me.

  43. Great article and poorly chosen headline. Mr. Phagan articulately describes his experience as an instructor, and is hit by a barrage of return fire. Many of the commentators seem to be questioning the title rather than the article. All Phagan is really saying is that people with minimal motivation, training and experience perform more reliably on less complicated equipment. I don’t see how that is even debatable.

    And if someone who takes the position that striker fired guns are far more prone to negligent discharge than other pistols, please post a link to the study. Better yet, do your own article on it and win the Sig yourself.

  44. “The second issue with students using DA/SA pistols is getting them to decock to make the gun safe to reholster between each string.”

    how much more unsafe are they to holster if the hammer happens to be cocked, i wonder? something in the trigger guard is bad news either way.

  45. It’s been said before, but I’ve got the solution – lots more people, even armed guards, should be carrying revolvers to be safe. Problem solved for many of the students described in the article, as well as probably 50% of concealed carry holders. Revolvers worked fine for our fathers and grandfathers and for thousands of peace officers over the years. Some foriegn countries still have peace officers and guards carry them for exactly the reason the author describes. Ruger and S&W apparently still do special revolver production runs for these countries. Yes, I know young men in the U.S. think they are “old school” and “retro,” but heck they work. Have them watch Clint in a western or a Dirty Harry movie and maybe they’ll change their minds.

    A 10-pound DA revolver trigger pull is very safe and combat effective if it is smooth. If it is needed out of the box, any gunsmith can set up a new revolver properly with such a pull for $50 or so.

    By the way, I’ve seen the same situation that the author describes in a rifle class. You don’t need a tricked-out, gizmo- laden AR-15 when an open-sighted Mini-14 will do the same job 90% of the time. Or even a lever action. I’ve seen newbies do some very dumb things with ARs, but someone (or some gun magazine) convinced them that that was the only rifle they should consider. (And peace officers these days are convinced they need an AR, when a shotgun with buckshot would be much more appropriate in an urban setting.)

    As for safety checks with revolvers – just keep the barrel pointed in a safe direction and swing out the cylinder. Easy. In my CC class that’s all I had to do with my revolver and put in on the bench, while the newbies with their tupperware safeties/decockers/magazines/slides fumbled around and scared me and the range officer.

    Simplicity of gun operation helps in a stressful combat situation as the mind goes into fight or flight mode. I remember seeing a store video of a clerk who was shot by an armed thief because in the panic/stress/heat of the moment he just could not get his mind & body to remember that he had to flip off the safety on his pistol. The mind does strange things to your muscles, unless you have routinely faced real life-threatening military combat, or trained and trained and trained in situations where you are SCARED. So the simpler the better for those without that type of training.

    Yes, I understand that LEOs and guards all want, or are required to carry high capacity pistols these days. But Bill Jordan, Massad Ayoob, our fathers and grandfathers did just fine with revolvers. If I were a criminal, I would be very scared of Mas with a revolver. It would be Like Dirty Harry for real coming after me. Watch the videos of Jerry Miculek or Mas, or any skilled combat revolver shooter and tell me that every one needs a semi-auto pistol.

    If a person who won’t regularly train MUST have a semiauto pistol rather than a revolver for some reason, then a Glock with the 8-12 lb New York triggers or a similar DAO with a heavy trigger are the best solution. (There will still be ADs because of uncleared chambers though). I’ve fired the New York trigger Glocks, and the trigger was not smooth like a revolver. It was like – pull, pull, pull SNAP. The trigger reminded me of a toy spring gun I had as a kid. I don’t think I could ever get over that association, and I’ve heard cops who are required to have them don’t like the feel of the Glock New York triggers. Perhaps there are hammer-fired DAO pistols that have a heavy 10-pound pull but are smooth like an S&W revolver. Any suggestions?

  46. P.S.
    Russell, if you are still reading these comments, I’d also like to see a list of semi-auto pistols that you can recommend that are the closest in function to a revolver, which I can suggest to friends who just don’t want a revolver. I’ve searched for this several times on-line, but get lost in the semi-auto terminology weeds. What I mean are pistols that function this way–

    1. It is hammer-fired.
    2. Has no external safety lever or decocker.
    3. Does not cock the hammer when the slide is is cycled. That is, the slide chambers a round from the magazine, but has a cutout that passes over the hammer spur.
    4. Pulling the trigger cycles the hammer from rest, and fires the gun with a relatively heavy, but smmoth ~10 pound double-action pull .
    5. You can also manually cock the hammer with your thumb for a light ~4.5 pound single-action pull.
    6. Has something like a transfer bar firing pin system so you can safely decock the trigger from single-action safely. That is, the transfer bar or equivalent moves away from the firing pin mechanism as the gun is decocked – barrel in safe direction, thumb on trigger spur, pull the trigger, let the hammer down slowly.

    Oh, and please forgive my comment about newbies and tupperware. As Imus would say that was not helpful. 🙂

    • The same question was raised in another forum, and people said there is no semi automatic pistol that mimics the function of a revolver in this way, although I don’t see why it wouldn’t be possilbe. Odd that no one has offerred this for people who are familiar with revolvers. I’m speculating that it would just be a matter of adding a sear notch (?) and a spur to the hammer of a double action only hammer fired pistol, and the necessary engaging projection on the trigger mechanism. I believe that there are double action only hammer fired guns without a safety, that may have a decent fairly heavy, smooth pull – which would be the closest thing. I think (?) one examplie is the Sig DAK pistols. A Glock with the eight to twelve pound New York trigger will obviously work for what the instructor in the article is describing, but the character of the pull does feel odd and is unpleasant for tarket shooting.

  47. There’s always somebody around who thinks he knows what’s best for everyone that owns a pistol. I’m sorry I happened to run across his website.

  48. Articles like this are why people are so worried about everything and refuse to just go out and TRY things… THis article could have been one paragraph called “Why women and some feminine men with little weak hands and no understanding of fundamental trigger control can potentially have trouble with DA/SA triggers” and been relegated to the circular file where it belonged upon completion.

    Hammer-fired DA/SA with (ONLY) a Decocker is one of the most safe and all-around best actions in semi-auto PERIOD (and FWIW I’m also a very die-hard 10mm Glock fan and run just about every common action/trigger system there is in some form or another across my collection of firearms). Doesn’t matter what the trigger feels like or if there’s “two different trigger pulls” it’s all about fundamentals of grip and trigger finger control and if you don’t have that you shouldn’t be on a live-fire-range to begin with. Sounds like some woman needed to go back to the snap-caps and her bark-o-lounger instead of pretending she was ready to have ANYTHING to do with carrying a loaded firearm for defense.

  49. I am just a little leary of a sub-5 or 4 lbs trigger carry gun with no safety beyond Glocks “just don’t pull the trigger” safety. Probably because I was raised on revolvers and SA 1911’s. With my 1911 and Hi Power, neither trigger is particularly light, but both are very crisp (the hi power got that way from just removing the mag safety!). The DA on both of my Ruger Security Sixes is very tough, but the DA pulls on my 92D, S&W .380 and two Taurus 24/7’s are light and smooth. The two 24/7’s show a DAO striker fired pistol CAN have a very light, smooth trigger. They are the lightest DA pulls I have on anything. Even the DA on my Beretta 92SB is very manageable, and I have not yet put a D spring in it. For comparison I have an early Keltec P-11 that makes the two Security Sixes feel like SA pulls! But I can shoot accurately with all of them, and I don’t have to worry about a light, short trigger and no safety.

    I have come to appreciate the “no safety on a carry pistol” concept (my S&W has the safety because it cost MORE for one without, but it is a bear to engage and easy to sweep off in a 1911 style motion). When I get the 92Compact I will be installing a G decoder only kit in it, but only because they don’t make a D (DAO) kit for the 92’s yet! As for the safety off sweep on a 92, my thumb is about 1/4 inch too short to make this an easy task.

    And when I get a Glock I will be attempting to make a 6+ lb -but very crisp- trigger…or just get a SIG P250.

    But I can see the author’s point, andif I was just starting in guns and not likely to shoot a lot and get more training and such, I might just take a striker fired SA gun and learn to keep everything out of the trigger guard unless I was shooting.

    Curtis in /\/\onTana! {!-{>

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