Earlier this year I had a student attend a class with a double action pistol. It was his first formalized training class and he was fighting his equipment the whole time.
Single Action System
The double action was very difficult for him to gain proficiency much less master. I recommended he upgrade to a single action style weapon. Just for the record, if it has one type of trigger action then I call this system a single action system. If it has two, then I call it double action system. Sure, there are all sorts of variants and different definitions, but to keep it simple if the weight/pull of the trigger changes, then it is a double action for the purposes of this article. Here is a piece with a bit more details for those who want to learn more or sharpshoot me.
Trigger Management Mastery
I think most folks with a modest amount of training and experts will agree that to be a consistent marksman trigger management is probably the most difficult task to master. I have seen students who can quickly master many of the essential skills, but struggle to develop a modicum of consistency with their trigger management. By the way, trigger management is the collection of trigger finger placement, trigger location and trigger movement. The first two are easy enough to teach and there is no preset formula that will work for everyone. Because there are so many variables, type of firearm, gender, hand size & strength to name a few, it is best to individualize the student’s requirements. However, trigger movement is pretty much the same across the board. You have to move the trigger straight to rear, past the point of ignition disturbing the sights as minimally as possible.
The Grand Illusion
You do that and assuming you have proper sight management for the shot required and you will hit the target. It really is that simple. Once you have put in the time, talent and treasure to master one trigger action system we compound the issue by giving you TWO. The traditional double action will start out with the hammer forward. It must be moved smoothly straight to the rear with minimal sight disruption. The movement is much longer than single action systems and can have excessive forced applied to compensate. After the first shot is fired, and until decocked to double action all subsequent rounds will be single action. One would think things would be easy from here…not so much.
Make It Easy On Yourself
The problem a lot of folks overlook is to develop the power to smoothly move the trigger to the rear on double action requires their finger be placed in a specific position for maximum leverage. The same position often times is a poor placement for your single action shots. This results in poor trigger finger placement for most of the shots being fired. In return, this leads to poor trigger movement ultimately leading to an errant shot or miss. I recommend a single action system for a novice shooter so you avoid a steep learning curve.
Given the realities for most interested in personal protection they will not put in the same amount of practice as an expert shooter to master their skill so make it easy on yourself. Life is already hard enough.
5 thoughts on “Double Action, Double The Difficulty”
Just so I understand, are you advocating SAO instead of SA/DA and remembering to always cock the hammer every time?
Hello Josh, I’m not sure how you interpreted my comments to mean cocking the hammer for a DA. If you read the article again, think of a different platform and not using the same DA platform. Good luck.
I realized I didn’t use very precise language in my first question, my apologies. I meant to ask if having a DA/SA handgun as outlined in Wikipedia and just cocking the hammer before pulling the trigger for the first time was a viable alternative since you would have to remember to do that anyway in a SA pistol. However, I do see that you very definitively suggest a SA style handgun as your preference for a novice shooter like myself. Sorry for any confusion again and thanks for a great blog and looking forward to training opportunities with your company when I can manage it.
No problem Josh, I think we have some language issues. On a SA pistol you do not have to cock the hammer as it is already cocked and under spring tension. Practically, there is no way you will be able to draw and cock the pistol with any degree of reliability or speed. It is an effort in futility and to be avoided. Good luck.
Oh, that makes a lot of sense. Thanks for taking the time to help me better understand the issue and which has helped me in narrowing my pistol selection criteria.