What is a double-action pistol? That’s what we’re covering today. Double action pistols are those firearms that can be fired either by pulling the trigger once, which will then cock and fire the pistol or by cocking the hammer first and then pulling the trigger. This is opposed to single-action pistols, which can only be fired by first cocking the hammer and then pulling the trigger. If this sounds like Greek to you right now, don’t worry, we’ll go over all of the technical details as well as get into some general use cases later on.
There are a few reasons why one would choose to use a double-action pistol instead of a single-action pistol. The first is that they can be fired from completely decocked, which makes them much safer to carry around. This also means that they can be fired in an emergency without having to first cock the hammer, which can be a lifesaver if your hands are tied up or you’re otherwise unable. Secondly, double-action pistols have a longer trigger pull than single-action pistols, which makes them less likely to go off accidentally. This is especially important for concealed carry, as an accidental discharge could easily lead to disaster. Finally, double-action pistols are just easier to shoot in general. The long trigger pull means that you don’t have to put as much pressure on the trigger, which makes it less likely that you’ll jerk the gun off target when you fire.
So let’s dive deeper into the technical aspects of these pistols.
What Does “Action” Mean? (And Why You Should Know)
Before we can understand the difference between single-action and double-action pistols, we need to first understand what “action” means. In firearms terminology, “action” refers to how a pistol is fired. There are three types of actions: single action, double action, and pump action.
Single-action pistols are those in which the firing mechanism is cocked by the user. This means that when you rack a single-action pistol’s slide (which we’ll cover in more depth later on), the gun is set to fire and ready to go. These pistols need only be licked once they are drawn, so there’s no delay between drawing and firing. They’re typically very accurate, but they can be dangerous to carry around with a round chambered. This is because it takes only the slightest bump or jar for the gun to go off and send around flying.
Double-action pistols are those in which both cocking and firing occur when you pull the trigger. These pistols will not fire unless the hammer is cocked. This means that you can decock a double-action pistol by pulling the trigger. Again, this happens with every pull of the trigger, therefore, adding at least an ounce of pressure to any shot fired.
Pump action pistols are those in which firing occurs when you rack the slide back and forth. Racking the slide back cocks the pistol, allowing you to fire. Racking it again retracts the slide and chambers a new round (if one is available). This type of action also allows for semi-automatic firing, as no extra steps are required once the first round has been fired.
So now that we know what “action” means in firearms, why is it important to know? Because it defines how a pistol works. The differences between these types of pistols are so significant that they have an entirely different set of uses. For instance, single-action pistols aren’t ideal for concealed carry, as the process of cocking the hammer every time you want to fire takes much more effort than simply firing with each pull of the trigger. Double-action pistols, on the other hand, are perfect for concealed carry because they can be fired without first cocking the hammer.
How Does Double-Action Work?
As we’ve already discussed, double-action pistols are those in which both cocking and firing occur when you pull the trigger. This means that not only does it take less time to fire these pistols than single-action pistols, but it also takes less force on the trigger. Double-action pistols have two separate stages: cocking and firing. When you pull the trigger, the first stage is the cocking of the pistol. This is what separates double-action pistols from single-action pistols, as single-action pistols only have one stage: firing. The second stage, which occurs after the cocking stage, is the firing of the pistol.
The Difference Between Single Action and Double Action Pistols
Now that we know what single-action and double-action pistols are, how they work, and the importance of knowing the difference, let’s take a look at the differences between these two types of pistols. The most significant difference is that single-action pistols require you to cock the hammer before firing, while double-action pistols do not. This means that double-action pistols are much easier to fire and are more accurate than single-action pistols. Additionally, single-action pistols are typically more dangerous to carry around with a round chambered, as they can go off at any time if they’re bumped or jarred.
Double-action pistols are also less likely to jam than single-action pistols, and they allow you to cock the hammer without firing around. This means that double-action pistols are perfect for concealed carry and for situations where accuracy is key. One of the downsides of double-action pistols is that they tend to be less efficient than single-action pistols because it takes more effort on your part to cock the hammer every time you want to fire it. This is why it’s important to know the difference between single-action and double-action pistols.
Why Is Double-Action Preferred?
Knowing the difference between single-action and double-action pistols is extremely important because it affects how you use them, why they were designed that way, and what situations they are best suited for. The biggest reasons why double-action is preferred over single-action are because of their ease of use and safety. First off, double-action pistols allow you to fire them much more easily than single-action pistols because all you have to do is pull the trigger. Furthermore, double-action pistols are much safer than single-action pistols because they can’t go off without pulling the trigger. This is why double-action pistols are perfect for concealed carry and situations where accuracy is key. Single-action pistols are better suited for situations where you need to quickly fire the gun without worrying about accuracy.
Benefits of DA/SA Pistols
Double-action/single-action pistols have a lot of benefits that make them attractive to shooters.
First and foremost, they’re very easy to shoot. The long trigger pull on the double-action stage makes it much less likely that you’ll jerk the gun off target when you fire. This makes them ideal for self-defense, as you’re more likely to hit your target if you’re firing under stress. Additionally, because the trigger pull is the same for both the cocking and firing stages, it’s easier to learn how to use a DA/SA pistol than it is to learn how to use a single-action pistol.
Another benefit of DA/SA pistols is that they’re typically less expensive than single-action pistols.
The long trigger pull means that you don’t have to put as much pressure on the trigger, which makes it less likely that you’ll jerk the gun off target when you fire. Second, they’re very safe. The long, heavy trigger pull means that you won’t fire the weapon by accident simply because it bumped against something.
Modified Double-Action Trigger Pull
Not all double-action pistols have a standard trigger pull. Some of them, such as the Beretta 92 FS, have a “modified” double-action trigger pull. The “modified” trigger is the best of both worlds, with the long, heavy pull of a double-action but with the lighter pull of a single action.
Disadvantages of DA/SA Pistols
Even though DA/SA pistols are very popular among shooters for their ease of use and safety, they do have some downsides that can make them less desirable for some people.
The first downside is that they’re less efficient than single-action pistols. It takes more effort on your part to cock the hammer every time you want to fire it, which can be a problem if you need to fire the gun quickly.
The biggest disadvantage to using a DA/SA pistol is that you have to carry them around with an empty chamber until you’re ready to use them. This means that for the gun’s hammer to be uncocked, you have to pull the trigger, which also chambers around. This can be dangerous if you’re not careful, as the gun can go off accidentally. Additionally, DA/SA pistols are less accurate than single-action pistols, as the long trigger pull reduces accuracy.
Concealed Carry with Double-Action Pistols
A common reason why people carry around a DA/SA pistol is because it’s safer. The long, heavy trigger pull means that the gun will not fire unless you want it to, which is perfect for self-defense situations where you might need to make a quick shot.
Which is Better?
There’s no easy answer when it comes to deciding whether a single-action or double-action pistol is better. It depends on the individual’s needs and preferences. Single-action pistols are more accurate and efficient, while double-action pistols are easier to shoot and safer. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference.
Let Us Help You
If you’re still not sure whether a single-action or double-action pistol is best for you, we can help. We have gun experts standing by to answer all your questions. Contact us today and we’ll be happy to provide any information that you need.