At its most basic level, the difference between single-action and double-action firearms comes down to how the trigger operates. In a single-action firearm, pulling the trigger only releases the hammer or striker, which then hits the firing pin and ignites the cartridge.
In a double-action firearm, pulling the trigger both cocks the hammer or striker and releases it, causing it to hit the firing pin and ignite the cartridge. This means that double-action firearms require more force to pull the trigger, but they also allow for faster follow-up shots.
There are pros and cons to both single-action and double-action firearms, and the choice ultimately comes down to personal preference and intended use. In the next section, I will go into more detail about the difference between single action and double action.
Single Action vs Double Action: What’s the Difference?
Definition of Single Action
Single action (SA) firearms require the shooter to manually cock the hammer before each shot. This action also rotates the cylinder, aligning the next round with the barrel. When the trigger is pulled, it releases the hammer, which then strikes the firing pin, igniting the primer and firing the round.
Definition of Double Action
Double action (DA) firearms, on the other hand, are designed to perform two actions with a single trigger pull. When the trigger is pulled, it rotates the cylinder and cocks the hammer, then releases the hammer to fire the round. This means that the shooter does not need to manually cock the hammer before each shot.
SA vs DA Trigger Mechanisms
The trigger mechanism is where the biggest difference between SA and DA firearms lies. In an SA firearm, the trigger only releases the hammer, which has already been cocked manually. This means that the trigger pull is usually lighter and crisper, making it easier to shoot accurately.
In a DA firearm, the trigger performs two actions: cocking the hammer and releasing it. This means that the trigger pull is usually longer and heavier, which can make it more difficult to shoot accurately. However, some DA firearms have a “double action only” (DAO) trigger mechanism, which eliminates the need to manually cock the hammer. This makes the trigger pull consistent for every shot, but can make it even heavier and harder to shoot accurately.
Revolver vs Semi-Automatic Pistols
Revolvers, also known as wheel guns, are handguns that use a rotating cylinder to hold and fire cartridges. They can be either single-action or double-action, depending on the mechanism used to cock the hammer and rotate the cylinder.
Semi-Automatic Pistol Mechanisms
On the other hand, semi-automatic pistols are handguns that use a magazine to hold and feed cartridges into the chamber. They can be either single-action or double-action.
Single-action semi-automatic pistols require the shooter to manually cock the hammer or striker before the first shot.
DA Revolvers vs SAO Pistols
Double-action revolvers are known for their reliability and simplicity, making them popular among law enforcement and military personnel. They also have a longer trigger pull, which can make them more difficult to shoot accurately.
Single-action semi-automatic pistols, on the other hand, are known for their accuracy and ease of use. They typically have a shorter trigger pull, which can make them easier to shoot accurately, but also require more training and practice to master.
Slide-cocking pistols have a slide on the top of the gun that needs to be pulled back to cock the gun. This action also loads a bullet into the chamber. Slide-cocking pistols are commonly found in semi-automatic handguns and are often used by law enforcement officers.
Hammer-cocking pistols have a hammer at the back of the gun that needs to be manually pulled back to cock the gun. Hammer-cocking pistols are commonly found in both semi-automatic and revolvers.
Striker-fired pistols do not have a hammer that needs to be manually cocked. Instead, they have a striker that is partially cocked by the slide’s movement when the gun is fired. This allows for quicker follow-up shots and a simpler design. Striker-fired pistols are commonly found in semi-automatic handguns.
When considering which cocking mechanism to choose, it is important to consider the purpose of the gun and personal preference. Slide-cocking pistols are often preferred for their quick follow-up shots, while hammer-cocking pistols are preferred for their reliability. Striker-fired pistols are often chosen for their simplicity and ease of use.
Advantages of Single Action and Double Action Pistols
Advantages of Single Action Pistols
First and foremost, single action pistols are incredibly accurate. Because the shooter must manually cock the hammer, the trigger pull is much lighter and more consistent than that of a double action pistol. This makes it easier to achieve a consistent trigger pull, which translates to better accuracy downrange.
Another advantage of single action pistols is that they are typically lighter and more compact than other types of handguns. This makes them ideal for concealed carry or for use as a backup weapon.
Advantages of Double Action Pistols
While single action pistols have their advantages, double action pistols offer a number of benefits as well. Double action pistols are handguns that allow the shooter to both cock the hammer manually and fire the gun with a single pull of the trigger. This provides a number of advantages over other types of pistols.
One advantage of double action pistols is that they are incredibly simple to use. Because the shooter does not need to manually cock the hammer before each shot, the gun can be fired quickly and easily in a self-defense situation.
Another advantage of double action pistols is that they are typically semi-automatic, meaning that they have a magazine that can hold multiple rounds. This makes them ideal for practice or for use in situations where multiple shots may be necessary.
Popular Single Action and Double Action Pistols
Glocks are a popular brand of striker-fired pistols that have gained a reputation for their reliability and simplicity. They are easy to operate and require minimal maintenance, making them a favorite among gun owners. Glock pistols are also available in various sizes and calibers, making them versatile for different purposes.
The Beretta 92 is a classic double-action pistol that has been in production since the 1970s. It is a reliable and accurate pistol that has been used by military and law enforcement agencies worldwide. The Beretta 92 has a sleek design and is available in different finishes, making it a popular choice for gun enthusiasts.
The Ruger GP100 is a double-action revolver that is known for its durability and accuracy. It has a robust build and can handle different calibers, making it suitable for hunting and self-defense. The Ruger GP100 has a smooth trigger pull and is easy to maintain, making it a popular choice for gun owners.
The Colt 1911 is a classic single-action pistol that has been in production for over 100 years. It is a reliable and accurate pistol that has been used by military and law enforcement agencies worldwide. The Colt 1911 has a sleek design and is available in different finishes, making it a popular choice for gun enthusiasts.
Smith & Wesson Model 10
The Smith & Wesson Model 10 is a classic double-action revolver that has been in production since the 1890s. It is a reliable and accurate pistol that has been used by law enforcement agencies worldwide. The Smith & Wesson Model 10 has a smooth trigger pull and is easy to maintain, making it a popular choice for gun owners.
Smith & Wesson Model 642
The Smith & Wesson Model 642 is a popular double-action revolver that is known for its simplicity and reliability. It has a sleek design and is easy to operate, making it a popular choice for concealed carry. The Smith & Wesson Model 642 has a smooth trigger pull and is easy to maintain.
The Sig P226 is a popular double-action pistol that is known for its accuracy and reliability. It has a sleek design and is available in different finishes, making it a popular choice for gun enthusiasts. The Sig P226 has a smooth trigger pull and is easy to maintain, making it a favorite among gun owners.
Disadvantages of Single Action and Double Action Pistols
Disadvantages of Single Action Pistols
One of the main disadvantages of single action pistols is that they require the hammer to be manually cocked before firing. This can be time-consuming and can make it difficult to shoot accurately, especially in high-pressure situations.
Disadvantages of Double Action Pistols
While double action pistols can be fired without manually cocking the hammer, they often have a longer trigger pull than single action pistols. This can make it more difficult to shoot accurately, especially over longer distances. Additionally, the longer trigger pull can lead to fatigue and make it more difficult to shoot accurately over time.
Single Action and Double Action Pistols in History
Single Action Pistols in the Old West
Single action pistols were very popular during this time, and they were used by cowboys, outlaws, and lawmen alike. These pistols were simple and reliable, and they were perfect for the rough and tumble lifestyle of the Old West.
Colt Single Action Army
One of the most famous single action pistols in history is the Colt Single Action Army. This pistol was first introduced in 1873, and it quickly became a favorite of cowboys and lawmen. It was also known as the “Peacemaker” because of its role in settling disputes in the Old West.
Cowboy revolvers were another popular type of single action pistol. These pistols were often customized with unique grips and engravings, and they were prized possessions of many cowboys. They were also used in many famous gunfights, such as the shootout at the O.K. Corral.
DA Revolvers for Law Enforcement
As law enforcement became more organized, double action (DA) revolvers became more popular. These pistols were more reliable and easier to use than single action pistols, and they were perfect for police officers and other law enforcement officials.
SAO Pistols for Self-Defense
Single action only (SAO) pistols are still popular today for self-defense. These pistols are reliable and accurate, and they are perfect for those who want a simple and effective handgun for personal protection. They are also popular for training and competition shooting.
In conclusion, single action and double action pistols have played an important role in the history of firearms. Whether it was the simple and reliable single action pistols of the Old West or the modern SAO pistols used for self-defense, these firearms have helped shape our world.
Have you ever thought about buying ammo online?
I’m telling you it’s so easy with Lucky Gunner! The ammo shown on their site is guaranteed to be in stock and will ship fast. I heartily endorse Lucky Gunner and so do their many customers.
“Okay, so far I’ve dealt twice with LuckyGunner, and all I can say is, I LOVE YOUR COMPANY!!!!
Imagine: only items in stock are advertised. Who’da thunk, eh? The more highly advertised ones – Cheaper Than Dirt, Cabela’s, et. al. – will put you on backorder forever and a day. But LuckyGunner – I ordered 500 shells of .45 ACP (hard to get in this “shortage”) – and there it was at my address. No backorders, no bull. Business as it should be.
Yes, I’m telling my friends! I’m constantly writing down your addy on bits of paper (and running out of the latter), spreading the joyous news, “No backorders! No bull! Try LuckyGunner.com, you won’t be sorry!” Thank you for being there for an ammo-starved public. And, thanks for the SUPERB customer service.”— Walter J., Silverdale, WA —
Owner of CCWClasses.net
Jason Huskey is a family man with three kids and a wonderful wife. He’s always starting new hobbies, but his true passion lies in shooting sports. Jason has been a CCW license holder for over 10 years and carries every day. In addition to firearms, he also enjoys playing guitar and writing songs. He tries to live by the Christian values he believes in.
More things you might enjoy…
Can a 38 Special Shoot 357 Rounds?
Image by MikeGunner from Pixabay I’ve long since discovered that very few activities give me the same thrill and sense of security as firing a gun. As a gun owner and enthusiast, I’ve always been curious about which guns can shoot which kinds of ammunition. I have a Derringer five-shot revolver that uses .22 rounds.…
Who Makes the Most Popular Brands of Ammo
If you are here to figure out who makes Herter’s ammo just look below the following table for a more thorough answer. If you are looking for a specific type of ammo, then you need to start by figuring out who makes it. There are lots of options for ammunition and each type of bullet…
What Does Full Metal Jacket Mean?
If you have heard the term full metal jacket, then you might be wondering what this means. I know that growing up, I heard this term a lot. I dismissed it as some sort of saying or cliche. Eventually, I decided that I needed to figure out what people meant when they use this term.…
How Often Should You Clean Your Gun?
After purchasing a firearm, you might wonder how often you should clean your gun. The truth is that it largely depends on how often you use it and where you live. Keep reading to learn more. How Often Should You Clean Your Gun? The short answer: do a light cleaning after every shooting session and…
What Is The Main Difference Between Centerfire And Rimfire Ammunition?
Rimfire vs Centerfire Everyone has to start somewhere. If you’re new to guns, learning the difference between rimfire and centerfire ammunition is important. Let me backtrack a moment. The first time I went out on the gun range, I had zero idea that there were different types of ammo for different types of weapons. All I knew…
Continue Reading What Is The Main Difference Between Centerfire And Rimfire Ammunition?
How Should You Hold a Handgun for Maximum Accuracy?
Whether it’s for sport or you find yourself in a defensive situation where you need to use a handgun, how you hold it will significantly affect your accuracy. Developing your handgun techniques will help you become a better shot and keep you safe. Read on to learn the answer to the question: How should you…
Continue Reading How Should You Hold a Handgun for Maximum Accuracy?
What Is Stippling On A Gun?
Hey, would you like a more firm grip on your gun? Would that help you shoot better? Well that is what stippling is for. Stippling is a modification to the grip that makes it, well, more grippy. It is done by sanding off the original finish and then using a hot soldering iron to make…
What Is A Centerfire Pistol?
To answer the question: “What Is A Centerfire Pistol?”, you must first understand that there are two main types of ammunition: Centerfire Rimfire These ammo categorizations are based on where the firing pin hits the back of the bullet to make it fire. A centerfire pistol is one where the firing pin strikes the center…
Is It Bad To Dry Fire A Glock?
There are loads of myths and assumptions surrounding handguns. If you grew up around guns, you probably heard some of these myths. Today, we will answer the question: Is it bad to dry fire a Glock. The Quick Answer Dry firing modern centerfire guns is completely fine (this includes most Glocks). The firing pin does…
What Is The Sight Picture?
When you first became interested in shooting you probably heard the terms sight picture and sight alignment being thrown around. Most people tend to use the two terms interchangeably; however, they do not mean the same thing. In this guide, I will make a clear distinction between sight picture and sight alignment. To master any new trade, you must…
What is Ball Ammo
When you hear the term “ball ammo” you may be picturing an actual ball. While the term did originate from ball shaped ammo, that’s not what it means today. Most ball ammo today is cylindrical in shape. It will have a lead core coated with copper. Keep reading to learn all about the history and…