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 primes 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.
Single Action vs Double Action: What’s the Difference?
Definition of Single Action
Single action (SA) firearms require the shooter to manually prime 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 primes the hammer, then releases the hammer to fire the round. This means that the shooter does not need to manually prime 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 primed 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: priming 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 prime 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 prime 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 prime 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 prime 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 prime 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 primed. Instead, they have a striker that is partially primed 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 priming 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 prime 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 prime 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 prime 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 primed 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 priming 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.
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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.
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