Anyone feel like explainIng

Single Action ans double action to me?

Every time I think I understand it, I don’t. I have read and read and still not getting it.

I am going to use basic term here because that’s all I know.

I thought single action meant the gun did one thing, and I did two. Like a revolver that I had to cock and then pull the trigger, but double action meant that with a single motion of pulling the trigger the gun could both fire the shot and cock the hammer.

However, I often hear people say SAO on a gun that all I am doing is pulling the trigger.

I do not know why this concept is so hard for me. It does not seem to confuse anyone else, but, I am special that way.

24 thoughts on “Anyone feel like explainIng

  1. My wife is the same way. Here’s my trick Its a Single action or double action TRIGGER. Just think about the trigger.

    So now let’s look at a SAO gun like Mrs. Newbius’ 1911. When you pull the trigger the hammer drops. If you do this on an empty chamber and pull the trigger again it does nothing. You need to thumb the hammer or rack the side to get that second “click”.

    Now let’s look at a DA revolver. Pull the trigger and that hammer comes back back and then falls. So there are TWO actions. Hammer goes back and hammer falls. (again these “actions” are being done by the TRIGGER and nothing else).

    Now the confusion, and much arguments between gun nuts, is what you Glock is. Its hard to see because all the guts are hidden inside, but you can’t dry fire a Glock twice in a row only pulling the trigger. You need to pull that slide back first….but when you pull the trigger it DOES pull the striker assembly back (at least part of the way) before releasing it.

    In full honesty the Glock “Safe Action” is half-way between Single Action, and Double Action.

    Make sense?

  2. Oh, ok. I think maybe the Glock is messing me up. I thought the 1911 was DA because I never cocked it. But I get what your saying about the trigger. Thanks.

  3. You sure did cock the hell out of that 1911. When you rack the slide it pulled the hammer back. So most pistols with exposed hammers you actually need to drop the hammer by mechanism or by hand to get it in “Double Action” after loading it because chambering a round also cocks the hammer.

    BTW another way to think about it if you’re more into history than mechanics, you can note that the earlier guns of various designs are always Single Action, and its later in history before a more complicated double-action is added.

    So those old Cowboy revolvers are Single Action, and it wasn’t until later that double-action revolvers hit the scene.

    The 1911 (which is named after the year it entered service) was one in a long line of Single-action pistols. It wasn’t until the Walther P38 (again named after year of service: 1938) that pistols had the option of being fired in Double-Action.

    As a rule Double-action is more complicated.

    • The P38 was the first DA pistol in military service. It wasn’t the first DA pistol, there were others. For example Walther PP.

  4. Trigger and Hammer…

    Single Action… trigger does one thing when pulled… releases the hammer or striker… (shooter does the cocking – think old west six shooter)…

    Double Action… trigger does two things when pulled… cocks and releases the hammer or striker…

    As an NRA instructor, I always highly recommend the NRA’s Basic Pistol Course if there is one in your area…

    Dann in Ohio

  5. Weer’d- So, it doesn’t matter if I drop the hammer of the mechanism(slide) cocks the hammer, if something is cocking it, it’s SA?  

    If when I pull the trigger that action cocks the gun and then fires, that is DA?

    Dann, I think your right. I think I skipped a few basics that will help me. I am an avid reader and self motivator, so I have been reading everything and learning and asking questions when I need to, but I think a good old fashion in the class, class would be beneficial to me.

  6. So, that is why when I shot the revolver it was a very hard trigger pull if I didn’t cock the hammers because the gun was doing it, DA? But, if I pulled the hammer it was easier because the gun didn’t have to cock the hammer…SA?

  7. I kept thinking inphysicallynhad to reach up there and cock the hammer, but it doesn’t matter if I cock it, the slide cocks it or the man in the moon cocks it, if it’s cocked that is SA, but if at the time I pull the trigger, the gun has to cock its self by pulling the trigger back and then forward before the bullet shoots out that is DA?

  8. Yep DA/SA is the TRIGGER nothing else. So if the slide or gas pressure or whatever cocks the mechanism (or your thumb) that doesn’t count. Only if you pulling the trigger cocks the action is it a DA trigger.

    As for why DA revolvers have a LONG and heavy trigger pull….but light and short if you cock the hammer, that’s EXACTLY why. The trigger is heavy and long because its doing all that work of bringing the hammer back as well as dropping it on the chamber.

    When you hand-cock the hammer suddenly the trigger is shorter and lighter because you just did a bunch of that trigger work by pulling back the hammer for the gun.

    BTW guns like the Beretta 92, or the Ruger P-series or the older S&W Automatics with metal frames (not to be confused with the new generation of polymer S&Ws like the M&P) or the traditional SIG Saurs also work the same way. Long-heavy double action, short lighter single. There are a ton more just like that, and its all the same idea.

    It certainly gets confusing tho when the gun is doing some of the steps for you.

    But if you need to know what the gun is, remember its just the trigger that you’re thinking about when you’re talking DA or SA.

  9. I don’t want you to take this the wrong way Weer’d, but I love ya!

    I have struggled with this forever. My husband is very smart and he knows what he is talking about and he is very patient and encouraging, but for whatever reason the way he was explaining it I just couldn’t get it.

    You should have been here this morning. I am reading off what you are saying and he is standing in our bedroom half dressed for work, standing in a modified isosceles, with his hands like he is holding a gun, showing me what you were explaining…lol

  10. +1 Weer’d. I’ve had lots of people that couldn’t square up the Double action/ Single action thing. When I explain it, I try to use the same terms as Weer’d. Single Action means the trigger performs one job (dropping the hammer).

  11. I had to figure this all out on my own, so when I explain it, I explain it a lot like Weer’d does.

    From a _trigger/hammer_ perspective SA vs. DA is “drop” vs. “cock and drop”. (That alone is a poor explanation, but a concise summary.) Once you grok that, go back and read the way some books talk about SA/DA. I’ve reread a lot of explanations and KNOW that I could have explained it better than the book does.

    One more thing to learn. Some guns are DA for the first shot, SA after that. The first pull of the trigger has to cock the hammer (then fire) where the hammer is cocked after that by the gun (the energy of the fired round). Some guns are DAO (Double Action Only) as the gun never cocks the hammer – you have DA all the time.

  12. ” Some guns are DAO (Double Action Only) as the gun never cocks the hammer “

    Perhaps better to say the trigger always has to cock the hammer – the energy of firing the round does not.

  13. LOL that’s fantastic!

    Yeah the only reason why I’m any good is because my wife loves revolvers but is FAR from a gun nut. I’m betting if you quizzed her on what her carry gun was she’d technically be wrong ($20 sez her answer would be S&W J-Frame…but wouldn’t know its a S&W638) So these finer details of double-action flies, and full-cock notches, and concealed hammers vs. partially charged strikers, et al bore her to tears.

    So I’ve had to really simplify the way I explain it…and really it comes down to ignoring the whole gun and just thinking about the operation of the trigger.

    Glad I’m a help. There were lots of people who did the same to me when I was first in your shoes. I bought my first gun at age 25, so I’m hardly like some of these guys who grew up with a pacifier in one hand and a .22 Chipmunk in the other. : )

  14. Yeah, for whatever reason I had it in my head that I had to physically reach up and cock the hammer back, so when Weer’d said “you sure did cock the hammer…” I said to my husband when? He said when your racked the slide. But I never racked the slide, it did it on its own. Anyway, when Weer’d said mechanism, it clicked! It’s not that it is me, necessarily, cocking the hammer, but that it is cocked and therefore when the trigger is pulled it does the single action of moving the hammer forward. Then all of you speaking in terms of the trigger and not the gun, that really cleared it up for me.

    I will definitely, go back and re-read the explanations from the others.

    Thanks again everyone!!!!!!!!

  15. Well, now that you mentioned it, I did start out with a pacifier and a SW .38 revovler. I’m still a nut for single action revolvers. Might have to burn some gunpowder tomorrow…

  16. Weer’d nailed it and so did Gods and Gals.

    I’ll rephrase it slightly different to try and help clear the fog more.

    It’s all in what the trigger does. SAO is single action only. This would be your 1911s for example. The slide cocks the hammer during recoil to recock the hammer. The trigger only activates the sear to drop the hammer.

    DAO would be like a Sig P250 every time you pull the trigger it both cocks the hammer and releases then sear.

    In the DA world many DA guns are DA/SA, not all though, see the P250. The recoil recocks the hammer so only the first shot has the long heavy weight of the DA trigger pull. After that the trigger just activates the sear since the hammer has already been cocked.

    A way to think about it is what happens if the hammer is DOWN and you pull the trigger. If nothing happens it’s a Single Action. If you squeeze the trigger and it cocks the hammer it’s double action.

    It appears you’re clearing the fog, I hope this helps.

  17. If you want, I can bring an example of DA/SA the next time we shoot. It is an Astra A-100, which is patterned after the Sig. It has a decocking lever to lower the hammer after loading the weapon, and has no external safeties. The trigger is the only safety, keep your finger off of it until ready to shoot.

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