DA/SA guns can take some getting used to. But they can be great once you're familiar.
I fell in love with the CZ 75 and Beretta 92 at a very young age in my shooting career. As such, I’ve long been a fan of these handguns and the Double action / single-action trigger system, aka the DA/SA. In recent years the old DA/SA has fallen out of favor in light of the rise of striker-fired pistols. I still cling to my DA/SA pistols, and I have several reasons why.
I’ve concluded that the DA/SA trigger system is the best….for me. I don’t think it’s necessarily the only trigger worth considering. If a single action, a DAO, or striker-fired trigger works for you, then great. However, if you are a little new to guns, allow me to argue why I prefer the DA/SA trigger system, but first, let’s explain what that system is.
A DA/SA trigger utilizes two different trigger pulls. The first shot is a longer, heavier trigger pull that both cocks the hammer and then releases the hammer to fire the weapon. It does two actions, so it’s a double-action.
After that first shot is fired, the slide reciprocates and recocks the weapon. Now the weapon is in single-action mode. The trigger is now very light and short, and it only releases the hammer to fire the weapon. Here’s why I like this system.
If I pull the trigger and hear a click because the round failed to fire, I have the opportunity to just pull the trigger again. The gun will revert to double action, and I can pull the trigger again to try to fire the round one more time. With a striker or single action only gun, I have to immediately go into corrective action to fix the malfunction.
A DA/SA trigger offers me an immediate chance to restrike and fire the potentially bad round one more time.
That longer initial trigger pull takes a real decisive action to initiate. It’s long and heavy and acts a bit like a safety in a few different situations. First, if a foreign object gets tangled in the trigger guard while I reholster, the trigger is heavy, and I’m likely to notice it before the weapon fires.
Second, in a stressful situation, that long trigger pull requires a very active trigger pull. I have a little extra time, even a fraction of a second, to change my mind if the situation changes.
Finally, I have full control over the gun by controlling the hammer. I can press the hammer downwards and completely disable the gun until I’m satisfied it’s safe to release it. If I’m in a close-range wrestling match with my gun, I know all I need to do to prevent a discharge is to pres downwards on that hammer. That little extra control is a huge benefit to a DA/SA gun, in my opinion.
Sure, people say the first shot of a DA/SA option sucks, but they fail to mention how sweet the follow-up shots are. The single-action triggers are sweet. They are light, short, and provide a crisp reset. A good single-action trigger is smoother than 99% of striker-fired triggers. At any time, a shooter can manually cock their weapon to single action for those longer-range shots.
Master the DA/SA, and You Master Them All
Finally, if you master the DA/SA gun, you can very effectively use any other handgun. This includes revolvers with DA/SA designs or DAO designs. Masters of the DA/SA can easily move between all trigger types and effectively handle SAO, DAO, and striker-fired guns.
DA/SA guns take time and ammo to master, admittedly. However, for me, it was well worth the effort and time. The DA/SA trigger system has been good to me for well over a decade now. From the service pistol I wielded in the Marine Corps to my all-time favorite pistol, the CZ SP01, I cling to the DA/SA design. Do we have any other fans of the DA/SA trigger system?
Let me know in the comments if you love or hate DA/SA guns.
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.
He serves as an NRA-certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms-based hobbies.
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