HD Gun: How important is it to be able to shoot DA?


September 10, 2008, 12:27 PM
On previous threads, I've noted that my wife's trigger finger is too short to pull a DA trigger on a K/L frame. Shooting SA is fine. We tried the smaller bantam grips and while we haven't been to the range yet, the DA trigger is still on the long side without taking an awkward grip.

So the question is, how important is it to be able to comfortably pull the DA trigger on your HD gun?

I know the obvious solution would be to get a smaller gun, but shooting light .38s in a larger framed gun is about as strong as she'll go. A Government 9mm 1911 is still an issue with recoil, to give you an idea.

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September 10, 2008, 12:40 PM
The main issued is if she uses the firearm in defense and the prosecutor or if she gets sued the Defendants attorney might argue that she did not intend to shoot. She cocked the gun and it went off accidently therefor she is negligent.

Another thing it is slower to have to cock for each shot.

9mm is a bit more snapish, Where the 1911 full size in 45 gives more of a push. Haw she tried that. IF not try one of the new smith and wesson MP with the small grip.

There are several very talented gun smiths out there. Maybe one can make your gun double action only and make the action shorter. I am not sure that is available but is something I would check on.

September 10, 2008, 01:08 PM
Try a J-frame revolver and back down to .32 caliber.

September 10, 2008, 01:09 PM
ow important is it to be able to comfortably pull the DA trigger on your HD gun?

You mean How important is it that one become functionally proficient shooting DA? I'l offer that it's very important for a SD gun.

I've posted this link before. It was a good read then, and is a good read now. Even if you don't actually have your gun rendered DAO, it raises some very valid points.


September 10, 2008, 01:21 PM
SA is fine, as long as you train only in SA. (even if it not my prefrence) as it much easier to pull back a hammer on a revolver then messing with safeties on a Autoloader.

James T Thomas
September 10, 2008, 02:19 PM

Before you conclude that her finger is not long enough, watch her at the range -one more time.

There are threads here that establish the fact that women's hands in general fit the handles of pistols, but the difference is not in reach but in grip strength.

While observing her finger upon the trigger, verify that the pad; where the finger print sworl lies is the area in contact. That is the meaty region just forward of the last joint in the finger. As it should be.
This feels "awkward" to some shooters, and they often like the strength gained but inserting more finger, that is, up to the second joint.
This is sort of hinted at by your description of smaller, bantam weight grips
-still not fitting, and her assesment of it feeling "awkward."

It may be also that if the pistol has a relatively long barrel as five inches or more that she is aware of leverage and wobble and concludes that the trigger is too far away. -She is useing the trigger to control the frame.

One more recommendation. Visit the single action sites and you will find that the "cowboys" have learned that they can rapid fire S.A. just as fast as their D.A. counterparts. So with practice, this may not be a restriction for her at all. Please keep in mind that the goal is accurate shooting and not "blazing saddles."

September 10, 2008, 02:21 PM
For defensive shooting, DA is 105% better, in my opinion(which is worth what you paid for it). With practice the accuracy difference is not enough to matter in a defensive situation, so I don't really bother practicing it.

Have you tried a higher grip? This usually places the finger closer to the trigger and provides more control over recoil, though it does make the trigger somewhat harder to pull. I grip most small to medium caliber revolvers high enough that the hammer comes close to touch the web of my hand. Probably higher than your wife wants but see if it works out.

SA is fine, as long as you train only in SA. (even if it not my prefrence) as it much easier to pull back a hammer on a revolver then messing with safeties on a Autoloader.

It's easier to perform an action for every shot than it is to take off the safety once?

September 10, 2008, 02:33 PM
1. Make sure that the grips are appropriate and fit her hand. I LOATHE the S&W "target" grips. Hogue synthetic grips or even factory "magna" grips combined with a Tyler T-Grip are much better for people with small hands.

2. As someone else pointed out, watch carefully how she's gripping the firearm and pulling the trigger. I use the first joint of my trigger finger to fire a revolver D/A.

3. EFFECTIVELY shooting a revolver D/A takes a LOT of practice. A .22lr D/A revolver for practice of technique is VERY valuable.

September 10, 2008, 02:35 PM
I believe Ayoob recommends shooting DA with the distal joint of the trigger finger, not the pad. I tend to agree, having tried it both ways. It helps to have a smooth-faced trigger.

S&W grip frames are huge, or at least the length of pull is way long. It's long been a complaint of mine, at least with the square butt (which is all I have).

I recommend trying her on a GP100 with the OLD STYLE factory grips (not the new Hogues which make it just as big as a Smith) OR a SP101, which has a nicely scaled down grip. Furthermore, the Rugers offer more of a variety of small grips due to the grip frame design than the Smiths do (tho there seems to be a larger selection for Smiths) AND the backstrap isn't steel, which makes recoil more pleasant for less meaty hands.

On to the original point, I think it's very important to be able to shoot DA, and one should practice it. SA is very bullseye, which I enjoy. However, I don't think you'll ever see a serious defensive revolver competitor shooting an entire stage SA (I take SA headshots if they're far enough).

If I hadn't had to (badly) adjust the sear on the extra hammer for my HD Smith it would still have that spurless DA-only hammer in it. Unfortunately I botched the job and put the original back in because the pull with the new hammer was so bad.

DA-only is perfect for self-defense, both for staving off the supposed negligence accusation and for reducing the possibility of an actual accidental discharge under stress. When you're all hopped up on adrenaline, strength will go up and dexterity will go down.


September 10, 2008, 03:28 PM
Greetings mark,

DA is better.

OK, now.....

FAR more important than the gun/action/shooting methods she uses is the fact that she HAS taken responsibility for her and her family's well being with her adoption of a HD firearm.

As long as SHE realizes the "shortcomings" of SA defense shooting and is willing to adapt her shooting to them, most of this battle is won. If she can't handle DA shooting and/or heavier recoiling firearms, she can't. Adapt and move on. It sounds as though she may be at the point where she will never be comfortable with DA shooting or a heavier recoiling gun. It is essential that she be confident with her chosen gun/system.

These kinds of situations always generate a lot of what I call "try this, try that" responses, and that is great. There are a lot of good ideas above. Read each (along with your wife)and evaluate with her situation in mind. Maybe one will work out for her. This has to be her decision based upon what works best for HER.

More important however is training and practice. Perhaps a professional instructor can work with her and tailor a program focusing on her SA shooting. At the very least hopefully she will continue to practice what works best for her.

I speak with perhaps a small bit of authority here as old age and a debilitating disease have robbed me of my ability to comfortably shoot and control heavy recoiling handguns. I've had to adapt to this reality and now carry, train, and practice with .38spl and 9mm handguns for personal protection. Not that there's anything wrong with that.......:D

dan :)

September 10, 2008, 03:44 PM
I hope this isn't out of place to say, but why are you limiting her to a handgun?
Were I in your shoes I might look for something like a marlin 1894c lever gun that you could load up with hot .38spl. Out of that barrel, they'd have about the same power as a .357mag revolver, but with no recoil, an easier to aim/more stable platform, and not as much worry about trigger reach.

20ga pump shottie also tends to work well with small women by the way.

Just a thought.

September 10, 2008, 04:39 PM
I have/had a 20ga pump for HD. You need a really short barrel to keep it from being incredibly awkward indoors. Also, the reach for the slide forearm is really long for shorter folks. It's long for me, and I have a 6' arm span. Besides, that's one loud boom to suffer indoors. Tho maybe no worse than a short-barreled handgun? I dunno. You can trick it out all tactical-like, but it will never be fun to shoot. Sound of the slide is scary as all get-out, tho.

A Marlin carbine isn't a bad idea.
It's too bad the Taurus 72 carbine was dropped, and the similar lever gun that never went far. A compact .22WMR carbine like that produces nearly .38spl kinetic energies, and are easy shooting. 10 rounds, but slow to reload. Noisy too, tho.

I agree with Purple95 - whatever she keeps should fit her, and ideally *just* her, so she'll take ownership of and pride in it, and enjoy shooting it.

IMO, if you can't reach the DA trigger pull with a proper grip, then the gun or grip is too big for you.


September 10, 2008, 05:27 PM
My wife had the same problem. With a switch to a narrower grip, she can shoot DA fine now!

September 10, 2008, 06:20 PM
short barrel scattergun would be my first choice...... a 3" Model 60 J frame is a nice gun and will fit her hand much better than a K frame and be easier to fire D/a.

September 10, 2008, 06:34 PM
Holy smokes! You can shoot a double-action revolver by cocking the hammer with a thumb and then pulling the trigger to drop it?
Who knew?

September 10, 2008, 07:59 PM
You have a 6 foot arm span and the slide action of a pump shotgun is long for you? :confused:

September 10, 2008, 09:05 PM
A little outside the box-

When I was a USAF Law Enforcement Specialist years ago, there was a woman in my unit who would grip the butt of her Model 15 using all the fingers of her strong hand, and fired it using the trigger finger of her support hand, in essence creating a shorter trigger reach.

Always seemed odd to me, but for her, it worked, she was an excellent shot.

September 10, 2008, 09:51 PM
You have a 6 foot arm span and the slide action of a pump shotgun is long for you?

yeah, but I've got monkey arms and am only 5'9" high. Maybe I'm too short for it. :-)

Actually, I grew up (gunwise) shooting smallbore, so I prefer a very compact stance. But seriously, that long reach to the forearm is good for swinging on birds, but kind of lousy for close-quarters action. It's sort of like clearing the house with a dance partner.


September 10, 2008, 10:56 PM
Shooting DA is a valuable skill to have, but if you physically can't do it, you can't do it.

For me, it has also been the hardest skill I have tried to learn, and I am far from being anything but an amateur at it. I mean, I am good enough that within normal SD distances, the target will be struck, but I am not particularly accurate, and certainly I am slow. Truth be told, I am slow enough (if I want to be accurate) that SA fire would probably be faster for me.

September 11, 2008, 12:19 AM

I've got small mitts too.
Has she tried these?:

Small grips: http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=513497

Tyler T-grip: http://www.t-grips.com/


Additional ramblin' thoughts:

Action work to smooth and lighten trigger pull.
Scallop-out trigger material to shorten LOP.

Nill does (or did) a special run of M&P round butt grips that are very small (smaller than the grips linked above), though likely quite pricey. I'm waiting to hear back from them on availability and ordering instructions now.

Magtech 148 gr. mid-range wadcutter ammo in j/k frames.

Best o' luck!

September 11, 2008, 12:23 AM

September 11, 2008, 12:52 AM
After you get more suitable grips(try nontarget factory and Tyler T grip), have her wrap the first joint of trigger finger around trigger and then establish hand position on stock. Note that her hand will be more to the right with the butt not centered in her hand, but this is ok.

You can't beat the 3 inch j-frame. The Ruger 5 shot da revolver has a short trigger reach and has the weight that you desire.

September 11, 2008, 01:07 AM
My wife is 4'6" tall and can comfortably handle my K frames. In fact, I think she shoots better DA with them than I do!

There are two things I suggest if your wife does have a very short trigger reach. The first is to put on a set of small stocks/rubber grips that expose the backstrap of the frame. The second is moving to a round butt gun.

Other than that, she may need to go to a J frame or a ruger SP101. My wife has problems with a J frame wearing standard small wood stocks(wrapping too much finger around the trigger), but my SP101--equipped with a hogue monogrip--is just about right for her.

September 11, 2008, 06:20 AM
Not to worry :
It's only important if you want to shoot a DA revolver.

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