Single Action vs Double Action trigger


October 4, 2009, 10:22 PM
Can someone please explain to me what the difference is between a single action trigger and a double action trigger? My husband has a Taurus 1911 .45 caliber while I have a Bersa Thunder 380. Tonight when I asked him to bring his gun upstairs I loaded 5 snap caps in it so I can practice dry firing on his gun, just handling it and all that. I cocked it and loaded the first bullet. I have to press a little bit between my index finger and my thumb and then pulled the trigger. I was expecting that I can make another shot. Nothing.

With my Bersa, once I loaded my snap caps and start shooting, I can continuously press the trigger and it will shoot again and again. I like my Bersa -- I can practice handling it and pretend I can shoot straight or put a penny on top of it to control the shakes. I think I am good at it now. It is no brainer as I practice everyday.

My first question still applies here. So why is it that I cannot do to his gun what I can do with my gun? I am a beginner as you can just imagine so please no trolling as I want real answers.

My husband and I agreed that when we go for our NRA classes this weekend, he will also get a CCW for my gun and I will also get a CCW for his gun so we can have both guns as a CCW for ourselves apart from each other's guns, worse comes to worse. I just want to know the workings of his gun.

On the other hand, I may not be expressing myself well here as I do not know how to put my question across without confusing myself too...

Thanks for any response I will get from this group...

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Mike J
October 4, 2009, 10:27 PM
With a double action the trigger performs 2 functions. It cocks the hammer & releases it.
A single action has to be cocked before each shot all the trigger will do is release the hammer. I don't have a link handy but on the semiauto handgun subforums mainpage on this site there is a sticky about different action types. There is enough variety for it to get a little confusing if you aren't familiar with them.

Jim Watson
October 4, 2009, 10:28 PM
His Taurus is single action because pulling the trigger does nothing but drop the hammer once it is cocked. If it is not loaded, you must cock the hammer each time to dryfire it. When it is loaded, recoil cocks the hammer as it ejects the empty case and loads a fresh cartridge into the chamber.

Your Bersa is double action because pulling the trigger first cocks then drops the hammer. You can do that all you want to with an empty gun.

CAUTION: It is actually both double action and single action. When actually shooting, pulling the trigger through its long hard travel against the hammer spring fires the first shot. After that, the hammer is cocked by recoil, and the trigger pull for the second and later shots will be much lighter if you do not stop and decock the gun.

Please study the instructions and know the difference between when your Bersa is not cocked and takes a long hard trigger pull to fire and when it is cocked and will fire on a short light trigger pull; and how to decock it for safe carry and storage.

October 4, 2009, 10:35 PM
The terms "Single Action" trigger and "Double-action" trigger refer to how many functions the trigger performs when you pull the trigger.

With a "Single Action" trigger pulling the trigger ONLY does one function: It releases the hammer to fall to fire a cartridge. The hammer must first be cocked by some other means. The most typical way the hammer is cocked is by the action of the slide moving back. This happens when you load the first round into the chamber. It also happens after every round is fired: The slide moves and cocks the hammer. That cocks the hammer and when you pull the trigger the hammer falls to fire the next shot.

A "Double Action" trigger performs two functions. It cocks the hammer (if it was not already cocked) and then releases the hammer to fire a cartridge.

When dry firing you can dry-fire a double-action pistol no problem since pulling the trigger will both cock and release the hammer.

When you dry-fire a single-action pistol pulling the trigger ONLY drops the hammer. And, since the gun is not loaded the slide is not forced back as it would be when a round fired. Because the slide does not go back the hammer does not get cocked while dry-firing. That means you'll have to manually cock the hammer on a single-action pistol for every dry-fire shot.

Shadow 7D
October 4, 2009, 11:15 PM
let not for get striker fired guns like the XD or glock

October 4, 2009, 11:47 PM

The Lone Haranguer
October 5, 2009, 12:16 AM
If pulling the trigger only releases the hammer from its cocked position, it is a single action. If pulling the trigger also cocks the hammer, it is a double action. Some striker- and even hammer-fired guns (e.g., old-style DAO S&Ws) that use a partially cocked striker/hammer blur the line, not fitting neatly into either pigeonhole.

October 5, 2009, 03:36 AM
Thank you very much all...for answering my question. I can understand everything you have all said as I had been reading and learning from this group extensively everyday.

I have a next question though...which is the most safer between the two -- double action or single action? I know now that the Bersa is a good gun for me (for now...) because I do not have to think, all I have to do is point at my target and fire. Being a newbie in guns, I like that better...until I can experience more and have more exposure ...

Are there are any pros and cons between double action and single action triggers? Can someone point me to the right direction.

Thanks again...

Jim Watson
October 5, 2009, 09:07 AM
Most military and police pistols these days are double action. They are less likely to be fired accidentally and require only pulling the trigger long and hard to fire when needed. They are simple and safe for use by people with limited training and practice.

Some military and police units (like MEU-SOC and SWAT) who expect to actually shoot at people with their pistols, and many mid-level competitive shooter use single action pistols for their greater practical accuracy with the short light single action trigger pull. They (we) practice enough that applying the safety when loading the gun and disengaging it when drawing to fire is reflexive and does not have to be "remembered."

Top level shooters can do well with about anything; technique and practice govern more than action type.

October 5, 2009, 09:08 AM
Your bersa will go from a hard trigger pull to a light trigger pull. double action about 10lbs pull to single action about 4 or 5lb pull. Unless you have a DAO Bersa. You need to get use to the different pulls. After shooting the firearm you need to decock the hammer.

Your husbands firearm will always be at a 4 or 5 lb pull. after firing the firearm you will put the safety back on.

Everybody has a diferent view on which is better or worse. My wife loves revolvers because no safeties or decockers or other stuff. It's kinda like a DAO semi auto with no safety.

The safety with all firearms is between your ears.

October 5, 2009, 10:08 AM
Kanook and Jim Watson and everyone...thanks for all your informative replies.

My Bersa is a just a little Thunder 380, fits my small hands. It is my first gun so far, meaning I really bought this one after two summers long of looking and handling and whatever else, not really knowing what I was doing, just want something that I can pull easily (cocked) and load easily. Well, it caught my hand once at the store and marked me :mad: so I decided to take it home "because it claimed me"...:D

We have other guns in the house and several rifles but I never really got interested in guns until a year ago. Perhaps I can get used to cocking and decocking them for practice too. And I like cleaning our guns, too...

I always decocked my gun and put the safety on. My son showed me how and told me not to forget so I practice that everyday since until I got used to doing it. I had only gone to a one 4 hour course so far and I was so disappointed in it that I had looked for a better course/s to take. I have a lot of target practice in the shooting ranges with this gun and more of the everyday target practice with my air gun in our backyard. I am getting good at grouping my shots with both guns -- right at and/or near the centre black spot. I just regret that the target bullets for my Bersa is hard to buy next time I buy another gun I will get one that I can buy bullets for as easily.

I can't wait for this weekend. My husband and I enrolled in an NRA Basic Pistol Course + CCW. I hope to learn until there is something to de-learn about some bad habits and learn more of the good habits. After this, I hope to enroll in more courses...there are so much to learn about guns, especially getting used to mine.

Thank you are all so helpful to a newbie like me. I had learned a lot from this group for the best of the 5 months I have own my gun.

Jim Watson
October 5, 2009, 10:41 AM
Bersa makes - or has made, I don't know if they are actually importing any right now - a .22 like your .380. Savings in the price of ammunition would soon pay for the extra gun for practice.

October 6, 2009, 07:09 AM
Hi CooperThunder,

The Bersa thunder is a very nice gun, I hope you have alot of fun with it.

When you look for your next gun you may want to try a Wather P22, it has fairly small grips that should fit your hand and .22 is much cheaper to shoot.

Your tag line:
My Rottie's name is Cooper...and he is not scared of lightnings and thunders.

:what: But I bet he sounds like thunder when he's running towards you :what:

October 6, 2009, 12:41 PM
As a general rule most people find that they shoot better with a trigger that has the same trigger pull (weight and length) for every shot.

A pistol that has a long and heavy double-action trigger for the first shot and then a shorter and lighter trigger pull for every other shot (traditional DA/SA design) takes more effort to learn to shoot well due to the change in trigger pull after the first shot. It can be done, but it takes some practice to master the transition from heavy pull to light pull.

The trend these days is towards pistols that have the same trigger pull for every shot.

The most common is probably the "striker fired" pistols, like the Glock, Springfield XD and the S&W M&P. These pistols do not have an external hammer but instead have an internal striker. The striker is essentially "half cocked" by the slide moving back when you first load the pistol. That sets up the gun to fire. After every shot the slide moving back resets the striker again. The slide must move back in order for the striker to reset. This gives the gun the same trigger pull each time, but it is technically *not* a "Double-action" pistol pulling the trigger does NOT cock the striker, it only releases the striker.

The advantage of a striker-fired pistol is that you have the same trigger pull each time. The disadvantage is that if the slide does not move backwards the striker is not cocked and the pistol will not fire. This means that if you dry-fire a striker fired pistol you have to grab the slide and move it back an inch or so after every dry-fire shot to reset the striker.

There are also "double-action only" pistols with exposed hammers. These are usually pistols originally designed as DA/SA pistols (pistols where the first shot is DA and the second shot is SA, like your Bersa) that have been redesigned to be double-action only. This means that the trigger is used to cock and release the hammer for every shot. The advantage is they have the same trigger pull for every shot. The disadvantage is that the trigger pull is usually longer and heavier then what would have been the single-action trigger pull. (Imagine using your Bersa where every trigger pull was like that first heavy pull and you'll get the idea).

Same Double-Action-Only (DAO) pistols have better trigger pulls then others. The Sig DAK system is pretty good and Para Ordanance makes something they call the LDA (Light Double Action) which is a 1911 type pistol with a light double-action pull for every shot. The HK LEM system is another good DAO system with a fairly light DA trigger.

The last option is the older Single-Action design as used in the 1911 and Browning High Power. This design gives you the same trigger pull for every shot *and* the trigger weight is usually light and the trigger pull is usually pretty short. This makes the gun easier to shoot accurately. The disadvantage is that you have to apply a safety after you load the gun as the trigger pull is too short and light to safely carry without first engaging a manual safety. When you use the gun you have to first disengage the safety so you need to practice to do that under stress.

The other disadvantages of a single-action pistol is the same as the striker-fired pistols in that you have to manually cock the hammer after every dry-fire shot if you are dry-firing an empty pistol for practice. Not a huge deal, but it should be mentioned.

Also, if you have a bad primer and the round fails to fire you'd have to manually work the slide or recock the hammer before you could try to fire again. Also, not a big deal, but should be mentioned.

October 6, 2009, 11:15 PM
Bersa makes - or has made, I don't know if they are actually importing any right now - a .22 like your .380. Savings in the price of ammunition would soon pay for the extra gun for practice.
Bersa hasnt been importing them for a few years BUT Firestorm is. Bersa makes the Firestorm. They are the same thing other than the grips are a little different. In fact, the Firestorms I have seen have Firestorm on one side of the slide and Bersa on the other side of the slide. The model is Firestorm FS22.

Cooperthunder, you have a GREAT outlook on this. Your comment the the gun claimed you is how it should be. It should feel like it was meant to be.

I agree with Jim Watson. If...IF... you like you Bersa Thunder 380 and how it operates... The Firestorm FS22 .22 caliber is essentially the same gun as the one you have now but in a .22 caliber and would be an excellent companion to your current gun. They are fairly hard to find here in the USA and Ive seen prices from (american $) $275 to $350

October 6, 2009, 11:51 PM
Reading your post and replies, I know you're headed in the right direction.

Getting proper training and frequent practice are THE best ways to be safe, learn the correct techniques and become proficient.

Let us know how it comes out.

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