Double Action or Single Action?


April 18, 2011, 10:26 AM
Curious what you guys say about this in revolvers , The advantages and disadvantages , Im sure theres guys that have been shooting alot longer than me , Ive always been a Double Action guy , but then again , maybe I say that because I dont really know the true advantage , anyone want to elaborate and please list particular firearms as to why it is better !

This could be a great discussion!

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April 18, 2011, 10:34 AM
Well, there are two possible questions here:

1) Which do you prefer, Double Action or Single Action revolvers? The grips, loading procedure, mechanical strength, size, weight, etc. are very different for between the traditional SAs and more modern DAs. One is primarily suited to hunting or certain kinds of competition and the other is more suited for defensive roles and other kinds of competition.

2) In Double Action guns, do you prefer to shoot DA or SA for which shots, when, and at what distances?

My own answer to question 1 is, everything in its season. I generally shoot Double Actions as they are more suited to the kind of shooting I'm primarily interested in.

Question 2: Double action almost always. You can shoot DA (with practice) just as accurately as SA out to pretty impressive distances.

451 Detonics
April 18, 2011, 10:36 AM
A single action normally has a very light trigger, not good in an SD scenario when your adrenalin is pumping full blast. The are slower to reload and, unless you are Bob Mundon, slower for follow up shots as well. I like them for hunting but not for SD/HD.

April 18, 2011, 10:48 AM
It is true that a revolver can be shot just as accurately double action as single action. However most people won't take the time or effort to practice this DA discipline . Therefore most of us do shoot our revolvers single action and single action revolvers are just plain fun to carry and shoot. For a woods gun I much prefer my Ruger or Colt SAA then one of my S&W N frames. YMMV!

April 18, 2011, 10:57 AM
I agree with what Sam1911 wrote, and for the same reasons. My most-shot guns right now are the revolvers I use in IDPA and USPSA matches, and they can't be shot in SA, as they've been rendered DAO.

I also have a vintage K-22 and K-38 target revolvers that've been left unmolested. Even for target work, though, I'm as accurate shooting DA as SA, so the spur rarely gets used.

I had a SA Blackhawk, but I had little use for it, so it rarely got shot. I sold it to buy another DA revolver :cool:

April 18, 2011, 11:09 AM
It is true that a revolver can be shot just as accurately double action as single action.
It could be that DA shooting can be done accurate enough for your individual purposes, but it is folly to believe that DA shooting can be done as accurately as single action fire.

As far as combat use, most factory single actions will have a trigger not unlike a good 1911. All the same rules apply, you don't put your finger on the trigger until it's time to fire a shot.

April 18, 2011, 11:13 AM
It could be that DA shooting can be done accurate enough for your individual purposes, but it is folly to believe that DA shooting can be done as accurately as single action fire.Oooh kay. So lets say that DA can be just as practically accurate as SA out to some distance, which distance will depend on the shooter.

(Strange, that sounds a lot like what I posted before...)

Sheesh. Any other nits to pick?

April 18, 2011, 11:26 AM
Sheesh. Any other nits to pick?
I wasn't really responding to your post, which had a very good stipulation. It was loadedround's "It is true that a revolver can be shot just as accurately double action as single action." that I took issue with. Because there is a huge difference between shooting paper targets at the local 25yd range and live critters at 100yds......or more.

April 18, 2011, 11:47 AM
Both Sam and Craig make valid points.

DA is as accurate as SA for me because I don't have nearly as much SA trigger time. One gets good at what they practice. When I "target" practice, it's informal. The target and distance are my choosing, and my groups are identical.

I think I have good DA trigger control, and have spent a lot of time working on it, but If I were to start bullseye shooting with a revolver, I'd likely be spending some quality time with that SA trigger pretty quickly. I couldn't imagine shooting my 10m air pistol with anything other than a light SA trigger.

The finer details of DA/SA accuracy is largely moot, though, since, it's a level of accuracy that's well beyond what most typically display. :(

April 18, 2011, 11:55 AM
I have never found a single action that felt right in my hand, except the Bearcat. The Hammer fall seems harder and longer on a Blackhawk than on a S&W double action, making it harder (for me) to hold a decent group. Oddly enough, the best fit, best feeling grip I ever found was a cheap plastic grip on an H&R cheap .22

April 18, 2011, 12:02 PM
...and live critters at 100yds......or more. Oh. Yes, that I completey agree with and that was the exact premise I'd intended with my caveat. Sorry for being obtuse and cranky! ;)

Yeah, I don't know about taking a DA shot at a game animal at 100 yds. I'd need a significant amount more practice to try that ... and probably just wouldn't. Any shot I'd want to take rested and/or prone, I'd go SA.

April 18, 2011, 01:09 PM
I like single actions afield as I'll never shoot DA at game at any distance anyhow. I want a one shot, put him down, for the sake of the animal. It is unethical to do otherwise. The SA guns are generally much stronger for the weight you're going to carry. If you're carrying an X frame, might as well tote a carbine. :rolleyes: My Blackhawks are powerful, strong, and about as light as any comparable L frame. Of course, I'm biased haven't started with a single action .22 revolver many years ago.

I carry DA when I carry for self defense for obvious reasons at defense ranges. I have an alloy .38 snub that gets carried a lot in a pocket as well as a 3" .357 that gets occasional winter carry. Afield, though, I have the choice of a rather accurate 4" .357 medium frame gun or my blackhawks. I can't say I always choose the blackhawk, but there's really no reason not to in the field IMHO. My .45 Colt 4 5/8" blackhawk is pretty much big enough for any critter I'll ever come across in the field and even in stainless weighs a tick over 40 ounces.

As to accuracy, beyond 25 yards I will ALWAYS cock the hammer. And, I have competed in IHMSA. I saw no one shoot DA from Creedmore. :rolleyes: We shot chickens at 50 yards to rams at 200 yards with no mechanical support. I could knock down 36 out of 40 with regularity with my TC Contender in 7mmTCU. A revolver would be more challenge. :D The TC is a SA only gun, but the lock time is a bit faster than a Blackhawk. However, I can put 6 rounds into under 4" from a rest at 100 yards with either of my Blackhawks. The lock time does not seem to bother me. From Creedmore, I can hit the pigs pretty regularly, too. :D Just takes practice, whatever you're going to do with a handgun. I do as many kinds of revolver shooting as I can, it's all fun.

April 18, 2011, 01:30 PM
Since you're already a double action guy, you probably already have a "fighting" revolver (not that a SA can't/shouldn't be used by someone familiar enough with them). I'd go with the single action if for no other reason than to learn a new skill.

April 18, 2011, 08:10 PM
options are great, make mine shoot both ways, double your fun

I do believe that DA can be extremely accurate, but a lot of folks who just never shoot SA don't actually know what they could or could not do in SA, simply because they just don't do equal round counts of both.

Bambi, yes, is worthy of a one kill zone shot. Bad Bubba is worthy of six.
choices, choices

April 18, 2011, 09:50 PM
I have both d/a and s/a revolvers. For me the d/a is more conveniant to catch a cyl full of empties in one quick motion, and reload from a speed loader.
I shoot revolvers in s/a mode 99% of the time.
I don't see myself ever owning a dao revolver......I think I would get an auto instead.

April 18, 2011, 10:36 PM
I own SA revolvers and semiautos. I own DA revolvers with target triggers and hammers (TT;TH). I carry handguns that I can point and shoot. No apparent safety, a hammer that must be cocked etc. or spurred to snag. I favor hammerless, bobbed revolvers or safe action autos for everyday carry.

Echoing above comments: deliberate, braced, benched, prone sure: bring on the Model 29 6" TT;TH, the Blackhawk, K-38 6" TT;TH. Clowning, having fun, 1911, SAA etc.

One last thought. My best single action shooters are DA's. S&W 27, 29, K-38, 686+, but again not my CCW's.

April 19, 2011, 01:05 AM
I have both, SA and DA revolvers. The SA is more nostalgic, and with hunting, is far more accurate at long range. The DA is more self defense, but with proper training and range time, you can learn to instinctively stage the trigger to gain the SA advantage of the trigger. As stated before, with the adrenaline in high gear, be careful of the SA trigger, or the staged DA.

April 19, 2011, 02:00 AM
I vote DA revolver. But I would shoot it single action during SD. The longer DA pull is no good for accuracy; I have small hands. I want to put the bullet right in the middle of the home invader's chest, because I only have six rounds of 38spl. I can't afford to spray and pray. But I learned to shoot with a Single Action Army, so SA shooting is more natural for me.

April 19, 2011, 06:45 AM
It seems there is a difference of opinion as to what the intended target requires for accuracy. Self defense requires less accuracy than hunting???? I don't accept that. For SD work, I really want to hit what I am aiming, not merely close. Same for hunting. I treid using revolvers as SA and found I am much more accurate using them DA. I also learned how to shoot DA and it is easier for me to keep the sights aligned.

As for 100 yard shots, on paper no problem. On game, even with a rifle I was taught to stalk closer.

April 19, 2011, 06:57 AM
Self defense requires less accuracy than hunting???? I don't accept that. For SD work, I really want to hit what I am aiming, not merely close. Same for hunting.

That's perhaps not quite the intended message. Self-defense (to be legitimate self-defense and not murder) usually needs an element of immediacy. In other words, the other party has to be close enough to do you harm and so close that you don't have a reasonable chance to resolve the situation in some other way.

In other words, you aren't going to be shooting very far, and you will need to be putting rounds on target as fast as humanly possible. Those two concepts tend to remove your ability to make an extremely precise shot, but also reduce your need to do so as well. Self-defense shooting requires 2-6 shots in your attacker's center of mass as fast as you can make that happen. Not the one-(precise)-shot-one-kill at 75 yards you might want to make in a hunting situation.

So, hunting accuracy might be considered to be landing every shot in an 8" circle out to your maximum ethical distance. Off a rest, taking your time, single-action.

Self-defense shooting is best and most often summed up as: 3 shots, 3 yards, 3 seconds. That requires accurate shot placement, but not precision accuracy of the sort required for hunting purposes.

April 19, 2011, 07:12 AM
Part of my preference for one over the other is dictated by use. One thing I like about SA is that it slows me down when I'm plinking, not just the deliberate cocking and trigger pull but loading and unloading as well. SA is a more thoughtful experience for me. But if I'm range shooting at paper targets I prefer a DA revolver. And I prefer DA for self defense because of its inherent speed compared to SA.

April 19, 2011, 09:15 AM
So basically DA and SA have specific functions , I like throwing ,Redhawks at Blackhawks , because its easier and the revolvers are fairly close , As an experienced law man ,I would have to say DA regardless of whether or not you were trained in SA , I know they always say 25 yards or less (Bull<deleted>) , its more like 7 yards or less , and the attacker is either carrying a knife which is more lethal than a gun at that range , DA affords me the oppurtunity (if im fast enough at the draw) to put him down , I dont want to get into it about Autos vs Revolvers , I will say this , in the old days cops could draw about 10 times faster than a cop today ,even with technology and better holsters , I knew many a lawman carrying a Python who would waste someone carrying Glock today in a draw!

April 19, 2011, 12:39 PM
Self defense requires less accuracy than hunting????
Uh, yeah! Think about the ranges involved. Think about the guns typically well-suited to each purpose. Think about their inherent accuracy. You really don't n eed a self defense gun to shoot better than 4" at 25yds and that's a good thing because most snubs and service autos are capable of no better. Most shooters will never know how well their self defense pistol will shoot at 25yds from the bench. For hunting, you better do your homework, you better find the right load and it better shoot 4" at 100yds.

April 20, 2011, 12:50 AM
usmc-1, on the draw, a single action will be cocked before the gun is level and ready to fire, same as a double action. subsequent shots will be slower (not much) due to the time required to cock the hammer.

if the bg is carrying a knife, you can draw and cock one-handed while blocking with the off hand. we can call this "cock and block". (a little bg humor).


April 20, 2011, 08:10 PM
I really want to learn SA , it think wheel guns are great and the SA is something that needs to be learned!

April 20, 2011, 09:35 PM
SA is great for head shots, everything else can be done with DA.

April 20, 2011, 11:53 PM
I prefer double action for a couple of reasons. One is, it makes less noise if needing to be quick and quiet is necessary. And the other is AD's are too drisky in a stressful situation, been there and done that. For the range, I still use DA most of the time because I like to keep my skills well honed.

April 21, 2011, 06:30 AM
A lot of it goes back to how you were trained and what you learned. I was taught to aim and fire quickly, as quick as you could and make the hit. Practicing DA was the way to accomplish this. The ability to hit a target quickly depends on range and the amount of practice you have had. It is all a matter of using what you were taught and perfecting it. I can control the trigger and sights much better with a DA pull. So, that is what I use.

April 21, 2011, 09:16 AM
I have been really trying to stock up lately , and the bigger rounds is what I am after!

April 21, 2011, 11:16 AM
To me the whole DA/SA is easy of loading and unloading when I'm at the range. I like both and have both. I'm in the market for a 45 acp. The reason is I'm tired of chasing brass. I will be trying to find a DA just for the ability to load and unload easier.

I will say SA guns are super fun and in no way am I trying to slight them. I think everyone should have at lease one big bore SA revolver.

April 21, 2011, 12:00 PM
I am a single action fan. Most of my shooting revolves around the great outdoors, so little thought to defense. I have had better accuracy luck with my SAs (I have tried hard with a couple of DAs), better strength to weight, simpler design, point more naturally, and just as fast for the first 5 or 6 shots.
All that said, a DA would suit me fine if thats all I had. dvnv

April 21, 2011, 12:04 PM
I shoot a DA much more accurately than a SA. In fact on my DA revolvers, I never shoot in the SA mode. I find that when I do shoot SA I have poor trigger control and I tend to flinch.

April 21, 2011, 05:34 PM
I prefer DA for self defense because of its inherent speed compared to SA.

Tell that to Deuce Stevens: ;)

Actually, I know what you're saying, and personally I think I can shoot just as fast and more accurately in double-action mode than I could slip-shoot a single-action revolver, so I prefer DA too. That said, there have been previous discussions involving folks who cannot reliably operate a DA trigger or rack a slide due to their lack of strength. In such cases, SA mode was one suggestion, and on some occasions I recommended that they try slip-shooting (which only works on SA revolvers, as far as I know) in order to potentially enable rapid fire, as the thumb is the strongest finger, it can get some help from the wrist, and the hammer is relatively easy to operate. I'm bringing this up here because everybody is different and maybe some people would actually shoot better this way (defensively) without even knowing it (especially since we've only been considering the more common type of SA shooting).

April 27, 2011, 11:21 AM
Most DAs can be fired SA. Get a DA with a hammer spur and you can shoot both ways. If I had to take a calm, accurate, timed hunting or target-type shot, I'd go SA. If it came down to self-defense, I'd dearly want the double action.

April 27, 2011, 03:29 PM
I enjoy my revolvers for both speed shooting at matches and I also shoot an array of both cartridge and cap&ball revolvers in Cowboy Action shooting.

With my DA guns I seldom shoot them in SA mode. This is because most of the time I'm shooting to practice for the Speed Steel or IDPA events where I like to use my DA revolvers. But since I've done so much practicing with DA and I'm running Wolff spring kits in these guns I've found that I can shoot DA as well as I can SA even when I slow down and go for best accuracy. And in fact since I don't practice the SA all that much I found that I often shoot the DA groups tighter than the SA groups... go figure....

The plow handle SA style guns have me a bit flumoxed so far. I love shooting them but I'm still working on getting the proper grip for them to shoot straight ahead and hit on the vertical POA line. Up to now I've managed to avoid the issue because with CAS the need for pin point accuracy is somewhat reduced by the size of the metal targets at fairly close ranges. But recently I really started playing with my grip. From the last session with my old 3screw Single Six and a few rounds through my new .44mag Super Blackhawk I think I may have the grip style issue fixed. Both shot nicely to the center line even though the elevation is still an issue on the sights for the SS.

So I have to say that I like both. And other than for Olympic, long range hunting or similar precesion shooting I feel that DA in a DA revolver can be just as good as SA for most needs.

And I've seen how easy it is for folks to get a premature trigger pull on my Wolff equipped guns when I let others shoot them. So I'd have to totally agree that cocking back the hammer on a DA revolver in an SD situation is setting yourself up for an accident or at least a premature shot that isn't where it should be placed. And then there's the time needed to cock it again for the follow up shot. For those of you that are using DA revolvers for defense and that find it hard to shoot it in DA mode I'd suggest you find grips that are sized so that it better allows you to hold the gun and cycle the trigger well in DA mode. In some cases this may mean getting someone with some wood working skills to work on thinning and reshapeing the wood grips. But it's worth it if you get the proper grip and can work the gun in either mode more accurately and effectively.

Hondo 60
April 27, 2011, 09:48 PM
I have both SA & DA.
I love both for their own purposes.

I have speed loaders for my DAs to use for SD/HD.
Can't imagine intentionally choosing a SA over a DA for home defense.
Atleast not for me.

For me, my SAs are too slow to reload.
I may not need to reload, but if I did, I'd much rather use a speedloader than trying to reload individual chambers.

Of course YMMV

Then again, I can't imagine trying to use DAs to practice looking like John Wayne. :what: ;)

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