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Joe's thought of the day on DA vs SA triggers

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by .45FMJoe, Sep 24, 2003.

  1. .45FMJoe

    .45FMJoe Well-Known Member

    *Note: I also posted this on the 1911 forums. But I put it here for an even broader range of input-

    I've been thinking a lot about this lately, perhaps some of you would like to join in my "creative thinking."

    Now, my thinking is along the lines of accuracy in shooting under high stress situations. I think about what would actually happen in a real shooting situation. Because a single action is supposed to just break, would you not tend to "jerk" the trigger so violently as to possibly screw up your aim by flipping the gun high and to the left (or right if you are a south paw). Now, we all say practice, practice, practice. BUT, if you are drawing to save your life and have to pull that trigger, are you really gonna slow down and thoroughly, deliberately and correctly pull the trigger? With no actual self-defense shootings to personally judge by, methinks not. I think what would happen is your brain would say pull that trigger NOW!

    Well, has anyone else noticed that when shooting a well made, smooth double action trigger, you tend to automatically tighten your grip on the stocks? So even without rationally thinking "death grip," your hand naturally tenses up to assist in your finger making the trigger pull. Perhaps, by having a stronger grip, you can help reduce unintentional gun movement. So is it possible that maybe DA would be better served in a real SHTF scenario? I am by no means on edge and about to dup off all my SA guns. In fact, I'm trying to procure an NRM Commander as my new carry gun. But, does anyone else think of what I do?

    All are welcome to a civil, relaxed and FUN discussion on triggers and your input. Please no SA/DA bashing!
  2. C.R.Sam

    C.R.Sam Moderator Emeritus

    Both seem to work fine for me.
    Target shooting ... I tend to be picky bout trigger.
    Stressed shooting it doesn't seem to matter.

    Different accuracy requirements for me tho.
    Target shooting my goal is to hit within a caliber of point of aim.
    Stressed shooting, more like within a fist will do.

  3. BigG

    BigG Well-Known Member

    When the adrenalin is a pumpin I could pull a 40 pound trigger without knowing it - TWICE. Trigger awareness is vital while nice trigger pull is nice but not vital when the rubber meets the road.
  4. Smoke

    Smoke Well-Known Member

    That is why NDs happen with light SA triggers and why a 6# trigger is not a necessarily a bad thing on a carry weapon.

    I only carry SA guns. I gave up on DA a couple of years ago. I have never been in a real situation but I hope my training pays off if it ever happens.

    Food for thought.
  5. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

    Okay, I am lost here. I see no difference in how it is that a DA trigger makes one more naturally hold the gun properly and get the shot off properly over a SA action trigger. That makes no sense that somehow the DA gun will work inherently better for a shooter under stress. The same 'pull the trigger NOW' response happens with both DA and SA triggers.

    According to some of the examples presented by Ayoob, DA shots tend to be less accurate. In guns that are DA/SA, the following SA shots tend to land on target more often than the first DA shots.

    I would argue that under high stress, the need to hold the gun securely for a DA trigger pull would be more likely to result in the gross motor full hand squeeze so as to be able to get the trigger pulled completely to discharge the gun. That gross squeeze is not going to lend itself to keeping the shooting platform properly aligned unless your hand and arm are already oriented/aligned to the bad guy in the position where the hand and fist naturally align when you make a fist. If not, the squeeze will tend to change the orientation of the gun to align with the arm/fist and if the arm/fist aren't on target, then the gun is going to discharge away from the intended impact area.

    Because of the extra strength needed for many DA triggers, shooters tend to use many more muscles to properly hold the gun and depress the trigger. There is a lot more balancing of the gross motor muscle movement because the trigger pull requires that much more strength and muscle movement to pull the trigger (compared to the relatively very short and light trigger pull of a SA trigger). The result is that the shooter is more likely to not keep the sights on target.
  6. Sean Smith

    Sean Smith Well-Known Member

    A simple fact of life is that short, light triggers are easier to hit with than long, heavy triggers for the vast majority of shooters. That's why single action triggers dominate every competition class that they are allowed in, and are specifically excluded as an "unfair advantage" in others. Match streess sure isn't combat stress, but it is stress above and beyond shooting at tin cans for fun, and the rule still holds there. If the heavy trigger is an obstacle to accuracy when you are calm and can take your time, it will only be a BIGGER obstacle to accuracy when you are agitated and have to shoot rapidly, not a smaller one. Stress makes everything harder, and nothing easier.

    This doesn't invalidate DA handguns as weapons, but it does mean that they have a built-in disadvantage that has to be overcome when it comes to hitting the target expeditiously. Of course, every handgun design has some limitations, since they are all compromise weapons. You just have to pick which limitations you can live with.
  7. 10-Ring

    10-Ring Well-Known Member

    It will also be affected by how much practice you put into mastering a DA trigger & the DA/SA transition. Having the muscle memory already established so that it just kicks in during a time of stress is key.
  8. C.R.Sam

    C.R.Sam Moderator Emeritus

    I heard a tale bout a kid named Alvin.

    Seems that quite a few years ago Alvin the rifleman got into a rather stressful dust-up where he used a single action 1911 (not A1) to down seven advancing armed bad guys. One shot each.

    Wonder what he could have done with adequate training and proper trigger management. :D

    Oh... lots of folks refer to him as Sgt York.

  9. mete

    mete Well-Known Member

    DA/SA guns have a problem because of the great difference between trigger pull of the first and subsequent shots. Better for combat use is a good DAO trigger , that is a smooth 8-9 lb pull. When it all hits the fan there are physiological changes which make fine motor controll difficult so a DAO trigger may be the better choice.
  10. Mikul

    Mikul Well-Known Member

    This is something we all try to avoid when shooting. By tensing your grip on the gun while you pull the trigger, you are moving the gun, usually to the outside. You may get a decent group if you can do it consistently, but it'll probably be four inches to the right.

    If you're going to jerk the trigger, it doesn't matter which action you have. First, stop doing that! Second, get a gun the fits your hand properly.
  11. Brian D.

    Brian D. Well-Known Member


    I believe that somebody over at The 1911 Forum--not me, BTW--sorta alluded to the idea that you're maybe thinkin' too much, and shootin' too little. They may be on to something there...step away from the keyboard, and hie thee to the range! (Hey, that sounds like real good advice, I'm gonna do that myself tomorrow, just like yesterday!)
  12. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

    C.R. Sam, you are a funny man. You picked a great, albeit unfair example. Alvin York was an amazing shooter. My guess is that he could shoot just about anything that had rudimentary sights. While there is no such thing as natural shooting skills, York must have come awfully close by having natural skills that complimented the task of shooting very well. Lucky man. Chuck Yeager was also similarly lucky as a fighter pilot. He had a better visual accuity than just about all of the other pilots and had the ability to spot enemy planes as much as 20 seconds or so before his comrads and could lead them to their prey. That allowed for gaining significant tactical advantages.

    In reading about York's shooting abilities, I have to wonder if he too didn't have similarly amazing vision, potentially combined with an ability to mentally project POI from varied POA as he seemed to excel in shooting at quite varied distances in quick succession without adjustment to his sights and land his shots as needed.
  13. .45FMJoe

    .45FMJoe Well-Known Member

    Oh boy did I open up a can of worms on me! For the record, I would like to state I make an honest attempt to shoot my CCW guns (glock and back-up kel-tec) once a week! I really do! I just happen to overanalyze things all the time, and when some weird thought pops into my mind, I get stuck on it. So I decided to see what everyone else thought.

    Oh, and all my guns do fit my hands (except for the kel-tec) I was just making rationalizations.
  14. Hardtarget

    Hardtarget Well-Known Member

    When I first started concealed carry I used a Colt revolver. After three years my family gave me a new pistol as a birthday present. They did a good, sneaky job of casual conversation to find out the specific pistol I would go to if I ever made that change. I'm left handed so I thought a DAO would be the perfect choice...no need for an ambidexterous safty...no de-cocker or anything else to learn. Almost the same as my DA Colt revolver.
    I don't think I've shot it enough to say much about my groups,(not as good as the revolver), even though I'm on the paper. I just think that the DAO trigger will make me feel more at ease with the gun during that high stress period after a self defense "event". I know...finger off the trigger...its safe, but nerves and adrenalin :eek: I just like the DAO trigger. Just me .
  15. C.R.Sam

    C.R.Sam Moderator Emeritus

    Probably not; but some folks sho do learn quick. And others have to work hard and long to get to excellance.

    I've seen it in shootin and flyin.

    One zenish idea that I won't dismiss is the concept of doing something in a manner that does not require conscious controlling of the machine...gun or plane.
    Rather the trained brain selects the procedure and the body and machine react as one.

    Vision and aces. During the Korean dustup it was found that most , if not all, of our aces had 20-10 vision or better. But....many wore glasses to get there.

    Vision and shooting. Many of the world class shooters do not have particularly good vision.

    I think there are two ways to the top.
    Hard work and a natural something....
    Work your tail off for a long time.


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