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Staging the trigger. Good thing or bad?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by JellyJar, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. JellyJar

    JellyJar Well-Known Member

    I searched and could not find a thread dedicated to this topic so I hope it is not a duplicate.

    I just bought a new ( to me at least ) S&W revolver and I find in dry firing it that I can "stage" the trigger quite easily. Is this a good thing to practice or not?

    For those of you who may not know this technique it involves pulling the trigger in double action mode until the cylinder turns and locks up. At this point the force necessary to finish pulling the trigger to cause the hammer to fall drops significantly so much that it is much like pulling the trigger in single action mode.

    Using this technique it is possible to shoot DA with almost as much accuracy as shooting SA. However, some think it is a bad practice to follow for a self defense gun as you won't have time to do this normally in a SD secenario.

    What are your opinions?


  2. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    There are shooters in both camps. The top revolver shooters never stage the triggers, but pull them through in one smooth, continuous move...pulling and releasing...and I've found that I shoot better that way. The key is to start slow and smooth and the speed will develop.
  3. It's good for me. It may not be good for you. I like to stage a DA trigger when I want to make a precise shot, but I have 45+ years of shooting handguns, and have really strong trigger control. Your results may vary.
  4. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

    Count me in as one who doesn't recommend staging the DA trigger, and generally thinks it's a bad habit.

    SD aside, I personally think staging the trigger isn't the most accurate way to shoot DA. It amounts to timing the shot, which target shooters generally agree is futile. It also tempts the shooter to yank the trigger NOW!! when everything appears right. Mentally commit to the shot before you start pulling the trigger, then pull straight thought.
  5. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    If you need the precision of a staged DA shot??

    Don't waste your time staging it.
    Just cock it and shoot it SA.
    It's just as fast, and more accurate

    The trigger pull will be much sweeter

  6. BCRider

    BCRider Well-Known Member

    Although I admit to doing it fairly often it's not something I practice or use on purpose and consistently. If I'm shooting for longer distance accuracy in DA I simply slow down the trigger squeeze by just a LITTLE. For close in during my revolver use in IDPA and the local Speed Steel events there's not much time for that so it's just a fast but still progressive squeeze to the break.

    You may think you're doing yourself a favour but I would suggest that in the end it'll reinforce more bad habits than good.

    I'd also suggest that perhaps someone was messing with the main and rebound springs. All my own S&W's have a wonderfully progressive pull right to the release with no sign of the pressure letting off or changing near as I can feel. You may want to look into that.
  7. pendennis

    pendennis Well-Known Member

    If you want a continuously stacking trigger, try a Colt. That's how they're designed. I much prefer the Colt system to the S&W. The S&W system seems "odd" after shooting my Pythons, or Officer's Model Match.

    I agree with others, that the best way to shoot DA, is to squeeze all the way through. You can get used to the way the S&W DA works.
  8. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Well-Known Member

    I think it is a bad idea. It lends itself to discharges when you don't expect them.
  9. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    S&W hammerless (DAO) revolvers are set up to allow staging (not stacking, which is something different). The geometry is actually a bit different from the DA setup in a hammer-type revolver, which is designed for a smooth pull all the way through.

    Stacking is the tendency in some DA revolvers for the trigger pull to become harder as the trigger moves back further. That is due partly to spring compression and partly to the hammer strut (by whatever name) becoming parallel to the top of the trigger. S&W avoids that by transferring leverage from the hammer strut to a trigger-hammer engagement part way through the trigger pull. At that point, in an S&W, the hammer strut (S&W calls it the sear) is no longer touching the trigger and is free to move.

  10. rem1858

    rem1858 Well-Known Member


    First responce is it is not a good thing.
    Unless you are very intimate with that revolver and have practiced doing it with said revolver.

    Single action or learning good smooth double action is the key.

    I tried the staging thing for a bit and it was too unreliable as compared to knowing when the gun will fire in single or double action mode.

    I earned my distinguished revolver badge using single action for the long line and double action for the short line.
    No staging involved.

    Staging seems to be double action at first then transitions into single action.
    Key word is seems, but it is not.
    Take your pistol apart and look at how it is designed.
    Single and doublke action are two separate issues inside the pistols mechanisms.
    It may feel like the same, but it is not the same.

    Like I said initially.
    If you are intimate with your revolver and practice it enough it may be a good thing.


  11. tomrkba

    tomrkba Well-Known Member

    I use staging the trigger as a training tool. The goal is to eliminate it altogether by shortening the pause until it is gone. I think McGivern talks about this in Fast and Fancy Revolver Shooting. If used in this manner, it's really a modified Bump Drill.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2013
  12. Checkman

    Checkman member

    I prefer to stage the trigger. I've done it for years and I don't have issues with AD's. I can pull trigger straight through, but for me staging is better. I don't think one is worse or better than the other. Elmer Keith in his classic "Sixguns" talks about the two achools and addreses the methos he prefered - which was a straight through trigger pull like Ed McGivern. But he states that either method will work.

    Anyway good luck and have fun.
  13. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Jerry Miculek describes/teaches the technique in his revolver videos, so at least one of (well...technically THE) best revolver shooters does use it.

    I don't myself, or very rarely do.
  14. sixgunner455

    sixgunner455 Well-Known Member

    I've found myself doing it with my 642. Not when I'm shooting fast, but it does come along, even taking me by surprise sometimes.
  15. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Well-Known Member

    I sometimes stage the trigger on my Ruger LCR-22 and S&W 442 but it is a little different when you have a DA only choice for me. This is an attempt to take more careful shots. I tend to go single action on regular DA revolvers rather than trying to stage the trigger.

    In a self defense situation, are you going to stage your trigger when you have it pointed at a bad guy and your adrenlin is sky high? Probably not....
  16. 357 Terms

    357 Terms Well-Known Member

    I do it alot with my DAO sp101, only at the range (would never consider it in a SD situation).

    I shoot slightly better staging with that lil Ruger.

    my only other DAO (Smith 442) doesn't stage as easily as the sp101.
  17. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Well-Known Member

    It depends on what you're shooting. Colts stage very nicely, and when Colt was making revolvers, a lot of shooters preferred the Colt trigger. The Smith and Wesson responds better to a straight-through pull. Of course Colt revolvers aren't made any more (except for the SAA and a few Custom Shop Pythons), so many shooters have never seriously used a Colt.
  18. Bikewer

    Bikewer Well-Known Member

    For all the years I carried a revolver on duty, I got quite handy with the technique; can still do it reliably on my little J-frame.
    However, never did see any real purpose for it... As noted, if you have time for aimed fire, why not just thumb the hammer back?

    About 95% of my revolver shooting was DA "combat" shooting anyway...
  19. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Well-Known Member

    A shoot a 642 very well by stacking the trigger. After all, isn't the trigger break supposed to be a surprise?
  20. Hit_Factor

    Hit_Factor Well-Known Member

    After pulling the trigger enough times it's kinda hard to be surprised. I definitely stage the trigger in competitions, this probably more correctly described as working the reset. Some people call it prepping the trigger.

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