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Why not cock a DA revolver?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by NoirFan, Aug 3, 2011.

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  1. NoirFan

    NoirFan Member

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    Hello, I've read lot of threads where people say not to cock a DA revolver in a defensive situation, mostly for two reasons:

    1) It shows some level of bloodlust or premediation, and can be used against you in court. The prosecutor can say, "The shooter had the time and presence of mind to cock his gun, and purposefully escalated the danger of the situation" or some such.

    2) The light SA pull on a revolver makes it go off too easily in the hands of a nervous shooter, and may cause an unintentional shooting of the attacker.

    But I started thinking about these reasons and wondering, why don't people say this about the 1911 or other SA automatics? The 1911 also requires a seperate thumb action to make ready, and has a similarly light trigger pull to a cocked revolver. Why don't DA revolver shooters train to cock off the draw the way 1911 shooters unsafe off the draw?
     
  2. gunsablazin

    gunsablazin Member

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    The 1911 can be put back on safe if it's not fired, the DA revolver must be manually de-cocked, and that may not be a safe thing to do with adrenaline pumping through your system. Self defense shooting is mostly a very short range proposition, so the need for cocking a revolver is unlikely.
     
  3. Vartarg

    Vartarg Member

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    A 1911 is properly carried in Condition 1: cocked and locked.....no hammer cocking required.

    In a crisis, life threatening scenario, fine motor skills go downhill rapidly and it's best to train with a revolver using the DA technique: smooth, practiced trigger pull. It's the same reason why almost no one would recommend carrying a SA revolver for CCW. Would it work? Sure....but is it the best tool for the job? IMHO, no.
     
  4. Loosedhorse

    Loosedhorse member

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    1. Well, if you cock your DA revolver, and then engage its manual safety :)D) then you are in an equivalent situation.
    2. They DO say that about SA semis, in that it may well cost you more to defend yourself legally after a SD shooting if you used a SA rather than DA gun. And most people would tell you not to cock the hammer on a DA semi for the first shot, either.
    3. WHY cock the gun? So the attacker gets frightened, just like when you rack a shotgun? So you can aim that 50-yard SD shot better :confused:;)?
    In this much, I agree with you: if you're carrying a standard DA gun, there is nothing that prevents someone (the person shot, his civil plaintiff's attorney, or a DA) from claiming that you did indeed recklessly cock the gun and accidently shoot the person. Accident negates the claim of self-defense.

    So, since you've decided to accept that risk just by carrying a DA (not DAO) gun...why NOT cock it? ;):D
    I don't unsafe off the draw. I unsafe when the target is in sight. If the target is in sight as I draw, then I unsafe as I clear the holster--but that is not the same thing.

    Also, you can fire the DA revolver without cocking, so it is unnecessary. I cannot fire a 1911 without taking off the safety, so I have to train to do it sometime. I have to.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2011
  5. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    I think the better question is WHY?

    You have the "why nots" down pretty well (especially the danger of an extremely light trigger pull with shakey hands, and the risks of de-cocking with sweaty, shakey hands) but what is the point of cocking a DA revolver in a self-defense situation?

    The gun will do exactly what it is supposed to do when you pull that trigger DA-style. You will be just as accurate (or inaccurate) at self-defense distances DA as you would SA -- especially considering the "3-shots, 3-feet, 3 seconds" conditions under which most self-defense shootings occurr.

    And, now you've got this superfluous extra step you're performing instead of putting your focus where it needs to be -- and all you've done is increase your risk of inadvertantly discharging the weapon.

    SA pulls on DA guns tend to be not just light, but scary light. While a very good service (or even practical match) trigger on a 1911 might be as light as 4-5 lbs, generally, backed up by a thumb safety, the SA pulls on many DA wheelguns are half that.
     
  6. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I know of three cases of AD from inappropriate cocking of a DA revolver.
    Two were women. "Well, sweetie, you are not strong enough to rack the slide of an automatic or smart enough to remember what all those buttons and levers do, so we will get you a nice simple DA revolver." These women soon figured out that they could also avoid the tough DA trigger pull of a stock revolver by cocking to fire SA. It was when they cocked their guns to check out something that went bump in the night that the trouble began. One was startled by the cat and dumped a round into the water bed, fortunately hitting the rail and not the membrane. The other got through the house and shot a hole in the floor whilst attempting to decock.
    The third case was an experienced shooter who got a little casual handling his revolver. I think he got it cocked, was distracted by a question and then just pulled the trigger. Fortunately into the store floor.
     
  7. RickMD

    RickMD Member

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    At one of our local gun shops an elderly lady walked in waving a cocked and loaded 36 Smith around like it was a pom pom. The guys in the shop were jumping everywhere for cover. She cocked it and brought it to the store because she didn't know how to decock it...
     
  8. Kiln

    Kiln Member

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    I personally doubt that you will get pre-meditated charges just for cocking the gun first as long as you're in the right...if you accidentally flinch and end up shooting somebody who is now passive that is a different story. Same with hand loaded ammo being used in self defense, I've never actually heard of this being an issue but alot of people take it into consideration when selecting a SD ammo.
     
  9. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine Member

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    I do.
    The only time I shoot DA is for speed on the second shot, or practice, or sometimes the first DA shot with some semi autos.

    I can shoot DA just fine. I just see no reason for a competent shooter not take advantage of the better trigger SA gives you.

    I learned to shoot when cocking the hammer was the normal thing. When I teach a new shooter, one of the first things, the first day, they must become proficient in is manually de-cocking handguns and shootng DA and SA.

    I have drawn my revolver 4 times with the intention of shooting someone. Every time the hammer was cocked on the way to pointing at the person and it didn't slow me down a bit.
    Not one time did I shoot the person because I was "excited".
    Every time, I had no problem de-cocking the hammer because I was too worked up.


    Most reasons for not cocking the hammer have to do with incompetent, untrained or poorly trained people using the gun. Not taking advantage of SA because the operator may be too stupid to do so is a poor excuse to say no one should shoot SA.


    Learn to handle your revolver and learn to shoot DA and SA well. Problem solved.



    .
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2011
  10. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    Heh... like we always say, you aren't "in the right" until the DA and/or jury SAY you were "in the right." Can saying, "I cocked the hammer and took careful aim ..." (or whatever) cause them to believe you might have had another means of solving the problem (in other words, didn't HAVE to shoot)? Anything is possible.

    Not something I'd worry about a whole lot -- I have PLENTY of reasons not to go cocking that hammer as it is, and not a single one I can think of to argue in favor of it.

    Yes, but you have flinches, sympathetic grip response, bumping into furniture or a door frame with your finger too close to the bang switch, and any number of other possibilities that might cause you to fire inadvertently -- either into the attacker/invader ... or just randomly into the floor, ceiling, kids' room, etc.

    We aren't talking about a shooting match (when I wouldn't use SA anyway) or a nice day plinking at the range. Being good or bad (or "incompetent") doesn't enter into it. You're in a potential fight-or-die situation. You will be stressed, shaking, sweating, and your fine motor control will decline precipitously. SA is an unnecessary heightened risk with no benefits.

    Actually, that's another one that's frequently misunderstood. The risk that you will be over-zealously prosecuted because you used hand-loaded ammo is less significant than the fact that your home-made ammo won't be testable (well...admissible if tested) in instances where the ammo's characteristics could help you prove your self-defense case.
     
  11. roaddog28

    roaddog28 Member

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    The answer is obvious. SA/DA revolvers are safer when used in double action. That is why "back in the day" alot of law enforcement agencies modified their officers carry revolvers to be double action only. There were accidents by officers accidental discharge of their revolver because they cocked it. That is also why todays law enforcement agencies require their officers to carry longer trigger pull semi-autos for safety.
    Regards,
    Howard
     
  12. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine Member

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    Thanks for making my point roaddog28. DA is mostly promoted because far too many shooters are too incompetent to safely handle a "complicated" SA/DA gun.:rolleyes:

    BTW using law enforcement people as a good reason to promote a gun program is a poor reason.
    I was a city Policeman even before, "back in the day" and very, very few LEO could shoot worth a darn or even had any interest in guns.
    One Officer emptied two 38 revolvers at a fleeing suspect and just clipped his ear once. One bullet did kill a man sitting in his car reading a newspaper.

    Long story, but just me and a friend beat a whole County Police pistol team in a shooting match. Our combined score was higher than their whole team's combined score and they were the best they had.:what:
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2011
  13. PTT

    PTT Member

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    I know of plenty of departments issuing 1911s. I also know of several departments that allow their officers to put the lighter trigger parts in their Glocks.

    The hit rate in shooting situations is already abysmal (something like 20%), so why not allow officers to have something they are more likely to hit the target with instead of a bystander.

    Departments that require DAO are being lazy, blaming accidental discharges on equipment instead of admitting that their training is substandard.
     
  14. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Here's my take on the question:

    99.99% of the time...in a self-defensive shooting...neither the need nor the opportunity to thumb-cock the piece will present itself, and even if it does, it's not likely that anyone will notice unless you do deliberately execute the other guy...in which case you probably should go to jail for murder.

    But...

    I want the option in place for that off-chance that a careful, deliberate shot at longer range will be needed. It doesn't have a negative impact on the gun's function, and it ain't eatin' anything.
     
  15. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine Member

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    And this has carried over to the private sector until now people are lead to believe that being able to handle a SA/DA revolver is something only the gods can do safely.


    The manufacturers even purposely put long terrible DA triggers on defense guns so the "dumb" operators don't accidentally shoot themselves or someone else.


    Oh well, I guess it's all part of dumbing down the population.


    There you go.:)
     
  16. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Only if you weren't in imminent unlawful deadly peril. If you were, EVEN IF THE SHOOTING WAS AN ACCIDENT, then the justification applies. Imagine if you're about to be killed by a criminal. You trip and fall, accidentally knocking a heavy vase off a bookshelf which kills him. The fact that you accidentally killed him doesn't mean you're guilty of murder or indeed of any crime. Self defense doesn't turn on what's going on in your mind or your intentions. It turns on the level of threat you're under and its imminence.

    The reason we don't cock revolvers for self defense is simply because it's too easy to accidentally kill someone or have an ND AFTER the threat has ceased. It's really the same reason we don't carry revolvers cocked in general.

    The only circumstance I can think of where you might use SA in self defense is if you have only a SA revolver (on the trail for example or while hunting) or in the very unusual circumstance of having to make a shot beyond 20 yards when you have an opportunity to aim and the shooter is actively killing people in spree style. But even then you'll probably miss and get killed when he returns fire.

    Nothing wrong with becoming proficient, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea. Holding someone at gunpoint is a dicey situation fraught with risks and the potential for physical contact.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2011
  17. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    I can't agree with this, at least not the way it is explained in that paragraph.

    The first step in presenting the affirmative defense of "self-defense" is to say, "I shot this man, deliberately, and here's why..."

    You are admitting to committing a homicide (or assault), which is a felonious offense, and then you are throwing yourself on the mercy of the court with an explanation of why you had to break the law.

    "Yes, I shot/killed that man, purposefully, and I had to because I had a reasonable belief that he was going to kill me, immediately, if I did not stop him."

    That is the soul of an affirmative defense.

    When you say, "Whoops. ... Well, I didn't mean to, but it turned out ok because he was a baddie..." (the "Frank Drebin" defense?) you've just killed off the validity of your own defense case.

    Any time you give the DA or the jury a reason to believe that you weren't in great enough fear for your life to deliberately shoot/kill another person, you're telling them that you, right there in that moment, were NOT justified in doing so. At that point, you may argue that your homicide wasn't deliberate, but you are almost certainly gulty of involuntary manslaughter at least.
     
  18. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Admittedly it's going to be very unusual to ever have an accidental killing that's justified as self defense. But the hypothetical helps to understand how self defense works. A lot of people think that the specific intent of the shooter is the key, but it isn't. The reasonable belief of the shooter matters under many codes, so it's possible if the victim never saw the would-be killer but accidentally killed him self defense would not apply. But the personal intent of the shooter and his desires are not a factor unless they cause the shooter to exceed the bounds of permissible self defense.

    Just as the defense serves to excuse or even justify conduct which would be homicide, it would justify conduct which would be manslaughter or negligent homicide--assuming the accident could even be classified as either. At least under the codes I'm aware of.

    You're confusing reasonable belief of imminent unlawful deadly peril with intent. Those are two different things. In my hypo, the victim DID reasonably believe he was about to be killed. He was unarmed and trying to escape. In his flight he knocked over the vase and killed the criminal. Though unintended and accidental, it would be justified unless the code for some reason excludes manslaughter or negligent homicide from the scope of deadly force in self defense. Even if it did, the circumstances of the vase killing would likely not even come under the definition of negligent homicide, since it would be a real stretch to blame the victim for running away without sufficient due care.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2011
  19. ny32182

    ny32182 Member

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    If thumb cocking the hammer to get single action shot led to getting shots on target faster, top level revolver competitors would do it.... they don't. They learn to pull the trigger smoothly in double action, which takes less time than thumb cocking a hammer.

    This isn't strictly a revolver question by the way... most DA auto would apply as well.
     
  20. kk0g

    kk0g Member

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    First of all you won't have the time to cock the gun, fights happen VERY fast. Second of all you don't need to at all, the minimal increase in accuracy provided by firing single action is not required. What you need is combat accurate hits as quickly as possible.
     
  21. Mike1234567

    Mike1234567 member

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    I can't see any real advantage of cocking a DA revolver in a SD situation. All it can do is increase the intimidation factor or just irritate the attaker more.
     
  22. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

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    Suppose some thug was holding your wife hostage and you had to take carefuly aim head shot? Would you cock your DA revolver then?
    I like having that option.

    It is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
     
  23. rondog

    rondog Member

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    How exactly would anybody KNOW you used your revolver in single action, unless you told them so? **** and have no problem.
     
  24. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    Yes, agreed.

    I'm not sure I understand why you believe that. The only INTENT which meets the standards for an affirmative defense for homicide (in most jurisdictions) is the reasonable belief in an immediate need to act to prevent loss of life or other grievous felonious injury. The willful decision to shoot is a compelling part of your self-defense claim. (See last paragraph.)

    Of course.

    Manslaughter, sure. Negligent homicide? I don't think so. Usually the law is written something like, "It shall be an affirmative defense to the crime of manslaughter if the accused can establish that he had a reasonable belief that ..." Can you find a citation of a legal code that offers an affirmative defense of self-defense, that excuses an accident or negligence? That would be most instructive.

    I don't believe I am. How am I confusing them? I am saying that BOTH need to be present to claim self-defense. I may be wrong, but I'd like to see it in either black-letter or case law.

    That is a very interesting hypothetical case, I can see your point, but I don't believe this would be a situation where a defense of "self-defense" could apply.

    In the case of a self-defense shooting, the fact that you chose to shoot someone is part of your proof of your self-defense case. "I was so certain that I would die if I did not act, that I pulled the trigger..." When you say, "The gun went off accidentally ..." you're saying that you hadn't yet reached a decision to fire, which does establish that even YOU -- in that moment of fear and danger -- weren't convinced that the threat was sufficient to deploy lethal force.
     
  25. roaddog28

    roaddog28 Member

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    No this is more about a legal issue if a agency allows their officers to modify their carry weapon. And in my area I know of no agencies that permitt their officers to carry 1911s.
    Regards,
    Howard
     
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