New Shooter’s Guide: What’s A Double Action/Single Action Trigger?


Some elements of firearms terminology can be confusing for new shooters. One of the more problematic are descriptions of trigger operation. But we can clear this up right quick.

What’s A Double Action/Single Action Trigger?

A Double Action/Single Action (DA/SA) trigger combines the characteristics of both a double action trigger pull and a single action trigger pull. A DA/SA trigger is designed to allow the trigger to cock and fire the gun in DA mode, or is SA mode the hammer can manually cocked and locked back and then the trigger is pressed to fire the gun. The user can choose from either a long, heavy double action trigger pull or a short, light single action trigger pull. DA/SA triggers are found on both revolvers and semi-automatic pistols. While the DA/SA trigger is similar on both semi-automatic pistols and revolvers there are differences.

What Is A Revolver DA/SA Trigger?

A Colt Python and Ruger SP101 are examples of a modern DA/SA revolver. With either revolver the user can pull the trigger in DA mode. Using the trigger in DA mode allows the user to fire the revolver more quickly. The compromise using a DA trigger or double action trigger on a revolver is the DA trigger pull is heavy and long, and requires strong hands for accurate shooting. On the plus side the DA trigger or double action trigger, requires a deliberate press of the trigger to fire the gun limiting the chances of an accidental discharge. Users of DA/SA revolvers can also opt for using the trigger in SA mode.  In Single Action trigger or SA trigger mode, the user needs to cock back the hammer then press the trigger to fire the revolver. Revolvers with Double Action/Single Action triggers are excellent choices for defense and conceal carry. Larger caliber and rimfire DA/SA revolvers are well suited for hunting big game and small game, respectively.

What Is A Pistol DA/SA Trigger?

Semi-automatic DA/SA pistols offer similar characteristics as DA/SA revolver. With a DA/SA semi-automatic pistol, the user can pull the trigger in DA mode to cock and fire the pistol. Like a DA/SA revolver the DA trigger on a DA/SA semi-automatic pistol is long and heavy requiring the user to deliberately fire the pistol. The difference between a DA/SA semi-automatic pistol and DA/SA revolver is when the DA/SA semi-automatic pistol fires, the slide cycles to eject the empty case, cocks the hammer, and loads a cartridge into the chamber. The difference is the pistol cocks the hammer and puts the trigger in SA or Single Action mode. With a DA/SA semi-automatic pistol the trigger changes from DA mode to SA after the first shot is fired and the pistol trigger stays in SA mode until he magazine is empty.

Article and photos by Gun Tests Contributing Editor Robert Sadowski.


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