Single Action Vs Double Action: What’s the Difference?


New shooters might rightly ask, “What Are The Differences Between Double-Action and Single-Action Triggers?” There are a lot, in fact. We’ll cover the basics below:

Double Action Vs Single Action Triggers

A Double Action (DA) trigger allows the user to fire a pistol or revolver in two ways; either by pulling the trigger or cocking the hammer back then pulling the trigger. With a Single Action (SA) trigger, the only way the pistol or revolver can be fired is by first cocking the hammer and then pulling the trigger.

Single Action triggers or SA triggers were the first type of trigger used on revolvers. These are the triggers commonly found on cowboy revolvers and revolvers from the Old West. These revolvers employed a single action or SA triggers that requires the user to cock back the hammer then press the trigger to fire the revolver. Double action triggers or DA triggers originated on revolvers in an effort by revolver manufacturers to make revolvers faster to shoot. Double Action triggers or DA triggers only require that the user press the trigger to fire the revolver which makes shooting the revolver much quicker because there is no need to cock the hammer like with Single Action trigger.


What Is A DA/SA Trigger?

Most modern double action revolvers, like a Smith & Wesson Model 10 or Ruger GP100 use a DA/SA (Double Action/Single Action) trigger which is a combination of both a DA and SA trigger. There are also a number of semi-automatic pistols that use a DA/SA style trigger like a SIG P226 and Beretta M9. With these revolvers and pistols the first shot is in DA or double action mode. Subsequent shots with a DA revolvers can be fired by just pressing the trigger. A DA or double action trigger has a heavier pull weight than a SA or Single Action trigger. Many semi-automatic platforms also employ a DA/SA where the first shot can be fired in DA mode by just pressing the trigger. Subsequent shots are then fired in SA or Single Action mode since the semi-automatic pistols mechanism cocks the hammer for the next shot.

What Is Better: Single Action vs Double Action Trigger?

Both a DA and SA trigger get the job done, but there are some advantages with a DA trigger on both revolvers and semi-automatic pistols. With a DA or Double Action revolver trigger the user can fired more rounds more quickly compared to a SA trigger. The characteristics with a Double Action trigger is that the DA trigger pull can be long and take more finger strength. On the plus side the harder it is to pull the trigger the less likely the gun will accidentally or unintentionally fire. Single Action or SA triggers typically provide a crisp and clean trigger break and require less effort to press the trigger. A SA or Single Action trigger is also takes more effort to operate as the hammer needs to be cocked before the shot is fired.


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