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Benefits and Drawbacks to Double Action Concealed Carry Guns

I carry a DAO (double action only) revolver on a semi-regular basis. I also know several people who carry one as a backup gun in an ankle rig, or friends who carry a CZ 75 or Beretta 92fs everyday.

And, the first handgun I ever shot was an M9 Beretta in the Marines that I BARELY qualified with on my first qual.

Here are some of the main benefits and drawbacks to carrying a double action gun, and yes I kind of lumped revolvers and semi-autos together pointing out specifics to each.

The Benefits:

We'll start with the main benefit, which is the one stated by many who carry a double action gun for concealed or open carry.

Trigger Pull –

The main benefit to owning and carrying a double action revolver or DA/SA semi-auto pistol (which is also the main drawback for many people) is the trigger.

While the long, heavy trigger pull of a double action gun can be a deterrent to some people who prefer the short, crisp pull of a single action only gun or any striker-fired guns, the long trigger does serve a purpose: safety.

For safety reasons you should never put your finger on the trigger of any gun until you mean to fire it, still, negligence happens.

With a DA gun a deliberate pull of the trigger must take place in order to actually fire the gun. And, in fact, more experienced DA shooters will count that as another benefit.

Decision Time –

I've heard it said that because of the long, heavy trigger you actually give yourself more time to successfully decide if you're going to pull the trigger.

While I subscribe to the thought that you should only draw your gun from your holster if you need to defend life, I understand that sometimes things can change on the fly.

For example, an innocent bystander appears behind your attacker or the threat disappears.

Easy to Operate –

For DA revolvers, it really doesn't get much simpler. Simply load up your cylinder, aim, and shoot. For someone who can get easily confused on how things operate a DAO revolver is a great option.

Of course, this simplicity comes at the price of capacity, but those of us who carry revolvers are well aware of this.

The Drawbacks:

As with anything where there are benefits, there are also drawbacks. What you have to do is weigh them out and see which one carries more weight.

The Trigger –

The main drawback is the trigger, which also causes most of the other issues we'll talk about in the rest of the article.

The problem is that because double action triggers tend to be so very heavy, it can be hard to learn how to master them.

Remember a moment ago when I told you that I barely qualified the first time out with my M9 while in the Marines? I couldn't grasp how the trigger worked.

On the first pull it felt one way, and was totally different for the subsequent pulls.

After practice, as with all things, I got better.

What do I mean? DA/SA pistols like the aforementioned M9/92f only have that long, heavy trigger pull on the first shot.

Because the first shot is DA with the slide reciprocating into the hammer, it pushes it into the open/up position, a much lighter SA trigger follows for each shot thereafter.

I feel as though I should note that revolvers don't do this. In order to get the SA out of a DA/SA revolver, you must manually pull the hammer back on each shot.

Harder to learn –

There are a couple reasons why the DA/SA semi-auto pistols are a bit harder to learn than your average striker-fired guns are.

The first reason being that it is harder to master the trigger. You can train for this, but it will take longer for someone to master the trigger on a DA gun.

Another thing to keep in mind if you're shooting a DA/SA pistol which is something you have to ingrain into your muscle memory is making sure you flip the de-cocking lever to put the hammer in the down/forward position before you re-holster your firearm.

To do otherwise could prove to be dangerous.

Harder to be accurate –

I've seen what I'm about to explain to you a few different times: some shooters need to jerk the trigger in such a way that almost their entire arm moves because their trigger finger lacks the sufficient strength needed for a smooth pull.

As you can imagine, this wreaks havoc on your accuracy.

Even if you don't have that particular issue, getting used to the heavy trigger can be hard for some shooters.

Conclusion:

As with all things, there are benefits and drawbacks to the DA guns that many of us have come to love and rely on for self-defense.

The most important thing for any of us is to make sure we're proficient with our carry guns should we ever need to defend ourselves with our guns.

Do you carry a double action gun on your person? If so, how well do you shoot it? Let us know in the comments below.

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12 Responses to Benefits and Drawbacks to Double Action Concealed Carry Guns

  1. Michael Ball May 7, 2019 at 7:14 am #

    I carry a double action pocket pistol sometimes it’s nice because it does need to go in a holster however the trigger pull is just long after the first shot as it is after the second Good took a lot of work to be accurate with it got a very short barrel in this caliber than 380 so it is truly only good for self-defense I’m good at hitting paper 8 to 10 feet away do you much further away than that it gets really hard to hit paper it’s just an up close and personal self defense gun it’s easy to put in your pocket and Carrie

  2. Bob Holder May 7, 2019 at 7:22 am #

    I carry a DA only 🔫. I feel safe with the stiffness of the trigger.

  3. Dave Chester May 7, 2019 at 10:58 am #

    I carry striker and da/sa

  4. Austin Phillips May 7, 2019 at 11:40 am #

    As a retired law enforcement officer, I carried both a DA and a Colt commander (cocked and locked) at various times throughout my 30 year career. There were many times while carrying my DA semi-auto, I was glad there was a long first shot trigger pull. Bad guys are unpredictable and on more than one occasion I had to release the pressure off the trigger due to the threat dropping their weapon or complying just before meeting their maker. I worked SWAT for many years and the full auto long guns weren’t so forgiving.

  5. james alexander May 7, 2019 at 11:47 am #

    Simper Fi Marine!

    I am a retired Master Sergeant USMC and retired police Sergeant and my first pistol shoot was with the old 1911 45 cal USMC in 1964. In Vietnam I had a M-14 with a full auto switch. Never used the full auto. It’s rate of fire was faster than a M-60, shorter bolt.

    IN 1971 When I was a cop first duty weapon was 4 in 38 cal rev. then upgrade to 357 Mag rev. THEN we went to Sigs. 9 mm autos Best guns in the world. I still con/carry my old duty weapon 9 mm. 926 sig. My last duty gun was the 10 mm Sig. that is a very great pistol. But like you said first pull is DAO and then SA for the rest, you get used to it!

    I now carry a american derringer two shot 45 colt/410 x 2.5 with 410 loads in it around the home property. with extra ammo. I also have a Springfield 1911 45 cal. Safety on next to bed for sweet dreams. That is a real nice gun but to big to C/C.
    I just got a 410 x 3 pistol grip shotgun with light/red dote laser that backups the 45.

    You never can have to many guns!

    Have a great day.
    Master Sergeant James Alexander

  6. Randy Rissler May 7, 2019 at 1:17 pm #

    Carry a 9mm striker fire sometimes but mostly carry a .40 cal DA., DA trigger pull is comfortable and doesn’t seem to effect much.

  7. Jeff May 7, 2019 at 3:10 pm #

    I carry SAO 1911 styles in 9mm and 380. I couldn’t get the trigger pull down on a DA. Causes me slit of inaccuracies.

  8. Kirk Boand May 7, 2019 at 5:29 pm #

    I carry a DA as well…..for safety.

  9. Yogi May 8, 2019 at 2:04 pm #

    I carry a Glock 30 and love it. Point, aim, shoot, bang; same trigger pull every time!

  10. Garry Graves May 8, 2019 at 11:28 pm #

    I’ve carried a Ruger P89 for decades. The first pull is a bear, but I’m a lot more comfortable depending on a stiff trigger pull than a safety switch that’s, by comparison, rather easily activated/deactivated.

  11. Zachary Tuell May 10, 2019 at 10:06 am #

    Not a big fan of double action, so I carry a 1911 government in 45 (cocked and locked) in a nice sturdy holster by rothco. Yes I open carry this one, haven’t found a poly wonder I like yet to C/C

  12. Albert K. Siewers May 21, 2019 at 6:54 pm #

    Some people have solved the heavy first shot double action problem by changing springs to lower power; an example is CZ 75 P01 which has a decocker and a very heavy first shot pull.

    I have as a concealed gun a Glock 42 which is not as fun to shoot as my CZs. Among the small plastic guns, the 42 had the most decent trigger.

    If I were a policeman, I would have a CZ in my holster.

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