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Single Action Vs Double Action

One of the lessons that I cover in my Beginner class is about Single Action and Double Action. I get a lot of questions about what the differences are.


Single Action

With single-action handguns (SA), pulling the trigger performs only one function.

The hammer or the striker moves and fires the gun when the shooter pulls the trigger.

So how does the handgun get cocked? In a single-action semi-automatic handgun, the firearm is cocked when the slide is racked, and the recoil and slide movement automatically cock the firearm for each subsequent shot.


Double Action

The mechanical parts perform two functions each time the trigger is pulled

The trigger both cocks the hammer (or striker) of the firearm which prepares for the actual firing to take place and then fires the handgun

For each single trigger pull, the gun is performing two actions, and that is why it is called a “double” action

Your double-action trigger pull will be heavier due to performing two functions.


I tell all my students to ensure they read their owner’s manual to better understand their firearms operations. It is especially important that you do your research and try out different firearms before you make your choice.


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