Why Are Some Shooters Switching Back To Double-Action Autos?

chris baker
Lucky Gunner’s Chris Baker, shooting a Beretta 92 variant.

Over at Lucky Gunner Lounge, Chris Baker has a very compelling explanation for his decision to go against prevailing trends in defensive handguns toward striker-fired guns, back to traditional DA/SA (double-action/single-action) designs.

So now several years down the road, it might seem strange that have recently switched back to primarily shooting and carrying double action pistols. There’s a reason for it, and it goes back to the reason double action pistols were invented to begin with, and that is balancing shootability with safety. Traditional double action handguns offer more layers of safety compared to striker fired or single action pistols. I can’t really explain it any better than the late Todd Green, so I’m just going to quote a forum post of his from a few years back:

“[With] a trigger pull that is both longer and heavier than most other actions, there is far more tactile feedback that the trigger is being pulled in between the start of inadvertent unintentional movement and the Big Loud Noise. We’ve lost sight of this as a community with the prevalence of ever lighter and shorter striker fired action triggers and candidly I doubt we’ll see the pendulum swing back any time soon… The shooting community always blames the operator for every accident and never considers the role that equipment plays in making some guns more or less likely to facilitate those accidents.”

What that means is that if you mess up and get on the trigger too early — which happens a lot to people under stress — or if you think you need to shoot someone and then realize you don’t, the length of travel of the double action trigger gives you an extra split second to correct your course of action before you put a bullet somewhere it doesn’t belong.

Double action pistols are also safer when it comes to holstering the gun. This is probably the most dangerous thing we do with our handguns, and it’s when a lot of accidents happen. With a double action pistol, you can put your thumb on the hammer after you de-cock, and that way, it’s impossible for the gun to discharge if you accidentally leave your finger on the trigger or you get a strap or a piece of shirt caught in the trigger guard. And if you don’t remember to de-cock the gun or thumb the hammer, then you’re really just a pound or two of pressure away from where you’d be with a striker fired gun anyway.

But the advantages of traditional double action pistols aren’t just safety related. It’s also possible to reach a very high level of performance with these guns if you master the double action trigger. Once you get past that first shot, you’ve got a very short trigger reset and usually a really nice single action trigger that’s superior to just about any striker fired gun.

I think I’m coming around to Chris’s theory that more people don’t shoot DA/SA guns well because many instructors simply don’t know the system well enough to teach it, which is a bit different than shooting a single-action or striker-fired gun. When you don’t have a lot of instructors who understand a given system or find it too hard to teach, the system simply doesn’t get the advocacy or respect it deserves. Students of defensive shooting then end up having to learn through the slower process of trial and error.

Right now my EDC (everyday carry) gun is a CZ P07 in a Dark Star Gear P09 appendix carry holster. I’ve run roughly 2,500 rounds through it in the past 3 months. I’m starting to do some work with its recently-arrived big brother, the CZ P09, as well. I’ve run about 800 rounds through a friend’s gun, and recently acquired a P09 for review.

I don’t see moving away from this family of handguns any time soon, as they’ve work flawlessly from the factory for me so far.

Are Chris and I and other DA/SA converts being contrarians, or are we part of a trend? I honestly don’t know.  I can tell you that I’ve seen more DA/SA guns in my self-defense classes within the past year, as the advantages that Chris points out in his article seem to be striking a chord with many other shooters as well.