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Old October 24, 2012, 09:36 AM   #1
papadork
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SAO, DAO or SA/DA carry pistols

Is there a preferred trigger system with a CCW gun. I did some homework and what I'm getting is this:

SAO - Unsave, like safety bumbing off in a holster
DAO - Not bad if smooth trigger like Kahr CM9
DA/SA - difficult to double-tap

Thanks.
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Old October 24, 2012, 10:18 AM   #2
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They'll all work if you practice and get used to them but DAO is generally simpler in operation (no safeties or at least none you have to use) and better for practice since every trigger pull is the same. Tha's why so many people like Glocks or DA revolvers since all you do is aim and pull the trigger.
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Old October 24, 2012, 10:43 AM   #3
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People carry 1911's all the time and they're SAO. But, they also have a safety that you really do need to use.

Having said that, most police around the country require a DA trigger, at least for the first pull. Those that use revolvers (mostly for backup anymore now) are almost always DAO now, and those models that can be cocked for a SA trigger usually have the hammer spurs bobbed off, or are otherwise converted to DA.

Having said that, there have been prosecutors that have argued that a cocked SA trigger resulted in a ND. In an otherwise bulletproof defense, this can potentially, if the jury believes it, change your status from being not guilty, to guilty of manslaughter. So, something to think about. Massad Ayoob talks a lot about this in many of his books. He recommends a relatively long, heavy, deliberate DA first trigger pull.
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Old October 24, 2012, 12:12 PM   #4
carguychris
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There is no single correct answer to this question. If there was, everybody would be buying the same CCW pistol.
Quote:
SAO - Unsa[f]e, like safety bum[p]ing off in a holster
If the safety bumps off in your holster, you need to get a different holster!

The advantage of SAO pistols is that the trigger is generally short and light, making the pistol easier to shoot well. The main disadvantage is that the safety must be used properly to ensure that the gun goes BANG when you want it to, but ONLY then.
Quote:
DAO - Not bad if smooth trigger like Kahr CM9
Generally agreed.

The main advantage of DAO triggers is overall simplicity of operation. The main disadvantage is that it's fairly difficult to fire rapidly and accurately with a Kahr or DA revolver type trigger. It requires lots of practice. Even seasoned practical shooting competitors have difficulty firing a DAO pistol as quickly as they can shoot with an SAO trigger, or with a DA/SA trigger once past the initial trigger pull.

The main reason for the recent popularity of short-reset DAO striker-fired designs like the Glock is that it's easier to accomplish accurate rapid fire with a shorter trigger travel.
Quote:
DA/SA - difficult to double-tap
Initially yes, but this can be overcome with practice.

The main advantage of a DA/SA design is that such pistols usually* can be carried with the safety off, giving you the best of both worlds in terms of safe carry- you get a heavy first-round pull as a safety factor, yet there's no concern that the gun may be left "off" when you need it to be "on", and rapid follow-up shots are easier. The main disadvantages are (a) handling the DA-to-SA transition and (b) remembering to decock the pistol when appropriate. The DA/SA pistol is arguably the most difficult to operate properly, but the key is practice.

FWIW I used to carry DAO guns pretty much all the time but have recently transitioned to carrying DA/SA more and more.

The key is PRACTICE, regardless of which you choose. There is no "magic bullet" that is best in every situation.

*Some older DA/SA pistols with a combination decocker/safety lever are not totally drop-safe with the lever disengaged; these guns should be carried on-safe like an SAO pistol. However, most newer DA/SA designs are pretty much 100% drop-safe for DA/safety-off carry, so this is not a concern.
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Old October 24, 2012, 02:41 PM   #5
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The other option is striker fired. The Khar mentioned above is striker fired not dao. A striker fired gun operates much like a dao handgun but with a shorter lighter trigger. Also, in the event of a misfire, the trigger must be reset by racking the slide unlike a dao where pulling the trigger would result in another hammer strike.

Glock, M&P, XD, & Khar are examples of striker fired guns.
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Old October 24, 2012, 02:47 PM   #6
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Familiarity is everything IMHO. It's not so much what system you use as are you so familiar with it that you can handle it under stress.
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Old October 24, 2012, 04:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
The other option is striker fired... in the event of a misfire, the trigger must be reset by racking the slide unlike a dao where pulling the trigger would result in another hammer strike.
What you're describing is IMHO better described as a preset DAO trigger, or a DAO trigger without second-strike capability. It doesn't have anything to do with whether or not the gun uses a striker.

The FN 1910 and 1922 and the Springfield XD series are striker-fired but are true SAO; the sear does nothing but release the fully cocked striker. The Walther P99AS uses a striker, but the trigger will operate with the striker partially cocked OR fully decocked.

OTOH the Ruger LCP, Kel-Tecs, and 3rd-gen S&W metal-frame DAO* centerfire autoloaders have preset triggers that must be partially cocked by slide movement before the gun will fire, yet these guns have external hammers!

Although this may seem like arguing over technicalities, this is not really my intent. I prefer to define the trigger system simply by how it operates. If the trigger will only release a fully cocked firing mechanism and does nothing when the gun is fully decocked, the gun is SAO. If the trigger cocks the firing mechanism- either partially OR fully- but there is one type of trigger pull, the gun is DAO. If the trigger pull changes from long and heavy on the first shot to short and light for subsequent shots, it is DA/SA.

*Footnote: standard S&W metal-frame centerfire pistols with decocker/safety levers do NOT require the hammer to be partially cocked before the trigger will operate, but they have a longer and heavier DA pull than the dedicated DAO variants.
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Old October 24, 2012, 07:14 PM   #8
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If you can pull the trigger with the safety off and not get a firing pin strike because it must be reset first, the gun is not a double action. If it is not fully cocked, it isn't a true single action either. Regardless of what the ideal terminology is, the distinction is worth noting.
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Old October 25, 2012, 01:28 PM   #9
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Any of the three trigger systems can be safe and effective if the person both familiarizes himself/herself thoroughly with the pistol and uses a quality, well-maintained holster that covers the trigger. In the absence of either of those criteria, no pistol should be considered safe to carry.
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Old October 25, 2012, 08:51 PM   #10
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I always thought double action to mean the trigger has to activate a striker or hammer, then have it fall/move forward as the sear is released. Whether the slide has to be racked first is secondary.

But anyway, if there's a concern with the DA/SA transition, just thumb the hammer back first. I've found that a lighter hammer spring will make the DA pull easier, helping keep that first shot on target.
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Old October 26, 2012, 11:16 AM   #11
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I'd say that the gun with which you are the most familiar is the one that you should use. I shot a SAO trigger almost every weekend for over ten years, so it would be silly for me to choose something else for self-defense (or hunting, or plinking, or . . .). There's a lot of safety in familiarity.
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Old October 26, 2012, 11:54 AM   #12
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Before you decide, there have probably been more Glock pistols accidentally fired in holsters than any other kind. If the holster pushes the safety off in the holster, the safety probably needs more tension on it. I have a Kimber 1911 that would go off safe when used in my holster. It was a extended safety and was very easy to turn off. I replaced it with a standard 1911 safety fitted correctly, problem solved. The problem with the 1911 it you have to train yourself to hit the safety when you draw. With a DAO you just pull the trigger like a revolver.
Whatever you carry you need to practice til you can put the gun in action, no time to stop and think it over if you ever need to.

There are still a lot of folks who carry revolvers.
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Old October 26, 2012, 12:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
there have probably been more Glock pistols accidentally fired in holsters than any other kind.
I will repeat my assertion that, in the hands of a person familiar with gun safety in general and a Glock pistol in particular, using a good well-maintained holster that covers the trigger, the Glock trigger is safe. If you pull the trigger, a Glock will fire. If you don't, it won't. That happens with a lot of pistols, I have noticed.
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Old October 26, 2012, 12:30 PM   #14
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Sure, each of us has a preference.....

For me its a SAO ....1911 platform ...and its certainly not dangerous.

Some guys like DAK, DAO, Stryker Fired, DA-SA...and some guys like revolvers...( and I like some of each )....

But I come back to the 1911...especially a full sized 5" gun ...with a great trigger...for my primary carry gun.
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Old October 26, 2012, 12:40 PM   #15
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TailGator, I agree and add that there are more glocks out there being carried than probably anything else due to the huge chunk of the law enforcement market they hold. I will also add that if any gun, especially one without a short light single action trigger actually did fire "in the holster", there is something seriously wrong with the holster.
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Old October 26, 2012, 01:01 PM   #16
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hammer fired DA only....

For duty or protection use(s), I'd buy a DA only, hammer fired pistol like the HK P2000 LEM, the SIG P224/P229/P226 DAK or the great Beretta PX4 C format.

Striker fired models like the Glock, M&P, XDm, Kahr etc are impressive but I like the concept of holding my strong/shooting hand thumb down on the pistol's hammer as I re-holster.
Top instructor, legal use of force expert and author Massad Ayoob has trained many LE officers & armed professionals to use this method with DA/DA only revolvers.
DA only pistols also avoid or lower the chance of false claims by DAs/media/criminal investigators that you fired by accident or were reckless.

DA only sidearms are in use with many sworn LE agencies & federal agents nationwide.
A DA only pistol isnt a "race gun" or for target shooting. It's designed to protect you and to save your or other person's life in a critical incident.

CF
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Old October 26, 2012, 01:06 PM   #17
insomni
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I like DAO because it's decently safe, but more importantly, every trigger squeeze is the same. More like a rifle. even thoughits technically nothe same, i group striker in this category as well, which is actually my preferrence.

I think this i s where glocks get a bad rap (not a glock guy), and get called out forND'slikecrazy. I think its glocks success biting them, and due to popularity,you have alot of unsafe/poorly trained people handling a safegun that is probablybetter in experienced hands

Last edited by insomni; October 27, 2012 at 08:32 AM.
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Old October 26, 2012, 01:48 PM   #18
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I carry a DAO but wouldn't mind going to a DA/SA gun. I won't purchase a EDC with a safety, but that's just my personal preference.
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Old October 26, 2012, 01:52 PM   #19
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I carry a 1911 cocked and locked almost exclusively as do my other LEO friends.

However, more to the point, the answer to your question is really a matter of personal preference and what YOU are comfortable with.
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Old October 26, 2012, 02:04 PM   #20
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I loved my DA/SA and practiced with it often. BUT once, without a moments warning, I needed it in a split second. I won the draw, but my second shot was WILD in that instant of adrenaline rush. I was settled for the 3rd. shot, but since the first was good, it was a moot point.
Practice, which you 'plan' for and expect, etc. etc. bears little relationship to reality when no warning, or expectation is present. Years of boredom, followed by seconds of fear can do that to you!
Anyway, I ended up switching to DA/Striker only.
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Old October 26, 2012, 04:31 PM   #21
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SAO- Its safe, especially if it has a grip safety like a 1911. The only "dangerous" part is that people argue that you might forget to flick the safety off and attempt to fire the gun with the safety on (which will give the bad guy the opportunity to kill you).

DAO- Kahr CM9 isn't a DAO gun. It is striker fired and has no repeat strike capability. A Sig P250 is a true DAO semi-auto. What I don't like about DAO guns is that the reset is really long (leads to short stroking) and the trigger tends to be on the heavy side (6-8lbs or more... leads to larger groups/misses).

DA/SA- It removes the chance of forgetting to flick the safety off (if the DA/SA you have doesn't have a safety that is) but it introduces the accuracy penalty of the DAO design with the first DA shot. The transition from DA to SA also hinders accuracy. And, then finally on the third shot you start to see the benefits of a nice SA trigger.


The only "pro" to this action (or so it is argued) is that if you accidentally point your gun at something you don't want to shoot the heavy DA trigger might prevent you from snapping off that first shot under stress. However, my question is how you ended up making the decision to draw your pistol, point it at someone, and put your finger on the trigger without that person threatening your life (because if they didn't, you wouldn't have drawn the gun in the first place right?)

I assert that striker fired pistols are the best for a CCW (or really any defensive handgun in general).
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Old October 26, 2012, 05:52 PM   #22
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"What I don't like about DAO guns is that the reset is really long (leads to short stroking) and the trigger tends to be on the heavy side (6-8lbs or more... leads to larger groups/misses)."


Not to split hairs, but.....what "leads to short stroking" is lousy trigger control, or not being fully trained with that particular trigger/ pistol. As to the trigger weight "leading to larger groups/ misses".....again, that is a function of being competent with the trigger/ pistol. Blaming such things on the design of the trigger is similar to blaming a tee shot on the driver....it's the operator, not the club.
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Old October 26, 2012, 06:52 PM   #23
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I carry a Sig P220R SA/DA. I just prefer a SA/DA, and train constantly with it. I really think that training is the main thing.
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Old October 26, 2012, 07:04 PM   #24
4V50 Gary
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Mine is a DA/SA trigger.

Whatever you carry, train to place the first shot. Train, train and then train some more. It doesn't matter what type of trigger, you must master it and the gun.
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Old October 26, 2012, 07:13 PM   #25
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@wpsdlrg: With the common goal between all of these actions being to accurately launch a bullet at the target. I don't see the point.

Its easy to have "lousy" trigger control when someone is about to kill you. So why wouldn't you use an action that doesn't even allow short-stroking to happen? Why make it harder for yourself? Also, the other downsides of DAO is that because you have to waste time making your finger travel a further distance and keep the gun accurately pointed at the target for a longer period of time while fighting a heavier trigger pull you will suffer in speed or accuracy (if not both) way more than you would with other actions (the first shot of a DA/SA has this problem though).

Now, don't get me wrong. I am 100% for training to use your gun properly. But, a more apt analogy would be trying to tee off with a putter. Even if you are extremely good at driving, using a putter makes it way harder than it needs to be. It is definitely the club that is the problem when you are comparing it to the other options you have.
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