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Old July 18, 2009, 08:45 PM   #1
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DA/SA Emergency Situation question

for a SD situation, a lot of people feel you need to master the DA trigger pull since, seconds count, and you want to pull your gun from your holster, point it at the badguy and pull the trigger. you do not want to waste time thumbing back your hammer.

but what if you heard something bad going down, but you werent in immediate danger. would you cock the hammer back and go investigate, or would you leave it in DA mode, and DA pull.

the reason i ask is my snub nose revolver is DA/SA and the da pull if pretty heavy, and the SA pull is pretty much touch it and it goes off.
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Old July 18, 2009, 08:51 PM   #2
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you've more or less answered your own question...

... "the SA pull is pretty much touch it and it goes off."

Do you really want to investigate in this condition?

The reason most LE agencies want DA used, and some go so far as to issue DAO weapons, is they don't want an officer to shoot a suspect because the officer flinched. The rationale is that the longer, heavier DA pull requires more intent on the shooter's part, and is less likely to result in an accidental shooting.

The only handguns I own that would be in a "cocked" state for "investigation" would be my G21 (only has the one mode) and my CZ75B (cocked and locked - it's easy to drop the thumb safety if you practice).

This is the part where WA will come in and say "cower, cover, cell phone." On the one hand, I don't disagree with WA. On the other hand, I have animals, and most of the time noises at night might need investigation but don't need police involvement.
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Old July 18, 2009, 09:03 PM   #3
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The SA trigger is *too* light; you might accidently shoot it after you've decided to stand-down. However, I've grown up with single-action revolvers and instinctively cock the hammer even on a double-action. I need to practice shooting DA so it feels natural too, because my home defense guns are all DA (one is DA Only, and it's the one I'm most likely to carry)

Cocking the hammer doesn't slow you down at all once you are used to it; it's just not a good idea in a high-stress situation if you don't have to.

I was at the range a few days ago (first time this summer ) with a rifle and some SA revolvers. After shooting at paper for a while, I went over to the metal falling plates. There were a couple of guys there who are guards at the local Federal Prison. They had one lane, and I had the other. I'm left-handed, and I was shooting my Ruger .30 blackhawk one-handed, and cleared all 6 plates relatively quickly. They thought I was shooting with my weak hand and were really impressed. I admitted that I'm a leftie, but I asked them about weak-side shooting, and which eye do you use, etc. They said they have to do that (including a 1-handed reload) to qualify. Then I tried it. I cleared all 6 again in about the same time as I did with my left hand. (maybe just lucky, I dunno) The point (besides bragging a little) is that thumbing the hammer is quick and natural when you are used to it -- even though I'd never done it with my right hand before. It still might not be a good thing to do...

I let one of the guard shoot my .30 revolver and he thought it was a hoot. A lot of fire and fury, and just enough recoil. He didn't want to try the .45 Colt. (I should have asked to shoot his .40SW but I didn't think about it)
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Old July 19, 2009, 12:01 AM   #4
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The only DA/SA gun I have ever owned was a P-85 and I mostly used it in SA but did train alot in DA just in case I was called to task and wasn't able to cock the hammer first.
Since the finger isn't inside the trigger guard until the decision is made that sending one down the pipe is the only viable option, I see little risk of an ND occurring.
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Old July 19, 2009, 12:31 AM   #5
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I really like the DA/SA and that is what I bought for my son(SIG P220). You have to learn to decock but as an old revolver man I like the DA for the first shot.

My training taught, draw it and leave it in DA till you fire and then when done firing, decock.
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Old July 19, 2009, 12:45 AM   #6
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Revolversmith Grant Cunningham makes a great case for DAO here:

Definitely worth the read!

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Old July 19, 2009, 12:53 AM   #7
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And after the first paragraph of Pax's link... I must admit my triggers have never been tuned or what could be called "light" Just cheap ol' stock guns...
I bet the trigger on my HD shotgun is well over 5 pounds... surely more than 4.
I doubt my P-85 was less than 4 but I am going on a 20 year old memory of that reliable weapon.
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Old July 19, 2009, 10:39 AM   #8
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SA is the option if you need a very precise shot with no margin of error. This could be a CNS shot, or a hostage taker, or just an assailant with only a very small portion of their anatomy exposed.

And with a DA/SA, if you are skilled, then the DA option is the way to go. But if like my grandmother, cannot pull a DA trigger, then what? The solution is to make sure you SA pull is not light. Might need a gunsmith to do that but a six lb. SA pull, and good trigger control, is the answer. That and be able to articulate to the police, or grand jury, why you chose the SA option.

Your only real worry is a grey area shooting and some trick lawyer claims you had an AD and it was not self defense. Just make sure you have a good reason for the SA route and can explain it.
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Old July 19, 2009, 10:44 AM   #9
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Ayoob references some police cases where they were taught to go SA with their revolvers and then accidentally shot a nondeserving person. Went to trial. One could argue that they should have had their fingers off the trigger but they didn't.

In the same vein, some human factors research has demonstrated that if you have your finger on the trigger (again - shouldn't) but swing your arm, the forces involved are enough to involuntary cause your finger to activate the trigger. So a fast movemnt could do it.
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Old July 19, 2009, 10:54 AM   #10
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Would I investigate in DA or SA mode? DA mode. Nothing is "lost," from a practical point of view.
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Old July 19, 2009, 11:00 AM   #11
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would you consider waiting for the trigger break worse then the SA because it can accidentally discharge? I do my stuff in DA. If you practice it you will get used to it. Its not hard, just dry fire like 10 minutes a day.
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Old July 20, 2009, 09:01 AM   #12
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Pax's link is part of what persuaded me to go with a DAO gun (or in my case, DAK gun) for home defense. There's a lot of stress involved in these situations, and I'd just as soon not accidentally shoot someone or something because of jitters.
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Old July 20, 2009, 09:47 AM   #13
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I know of two local cases in which a woman checked things out with a cocked revolver in hand and ended with an AD. One was startled and touched off a round, just missing the mattress of her water bed. The other had cleared the house and slipped while easing the hammer down.

MY house gun is a DA-SA auto, and I would not remotely consider cocking it under stress.
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Old July 20, 2009, 09:48 AM   #14
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but what if you heard something bad going down, but you werent in immediate danger. would you cock the hammer back and go investigate, or would you leave it in DA mode, and DA pull.
Neither, unless I had to ensure the safety of a family member. If that situation arose, DA, finger off trigger.

I would not "go investigate." Good way to get killed. No reason to put yourself in harms way when you can avoid it. Let the threat come to you.
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Old July 20, 2009, 10:55 AM   #15
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A revolver in SA is almost a "hair trigger" situation. So is a semi in true SA.

First, you really don't need to be investigating sounds and clearing a house. It's EXTREMELY dangerous, even for trained professionals.

IF you decide to investigate anyway and use SA, DO NOT put your finger anywhere near the trigger until you're sighted ready to shoot. To me, this slight delay in getting to the trigger would equal the slightly longer time it takes to pull though in DA. Once you're practiced and experienced in shooting DA, you'll find it's just about as fast and a LOT safer.
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Old July 20, 2009, 12:38 PM   #16
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This question basically tells me why I want a DA/SA gun. DA on the first shot, SA once the action is hot. Also, with my Sig P226, I could cock and then use the DECOCKING LEVER if desired. I wouldn't be as happy decocking.
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Old July 21, 2009, 12:49 PM   #17
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This was the main determining factor in choosing my newest carry gun. My last main carry gun was 9mm DAO because I dont like to carry in SA but also like to have one in the pipe. I looked at Sigs and FNH because of the ability to rack one in the pipe and then safely decock the gun and puting it into DA mode. I ended up with the FNP .40. Once decocked, the first shot is DA but all successive shots are SA. The first shot would probably not be as accurate but in the heat of a real defensive situation, I don't think it would be a factor at all. There are possibly other guns out there that function the same way but I dont know what all they are. My pocket carry gun is a Bersa .380 CC version and operates the same way but the decocker is also a manual safety. I decock it but leave the safety off. I love both guns and unlike my previous DAO gun, they are fun to shoot so I practice more with them than I did before. I used to practice with my carry gun strictly out of necessity but didnt really enjoy shooting it all that much.

Last edited by SnakeCharmer; July 21, 2009 at 01:05 PM.
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Old July 21, 2009, 01:40 PM   #18
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The FBI's justification for issuing DA/SA autoloaders was that the DA provided a bit of security to insure that the first shot was intentional. If there were subsequent shots, the agent was in a firefight and the easier to use trigger pull would be a benefit.

Neither the DA first shot nor the DA/SA transition is hard to master with practice and focusing on the fundamentals. So, leaving the weapon with the hammer down is typically the best practice. If you have to make a precision/distance shot, the SA option is beneficial and, if a reasonable person would have gone to SA for the shot, it can be legally justified.
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Old July 21, 2009, 02:21 PM   #19
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The gun in question makes a lot of difference. The OP was talking about a revolver, and in a revolver the SA factory pull is usually very light, about 2 3/4 pounds in an S&W, slightly more in a Ruger. SA defense-type autoloader pulls are generally heavier, so a cocked auto pistol is somewhat less subject to accidental firing than a revolver.

A lot comes down to who the person is, what his level of training is, and his familiarity with the gun.

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Old July 21, 2009, 02:21 PM   #20
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My primary shooting has always been SA 1911's, but I see no problem using a DA/SA auto. If I were to start using a DA/SA as my primary gun, I'd train for it by shooting two from the holster, DA then SA, just like it would occur in real life.
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Old July 21, 2009, 08:01 PM   #21
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I dont have any problems with a single or double I used a mod 10 with Bomar rib and the SA is 3lb most guns comming off the line now are much more.I can stand correcting mod 10 is older and my 1911 is 3.5 any less it will wife mod 10 is oh my on single and wow on was made as a da target gun. I would let the intruder come to explaining a da or sa.
I would say I shot them not how I did It.Jim Corrilo in first fire fight wondered who was shooting.he hit 3 dont see or hear just that little circle ahead.theres nothing else around.
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Old July 22, 2009, 12:22 AM   #22
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Practice is the answer -- and there is no substitute for it! Once mastered, the DA trigger pull is a non-issue...commit to your platform, invest in yourself and your firearm!
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Old July 22, 2009, 12:59 PM   #23
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De-cocking a revolver, once you have checked everything out, could also lead to an accidental discharge.

Most firearms trainers teach you not to cock the revolver unless you have a committed shot at a longer distance requiring a more accurate aimed shot… a very rare situation.
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Old July 22, 2009, 01:15 PM   #24
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Pax beat me to the Cunningham link. Pretty much says it all.

De-cocking a revolver, once you have checked everything out, could also lead to an accidental discharge.
True if you pulled the trigger and didn't get your finger off the trigger and/or prevented the hammer from simply falling. Otherwise, modern revolvers have transfer bars or hammer blocks that prevent the firing pin from contacting the primer if your finger's off the trigger. So long as your finger's off the trigger as you're lowering the hammer, then, there'll be no AD if you slip. Again, long as your finger's off the trigger!
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Old July 22, 2009, 01:17 PM   #25
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I use the same technique for revolvers that I do for my CZ...

... as recommended in the CZ manual.

I put my left thumb under the hammer, before pulling and releasing the trigger with my right. Then I roll my left thumb out from under the hammer after the trigger has been released. This keeps the hammer from falling until after the transfer bar has retracted.

Of course, since we're following safety rules, the muzzle is pointed someplace safe while doing this.
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