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Old January 11, 2010, 08:38 PM   #1
Join Date: February 21, 2008
Location: Western WA, USA
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TDA + Manual Cock to SA Mode

I've been reading the forums, and I've read many advocates for traditional DA/SA, or DAO, or SA cocked/locked, or other variants. Since I'm considering a Sig P220 or 1911, semi-autos, I have some followup questions that need more clarity.

I'm considering a traditional DA/SA because of these reasons (let me know if I'm wrong about this):

1. When I have a split second to respond to a threat, I want it simple: Draw, aim, pull trigger, followup. I assume with adrenaline, a long heavy DA pull is going to feel like a feather. My followup shots with a SA trigger will most likely give me better accuracy (I shoot better SA than any other action).

2. If I have some time to respond to the threat, I want to: Draw, cock trigger to SA mode, aim, pull trigger, followup. Here I have the SA advantage.

The reason why I like the TDA/SA is because there's no mechanical safety, have the DA first pull safety, and I can still have the advantage of a SA trigger if I have the time to cock the trigger or on second shot.

With the DAK/LEM/Long double action triggers, in a followup shot situation that will require more trigger/sight/aim/pull precision I don't like the long part, nor do I like trying to figure out a short reset when under stress (aka panic). With a TDA/SA, I have the SA advantage. Again, I shoot way better SA mode than other modes.

With a SAO, I don't have the confidence that I won't fumble with the safety. It also adds an extra step, and I may have a dyslexic moment of trying to pull the trigger before or at the same time I'm disengaging the safety.

If my description of traditional DA/SA in a semi-auto is accurate and a valid/safe/effective defensive carry mode, then this seems more natural for me.

However, I do have a concern that when I manually cock a Sig P220, that my thumb may slip off and let the hammer down, and unintentionally firing.

I'm not sure if the P220 permits the round from firing without the trigger being pulled?


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Old January 11, 2010, 10:04 PM   #2
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I wouldn't use what practice time I have available working on two different draw-and-fire techniques. If you like DA/SA, get one and practice the transition. If you really have time to manually cock the hammer, it won't have to be a practiced move.
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Old January 11, 2010, 11:18 PM   #3
Jim Watson
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Agree with Rick, your time would be better spent practicing the DA-SA transition. Read about it at:
by Ernest Langdon who took the DA-SA gun about as far as it will go... to the top of IDPA.

I have seen people at IDPA and IPSC matches trying to thumb-cock the Sig-Sauer on the draw. It is an ugly sight, slow and awkward. I don't think there is a great risk of the gun going off if you slip on the hammer, but it is not an effective way to prepare to shoot.

But, if you have PLENTY of time and a calm stomach, I guess you could do it. Chick Gaylord thought it was important to have a hammer spur on a revolver for shooting at distance. But that was 1960 and techniques are better now.
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Old January 12, 2010, 07:15 AM   #4
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I wouldn't use what practice time I have available working on two different draw-and-fire techniques


You have put a lot of thought into this...good for you. With reference to the above quote, you must train to be proficient and you must train to do whatever it is you're going to do by rote memory. One of two things is going to happen if the time comes you will have to use your training:

1. Your adrenaline will be pumping so hard that you will not be able to think and you will have to rely on exactly what you have been training for. At the same time, you most likely suffer from tunnel vision so your body and brain will react instinctively. Whatever it is going down, it will seem like only miliseconds before it's over. Or....

2. Your training will kick in, you will see everything clearly and will be able to think your way through the situation. Every action is deliberate, precise, and planned. The situation will seem to have lasted hours when indeed it may only be seconds.

Some people can react as in No. 2 from their first time in the fire. They are extremely lucky. Most of us, including myself, usually react as in No. 1. Number 2 comes with experience, thought, and having been in the fire a time or two.

The major detractor is not to do No. 1 or No. 2 in your pants while this is all happening.
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Old January 12, 2010, 09:20 AM   #5
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Years ago I took a Sig Arms Academy class under Bank Miller and during a "distance" portion of the class, he said if you have time, go ahead and cock it. This doesn't have to be an either-or thing. As one of the other posters said, if you have time, it's not something you really need to practice.

However, get in the habit of making sure you're decocked before holstering by wiping your thumb across the back of the hammer. Stuffing a cocked gun back into the holster can be a frequent occurrence with a DA/SA gun if you don't have the manual of arms down cold.
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Old January 12, 2010, 12:02 PM   #6
Shawn Dodson
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SAO: there is no such term as "Single-Action Only". SA is the correct term to describe a handgun with "Single-Action trigger mechanism". The trigger cannot perform any other function than to drop the hammer.

I have plenty of experience shooting automatic handguns with a "Double-Action (DA) trigger mechanism". The primary disadvantage of the DA mechanism is dry-fire training.

When a DA automatic is fired in DA mode, as the OP described, the trigger pull can be long and heavy, compared to the trigger pull when it is fired in SA mode (after the slide has cocked the hammer). When you present the pistol and fire it in DA mode there is no realistic method to cock the hammer to fire subsequent shots in SA mode.

So you're faced with a dilemma: either you reach up and manually cock the hammer or you train in DA mode only. Neither "remedy" allows your dryfire training to duplicate the way you fight.

An SA automatic presents a similar quandry.

I believe 90% of training can be performed as dryfire training, and the Double-Action Only (DAO) trigger mechanism provides a consistent trigger pull that is identical during dryfire and livefire training. The only difference is recoil, which occurs AFTER the trigger is pressed.

Something to think about.

Finally, "DA/SA" describes the typical operating mode of an automatic pistol with a DA trigger mechanism - IF the first shot is fired in DA mode. "DA/SA" describes a trigger mode. "DA/SA" does not describe the trigger mechanism.

Last edited by Shawn Dodson; January 12, 2010 at 12:36 PM.
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