Concealed Carry & Home Defense

CCW Weekend: Observations From A Year Of Carrying A Double-Action Gun

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Guns and Gear Contributor

By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters

Last year, carrying 3 pounds of 1911+ammunition got old, so I picked up a different carry pistol. Specifically, a TriStar C-100, which is a compact DA/SA pistol in 9mm. Since I’ve been carrying and shooting this pistol for more than a year, with closing in on 1,000 rounds through it to date, I have some observations about what life is like with a double-action gun.

Why this gun instead of, say, a nice compact striker pistol?

First was the idea of a double-action first shot. The theory goes that the longer, heavier trigger pull acts as a passive safety and guards against the possibility of unintentional discharges; if you shoot, you meant to. Or something like that.

I don’t have to recock it for dry firing. The extra resistance would also, according to my thinking at the time, help my trigger control technique. I mean, if you want to lift 600 pounds, you don’t train to lift 600 pounds; you train to lift 700.

Having used some of TriStar’s guns before (I reviewed their T-100 pistol and ViperMax shotgun for AmmoLand) I know their products to be well-made, accurate and reliable. It’s a CZ clone, so the ergonomics are fantastic and it has an old-school appeal that I like.

I like Fudd guns, okay? Black plastic and Cerakote is about as appealing to me as a root canal, but I’m a sucker for walnut and steel. AR-15s make me yawn, but a Montana Rifle Co. ASR makes me feel warm and fuzzy in funny places.

Good gun, has things I like. So, if you were contemplating switching to a double-action semi-auto for sport or personal defense – there are some great pistols out there in this format – here are a few things I’ve noticed having done so.

I’m convinced a lot of what people say about a double-action first shot is mostly hogwash. If I press the trigger in a hurry, the hammer falls just as fast as it does in single-action mode or with my other pistols that aren’t DA/SA. I also don’t think the idea regarding intention is true.

In “Guns, Bullets and Gunfights,” Jim Cirillo (a member of the NYPD’s infamous Stakeout Squad and survivor of almost a dozen gunfights) didn’t really mention having an issue with the double-action trigger of his revolver under fire. In fact, he remembered thinking “who’s shooting my gun?” in his first one!

Granted, a lot of those old timers would trim a coil or two off the return spring of their Model 10, Model 19 or Police Positive to reduce pull weight, but – again – I think it matters less than we are encouraged to think. If there’s anything you’re going to think about in that moment, it’s liable to be your aim.

I think my notion of getting a better workout for my trigger finger is only half-true. The conclusion I’ve come to is good trigger technique is good trigger technique; you either operate the bang switch correctly or you suck. I was already used to double-action before getting this pistol (the handguns I learned to shoot with as a kid were S&W three-digit autos and revolvers) so for me it’s nothing new.

If I’d learned with Glocks maybe that would be a different story.

Some people think you’re less accurate with double-action than single-action or a striker trigger. I think that’s bupkis; if your technique is correct, it won’t matter.

When I shot like crap, I pushed DA shots low-left, way low center, high-right, you name it. When I shot correctly, I’ve put DA shots in the bullseye. My belief is that if your fundamental skills are lacking or if you just don’t shoot well, it doesn’t make a difference what platform you use. I’ve shot like crap with my 1911, I’ve shot like crap with Glocks, and I’ve shot like crap with DA/SA pistols and revolvers. I’ve also managed good groups with all of the above when I wasn’t being an idiot.

Point being, I’m coming to the conclusion that trigger system doesn’t matter; fundamentals matter more. So long as your trigger is usable, that’s all that matters.

As to the dry firing aspect, I was spot-on. If/when I get a different carry pistol (there’s a Dan Wesson lightweight commander I have my eye on) I’ll probably still use the TriStar as a dry-fire trainer. If I’m carrying a 1911 again, it will actually work perfectly since it has a thumb safety.

I also believe that the DA/SA system should only be offered with a decocker (like Sig, CZ and so on) or a decocking safety, a la Beretta/old S&W semis/select others these days. Those are the most logical control mechanisms for the platform.

Part and parcel to the C-100’s design is that it’s an almost perfect clone of the CZ 75 Compact, replete with a thumb safety. For double-action carry or shooting, I have to manually decock it by pointing it in a safe direction, pinching the hammer with my weak side hand, squeezing the trigger and letting it down.

Ideal? Heck no, but can it be done safely and in a controlled fashion? Yes.

If I get another DA/SA pistol, it will have a decocker. I really like the gun, but I prefer a double-action semi-auto to have one. While I love CZ pistols – and many of their clones; Sarsilmaz, Tanfoglio, Canik and others make some darn fine handhelds – I don’t think I’ll go there again. If I get another double-action pistol (I’ve also been eying the PX4 Storm Compact and a couple of CZs) it’s going to have a decocker.

So, double-action can definitely be lived with. It can be fired accurately. I feel like it is rewarding if you put in the time. However, I also think that – based on my experience – a lot of the stuff people say about it isn’t completely true.

I think it really all does come down to fundamentals. They’re either there or they aren’t, regardless of what firing system you use.

Disagree? Agree? Just angry and you want to vent? Sound off in the comments.

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Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.