The gun market today, whether in sales or training, is concentrated away from the traditional DA/SA design. But is the design DEAD just because it is not as popular? I think we can answer that by evaluating something that I would consider to be the source of misunderstanding that the DA/SA pistol suffers from. It may not be the most popular action on the market today, but I personally have found that the rewards outweigh the few disadvantages.
The first thing I want to cover in this article is what I consider to be that Alpha and the Omega trend setters of the gun market, the firearms training industry. The trends for firearms can and have swayed due to influences from within this industry, and I believe the double action has terribly suffered. The training industry is swamped with pistol instructors that only know and concentrate solely on lessons for teaching people how to shoot striker fired pistols. This is a big problem because it has gotten to the point that these instructors lack the basic knowledge of how to competently shoot anything but striker fired pistols. This leaves students that prefer to use the double action on there own and without any useful information that can help them use their pistol. In all, this makes the double action less desirable when you struggle to find a class that is designed around teaching competency with a DA/SA pistol. If these so-called "skilled and talented instructors" can't teach students unless they are using a certain gun, what makes them so qualified to teach in the first place?
It is no secret that the population of striker fired pistols is higher than that of their double action counterparts. As an instructor, obviously you wanna be well versed in the firearms you are most likely to teach. In past generations, the revolver and the 1911 were dominant in the gun industry, so they were the ones that instructors catered their lessons around. The DA/SA has never become all that popular, so of course it is hard to find people who really know how to squeeze all the performance potential out. However, I still find it unacceptable that there are so few instructors that have taken the time to REALLY learn how to handle and use a DA/SA pistol effectively and efficiently.
There are plenty of people out there that will tell you the DA/SA is too CONFUSING to figure out. They often cite that the TRANSITION from double action to single action throws them off. I could never wrap my mind around that statement. To me it is about as ridiculous of a statement as being THROWN OFF by the fact that the brake and gas peddles do different things. Realistically, my reply is that they are not using their pistol properly if they have time to be confused. Perhaps this is a bit harsh, but then again I am not known for being diplomatic. I put the blame on traditional firearms marksmanship training taught by most instructors out there. This traditional method is not universal and it in many cases is wrong and too complicated for a beginner. But that is a subject for another article.
So, what are the advantages I think the DA/SA give you? Well, first off, you have the first trigger pull that gives you the distance and weight needed to help lower the likelihood of an accidental or premature discharge; Accidental discharges are a common issue with striker fired pistols. The distance and weight help make sure you are devoted to that first round and also help you get your first shot on target from the draw in less time.
I often refer to the first long pull of the double action as being the "DRAW SHOT". When you are drawing and extending, you tend to want to combine getting your finger on the trigger with your extension. I have seen and had premature discharges halfway through the draw when trying to do a very quick draw with a striker fired pistol with a light or short trigger pull. Many people think that under stress you need to keep your finger off the trigger, etc. I am here to tell you, as a combat vet, that you tend to combine things in order to be faster. If you are not pushing yourself or conducting force on force training, you will probably never see this. If you delay until you get your sights on target, you are killing time. The double action seems very short when you pull it during extension, and I rarely see the shot stray far from my intended target. But then again, shooting from the draw always comes down to consistently being able to get a good grip and acquire a natural point of aim.
Lately there have been plenty of pistols that have gotten lots of love in the gun market that contradict the claim that the DA/SA is dead. The only thing that I think is dying is peoples' connection with reality. The idea in the gun community is that light triggers with a short pull and a short reset are all you need to be a good shooter. Even instructors are pushing this narrative, yet they scorn pistols and aftermarket parts that are not reliable or drop safe due to these features. It is like common sense is the only thing that is dying. Good luck getting a DA/SA pistol to not be drop safe without some serious modifications.
Overall, my message here is that NO, the double action is not dead and it is far from it. In fact, I think that it is growing slowly but surely in popularity. Trends come and go all the time, and it is just a matter of time before people discover the inherent advantages of the DA/SA. Perhaps it will even get to a point that it will be common knowledge on how the double action can help you as a defensive pistol.
Do It Rite
Alaska-Based Youtube Vlogger, Retired Marine, gun enthusiast, and passionate firearm and gear evaluator.