DAO Pistol

A Brief Guide To Double Action Only Guns

The trigger system that has the least adoption is that of double-action only, which is actually something of a shame. It's actually somewhat ideal for a defensive pistol, especially for concealed carry.

Why is it ideal for a concealed carry gun?

The stronger double-action trigger pull serves as a safety mechanism, and with a bit of practice can be mastered by all but the most arthritic shooters. Don't let anyone fool you; you don't need a "hair trigger" in a defensive pistol to be adequately protected.

Double-Action Trigger Pull Weight Acts As A Safety

double-action trigger pull

The primary benefit is that the double-action trigger pull acts as a safety mechanism of sorts, preventing any negligent/accidental discharge from happening.

As most are aware, the lighter the trigger pull on a pistol is the more care is required to guard against anything that could pull the trigger. Most accidental or negligent discharges are caused by poor trigger discipline or handling, meaning people handling the pistol touched the trigger when they shouldn't have or didn't clear the pistol before doing so.

For instance, striker pistols often require the trigger to be pulled to disassemble them for cleaning and maintenance, and a number of people have forgotten to check first. In other instances, the operator was handling the pistol and was touching the trigger when they shouldn't have - that's why the first of the 4 rules of gun safety is to keep your booger hook off the bang switch until ready to shoot - and in others, the trigger was snagged by clothing, a cloth holster or something along those lines.

A 10- to 15-pound double-action trigger guards against this. Snags can't fire the pistol with that pull weight and accidentally firing whilst handling is less possible as well. Thus, you'll generally only be able to fire it when you mean to.

DAO Is Actually Popular For Police Triggers

Police sidearms are usually double-action

You might not believe it, but a lot of police triggers are actually DAO. The NYPD is known to issue Glock 17s with a 12-pound trigger, though Sig P226 DAO models and Glock 19s with the same trigger can be had as a backup.

Other service pistols are also offered to various departments with DAO triggers as well, so it's not uncommon in the law enforcement field.

In times long past, police were often taught not to cock revolvers before firing should they have to fire in the line of duty. The reason was that the lighter single-action pull was observed to result in a premature first shot that almost always missed. The same issue was not, however, observed when officers didn't cock their service pistol first. In fact, a semi-popular handgun modification for police was to dehorn the trigger, effectively rendering their service revolvers DAO.

The same idea would apply to a person considering a pistol for concealed carry. If you shoot, you had better mean it and a stronger double-action pull would certainly ensure that.

Today's Double Action Only Guns

Colt New Agent DAO Variant

Hammerless revolvers, such as the Iver Johnson and the Smith and Wesson (the Lemon Squeezer) Safety Hammerless models, emerged toward the end of the 19th century, so double-action only guns have been around for some time. As mentioned, a popular modification was to dehorn revolver hammers if a person desired a DAO gun.

Later, DAO revolvers would switch to hammerless designs, using a double-action trigger and firing pin, such as the S&W Model 640.

Today, both semi-autos and revolvers are offered in DAO configurations. Striker pistols, if desired, can be equipped with a DAO trigger (again, popular for police departments) and many double-single action semi-autos can as well. A good deal of snubbie revolvers are offered in hammered and hammerless DAO configurations, such as S&W's J-frame revolvers, the Taurus 85 series, and Ruger's LCR and SP series of revolvers.

Few semi-autos are offered exclusively in DAO configuration, though a few are. All Kahr pistols come with an 8-pound trigger, which are on the lighter end of a double-action trigger but are certainly stiffer than the typical striker pistol. Kahrs are true double-action, with an internal hammer. Smith and Wesson offers their SD9VE and SD40VE striker-fired pistols - which are serious bargain shooters - both with 8.5-pound trigger pulls.

Some opine that the long, hard pull of double-action is too much for a person to be able to shoot well. Hogwash. A good trigger pull technique will accomplish the task for a double- or single-action pistol.

Granted, you should carry what you shoot well with. If that's a striker-fired single stack or a cocked and locked 1911 or whatever it is, carry that. That said, don't let something like a purportedly stiffer trigger deter you.

Sam Hoober 

About The Author


Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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