I carry a traditional DA/SA pistol most of the time. When I’m not carrying my Taurus PT92, I’m carrying a Walther P22. Both pistols have a long double action stroke for the first shot; followed with a shorter, lighter pull for all subsequent shots. I see less and less guns set up with this sort of trigger configuration. The problem with a traditional DA/SA isn’t actually the first shot as most people would believe. The first shot is relatively easy, especially if the shooter is used to shooting revolvers on a regular basis. What creates a lot of trouble for shooting is the transition from the Double Action first shot to the second shot in single action mode.
In both of my carry guns there is a lot of slop in the trigger in single action mode – after the shot breaks if you let the trigger return to its natural rest position, your next shot will have a lot of slack to take out of the trigger before you can break the next shot. This slack has caused me and several other shooters I know a lot of problems when they’re trying to make that second shot – my bad habit was that I would squeeze the trigger too fast and too hard (expecting it to feel like DA mode) and thusly jerk the trigger sending my second round into oblivion.
Here’s a drill you can practice with snap caps or dry fire (if you’re into that sort of thing) that will help you with the transition into Single Action mode from Double action.
With the gun loaded WITH SNAP CAPS (please don’t do this with live ammo) press through the trigger in double action mode. To simulate having fired a shot, hold the trigger in the full reward position while you cycle the slide with your off-hand. Now the pistol should be in SA mode with the trigger all the way to the rear.
From a firing position, slowly let the trigger travel forward until you hear the “click” it makes when it engages and the gun is ready to fire again. If you let the trigger go forward further, all you’re doing from there is letting slack into your trigger pull. When that trigger makes the “click” sound during its return travel, right there is the shortest, crispest trigger pull that pistol is capable of. From there, with no slack in the trigger, press through your single action shot. After that, decock the pistol, reload snap caps into the magazine as necessary, and repeat the two stage drill. Again, the first stage is DA, then cycle the slide to put the pistol into SA mode and only let the trigger out far enough to make the pistol ready to fire again.
Once you’ve done that a lot; you’re ready to go to the range. It’s the same drill, except you’re not manually cycling the slide this time. When you first start doing this drill at the range, GO SLOW. Fire that first DA shot, fully recover, then consciously let the trigger travel forward just enough to reset the pistol. Fire the SA shot, decock and repeat. The goal of the drill is to learn exactly how far the trigger has to travel forward for the 2nd shot (first shot from SA mode). This is one of those skills you can’t really practice enough – once you’re comfortable with the trigger travel drill, start incorporating it into your everyday shooting.
Also, this is my 200th post at this blog. Go me!