We’re adherents of the DA auto (by which we mean the DA/SA pistol), although we gave striker-fired (Glock) a shot. Over the last nearly 40 (wow) years, we’ve daily-carried Walther P.38, Beretta M9 and M92, and the CZ-75 (pre B) and CZ P-01, with some use of small-caliber Walther, Browning and CZ pistols for summer wear.
Ernest Langdon, a former Marine Scout Sniper instructor, is an adherent of DA/SA and particularly Beretta as well, at least partly because Beretta employs him! He can shoot better than most of us, and he makes a good case for the DA autopistol, in an interesting article at Recoil (which has come a long way from its antigun gun magazine days).
He also has a lot of advice about how to shoot it well.
One of the first things to learn is trigger finger placement. The double action trigger pull often requires the shooter to put more trigger finger on or past the trigger than you would with a 1911-type single action. When learning to pull a double action trigger, try sticking more trigger finger in and past the trigger, providing more leverage for you to pull the trigger straight to the rear. Test this in dry fire, with the goal of the hammer falling with no movement of your sight picture at all.
The key is to pull through the double action trigger at a constant speed. It can be very fast, but it needs to be consistent. The trap that many DA Auto shooters fall into is trying to finish the DA pull by speeding up at the end. We start to pull the trigger smoothly and consistently, and then try to accelerate at the end of the pull to finish and get to the shot. For proper double-action trigger control, you want to focus on stroking the trigger. Keep a constant, consistent speed.
Real success with a DA gun comes from combining the presentation of the pistol, aiming the gun, and pulling the trigger at the same time.
It’s our own observation that, when you don’t have time to prepare your sidearm and must engage from the draw, you’re most often at contact range, and the DA trigger pull is the least of your problems. When you do have time it’s nice to be able to cock the hammer. We have pistols that allow that and some pistols that don’t because they’re DAO. But there are some pistols on the market that do, technically, allow you to cock the hammer by hand, but make it awkward to do. If you have time to set up for a shot, go ahead and set up for the shot.
That said, Langdon is right about DA trigger pull. Yes, it is longer and heavier, and it can make you miss — especially if you get frustrated that it’s not like the SA pull and jerk on it. But a well-designed DA trigger can be fast, steady and smooth and not disrupt your sight picture. And the SA pull on most DA/SA guns is better than the trigger on most striker-fireds, ceteris paribus.
This next consideration is one we hadn’t thought of.
One of the key features in a DA Auto is where the trigger pull breaks. The point at which the trigger breaks in double action mode and single action mode should be as close as possible. This allows you to train your trigger finger to go back to the same spot to release the trigger and cause the gun to fire, whether in double action or single action. Some DA autos release the hammer in double action mode at a much earlier point in the trigger pull than in single action mode. This causes an excessive amount of overtravel in double action and makes the shooter hunt for the trigger prep point in single action. I believe this makes it much harder to learn to shoot well with such a handgun.
Or as one of his photo captions tells it:
One reason Langdon favors the Beretta 92 is that the positions at which the trigger breaks in double action and single action modes are very close.
Hmmm. That makes us want to dig out the trigger gage and look at where the trigger breaks DA and SA on a cross-section of DA pistols.
One of the reasons I’ve chosen to run the Beretta 92 platform is that I feel it has the best double action pull and the closest release points for both double action and single action trigger pulls.
Well, yeah, and they pay him. There is that (grin).
In his new book, Gun Guy, Bill Wilson, president and owner of Wilson Combat says, “If you look where the trigger is when the hammer falls on a Beretta, the trigger is in basically the same place double- and single-action. When you come back to the trigger for the second shot, the trigger is in the same place. You don’t have to search for it. That’s why you can transition from double to single so easily with a Beretta.” There are also many other great DA Autos out there in many different sizes, shapes, and calibers.
Thought-provoking stuff — go Read The Whole Thing™.
Now, with both Wilson and Langdon praising the Beretta, we definitely have to A/B the 92/M9 and the CZs and whatever other odds and ends we have laying about.