Perfecting your Double Action trigger pull Part 2

Perfecting your Double Action trigger pull Part 2 Part 1

DA/SA and DAO airguns can help improve your shooting technique

By Dennis Adler 

Firing a DA/SA semi-auto or revolver double action, trigger pull is more demanding than shooting them single action, as shown here with the Umarex Beretta 92FS hammer manually cocked and the trigger being engaged by the third joint of the trigger finger.

As I noted in Part 1, shooting with double action triggers is more demanding upon the shooter in several ways; length of trigger travel (to rotate the cylinder and cock the hammer on a revolver, or cock the hammer or striker on a semi-auto), the weight of the trigger pull, keeping the pistol on target throughout the long trigger press, and reacquiring the sights. Firing single action is almost always easier and more accurate whether you are shooting a double action revolver or a DA/SA semi-auto. However, firing double action is a skill that can be mastered through the use of CO2 models like the Umarex Beretta 92FS and ASG Dan Wesson Model 715, which has a DA/SA trigger of almost equivalent resistance to the average cartridge firing revolver. To demonstrate double action trigger pull and several training regimens that can improve your trigger control, I am primarily going to use the ASG Dan Wesson.

Firing double action demands more from the trigger finger and using the middle joint provides a more centered and strengthened pull against the heavier double action pull.

One method of practice I have seen is a coordination and balance test. I have never done this before but it is equivalent to walking across a room trying to keep a book balanced on your head. After making certain your pistol is unloaded, (and no CO2 is required either), you will need an empty cartridge case (simply use one of the pellet loading shells from the Dan Wesson). Holding the pistol aimed with one hand, balance the cartridge case on the topstrap. You can then go to a two-handed hold if you like. Now slowly pull the double action trigger without knocking the cartridge case off. (This will also help you get some great bending exercises for your back and knees!) When you can consistently pull the trigger and keep the cartridge case in place, you have achieved both a level of balance and trigger control that assures you are not jerking the trigger but pulling it smoothly through the action of rotating the cylinder, cocking the hammer and firing.

This is one exercise I never tried before but it is a good one for learning to smoothly pull through the double action. Balance an empty shell case, or in this instance an unloaded pellet firing shell, on the topstrap and then proceed to fire the empty revolver six times in a row without knocking the shell case off the topstrap. I ended up picking the shell off the ground a few times but then I was able to fire six in a row and keep it in place. You need to be able to do this consistently. When you can, you know you have a very smooth and controlled trigger pull. In this picture I am on my fourth consecutive shot and the hammer is just about ready to drop.

When I got to the sixth chamber the shell wobbled but didn’t fall. This is also a good training exercise you can do indoors.

The Traveling Trigger

Trigger travel varies from one make of handgun to another, especially with DA/SA and DAO trigger systems, but most average around 11 pounds with moderate to heavy stacking. For comparison I am showing the Lyman trigger pull gauge results from three different DA/SA cartridge revolvers and then the ASG Dan Wesson. The first comparison is with a classic 1960s Colt Diamondback .38 Special. Trigger travel to rotate the cylinder, cock the hammer and fire was 0.94 inches with an average trigger pull of 11 pounds, 3.5 ounces. An S&W Performance Center Model 627-PC .357 Magnum measured a shorter 0.75 inches of travel with an average trigger press of 11 pounds, 7.0 ounces, and an S&W Model 17-4 .22 LR, again with 0.75 inches of travel, had a trigger pull averaging 11 pounds, 8.0 ounces. In comparison the ASG Dan Wesson trigger has 0.75 inches of travel (equivalent to the S&Ws) and an average trigger pull of 10 pounds, 3.5 ounces. Close enough to be used for training. The Umarex Beretta 92FS pellet firing semi-auto has an average DAO trigger pull of 8 pounds, 15 ounces. Trigger travel measured 0.93 inches. This is a little lighter than the 9mm model, but within the average for a semi-auto DA trigger pull.

After I was satisfied my trigger pull was smooth and steady, I loaded up the first six rounds of Meisterkugeln lead wadcutters and proceeded to do the 10 meter double action test. The speed loaders and extra ASG Dan Wesson pellet cartridges make training go a lot smoother, too.

Firing line

With a two-handed hold and using the middle joint of the trigger finger on the trigger, firing the Dan Wesson with Meisterkugeln Professional Line 7.0 gr. lead wadcutters from 10 meters, delivered a best six rounds at 0.68 inches. Switching to a single action trigger finger position, my best six rounds opened slightly to 0.75 inches. While very close the bullseye group shot with the middle joint of the trigger finger had a slightly tighter pattern. Bear in mind I do this three times a week on average but there is still a difference by changing trigger finger position when firing double action.

Note how the trigger finger engages the trigger with the middle joint and third joint pointing through the triggerguard. When using a two-handed hold learn to keep your support hand thumb below the cylinder. While there is zero recoil with a CO2 revolver, recoil from a .38 or larger caliber revolver drives the gun back in your hand and you don’t want your thumb behind the lower edge of the cylinder. With the middle joint of the trigger finger my best 6-shot group measured 0.68 inches at 10 meters. Fired with a single action trigger finger position my groups measured 0.75. The takeaway from this training session is that using the middle joint of the trigger finger firing double action does make a difference, even for shooters who practice frequently.

The learning curve here is not very long but practicing is a must to maintain proficiency and with CO2 pistols it is not only affordable to do but has the added benefit of allowing you to actually see your training improve with live fire. To quote Sean Connery in The Untouchables: “Here endeth the lesson.”

Best double action group in the bullseye fired using the middle joint of the trigger finger measured 0.68 inches for six wadcutter pellets.

10 thoughts on “Perfecting your Double Action trigger pull Part 2

  1. Very nice. A very good primer for those who want to master da shooting. Moving up to fast and fancy after mastering these techniques. Also goes a long way to dispel the myth of a da revolver not being accurate or capable of placing shots on target for self defense. As far as semiautos go, I am a traditional guy . Either sa 1911 or Browning High Power, or da/sa Walther PPk ,P38 , S&W 39/3913 type guy. That being said the wave of the future appears to be pistols like the SIG 320, which really is a hi cap da revolver. Those carrying one should get the airgun and apply these techniques. Wouldn’t hurt the military to get a bunch for training. Nicely done. Not the Chicago way ,but the Airgun Experience way


    • I often wonder if there is a movie we haven’t both seen! I know I have beaten the airguns for training concept into the ground but when I see law enforcement beginning to embrace the idea, it makes me all the more resolved to get everyday airgun enthusiasts to make the most of their airguns. Not that they will get a centerfire model someday, (or may already have) but just to improve their shooting ability with airguns. Everyone feels good about themselves when all the shots are in the X ring, even if they are only .177 caliber steel BBs.


  2. As to the movies , probably not. Airgun training is a real area for growth in shooting . Affordable and portable. Skills can be refined without recoil , significant expense or a trip to a designated firearms range . Teaches skill, and safety. After shooting the Nagant I am convinced that replicas of da Colt and S&W revolvers could’ve a reality. Would be nice to get a nickel Diamondback for what you paid for the 38 version.


    • I’m inclined to agree. The size of the CO2 channel and accompanying action is workable for an S&W or Colt as far as I can tell. What other internal issues for an airgun that might arise, is a little out of my skill set, but manufacturers certainly should look into it more thoroughly. Even adding one classic WWII S&W to the airgun lineup would be monumental.


      • I can see two eras of da revolver replicas. WW 2 and post war classic. The first would be S&W Victory, 1917, and Colt Commando all parkerized. The second would be post war S&W model 10 , 15 , 19 and 29. For ColtOfficial Police and Trooper


        • I can absolutely see a Model 1917. Parkerized would be OK, though a blued gun would look better. I have a 1917 Lend Lease Model 1917 used by the British and it is Parkerized. Was converted from .45 ACP to .455 Webley and then back to .45 ACP after the war. As for post war, if I had to recommend one it would be a first issue Model 29 with larger CO2 pellet shells. Chambered for .22 caliber pellets would be even better but I don’t know if a 12 gram CO2 could push them at a decent velocity. Lots of possibilities.



    • A 4-inch or 6-inch Diamondback frame would work with the larger grips, but a Detective Special grip is just too small. I’ve measured them and there just isn’t enough space, and to alter the grips would be to make an incorrect reproduction. The Diamondback, though, is almost a slight scaling down of the Python airguns. We will just have to see how manufacturers respond to these various requests in the coming year or years. If the pace of new models resumes the levels of 2015 and 2016, we could see some impressive new CO2 models.


      • They wouldn’t have to alter the grip frame just the grips . All post 1966 Colt D frames have the same grip frame, just different size grips . The later injection molded grips or Pachmayr style used on the last 90s parts clean up Detectives should be large enough as would the new oversized grips used on the new Cobra . I don’t care much for the rubber grips , but if they make it possible to make co2 revolver , I could live with them .


  3. Hope we return to the thrilling days of yesteryear . 2017 has been a snoozer. Not much new, and interesting items like Remington still singing somewhere over the rainbow


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