In Defense of the Traditional Double Action

3-Mar-14 – 03:50 by ToddG

P229hammer

The mere title of this post makes me sad.

I have come to accept, begrudgingly, that we live in a world where the perception “one trigger pull is better than two” isn’t likely to change any time soon. It’s a perception that kept the 1911 dominant for decades among shooting cognoscenti. Then Glock came along and made the consistent “Safe Action” trigger a key part of its marketing campaign. We have generations of shooters who have never really worked with a traditional double action (aka “double/single” or “DA/SA”) pistol because they’ve simply been told it’s too hard.

But let’s look at some facts and compare some numbers.

A typical Glock, unless you modify the trigger or put what the company itself considers a competition only part in the gun, comes with a trigger pull of about seven pounds (it may be advertised as 5.5 pounds, but check out this report from Modern Service Weapons). Many, if not most, Glocks issued to law enforcement in the United States utilize the even heavier trigger return springs that add another 2-5 pounds to that number.

black220stYour typical TDA pistol is going to have a first shot double action trigger pull around 10-12 pounds. But after that, all the rest of the shots you fire will be with a trigger pull of about four pounds, maybe five pounds. In other words, after you deal with that first shot, everything is easier than even a stock Glock with standard connector and springs! Even most out of the box 1911′s from major manufacturers like Kimber and Colt have trigger pulls above a typical TDA pistol’s single action.

Of course, plenty of individuals spend their time and money to get a lighter trigger on Glocks and 1911s. I can’t tell you how many students I see walking around with sub-4# triggers on such guns. Why? Because it’s easier to shoot. And if the only thing you ever measure is ease of shooting, that makes a ton of sense. It’s only when you start to think about the broader situation of when you might need your pistol and how you might need and what what you’ll really need to do with it that you begin to realize the a super short, super light trigger on a carry gun might not be so smart. If you haven’t done so already, I suggest you take a look at Darryl Bolke’s outstanding The LEM As A Street Trigger reposted here last September.

I know I’ll never convert the hordes, of course, who learned “this is my safety” watching Blackhawk Down and feel empowered by the words of a fictional character on a movie set to behave in a manner contrary to what the actual men of the actual unit depicted in the film seem to teach when it comes to safety (see, e.g., Paul Howe and Pat McNamara). But as I’ve been ranting lately around here, the reality is that under stress it’s far too easy to trigger check and drive that short, light 3.5# DIY five cent Glock trigger job straight to the frame with resultant Unwanted Noise.

So what are the trade-offs? If TDA is so awesome why do so many people choose otherwise?

The number one issue, obviously, is that long, heavier first shot. What was once considered the norm when police officers carried DA revolvers is now a trigger that many find unmanageable. It’s not. It’s simply something you need to learn how to manage. But when so many instructors have little to no real experience with TDA guns, it can be very hard to find good technique.

92GVertec

I’ve taken classes from some very big names in the training world who absolutely had no idea how to run a TDA pistol properly. One famously told a group of us in a private class that he recommends just firing the first DA round into the dirt to get the gun cocked for “real shooting” … this to a closed group of students who were all running TDAs (Beretta and SIG) for the entire three day class! Don’t let an instructor hiding his own ineptitude dictate what works for youIf you expect the “everyone should carry a Glock and if you don’t your’e an idiot” guy to be the ideal instructor to help you learn how to shoot your Beretta 92FS, you have chosen poorly.

I’ve been incredibly lucky to get instruction from, as well as train and compete along side, some of the best TDA shooters like Ernest Langdon, Rob Haught, and “Super” Dave Harrington. Learning how to do it the right way from experts imparts a lot more skill and confidence than trying to learn from someone who’s more interested in telling you that your chosen pistol sucks because it’s not the same thing he carries on his hip every day.

vertec-grpI’m not suggesting that a long 12# trigger pull is as easy to score hits with as a 3# tuned 1911 trigger. But with some proper training neither is truly difficult.

The only other real hurdle with a TDA pistol is the need to decock before holstering. Under stress this can become trouble because holstering a cocked TDA gun is like holstering a cocked 1911 without putting the safety on. Or like holstering a Glock that has been modified to have a light trigger. 8-) If you’re going to reap the benefit of that hammer-down condition you need to make decocking the pistol part of your ritual. Again this comes down to simple training. I had the great fortune to learn a lot of my shooting techniques from TDA experts and their range commands always included “decock/safe and holster.” That simple mantra is all it takes.

Even in the competition world, where the safety/street considerations are often completely ignored, the TDA pistol is seeing a resurgence. Having to deal with that one trickier first shot simply gets outweighed by the ease of a smoother, lighter, shorter trigger pull for the next twenty-plus rounds in a course of fire. The top two finishers (and half of the top ten) at the past two USPSA Production National were shooting TDA pistols. Clue.

Don’t think me hypocritical. I’m not saying you have to shoot a TDA pistol or you’re wrong. There are downsides to the TDA. Heck, some people due to injury or hand strength genuinely cannot manage a 10-12 pound trigger. For them obviously it’s a horrible choice! There are benefits to a 1911 or a striker-fired gun and DAO type guns just as their are benefits to the TDA. Make an informed decision. Choose what works best for you… but not simply what shoots best when you’re slaying cardboard & steel. Think about what really happens when it’s not on the range but in a dark parking lot late at night when your family is with you and a couple of shady looking characters start to ping your radar.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

  1. 53 Responses to “In Defense of the Traditional Double Action”

  2. I much prefer TDA vs SA or striker fired guns. Always have, probably always will. I simply shoot them better.

    By Rob E on Mar 3, 2014

  3. You are on the money here once again Todd. The other thing that I seem to always to back to is the very best trigger you can get on a striker gun would be unacceptable on the single action of a quality TDA gun. If handed you your 228 back after doing trigger work to it and it had a great 3# Glock trigger, you would look at me and say “what the F#)* did you do to my gun?!” You would not be happy, nor would anyone else with the result.

    By Ernest Langdon on Mar 3, 2014

  4. Todd, while I agree with almost everything you say, I also think that it is necessarily true that all else being equal “one trigger pull is better than two.” It is simpler to learn one trigger pull than two.

    The thing is that all else isn’t ever necessarily equal, which is why guns that have two different trigger pulls can make sense. So too can another alternative–an explicit safety on a one-trigger-pull gun.

    And, if you are the Army, and only have an ammunition budget that will give most soldiers 50 rounds (if that) to train and qualify on, you might still want two trigger pulls plus a safety even though you know that most soldiers will be unable to hit anything with the DA trigger pull.

    Guns are tools and it is a very good thing to have tools with a variety of features so you can choose the right one for a job.

    By SteveJ on Mar 3, 2014

  5. Great post Todd. I’m concentrating on TDA this year also for a multitude of reasons most of which yourself and Darryl Bolke’s article have covered.

    By fixer on Mar 3, 2014

  6. I personally really like the TDA guns. While some of them may have really long, hard trigger strokes for the first shot, most really don’t. I think it’s a mental problem for most people that makes it hard for them to shoot one. If you learn to fire the shot and then only let your finger back out enough to reset, I think you’re most of the way to mastering them. I have always thought of them as single-action guns that simply have a longer pull on the first shot. Even after the first shot, my finger is only going to move forward enough to reset, just like every other shot. If your hands are too small to manage the first pull without changing grip, that’s an actual concern, of course.

    I just bought an older P226 barrel on ebay. The main attraction for me is that it also came with the older grooved trigger. I have always ended up replacing the new short triggers on my Sigs with the fat ones. Otherwise, the trigger’s so far back when the hammer’s cocked that my trigger finger is hitting the frame. But you’re right about the trigger pull on some of these Glocks. I just picked up slightly used Gen 4 17, and the trigger is obviously not the equal of a TDA’s single-action pull.

    By Frank on Mar 3, 2014

  7. Great article Todd! I personally have never had a problem with the DA/SA trigger. I grew up with a father that was a shooter and a gun collecter. So I was constantly shooting toatlly different guns and never had an issue. My father and I have often had this talk, as he grew up in the Jeff Cooper era. We both agreed that the DA/SA trigger posed no problem to us at all. With the newer Sig triggers out there(SRT and short reach) I can easily out shoot any Glock pistol, even though I have carried a Glock for over 18 years as a LE officer. People need to get out there and shoot some DA/SA guns they might be surprised.

    By Andy Gore on Mar 3, 2014

  8. Frank — That’s a great point and something I’m going to be talking about in a future article: the reset is the same every single time on a TDA just like it is on a SAO, SFA, etc. People get wrapped up mentally by the “transition” and it definitely does exist. It’s just not as seven-dimensionally complicated as detractors want to make it sound.

    By ToddG on Mar 3, 2014

  9. I am a relatively new shooter – I’ve only been into this for about 4 years and I didn’t grow up around anyone into guns – and after initially working with various polymer striker-fired guns, I now find myself carrying an all-steel, hammer-fired TDA pistol and loving it.

    I did choose to have trigger jobs done on my carry gun and spare to smooth out the DA and reduce the creep in the SA but both were done with carry in mind, not competition. My gun of choice also features a decocker rather than a thumb safety – manually decocking is for the birds! :)

    I consider TDA a safer platform for carry — there is certainly some peace of mind in that heavier DA pull — and I find, with regular practice, the transition from DA to SA and back is not a problem.

    By s0nspark on Mar 3, 2014

  10. Credit to your buddy Kurt in Az. for getting me to hang up my striker fired toys and focus on learning how to run a TDA.
    I fired 2 shots out of the holster, one double and one single for about 100 times to program myself a bit. As a shooter trying to master the fundamentals, the TDA is really helping me focus on my trigger manipilations. My stock 3rd gen S&W has a better stock reset than everything I own except my 1911.
    After running the Sig 226 TDA for a couple months I am shooting almost as fast as with my M&P 5inch pro modified for competition. I feel there is so much more to gain in learning to shoot a TDA than there is in avoiding it.

    By Franky2Shoes on Mar 3, 2014

  11. For a motivated person it just doesn’t matter that much. Give me a gun and I will make it work. I can see the tradeoffs and it becomes, to each their own. I am a minimalist by nature and like the Glock. Plus someone else bought a lot of ammo for me to become very familiar with it.
    The popularity of a gun with a single consistent trigger pull comes from the fact that with limited money, ammunition, time, motivation and therefor talent a single consistent trigger pull usually makes sense.
    I’ve watched for years as many officers missed the first round of the HK USP double action then shot, “Okay”. Hell many years ago I was one of them. When the switch to Glock occurred that first missed round went away like magic. They shot all rounds, “Okay”. It can be argued that if that’s the only round you get off it should be as good as the second? Sure other things should change for most LEO’s and military but they won’t. Command staffs, tipping windmills and all that.
    Given the reality of military, police and typical ccw situation is it a good idea to use a consistent trigger? I think so.
    As with all things, it depends on who you are, what your motivation is and often who is paying the bill for you.

    By bryan back on Mar 3, 2014

  12. Todd, (or anyone) could you elaborate on this please?

    “The top two finishers (and half of the top ten) at the past two USPSA Production National were shooting TDA pistols. Clue.”

    Who were they, or more to the point what pistols?

    Tanks

    By Tom R on Mar 3, 2014

  13. Tom — Someone who follows more closely may correct me, but if I recall correctly:

    2011, top finisher was Ben Stoeger using a Beretta.
    2012, it was Eric Grauffel shooting a Tangfolio and Ben Stoeger shooting a Beretta
    2013, it was Eric Grauffel and Stoeger both shooting Tangfolios (but I’m not certain about Stoeger’s gun)

    By ToddG on Mar 3, 2014

  14. Todd,
    That is a great writeup on TDA. I’d like to print it out to show some of our students.
    We always ask before class starts if anyone will be using a Revolver, TDA pistol, or other.
    We ask up front and explain to them that each platform has different training needs and we want to be sure that they understand how to run it the way it was designed. Many students arrive with a gun they have already purchased and it is important for them to know what those training needs are.
    Again, great writeup.
    Thanks

    By DeanO on Mar 3, 2014

  15. I for one don’t have the luxury of saying this is what I am going to carry. I have been issued Glocks and I have been issued Sigs. Personally it doesn’t matter to me. Whatever I carry I will get to know intimately. I have paid out of my pocket for 14 years to attend training I will never get with Fed Agencies. I have been to Dave Harrington, Jeff Gonzalez, Vickers, and numerous others and always spend time on certain web blogs for there is tons of good info, as well as some bad. It isn’t, nor has it ever been the gun, IT IS THE SHOOTER.

    By JA on Mar 3, 2014

  16. My problem with most TDA gun is (as Frank pointed out) that I have fat, stubby, carney hands. With something like a Sig 226 or Beretta 92 I have a difficult time getting a proper firing grip for the first shot. By the time Sig came out with their E2 grips I was pretty much a Glockophile.

    Now with three Glocks (19,19L,34) and the various accoutrements to go along with them it seems rather pointless to get into an entirely new platform.

    I will say though, after being glued to the monitor throughout JJ’s Salient test, and reading every update from Todd and Bill regarding the 229R……I WILL eventually pick up an E2 gripped P226.

    By Eli on Mar 3, 2014

  17. I was a big fan of DA/SA. Now, not so much. Step on a firing line with 50 new police recruits. Give them Sigs. Give clear and concise range commands like “Scan left, scan right, De-cock and safely re holster”… Beat your head against the pavement as about 20 of them still try to holster a weapon with the hammer back. Watch them raise their hand and explain that their holster won’t snap shut, because the hammer is back. Repeat same mistakes several times per day, every day. (Sadly, both of those are true stories)

    Todd, you and the folks who would spend time to frequent a forum like this are not going to have any issues with DA/SA. But from a mass issue, lowest common denominator standpoint, I would want something else.

    These days, more and more new recruits have never shot a gun before, it can be an issue. Now, fast forward to a truly high stress encounter, will they remember to use the de-cocker?? Who knows. I have seen my co workers, and I am very happy we issue DAO, DAK, LEM, or Safe Action.

    I wish we had the time to teach them better skills. I wish they wanted to learn to master the skills. Sadly, my wishes never come true. Our agency would rather lower the expectations, than raise the training budget.

    Good article. Love your site!

    By Gadfly on Mar 3, 2014

  18. Thank you for such an objective account of TDAs. Having been a TDA devotee since I bought my first SIG back in 87′, I feel like many of us who have stuck it out with them over the years are finally coming out of the wilderness; or at least closer to the edge of the wood line.

    I agree that there won’t be much of a shift back to them, and some folks here have already made good points as to why, but I would hate to see them disappear from the scene due to institutionalized ignorance. Because as you stated, they are an excellent choice for those committed to learning them well.

    By DGP on Mar 3, 2014

  19. Gadfly — Great comments and a chance for me to riff a bit.

    When I began working at SIG, my boss was the former head of FBI FTU and my partner in Fed/Mil projects was a long time FBI FTU agent. They both talked at length about the switch to Glock and how it was driven strongly by the instructors. The reason: it was easier for the instructors to teach the Glock. One of them unabashedly referred to the Glock as “the lazy instructor’s favorite gun.”

    Now he meant it in jest and if we’re objective about it, what’s better for a student? Spending two hours out of 80 learning to decock a pistol or spending that time on sights & trigger? Obviously, making the shooter a better shooter should take precedence and, as you say, there’s a big difference between a motivated self-learner and a group of 50 recruits on the line most of whom have no interest in touching a pistol to begin with!

    But at the same time, there used to be this really incredible display in the FBI FTU gun cleaning room of all the different firearms the FBI had used through the years. Now it’s replaced by a big red ballistic shield wall where new agents clear their pistols. The change happened because they had so many ADs field stripping Glocks. Now they probably spend as much time teaching safe disassembly as they ever needed to work on decocking.

    The other issue with that, reference the When To Safe post, is that teaching folks to decock only as part of the holster process removes tons of reps and skill-building. If it’s taught as part of the basic dismount/hard break after shooting then really all you’re doing pre-holster is verifying the hammer is already down. But most agencies don’t instruct their people to decock until the last moment and thus they’re that more likely to forget.

    At the end of the day I’ve seen too many agencies, from true top gun programs like the Federal Air Marshals to ordinary under-funded Sheriff’s Departments properly teach and implement TDA pistols to think it’s that much worse. But I’ve also never been tasked with teaching a thousand cops how to shoot from scratch, and I’m sure if that was my job I’d be looking for ways to make it easier, more efficient, and more effective for both my cadets and my instructors.

    By ToddG on Mar 3, 2014

  20. All good thoughts Todd. Unfortunately, I mentioned, I can instruct until I am blue in the face. Those that want to learn will learn. Those that watch the clock will never get it because they don’t want too.

    Once I realized that actual shooting took a back seat to a lot of wresting with suspects, running around, handcuffing, jumping fences, clearing rooms, etc, I was actually thankful for the DAO simplicity of “one less thing to worry about”…

    The class mentioned above was a basic class of Nation Park Service officers with their new Sigs. My other fun story from FLETC was the Secret Service female cadets. Lowest common denominator is alive and well in the Gov. Sad, because we have a lot of motivated hard chargers as well. Like most groups, about 25% hard chargers, 50% doing good enough, 15% trying but not able to perform, and 10% who should not be there at all.

    By Gadfly on Mar 3, 2014

  21. Todd,
    Great comments all, and a good summation of hours of conversations we have all had in various arena’s also. Having been beside you at some of those encounters with the TDA “gurus”, learning how to do it right makes a big difference. More and more I see people try and “buy” skill by modifying their guns rather than invest time into developing a skillset.
    Keep up the good work…

    By Kurt on Mar 3, 2014

  22. You’ve been “ranting” before about shooting and training on TDA triggers. Because of that the past 2 weeks I’ve been focusing on DA/SA shot pairs with my P30. After only 3 range outings (I don’t get out as much as I’d like, but I can’t afford ammo like I used to) I’ve noticed a MARKED improvement in my overall accuracy. There’s still a couple flyers on the paper but the rest are clustering more and more in the middle and I’m having to replace targets more often just to make sure I’m still hitting where I aim! I’m even feeling balsy enough to try and go faster and it’s starting to work. All I can say is “thanks!”

    By hufnagel on Mar 3, 2014

  23. Todd, what’s your opinion on DAO semi-autos?

    As a revolver addict – which is a DAO gun (at least, when used properly) – I’ve kept my eyes peeled for a DAO semi that would respond to some good smithing to get the trigger as close as possible to a good revolver. So far, no luck.

    By Alien on Mar 3, 2014

  24. “Having to deal with that one trickier first shot simply gets outweighed by the ease of a smoother, lighter, shorter trigger pull for the next twenty-plus rounds in a course of fire.”

    Ghee where have I heard that before. :p

    By PPGMD on Mar 3, 2014

  25. As far as Ben’s 2013 USPSA Nationals gun, he was indeed shooting a Tangfolio. In fact him and Eric practiced together IIRC.

    By PPGMD on Mar 3, 2014

  26. Ghee where have I heard that before. :p

    From this piece I wrote almost two years ago, perhaps? 8-)

    Thanks for the confirmation on the 2013 guns/shooters, also!

    By ToddG on Mar 4, 2014

  27. I haven’t carried a TDA pistol for years, but can’t remember ever perceiving much of a trigger transition difference between the first shot and subsequent shots. I got away from the TDA pistol mainly because I didn’t like the grip of the Sig P228/229 (still don’t). The Sig E2 grip mod has got me rethinking that a P226 ought to be in my inventory one of these days, as I’ve seen plenty of 9mm 226 tack drivers over the years. I have one ongoing case of a shooter who is more likely to hit point of aim with the first DA shot than the subsequent SA pulls, where the shooter will flinch almost every time.

    By rc on Mar 4, 2014

  28. For me personally, the SIG DA/SA is the platform I shoot best across the board.

    I have had shared training responsibility for a 1,000+ agency issuing P220s and 228s, and with other SIGs as personally approved duty and off-duty guns. LSP972 ran the LSP FTU for many years and I served as one of the adjunct instructors.

    While I agree it’s SLIGHTLY easier to teach a Glock to a new shooter, the difference gets exaggerated by instructors who don’t understand how to teach the DA/SA platform.

    The biggest training time “additions” are generally thought to be learning to decock and the DA/SA transition. Both are easily incorporated into drills you should be doing with any platform.

    I’m a firm believer that anytime you are not shooting, you need to decock. When you dismount the gun back to a ready position, you decock; if you move after shooting, decock.

    Decocking need to be ingrained into auto-pilot mode. You get there by incorporating it into normal dry fire training. When you practice your DA dry fire, after a few pulls, move the decocking lever. It wont hurt the gun and it reinforces decocking. This adds little time to training but pays BIG dividends. Anytime you work the trigger in dry fire, you work the decocking lever. Failing to work the decocking lever during dry fire reinforces NOT decocking and sets you or your students up for failure.

    Much is made about the DA/SA transition and the need for learning two trigger pulls. IME, the DA shot is the one usually on target and the first SA shot the one that gets pulled buy the inexperienced. A good drill for teaching the transition is dry fire with a partner standing to the side. Hold the trigger to the rear after the DA pull and let you partner overhand cycle the slide, keeping the trigger to the rear. Releasing the trigger to just past the reset point, and no farther, will teach where the trigger reset is.

    I know there are differences of opinion about completely coming off the trigger, but my opinion is this adds extra trigger finger movement, which is generally a bad thing when trying to teach DA/SA to new shooters.

    For live fire transition training, I like a series of smaller bulls on a single target to start. Shoot DA to one then SA to the another. Focus points are learning the reset concept and progressing to reset during recoil.

    Decocking and reset are easily incorporated into an overall training program without adding much additional effort, as long as the instructors understand how to teach the platform. Unfortunately, this is getting worse with an entire generation of LE instructors who think a Glock has a good trigger.

    It;s my firm believe that a Glock, or other striker fired pistol, may be slightly easier to teach to a minimum POST standard to a minimum trainee. However, the DA/SA is easier to teach to excellence.

    Ken

    By LSP552 on Mar 4, 2014

  29. That was a great article and explains well the rationale of the TDA. I can find no fault with it. We have discussed it often over the years in various forums but this piece explains it best.

    I do know that in “my” case the DAO works best due to agency requirements and personal experience. What works best for “ME” is not enough to base a training program on. What works best for the student is. You guidance makes the options easy to understand and adapt to the individual. As I transition out of a “same gun for everyone” job and start expanding my options of employment rest assured the TDA will be an intergral choice/option for my students to achieve the best they can.

    By FotoTomas on Mar 4, 2014

  30. Ken — Awesome comment and exactly my thoughts across the board, especially the point that it’s usually shot #2 (first SA shot) that gets thrown. Once students learn not to amp up and pull with the same force they used on the first shot — something they figure out pretty naturally for 3, 4, 5, and so on — it’s easy street.

    Thanks!

    By ToddG on Mar 4, 2014

  31. We (wife and I) have Glocks and carry them, but are starting to train on DA/SA carry guns. We actually seem to prefer DA/SA with an external safety. Note we are both long-time shooters, but have always been oriented more striker-fired.

    I know some scream that DA is your safety, but she especially feels better with them and is getting me thinking the same way.

    So what’s the thinking on carrying locked and cocked DA/SA with an external safety? Any reason we should be avoiding that?

    I ask because we are just starting training with DA guns and are aiming to carry them, and have not heard a great deal about them (maybe because they are not popular). Thoughts from the larger knowledgeable community is welcome.

    By Patrick on Mar 4, 2014

  32. I love the DA/SA Sigs. To me it’s the best of both worlds. No safety to think.

    By Rich on Mar 4, 2014

  33. I was a firearms instructor at my agency when we switched to the Sig P226 in 1989 (I think, it was a long time ago). Yes, we had to add in an instruction step for decocking. We developed our expertise and honed our training skills to teach proper weapon manipulation. Such commands as “Decock, Thumb Over Hammer and Holster” allowed us to instill the proper technique early on in the process. In the ensuing years we taught an awful lot of officers how to run a TDA pistol successfully and competently. It isn’t hard. It isn’t overly complex. It does require high speed low drag instructors who demand performance and create a training plan and learning environment geared toward the acquisition of such skills. I’m not necessarily criticizing anyone here but my view on these issues is it’s an instructor problem not a student or equipment one.

    By Six on Mar 4, 2014

  34. Alien,

    I’m not Todd (so take my advice for what it is worth) but will tell you that a Beretta 92D is out of the box, about as nice a DAO auto as can be found.

    By Suvorov on Mar 4, 2014

  35. Todd,

    Truly a good article. I’ve been a LEO for over 35 years…so far. Starting in the US Army MP school with a 1911, I was proud to qualify #1 in my MP company. Once I left the Army I transitioned to a municipal PD and started out there with a wheel gun. Bought my duty S&W 686 years later and I can still hit a doorknob at 100′.

    We later transitioned to an automatic, a S&W 6906. For those unfamiliar with it, it’s a stainless 9MM, TDA pistol with an ambi safety/decocking lever. In a class composed of LEOs from many other PDs, I won the Top Gun trophy with that pistol. I had no problem with the DA first shot of that pistol. In fact, I became so used to it that I’d ‘stage’ the trigger, when time allowed, squeezing off the shot once I was satisfied with my sight picture. Other than the anemic 9MM cartridge it’s a sweet weapon. Yeah, I bought that one too.

    When I started out training with a Glock 22, over 20 years ago, I admit I didn’t care for the smooth grip (2nd gen). But once I installed a grip sleeve, I quickly got used to it. It too is a great pistol. But give me a 1911 every day!

    By Stormy on Mar 4, 2014

  36. I have several and love them all. I have no problem with the 229 knowing that the first pull is a little harder, but during carry gives me some additional safety.
    I have the Scorpion 1911 and love the way it shoots and feels. I also have the SA only and the SA/DA 226s. They are great guns and the triggers are what they are.

    I’m looking forward to getting the 320 striker to see how it feels, since I’m not crazy about the XDM or the Glock for competition.

    By Jerry on Mar 4, 2014

  37. Interesting comments. I disagree about instructing new shooters with a striker being easier or a lazy way. The important idea is that given a certain amount of time a student will improve. If I make that student learn a more complicated trigger then they will not learn as much, all things being equal.
    Most people end up with a set amount of training time that they give to mastering a gun. Whether that’s 1 hour a day or 1 hour a month or 1 hour a year. Each of those people will have more gains with a simpler gun? If the tradeoff for that is people being shot because of trigger checking or shooting themselves because of that dreaded Glock trigger then we would have something to talk about. But that just hasn’t happened.
    As good instructors we all must train for the pro/con of different pistols. The reality is that the pros of a double action first shot is to fix what happens before or after the shooting and a consistent trigger tends to maximize the shooting at the expense of needing to train for safety before and after the gunfight.

    By bryan back on Mar 5, 2014

  38. People’ve been shooting DA/SA long enough now to have figured out how to make trigger pull weights a nonissue. My AGW Beretta is sub-8/sub-3 lbs gun, no reduced weight springs outside the D-spring and no iffy engagement surfaces. Zero malfunctions over 5000 rounds. Custom shop CZ that I have sitting in my safe is 7.13/3.13; reliability remains to be established but I think it’ll do fine. Not saying these weights are needed, I am enjoying my Vertec/FS hybrid with 10/4.5 pull just as much and I am using it as an awesome training gun, but in 21st century that long first one doesn’t even have to be really heavy anymore.

    By YVK on Mar 5, 2014

  39. Keep preachin’ it Todd. The masses who remain blissfully ignorant of TDA are, in large part, driving the market. For every 1 person who misses S&W TDAs, there are 50 people who want an HK/Sig SFA.

    I’d like to see TDA guns get some of the R&D resources that companies are putting into SFA guns.

    By Stephen on Mar 5, 2014

  40. My only issues with TDA in a Sig P226 was short stroking the trigger, which seems more like a reset issue. I imagine the SRT trigger maybe the cure, but I never tried it.

    By Jeremy on Mar 5, 2014

  41. A great article. I personally love SA/DA or TDA. I see it as the most versatile type of pistol.

    By Cowboy Buck on Mar 6, 2014

  42. Of course, the winners of the USPSA Nationals that you are using as examples have DA triggers at 7 pounds, and SA triggers at 2-2.5 pounds. So I’m thinking that using that as an example of how DA works fine (where the first shot is set hardly any heavier than a stock Glock trigger in weight) might not be the support you were looking for. (It is certainly true that TDA pistols are coming back seriously in USPSA Production. That’s because better/lighter triggers are now possible so that the first shot is just like a Glock trigger, and the rest are even lighter. Which is not at all like the guns you are talking about here.)

    That isn’t a dig—I also see no reason why TDA guns can’t be perfectly good. However, it is also true that for most people, learning to hit with that first shot (and DA trigger pull) is simply harder. Certainly possible, but simply harder. There is a reason why everyone wants lighter triggers, after all.

    I am curious about two things, though.

    1) You say “But as I’ve been ranting lately around here, the reality is that under stress it’s far too easy to trigger check and drive that short, light 3.5# DIY five cent Glock trigger job straight to the frame with resultant Unwanted Noise.”

    ….do you have any actual stats on this happening? You’ve said things like this a number of times, so I’m curious if that is merely “I’ve seen people trigger check” or “I have stats showing numerous ADs due to light triggers.” (Most AD stats I’ve seen come from people using stock triggers in Glocks, or heavier-than-stock triggers.)

    2) You also say: “Even in the competition world, where the safety/street considerations are often completely ignored, the TDA pistol is seeing a resurgence.”

    …I’m curious what safety considerations are ignored in competition? (Considering the lack of injuries or deaths given the literally hundreds of thousands of people running with guns every year for the last who knows how many year.)

    I don’t disagree with “street considerations” being ignored in USPSA, of course. But _safety_ considerations? I submit to you that far far far far far fewer people have been shot in USPSA competitions than have been shot on law enforcement ranges when they were doing simple range qualifications (much less SWAT training) so I’m curious what safety considerations competitions ignore.

    By Thomas on Mar 6, 2014

  43. Thomas —

    Re: the triggers in USPSA DA guns: they’re also competing against guys with 3.5 or lighter striker fired guns. Tricked out versus tricked out, the TDAs are dominating. I’d say that’s pretty comparable to 10/4 versus 6.

    Re: trigger checks & statistical data: no, I don’t get contacted every time someone has an AD. I think it’s pretty straightforward to understand that the shorter and lighter a trigger pull is on a gun, the less margin one has for making even momentary light contact with the trigger. As for trigger checking, I and many of my peers have seen even the most elite folks do it under some circumstances that I think it’s foolish for anyone to think he’s too safe to be immune.

    re: “safety/street considerations” I meant “safety/street considerations” not “safety considerations and street considerations.” I thought it was pretty clear that I was referring to the fact that so many people in competition forego decocking their guns — often because they shoot TDA guns lacking a decocker! — at what would be the proper, safest, most practical times because they feel it would impact their game score.

    By ToddG on Mar 6, 2014

  44. That fact that everyone is using a “tricked out” trigger in USPSA (which isn’t true, but we’ll assume at high levels they are) doesn’t actually support your point, really. After all, the argument about the first DA pull being hard is because—-it IS hard. Compared to a lighter trigger.

    In USPSA, the triggers you are talking about simply aren’t that hard. The fact that they are then using the rest of the trigger pulls at a significantly lower weight than the “tricked out” triggers of the striker-fired guns is immaterial—after all, _none_ of the triggers being pulled are actually at the weights that people dislike in the standard DA/SA pistols. So it is a little difficult to see the support for your comment there.

    Asking if you had any stats on actual safety issues (such as ADs) is not the same thing as asking you if everyone contacts you when they have an AD. Thanks for the strawman reply to ignore the point—again I’m curious if you’ve seen this cause safety issues. (Trigger checking is poor safety practice, obvious, but having an actual AD due to trigger checking is obviously significantly worse.)

    “As for trigger checking, I and many of my peers have seen even the most elite folks do it under some circumstances that I think it’s foolish for anyone to think he’s too safe to be immune.”

    —-so again I ask, if many many people do this, have we seen a larger number of people having ADs with light-weight striker-fired guns, as opposed to DA guns? Please don’t tell me that it is logical that there will be less with the heavier trigger weights—I’m aware that logic supports that. However, if the difference is “extremely little” to “slightly less than extremely little” that really isn’t any difference.

    Example: when hunting, if you need to cross a fence, it would obviously be safer to have the gun completely unloaded compared to having the gun loaded but the safety on. And yet, if the safety is actually on, the incidence of accidents when climbing fences is little different than if the gun were unloaded. Obviously one is safer—which is not the same thing as saying that one is actually at all realistically worse.

    (Climbing a fence with a loaded rifle off safe is another story. :) )

    I’m not arguing what you’ve seen regarding trigger checks—I’m asking what you’ve seen regarding lighter-weight triggers being more of an AD issue (in reality) due to things like trigger checks, than heavier DA triggers.

    Regarding your safety/street wording: “…many people in competition forego decocking their guns — often because they shoot TDA guns lacking a decocker! — at what would be the proper, safest, most practical times because they feel it would impact their game score.”

    ….in your original writing, you mentioned de-cocking the pistol before holstering right before you wrote the comments about safety/street wording. Since in competition you go much farther towards proving clear than merely de-cocking, (by actually pulling the trigger prior to holstering) I don’t think your argument above makes sense, especially since it doesn’t impact their score at all. And when loaded at the beginning of the stage, prior to holstering, people use de-cockers all the time. (Where again, it doesn’t impact their score.)

    Now, if you were arguing that people should de-cock the gun in the middle of a stage while moving from one point to another (while saying that people on the “street” should de-cock the gun when moving from one point to another while not actually shooting for safety reasons) that might make more sense. Arguable, but more applicable.

    However, that wasn’t any of the context given in what you wrote.

    Back to the original point: I’m curious if anyone has any actual stats backing up the “more ADs with competition/light triggers in striker-fired guns than DA pistols” due to trigger checks or any other reason. Yes, it is of course logical that the heavier the trigger, the harder it is to make that error. However, since people seem to be saying this again and again, I’d really like to hear if this problem describes actual significantly different levels of occurrences.

    By Thomas on Mar 7, 2014

  45. Thomas: Since you seem hell bent on demanding statistics from me but seem fine accepting your own “logic” in lieu of statistics where it’s convenient (like comparing DA to an empty gun and SA to a gun on safe?) I don’t think I have anything to help you.

    If you can get your hands on a copy of the old pre-Glock era FBI firearms instructor certification course materials there was, for a while, a very interesting study they included that showed that it was trigger pull length, more than trigger pull weight, that had the strongest correlation with accidental discharges. When they switched to Glocks, they removed it from the lesson plan. 8-)

    You might also want to read the linked article about the LEM trigger, above, where an experienced police officer talks about his extensive experience with the practical differences between longer, heavier triggers versus short and light ones in terms of real world safety.

    Also, I’m not sure what you’re talking about with the whole “when to decock” thing because the very thing you said I’m not talking about:

    “Now, if you were arguing that people should de-cock the gun in the middle of a stage while moving from one point to another (while saying that people on the “street” should de-cock the gun when moving from one point to another while not actually shooting for safety reasons) that might make more sense. Arguable, but more applicable.”

    … is exactly what I was talking about. As were others in the comments, both pro and con.

    Beyond that, if you’re only going to be satisfied with a statistical analysis that you know doesn’t exist then I suppose you can ignore the logic, ignore the real world experience of people who’ve dealt with the issues first hand, and continue to claim that it’s not an issue because no one has done a scientific study proving otherwise. I suppose that’s a win. 8-)

    By ToddG on Mar 8, 2014

  46. ToddG,
    I am going to go out on a limb here and make a bold statement (but try to be respectful and not go all internet on anyone.) I believe that a gun with the same trigger pull shot to shot is ALWAYS better than a TDA for self defense. Your argument about competition is not valid for self defense as they are using two different scoring systems and they would be two different arguments. Competition has a set course of fire which is measured start to finish. Self defense situations are measured the same except the end is not set because the other gunfighter has a say. Time efficiency is now more important shot to shot. It can make a difference depending on the other shooter.
    Next, the longer the trigger pull the more time it takes to make the gun go boom. That is basic physics. This fact can’t even be overcome with the light double action triggers(LDA).
    If we actually saw an increase in safety problems (Trigger checking going boom) with platforms with consistent triggers then I would agree that we should look at TDA’s or a middle ground of LDA triggers. We just haven’t seen that and that is why we changed.
    Marketing is a false argument as all companies do that including the TDA guns. Marketing can’t change what is true. It’s buyer beware on all of them. I lived for years with the defective HK USP when it first came out due to marketing. I know they fixed it soon after but that didn’t help all our officer’s living with that gun.
    I used to think that a person who put a lot of work into a TDA was a good reason not to change. Is the fact that someone is good with the TDA a reason to keep it? If they don’t believe a word I said above, then sure. They would be foolish to change. If they see the logic in what I said then they must admit that they are willing to gamble that the differences above will not matter in their gunfight and the trouble for retraining is not worth it. If they do that then we have a whole other discussion that has nothing to do with trigger systems.

    By bryan back on Mar 8, 2014

  47. Bryan — There’s a fundamental flaw in your reasoning:

    “Next, the longer the trigger pull the more time it takes to make the gun go boom. That is basic physics.”

    You’re only talking distance of trigger travel. That’s not the only factor. It’s like saying it always takes longer to go 50mi than 1mi. But I can drive my car 50mi faster than you can walk on your hands 1mi, I bet.

    More to the point, if you’re presenting the gun properly, the shot breaks at extension regardless so the longer trigger pull doesn’t even come into it.

    At the end of the day, if I can draw and hit a 3×5 card with 7yd in 1.5 seconds, that’s what matters. The action doesn’t have to affect that.

    By ToddG on Mar 8, 2014

  48. Toddg,

    Thanks for the reply. By the way, love the site and forum. The best I’ve seen. You keep an old has-been’s mind thinking.

    Your theory of trigger travel is only true if you’re doing two things at once (press-out and pulling the trigger) within a set time. I believe that is a flawed way of looking at it. The question is can you do it faster with one type trigger or another shortening the overall time to fire at extension? Can you get the index and press the shorter trigger faster than you can get the index and press the double action?
    If you’re gaining a sight index as soon as possible I’m guessing it’s in case you have to shoot before full extension? Then does maintaining that index slow down your press-out some? Meaning can you still throw your arms and hands out at full speed and press the trigger without disturbing that index? If so you are right about firing at full extension. Yet, my shorter travel time will make it go bang if I decide to shoot before full extension. Meaning that number will be lower for the shorter trigger. (P.S. if you don’t care about shooting sooner in the press-out, why have a good index for so long?)
    Or do you subscribe to the throw your hands and arms forward to extension as fast as your genetic ability, then controlling only the end of extension the amount of time it takes to gaining your proper index and pressing the trigger? This is overall faster at full extension because the amount of time I am slowing(controlling) the press-out is shorter. A shorter traveling trigger means an even shorter amount of time that I am controlling the press-out(going slower.) Of course there is no shooting earlier with this method. It’s all or nothing.
    The only way this reasoning is faulty is if you believe that you can throw your arms out to extension just as fast doing both techniques or will not shoot early no matter what.
    Either method works when shooting at full extension but the shorter trigger has benefits for both, one faster if shooting during press-out and one faster if shooting at the end of a fast press-out controlled only at the end.
    The reality is that only an old geek like me would even think this far into it. The reason is that all things are not equal and the math comes down on a consistent trigger shot to shot because of the other reasons that have been mentioned.
    So my overall thinking on this is that at best logic would say a consistent trigger. If you then decide on a consistent trigger a shorter one is better from first shot, if that’s all you get or from a series of shots if that’s how it turns out. Shorter trigger means faster splits with no other effort. I’m just not sure how you can fight this logic? Again to each his own, but when making an informed decision we should emphasize informed.

    By bryan back on Mar 8, 2014

  49. “Thomas: Since you seem hell bent on demanding statistics from me but seem fine accepting your own “logic” in lieu of statistics where it’s convenient (like comparing DA to an empty gun and SA to a gun on safe?) I don’t think I have anything to help you.”

    I believe I clearly stated that was an example of a situation in which two things that are obviously different are nonetheless functionally the same, and how in that case a logical analysis nonetheless gave incorrect answers. And then asked for any information you had so that we can see if your topic is similar, or different.

    As a lawyer, I’m rather surprised you are having difficulty understanding that. On the other hand, considering how you have repeatedly not addressed my point, I’m thinking it is more along the lines of “I have my opinion, and I’m going to obscure the issue instead of answering the question.”

    “If you can get your hands on a copy of the old pre-Glock era FBI firearms instructor certification course materials there was, for a while, a very interesting study they included that showed that it was trigger pull length, more than trigger pull weight, that had the strongest correlation with accidental discharges. When they switched to Glocks, they removed it from the lesson plan. 8-)”

    Now that’s the kind of information I’d like to see. Where could I get hold of that study? Do you happen to know who wrote it, where it was published, or anything like that? After all, that’s valuable and interesting information.

    I note that it seems that having a 3.5 pound trigger wouldn’t then actually be the issue compared to a heavier trigger—rather, having full pre-travel (for example, on a Glock trigger) would actually be more effective in terms of reducing ADs.

    “You might also want to read the linked article about the LEM trigger, above, where an experienced police officer talks about his extensive experience with the practical differences between longer, heavier triggers versus short and light ones in terms of real world safety.”

    I have read the linked article. You mean the part where he says: “I firmly believe that it is take up and not weight before the firearm starts into its firing process is an important feature to prevent un-intended firing and to better manage real world/street threats.”

    Which, I’ll note, is what that study you mentioned also said.

    “Also, I’m not sure what you’re talking about with the whole “when to decock” thing because the very thing you said I’m not talking about:

    [snip what I said]

    … is exactly what I was talking about. As were others in the comments, both pro and con.”

    Apparently you ignored the part where I talked about how this is what you said in the _initial writing_, which I quoted—which only talked about decocking before holstering with regard to competition. I’m sure you know that arguing about a point of writing by actually replying to a completely different point of writing doesn’t really make for much of a conversation.

    “Beyond that, if you’re only going to be satisfied with a statistical analysis that you know doesn’t exist…”

    I obviously never said that. (After all, this is a written conversation which makes it very easy to check what we both have said.) And, I’ll note, when pushed enough you actually mentioned a study that would be very interesting to read, and directly applicable to this question. (Though it doesn’t seem to support the “trigger weight” part as much as the “trigger length” part.)

    “…then I suppose you can ignore the logic…”

    And I suppose you can ignore the direct and relevant example I gave explaining why in addition to logic, having actual data is useful as logic is also sometimes merely a great way to make mistakes with confidence.

    “…ignore the real world experience of people who’ve dealt with the issues first hand…”

    And when I asked for data or information, you give me “it’s logical” and “we’ve seen trigger checks” but not “we’ve seen ADs.” When I simply asked for what you’ve seen from your experience—which, I’ll note you refused to actually give.

    “…and continue to claim that it’s not an issue because no one has done a scientific study proving otherwise.”

    Hm. Are you arguing with someone else? After all, in what I’ve written I haven’t claimed anything of the sort. And, I’ll note, in actual science we don’t say that things don’t exist just because there isn’t data. We say we don’t know.

    “I suppose that’s a win. 8-)”

    Are you having a serious persecution complex here, Todd? Seriously, I don’t get your emotionally defensive reactions.

    All I asked was if you’ve actually seen a higher occurrence of ADs due to the reasons you gave, and listed a logical reason for wanting that information. I’m curious what you’ve seen in terms of actual ADs. If you haven’t seen any, a simple “haven’t seen it” would have sufficed. If you thought you had seen more, but didn’t actually track it you could have simply said so. “Think I’ve seen more, but haven’t actually tracked it.” (Though I note I thought you’ve said in the past that you tracked all sort of things in the classes you teach, including things like ADs…)

    Or, you know, from the beginning you could have simply given the study you finally mentioned in your last reply.

    Instead, you give a lot of misdirection and verbage about decocking (ignoring directly what you originally said), and get all “more instructor than you!” about “what I’ve seen!” with the “real world experience” commentary.

    …when those people with the real-world experience aren’t saying they’ve seen ADs. Nor have you.

    Which is why I asked.

    If you want to take the fact that I asked a question about ADs THAT personally (which apparently you have) that is your choice. I, however, merely wanted to know if you had any data about more ADs with lighter-weight-trigger guns. If you don’t have any data, simply saying so would have been sufficient.

    And saying so wouldn’t mean “it doesn’t happen,” it simply means “we don’t have data.”

    I’d still like to hear from anyone who has data on this—police AD data, firearms training class data, etc. It would be interesting to see how much difference there is.

    By Thomas on Mar 8, 2014

  50. Bryan — During a press-out the trigger is being pulled, regardless of gun/action type. As such, if we’re talking about breaking a shot at extension then the gun/action type is irrelevant.

    If I’m understanding you, the other issue you’re proposing is basically being on target already and then breaking a shot without needing to move the sights or gun. Is this correct? If that’s the case, it comes down to moving your finger from the register position (presumably we’re not talking about covering someone with finger on trigger) to the fire position. Based on my experience in a number of classes where instructors do this kind of demo — usually to prove that it’s not much slower to be in register versus being on the trigger — is that action type doesn’t factor into speed. If it does, it’s lost in the noise of reaction time even when the shooter knows he’s going to respond to something within the next second (like a shot timer).

    I tend to think of it this way: perhaps in absolute terms you can push a penny three inches across a table faster than I can push a nickel four inches across a table. But in practical terms neither of them is difficult and neither of them really takes more time in a measurable sense.

    By ToddG on Mar 9, 2014

  51. Toddg,

    I think we have come full circle. I understand that talking about travel time of a trigger is a small thing but I do bring it up to show that changing from TDA to light double action to a short trigger has merits as it pertains to the shooting portion of self defense. The downsides tend to pertain to the non-shooting portion of self defense. That is important but not at the expense of shooting slower.
    The most important thing for me is that while the difference in your ability or even my lower ability to adapt to various weapons is small when looking at the data, it tends to be huge when looking at it with new or not well trained shooters. For them I believe they make greater progress earlier in training for the stated reasons. The fact that if the shooters go on to become exceptional or advanced shooters and the chosen platform still helps them in small ways is a plus or at the very least there is no detriment to choosing it. I just don’t see a downside to doing it, even looking objectively at the pros and cons.

    By bryan back on Mar 9, 2014

  52. Great discussion. I started with a Sig 226, but gravitated towards weapons with consistent triggers after I bought a HK P7. Then after following Todd’s torture test of the P30, bought one in LEM. I especially appreciated nyeti’s “why I like the LEM”. In that article he wrote that he used the P7 for a time. I’d love to hear his analysis of that system. I personally think it beats every other striker system out there. The only real disadvantage is cost and support. Yes, it’s different and weird for a lot of folks.

    By Woodpuppy on Mar 15, 2014

  53. It basically comes down to this… As long as hand/grip size, injury/strength, etc… doesn’t come into play it is a TRAINING ISSUE. The problem is, it’s easier to buy slick, cool parts and lighten triggers than it is to actually TRAIN and learn the FUNDAMENTALS.

    The problem is, most guys I see with all the aftermarket crap on their Glocks still can’t hit the side of a barn.

    I carry Glocks on and off duty most of the time for various reasons but I can shoot my DA/SA Sigs equally as well, if not a little better most of the time. Why? Because I TRAINED and PRACTICED the heavier first DA pull AND the transition to the lighter SA subsequent pulls.

    I tried an aftermarket 4# connector in one of my Glocks for the first time this year just to see what the hype was about. It didn’t “make it easier to shoot WELL. If anything, it made it easier to shoot FASTER. My splits went from .18-.20 to .16-.18. It came out IMMEDIATELY though after I squeezed off a round before I wanted to while resetting the trigger between shots.

    Yes, it was a training issue and I could have trained to the lighter, mushier trigger, but I chose not to. I’ve got tens of thousands of rounds of training and practice through stock Glocks and did not see any sort of benefit from the lighter trigger that would justify the effort.

    I don’t buy the “easier to shoot” or “one trigger pull is better than two” crap. My theory is training is better than not training regardless of the equipment. If you can’t put rounds where you want them with a 5-7# stock trigger, I guarantee that trigger pull weight isn’t the true issue… YOU are… and lightening the trigger pull to just ounces isn’t going to “fix” YOU.

    Quit being a student of the gun and start being a student of the fight (or game if competition is your thing)!!!

    To quote a friend, “TRAIN CORRECTLY, TRAIN HARD, TRAIN OFTEN”

    By Chris in GA on Mar 22, 2014

  54. Excellent article. I recently had to transition my colleagues from SIG .40 S&W’s to Glock 23′s. Very few were happy with the transition as all had at least 14 years experience with the SIG platform. While I shoot the Glock well, and have as favorite gun the Walther PPQ, I prefer TDA guns, namely Berettas. The gun I have started to off-duty carry is an “old friend,” my 92FS Compact.

    By browcs on Mar 22, 2014

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