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Tips for Shooting Double-Action Revolvers

Mar 10, 2020 8:30:00 AM

The double-action revolver seems simple but takes practice and technique to master. Once achieved, however, the shooter can realize the full potential of the platform.

The double-action revolver was invented in the late 1800s, and was the default choice of personal protection pistol well into the late 20th century. Some police departments didn't phase out revolvers until the 1990s. The advantages of simplicity, durability and fast deployment – get gun out, acquire sight picture and start shooting – make them a powerful implement of self-defense.

But the double-action system requires learning to master. What do you need to know? Let's get started.

Double Action Trigger Pull

Picture of a Ruger Redhawk

The double action trigger pull is not complicated, but neither is it necessarily easy to master. However, those that do find it rewards the practice time with great control and accuracy.

Double-action trigger systems, whether those of a revolver or a double-action semi-automatic, cock the firing mechanism and then release it, discharging a round. You'll notice the hammer travel back and then drop forward.

However, there is more resistance and a longer travel than with a single-action trigger or the striker-fired mechanism of many modern pistols.

Double Action Pistols Require A Good Grip

Picture of a revolver in hand

To pull a double-action trigger correctly, you must first hold the gun as steady as possible with a proper firing grip. Most of the pressure should come from the support hand, keeping the pistol firmly in your grasp as you point it down range.

Proper technique in shooting a pistol requires that the gun is held steady, and that the shooting hand does not disturb the sight picture when pulling the trigger.

This is critical for ANY good pistol shooting, regardless of what kind of pistol it is.

The Double Action Trigger Press

The trigger pull in a double-action revolver is considerably more than that of a single-action revolver or auto pistol. Therefore, more pressure has to be applied on the trigger to launch the bullet.

The proper technique for shooting a double-action revolver – or for that matter, a double-action pistol – is to get proper contact with the trigger face, and to pull the trigger with consistent pressure all the way through. It should be a smooth, uniform squeeze from front to back.

Staging the trigger – taking it up part of the way, pausing, and then finishing the press – is not recommended for practical shooting. It CAN be used for long-range target shooting, but should only be experimented with AFTER you've gained some proficiency with the standard double-action trigger pull.

Leave Single-Action Shooting For Single-Action Pistols

While a double-action revolver is certainly capable of being fired in single-action, by first cocking the hammer, we here are concerned with a revolver being used in self-defense. While people did fight with single-action revolvers, they were phased out in short order once double-action revolvers were reliable and commercially available enough to do so.

It's fine for target shooting, but this is about self-protection. And a fighting revolver should be fired double-action, only.

Bear in mind that learning DA/SA semi-automatic pistols is a whole other thing on its own. For those guns, you have to master BOTH trigger techniques. While challenging, many shooters have found it incredibly rewarding, though it is a long topic to cover in and of itself.

Double Action Revolvers, Like Any Gun, Require Training And Practice

The shooting of double-action revolvers requires a substantial amount of practice to gain the confidence and skills for an accurate shot.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter what kind of gun you choose. The onus is on you to put in the practice time becoming skilled with your weapon.

However, if you put in the time, you will be rewarded. Taking agency over your personal defense is a powerful feeling, and it is certainly an empowerment of any person when they take that step. And empowering women is a beautiful thing.

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