Earlier this year I had a student attend a class with a double action pistol. It was his first organized training class and he was fighting his equipment the whole time. The double action was very difficult for him to gain proficiency much less master.
I recommended he upgrade to a single action style weapon. Just for the record, if it has one type of trigger action then I call that single action, if it has two, then I call it double action. Sure there are all sorts of variants and different definitions, but to keep it simple if the weight/pull of the trigger changes, then it is a double action for the purposes of this article. Here is a piece with a bit more details for those who want to learn more or sharpshoot me.
I think most folks with a modest amount of training and experts will agree that to be a consistent marksman trigger management is probably the most difficult task to master. I have seen students who can quickly master all other core skills, but struggle to develop a modicum of consistency with their trigger management. By the way, trigger management is the collection of trigger finger placement, trigger location and trigger movement. The first two are easy enough to teach and there is no preset formula that will work for everyone. Because there are so many variables, type of firearm, gender, hand size & strength to name a few, it is best to individualize the student’s requirements. However, trigger movement is pretty much the same across the board. You have to move the trigger straight to rear, past the point of ignition disturbing the sights as minimally as possible.
You do that and assuming you have proper sight management for the shot required and you will hit the target. It really is that simple.
Once you have put in the hours, time and resources to master that one style of trigger action we compound the issue by giving you TWO. The traditional double action will start out with the hammer forward that must be moved smoothly straight to the rear, the movement is much longer than single action types. Then once they have fired that first round all subsequent rounds until restored to double action will be on the much lighter single action. One would think things would be easy from here…not so much.
The problem that a lot of folks overlook is that to develop the power to smoothly move the trigger to the rear on double action requires their finger be placed in a specific position for maximum leverage. That same position often times is a poor placement for your single action shots. This results in poor trigger finger placement, that leads to poor trigger movement that leads to an errant shot. It’s just logic.
As a novice shooter I recommend a single action type firearm so you don’t have to go through this learning curve. Given the realities most people interested in personal protection will not put in the same amount of range time as an elite operator to perfect their skill so make it easy on yourself. Life is already hard enough.