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Concealed Carry Myths: Double-action Handguns Suck for Self-defense

Concealed Carry Myths: Double-action Handguns Suck for Self-defense

Beretta 92

Recently, there has been much rekindled and rehashed debate on whether striker-fired guns are the spawn of Satanic fire-breathing seahorses or the most effective self-defense technology ever to grace a holster.

Some folks remain convinced that striker-fired guns like Glocks have trigger-press motions that are too easy and too short. According to this view, negligent and unintended discharges are bound to happen, more so than with other designs. Under stress, your body does weird things, one of which is a sympathetic muscular response. For example, clenching one hand will cause the other to clench, although maybe to a lesser degree. If that “other” hand is holding a gun, then you just might fire it unintentionally. It’s happened before, but so have a lot of other things, like Clay Aiken running for Congress.

The opposing camp prefers long, double-action triggers like those on revolvers and pistols like Berettas, Sig Sauers, and the like. The first shot requires a very long and deliberate press of the trigger. On a Beretta 92FS, the base of the trigger moves over an inch before the shot breaks. The center portion of the trigger, where one’s finger will likely rest, moves over 5/8 of an inch. The double-action pull’s trigger weight can run over 10 pounds, compared to the five-pound range of many striker-fired pistols.

At first glance, it sounds like the double-action/single-action crowd has the debate nailed, but there are downsides to consider. First, that long double-action trigger press is harder to master, so it takes some work to deliver an accurate shot, especially under stress. Then there’s the dreaded transition. With a double-action/single-action gun like the Beretta 92/M9, the first shot requires a long trigger press with over 10 pounds of pressure. Subsequent shots operate in single-action mode with a five-pound, and much shorter, trigger press. Getting off multiple accurate shots requires the shooter to master this transition from double-action to single-action between the first shot and second. A striker-fired (or single-action only) pistol has no such transition to conquer. Proponents of that design claim you can unleash two rapid-fire shots at a 300-yard-distant Willy Wonka Bottle Cap candy and hit it both times.

Like most debates, there is some truth on both sides. Personally, I have double-action/single-action, striker-fired, and single-action only guns and am comfortable carrying any of those styles. I’ve never been stressed out about the whole double-action/single-action transition thing. In fact, my first “real caliber” gun was a 9x19mm Beretta 92FS. I carried it as my only option for years and never worried much about it. I guess I didn’t know enough to know that it was the worst concealed carry choice ever and would cause not only my eventual demise, but the downfall of Bingo parlors and tanning salons everywhere. I simply shot it enough to feel comfortable with “the transition.” As a new concealed carrier, I liked the multiple layers of perceived safety. The safety/decocking lever provided one layer. The long, double-action trigger press offered another. I still like those layers and carry double-action pistols frequently.