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Difference Between Single Action and Double Action Guns

Single Action vs Double Action Guns

Ancient man used his hands and other tools such as stones and wood to fight his enemies. With the discovery of gunpowder in ancient China, however, he invented weapons such as guns to use against people and animals that threatened him.

Guns are handheld projectile weapons that have hollow and tubular barrels and a breech where bullets are loaded. They are trigger initiated and use a striking device to ignite the primer. Striking mechanisms are either hammers (spring-tensioned metals which pivot and strike pins to discharge a cartridge) or strikers (spring-loaded firing pins traveling on an axis directly aimed at the cartridge).

Guns which have hammers are either single action or double action. In operating a single action gun, such as a revolver, the hammer must be cocked before each shot. It has to be pulled manually, but most guns cock the hammer as part of loading the gun like inserting the magazine.

The trigger in a single action gun releases the hammer to discharge the firearm only once. For automatic or semiautomatic guns, after the first shot, the recoil will automatically cock the hammer for the next shots. Pistols are fired after being cocked by pulling the trigger once for each shot. Rifles and shotguns are single action guns and so are the Ruger Vaquero, M1911 and the Browning Hi-Power.

Double action guns are also called double action only (DOA). In a double action gun, when the trigger is pulled, it produces two actions: pulling back the hammer to a cocked position while indexing the cylinder for the next round, and releasing the hammer to strike the pin to fire the gun. They can be fired through single action by cocking the hammer and pulling the trigger or through double action which is from a hammer down position wherein the hammer is cocked by the trigger, revolving the cylinder, and tripping the hammer to fire the rounds.

These types of guns are the standard issue for the police for the past several years because they are easier and faster to use especially in high-stress situations. Today, however, they have been replaced by semiautomatic pistols.


1.A single action gun is a firearm which has a hammer that needs to be cocked before every shot while a double action gun is a firearm which can be fired through a single action or a double action.
2.The trigger in a single action gun releases the hammer to discharge the firearm only once while the trigger in a double action gun cocks the hammer which revolves the cylinder and trips the hammer to fire the gun.
3.Double action guns were preferred by the police over single action guns because they are more convenient to use during situations that are high stress.
4.Double action guns produce two actions when the trigger is pulled while single action guns do not.
5.Examples of single action guns are rifles, shotguns, and some types of revolvers while examples of double action guns are revolvers like the Smith and Wesson Model 66 and Browning BDA.

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