Tactical Military Arms

Video: Handgun Action Types Explained

If you’re a first-time gun buyer, you can easily get confused by all the jargon used to describe handgun actions.

Terms like single-action (SA), double-action (DA), double-action only (DAO), striker-fired or hammer-fired — and innumerable variations on these — are used by gun makers in catalogs and websites. They assume everybody knows what they’re talking about.

I’ve never concerned myself too much with these definitions, instead preferring to handle the gun and see with my own eyes what it actually does: How the trigger feels, but more importantly how it resets, where it breaks, how the hammer cocks (if it has a hammer), and basically how the gun works.

A basic understanding of action types and functions will help you narrow down your search. Watch this video for a good overview of handgun action types. And then get to a gun store and try out several different types of handguns. See what you like, and then get on with more important matters, like regular practice.


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Massad Ayoob’s Greatest Handguns of the World Vol. I

Gun Digest Shooter’s Guide to the 1911

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