Difference Between Single Action and Double Action

Single Action vs Double Action

Single action and double action are terms used for the mechanisms behind the trigger of a firearm. In all firearms, trigger consists of a lever that has to be pulled using one’s index finger while taking aim at the target. These triggers initiate the action that terminates with the firing of the cartridge. There is a subtle difference between single action and double action firearm that will be highlighted in this article.

Single Action

In a single action pistol or any other firearm, the user pulls the trigger which releases a hammer and this hammer fires the cartridge. The pistol has to be coked manually to be able to fire again. Because there is only one action (that is of the hammer getting released), this mechanism is called single action. After every shot, the revolver needs to be cocked by the user. Most of the shotguns and rifles work on this principle.

Double Action

As the name implies, double action trigger mechanism not only releases the hammer but also cocks it to keep it ready for the next fire. In the case of a double action revolver, the cylinder gets rotated with the next cartridge inside being positioned to be fired with the next pull of the trigger.

What is the difference between Single Action and Double Action?

• There is a single action of release of hammer in a single action firearm while there is release of hammer and its cocking in a double action firearm.

• The trigger of a single action revolver is smoother than a double action revolver as it only needs to release the hammer. There is a bit of a compromise with accuracy in double action revolver as the trigger is heavy and not so smooth.

• Reloading of double action revolver is quicker and easier than a single action revolver.

• Rifles and shotguns are single action while the revolvers of today are double action.