Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #1
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    Default SA/DA/DAO in semi-auto pistols

    I'm new to the world of semi-auto pistols. I've bought one, SA, compact, 9mm, 8+1, for CC and I can understand that concept. I want to buy at least two others, 9mm, one CC for my wife and another high capacity for myself as a carry option.

    I have had revolvers and I understand DA and SA in relation to that configuration, but the DAO in a semi-automatic does not make sense to me. Does it require the stronger hand/finger strength as does the DA in a revolver? Wouldn't that rule out any DAO pistols for my wife? Doesn't DAO affect the shooter's ability to be accurate?

    I don't like DA for most revolver shooting, though I've seen a fellow at a local range who was sooo good in DA with a snubbie revolver. He outshot all the folks using a variety of semi-autos. I experience that my accuracy falls off badly when I go to DA with a revolver.

    In any event, accuracy in a pistol may be moot point since some of the articles that I've seen indicate that self-defense events most often take place at "bad-breath" distances and point-and shoot is the only option.

    Help me out here and clarify my fuzziness. :-)

    Thanks,
    Dan

  2. #2
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    Default Re: SA/DA/DAO in semi-auto pistols

    Quote Originally Posted by drose40 View Post
    I have had revolvers and I understand DA and SA in relation to that configuration, but the DAO in a semi-automatic does not make sense to me. Does it require the stronger hand/finger strength as does the DA in a revolver? Wouldn't that rule out any DAO pistols for my wife? Doesn't DAO affect the shooter's ability to be accurate?

    In a DAO semi auto pistol the hammer does not stay in full cock position after the slide returns to battery, it returns to rest like the hammer returns to rest in a revolver when fired DA. So each shot in a DAO semi auto pistol is like shooting all 6 shots in a revolver without cocking the hammer first. So yes it does require the stronger hand/finger strength like DA in a revolver.

    There are a few (at least 1, the Beretta PX4) that have a "constant action" where the hammer does not go to full rest when slide is worked but remains "partially" cocked. Each shot is still basically DAO but has a lighter trigger pull than the standard DAO pistol.

    Can't say that would rule out any DAO semi auto pistols for your wife, depends on what she could handle and not all DAO semi's have the same trigger pull as some are lighter than others.

    The DAO in a semi auto pistol doesn't affect the shooter's ability to be accurate any more than DA shooting a revolver would.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: SA/DA/DAO in semi-auto pistols

    Quote Originally Posted by drose40 View Post
    I have had revolvers and I understand DA and SA in relation to that configuration, but the DAO in a semi-automatic does not make sense to me. Does it require the stronger hand/finger strength as does the DA in a revolver? Wouldn't that rule out any DAO pistols for my wife? Doesn't DAO affect the shooter's ability to be accurate?
    DAO in Autos means that every shot is double action. This is similar to a DA revolver if you shoot it without cocking the hammer.

    DA, DA/SA, or TDA (Traditional Double Action) refer to the more common DA Auto's where the first shot was meant to be shot DA and the slide would cock the hammer for follow up shots which would be fire in SA.

    There are also other adaptations of DAO to consider. Traditionally, the GLOCK is labeled as a DAO. The difference being, from what I would consider a pure DAO, is the GLOCK is partially cocked when racking the slide. So pulling the trigger finishes the cocking cycle then releases the striker. The Kahr line of pistols fall into this "semi cocked" category, as well as early "DAO" Smiths.

    There is also the light double action concept. With these guns the main spring is fully cocked, yet the hammer is in the forward position. A long, but light pull of the trigger brings the hammer rearward, then the hammer is released and powered by the already compressed mainspring. Examples of this would be the Para Ordnance LDA and HK's LEM trigger system.

    A final "DAO" worth mentioning is the M&P. AFAIK, the only thing DAO about this gun is that they "claim" it is a DAO. The striker is more or less fully cocked, and there is just a lot of take up before the sear releases it. In reality, it seems this pistol is more of a SA gun much like the XD pistols.

    As for harder to shoot accurately, that is going to depend on the individual shooter. While short single actions are what most people will shoot more accurately, a few may actually find they shoot the DA better as they are not aware exactly when the shot is going to break and my be less likely to flinch.

    As for requiring more finger strength, the true DAO guns can be as heavy as a revolver, but then it's really hard to generalize, since the range of pulls for either can go from reasonably light to atrocious. The Semi Cocked and precocked varieties will tend to have much easier trigger pulls.

    Hope this helps.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: SA/DA/DAO in semi-auto pistols

    My 229 has a rated DA trigger pull of 10lbs and a SA of 4.4, the 229 DAK has a DA pul of 6.5lbs. I find myself to be more accurate in SA.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: SA/DA/DAO in semi-auto pistols

    Bucky did a pretty good job breaking it down.

    You have to try out what you're looking at. A S&W Sigma trigger is very different from a S&W M&P trigger. The HK USP DA/SA pull in double action is very different from their LEM trigger (always double action).

    As for accuracy not mattering...I would not think that way. Of all the guys I know who've had to kill folks with their pistols...all train surgical accuracy. Yes, at contact distance you might not use the sights, and shoot from retention....but you need to be accurate with whatever you carry.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: SA/DA/DAO in semi-auto pistols

    Many thanks.

    Bucky's explanation has been copied and saved in my archive.

    Handling the pistols is good advice. Internet shopping is attractive. You can have access to many vendor and a lot of information. But there seems no substitute for hands-on in this matter. As much as I don't like taking up gun shop owner time "kicking tires", it does look like I'll have to do some shopping to handle some of the pistols that I may consider.

    In your experience, how do shop owners/staff view "shoppers"?

    Dan

  7. #7
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    Default Re: SA/DA/DAO in semi-auto pistols

    spend some $$ to save some $$. go to a range with a good selection and shoot some pistols. that way you don't drop a lot of $$ on something you don't like, and take a beating on resale.

    you can narrow the list down with internet research before you go or after you return, but remember that what you pay for is usually what you get. Sig, Glock, H&K are (imo) the best brands, followed closely by S&W and Springfield Armory. Ruger follows with good reliability but a step down in accuracy (semi-autos), and is the lowest I would go for a reliable self-defense pistol.

    I'd skip the S&W Sigma, the trigger pull is tough and I don't believe in messing with the trigger on a carry/HD pistol.

    Some new models of good brands that are experiencing teething problems are Ruger SR9 and LCP, and the Sig 250. I'd wait before buying these models.

    I would skip the Taurus unless it is an older revolver or PT92, and since you are pretty new to this I wouldn't try to figure out if you are looking at a decent one, or not.

    In revolvers, S&W and Ruger are the only cost-effective, quality options available. Charter Arms have a bear of a trigger pull, and Colt's are really pricey.

    I don't have experience with CZ, Kimber, or Para Ordnance, so I won't comment on these.

    shoot what you want to buy, and after you buy it, make sure to shoot it a lot. if you aren't going to train with it you are probably better off with a club!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: SA/DA/DAO in semi-auto pistols

    Quote Originally Posted by drose40 View Post
    Many thanks.

    Bucky's explanation has been copied and saved in my archive.

    Handling the pistols is good advice. Internet shopping is attractive. You can have access to many vendor and a lot of information. But there seems no substitute for hands-on in this matter. As much as I don't like taking up gun shop owner time "kicking tires", it does look like I'll have to do some shopping to handle some of the pistols that I may consider.

    In your experience, how do shop owners/staff view "shoppers"?
    Dan
    That's what they get paid to do. So, they do it.

    However, you need to know the shop a little before you listen to their "info". Some guys know shotguns, some know hunting rifles, some know military guns, etc. Not all of them know everything about everything.

    I'm lucky because i have 4 shops in my area and i can shop around. I like to build a rapport with the shop owners / employees. I even have one shop that will call me when they get something in that i might be interested in. They know my interests because i spend time in the shop and talk with the owner.

    I like to conduct business with my local shops when i can. Without them we are screwed. However, there are also times when they just handle a transfer for me.

    I'd suggest that you find a shop that you like and do business with them and get to know them. I honestly don't mind spending $20 - $50 more for a gun at a local place just to help keep them around and continue to get great service. Sometimes you can't put a price on good service. You don't always get that when you only buy over the internet.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: SA/DA/DAO in semi-auto pistols

    Double action only as all mechanisms requires practice, practice and practice. Personally I shoot my best in DA with my favored wheel guns. The Sig Sauer DAK is awesome and I have two 229's with that trigger type. I have had great success teaching my woman how to shoot with a 9mm 229R DAK. After about 1000 rounds she shoots better then most guys at the range on a given day.

    As for shoppers in gun shops, think as if you were the owner. Would you want to see and consult your prospective customer. As a business owner I sure enjoy it. The prospect of revenue is quite enjoyable.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: SA/DA/DAO in semi-auto pistols

    Good job Bucky. Guns for fun is correct about the local shops. Rep to you guys.

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