Long range or precision shots - DA or SA?

Long range or precision shots - DA or SA?

This is a discussion on Long range or precision shots - DA or SA? within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; In all my handgun courses at Gunsite, I have been consistently taught to use DA for long range and/or precision shots, even if the gun ...

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Thread: Long range or precision shots - DA or SA?

  1. #1
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    Long range or precision shots - DA or SA?

    In all my handgun courses at Gunsite, I have been consistently taught to use DA for long range and/or precision shots, even if the gun offers a choice of DA or SA. Specifically, DA/SA semis and non-DAO revolvers offer the choice of firing DA or SA, but Gunsite says use DA.

    It suddenly occurred to me I don't know why they recommend that? I might add, they probably have sound logic behind their position on this; I find that to be true of all of Gunsite's dogma.

    Since one of the advantages of the 1911 is its SA trigger and it seems to dominate accuracy events, i.e. Camp Perry competitions, Bullseye competitions, and even IDPA and IPSC competitions, wouldn't that indicate that the trigger characteristics can/do make a difference and SA triggers seem to be the choice for precision shooting?

    So if I have a gun like a Sig 226 or H&K USP with a DA/SA trigger, and I have to make a long or precision shot, why wouldn't I want to take advantage of the lighter, shorter, SA? Anybody have any thoughts about this?


  2. #2
    VIP Member Array Euclidean's Avatar
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    My understanding of the IPSC rules is that they are meant to favor the 1911 platform (among others) as much as possible. That's just a common complaint I constantly hear. Any convention or procedure that might play on the relative handicaps of another firing platform would not be surprising because all competitive shooting venues have some kind of rules like that. Could that have something to do with it?

    I guess the other theory is that no one actually uses a single action shot in a combat application unless the architecture of the gun creates or necessitates it. Personally though I think that's bunk if we're talking about enough distance though. I think if you have enough distance to realistically use the sights you have enough distance to use a SA shot.

    I think the underlying assumption is maybe since if you could do it with a DA shot, then there's no point in doing it SA.

    I think SA shooting has its place though. For instance I practice fire .44 Magnum 75% SA because honestly, I can't control it at speed. But then again I recognize my own limitations and I don't carry this caliber for everyday personal protection unless it's against wild animals, where without the power this cartridge offers I would be sunk anyway.

    Other than that rambling I'm honestly at a loss. Personally I think a sane man who was doing deliberate precise long distance shooting would use every advantage he could get.

    Hopefully you can go there and come back and tell me why it is. I'm sure there's a good reason for it. I understand and agree with the idea that in a typical scenario where you're probably shooting at sub 5 yard distances you better make darn sure you can get the job done in double action, but in a situation where you feasibly could use the SA I don't know why you would not.

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    VIP Member Array Bud White's Avatar
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    Makes no sense to me other than maybe if you got the adrelin (sp) dump going on you might set off the round before meaning to etc etc..


    For long shots witha Revolver as in hunting i use single action on my Super redhawks and other guns just easyer to make a good shot

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    Ive heard it said that if you cant make a relaible shot with the double action, that its too far for a pistol shot.

    Personally, I think it is flawed logic. The training has been watered down to meet everyones standards, at long ranges the single action shot is superior in every way to a double action shot.

    When I practice at 100 yards with my Sig 220 at a B27 combat silhouette, I shoot ONLY with the single action mode.Doing that will get me in the center of mass with a sight hold even with the shoulders.

    I've tried it with double action shots and most of them wont even make it on the paper. I've have had some success with holding at the bottom of the paper where the feet would be and shooting, because when the gun lets off the trigger movement will make the whole gun rise that much.

    The only way to understand it is to try it. Once after a qualification, I told the Rangmaster (a seargant) that I didnt understand why we didnt pop off a mag at the 100 yard range. He said it was because no one could hit the paper even if they allowed it. After some discussion about, he agreed to let me try it just for the heck of it. Having practiced that very thing on occasion, I had no problems keeping them all in the 8 ring or better. He was somewhat surprised that I did that well, and then dismissed it as being a viable sloution to a shooting scenario.

    While I agree that one would be better suited with a rifle, I would like to know that I could at least return some reasonably accurate fire with the Sig if it ever was required. Chances are that it would never happen, but in the event that it did happen, that moment in time wouldnt be the time to wonder if you were capable or not.

    Being an avid hunter, I have taken many types of game with various pistols. Even with the revolvers, each shot will be a single action shot. Only someone that doesnt know any better would advocate taking a double action shot when the single action mode was avavilable.

    It is the very reason that many people shoot a 1911 model and score consistently higher than they do with the Glock or any other DAO model.

  5. #5
    Member Array scbair's Avatar
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    As an old-school PPC competitor (I competed in the 70s . . . that's 1970s; I ain't THAT old-school!), the masters & high masters in that game routinely fired DA only, across the entire course of fire. That's out to 50 yards, at the B27 (the x-ring is not much larger than a pack of cigarettes). The rules specifically allowed SA fire at that range, but the better shooters stuck to DA-only.

    The logic (in 2 parts):
    1) Sticking with a single mode of fire reduces the chances of "forgetting" you have a somewhat lighter and tremendously shorter trigger action (leading to an "oops!" outside the scoring rings . . .);

    2) A DA revolver can be set up for DA-only, offering less overtravel or "backlash", than can one set for SA or DA fire. My own personal customized S&W M10 (6" x 1-1/8" Douglas barrel, Bo-Mar sight rib, target action) had a trigger stop that j-u-s-t allowed the DA sear to trip; it would not have been possible to cock the hammer for SA fire (even if the spur hadn't been ground off to lighten & speed the hammer).

    I really think the first reason is the most important, though. Consistency, consistency, consistency.

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    I do agree regarding consistency - and I too shoot PPC - usually just the 600. But, using a 686 with a real smooth trigger - plus added barrel wieght - plus target loads - no problem and really this is hardly long range as such. So DA is just fine.

    If stretching to 100 yeards sorta deal then however much I practice and use DA - there is no way with choice that I am NOT going to use SA. The sighting is way more critical at extended ranges and with the short sight base of a handgun - you need all the edge you can get.
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    Thumb cock that hammer & always take the SA shot if you have the time and the option to do so.
    Just my humble o-penguin.

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    VIP Member Array Rob72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scbair
    I really think the first reason is the most important, though. Consistency, consistency, consistency.
    I can follow that a ways, but..... Our services still have S/A, and F/A (or burst) settings on weapons; bit of variation in weapons response, there. If you really need that long range shot, you're going to have to "stop time" anyway, to make it (no one is going to make a 100 yd shot with a handgun while running). Stop. Breath. Cock. Aim. Breath. Squeeze. Like Clint Smith says, "No second place winners, in a gunfight." If a burly dude with an obvious woody grabs an 8 y/o and takes off towards a waiting car, a "cold-kill" would be the only win. Hitting the luggage rack, and getting the tag # aren't of any appreciable value, if he gets away.

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    Senior Member Array Tom357's Avatar
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    While a light, short SA trigger might be no problem for an experienced target shooter, I think the DA action forces the average shooter to pay more attention to the trigger squeeze and sight alignment. Yes, the SA trigger is easier, but, unless you have the experience to isolate your trigger finger well, I think it is easier to push/pull the shot off target, too. I only competed with rifle, and I realize that is entirely different, but those are my thoughts. For me, I used to shoot much better DA than SA, but after I switched to Hogue grips on my P226, not only did my DA shooting improve, but my SA shooting improved significantly. The Hogues fit my hand better, and I no longer put too much finger on my SA trigger.
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    OK, here's something I hadn't thought about until I read Tom357's post. When we practice with our DA/SA gun, do we fire more shots DA or SA? Think about it. We charge our mag, stuff it in the gun, rack the slide and we're in SA. We shoot to slide lock, insert a new mag, release the slide and again we're in SA. Just for practice we do a malfunction drill. We fire two shots, tap, rack, and again we are in SA. We practice failure drills, two shots to the COM and one to the head. The first shot is DA the next two are SA. Suppose we run a "Bill Drill". The first shot is DA and the next five are SA.

    I can't help but wonder, for those of us that shoot DA/SA guns, do we fire more rounds in DA or SA? If the answer is SA, because of the typical situations described above, then wouldn't we want to shoot precision or long shots the way we practice the most? And for me, that would be SA, because that's what I shoot most because of the nature of my training/practice.

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    Tangle - you bring up a good - and obvious point!!! My only DA practice, at least with IDPA is - first shot. Of course thereafter until a reload, all SA. In fact after reload whether tac' or not - gun will still have hammer back.

    I think this choice applies most to revo's probably - and with those from defensive shooting POV we are talking true DA useage - I positively dissuade any students from trying to use SA for combat practice.

    However, for a long range shot, and from cover in particular then for me SA is only logical way to go - it matters not IMO how ingrained DA is from close range practice, there has to be some concession made to maximising control and sighting - SA will do that. It is still worth some practice in that mode. Assuming naturally - that said revo is not DAO!!
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    P95Carry,
    I agree that the choice applies to a revolver also, but to me, the revolver is a different critter. A revolver's SA trigger is generally shorter, lighter, smoother, and crisper than the SA on a semi. I have had shall I say, premature discharges shooting a revolver SA, especially after shooting DA.

    Now you've given me something else to think about - whether to use SA or DA with a revolver for precision or long shots.

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    Different critter - 10:4 on that.

    I would still tho recommend anyone with revo that has SA option to give some practice time at long range, using SA - so they know the feel and poundage, break etc - and would lay odds almost that about anyone will achieve better accuracy with SA. Small sacrifice for speed, more than paid back by the result.

    If in fact we are disciplined (as we should be) to have finger off trigger until ready to fire, then with revo even if more ''sensitive'' it should still be controlled and more accurate. Practice is name of game.
    Chris - P95
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    VIP Member Array Rob72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tangle
    P95Carry,
    I agree that the choice applies to a revolver also, but to me, the revolver is a different critter. A revolver's SA trigger is generally shorter, lighter, smoother, and crisper than the SA on a semi. I have had shall I say, premature discharges shooting a revolver SA, especially after shooting DA.

    Now you've given me something else to think about - whether to use SA or DA with a revolver for precision or long shots.
    When I had 686's, 4" and 6", I kept my SA notch. Yes, it was very light, comparatively, but a different mindset, as well. When I went from rapid DA fire to SA, I would usally kneel, or brace against a wall or support. 75 yd X-rings were pretty consistent, even with my blind eyes A gentle presss, and BOOM! Much more accurate (for me) than Puuuulllll, steady, BOOM! (staging)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob72
    When I had 686's, 4" and 6", I kept my SA notch. Yes, it was very light, comparatively, but a different mindset, as well. When I went from rapid DA fire to SA, I would usally kneel, or brace against a wall or support. 75 yd X-rings were pretty consistent, even with my blind eyes A gentle presss, and BOOM! Much more accurate (for me) than Puuuulllll, steady, BOOM! (staging)
    Hey, I got some 686s - 2-1/2" and 4"! I have to agree you and others about the SA - it's an asset. And that "Puuuulllll, steady, BOOM! you mentioned takes more time too.

    Off the subject but, I took my 686s to Gunsite and was pretty disappointed in my performance, not because of the DA/SA issue, but because I had a hard time shooting well, and the term "speed reloading" is one of those oxymorons things.

    I think a revolver must have a bit more angle to the grip than semis, at least the 1911, Sig, H&K grip angles. I tended to shoot high and I noticed that I couldn't seem to get a good definition for the top of the front sight. I think sometimes I sighted on the top of the red insert and other times on the very top of the sight. That didn't make a lot of difference up close, but at longer ranges (even 10 and 15 yds) it was causing me some problems.

    I hadn't had nearly as much time on a revolver as I had semis when I took the revolvers to Gunsite and that was probably as much of the problem as anything. But my purpose was to learn sound techniques for a revolver and I did accomplish that.

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