While visiting with defensive shooters at gun ranges, shows, and on social media, I find the double-action revolver is experiencing renewed interest. The double-action revolver certainly has many features that makes it very useful for personal defense, and I’ve touched on those in previous columns. However, the most important thing to remember about the revolver is that it is easy to shoot but it is difficult to shoot well.
The reason for the above statement is found in the long, double-action trigger pull. Most double-action revolvers have a trigger pull that registers in the vicinity of 11-12 pounds. Because of this, an improper trigger pull can easily pull the sights off target and might result in a complete miss.
The proper trigger pull for defensive use of the revolver involves one continuous trigger pull, start to finish. There is no hesitation as the trigger is swept to the rear and the shot released. Throughout this motion, the sights must be properly aligned on the target. To accomplish this takes a good deal of practice.
As most of you know, I am a strong believer in a defensive shooter doing quite a bit of dry practice. This is even more important if your defensive choice is the revolver. This always begins by checking the revolver to make sure that it is unloaded–yes, I know, but go ahead and check it twice. Light switch plates on the wall make a good target. The object is to focus on the sights as the double-action trigger is squeezed. When done properly, the sights should not move off the target as the gun is snapped. Sounds easy? Well, it’s not, and it will take a good deal of practice to get it done properly.
Your double-action shooting will also benefit from a trip to a good pistolsmith. He can smooth up the internal workings of your revolver and ease the trigger pull quite a bit. Here, the operative words are good pistolsmith. Some well-meaning cranks will weaken the mainspring and trigger return spring to give a lighter trigger pull. Unfortunately, this is also likely to weaken the hammer strike on the primer of the cartridge. Getting a click when you need a bang is not a good thing.
Once the gun is back from the 'smith, it is an excellent idea to run about 100 rounds of your defensive ammo through the gun just to make sure that you are still getting positive ignition each and every time. If you switch the choice of ammo, check out the new stuff, too, because primer hardness varies with the different ammunition companies.
The double-action revolver has served as a good choice for a defensive handgun for more than 100 years. Simply put, when you master the double-action trigger pull, you have mastered the double-action revolver.