Double Action Revolver: An Introduction

Revolver .44 magnum gun with grain bullet on leather background | Double Action Revolver An Introduction | Featured

September 23, 2019 / Comments (6)

By Type Guns & Weapons

Understand the double-action revolver and know what you're looking for in your choice of self-defense handgun.

RELATED: Revolvers For Survival | The Best Guns That Stood The Test Of Time

In this article:

  1. The Revolver as A Basic Concealed Carry Handgun
  2. What Is a Double Action Revolver?
  3. Single Action vs. Double Action Revolver
  4. The .38 Special Revolver Handgun
  5. Double Action Barell for Self-Defense

A Double Action Revolver: Is it for You?

The Revolver as A Basic Concealed Carry Handgun


Not all revolvers are made the same. But, the most important thing for you to remember, especially if you're new to firearms; a revolver is usually the most basic you can get in a concealed carry gun.

Literally, just point and shoot is the name of the game. I've written articles for you in the past explaining which semi-autos were great for new shooters, but this time I wanted to explore revolvers with a broad stroke.

For the most part, they are extremely reliable. Though a revolver can malfunction, you never really hear of it happening because it is an extremely rare occurrence.

What Is a Double Action Revolver?


A lot of today's revolvers are generally what is known as double-action, meaning, the only thing you have to do, is to squeeze the trigger in order for it to fire. It goes without saying, the cylinder should also be loaded with the proper caliber of ammo.

The trigger pull can be long and uncomfortable in a double-action revolver, but they are safe in that you have to want it. In other words, you have to mean for it to happen.

As you pull the trigger, a hammer begins to cock (either internally or externally). Once it reaches its break, the hammer is sent home coming into contact with the cartridge's primer, sending the bullet out of the barrel.

RELATED: Ruger SP101 Price New $680, Price Used (See Below)

Single Action\ vs. Double Action Revolver


There is also some single action only, and plenty of single-action/double-action (SA/DA) revolvers on the market. Briefly, single-action refers to cocking the hammer before pulling the trigger, giving it a nice, short pull.

If you decide to buy a revolver with this capability, we recommend keeping it in DA, with the hammer down. You can still fire your gun this way, but you have to intentionally do it. It is a lot safer.

The .38 Special Revolver Handgun


Here is an example of a great double action only revolver chambered in .38 Special. This is my wife's concealed carry piece and it is a hammerless “Off Duty” model from Charter Arms.

We paid $300 for it brand new but got a good deal from one of my FFL dealers who is also a close friend of mine.

Even though it is a .38, it kicks like a mule because it is lightweight, has a two-inch barrel and not a very large grip. But, it's great to conceal carry because it doesn't require a lot of room and doesn't have a hammer to snag on.

Double Action Barell for Self-Defense


As I said earlier, it is literally a point-and-shoot handgun. They are accurate for center mass self-defense shooting, not for competitive or longer-distance shooting.

The point is you want something which goes bang when you need to defend yourself from an attack. Something you don't have to worry about having to cock a hammer or pull back the slide.

This video from Cool Stuff Guys Like will explain to you the difference between the single action vs double-action revolver:

Sound off, Gun Carriers! Let us know if you carry a revolver, and what type it is. We want to know what action, which brand, caliber, capacity, what you think of it, and anything else you'd like to share.

Remember, this is all in the name of education and helping someone pick out their first or next revolver.

Share your thoughts, experience, and suggestions with us in the comments section below!

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***Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer here.***

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on May 27, 2016, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

6 Responses to :
Double Action Revolver: An Introduction

  1. Randolph says:

    Thanks for the article but for myself the pistol would not be a snub nose .38 I would prefer a .44 magnum with an 8 inch barrel as I would prefer a pistol with stopping power and the projectile exiting with a large hole. That is if I intended to shoot someone in self defense. Also if you decide to defend yourself at preserving your own life shoot to kill, that is aim for the chest and or the head. I personally would not shoot to wound as it gives them the opportunity to kill you instead, so take this as a cue in your own decision as how you would defend yourself or your family. Another mistake would be to pull it and show them your piece, if you pull it and you tell them to back off or you will drop them and their won’t be any second chances to retaliate against you.

  2. BarbedStar says:

    I’m a little ol’ gramma type gal, all of 5’5″, won’t say weight… I have carried concealed the Ruger SP101, 357 stainless snubby since it came on the market. It sleeps, eats and travels with me and has saved my life in a double break and enter in a case of two against one. There are 5 rounds of hollow points with buckshot waiting for a city varmint or two. In the mountains, I carry the Ruger SP101 in 4″ barrel. Both DA have the lighter trigger springs for an easy, smooth pull. A bit bulky to C.C. but safe and reliable and they fit my hand like they were made for me. People love the fit and feel, from little people to big guys. A pissed off old lady of clear intent with a 357 will dissuade most without a pull of the trigger…

    1. Joshua Gillem says:


      Wow, sounds like you’ve had a close encounter of the stupid kind when you had to protect yourself against two criminals. Would you be willing for me to conduct an interview with you about what happened? We are all about education, here at Gun Carrier, and I’d like to use your story to teach others…if at all possible. Thanks, Josh

  3. Russell Mathuss says:

    Well I have a S&W,MP10,38 Spl with a 4 inch barrel, which I like very much, I also have a S&W,MP 9 Shield,9mm
    I enjoy shooting both, I bought the shield for my wife but it is a little hard for her to operate, so I get to use
    both , I am thinking of buying her a 22lr which I think she will like.

  4. Steve says:

    Stainless steel Ruger Secuity Six .357 magnum with 4″ barrel, bought 35 years ago. The only thing I didn’t like about it was the factory walnut grips were way too wimpy for my hands. Once I replaced them with Pachmayr competition grips it handles like a dream. It’s a great, reliable weapon, though not the easiest to conceal in the summertime, and it’s got a healthy kick, particularly when firing hot loads.

  5. Dan Starks says:

    Challenge yourself to shooting the snub nose at distance. My favorite is a bowling pins at 50 feet ( bowling pin equates to center mass) and while I do not hit it every time, I come close enough to make a body hit! Learn to control trigger pull!

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