Introduction to the Double Action Revolver:
Not all revolvers are made the same. But, the most important thing for you to remember, especially if you’re new to firearms, is that 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. A lot of today’s revolvers are generally what is known as double action, meaning that the only thing you have to do, is squeeze the trigger in order for it to fire (it should go without saying that 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.
There are 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. The gun can still be fired this way, but you have to intentionally do it. It is a lot safer.
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.
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 that you want something that goes bang when you’re being attacked. Something that you don’t have to worry about having to cock a hammer or pull back the slide.