Best DA/SA Pistols Every Gun Owner Needs

Some gun owners cling to 1911s (TWO WORLD WARS!!) but me…

I cling to DA/SA, otherwise known as double-action/single action. 

DA/SA handguns use a unique trigger system in which the first pull of the trigger both cocks and fires the weapon.

Subsequent shots revert the gun into single-action mode, meaning the trigger only has to release the hammer to fire the gun. In the case of a striker-fire gun, the trigger releases the striker causing a bang. 

But what are the advantages to this system? 

Open carrying a SIG P226 Legion.

If you’ve seen DA/SA floating around, but are still scratching your head in confusion, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s dive into why DA/SA might be a good option for you and which guns you should consider adding to your collection. 

Table of Contents

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The Benefits of DA/SA Are Plenty

Though I carry a traditional striker-fired pistol daily, the bulk of my collection is primarily DA/SA pistols. But why do I hold a lot of affection for the system that Jeff Cooper said, “is a problem looking for a solution?” 

The double-action/single-action trigger system offers an awesome advantage that can benefit any gun owner.

That first trigger pull is very long and deliberate, but follow-up shots are short and light. 

While firearms safety, training, and knowledge are the most valuable safety protocols, a longer trigger helps reduce accidents.

Longer triggers are excellent in adrenaline-fueled, high stakes, high-stress situations. 

Brave Response Belly Band Holster
Practice safely drawing so this doesn’t happen, but a longer trigger pull could prevent an unnecessary accident.

The following single-action trigger pull is often very light — lighter than most striker-fired triggers. Having a 1911-like trigger works well if you need to make a longer second shot. 

Lastly, the double-action design ensures that you can squeeze the trigger again if the gun goes click instead of bang.

Everything Has a Downside

Training for two trigger pulls isn’t always easy. It takes time to master the long double-action trigger and to overcome its faults. 

DA/SA fans put in plenty of time to learn the trigger through both live and dry fire.

(Spoiler alert: more practice means more ammo.)

This level of practice and dedication isn’t for everyone. All that said, for those of us who’ve seen the light, it’s hard to go back to a traditional trigger system. 

The Best of the Best in DA/SA

Now that you know the DA/SA system both cocks the gun and fires it let’s look at some DA/SA options. 

Which DA/SA handguns are the best? I have some opinions on the matter.

Without further ado, here are my favorites.

1. CZ 75 Series

I’m a declared tactical hipster; therefore, I have to find a way to include a CZ on every list I write. On a DA/SA list, I couldn’t leave out the largest family of DA/SA guns ever. 

Hipster
Glock and Smith & Wesson? No, thank you.

Until recently, CZ was all about DA/SA guns derivative of the original CZ 75.

Born in 1975 in Czechoslovakia, the CZ was created under a secret Soviet patent. The gun has radically changed since then. It’s evolved from humble beginnings to the basis for an extremely modern pistol line. 

I mean, CZ did make a striker-fired gun in the 90s, but we don’t talk about that

CZ 75 SP-01
The CZ 75 SP-01 goes for that all metal vibe.

The CZ 75 line has evolved into big bores like the CZ 97, modern metal platforms like the SP 01, and even competition pistols like the Shadow series. We can’t forget contemporary polymer frames like the P-09 and P-07. 

The CZ 75’s robust and incredibly reliable design spawned a legacy that spread into each of its derivatives. The ergonomics are simply unmatched. There’s a reason this is the most replicated handgun in the world! 

If you don’t own a CZ 75, or a derivative of it, you should fix that…like now. 

(Also, peep our hands-on review on the CZ-75 to dive further into the platform!)

Best for Production Competition
819
at Guns.Com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

2. Sig Sauer P226 

Though the P220 might have been the first example of a modern Sig pistol, the P226 stood out from the “P” pack. From elite forces like the Navy SEALs to countless police departments, the Sig P226 has been around the block a time or two. 

This behemoth of a pistol helped kick off the wonder nine craze but also saw action in .40 S&W and .357 SIG.

Playing card drill, anyone? The SIG P226 Legion produced this beautiful ten-round playing card drill the first magazine through the gun.
Playing card drill, anyone?

Equipped with, arguably, one of the best de-cockers on the planet, the de-cocker is perfectly located for quick and easy access. It’s impossible to miss. 

With dozens of variants, a modern P226 with a rail and weapon light is one of the most robust and reliable weapons out there.

If you’re looking for a hammer-fired pistol and/or a double-action/single-action, check out the SIG P226 Legion. It’s an awesomely precise gun.
Upgrade to the P226 Legion…you won’t be disappointed.

The P226 is also a massive beast of all-metal construction that eats recoil like I eat tacos. 

Despite its size, ergonomically, it’s sound. The only downside for me is that ole slide lock. It’s small but also sits right where my thumb goes. That’s a bummer since it means the slide lock is often pinned down and ineffective. 

The P226 series still has a lot of life left to live, and it’s most certainly out there living its best life. 

550
at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

3. Walther P99 

Here is an oddball that is both underrated yet cloned numerous times. 

A DA/SA design but a striker-fired? This combo makes the Walther P99 a rarity in the gun world. It may be a weird one, but the trigger is absolutely unbeatable. 

The Walther P99 is a polymer-framed pistol with an ultra-modern vibe. While it served for a short period in the hands of James Bond, it never really caught on.

James Bond Walther P99
Nice sweep, bruh.

That said, Canik and Magnum Research have both cloned the gun. Smith & Wesson even teamed up with Walther to produce the SW99 for a short time. 

The Walther P99 incorporates a button de-cocker sitting at the top of the slide, which gives you a big chunkin’ noise when de-cocked.

At the rear of the gun rests a protruding striker tip, letting you know whether it is cocked.

Walther P99C
It’s so cute.

The trigger is superbly light with an ultra-short pull in single-action. The double-action is a long trigger pull but incredibly smooth and consistent.

I’d go as far as to say that the P99 has the best stock DA/SA trigger in a production gun. 

The grip is outstanding and easily one of the most ergonomic guns out there. Admittedly, the paddle-style magazine release can be divisive, but I love it. 

580
at Sportsman's Warehouse

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

4. Beretta 92A3

I’m a big Beretta fan, carrying a Beretta M9 during my cool-guy days as a Marine. I developed a real affection for this pistol. 

Beretta’s 92A3 took everything I loved about the 92FS and effectively made it better.

Furthermore, the A3 tackled many of the concerns and issues Beretta fans had with the 92 series

Beretta 92fs
Beretta’s 92FS

A thinner Vertec style grip addressed the biggest complaint while a Picatinny rail, threaded barrel, removable front sight, and beveled magazine well for quicker reloads topped off the features. 

The 92A3 retains the reliability of the 92FS, as well as the soft-shooting nature of the gun. Shooting the 92A3 is an absolute dream.

Bruce Willis Beretta 92FS
Yippie-ki-yay, indeed.

A “G” configuration, if you choose, ditches the safety and sticks with the lever, which acts as a de-cocker only. 

This heavy metal gun is one of the last holdouts in the DA/SA realm that hasn’t gone full polymer.

While the Sig P320 may have technically won the MHS contest, I would’ve preferred to see the 92A3 as America’s service pistol. 

775
at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

5. HK USP 

The HK USP, especially the Compact 9mm model, is one of my favorite guns of all time. (Mostly because I have a major crush on Jack Bauer.) Celebrity crushes aside; the USP is an excellent gun. 

Jack Bauer
He’s so dreamy…

A happy little side effect of the Offensive Handgun Weapon System trials, the HK USP was designed with the American market in mind.

Leading the charge, the USP40 sprang to life when the .40 S&W became the cartridge of choice for law enforcement.

In fact, the USP was built around the .40 S&W cartridge –a different take than most companies who just adapted their 9mm guns to .40 S&W. 

Popular Pistol Calibers

One of the most robust .40 S&W firearms, this came at a time when the .40 S&W was cracking polymer frames. 

The HK USP also used a built-in mechanical recoil reduction system that tamed recoil very efficiently. 

The result? 

HK45 USP with mounted light
HK45 USP with mounted light

This full-sized 9mm USP shoots like an absolute kitten. Even the compact .40 S&W model was a pleasant shooter with mild recoil

Like all HK guns, the USP is built to last. Even better, more affordable often LE trade-ins, .40 S&W variants continue to pop up at reasonable price points.

Trade-ins are usually still in excellent condition and will keep on keeping on, regardless of the decades of use they’ve seen. 

840
at EuroOptic

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Is DA/SA Dead? 

Alas, even CZ has succumbed to the striker-fired madness that currently controls the handgun market.

However, I don’t believe the DA/SA life is over just yet. While strikers are a favorite of duty guns, the DA/SA continues to live on. 

Live Long and Prosper
Live on DA/SA…live on

Despite a downturn in the production of new DA/SA guns, we still have the old classics.

Many shooters prefer these for things like concealed carry, home defense, and even competition. I have no doubt, DA/SA guns will linger for a very long time. 

Conclusion

Though not as popular as the striker-fired crowd, the DA/SA design is a great addition to any gun safe. Thanks to its unique trigger system that both cocks and fires the weapon on the first pull, DA/SA guns ensure follow-up shots are a lot lighter and smoother.

While we prefer CZ 75, Beretta 92, Walther P99, HK USP, and Sig P226 for their reliability and solid performance, hopefully, we’ve given you a good starting point to begin your DA/SA adventure.

What are your favorite DA/SA guns? Sound off in the comments below. For even more pistols that skirt the polymer trend, check out our guide on the Best Not a Glock Pistols

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6 Leave a Reply

  • A M Williams

    To leave out the FNH_FNP is a sad mistake !!! Best gun in the world I have fnp9 & fnp 45 they are great

    1 month ago
  • Bob

    I currently own an FEG P9R (action tuned by an ooold Browning Hi-Power smith...so nice), and an Arcus 98Da. I'm used to it, works great for me. I also own a SIG P250, and a Walther PPX, both DAO and very nice. I shoot them enough so I don't loose the muscle memory of the transtion, or long DAO pull. Having shot revolvers since a kid, it was a short learning curve. Don't be leery of the long initial trigger pull- properly trained with it your accuracy will improve.

    2 months ago
  • Slavek

    Owning CZ75 SP 01 Shadow Orange and CZ97 ... both great shooters and fun at the range. For carry, I'm thinking anout 2075 RAMI d, but until I decide, I'm happy with carrying 1911 3"Officer size from Kimber ... or Ruger LCR 357 ... depending on the mood and dress ;)

    3 months ago
  • Mike

    Had a p226 for a while, loved everything about it except the reach to the trigger. The reach in double action was too long, the single action reach was perfect. I installed a factory short trigger, now the double action trigger reach was perfect, the single action reach was too short. I hated to part with the gun but it never fit me correctly. Without a doubt one of the nicest shooting, most accurate handguns I've ever owned.

    3 months ago
  • wej

    Beretta Px4 Storm

    3 months ago
    • Zeke2A

      Yep ...another vote for the Px4 platform ...

      3 months ago
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