News / sass

Single Action vs Double Action Firearms

Traditional firearms require certain actions that must be done sequentially for the gun to fire. The guns that require the owner to do each action separately are Single Action firearms. The firearm that requires one action from the owner for the gun to perform multiple actions is a Double Action firearm.

Single Action

Single Action revolvers have a mechanism that requires the hammer to be pulled back for the gun to be “cocked”. Once this is done, the hammer will be held by a safety device until the gun is fired.

Pros VS Cons

Because Single Action revolvers are limited to only one action, the amount of effort that goes into cocking the device is much more than that of a double action revolver.

However, many choose Single Action firearms because it is perceived to be safer. As compared to a double action revolver where there is no need to cock it again once it’s ready to fire, it is fairly impossible for a Single Action revolver to go off accidentally once it’s been fired.

Double Action Revolver

A Double Action revolver, also known as Dual Action, works with just the single pull of the trigger. This both cocks the hammer and releases the load, ready to fire.

Pros VS Cons

Double Action revolvers are popular because it requires less manipulation to use. There is little need to practice and master this firearm because you only need to pull the trigger.

As mentioned above, Double Action revolvers are considered to be unsafe because there is no traditional safety lock. Manufacturers, on the other hand, say that Double Action firearms are still relatively safe because they require much more pressure to pull the trigger and fire the gun.
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How to Get Started in SAS

Single Action Shooting is one of the most interesting outdoor shooting sports out there. Not only does it test a competitor’s skill and accuracy in shooting, it also relives the days of the Old West and the unique cowboy lifestyle.

If you’re a huge fan of the Old West and would like to take part in something totally unique, fun and engaging – it’s time to delve into the world of the Old West.

Here are some tips on how to get started in SAS:

  1. Join the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS). Become a member of the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS). Here, you’ll get to choose your unique SASS alias derived from Old West characters in history, books or movies. You’ll also get to know the latest news on new SASS guidelines and competitions.
  2. Find a club near you. The next step you need to take is by finding a SAS club near your area. Before you start buying your western-era items, you need to find a club where you can join. Visit the SASS website to see if there’s a club within your area.
  3. Make a friend. Once you know where the clubs are, go ahead and visit one. Make sure to make friends. You’ll be surprised to see how friendly Single Action Shooters are, as compared to other shooting groups. Everybody wants more cowboy shooters and they’d happily give you advice on what firearms to get or where to get them for a cheaper price.
  4. Learn all about the required equipment. Like other shooting sports, Single Action Shooting also has some specific required equipment, particularly firearms. The three basic types of firearms you’ll need are 2 single-action revolvers, a lever action rifle in pistol caliber and a period-correct shotgun. Here’s some tips on how to choose your Single Action Shooting firearms. (hyperlink with article)
  5. Gun leather. Now that you know what firearms you’re going to need, you’ll need to have some quality gun leather to store your firearms and ammunition safely. Basically, you’ll need a leather gun holster, a cartridge belt and loading strips. If you’re not ready to splurge on some really expensive leather, here are some gun holsters to check out. (hyperlink with products)
  6. The fun part is in the dressing up. Single Action Shooting wouldn’t be as popular, or as fun, if it wasn’t for the clothing. All members are required to dress up the way cowboys did back in the 1800s. Choose period-correct costumes like Stetson hats, cowboy boots, chaps, jeans, vests and bandannas. For the women, scour the area for seamstresses who are familiar with traditional Old West dresses or find a pattern and do it yourself.
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SASS Pocket Pistols and Derringers

Pocket Pistols

In Single Action Shooting Matches, Pocket Pistol and Derringer side events are what many enthusiasts look forward to. They are most likely to be part of Annual events, but they might be included in a few Monthly events as well.

The fun in pocket pistol events is actually in owning these small pieces of Old West history. Because there aren’t many reproductions, the majority of pocket pistols you’ll find in the market are originals. And to add to that they’re usually in topmost condition because they were seldom used by their original owners.

Pocket Pistol events consist of five targets to be shot at short range. Sometimes, one or two of these targets are a knockdown target calibrated for pocket pistols. Shooters usually start and shoot while seated. To determine the target order of a competitor, playing cards are usually used and this keeps things interesting. Total time and misses are scored the same as in main stages.


Most of the derringers used at Single Action Shooting matches are Remington-Elliot reproductions of the over/under 2 shot model. Original Remington .44 rimfire derringers are often seen but not easily available. Sharps four-barrel pepperbox, another mighty derringer, is legal to use in Cowboy Action Shooting but is very rarely seen.

Derringer side events are usually two target speed, four target reload or accuracy contents. Reload speed matches aren’t as popular as they used to be because of a safety issue.

As with Pocket Pistol events, Derringer targets order are also determined by playing cards.

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Facts about the Colt Revolver

Single Action Shooters aren’t just huge fans of the Old West. They’re pretty keen gun enthusiasts too.

If you’re a gun enthusiast yourself, here are some facts about the Colt Revolver that you might not have known just yet.

Samuel Colt

Samuel Colt because a very rich man in the early 1800s because of his pistol. His advanced knowledge in firearms led him to become of the most highly recognized inventors and businessmen of his time.

The First Colt Revolver

Up to the mid-1840s, the typical firearms that you would find people using were single-shot muzzle loaders that needed action on its wheel lock, flintlock and percussion ignition to fire. In short, it took a long time before one could engage.

In 1835, Samuel Colt patented his personal percussion revolver. This gun had a revolving cylinder drilled with multiple chambers. They were loaded using powder and ball from the front.

The Finish

There are two primary finishes on the outside of Colt guns. These are the blue finish and the nickel finish.

The blue finish contains a color case hardened frame while the nickel finish gives the firearm an authentic Old West feel.

Barrels and Calibers

The original Single Action Colt revolver was an army model with a barrel of 7.5 inches. Other Colt revolvers are either made with 4.75 and 5.5 inch barrels.

As for caliber size, Colt revolvers come in 6 standard calibres; .45, .357, .32/20, .38, .44/40 and .38/40.

Other Revolvers

After Colt’s first revolver was introduced, he started making other revolvers such as the Walker Colt, the Single Action Army revolver and the Colt Python.

Colt's Patent Fire Arms Company

In 1855, Samuel colt incorporated the Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Company. Within just a year, the company manufactured 150 firearms a day. Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Company was located in Connecticut.

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How to Choose Your Single Action Shooting Belt and Loading Strip

Firearms, gun holsters, clothing...

Wait! What about your Cartridge Belt and Loading Strip?

Single Action Shooting requires a lot of attention to detail. If you want to rock at being the coolest cowboy to ever join the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS), you need to start paying attention to even the smallest things. Like your cartridge belt and loading strip, for instance.

If you need help making up your mind, here are some tips on how to choose your single action shooting belt and loading strip:

  1. What are the others using? If you really have no idea on what to choose, the easiest way is to check out what the others are using. Majority of Single Action shooters opt for the single cartridge belt with loops for their shotgun and rifle ammunition. Ask around and see if this would also be the best choice for you.
  2. The number of loops. The number of loops on your cartridge belt is mostly up to you. As a guide, it’ll be good to stick with something that has at least 12 shot-shell loops and 10 caliber-specific loops. This will guarantee that you have enough ammunition to carry around for reloads during competition.
  3. To clip or not to clip. Loading strips or loading blocks come in a variety of designs. Some of these may clip to your gun belt, and some may not. Either type of loading strip is okay because you still get to bring with you the required number of rounds to the loading table.
  4. 10 is the magic number. Similar to how many caliber-specific loops you need to have on your cartridge belt, you would also need at least 10 rounds on either side of the strip. Again, the reason for this is to have enough ammunition with you for reloads during the competition.
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Cowboy Mounted Shooting

Cowboy Mounted Shooting is an offshoot of Single Action Shooting (or Cowboy Shooting). Here, a competitor is required to mount a horse through a course of fire while carrying the same equipment required in Single Action Shooting.

Sounds hard, right? It is.

Cowboy Mounted Shooting is challenging. Here, a rider will have to compete in a timed event to shoot around 10 balloon targets with firearms loaded with black powder blank ammunition.

The stages designed for cowboy mounted shooters are often called “Mounted Revolver Competitions”. A mounted shooter will need 1900’s period-correct revolvers with 5 blanks per firearm.

There is also another form of Cowboy Mounted Shooting called the “Mounted Rifle”. Here, instead of just using a revolver, a rider would have to draw a lever-action pump from a scabbard and engage 5 rifle targets.

The third type is a competition where the rider will need a single revolver and a double-barrel shotgun to engage 7 targets.

Modern day Cowboy Mounted Shooting was first developed by Phil Spangenberger and Jim Rogers. Spangenberger is an Old West historian, researcher and writer with an innate love for the Old West. In his spare time, he would often shoot balloons with Old West firearms. Jim Rogers, on the other hand, is the founder of C.A.S-S.A.S.S Single Action Shooting Society. Rogers was the person who approached Spangenberger for help in developing the sport of Cowboy Mounted Shooting.

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What is Mounted Shooting?

Imagine a cowboy, or cowgirl, riding a horse with guns a blazing as he gallops away on a patterned course of fire...

What a sight, right?

That is Mounted Shooting.

Mounted Shooting is one of the fastest equestrian sports and is a total spin-off of the ever-growing sport of Single Action Shooting.

The sport of Mounted Shooting is an interesting one. It combines certain elements of the Wild West, along with a huge amount of equestrian and sharpshooting skills.
In this sport, as with Single Action Shooting, mounted shooters are required to take on the use of an alias. This alias will be like your trademark and this is how you will be called in every SASS event and competition. The alias needs to be related to the Old West, either by history or fiction (books, movies).
There are various divisions in Mounted Shooting. There is the Divisions 1-5, Ladies 1-5, Junior, Senior Limited, Senior Open, Junior and Cart Divisions. Regardless of the division you will be assigned to, all new mounted shooters will start at level 1. As you rank better over time, you will be promoted to the next level until you reach the highest possible level.

Mounted Shooting is a fun and exciting sport, whether to join or to experience. And the dressing up will be the best part of all! Imagine sporting a look that cowboys used to wear in the Old West back in the early 1900s!

If you’re a huge fan of the Old West and would like to experience how it was like back then, then join a local club. If you’re no expert on a horse, you can always try your luck with Single Action Shooting.

It’s an experience to remember for a lifetime!

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Choosing an Alias with SASS

Single Action Shooting is an exciting and unique sport that relives the days of cowboys, ranchers and vaqueros. It doesn’t just test your shooting skills and accuracy, but also gives you a chance to dress up in cowboy clothing and celebrate the way of the cowboy with other like-minded folks.

So, if you’re into the Old West and the Cowboy lifestyle, you better join one of the Single Action Shooting groups.

The Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) is one of the most renowned groups for Single Action Shooters. If you’re interested in joining, you gotta prepare your alias. Each member of SASS gets to choose a unique alias or a name to represent your character from the Old West. It has to be unique and can come from Old Western movies, books or from the history books.

To learn more about choosing a SASS alias, here are the rules:

  1. Your alias should be “printable” before an audience
  2. No duplications allowed.
  3. If it “sounds” the same, it is the same.
  4. You can’t variations like “too”, “two” or “II”, etc
  5. It is acceptable to change “Ranger” and make it “Texas Ranger” but it can’t be changed to “The Ranger”. The same goes for middle initials and second names.
  6. Historical names can’t be modified.

With members joining daily, the SASS Alias Registry is updated daily. To guarantee that your alias has no duplicates, confirm your alias with the Registry.

Any changes to your alias will result in a “name change fee”, so choose carefully.

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Safety in Single Action Shooting

Single Action Shooting or Cowboy Shooting is probably the most interesting shooting competition out there today. Not only do you get to relive the days of the Old West, you also get to test your skills in shooting with cowboy guns!

As with any other shooting competition, safety must always come first. To learn more about safety rules and regulations in Single Action Shooting, here are some of the details:

  1. Shooting Glasses

First and foremost, shooting glasses need to be worn at all times. This would commence when you’re next in line to compete and until you put your guns back on the table after you’ve competed.

  1. Loading

All shooters need to load their guns under the supervision of a loading official. Six-shooters are always loaded with just 5 rounds and an empty chamber right under the hammer. A rifle also needs to be loaded with the right amount of rounds with the hammer down on an empty chamber. Shotguns are loaded on the clock.

  1. Range Officer

The Range Officer is the person who is responsible for overall safety during the shooting match. They must be able to supervise all competitors through each stage of the competition. The responsibility of a Range Officer is not just on the targets, but mostly on the shooter and their equipment. For instance, it is the job of a range officer to immediately stop anyone who has a defective gun or if the firearm or ammunition is not completely safe.

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Single Action Shooting Tips - Consistency

Single Action Shooting, or Cowboy Action Shooting, may be unlike any other shooting sport, but consistency is still important when competing in a sport like this.

There are around 8-10 stages in a Single Action Shooting competition. Each stage is different in terms of location of targets and the process of engagement. Each stage of the competition will be scored as a separate event and will be added up at the end of the last stage.

Single Action Shooting is certainly not for the faint-hearted. In a single competition, having 8-10 individual stages will take time. It is usual for these events to last the whole day long.

If you’re a shooting enthusiast with love for the Old West, you might want to give this sport a try. To jumpstart your Single Action Shooting experience, here is a tip when joining an event:

Be Consistent

It is important to be consistent in each stage of the competition. If you do good in the first few stages, but fail to keep the pace in the latter stages, you’ll lose a lot of points.

It’s important to remain consistent and to stay within your comfort zone when shooting. Don’t worry about the other shooter’s time, accuracy or overall performance. What you need to worry about is hitting that target with precision.

Maintain Your Own Pace

If you have a bad stage, as most shooters do, don’t psyche yourself out and enter the next stage too pumped up. While a little determination will get you a long way, stressing about your time just might backfire on you. Just shoot clean and maintain your own pace.
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