Smith & Wesson Model 990L Bellingham WA
East Wenatchee, WA
Smith & Wesson 99OL
The latest offspring from the S&W-Walther alliance is a flawless performer, but it begs the question, "Just what is a DAO?"
The Smith & Wesson Model 990L is the latest variation of the Model SW99. Changes include a unique trigger mechanism and the elimination of the somewhat controversial decocker button on the top of the slide. Despite appearances to the contrary, the 990L isn't just another polymer-framed semiauto, and working with it led to an exercise in defining the characteristics and key elements of a modern double-action-only (DAO) pistol.
Is it time for a new and different classification for such semiautos? For years we have classified semiautomatic pistols with terms originally used for revolvers. Single-action revolvers are simple machines to operate and understand. The shooter is required to cock the hammer prior to pulling the trigger and releasing the hammer, which is powered by the energy stored in the mainspring. That is pretty straightforward.
The traditional double-action revolver has always offered the option of single-action shooting by means of manually cocking the hammer before the trigger is pulled to fire a single round. Double-action shooting was originally called "trigger cocking" by the B...