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What is a Double Tap?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
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A double tap is a method for using a handgun in which two shots are fired in rapid succession, but with sufficient effort to reacquire the original target. This method is often used in law enforcement and military training of handgun usage, and while it may initially be a somewhat slow technique, it often becomes faster with practice. A double tap basically begins by the shooter acquiring a target with a handgun and firing a single shot. The gun is allowed to recoil and then return to its original position, at which point the target is reacquired and the shooter fires a second shot.

The origins of the double tap stem from training and use of handguns in military and covert forces. Bullets fired from a handgun do not always have the amount of stopping power that rounds from an assault rifle or shotgun may have, though a handgun is often a very accurate weapon. To make up for this lack of power and take advantage of the accuracy of the handgun, the method of the double tap was developed. This can be done with either a semi-automatic pistol or a revolver, with only a slight adjustment made in firing practice.

To perform a double tap, the shooter begins by aiming at a location on a target, often the torso for use in shooting ranges or law enforcement. The shooter then fires one shot and allows the natural recoil of the handgun to take place, while also allowing the trigger to return to firing position. As soon as the recoil stops, the gun will typically return to its original position, at which point the shooter reacquires the target and fires a second round. It is important to note that a proper double tap involves aiming for the same location prior to each shot, and not merely firing two rounds in quick succession.

As someone first learns to perform a double tap, the time between shots can be somewhat long. With practice, however, the interval between shots becomes shorter and eventually it appears as though the two shots are merely fired together without aiming a second time. This method can be extended to fire a third round at the same location, called a triple tap, and a technique known as a “Mozambique drill” involves two shots to the torso, followed a moment later by a third shot to the head or neck. The term “double tap” became especially popular in general parlance following its usage in the film Zombieland, in which it referred to the practice of ensuring a zombie was dead by shooting or striking its head a second time.

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Discussion Comments

By Ruggercat68 — On Apr 14, 2014

I remember the rule about double tapping in the movie Zombieland. It came in handy a few times, too. Some of the zombies would fall after the first shotgun blast, but then get back up again. They never got up after the second tap.

By Buster29 — On Apr 13, 2014

It seems like professional assassins also use a double tap technique, or at least that's what they say in the movies. One shot to the back of the head could result in serious brain damage, but not a confirmed kill. The second tap would most likely leave the victim undeniably dead. It would not be good for a hit man to leave his assigned target alive enough to recover.

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