by Mike McDaniel

Barack Obama has been the best firearm salesman the industry could never have imagined. Americans have responded to his manipulation and abuse of power by buying firearms and ammunition in unprecedented quantities, and more and more of those consumers are first-time firearm owners. For those of us who have carried handguns as daily companions, with and without a badge since young adulthood, the revolver vs. semiautomatic argument has gone through many phases as technology, firearms law and societal norms have changed. At one time, the idea that revolvers were in an entirely different–and superior–reliability class than semiautomatic pistols was pretty much taken for granted. That’s no longer true . . .

With the goal of contributing useful information to first-time or relatively inexperienced shooters, and hoping not to garnering too many angry and outraged comments, I’ll present this week and next a basic handgun primer that may be useful in making firearm buying choices. This week: revolvers.

There’s a venerable old story about a reporter that asked a weathered (of course) Texas Ranger why he carried a .45.  He replied in a slow drawl (of course): “Because they don’t make a .46.”  The point is that one should always carry the most effective weapon they can efficiently manage. Anyone who knowingly enters a gunfight armed with less than a rifle (or submachine gun) is likely to die. Long guns are much easier to shoot accurately at much greater than handgun ranges and their cartridges are generally far more deadly. However, since it’s difficult or impossible to carry such weapons on a daily basis, a handgun is usually the best alternative.

The choice of a personal defensive handgun needs to take into account many factors, but ultimately one should choose one that’s powerful, concealable, reliable, one they can shoot well, and with which they are comfortable. That said, the choice is at once simpler and more difficult than many imagine.

REVOLVER OR SEMIAUTOMATIC?

Revolvers predate semiautomatics of course. Revolvers are so-called because cartridges are loaded into a steel cylinder commonly holding five or six rounds, though some major caliber, full sized revolvers hold seven and some .22LR revolvers hold as many as 10. Pulling the trigger and/or cocking the hammer mechanically rotates–revolves–the cylinder bringing a live round into precise alignment with the barrel.  The cartridge aligned with the barrel at rest will not be the cartridge fired first.  Revolvers come in two action types: single action and double action.

Single action revolvers are like the Colt .45 handguns of cinema westerns.  The first step in firing requires cocking the large, external hammer, usually with the strong hand (the hand holding the revolver) thumb.  This activates internal mechanical linkage that rotates the cylinder to align the next cartridge with the barrel while holding the hammer fully back, ready to be released to drive forward under spring tension with a pull of the trigger.  The resulting short and light trigger pull serves only to release the hammer to strike the primer of the cartridge (pulling the trigger does not cause the cylinder to revolve)—the firing pins of such weapons are often fixed to the hammer–firing the cartridge.

Ruger Vaquero courtesy ruger.com

This revolver is the modern Ruger Vaquero, however it faithfully reflects the general configuration of the genre, including no real, truly useful rear sight.

Such weapons are generally inappropriate for personal defense.  Experts can indeed do amazing things with these designs, which are more than a century old, and manufacturers continue to produce modern versions of these weapons that are completely safe to use with modern cartridges, have fully adjustable sights, and modern safety features that allow them to be safely handled with fully loaded cylinders, but they are large, cumbersome, slow to fire and even slower to reload.  They’re great fun for target shooting, or western style shooting competitions, but modern weapons have surpassed them in convenience and effectiveness.

One narrow exception is modern single action revolvers designed for hunting such as the handguns of Freedom Arms of Wyoming. These revolvers are truly huge, made of stainless steel, are designed to be used with optical and/or electronic sights (scope mounts available from the factory are substantial indeed), and fire cartridges of such size and power their cylinders hold only five rounds.  Some of these cartridges rival rifle ammunition in power, and recoil and muzzle flash are impressive and for most, punishing.

NOTE:  Original single action revolvers like the famous Colt Peacemaker design should have only five out of six chambers loaded and should be carried with the hammer down on the empty chamber.  This is necessary because, lacking any kind of firing pin safety (most modern single action revolvers have this feature and their cylinders may be fully loaded with safety), a blow on the hammer can drive the firing pin into the primer of a cartridge, firing the weapon.  Anyone owning such weapons should be absolutely certain of its safety features, or the lack thereof.

Double action revolvers are modern weapons, and can be fired in double action mode, with a long, relatively heavy trigger pull that rotates the cylinder, simultaneously cocks the hammer, and ultimately drops the hammer to strike the primer and fire a cartridge.  As a result, revolvers do not have mechanical safety devices that must be manipulated in order to fire the weapon.  They also have a single action mode—very much like single action only revolvers–where manually cocking the hammer rotates the cylinder and sets the trigger fully back, producing a short, light trigger pull.  Owners of double action revolvers should always train to use their weapon in double action mode.  It is very easy indeed to accidentally fire a cocked revolver in single action mode when under stress.

S&W686Hardwood.

At one time, virtually all American police officers carried full-sized duty revolvers, initially in .38 Special caliber, but ultimately in .357 Magnum when that cartridge was developed.  The .357 Magnum is a .38 Special cartridge with a slightly longer case, which allows greater velocity and power. This Smith and Wesson Model 686 .357 magnum is an example of a modern full-sized double action revolver. Beautifully made, it is a large and heavy revolver, which is necessary to stand years of firing full-charge .357 ammunition, which produces significant muzzle flash and considerable recoil.  It is also very labor intensive to produce, and as a result, is expensive.

Ruger LCR

This small revolver—the Ruger LCR in .38 special caliber—is state of the art in revolver design with its polymer frame, relatively low bore axis, relatively smooth trigger and relieved/lightened cylinder.  Notice that it uses an internal hammer.  It cannot be cocked, or fired, in single action mode; it is a double action only revolver. Its primary design goals were obviously ease of concealment, the use of advanced, non-traditional materials and light weight.

REVOLVER ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES: 

Modern double action revolvers come, generally, in large, medium and small sizes. However, as previously noted, there are some revolvers made for hunting or competition with very large magnum cartridges that fall into the “huge” category.  Such weapons are universally made of steel, are very heavy, and have barrels of 6” or longer.  On the opposite side are mini-revolvers, such as the stainless steel, derringer-like, 5 shot .22LR (Long Rifle) weapons made by Freedom Arms (an article on that little revolver can be found here).

Such weapons, which fire single action only, are made primarily as back-up guns, or for circumstances that prevent the carrying of a larger weapon.  Unfortunately, their barrels are very short—just over an inch in standard configuration–which can cause keyholing (for the appearance of the holes they leave in paper targets), or unstable bullets tumbling end over end.  As a result, their accuracy beyond a few yards is generally poor, their penetration ability is limited, reloading requires removing the entire cylinder from the weapon, and for the inexperienced, and even more experienced shooters, they are hard to shoot with any degree of consistent accuracy, to say nothing of the general unsuitability of the .22LR cartridge in the self-defense role.  Such weapons would be a poor choice as one’s sole personal defense arm.

Large, or full-sized revolvers generally hold six rounds (though a few designs hold seven), have at least a 4” barrel, and usually have fully adjustable rear sights (adjustable for windage–side-to-side, and elevation–up and down).  This class is generally considered to be “duty” revolvers of the kind a diminishing number of police forces still use.  Unless one is a large, strong person, concealing such weapons is difficult.  They are best carried in exposed holsters on substantial belts.  It is possible to conceal them with the right holsters, but they are big, heavy handguns built to take substantial wear from powerful cartridges over the long term.

Medium framed revolvers also share barrels of the same length, but are lighter and not as solidly built.  However, they will still provide many years of service for most people.  Many models have barrels from 2” to 3” and some do not have adjustable rear sights.  They are generally somewhat smaller and weigh somewhat less than fully sized revolvers, offering reasonable concealment possibilities for some–usually larger–people.  Medium and large revolvers, particularly with four inch barrels, are generally hard for short waisted people–women–to conceal.

Small frame revolvers like the Ruger LCR commonly have barrels of around 2” length and are of only five round capacity.  They rarely have adjustable rear sights.  Most rear sights are merely notches or grooves machined—or molded–in the top strap of the weapon.  They commonly have small grips.  Such weapons are designed in recognition of the fact that full and even medium sized revolvers are not easily concealed.  Some revolvers in this class have aluminum, titanium or alloy frames for reduced weight, but their barrels and cylinders generally must be steel.  Some of the newer weapons in this class, such as the Ruger LCR are being manufactured with frames and some parts made of polymer to reduce weight as much as possible.

ADVANTAGES OF MODERN, DOUBLE-ACTION REVOLVERS:  Because they have no separate safety devices, they are simple; pull the trigger and they go “bang.”  In fact, long, heavy double action trigger pulls are usually thought to be an inherent safety feature, requiring the shooter to really intend to shoot to discharge the weapon.  Revolvers do not have mechanical safety devices that must be manipulated in order to fire the weapon.  On the other hand, short, light single action trigger pulls are, with justification, thought to be dangerous because they are far more prone to unintentional discharge. It is also easy to load and unload revolvers, and one can tell at a glance if they are loaded. Properly maintained, revolvers–particularly in stainless steel–can last a lifetime.  Stainless steel does rust, but is far less susceptible to rust than other steels commonly used in firearms.

Revolvers represent well-developed technology and manufacturing methods and are relatively free of inherent malfunctions.  With speed loaders, they can be reloaded reasonably quickly–during my police days with revolvers, I could reload in the 3 second range, sometimes less–though experts can reload with amazing speed even without speed loaders.  High quality revolvers are also potentially more accurate than many semiautomatic pistols, though relatively few shooters are skilled enough to notice any actual difference at common handgun ranges.  There is a difference between intrinsic accuracy—the accuracy potential of the design–and practical accuracy, which is what a given person can hope to accomplish with a given handgun.

With the wide range of different materials and shapes available, most people can adapt a given revolver to their unique hand by simply exchanging factory for aftermarket grips.  Revolvers are also capable of handling the largest, most powerful pistol cartridges, but only with very large, heavy and hard-recoiling weapons.

DISADVANTAGES OF REVOLVERS:  The higher the bore axis (the barrel) of a handgun is above the hand, the greater the recoil effect on the shooter.  Virtually all revolvers, by design, suffer from this inherent problem, a problem made worse by more powerful cartridges and lighter weapons.  It is ironic that in an attempt to make some revolvers more easily carried and concealed, manufacturers have also greatly increased the recoil effect (from light weight), muzzle blast and report (from short barrels), small grips, and lessened accuracy (by means of shorter barrels and small, non-adjustable sights).  Small .38 caliber revolvers are notorious for their sharp—even painful—recoil and dazzling muzzle flash and report.

The long, heavy trigger pulls commonly considered a safety feature also make accuracy difficult.  When shooting, one must essentially isolate the trigger finger from the rest of the hand and hold the entire weapon absolutely steady through the entire trigger pull.  Old time shooters learned this difficult skill by balancing coins (flat, not on edge!) on their front sights while practicing double action trigger pulls.  As one might imagine, people with larger, stronger hands–men–have the advantage here.

While speed loaders greatly lessen reloading times, they tend to be inconvenient for most people for concealed carry because they must be as large as the cylinder of the revolver.  In addition, many grips interfere with speed loaders and often have to be “relieved,” which consists of removing any grip material in the way.  This is not particularly difficult, but does take some skill and specialized tools.

Some suggest that revolvers are utterly reliable, but revolvers are very dirt sensitive and can and do malfunction.  This is one of the primary reasons that virtually every military issues semi-automatic pistols rather than revolvers.  Even with well-maintained revolvers a tiny piece of grit under the ejector “star” can actually jam the cylinder, preventing the gun from firing.  Remember that the round aligned with the barrel at rest will not be fired.  When the trigger is pulled (or the hammer is cocked to single action mode), the cylinder rotates to the next cartridge, so if the cylinder won’t rotate, the shooter will not be able to fire a single round.  Unfortunately, virtually anything other than grit under an ejector star that causes a malfunction in a revolver is due to breakage of or damage to internal parts and cannot be quickly repaired in the field without tools. If one is under fire, this is a significant weakness indeed.  Revolvers much be kept scrupulously clean, but many designs are ironically time consuming and demanding to clean thoroughly and properly, with six to seven separate tubes–the chambers and the barrel–requiring careful attention.

NOTE:  A malfunction is a stoppage that can be fixed in the field, by hand, usually within a few seconds.  A jam is a stoppage that cannot be fixed quickly by hand and which usually requires tools and/or replacement parts and a trip to the shop.

Even expensive, top of the line revolvers have the same potential weaknesses.  In my early days of police work, I carried Colt Pythons, very expensive, very accurate, high quality weapons, as did several of my police shooting buddies.  One day at a range session, one of my friend’s brand new Pythons suddenly started sending bullets down and to the side of the target.  He couldn’t figure it out and asked me to take a look.  I peered down the sights and was amazed to find that the barrel had come unpinned and was, under the recoil of .357 duty (fully-charged) magnum ammunition, unscrewing itself from the frame.  The front sight was cocked at an angle!  I opened the cylinder, unscrewed the barrel with my bare hands and handed my open-mouthed pal the two parts, announcing deadpan that I was reasonably sure I’d identified the problem.  A good gunsmith quickly and cheaply fixed the gun, but even the best handguns can experience unexpected problems.

Cylinder cranes and ejector rods are likewise prone to damage.  Anyone flipping out a cylinder or violently snapping it back into place with the flip of a hand ala TV gunslingers is looking for a bent crane and a lengthy, expensive visit to a gunsmith.  Whenever the cylinder is out of the frame–as in ejecting spent rounds from the cylinder and/or reloading–those parts must be handled with gentle care.  The kind of idiotic handling of revolvers one sees in movies or on TV is highly likely to result in damage that will quickly render a revolver an expensive paperweight. Don’t get me started on people who “spin” cylinders.  Not only is such foolishness utterly unnecessary, at the least it causes accelerated wear on fragile parts, and at worst, can damage the weapon, leading to malfunctions at the worst possible times.

The exposed hammers of small revolvers are prone to hanging up in pockets or clothing.  Many manufacturers have designed smaller, or “bobbed” hammers, made shrouds around external hammers, or have even made internal hammer designs to address this well-known problem.  The aforementioned Ruger LCR has an internal hammer and cannot be fired single action.  Careful holster design can minimize this unfortunate snagging tendency.

The largest problem with revolvers remains their long, often rough double action triggers.  This factor makes revolvers much more difficult to shoot with consistent accuracy than semi-automatic pistols. This problem can be addressed, to a degree, with an action job by a competent gunsmith, but that’s additional expense, commonly in the $200+ range.  Some revolvers now come from the factory with much better triggers than one would have found in the past, but this is still an issue to be considered.

It should also be noted that this problem is exacerbated with smaller, lighter more concealable weapons, and made even worse by the recoil effects of full-powered, as opposed to lighter loaded target, ammunition.  Smaller men and many women often find long shooting sessions to be actually painful, and any weapon that is painful to shoot will dramatically degrade accuracy and effectiveness.  It is ironic that even full-sized, heavy revolvers that are poor choices for concealment can suffer from this problem, though to a lesser degree and requiring more rounds fired.

Consider the experience of a police department for which I once worked. In the mid-90’s that agency was run by an anti-gun chief, and the issued department weapon was the S&W model 686, a stainless steel, 4” barrel, .357 magnum revolver.  As an issued weapon–the only weapon allowed for every police officer–it was a mediocre choice.  On one hand, it was–and is–a high quality, reliable weapon. Its stainless steel construction made it easier to maintain, and the 125 grain hollowpoint duty cartridge was an effective choice. On the other, the revolver was very large, heavy, had substantial muzzle blast and report, substantial real and felt recoil, was difficult to conceal, and the only concession allowed to the individual officer was the choice of a few different styles of rubberized grips.

Female officers had a hell of a time with the weapon. We used to joke-–sort of-–that even if we missed, the bad guys would be incinerated by the muzzle blast. Night-firing qualifications were wonders to behold, each round fired illuminating the area like a lightning strike. I had no difficulty with revolvers, but I became a police shooter in a time of few reliable semiautomatic pistol choices. I was also willing to reload and devote considerable time to developing my skills.  As a result, I became adept with the revolver, even earning the top shooter honor in my first basic academy class.

I’m also a 6’, 200+ pound man with larger than average hands and greater than average strength.  Consider too that I was–and am–an avid shooter, so I was far more practiced than most of my compatriots (most cops aren’t shooters–really).  Even so, after 50 rounds of qualification with full-charge cartridges, I was feeling the effects of fatigue in my hands and arms and glad to be done.  Many of my smaller, less experienced colleagues absolutely hated to shoot their handguns, wincing with each report and actually experiencing bruises and abrasions on their hands.  Their qualification scores reflected this reality.  Still, if my only option for a duty weapon had to be a stainless steel Smith and Wesson in .357 caliber, the 686 would probably be my choice.

Because of the necessary width of their cylinders, overall configurations, and their weight distribution, revolvers are generally wider and more difficult to conceal than semiautos.  One final observation is that because of their designs, revolvers can become “out of time.”  In other words, the cylinder no longer precisely aligns cartridges with the barrel.  This can cause splashback of portions of a bullet, and in extreme cases, injure the shooter or bystanders.  While this is usually not seen outside of significant mechanical failure or significantly worn (as in mechanically degraded) weapons, it is something about which to always be aware with revolvers.

Police experience is revealing.  Police agencies transitioning from revolvers to semiautos have commonly found that the hit ratio of their officers, on the range and in actual gunfights, significantly improves.  This was my experience when an agency of some 100 officers for which I worked transitioned to GLOCKs in .40 S&W caliber. Officers who struggled to make minimum passing scores with their .357 revolvers were consistently scoring much higher with much less effort.  Officers who were highly skilled demonstrated far less variation.  One hundred percent shooters are 100% shooters for a reason.  In other words, semiautos are generally easier to shoot accurately (practical accuracy) than revolvers despite the fact that revolvers may have greater intrinsic accuracy.

Despite this litany of potential problems, modern, quality revolvers are generally quite safe and reliable and will usually fire every round without fail right out of the box.  However, no one should carry or rely on any firearm for self-defense without function verification and familiarization training consisting of firing several hundred rounds through the weapon.

Next week: semiautomatic pistols.

Mike’s Home blog is Stately McDaniel Manor.

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141 Responses to A Revolver Primer

    • Huh…. I didn’t know these things lived in the US. I thought there we all in South America.

      You learn something every day.

      • The javelina, aka collared peccary, is found in south-central Texas and southern Arizona, as well as Mexico. Other varieties of peccary are found throughout Central and South America.

        Tasty eating when young.

  1. Nice info about older single actions, having hammer on an empty chamber is important. Hickok45 does a nice video where he hits the hammer causing, intentional discharges.

  2. It’s not really correct to say that the cylinder “revolves.” It rotates. The cartridges, however, do revolve around the cylinder’s point of rotation.

  3. I think that my old S&W Model 14 has the best DA trigger pull out of all of mine, it even beats my Python.

    The most fun that I have with a gun is walking around in my woods killing stumps with an old single action Colt 45.

    • Ha! I just did that today! Those stumps sure get uppity sometimes. Gotta put em’ in their place. Except I went with a shotgun today. 1 1/2 ounce brenneke’s destroy rotwood. And my .45 Model 3 russian puts nice holes in those woody bastards too.

      • Just image searched ” Model 3 Russian”… Found pics of the gun and ladies in their underpants… FTW.

    • I liked my Python’s DA, but what I used all the time was SA, not yet prohibited by gun-PC dictators. You did not want me shooting at you at 100+ yards offhand, with a 4″ and 125 g Federals. I only had 6 shots, generally I was going to shoot SA, practiced SA, and if someone was 2 feet from me DA would be easy to learn on the spot. A double stack 9 would be raining bullets all around my area at 100+ yards, but actually hitting something was doubtful. I sure wish I had y’alls woods, tho!

  4. This sentence doesn’t really make sense:

    Some revolvers in this class have aluminum, titanium or alloy frames for reduced weight

    It’s common for people to refer to aluminum or aluminum alloy as, simply, alloy. Although incorrect, I was willing to let it slide, until I realized that’s not what you did. Aluminum and titanium, as used in any modern mechanical device, are always alloys. Steel, by definition, is an alloy. However, to talk about aluminum and alloy as being two different metals truly doesn’t make a lick of sense.

  5. Outstanding article. I only have minimal experience firing revolvers, (Military obviously only has semi-auto pistols and therefore those were the ones I bought for familiarity reasons), so this was a good recap about the pros and cons of revolvers.

  6. Great article. My own experience with revolvers (both single action and double) is that I have never seen one fail to fire. This is after twenty years of shooting them. I vouch for their reliability!

    • I’m thinking the upcoming article on semi-autos might scare me off of ever buying another one.

    • I have had many, many more jams from semis than revolvers, which I seem to think was zero. Finally switched to a 13-rd semi .40 when I had fired hundreds of rounds without any issues (P229) and I considered it close to a revolver in action, and therefore in safety.

  7. Nice article. One minor correction–a full size revolver can have as many as 8 rounds. E.g., The Smith & Wesson 327/627 revolver. .

    • But mine has a 12″ barrel. Thanks Taurus! And no, I’m not compensating, I just love me some velocity.

  8. One other advantage is you don’t have to chase after your brass. Or, if you’re a bad guy, you don’t leave any brass at the scene. . .

    • You don’t have to chase that “ejected” brass! See that guys jumping up and down at the bench just to your right? The brass from your last three 45 automatic, rounds went inside and down the back his shirt, and he wasn’t wearing a tee shirt!

    • Or if you’re a good guy! Shoot and drive away! Why subject yourself to the hassle if there is no one around but you and the guy who tried to rape you? Bye!

  9. Revolvers are still made because of a silly romanticized image of the 6-shooter, and its special place in our American history, as well it should be. But why is it still being considered a choice when tasked for self defense? It is nostalgia running amok. The flintlock was undoubtedly, the most important firearm in American history, but I don’t see a lot of romantic warriors demanding flintlocks ’round these parts.

    The whole idea around repeating firearms is how many times they repeat…before reloading. As it is, the longest standing rule about ammunition holds true. That being, there’s no such thing as too much. I think if we had carved out this nation with semiautomatic handguns, revolvers would be looked at the same way people look at flintlocks. Sure, they’re quaint and historical, but nobody should be defending their lives with one. Though some may believe they’ll be as cold and steely as a Dirty Harry and his .357 hand-cannon; where they are sure that each perp will only require one bullet a piece, you can’t just yell, “Cut!” the real world and reload. Any way you slice it, it has always been about: how many rounds on target in the shortest amount of time, accurately if possible. Well, invention being the mother it is, we have created the new best answer….. ….semiautomatic pistols. Choosing anything less is….is less than serious thinking. Maybe it’s not as romantic sounding as the 6-shooter, but I want and need every one of the bullets in my 15-shooter(20 with an extended mag.) How many chances do you want to save the lives of you and your family, before reloading? Six, or, as many as you can get?

      • I’m not saying that I agree with Fang, but I fail to see how the continued production of single shot fire arms has any bearing on what he said. Flint locks are in fact still manufactured as well, though virtually no one carries one as a defensive weapon. I suspect your touché is more of an ouchie.

    • I am pretty sure that Dirty Harry used a Model 29 in 44 mag.
      One of the advantages that you skipped is the fact that in hunting handguns semi-autos don’t cut the mustard. Outside of a couple of exceptions, they simply can’t contain the power that a .44 mag .454 casull .475 linebaugh or a .500 SW can. There is also something to the fact that revolvers are simply reliable. And before you call foul notice that I am not saying that most newer semi-autos are not.
      For the wake up at night hearing an ominous thud at the back door when your still half asleep, there is not much thought needed in an old double action revolver. To each their own.

      • Absolutely right, and agreed.

        And maybe it’s just from my many years of using and qualifying with them, but I’ve always found revolvers (Model 66 Smith’s and the Colt Python at least) easier to acquire and keep on target – every time.

    • Sorry, we do not live in a “perfect” world, Things do “fail”, as described in my comments below, revolvers are not dependent on the ammo they are fed (within reason of course) autoloaders are!

    • I’m sorry, but you are just flat out wrong.

      In my place of employment, where a firearm is legal to carry but would be more than frowned upon, pocket carry is sometimes a necessity. Advantages of my J frame over a semi auto include (but are not limited to), less susceptibility to pocket lint, a more potent round than the common .380, a more concealable shape, and reliability, reliability, reliability. I am aware revolvers can fail, but I have literally never even heard of a Smith J frame failing. Can it happen? Yes. But I have heard of far, far more pocket auto failures.

      When hiking in the woods, a revolver not only just feels right, it is really the most prudent choice for me. A .357 or .44 will handle any 2 or, more importantly, 4 legged threats more efficiently than either my 9’s or my .45’s. Additionally, I happen to (personally) be a more accurate shooter with full size revolvers, because that is what I started with, and what I handle the most efficiently. I am a hell of a shot with my Sig, but if I’m going for bullseyes, I reach for a 4in revolver. Also, if I have to reload after 6, the bear/cougar has already eaten my innards.

      Speaking of reloading, you might be surprised how fast you can get with proper speedloaders; it just takes some effort and will. Am I as fast, to the hundredth of a second, with speedloaders over mag changes? No, not quite. But I am by no means slow, and I have full confidence in my abilities.

      A revolver also fills a niche for certain shooters, like my girlfriend. I guarantee you she has no “silly romanticized notions of six shooters”, she took a year of convincing to carry. She not only shoots a revolver significantly better than any of my autos, she is just more comfortable with its simplicity. She has put in a lot of effort since she started carrying, bless her heart, but she will never attain my level of expertise due to the fact that she doesn’t care to. She shoots well, and knows how to handle her weapon, and that is as far she wants to go.

      And speaking of my girlfriend, I believe she is far more likely to have to make a contact shot than I am, due to the way attacks on women unfold. Revolvers will absolutely fire when pressed intimately against an attacker, autos will not. Women aren’t the only people who need to worry about contact shots either, some attacks happen very fast, and very close. So close you may not have a proper grip on your firearm, or you may have to get all up in their business with it.

      I am probably already TLDR here, but these are just a few reasons why revolvers are not obsolete. There are more.

      • You’re free to choose whatever you like, but revolvers are actually more susceptibly to pocket lint than autos of any sort. Since the auto has only to drop the pin (however it does so) to reap the benefit of the power of recoil to cycle the NEXT round, a revolver (at least one not carried with the hammer back) must revolve in order to fire at all. Lint can interfere with this process in ways that it would never effect the first shot from an auto. I’m not partisan, just honest, sift a quality revolver and a quality auto through a ton of lint and the auto will always fire at least once, the revolver, not so much.

        • If you can cite a situation where a J frame failed due to average pocket lint, I will literally buy you a beer.

        • In the first place if you would clean the “lint” filter on your dryer, you wouldn’t have a problem with lint.

          And second, The “reaping of benefits”, will only come if everything is executed to perfection including proper depth of firing pin hit, primer not defective, flash hole not obscured, adequate primer flash, proper amount of powder in case, proper seating of bullet, Correct cartridge for gun, known to function reliable. Proper recoil spring tension, and of course there can be no magazine failures.

          If any one of these things happen, or don’t happen, the recoil may NOT rack the slide, and you may be in a world of hurt. I realize that this may be a rare event, but if you are willing to stake your life on all of these things going exactly as planned, then that is your choice.

        • I would like to see some real statistics backing up the claims here. We basically have a claim of “this is better” vs “no, this is better”, both citing anecdotal experience.

          Now personally, I simply haven’t shot enough to consider my personal experience sufficient to judge here. Looking at the forums etc, it’s definitely more common to see problems with semi-autos, but they usually don’t involve pocket lint, but rather limp-wristing and other various feeding or ejection malfunctions (though we have to count those too in the grand picture of things). Either way, it’s still anecdotes.

          So. Is there any statistics available on the relative reliability of revolvers vs semi-autos, in general, but especially for pocket carry?

          Also, I really wonder about that “more potent round” claim. How much potent is .38 Special compared to .380 ACP?

        • @Wulfgen, very good read, thank you. It makes me seriously consider getting Taurus View to replace my Kel-Tec.

        • int19h
          I believe the general opinion is that, the smaller you go, with an autoloader, the more problems you may have, probably because of the metal mass, and maybe because quality issues, resulting from the fact that SOME auto’s are just made cheap, because the public in general does not want to pay the same for a small 380, as they would pay for a quality constructed 1911 size gun. There are of course many well designed sub autoloaders, but there is still the problem of depleted metal mass.

          I have had two of the sub compact 380’s. Got rid of them, although they may suit someone else just fine.

        • @Gunr, it’s an interesting angle that I haven’t thought about, but it still makes me wonder how much of it is anecdotal perception, and how much is real data. Especially given that for a while, the realm of pocket mouseguns was dominated by companies that were not exactly known for top-notch quality, and hence comparing one to a Glock wouldn’t exactly be apples-to-apples in more ways than just size.

        • int19h
          I wish we could get TTAG to do a post about small pocket autos, about the bad experiences their owners have had if any. This would put the issue on a factual basis, rather than just hearsay.

    • And don’t forget to factor in that you need about 15 rounds to stop one perp. And don’t forget, Dirty Harry used a .44 Mag, although you are correct that a .357 Mag would do the job with one (1) shot just as well.

    • Minor correction:
      Dirty Harry carried a .44 magnum model 29 not a .357 magnum.
      To answer your question, the reason revolvers are still considered for self defense is because particularly in the smaller sizes one can fire a fairly high power round with similar capacities to semiautomatics—usually with a better round.
      The smaller and lighter you make a semiautomatic, the more precisely it has to be sprung to provide consistent function. Under a certain size, the trade offs between semiautomatic and revolver become far more subjective than your analysis suggests.
      Besides the fact that many of us just like revolvers better, some people would rather take 6-8 rounds of a major power cartridge than 15 rounds of a more dinky caliber. I personally think the colt detective special is one of the finest concealed carry guns out there…but YMV.

    • If you are expecting more than 3 or 4 guests, you need to load the AR. Anything less, 6 rounds of .357 magnum defensive ammo (ie hollowpoints of some sort) is more than enough, please advise when anyone has been found dead with six empty .357 cases in his revolver. If you are an extreme operator, of course, operating extremely operationally, that may not apply, and you need to find a 60 or 100 round mag for your AR!

  10. I have transitioned to full time carry for my .357 snubbby. I used to switch between guns, different gun for doing different things. I just noticed the last few weeks I have gone to revolver in right pocket all times and the rest of the carry guns stay in the safe. I never knew I was a revolver guy. Never knew I liked scotch either until I hit 40.

  11. Looks like a lot of disadvantages were listed for the revolver. Not hard to tell what Mr. McDaniel prefers. That being said, I believe the wheel gun is still more reliable. Both revolvers and auto loaders have small parts that can fail and jam.
    I base my opinion, and it is an opinion ONLY, on the idea that an autoloaders reliability is based much on the ammunition it is fed. Several things can cause the gun to become temporarily, inoperable. On the other hand, revolvers will digest most anything unless you try to overload it, they do not depend on the exact actions that must take place after the hammer falls on an autoloader.
    I’m guessing the reason a lot of folks prefer the autoloader over the wheel gun, is because the “wheel” makes the gun more “bulky”, and the magazine capacity for most all auto’s is larger than the revolver.
    Of course this is not always the case for small pocket guns. My 14 oz. 38 Special holds 5 rounds, which is not a great deal less than a lot of pocket autos, firing a lessor round.
    In the end, it is up to the user which gun he or she prefers to carry.

    • Try this! With a rental gun at the range, I had repeated stovepipes, and when I complained (WTF?) was told I was limp wristed, hold it tighter or whatever. I KNOW I am not the only one to hear this, I followed the advice and had no more trouble. But would never in a million years trust that gun in an “OH SHIT!” moment. There is no such thing as “limp wrist” with a revolver, no matter how scared you are.

      • Yup, this. It feels to me that operator error is much more of an issue with semi-autos, and I simply do not trust myself to not make any mistakes when I need that thing to work, and work right. Whereas with revolver there are fewer points of failure.

        And if it means that I have to clean it more often, that’s fine. I’m in no rush and can do things slowly and by the book when I’m cleaning it.

  12. The introduction of the Glock V8 “vertical cylinder” 8 shot revolver will appeal to the many LE agencies who are having problems with their M&Ps.

  13. That was a good article, I enjoyed it.

    Revolvers fit into a small nitch, for me, powerful hunting side arm, something with “magnum” written on it.

    Or a minimalist gun, something you throw in a pocket holster and go about your day.

  14. Police agencies transitioning from revolvers to semiautos have commonly found that the hit ratio of their officers . . . significantly improves.

    If that’s true, they must have started at zero.

    revolvers may have greater intrinsic accuracy

    I’ve seen this statement before and I believe it to be without any basis in fact or science — and I’m a revolver guy. IMO, revolvers have no inherent accuracy advantage over semi-automatic handguns.

    • I’ll comment later, but yes, revolvers do have an accuracy potential higher than that for common carry semi-autos.

      Gotta run.

    • Semis have all manner of diddlypoop moving around and doing magic while the bullet is trying to find its way down the barrel. Revolvers, the barrel just keeps pointing right there. Should be common sense.

      • LarryinTX
        I might add: The cartridge might do some diddlypooping it’s self, trying to find it’s way into the chamber, through the magazine lips, up and over the feed ramp, unless everything is perfect.

        • First, that all happens before the gun is fired and so has no bearing on accuracy.

          Second, the revolver also has room for sloppiness in that the cylinder is a separate moving part. Unless it aligns the round perfectly with the bore of the barrel and is locked up tight, you’ve got a major potential cause of inaccuacy.

          Third, I suspect DG is going to come back and say that in a custom or high-quality auto, you will have good lockup and will have excellent potential accuracy.

          Regardless, I’m pretty sure every decent quality semi-auto or revolver will shoot better than we will when we’re under duress.

    • Given that in most semi-autos (setting .22 aside), the barrel is not firmly attached to the frame, I don’t see how that alone wouldn’t give a noticeable advantage.

      Whether it’s noticeable enough compared to your typical shooter’s accuracy, that’s another question.

  15. I haven’t read the article yet, pressed for time right now, but wanted to say that I had a revolver fail just this week. The cylinder lock bolt failed on my SAA Colt. FWIW, it’s 108 years old so the occasional failure should probably be expected.

  16. I’m a one revolver guy (for now), a Ruger Blackhawk .44mag, and I have to say it is by far the most accurate handgun I’ve ever fired. I doubt I could shoot an open sighted rifle any better. With a little practice you could take a deer at 100 yards easy. I’ve even been considering getting a .357 carry gun (perhaps this one; http://www.ruger.com/products/gp100DE/specSheets/1753.html ) in hopes to increase my combat accuracy in exchange for rate of fire. Although if you get any shorter than 3″ you might as well be shooting 9mm+p.

    Generally speaking I’d recommend revolvers for either simplicity of operation for people who don’t want to shoot (train) recreationally, and those who wish for a more powerful and accurate handgun and are willing to lug around a bigger chunk of steel.

  17. Good article!

    My take, worth exactly what you are paying for it:

    It does seem to me that, for purposes of self defense when out and about, a reasonably modern semiauto will be preferable almost all of the time. Though of course everyone’s circumstances will be different, and personal taste can override this–it’s not *horrifically wrong* to carry a revolver. When at home, a big honkin’ wheelgun could be a better choice as a nightstand (or desk drawer) gun. Revolvers could also be better for people with poor upper body strength (slide racking is a non issue).

    Uses other than defending against Bad Guys:

    A single action (or DA fired single action) could make a good target gun as long as capacity isn’t an issue for whatever event you are at.

    And of course a big honkin’ wheelgun (of the “huge” class) could be just the ticket for a hike in case you run into something meaner, hungrier, and bigger than you are.

    Revolvers definitely win the contest for power in a handgun round, shy of dragging out a Deagle and adopting an Ahnuld accent to go with it. And even then there are some really hot revolver calibers out there that make a Deagle look sick.

    One thing I’ve never understood is why single action (only) revolvers typically seem to be made, even recently, with no cylinder crane/ejector star. (I can understand why they didn’t do it back-in-the-day; it would have increased complexity greatly and we were much less high-tech in our manufacturing processes then.)

    • Because the crane/yoke setup (or break-top) is weaker than using a cylinder fixed on a nice, fat base pin.

      Most of the modern SA revolvers are now able to take some ferocious loads. Not just the Freedom Arms guns, but also the Ruger SA revolvers. Rugers are built hell for strong in their SA revolvers.

      • Ah. Well that does explain the advantages/disadvantages of both setups.

        But unless I am missing something, it doesn’t really explain why one of them invariably appears on single actions, and the other doesn’t. In other words, I can see no reason not to put a crane on a single action (if willing to not fire full house loads on it) or put a no-crane big fat pin cylinder on a double action (so that it could).

        Or to put it another way: Why no interest in a super-strong double action? Or being able to reload a single action quickly even if at the expense of extreme strength?

  18. Excellent article that tells the “The Truth About Revolvers.” Since the introduction of the modern automatic pistol revolvers should be relegated to back up gun for last ditch defense (snubbie) or long range target shooting and hunting (long barreled big bore). I have never understood why anybody would recommend a revolver to a new shooter. From a total package standpoint, i.e., trigger, recoil ballistics, they are less accurate than an automatic for any given gun size. Your basic snubbie is at a minimum the size of an XD/s with a barrel that is about half the length and recoil from a 38 special that is worse than the 45 ACP out of the Springfield single stack. Revolver fanboys keep touting the reliability advantage that isn’t real at least Glocksters tell me so. If reliability was an issue then the military would still be using revolvers.

    Conventional wisdom around here seems to be to start people off on a revolver because it is less complex. Just point and shoot. Like most conventional wisdom it is wrong. Glocks and XD series pistols are also just point and shoot with better triggers and less recoil leading to more hits and a good experience. Now when I introduce a new person to guns I start them on my SiG/GSG 1911-22. Great trigger, low recoil easy to shoot. Next I move them right away to the full bore 1911. Same trigger, obviously more recoil but still manageable. They walk away with positive experience because they hit the target more often and their hands don’t feel like they were catching Nolan Ryan.

    • I think you’re onto something. I recommend revolvers only to people who I believe will not train even the minimum to get the loading, unloading, disassembly, reassembly and cleaning of an auto down. If you do nothing but shoot them without cleaning most automatics will eventually fail before most revolvers. This is only a strength in my mind when the weapon will be owned and used by what is basically a totally untrained person. Also, the basics of the revolver can be taught in minutes, autos not so much.

      Anyone who commits to either a basic pistol course or an hour on the range and an hour ‘classroom’ time I recommend an auto to. If you learn to maintain the modern auto at all and it’s manual of arms it will serve better in most circumstances than a revolver. I consider the 1911 (which I often carry as a primary) to be a master level pistol, best suited to those who either never miss or reload at lightening speed and who can handle it’s more complex manual of arms. Glocks and XD series Springfields? Heck, any one can run one of those and their capacity and reload speed make them an easy choice over a revolver. I actually consider the art of the revolver right up there with the 1911, it’s a specialty skill that isn’t really intended for beginners (with revolvers mostly because of the reloading issue). A total newb can get the whole cylinder off in a revolver with almost no training at all and repeat that (albeit with slow reloads) day after day knowing nothing but putting rounds in the chambers and pulling the trigger. However, anyone who will commit to even a little training is almost certainly better served by an auto. I have lots of revolvers and I love them, I carry semi-autos exclusively for several reasons; capacity and rapid reload. In the heat of the moment more is more.

      • I disagree with your characterization of the 1911 as a “master” level pistol. It was designed to be used by soldiers who never fired a pistol before. If you compare it to a modern modular takedown system it appears to be complicated but with minimal practice you can field strip it with no tools in less than a minute. An automatic is easier to use than a revolver. Just slap in the magazine rack the slide and you are ready rock and roll.

        • Until you hand that semi-auto to a woman who can’t rack the slide, that is.

        • Allow me to clarify my ‘master level’ comment about the 1911. I was comparing to modern autos such as Glock and Springfield’s XD series pistols. These latter typically have much larger capacities, lack a thumb safety, are easier to disassemble/reassemble and due to the design of their magazines are less likely to experience a failure to feed (yes, I admitted it). The 1911 requires more training to run effectively/efficiently. There needs to be a higher hit probability with it due to it’s decreased capacity and reloading is more likely to need to occur in an emergency with a 9 shot pistol than with a 16 shot.

          I’m neither hating on 1911s nor insisting that it’s a better arm, only that the average person is likely to require less training on striker modern autos than on the 1911 which is why I generally wouldn’t recommend a 1911 to a new shooter who isn’t committed to adequate practice, believing there are other designs that would better serve them.

          With that said, while the 1911 was designed for use by soldiers who didn’t have advanced pistol skills it was also designed more than 100 years ago, and specifically because it was designed for military use that those issued it would be trained with it was a foregone conclusion. I don’t consider it a complicated pistol really, only that it is more complicated than some others. After 20+ years of schlepping a 1911 or variant I still rake my thumb across the relevant area of ever auto pistol that I draw with intent to fire whether it has a safety or not. A habit like that means never having a safety left on moment in an emergency, something an inexperienced shooter could end up with.

          As with any arm, training with what you carry is paramount, but I maintain that the 1911 requires more training than either GLOCK or XD pistols for proficiency to be developed.

        • Hmm, my wife is small framed with small hands. She doesn’t have a problem with either a 1911 or an M-9. Sounds pretty sexist to me.

        • Some women can and do rack slides with no problem.

          Older women, however, in my experience, often lose their upper body strength to a point where they’re not going to rack a 1911 or a Glock. And those, to me, are the people most in need of a reliable, no-frills, defensive gun: older women living alone, with their husband dead and gone, kids long since gone, etc. A .38 Special revolver works better than most other options out there for these women.

          I’m not being sexist. I’m being realistic. There are very real issues I solve when I recommend a revolver, and when I recommend revolvers, it is because not everyone out there can be a high speed, low drag operator.

        • I would REALLY love to hear about an incident, anywhere, anytime, where someone other than a member of a military involved in a real war, or an LEO in a simulated one, has EVER needed a reload after firing 9 rounds, or 6 for that matter. What you NEED is to have a gun. There were folks in Mumbai recently who may have needed 60 round magazines, but I suspect a 6-shot .357 could have obtained them an AK-47 and several magazines. Huge capacity is ridiculous. FUN, but ridiculous. For carry, smaller is better. I carry an LCP .380 with 7 round capacity, have a 3″ Kimber .45 with a 7 round capacity in the car. I do not expect to ever reload during a confrontation, suspect that anyone who does plans to dump the whole mag in 1.3 seconds, who cares who I hit? Define a target, shoot it, and holster your gun. Unless you carry a beanshooter in order to have lotsa boolets.

    • >> From a total package standpoint, i.e., trigger, recoil ballistics, they are less accurate than an automatic for any given gun size.

      Not an issue in a self-defense scenario. It’s accurate enough for the intended range and target size.

      >> Your basic snubbie is at a minimum the size of an XD/s with a barrel that is about half the length and recoil from a 38 special that is worse than the 45 ACP out of the Springfield single stack.

      Ditto.

      >> Revolver fanboys keep touting the reliability advantage that isn’t real at least Glocksters tell me so. If reliability was an issue then the military would still be using revolvers.

      First of all, no-one is saying that semi-autos are not reliable. Rather, the claim is that revolvers are more reliable.

      Military doesn’t make decision solely on reliability, they have other factors to consider, too. In particular, a soldier is basically someone who goes out seeking trouble – i.e. men whom he needs to shoot lest he shoots them. With this comes the natural desire to have more rounds in the mag, and the ability to reload quickly.

      For civilian self-defense, the situation where you even get to fire off more than 3 or 4 rounds before it’s all over is a diminishingly small percentage of all cases, which are rare enough as it is. So it might well make sense to to trade the extra capacity over a slight decrease in the possibility that something goes wrong with those 3-4 rounds.

      The other thing is that semi-autos are prone to operator induced errors (poor choice of ammo, limp wristing etc), as well as requiring some practice to correctly handle the resulting malfunctions. Not so with a revolver. So for a newbie who doesn’t want to practice much and wants something that will work regardless of them forgetting things, them being panicked etc, a revolver makes a lot of sense. For a soldier who is required to train in the line of duty and is not expected to panic in a situation where he’d need to use a gun, it’s a different proposition.

      Anyway, whether it actually makes sense or not depends on the actual reliability of revolvers compared to semi-autos. Until solid stats on that are available, it’s all just conjecture either way.

      • “>> From a total package standpoint, i.e., trigger, recoil ballistics, they are less accurate than an automatic for any given gun size.

        Not an issue in a self-defense scenario. It’s accurate enough for the intended range and target size.

        >> Your basic snubbie is at a minimum the size of an XD/s with a barrel that is about half the length and recoil from a 38 special that is worse than the 45 ACP out of the Springfield single stack.

        Ditto.”

        A snubbie is literally not accurate outside of point blank range. When consider trigger pull, recoil and short barrel you cant’t reliably hit your target at 5 yards,. If your DGU starts point blank you have already put yourself in an untenable position.

        “>> Revolver fanboys keep touting the reliability advantage that isn’t real at least Glocksters tell me so. If reliability was an issue then the military would still be using revolvers.

        First of all, no-one is saying that semi-autos are not reliable. Rather, the claim is that revolvers are more reliable”

        When people make reliability claims about revolvers they certainly do believe that an automatic is likely to fail. The difference between a mean rounds to failure from the start of a clean gun of 500 or 10000 is zero in a DGU. There is no practical difference between the two pistol types.

        “Military doesn’t make decision solely on reliability, they have other factors to consider, too. In particular, a soldier is basically someone who goes out seeking trouble – i.e. men whom he needs to shoot lest he shoots them. With this comes the natural desire to have more rounds in the mag, and the ability to reload quickly.”

        Irrelevant. The primary reason why the US Army went to a semiautomatic was ease of use, increased accuracy and simpler training regime, Rate of fire was a plus but not the driving force. All the characteristics of an automatic make it easier for a soldier who has never fired a pistol to become proficient in its use..

        “For civilian self-defense, the situation where you even get to fire off more than 3 or 4 rounds before it’s all over is a diminishingly small percentage of all cases, which are rare enough as it is. So it might well make sense to to trade the extra capacity over a slight decrease in the possibility that something goes wrong with those 3-4 rounds”

        That is an argument for a single stack automatic not a revolver. Those three or four rounds are going to come in a hurry and with recoil and long trigger pull on a revolver your chances of hitting anyone even at 5 yards is much lower than a automatic.

        “The other thing is that semi-autos are prone to operator induced errors (poor choice of ammo, limp wristing etc), as well as requiring some practice to correctly handle the resulting malfunctions. Not so with a revolver.”

        Limp wristing is a problem for plastic pistols. It seldom if ever happens on a steel framed pistol
        Given the fall off in balistic performance in a short barrel a revolver is going to have more ammo effectiveness issues than a similar sized automatic. A 3″ barreled revolver which is the size of a Browning Hi Power will have the same ammo choices as a 5.6″ Beretta Nano. Will a snubbie have enough velocity and stability for JHP to work? I thought we both agreed that reliability is not an issue. What happens when the poorly trained owner who doesn’t properly clean his revolver properly locks up his cylinder?

        “Anyway, whether it actually makes sense or not depends on the actual reliability of revolvers compared to semi-autos. Until solid stats on that are available, it’s all just conjecture either way.”

        Solid stats exist. It’s called war. The 1911 is combat proven to be reliable. So has the Browning Hi Power, the Tokarev and the Makarov to name a few.. The military operating environment is much more demanding then civilian environments.

        • All the semi-autos that you’ve listed are full-size duty pistols, and steel ones at that. They have an inherently low risk of limp wristing due to their sheer weight. Subcompacts, and especially pocket guns, are a whole different kettle of fish.

          And note that mass is an issue, too. A revolver can have a much lower mass for a given caliber than a semi-auto. Case in point: S&W 342PD, chambered in .357 Magnum (and capable of shooting it reliably), weighs as much as the lightest semi-auto ever chambered in 9x19mm – Diamondback DB9 – and that latter can’t even shoot all standard-pressure 9mm ammo reliably, and limp wristing is a major problem with it. And yes, the weight does matter a lot for pocket carry, and a semi-auto that’s heavy enough that it’s easy to shoot is too heavy to carry in such a manner. And pocket carry is a necessity in some cases, and plainly convenient in many others.

          FWIW, I am definitely quite capable of reliably hitting a target in center of mass with a snubbie at 5 yards, and beyond. And I disagree with your assessment that it is “too close” – FBI stats say otherwise; wasn’t the average figure sited for DGU to be 7 feet?

        • “And note that mass is an issue, too. A revolver can have a much lower mass for a given caliber than a semi-auto. Case in point: S&W 342PD, chambered in .357 Magnum (and capable of shooting it reliably), weighs as much as the lightest semi-auto ever chambered in 9x19mm

          You are absolutely right. Ruger has a 16oz snubbie in 357 and the barrel will be point skyward after you fire it. Mass is your friend, not your enemy. Why do you think the 1911 tested out as having the least muzzle rise?

          I am sure you can hit a target on a range with snubbie at 5 yards or more. Unfortunately, your DGU is unlikely to happen on a range.

        • So you load it with .38 Spl, and keep it on target.

          I reiterate: for many people and in many cases: a full size or even compact all-metal semi-auto is simply not an option because it is not concealable enough. You insist on comparing full-size “duty” pistols to snubbies, while the apt comparison is .380 and 9mm pocket guns with plastic frames to snubbies.

        • One more thing about the 7′ rule. That statistic is very biased by the large number in the sample of LEOs approaching a suspect. They are alert and at the ready. If you, a private citizen, approaches the threat at the ready you become the aggressor and in a SYG state like Florida the bad guy gets a free shot. If you let the threat get within 7′ before you identify it then chances are you are going lose when you go for your gun. If you spot the the threat at a distance you can take steps to avoid or defend at longer range.

        • Int19h: The Makarov is a full size duty pistol? Mine looks kind of tiny. In fact I am trying to justify to myself using it (in spite of its rather anemic round) to replace my POS Nano (which last Sunday jammed FIVE TIMES in fifty rounds) for those rare situation where I can’t carry one of my (actually full size) CZs.

          The Makarov IS a metal gun though so tdiinva’s comment about metal guns not suffering from limp-wristing nearly as much as polymer do apply.

        • Don’t let the size deceive you. Makarov weighs more than Glock 17. So while it’s not exactly full-size, unlike TT, it’s closer to that category than to your typical modern subcompact.

        • I am not comparing snubbies to full sized duty pistols. I am comparing them to pistols like the XD/s, XD/m compact or a Px4.

          Loading your snubbie with 38 special runs into more problems then a 357. It is a subsonic round when you fire it from duty pistol so good luck getting a JHP to expand from a sub 2″ barrel and it will still have more recoil then a XD/s in 45 ACP.

          I keep hearing that you can’t conceal a full sized automatic and yet a good number of us do manage it just fine.

        • You do keep referring to full-size guns like 1911 and Tokarev when it comes to discussing reliability (your “why military uses it then?” argument). You’ll need a different argument for subcompacts.

          WRT expansion, sure, it won’t be much, but e.g. wadcutters are pretty damn effective even with no expansion. It’s not the only metric.

          As far as concealment goes, has it occurred to you that different people have different needs and different preferences regarding comfortable carry? Personally, I find that I simply cannot carry IWB comfortably, no matter how small the gun is, so I pocket carry. Some people pocket carry because they need deep concealment. And so on.

        • “A snubbie is literally not accurate outside of point blank range. When consider trigger pull, recoil and short barrel you cant’t reliably hit your target at 5 yards,. If your DGU starts point blank you have already put yourself in an untenable position.”

          I can consistently put 5 shots of .38 Spl. or .357 Mag. on a 8″ target at 25 yards with my LCR .357. Perhaps your generalization is accurate for the average shooter, but I don’t consider myself or my gun to be significantly better than average. Perhaps you had a bad experience with a snubby and are projecting. Regardless, I don’t think your generalization is particularly factual.

        • The context, admittedly, was a newbie shooter (since we were discussing whether it makes sense to recommend revolvers to people new to guns who just want something to defend themselves, and are not going to invest much time into practicing).

        • AFAIK, people are qualifying with snubbies on the range in Ohio for their concealed handgun licenses and those distances aren’t point blank. Often, it’s the NRA Basic Pistol Course.

          Come to think of it, my elderly and frail step-mother qualified with her vintage Charter Arms Detective Special in .38spl. It’s a snubbie. She’s blind in one eye and doesn’t see well at all in the other. It had been well over twenty years since she’d shot that revolver. The instructor, G-d bless him, had to take extra range time with her. But, she qualified with it that same day!

  19. You have to ask yourself, as if we could ever find out, in the average actual gunfight, how many rounds did the good guy fire before it was over? I cannot even imagine, as a citizen, firing more than 2-3 rounds in an engagement. 6 total is plenty.

    • According to the FBI it’s 3 rounds at less than 7 yards. Even a 5 shot wheel gun is probably enough for the average gunfight. I’d still like to have more rounds and faster reloads, in case I’m ever in that non-average gunfight.

      • So, fire your 6 rounds and run away, or die. It is STILL better than to go unarmed, which ever so many do because their 45 round .50 cal magnum pistols with 7 spare mags are too awkward and heavy to actually carry. START with a gun you will carry every day, then see if you can carry a bigger one. I did it the other way around, and it was expensive! FUN, but expensive. In hot states, wee bitty guns rule. In SD or something, carry an SBR.

        • I tell those new to carrying something along the same lines. In the past, I carried what I could (afford and carry all of the time). For a time, it was a Jennings .25 or a Jennings .22. Shortly after, it was a Lorcin .380. I made darned sure that I could reliably use them though. When I was able, I moved on to a Ruger 9mm. Eventually, I moved on to a 1911 or a short Vaquero, both in .45 ACP. From the 9mm on, I made sure that I carried at least a reload. With autos, it was mostly about a potential jam for me. With a revolver it’s because I don’t like ending up with an empty sidearm. Sometimes opportunity for some target shooting comes up and sometimes it’s nuisance wildlife. These days, the short Vaquero is my consistent EDC and usually accompanied by a 1911 magazine (speedloader) and a NAA Mini .22LR BUG. In the end though, it’s all about (as you were stating) carrying something and doing so as much as possible.

          I tell newbies to get something that they are sure they can shoot and carry everyday. They might not stay with that smaller sidearm or caliber forever or they might. But, if they need it, smaller/less is better than not having a firearm. IOW, I don’t fault what you carry… just carry!

  20. Really well done article, without any fanboy or hater bus which I could detect. Only minor point I would add is that some modern revolvers, such as Rossi brand, do have an external safety. It’s atypical, because it consists of a recessed cylinder that requires a proprietary tool to actuate it. So maybe it’s a feature that shouldn’t be thought of as a true “safety” in the first place, from an operator’s perspective, and more of security ceafure from an owner’s perspective.

    Also, I would like to have read some about firing pin failure potential, and perhaps some insight into the never ending controversy about whether dry firing is detrimental. Great article overall and a recommended read.

  21. Guns, guns everywhere, got to love it. Makes me feel safe. Revolvers, semi-automatics, single six’s, DA auto, SA, DA/SA, I’m in heaven what a great country! Now if we could only get rid of the shitheads/do gooders and the liberal government let the men be men and the women be women, jeeze I’m dreaming again. I don’t think I’m being PC enough, oh well to f _ _ king bad. This next vote let’s get the senate back and dump Reid. Oh and great article.

  22. Great article! I have, and use, both revolvers and semiautos. Both have advantages and disadvantages. I don’t buy the fanboy crap of either camp. My two favorite handguns to shoot are a Ruger GP100 with 4 inch barrel and a Sig P220 stainless elite. Neither are my favorite to carry! For carry it is a Ruger LCR or Ruger LCP or old style SW Bodyguard (5 shot 38 with shrouded hammer). Every situation demands a different solution. The best advice is carry what you can shoot well. A miss is a miss.

    • That’s good advice. There’s a lot of specificity in people’s personal circumstances, whether themselves as individuals or the environments they live in. General rules are useful as guidelines, but they may be overly broad for specific situations. What’s great overall, may not be the best, or even good, in an individual’s case. That’s why much of what is considered conventional wisdom regarding firearms should be taken as a starting point for questions to consider, and not as a set of prepackaged answers themselves.

  23. Great article. My opinions exactly. Unless you’re a sponsored shooter, or can shoot often, very often, a revolver is not an easy weapon to manipulate as efficiently as a good semi auto. Jerry Miculek makes it look easy, it’s not. I do love a good revolver, but for different reasons than a semi auto.

  24. Just my own experience but in 20+ years of shooting I have only had 2 instances of a revolver having a stoppage. Both were caused by defective ammo. The first was a primer backing out of a .38 Special commercial reload. This caused the cylinder to not rotate. Actually I lied. The second incident wasnt really a stoppage in the classic sense. A bent rim on a .44 mag round kept the cylinder from closing on a Model 29 I had. No idea how that happened as it was right out of a box of factory ammo. Remington if I recall, but that was a long time ago. I’m neither a revolver or semi auto guy. I like ’em both and I want one of everything! I’m not sure how anyone can claim a semi auto is better for self defense. I’ve had far more stoppages with various semi’s over the years. From .22’s to .45’s. That doesnt keep me from carrying one though. I wont carry (or keep) one that seems more prone to stoppages. Those were sold/traded or relegated to plinker status. I have a Kahr CW45 that I’m still on the fence about. I’ve had a few stoppages during the break in period but if it continues past the 500 rd mark then its probably trade material. I have an old Browning Hi-Power that I trust completely but its a bit of a hassle to carry everyday. In a total SHTF situation I would grab my old Ruger Security Six .357 and feel totally confident it wont fail. Or maybe my old Blackhawk Convertible .38/.357/9mm..That gun made me a Ruger fan for life. Bought it used and abused dirt cheap. Seemed to be much less accurate than was right. Shipped it to Ruger with a note explaining the problems I had with it. Got it back 3 weeks later with a new barrel, new cylinder(for .357) new hammer, trigger, main spring, ejector rod and ejector rod housing and spring..and a new rear sight. No charge. That thing functions perfectly and accurately to this day with I’ve lost track of how many assorted rounds through it. Too bad it’s damn near impossible to conceal comfortably.

    • Makes me think of something I haven’t seen mentioned here. It MAY be a good idea to cycle all of your rounds through the gun. That is, load the revolver, point at safe background and cock the hammer, and while holding thumb in front of hammer, release trigger, re-cock, and go through all rounds you intend to carry.
      Of course if you have a “hammerless” revolver, that can’t be done, and needless to say, this practice must be exercised with extreme caution. At least you will know that all your ammo will function properly.
      Please note, I am not recommending you do this, but it is an option.

  25. Here in Canada, any firearm with a <105mm barrel is 'prohibited,' meaning impossible to own without a special permit. And handgun hunting has been illegal since 1977, although permits to carry handguns for wilderness protection are issued–typically for .44 Magnums or greater, and generally only granted to trappers, geologists and other scientists in the wilderness, and the odd wildlife photographer. Cash in transit companies (G4S, Brinks, etc.) used to carry .38 revolvers, but now generally carry .40 pistols. The police in my city replaced their .38s with Glock 22s, in the early 1990s; I don't know of any police department in Canada that still carries revolvers. One advantage, especially with dangerous animals, is that a dud round is simply bypassed with a trigger pull, and no 'rack, tap, bang.'

    • When you mentioned 105 mm, I thought for a moment you were talking about a 105 mm howitzer. I thought My God what kind of weapons are our northern friends carrying!

  26. OK, two issues I’ll address from the standpoint of a gunsmith: the accuracy argument and the reliability argument.

    Accuracy:

    Revolvers have a higher accuracy potential because the sights are attached to the barrel and the frame, and neither moves from shot to shot. If your cylinder indexes properly and the bolt (or cylinder stop) leaves little angular play in the cylinder, you’re going to see a well-executed revolver group more tightly than the typical semi-auto (leaving aside straight blowback actions like a S&W 41 or similar .22’s, where the barrel doesn’t move and the sights are on the barrel, not a slide, or a purpose-built semi-auto like a S&W Model Model 52, Colt Gold Cup or Sig P210).

    Revolvers that have the cylinders line-bored with the bore axis and have the bolt/cylinder stop hand-fitted are very accurate indeed – grouping around 2″ at 50 yards. To achieve this with most classic (1911, CZ, .22 blowback) semi-auto requires quite a bit of work, but it can be done if you’re willing to sink enough money and time into the project. If I were shooting bullseye competitions and wanted to use a semi-auto, I’d go find a S&W Model 52-2 in good condition as my starting point. A 1911 could be tuned up as well, but in the end, it would require about as much money as one would dump into a Model 52 right now.

    Use a composite defense semi-auto for bullseye competition? I wouldn’t waste my time.

    One thing that must be addressed for many shooters of revolvers is the grip size relative to their hands. If you’re having trouble making a revolver hit the target or group, odds are that the grips aren’t allowing you to gain a repeatable grip on the gun. Semi-autos can also have the same sort of issue (which is why the combat tupperware manufactures now ship so many guns with inserts for their grips), but in revolvers it is really critical to have a set of grips that fit you.

    Reliability:

    Properly cared for, a revolver has several advantages over any semi-auto. Failure to eject? Not an issue. Limp-wristing? Not an issue. Failure to feed? Not an issue. Ammo problem? Pull the trigger again. Semi-autos’ reliability depends on not only the pistol and its own lockwork, but more commonly the magazine. If you’re the type of shooter who drops his magazines while reloading, one day, you’re going to see a magazine-related failure.

    The one unique requirement to revolvers is that heavy-recoiling revolvers have a requirement that their brass be crimped to prevent the other bullets in the cylinder from walking out of their cases and causing a failure to rotate the cylinder if a long-nosed bullet pokes out.

    Due to their tighter fitting and single spring in the lockwork, Colt DA revolvers have a reputation for being more fiddly if they get out of time. Don’t use a Python to pistol whip someone or drive nails. S&W solved much of the complexity of fitting the Colt rebound lever by breaking their lockwork into two springs: the mainspring on the hammer, and the spring in the trigger rebound mechanism. For reliability, I’d choose a S&W over a Colt. For collecting and shooting outside of social engagements, I’d take a Colt. The highest quality Colt revolvers (like the aforementioned Python) are a joy to shoot and hold. Their fit and finish is without modern equal; everything in today’s gun market looks inferior to a Colt Python.

    When we get down to trigger pulls, quality (Colt/S&W) DA revolvers with accessible hammers are head and shoulders better than any modern striker-fired semi-auto. The factory spec on a S&W trigger for the single-action pull is 2.75 lbs. A little work with some very fine stones and the trigger on a S&W/Colt in SA mode becomes exquisite. There’s nothing that can be done to a striker-fired pistol to put it into the same league of “nice triggers” as a revolver with an accessible hammer.

    The thing that is hilarious or annoying (depending on one’s perspective, and my perspective gives me both reactions) is the number of people spouting accuracy “facts” about handguns who wouldn’t know a Ransom Rest if it were dropped on their foot. If people are not testing accuracy with 5+ round groups at 25 or 50 yards with the handguns held in a Ransom rest to evaluate accuracy, then no one is conducting anything remotely useful in the way of accuracy testing of the handgun itself. By shooting handguns held in your hand at paper, you’re only testing how well you shoot that particular handgun.

    Here’s what I’m talking about:

    http://www.ransomrest.com/RansomRest.html

    • No one is disputing that a long barreled revolver is more accurate in a calibrate test or a bulls eye competition. We are talking about self defense not competitive target shooting. How many people do you see shooting revolvers in IDPA.

      “Properly cared for, a revolver has several advantages over any semi-auto”

      Properly cared for semiautomatics don’t fail either and metal framed autos seldom if ever FTE from limp wristing. I will repeat that if revolvers were so much more reliable then why doesn’t military use them? Automatics have proven reliable in the harsh combat environment.

      “The factory spec on a S&W trigger for the single-action pull is 2.75 lbs. A little work with some very fine stones and the trigger on a S&W/Colt in SA mode becomes exquisite. There’s nothing that can be done to a striker-fired pistol to put it into the same league of “nice triggers” as a revolver with an accessible hammer.”

      Except that in a DGU you will be using the revolver in double action mode with its long heavy trigger pull. The smooth 2.5lb SA trigger is irrelevant.

      • Semi-autos can and do become finicky when you start playing with their ammo outside the bounds of their design. It isn’t just the feeding of HP ammo in 1911’s I’m talking about, it is also an issue when you start trying to cram really heavy or really light target loads into semi-autos. You need to start adjusting your recoil springs to get it back into timing.

        Revolvers don’t care. Light load, heavy load, if it fits and fires, the limitation is the strength of the cylinder and frame. When you’re shooting paper with a .38 target revolver, why load it up to full +P potential? Pfah. Load wad cutters, reduce the load by half and ease up on yourself with bullets going downrange at a sedate 650 to 700 fps. Light target loads in semi-autos might cause the action to short-cycle. That gets to be a bother.

        For social outings, I’ll agree that many cheap composite semi-autos have advantages and are more than accurate enough for “minute of bad guy,” For me, the biggest advantage of a composite semi-auto is that one needn’t shed a tear if they get taken for evidence. To me, one Glock is just as butt-ugly as the next one, and no tears will ever be shed by yours truly over losing a composite striker-fired semi-auto, because I can get one that’s just as ugly very quickly.

        Firing from SA mode: For people who are familiar with revolvers, drawing and cocking the hammer to SA mode is quite natural with practice. They can make it happen plenty fast, with the one hand they’re using to draw the gun. There’s no need to “fan” the hammer or some such Hollywood theatrics. Same deal with 1911’s with the hammer down – I’ve seen plenty of guys who could thumb that hammer back with no hesitation on their draw from a holster. Plenty of people have been killed dead as a wedge with a SAA on a draw.

        My point about accuracy is based on the fact that people will use a gun more for shooting at targets than will use it in DGU’s (or so we’d hope), and there you will see both issues of ergonomics and inherent accuracy show up. When I’m at the range with a tuned 1911 or a revolver, punching tight little groups and enjoying the results, and people are asking me (often with much disappointment in their voice) “why won’t this Glock(etc) shoot as well as your piece does?” well, it’s time to drag out the above explanation. Really nice revolvers, with grips that fit your hand and not much other work done on them, can throw down groups on a target that will leave a smile on your face and a spring in your step all day long.

        • +1

          Additionally, I can point shoot my revolvers significantly better than my autos due to the ergonomic advantage that DG touched on. I was quite surprised the first time I tried it; your arm tends to aim itself when you allow it to.

          (ETA) With that said, I still carry a semi auto often. I just want to reinforce that revolvers are far from obsolete.

        • +2

          RE: Firing from SA mode
          Very true. My EDC is a birdshead Talo Ruger New Vaquero in .45 ACP (1911 for the largest city visits, which are rare) and my auto toting companions have no doubt about my draw and fire capabilities should the need arise. Using the weak hand to cock the hammer (coordinated — not fanning), I can deliver controlled fire just as fast, but more accurately, than I can from a double action revolver if necessary. I also can’t seem to point shoot most handguns that well except for an SA revolver. It feels natural to point shoot one. As a wee lad, my first handgun training was on SA revolvers (and ‘cowboy’ cap guns for playtime) so I guess that’s what my muscles know best.

    • Certainly if you are going to discuss the inherent accuracy of a gun you should use a ransom rest–or at the *very* least rest the gun on sandbags and have the shooter be someone with a very steady hand that doesn’t jerk the trigger, and good eyesight.

      I believe the claim actually being made when people say that a revolver is “less accurate” is that the ergonomics and recoil of the revolver don’t work for them, so that the *same* individual will hit better with the semiauto than with the revolver. The human factor favors the semiauto, even though the mechanical factor favors the revolver… and the difference for the human overwhelms the relatively tiny difference that comes from the mechanics.

      Neither one of you is wrong; but you are talking about two slightly different things.

      (As a side note, a lot of .22 semi autos like the Mark II and CZ Kadet have a fixed barrel AND sights or at the very least sights connected to the barrel; all that moves, essentially, is the bolt face. That could conceivably render such very accurate.)

      As far as the reliability issue goes, with at least some semi-autos we are arguing over the difference between 99.99% reliability (for the semi) and 99.9999%.(for the revolver). That’s really not much of a difference. It’s up to the individual whether those last couple of nines outweighs the distinct disadvantages of a revolver. (My personal decision on that is obvious to those who know me IRL; I’ve never owned a revolver though I might someday–and it will become a range only gun.) On the other hand a really POS semi, a “malfamatic” (like my particular Nano has turned out to be) is going to be significantly worse in this regard than a similarly priced revolver. If I had to make THAT choice I’d definitely go revolver. (Fortunately for me I have other alternatives to my Nano.)

      • Steve:

        Well said. Accuracy is an end-to-end process. DG, who has forgotten more about the mechanics of a Colt SAA then I ever knew about gun mechanics, is focusing on technical accuracy and he is absolute right. But people don’t use guns in an engineering test.

        By the way I expect to be in Larimer County soon and will try to do a little coyote hunting. Know any good areas to do it?

        • Not my part of the state, unfortunately, so I couldn’t say. Actually I could do some on my own land, it appears, since the [my home town name redacted] Chorale gives regular concerts after dark here.

        • What ammo are using with the Nano? I found that it chokes on Winchester white box and Blazer both of which are low power rounds. Never had a problem with Remington or Federal. Cabela’s was/is selling the 9mm NATO loading which is a +P round and I guarantee that the Nano will cycle properly. I am using standard pressure HST or Hornady CD and have never had any cycling problems.

        • Yes it does seem to be dependent on the ammo I use. This incident with five failures to extract (not even a failure to eject) from ONE box of ammo this last Sunday was with a white box of federal, probably pretty week (115 at 1150). This was by FAR the worst it has ever done, and I’ve even shot Federal Champion through it–*that* stuff has been referred to as “nearly a squib”.

          I actually thought I might have brought it through an initial break in period until I said to myself, “hmm let’s shoot it today”

          But I’ve even had the Nato stuff jam once. I suspect I am actually dealing with one that has a defective extractor, like (apparently) happened with some of the early production ones. It’s going to go to a gunsmith. The place he works at sold me the ammo so he can test it to his heart’s content.

    • Such silliness! We are not all concerned with “was it .0001 or .00001?” I met a Colt Python when I was 13, and bought every one I found after I was 21, for the next 10 years. You couldn’t even find the damn things. I had one stolen, sold one (a 6″, never balanced right), sold one 4″ I had shot the barrel out of, for a 300% profit from when it was new, and gave another 4″ to my son for his 21st birthday because you couldn’t own a handgun before you were 21.

      To the point! I could drop to my belly and put 2 out of 3 shots into a 12-oz soda can at 100 yards. With a 4″ barrel .357 magnum, with maximum loads. Every time. I don’t know the inches, or the thousandths of inches, and I don’t care. I am old now, and carry a semi, because my eyes will no longer support long range pistol or rifle shooting (I have gone to Eotech for my rifle, cannot focus correctly for iron sights.) Take your 27 round .9mm pistol or whatever and start trying to stop something at 100 yards, and good luck to you, I suggest you need at least 5 or 6 more 27 round mags. You do not want to encounter a single Federal 125 g .357 magnum while hosing off all those boolits.

  27. That was a good read, Mike McDaniel. As another commenter wrote, this is a good educational link for those starting out. Thanks for writing it and thanks, TTAG, for posting it.

  28. Jay Williams is certainly Full of himself. I’m surprised he didn’t complain about the error in the paragraph on “Disadvantages of Revolvers”. “Revolvers MUCH be kept scrupulously clean”. The word “must” is a Much better choice. Sorry Mike, but I had to. What has Jay W. written lately. Anyway?
    Respectfully submitted. Your servant as always.
    Martin

  29. Very interesting and informational article. My general take is that EVERYBODY should own at least one or more revolvers, regardless of experience. I do agree that a modern semiauto is generally a better choice for personal defense but there is certainly nothing at all wrong with the prototypical medium or large frame .357/.38, .41 or .44/.45 caliber revolver with a 4 to 6 inch barrel, in either blue or stainless finish. In the nightstand, it’s an excellent option. Naturally, keeping a revolver in a safe and secure manner is just as important as it is with a semiauto, and it should be kept clean, just as with any other gun.

    Also, as a recreational gun, it’s lots of fun.

    So yeah, everybody needs a revolver. Just on general principles. 🙂

    Tom

    • Yeah, but up until now (and including now), there has *always* been a specifc semi-auto I’ve wanted more than any revolver that’s available. That’s likely to hold for the forseable future.

      Oh and before I forget: one good SD application for a revolver is as the gun you keep in a baggie in the shower just in case THAT’s when you need a remote-action hole punch.

  30. Question regarding the power of revolver cartridges:

    How much of that is intended to compensate for pressure/energy lost through the gap between cylinder and barrel?

    • If a good revolver is in spec and has no end shake, then the loss in muzzle velocity due to the gap will be negligible.

      Colt’s spec for gap was 0.002 to 0.004, S&W 0.004 to 0.006. Higher power SA revolvers will tend to be tighter. A tight gap can cause failure to carry up if your powder results in lots of soot/residue on the front of the cylinder, and with abusive loads, you’ll start seeing top strap erosion faster with larger gaps.

    • Relative power is determined by the muzzle velocity and the bullet weight. Lost pressure due to the gap is compensated for, as we are measuring muzzle velocity.

  31. You forgot one major advantage of many revolvers, especially those made prior to the 1960s: they are works of art.

    • That fact it largely lost on the Compressed Cheez-Whiz crowd.

      eg, Glocks, we are told incessantly, are “Perfection.”

      • Alas, for the lack of artistic appreciation among today’s youts’. It is hard for me to accept that anyone could look upon a Smith & Wesson New Model No. 3 in .44 Russian and not be overcome with tears at the sheer beauty of blued (or nickel-plated) steel and mechanical perfection. And who among the true cognoscenti of firearms can honestly say they have not looked a t a 98% Merwin. Hulbert and not said “holy sh**, look at that machining!”

        Sad, to see the loss of artistic appreciation as the country slouches tiredly into the last days ….

        • I agree. Sadly, we now live in a Walmart world, where the only thing anyone cares about is that they can get their stuff as cheap as possible.

          If Colt ever got their head out of their rectum and made new Pythons or Diamondbacks, I wouldn’t flinch at a price of $2000 to $2800 on either one. Matter of fact, I’d buy a pair of them if they were made to the standards of the 50’s and 60’s.

          As we dwindle to our national denouement, I think GM should license the design of the Trabant from the Germans and sell the results for $2500 or so. It would be fitting to see people drive to do their shopping at Walmart for crap imported from the Communist Chinese in a car designed by the Communist Germans.

        • I considered the Diamondbacks to be crap, only selling point their resemblance to a Python. Holding one in each hand, working the actions, pulling the triggers, a Diamondback always felt like a Python with 10 lbs of sand incorporated into the action. You fiddled with a Python, fell in love, and bought a POS Diamondback because it was cheaper.

  32. I carried a revolver when I was a deputy , trained with it , put quite a few rounds through it of my own reloads , and use it now around the farm . It is a Ruger GP -100 , never any problems with it , oh yes there were days and night of rain , plenty of dust , and anything else you can think of out in the real world but like I said no problems , and when I have been at the range folks have been cussing and fussing , when their auto popper jams , don’t get me wrong I own many autos also but the wheel gun is what when it comes down to it has saved my bacon . Now at my older age I carry a snubby .38 special for ccw , as gun Clint Smith says ,” it’s comforting to me” , but what it basically boils down to is what feels best to the individual to have and use and what they shoot the best with because when your bacon is on the line what would you rather have ? Be prepared and ready . Keep your powder dry .

  33. I don’t dislike semi-automatics. However, for home defense purposes and for some personal defense purposes, I think a revolver is superior to a pistol. The reason I say so is simple. Although you may be a gun person,and you may go to the range often, probably not everyone in your family is that way. So,what happens if there is a home invasion when you are not home but your teenage daughter is? Let’s say, for example, your teenage daughter has to defend herself and the only gun in the house is a .40 pistol. What if she limp wrists that weapon and it jams? Even if your home defense weapon is a 9mm pistol and the user is you, what if the invasion happens while you are sleeping, and so when you go to defend your family, you are half asleep and therefore possibly off balance? The platform that works instead of jamming is best, and that’s why I say a revolver is superior. Maybe a revolver tends to have a lower capacity, but if you read police reports, you’ll find that a 5 or 6 round revolver holds about twice as many rounds as you will need for home defense.

    On the other hand, if you are in law enforcement or security and shoot often, then a pistol is no problem for you and, in fact, has major advantages over a revolver, such as faster reload time and higher capacity. Therefore your best choice for a duty weapon is a pistol.

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