Recently, the NYPD announced that it would finally be phasing out the last of their remaining .38 Special revolvers, with a sunset date of August 31, 2018. At that point, wheel guns will be verboten and all sworn officers of the NYPD can choose between a (modified) GLOCK 17, GLOCK 19 or the SIG SAUER P226 in DAO as their duty gun. New York City, for those who are unaware, requires all duty guns to have a stiff trigger pull; usually eight pounds or more. Any and all officers have to complete semi-automatic training and qualify with one of the new sidearms.
It’s astounding anyone is still using a revolver as a duty gun; apparently 150 officers still carry them despite the fact that 9mm semi-autos having been standard issue for New York’s Finest since 1994.
While they’ve been all but completely eliminated from use in the line of duty, the service revolver still has a place as a personal defense firearm. They aren’t the best fit for daily concealed carry as they’re on the large side, but these wheelguns can still serve well in other roles.
The primary advantage of the double-action revolver, of course, is that they are incredibly simple. Aim, squeeze, repeat. Reload as needed. Provided the shooter can handle the trigger (rarer these days due to how lazy striker guns have made people the reduced popularity of revolvers) and isn’t consumed with the idea of needing more rounds, a service revolver is about as user friendly as it gets.
Some models should only get the occasional serving of high-pressure loads, but with a bit of care they last decades. There are M1917 revolvers that people still shoot fairly regularly, and those revolvers are about a century old. Simple, reliable, accurate…outside of not being too big for concealed carry and only packing six shots, there aren’t too many downsides.
And part of revolvers’ appeal and their longevity is that, if you can handle it, they’ll shoot anything. Many semi-autos didn’t feed hollowpoints all that well (and most hollow points that made for them weren’t that good) until gun and ammunition makers got around to solving those problems.
Today, the best roles for the medium revolvers like the S&W Model 10, 586 or Model 66, Ruger GP100 – or among the classics like the Colt Trooper, Lawman, Python, or New Service, the S&W Model 19 or Ruger Security-Six – is as a home defense pistol or truck gun. Unless you find an appropriate holster (which can be a challenge) they don’t make great CCW pistols, because there are snubbies for that.
In many areas, they also make a decent woods gun, as the stouter .38 Special loadings or a .357 Magnum round will more than do for most critters in the Lower 48 other than grizzlies, which are mostly confined to Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
So there’s no downside to having at least one of these classics in your safe. It’s a handgun you can always hand off to a newbie in a pinch and know that they’ll be able to make it go bang if they really need to. Plus, they’re just a hell of a lot of fun to shoot.
What about you? Do you have a medium to large wheel gun that you use for anything other than your daily carry? Sound off in the comments.