By Gov. William J. Le Petomane
For some, the decision to carry a revolver or a semi-auto pistol comes down to the semi-auto’s greater capacity vs. the revolver’s reputation for reliability. While both of these reasons are valid, most defensive gun uses can and are resolved with less than five or six rounds at short distances. And being mechanical devices, revolvers can and do fail (though it’s rare).
As the two weapons systems are essentially radically different designs that accomplish the same thing, being a revolver fan-boy myself, I have compiled a list of 12 other inherent advantages to a revolver for those who are undecided.
1) The shape of a revolver’s grip is not compromised by the necessity of feeding an ammunition magazine through it. Revolver grips can be shorter front to back than semi-autos and they can be curved in a form that better fits your hand. A good, firm, comfortable grip does wonders for improving accuracy and recoil management.
2) A revolver’s cartridge isn’t compromised by the necessity to feed it through the grip either. Magnum Research even makes a .45-70 revolver. Try putting that round in an auto-loader and getting your mitts around it.
3) A revolver doesn’t require fully jacketed bullets to feed reliably. You’re free to use semi-jacketed hollow points, semi-jacketed soft points, lead round nose, lead wadcutters, lead semi-wadcutters, and my personal favorite, lead semi-wadcutter hollow points, a bullet design Buffalo Bore refers to as ‘Deer Grenades’.
4) Not only will revolvers function perfectly regardless of how hot or mild the rounds are, many are even multi-caliber. .357 magnums shoot .38 specials, .44 magnums shoot .44 specials and .460 S&Ws shoot .454 Casull, .45 Colt and .45 Schofield – that’s about a 10-1 power ratio. Ruger even makes a Redhawk that shoots both .45 Colt and .45 ACP and Blackhawks that do the same or .357 magnum and 9mm.
5) A revolver’s sights are firmly affixed to the barrel and frame. A semi-auto’s sights are attached to the slide which reciprocates on the frame to which the barrel is sort of loosely attached to. Not the best set up for accuracy.
6) You can see if a revolver is loaded without even touching it. The shell casings are clearly visible between the cylinder and the recoil shield, and the bullets can be seen through the front of the cylinder. No pulling magazines, press checks, or racking slides to see if the handgun is loaded.
7) A revolver can be cleaned without taking it apart. Just swing out the cylinder.
8) A revolver doesn’t fling spent cases all over the place. That’s an obvious advantage if you reload, but also no need to worry about sending a hot shell casing down your wife’s cleavage. Also, in some jurisdictions, it may not be wise to fling spent cases with your fingerprints on them all over the ground in the case of a defensive gun use.
9) A revolver can’t be put out of commission by pressing the slide back on a contact shot. You may not even know you’re under attack until you’re laying on the ground. That’s no time to be trying to get a hand free to push the slide back into battery.
10) A revolver will function and cycle just fine when fired from inside a pocket or bag. No slide bite either.
11) A revolver is quicker and easier to load. Granted, if you already have a loaded magazine handy, reloads are quicker with a semi-automatic, but if you’ve got to grab shells from a box and load a weapon, the revolver has a big advantage.
12) Revolvers don’t have beaver-tails that can jab you in the side when you sit down. Maybe this is unique to me, but revolvers are just more comfortable to carry when pressed against your side.