My New Year’s resolution: learn to shoot and carry a revolver. For four months I carried a wheelgun every day. I shot around 1200 rounds through my revolvers at matches and a 40-hour advanced handgun course. During this time I learned that wheel guns are not as fool-proof as gun-counter lore would lead us to believe. Where as a modern auto pistol could easily run 1000 rounds or more without cleaning, to operate efficiently, revolvers need their chambers scrubbed out at least every couple hundred rounds. Otherwise ejection and reloading slows from sloth to slug speed . . .

This is especially true if you shoot a lot of 38s in a .357. Aditionally, as RF pointed out, all it takes is a little crud or a stuck case under the ejector to send you on a voyage down Poo Creek without a paddle.

Just as Lewis and Clark had Sacajewea to guide them on thier perilous canoe trip, leading revolversmith Grant Cunningham is here to help us cross the wild lands where the mythical beast of revolver malfunction rears it ugly head. Click here for The Revolver Malfunction Drill by Grant Cunningham. Here it is in short form:

  1. Stroke the trigger again.
  2. If the gun still doesn’t fire, RELOAD.
  3. If the gun fails to fire after the reload, drop it and go to backup.

If you don’t have a backup, RUN!

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12 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: If Your Revolver Doesn’t Work, Reload!

  1. Cleanliness is next to godliness. A revolver has more nooks and crannies than an Thomas’ English muffin, and every little hidey-hole is a crud-grabber that can lock up the gun. The upside is that a revolver can be cleaned without any takedown. So clean it every time you shoot it and the wheelie will not let you down.

    • If you give a modern automatic a quik clean after a range session you can go well over 1000 rounds before you have to field strip it. Dirt attracts dirt so if you clean it out you get reduced build up.

  2. I always go and spend that little bit extra to get the jacketed round nose for practice and play. Lead fouling sucks. The cheap lead reloads are not only nasty, they have the one thing that scares me with a revolver-squib loads. I’ve seen an obstructed barrel explode before on a model 10. That is a scary, dangerous thing. I would really hate to see a .44 magnum or higher revolver blow a barrel.

    • I am “new2this” therefore learning the hard way. I got my first revolver (SW 686) a few weeks ago and buying a large batch of unjacketed 38 spl for less costly practice seemed like a good idea at the time. I usually don’t mind, even like, cleaning my guns but that crud is near impossible to get out of the cylinder.

        • You have to be careful. I read a piece years ago from an engineer. It concluded how lead bullets going down the bore of a pistol creates even more of a gas seal, causing accelerated wear on the slide as the back pressure flings the slide back even harder. I also read a good piece on how harder steel case rounds are on the extractor-the exception being combloc weapons that were more or less designed for it. I think in both cases it is a matter of heavy use. I say, with all respect to those who reload, I just don’t trust many reloaded rounds either. I’ve also seen a .38 special blow out the side of the cylinder from an over charged reload. The poor guy had to count his fingers twice. As for removing lead, the cure can be as bad as the symptom. Harsh cleaners can remove a finish if you don’t get all of it off. Those lead free cloths are probably the least messy of them. Hoppes is great but a harsh chemical you don’t want to huff in too much. It is great for follow up cleaning of a bore, the light residue of previous cleaning protects the bore from fouling as badly.

        • I’d actually never heard that about lead bullets, but it does make sense. I agree that it probably wouldn’t be a big deal unless we’re talking about a lot of usage, similar to +P rounds. They won’t hurt every now and then, but a steady diet isn’t good for your gun.

  3. If you are going to do extensive shooting of unjacketed lead rounds, get a Lewis Lead Remover. Makes life easier.

  4. New2This, if you get a chance you should keep an out out for a good used Ruger Police Service Six in .357. They quit making them in the 80’s, which was a real shame. With the original thin grips they sit nicely in the hand and are predisposed to give you a good high grip up on it, which gives you better control and natural point of aim. I have 2 4” versions, one blued and one stainless. They fit in any holster that fits Smith & Wesson K-frames, and speed loaders are still available. I also love the smoothness of an old Colt Detective Special snubby in .38 Special. You get 6 shots and a nice, smooth trigger. The old Cobra is similar, but with an alloy frame-so not as good an idea to load hot rounds. I use mainly Ranger +P+ JHP, Extreme Shock Fang Face and MagSafe rounds. The used market can be great, finding an old gem at a great price.

  5. CUJO, thanks. I will keep an eye out, although I should probably give my bank account a rest for a while. This hobby/sport/obsession certainly isn’t cheap. Surprsingly (to me) the 686 is the my most accurate gun at the moment. I think its heft (5 in barrel, full lug) and longer sight radius compensates for my shortcomings as a shooter. I’ve been taking it to the range with my Glock 19 and the Glock feels like a toy in my hand by comparison. Practicing with both back to back has really tightened up my groups with the Glock, but still several inches to the left of where I am trying to put them. Must be the gun , not me 😉

    • If you’re right handed, check to see if you have too much length of your finger on the trigger. If you’re left handed you have too little of your trigger finger through the trigger guard and on the trigger. The only other possibilities are you are shooting with your non dominant eye-one eye sees straight, the other goes across, or it’s the weapon. I’m betting on the trigger finger.

      • In dry and live fire watch your sights. Look closely at them. Are you keeping them centered through the entire trigger stroke? Watch them all the way through the pull. They WILL tell you what is happening.

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