Top 3 Reasons To Carry A Revolver Rather Than a Semi-Automatic Handgun

Some thirty years ago the American gun-buying public began to see semi-automatic pistols as reliable firearms. Once semi-autos cleared that hurdle, their superior capacity and quick reloadability ruled the day. When cops switched to semis, as the Brits say, it was all over bar the shouting. And yet revolver sales are still going strong — and for good reason! Here are three reasons to carry a revolver instead of a semi-automatic pistol.


Gun guys find it easy to load, unload and reload semi-automatic handgun magazine and firearms. They know when and how to rack the slide. They have little trouble disassembling and re-assembling a semi for cleaning. Some are cool with manipulating frame-mounted safeties. Beginning shooters and non-enthusiast shooters? Not so much.

A revolver couldn’t be easier. Open the gate, insert cartridges (bullets face forwards), close the gate. Aim. Squeeze the trigger. When the gun goes click instead of bang, open the gate, remove the casings, replace them with new cartridges. To clean, shove something through the cylinder chambers (i.e., holes).

While a revolver surrenders capacity to a semi (and how), and the definition of an optimist is a revolver owner who thinks he can reload in a gunfight, the wheelgun is the most user-friendly firearm money can buy. For millions of Americans who can’t or won’t be bothered to master a semi, the revolver is the right choice.


With proper care and feeding, a modern semi-automatic pistol is a supremely reliable firearm. But a semi has a lot more moving parts — bits that can become damaged or wear-out — than a wheelgun. The most likely part of a semi likely to fail? The ammunition magazine. How many mags does a wheelgun have? None.

Revolvers can fail (click here for proof). But the bottom line remains: a revolver is more reliable than a semi-automatic handgun. Not to mention the fact that you can’t “forget” to do anything to a revolver before shooting (aside from loading and having one). And if a revolver doesn’t fire, you just pull the trigger again. And/or run.

Compact Stopping Power

Some gun guys reject the idea of “stopping power.” Shot placement is all. Period. And there’s no question that it’s generally more difficult to shoot a double-action revolver accurately than a relatively light-triggered semi-automatic pistol. But all things being equal, it’s better to shoot a bad guy with a bigger bullet than a smaller one (make a bigger hole).

If you want compact (i.e., easily concealable) stopping power, you can carry a .357-firing snub-nosed revolver in your pocket. There are relatively small .45 semis, but you can’t buy a .357 semi-automatic “mouse gun.” And as far as shop placement/accuracy goes, it’s a lot easier to dry fire a revolver than a semi-automatic pistol. And that’s the best way to improve your shooting.


  1. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

    You can forget to take your stash out of the barrel before firing just like with an auto. That is a super bummer. You can’t find like any of it.

  2. avatar Sean in Tampa says:

    I carry both.

    1. avatar HM says:

      I also carry one of each. I recommend it.

      1. avatar YaDaddy says:

        Hear, hear!

        I think it was Dick Heller that said “a semi-auto makes a great backup to a revolver.” That concept changed they way I think about solving the problem of shooting to defend yourself.

  3. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    You can fire a revolver, repeatedly, through a purse or coat pocket. No slide to hang up and fail to go back into battery.

    That’s pretty much the only reason I would carry one.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Wearing a heavy work glove I actually did this once, to see what it would be like. I will not be doing that again.

      1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

        Ruin a perfectly good purse, did ya?

        1. avatar Dan in CO says:

          Curtis for the win!

        2. avatar jwtaylor says:

          Ha! It was like squeezing a short handled sledge hammer as hard as I could, and then just pounding it into an anvil, and then shoving that hand into a hornet’s next.

        3. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Still, better than getting raped…

    2. avatar Rich K. says:

      Same here. In fact, that is why I chose a Taurus 606CH years ago. It’s a 6-shot, stainless .357 magnum snub, with a factory-bobbed hammer and DAO trigger. Nothing to snag!

    3. avatar peirsonb says:

      You can fire a HANMERLESS revolver repeatedly. With a hammer you still run the risk of getting material stuck between the hammer and primer.

      1. avatar PDW says:

        Only a revolver with a SHROUDED hammer like a S&W 642 would be immune to any possibility of interference, even a revolver with a spurless hammer ( “hammerless” ) is still vulnerable.

      2. avatar Curtis in IL says:

        Yeah. Sorry to be pedantic, but there’s no such thing as a hammerless revolver, no matter how you spell it.

        But, yeah. A double action only revolver.

    4. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Revolvers are infinitely better at contact shots than semi-autos. You can stick the barrel into the bad guy’s ribs as hard as you want and the gun still goes bang. Since the average distance of a self defense shooting is 3 feet, that’s not a minor advantage to the revolver.

      1. avatar Stuki Moi says:

        This, in addition to semis’ increased probability of suffering from limp wrist failures when fired weak handed in the midst of a wrestling bout, are pretty good reasons why revolvers make relatively more sense for civilians than for cops.

        The shape of a hammerless revolver is also less likely to cause snag issues when drawn from a concealment holster when in a highly contorted position. As in appendix holster when in a car with a big gut hanging overe the gun etc..

        Modern semis are definitely better guns for gunfighters. But that doesn’t automatically translate to being better carry pieces for all civvies.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          IMHO revolvers are better at very close range and at least with exposed hammers very long range. Find a rest (car hood in a gun fight), thumb back the hammer and you can ring the bad guy’s gong at 100 yards.

    5. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

      Maybe you carrying your firearm in a purse, and not the type of firearm, is the larger issue here?

      1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

        My wife has been known to carry a revolver in her purse AND a semi-auto on her hip.

        Purse carry has serious drawbacks, and a significant advantage, like being able to have your finger on the trigger while you walk through that deserted parking garage. The best way to improve the speed of your draw is to not need to draw at all.

        1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          “The best way to improve the speed of your draw is to not need to draw at all.”

          Curtis in IL wins the Intertubez again!

          (Watch out everyone, Curtis is on a roll!)

    6. avatar Matt says:

      I recommend going hammerless for that. I tried with a hammered (revolver’s BAC was at .08) revolver and it snagged fabric under the hammer after IIRC, 2 shots. This is still a 100% improvement over a semi auto though, never got more than 1 trying a semi… except with my AR which was just slightly too big for the purse I stuffed it in.

      As John suggests, wear gloves if you try this experiment, I burnt off all my knuckle hairs but it did warm my hand up nicely on the cold day I was shooting.

  4. avatar James69 says:

    Typo – There should be a zero after the 3. I’m also willing to guess that the reason most Po-po’s went to the hi-caps is the average cop has trouble passing quals. As well as the police followed the Eff be Eye like they always do, If they started issuing 40mm grenade launchers the rest of Mercia would start as well. There is nothing wrong with a revolver.

  5. avatar Rick says:

    “Some thirty years ago the American gun-buying public began to see semi-automatic pistols as reliable firearms. ”

    As I would have said then

    “Welcome to the party, cupcake.”

    1. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

      You were at a party and talking to a semi-auto handgun?

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        I think he was talking to a cupcake, which is just silly. Prune Danish are much more interesting conversationalists.

      2. avatar neiowa says:

        He was talking to an M1911.

  6. avatar Joe R. says:

    Plus, you can buy a revolver that uses rimless ammo, e.g.:

    1. avatar anonymoose says:

      Still waiting for that L-frame 9mm cylinder from them.

  7. avatar strych9 says:

    And if a revolver doesn’t fire, you just pull the trigger again.

    To me this is one of the sketchiest aspects of a revolver. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you hit a bad round in a semi-auto and you’re in a situation where you need the gun you simply eject that round and move on. Worse case it’s a slow burner and the casing bursts when it finally goes off. The chances of this causing a severe injury are minimal. In a revolver moving to the next round keeps the bad round encased in the chamber and rotates it out of alignment with the barrel. Now you have the potential for this thing to go off and God only knows where the bullet is going to go. Worse, another round or two fired and that slow burner is lined up with the frame of the gun which now has the potential to blow apart in your hand.

    Some gun guys reject the idea of “stopping power.”

    I don’t reject the idea of stopping power. I just believe that “stopping power” is found in rifles, shotguns, artillery and the Fat Man launcher.

    … it’s a lot easier to dry fire a revolver than a semi-automatic pistol. And that’s the best way to improve your shooting.

    I would argue that actual shooting is the best way to improve your shooting. YMMV.

    Also, you might want to edit that last paragraph in this story. It reads like you typed it out on your phone rather fast.

    1. avatar James69 says:

      if the round goes off after the cylinder rotates then you have a pepperbox, double the firepower! The revolver is simple, and we all know K.I.S.S. Load the revolver with the ARX(polycase) bullets and you will ONLY need one shot.

      1. avatar TexTed says:

        There are no magic bullets. There is no such thing as a bullet that guarantees a “one shot stop”. Anyone saying otherwise is trying to sell you something (or is trying to justify their purchase.)

        1. avatar PDW says:

          I agree. “Deadly Effects: What Bullets Do to Bodies” a video by Alexander Jason and Dr. Martin Fackler pretty much tore apart the “stopping power” bullshit that was being hyped by bullet manufacturers and gun magazine writers.

        2. avatar VerendusAudeo says:

          Though years of FBI data crunching has proven that .357 magnum and .40 S&W are the two rounds with the most OHKs.

    2. avatar Montesa_VR says:

      I think most .38 special loads are not as effective as most nine millimeter loads, and 9mm is cheaper besides. So the ammo advantage goes to the semi auto.

      1. avatar TexTed says:

        Ruger makes the LCR in 9mm, if you really wanted to use 9mm and preferred the revolver format.

        1. avatar TX Gal says:

          Have the LCR 9, with moon clips. Practice reloading them and you can reload almost as fast as a semi-automatic and no safety to forget to release. BTW, modern moon clips are much better at holding the rounds. I have to use a tool to remove spent shells with 9 and I pocket carry moon clips with revolver in a holster and on a gun belt. In my opinion, for other calibers LCRs use 5 Star reloaders. Never have, never will purse carry

        2. avatar JBS says:

          There are also 9mm revolvers available from Charter Arms and Nighthawk Custom without moon clips and from Taurus and Czechpoint with moon clips. I own the latter two and trust them completely.

        3. avatar Just Joe says:

          Try using a SKS 7.62×39 stripper clip instead of a moon clip. Youtube has a video. One clip gives me two reloads in my M60 and works as good and fast as an HKS Speedloader.

    3. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Hang fires are exceptionally rare. Rare enough that in a self defense situation it would be of zero concern. However, at the range if a round doesn’t go bang in either a revo lver or a semi-auto you should keep the weapon pointed in a save direction for a few seconds before cycling the weapon.

      As pertaining to ‘stopping power’ you seem to understand the huge difference between handguns and long guns, so why wouldn’t you want every once of it you can get when pointing such a puny weapon at a badguy?

      I would argue that you’ll never master either a DA revolv er trigg er or a striker tri gger without some dry fire time.

      1. avatar Aerindel says:

        Well, you could master it with live fire but it would be ridiculously expensive. I used to dry fire my revolver 500 times a day, everyday, every week for months to perfect my DA pull.

      2. avatar strych9 says:

        “Hang fires are exceptionally rare. Rare enough that in a self defense situation it would be of zero concern.”

        Zero concern unless of course it happens. It’s a low probability event, I don’t deny that. It’s also an incredibly high impact event if it does happen in a revolver during a DGU. The probability of it occurring in your revolver during a DGU is, quite literally, infinitely lower if you don’t carry a revolver.

        It’s a high enough impact issue that I prefer to keep it’s probability at zero, not near zero. Maybe that’s paranoid but that’s what happens when you’re raised by parents who’s jobs require near perfection or a building is evacuated and a bunch of people are probably seriously fucked up.

        “…so why wouldn’t you want every once of it you can get when pointing such a puny weapon at a badguy?”

        It’s my preference to be able to shoot at the guy(s) 13 times with 185g +P JHP .45 without reloading.

        “I would argue that you’ll never master either a DA revolv er trigg er or a striker tri gger without some dry fire time.”

        I guess I’m just lucky to have a consistent pull across various platforms. Striker fired, revolver, HK, 1911, Sig, Star, [insert pistol here]… I don’t see the difference in terms of actually hitting the target. I actually had to ask what people were talking about with triggers a while back because I don’t get it and never have. You’ll note that I never comment on the triggers that get reviewed on TTAG. There’s a reason for that. I have never come across a trigger I thought needed to be upgraded. They’re different the same way the clutchs on cars are different but it doesn’t affect me to the point that I would consider dropping any amount of money on a “trigger job”. I quite literally don’t “get” it.

        So, to me, dry firing is a pointless waste of time. But hey, whatever works for you. If you say it works for you then I believe you. I don’t understand it and probably never will. My odd natural talent with a handgun ticked off a lot of my dad’s friends when I was a kid and cost a couple of them a fair amount of money on bets.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Hang fires actually happen just as often in semi-autos as they do in revolvers. If you have one go off after the cylinder is rotated it will probably take the weapon out of the fight, but if that round happens to go off right when you pull the slide back out of battery it’s likely to send shrapnel into you hand. I don’t really see that one platform would have much of an advantage, but even so, the odds of this ruining your gunfight are so astronomical you’d be better served worrying about getting hit by a meteorite.

          Yea, 13 rounds of .45acp +p is roughly equivalent to 6 rounds of .357.

        2. avatar Stuki Moi says:

          What about 16 rounds of 10mm….?

          Or, for that matter, of .357? As in Sig…..

        3. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Specifically, 185gr. 45acp +p rounds don’t penetrate well at all. Too light, too fat and too fast. 10mm is almost the equivalent of .357 magnum provided you pick out the right am munition (.355 Sig – not so much), but then you could always carry a .44 magnum instead.

        4. avatar strych9 says:


          Yes, they happen just as often in semi-auto rounds but the semi auto has the option to ditch the round much more rapidly than a wheel gun does.

          Yes, if the casing bursts while you’re operating the action it can cause some damage to you. However, it’s not going to destroy the gun and you can switch hands and continue shooting if need be. Any injury it causes will likely be less than if the chamber of a revolver cylinder is lined up with the frame when that round decides to finally go off and either way it doesn’t destroy the gun meaning that you or someone else can still use it if it comes to that.

          As I already said, the chance of it being a problem is low with a revolver. For me, it’s 0 because I don’t carry a wheel gun.

          As for the effectiveness of 185g JHP +P .45ACP I don’t overly concern myself with penetration tests and I suspect that most of this stuff is nonsense. Two of those rounds in the chest will ruin someone’s day and when people get shot at they move to try go get out of the line of fire immediately. If they don’t two more to the chest will wreck their whole week.

        5. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          One last note on hang fires, because it’s getting to be a dead horse, but the vast majority of them go off a fraction of a second late. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of one going off even 3 or 4 seconds later. So I’ll grant you this, if you’re pulling the trig ger on your revo lver as fast as you can and it happens it could strike the frame, while you generally wouldn’t have time to rack the slide before it goes off. On the other hand, if you look at a rev olver, about 80% of the chamber clears the frame on the 4 chambers to the sides (6 round). Add to this the fact that the bu llet doesn’t gain a whole lot of velocity before it even hits the forcing cone. So if you’re using a relatively robust rev olver like my GP100s I doubt it would take it out of the fight. Probably do a number on your drawers though.

          I’m not saying I’d want to be in front of your .45acp rounds, but if I carried a .45 they’re not the rounds I’d carry. Ballistics gel only replicates flesh at speed. You can poke your finger right into it. So when you see the bu llet penetrate 8 or 10 inches in gel and that last 4 inches is just a narrow channel I doubt the bul let would penetrate that last 4 inches in flesh. Add to the fact that your bull et might pass through an arm or enter at an odd angle, or you might be facing a 350 lb. maniac and I’d prefer more penetration. I’d probably go with a +p 230 grain, myself. Just my opinion.

        6. avatar strych9 says:

          Nothing wrong with 230g at all. 185g (not 180g, apologies) just happens to be what Remington stuffs in some of their Golden Saber .45 which is what I generally carry.

          Comparing it to the Golden Saber in 230g we find that the 185g has 584ft-lbs of energy at 1145fps while the 230g round has 391ft-lbs and 875fps. Since they’re both JHP rounds I don’t see the advantage of the slower, heavier round. The faster round with more energy should impact the target with more force and therefore punch the guy a bit harder as it turns into a metal mushroom. even if it fails to penetrate clothing it’s still smacking the guy with 193 ft-lbs more energy. I’m not sure how fast that falls off for this particular round, but let’s say at 10 yards it drops to 550ft-lbs. That’s on par with .223 55g rounds at ~300 yards or about 30ft-lbs less than 7.62×39 at 300 yards. It’s also on par with some .357 loads at the same range.

          As I said, I don’t overly concern myself with ballistics gel tests. The reason is pretty simple: it’s a kind of decent representation. What’s better, IMHO, are dead pigs (the four legged kind).

          Now, I will say that penetration characteristics matter quite a bit when you start taking about intermediate objects such as a windscreen on a car, sheet metal or something else that’s interfering with the bullet before it impacts the target. The same is true of thick clothing like sweaters layered under a wool coat. In that case I think .45 is generally inferior to a lot of other rounds you could be packing.

          OTOH, I don’t really expect to have to shoot through my windshield because I don’t live anywhere near Detroit or Fallujah and I’d just run your ass over anyway.

          So it is what it is. I personally feel that revolvers have a number of drawbacks that convince me I don’t want to carry one as my primary side arm. Reasonable people may differ in their opinion.

          Good conversation Gov.

        7. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

          I love a good caliber war.

  8. avatar pg2 says:

    If you can’t get it done in 5, probably not getting it done.

    1. avatar ai338 says:

      Well, you can’t.

        1. avatar Montesa_VR says:

          You can get it done in five if you never miss. Most of us can’t count on that.

        2. avatar pg2 says:

          Very true. More than 1 threat and a pocket revolver is probably not going to be enough. At same time, there is probably a significant number of people that carry pocket revolvers due to the ease of carrying one, and would not carry otherwise.

    2. avatar Skoon says:

      I say something similar. If I don’t get it done in 5 shots I’m already dead considering most dgus where the gun is fired is 3 shots in 3 seconds at 3meters if i rip 5 shots of 357 and my attackers keep coming I need to get my shotgun/rifle or I’m already dead.

      1. avatar California Richard says:

        I agree with the first part of the statement that most dgu’s follow the 3 3 & 3 rule but then what? Standing there with youe thumb up your but is whats going to get you killed. Reload, run, call 911, beat the guy with your now empty revolver, pull out your knife, something, anything….. dont just stand there and expect to die because youve convinced yourself, “If I cant get the job done in 5 rounds, them I’m dead.”

        1. avatar Skoon says:

          Well I’m not going stand around with my dick in my hand. Guess I’m a super optimist because I carry 2 extra speed strips. Also always a pocket knife.

          Or even better get the long gun like I said

        2. avatar Paul53 says:

          But revolves never run out of ammo in a gun fight. Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel, and John Wayne have proven it many times.

        3. avatar jwtaylor says:

          The 3, 3, 3, rule is a complete myth. There is no data that exists to show at what distance people are shot at. There is an amalgamated anecdotal evidence in the UCR that law enforcement officers are killed at 3 feet or under, but even that is not comprehensive in any way, and shows only the distance they were killed at, not the distance they were first shot at. It also is only for law enforcement, and doesn’t include non-leo victims.

      2. avatar strych9 says:

        One of the issues that has always concerned me about revolvers is if the BG has friends. It concerns be because I’ve seen the BG’s friends come back for a second helping.

        “Retaliation” is a thing that does happen. Most of the time these people scatter like roaches when someone gets perforated but in some cases the people who ran away come back. You blast some gang-banger and his or her friends are going to want revenge. It may be tomorrow or two weeks from now or it might be as long as it takes them to walk to where ever they can pick up a burner and come back. Drugs may factor into this.

        Of course I’m also the person that carries not one but two fire extinguishers in his car, so there is that.

        On a side note: I’d like to see how the “average” DGU is calculated. Does it include those reported incidents where merely producing the gun causes our BG to run off or does it only include ones where shots are fired? If it includes those DGU’s where someone is driven off by the mere presence of a gun that’s a pretty big thing in statistics because you’re adding a lot of 0’s into your average and it means that if lead starts flying the actual average is likely significantly higher than three shots. Also, does it include police shootouts where the cops fire a ton of rounds each? That would skew the average in the opposite direction. Does it include, or take into account, those DGU’s that take place in a home where a BG walks into a shotgun blast?

        There are a lot of factors here I’d like to know before I am comfortable with the 3,3 & 3 rule. On the one hand we have the 3, 3 & 3 average on the other we see reports that state that relatively untrained people tend to empty the gun. I would propose that, even if most of those people are emptying a five shot snubbie both of these things can’t be true at the same time.

        1. avatar Stuki Moi says:

          My recommendation for snubby carriers would be that if your situation is such that you end up snuffing out a gangbanger, it just might be time to consider upping your firepower. Get a semi perhaps? Or at least 1 or two proper “combat” revolvers…

          Kind of like my advice to someone who just snuffed out a grizzly with a perfectly placed shot from a Glock 19, would be to perhaps upgrade to something more appropriate, in case nature feels like scheduling a rerun….

          Most of the US is still “safe” enough that I wouldn’t feel like I was giving bad advice by suggesting a snubby for someone who shows no indication of facing unusual danger. But once such indications are there, I would prefer to see him/her carry something a bit more substantial.

        2. avatar strych9 says:

          I don’t think there’s anything intrinsically wrong with a snubbie. Lot’s of people have shuffled off this mortal coil with the assistance of a snub-nosed revolver. Personally, I think they have too many draw-backs and other places they come up, forgive the pun, short to be considered as a primary.

          That said, I wouldn’t tell someone they were an idiot for carrying one. I just wouldn’t do it. You also raise a valid concern, which is kind of what I was saying: a violent encounter like this raises the chances of another encounter when this guy’s friends come back to avenge him.

    3. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      She kept saying, ‘more’ but all I had was 6.

      1. avatar Mark Kelly's Diapered Drooling Ventriloquist's Dummy says:

        She thought I was empty but I racked the pump then discharged another round.

  9. avatar Jason says:

    The terminal performance of magnum revolver rounds is nice for those who can learn to control the recoil. Mostly, I just prefer the way a wheelgun feels in my hand compared to an auto. Plus, a revolver is better for doling out a spirited pistol whipping than polymer auto, should things come to that.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Reason #4 is a big one in my book, a revolver’s grip isn’t compromised by the need to insert a maga zine of cartridges through it. Also inversely, a revolver’s am mo isn’t compromised by the need to insert them through the grip.

      I’m pretty sure one of the main design goals when Ru ger made the GP 100 was to make it the ultimate tool for pis tol whipping.

    2. avatar uncommon_sense says:


      “The terminal performance of magnum revolver rounds is nice for those who can learn to control the recoil.”

      This has been on my mind lately for the following reason: I have decided that I want the greatest chance of being able to stop a spree killer or terrorist with one shot … at ranges up to 100 yards. Out to 20 feet, there are semi-auto handgun platforms that can do this pretty well. At 50 to 100 yards, it sure seems like a large Magnum revolver (with a 6 inch barrel) is the only way to go. Their inherent accuracy, long sight radius, excellent single-action trigger, and Magnum ballistics are head-and-shoulders above common semi-auto platforms.

      For example consider a stout .357 Magnum cartridge with a 158 grain hollowpoint bullet which would still be moving at something like 1250 fps at 100 yards and have 550 foot-pounds of energy. That .357 Magnum, 158 grain bullet would still be pretty debilitating at 100 yards.

      And how about a stout .44 Magnum cartridge with a 240 grain hollowpoint bullet which would still be moving at 1230 fps at 100 yards and have 800 foot-pounds of energy. That would be downright devastating at 100 yards.

      And within 25 yards, it seems that both cartridges would be virtually guaranteed to immediately incapacitate an attacker with a single shot to the center of their torso. This is why I am seriously considering carrying a large revolver.

      1. avatar jwtaylor says:

        I had a patient walk in, get that, walk in, to my clinic in Zabul province with 3 close range 7.62X39 shots to the center of his chest. I shot a man in the temple with a 300WM at less than 250 yards. Cause of death? He likely suffocated, minutes later. There are no ballistic guarantees for instant incapacitation.

        1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          Mr. Taylor,

          Needless to say, those examples are stunning and I certainly would not have ever expected those ballistic recipients to do anything other than immediately keel over. (I imagine the guy who took three 7.62 x 39mm rounds to the chest may have only been walking because the shooter used full metal jacket spitzer bullets which, as I understand it, are about the same as someone stabbing you with an ice pick. While certainly unpleasant and quite possibly fatal, it would take a while to bleed-out.)

          Add the many examples of deer which run away after taking super-lethal shots and there is no question that bullets sometimes, maybe even often, fail to promptly stop the target.

          I figure I have the best probability of a true “one shot stop”, at any range, with a full size Magnum revolver … and I am leaning heavily toward .44 Magnum since the recoil doesn’t bother me. I figure a huge diameter bullet, that expands to something like 0.75 inches, has ample size and mass to make a huge wound channel and pass through (two holes for exsanguination are better than one), and is still impacting the attacker at anywhere from 1200 to 1500 fps has to be pretty good.

          Of course even an intermediate caliber rifle would be much better than .44 Magnum … but I am not able to schlep a rifle around to many of the places that I frequent. Thus, .44 Magnum might be the next best alternative that I actually can schlep around.

  10. avatar Alex says:

    I am not a revolver shooter so I don’t understand why dry firing is easier with one. Can someone explain?

    Cause you don’t have to rack the slide after every pull?

    1. avatar Montesa_VR says:


    2. avatar CarlosT says:

      That’s more about trigger action. A single action revolver would require pulling the hammer back every time; a 1911 would be the same, no slide action required. A double action semi-auto could be dry fired repeatedly without working the slide.

  11. avatar MLee says:

    I love my Smoke Wagon (4109DE) and there’s lots to be said about reliability and the best trigger I’ve ever felt, but there’s no getting around capacity and that’s why I carry a semi-auto. Even when I had my Python, I still carried DA/SAs Many of the reasons for carrying a revolver are the same reasons I carry my P229. Simplicity, reliability and for me, capacity. I like the DA/SA and you will NEVER get that in a revolver. I like no manual safety. I like the fact that the weapon WILL FIRE if I pull the trigger. With a round chambered, I’m 100% confident that my first shot is a DA pull and my subsequent twelve remaining shots, if needed are SA. You won’t get that in any revolver.
    But for the sake of argument, no gun, no holster, no caliber is perfect for everyone in every situation.

  12. avatar bLoving says:

    Sometimes I’ve described my affection for revolvers this way: they have a grace of movement that a pistol lacks. With a single, fluid motion of my finger I can see the cylinder rotate precisely to the next chamber and click into place. At the same time, the hammer pivots back and at just a hairs breadth after the cylinder locks – snaps forward and sends my shot at my target. If we’re talking about a well-tuned Ruger, Smith&Wesson, Colt or even a Taurus (thats had a bit of work done) the trigger motion will be smooth, crisp and almost poetic. Its a feeling that a pistol just can’t quite compare to.
    Gov? You got my back on this?

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      I just got into revolvers because I was sick of being a dork and wanted to be one of the cool kids. But there is something satisfying about the way a revolver’s clockwork spins and fires. It just feels like a well made precision instrument. Semi-autos seem crude by comparison, using the recoil to slam the slide back. No finesse in that.

    2. avatar Joel says:

      I have to say, at the range, I just enjoy shooting a revolver more. I take more time aiming, I actually spend more time shooting, and my thumb is not sore from reloading at the end of the range session.

      Semi-auto advantages be dammed. This is America! I don’t need a good reason to prefer a revolver! 😉

  13. avatar Montesa_VR says:

    A revolver is a good choice for a defensive weapon in the home because it is more friendly to the non enthusiast. Also the little tiny ones fit nicely in a pocket holster and have are possibly more resistant to accidental discharge due to the heavy double action trigger pull. However, if you really want to be fanatic about cleaning a gun, I don’t know of a revolver that could compare to the Sig P320 for ease of disassembly.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      You really probably never need to completely disassemble a DA rev olver. Just swing the cylinder out clean it. SAAs are insanely easy to remove the cylinder and that’s all you should ever have to do with them. Otherwise it’s like asking how often you take your trig ger group apart or take down the striker mechanism to clean it.

  14. avatar GS650G says:

    Revolvers are quality pieces of work. Just the workmanship alone keeps me lookin at getting more of them.
    As for carry, well 5 or 6 shots should be enough noise and force to convince someone and his sidekick that fucking with you is a bad idea. And don’t think a .38 is harmless. JHP rounds leave a big hole behind. They don’t have hair triggers to get you in trouble and go bang even if the barrel is right up against the problem without going out of battery.

    There are 4 reasons for you. I carried a model 85 for years and didn’t feel it was a mistake.

  15. avatar billy-bob says:

    4. It’s not a glock?

  16. avatar CarlosT says:

    I would be more receptive if the triggers were better. Sure, it’s possible to pull the hammer back to single action, but there’s no guarantee that there would be time to do that in a self-defense situation. For me, the standard double action pull on a revolver is something I can manage once, maybe twice, and it takes about five to ten seconds each time. Then that’s it, no more trigger pulls for me. This is due to injury, and not something that’s ever going to improve. Any other advantage a revolver may offer is moot if it means I would be killed in the long seconds trying to get that first shot off.

    1. avatar GS650G says:

      If you need accuracy beyond a few yards you might not be in a DGU position. Bad guy targets are 8 to 12 inches of real estate.

    2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      I remember you mentioning your injury before and that probably rules out revolvers as a defensive weapon for you. Anyway, the original concept of the DA trigger was for use in close quarters, and although some have managed to master them, they were never meant for accuracy at longer ranges. That said, it takes maybe a quarter second to thumb back the hammer. It never seemed to slow Clint Eastwood down much.

      1. avatar CarlosT says:

        Yeah, but unlike a semi-auto, I would need to do it before each and every shot. So, as you say, they’re not for me. I’m better off with a lighter trigger in a striker fired or single action semi-auto, where at worst I’ll have to flick off a thumb safety one time. For me, a long, heavy trigger is just not something I can easily work around.

  17. avatar S.CROCK says:

    Carrying a j-frame is harder for me than carrying a lc9 or any other subcompact 9mm. The fact that the cylinder will always be a little over an inch makes it less comfortable to carry than a flat gun that will be about .9 of an inch at all areas. Plus .38+p or .357 seem to have poor ballistics out of short barrels 3 inches or less.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Well .38 special has poor ballistics out of any length barrel. It does compare well to the .380acp though. As far as .357 goes it does benefit greatly from a longer barrel but it still cranks out a lot of horsepower out of shorter ones. A 3″ will get you ~600ft/lbs of energy with the full power stuff and 475-500 with the neutered factory am mo. When you get down to 1-7/8″ barrels it does get a little silly though.

    2. avatar Stuki Moi says:

      I find the cylinder helps stand the grip off just enough that I get more reliable purchase on the draw with a revolver than with the really flat, small semis. Classic Sigs, with their bulge, are different, but those are hardly he most concealable things out there. If you have literally no “core muscles” bulging out over the belt even in the slightest, your situation may be different….

  18. avatar former water walker says:

    Had a revolver and didn’t care for it. But now the wife wants a revolver so I have to get one…I like rapid fire and high capacity.

    1. avatar Stuki Moi says:

      “I like rapid fire and high capacity.”

      Rich bastard.. 🙂

  19. avatar Tile floor says:

    I love revolvers. They have an understated elegance about them and are old school as hell. However, I think for practical purposes the semi auto, particularly the single stack 9 carried IWB, had eclipsed the revolver for a ccw gun. More rounds, typically better trigger pull, better sights, the list goes on. I carry my 649 or LCR .357 if I’m feeling lazy, but were I to find myself in a gunfight I’ll take a semi all day.

  20. avatar Sc says:

    It may not be a 357 or truly a mouse gun, but my glock 29 is pretty compact. The full house load 10mm is ballisticly similar, if not superior, to the 357, and you have much more variety in loads and bullet weights. Plus you get 10 round magazines, with an extremely reliable and shootable platform.

    1. avatar TexTed says:

      Yep, a G29 with 10mm delivers a bigger bullet at equal or faster speeds when compared to a 2″ .357 magnum, and it holds twice as many of them, and it does so with much less felt recoil than the revolver, less muzzle flash, less noise. If you want a powerful subcompact semi-auto, the G29 is one hell of a gun.

    2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Kudos for not claiming the 10mm is equivalent to the .41 magnum. Simple scoop on 10mm vs. 357 – The .357 has 12% more case capacity than the 10 but the 10 can run 7% more pressure than .357. However, after the bull et is seated, the .357 has more like a 30% advantage in case capacity (using equal SD bul lets). This means that for the 10mm to run with the .357 it needs to use shorter bu llets. For comparison, a heavy for caliber 180gr. 10mm has an SD of .161 whereas a middle weight 158gr. .357 bu llet has an SD of .177. Also, both rounds are plagued by an abundance of weak factory am mo.

      1. avatar tdiinva (now in wisconsin) says:

        We have already had this discussion. The .357 is optimized for barrels of 4″ or longer. Once you get below 4″ you are just blowing powder out the barrel and energy levels drop like a rock. The full sized .357 that is carryable is the Chiappa RINO which comes in at 8.1″. Everything else is 3″ or less which puts you in .40 Cal with the same footprint and less than .45 ACP +P. A snubbie isn’t any better than federal HST in full sized pistol.

        I don’t care about case capacity unless you are hand loading self defense rounds which most lawyers will tell you is not a good idea. So unless you want to open carry your 686 or equivalent leave revolver at home.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Having carried both, a 3″ revol ver carries like a 4″ semi-auto. Maybe a bit better. Overall length doesn’t matter much, the curved grip of the re volver is easier to conceal than squared angle of the semi-auto, but (technically) adds to the overall length. In .357 a 3″ rev olver gets you close to 500ft/lbs with the neutered factory stuff and around 600ft/lbs with the full power (not +p) stuff (Buffalo Bore, Double Tap, etc.). .40S&W and .45acp +p do come close, but they require very low SD bull ets which (especially with the added velocity) don’t penetrate well at all, and tend to beat your gun to an early death. If my life is on the line I’d like to make a few exit wounds.

        2. avatar Stuki Moi says:

          “So unless you want to open carry your 686 or equivalent leave revolver at home.”

          Where did that come from?????

          You’re no doubt right about the ballistics favoring semis, but for all that, semis are what is most likely to be left at home. While the light, simple snubbie gets taken along, simply because it is such a low effort gun to pick up and take along. In a pocket, a glove compartment, a bicycle handlebar bag, a purse, what have you…. When the semi hangs out at home feeling all superior, the snub is the trusty old friend that’s always there when the shooting starts 🙂

  21. avatar peirsonb says:

    A bigger hole?

    .45 > .357?

    1. avatar Vinny says:

      Only one,,, the .45 bounced back, the .357 went through both sides.

  22. avatar jwm says:

    It’s a generational thing. Those of us that grew up watching Sly, Bruce and Arnie mowing down legions of uber bad guys with their never jam, never run out autos now pack said autos.

    Those of us that grew up watching the Lone Ranger shoot the gun out of the bad guys hand pack a revolver.

  23. But the bottom line remains: a revolver is more reliable than ̶a̶ most semi-automatic handgun(s).

    Somewhere lying in the dirt is a makarov pistol waiting to be shot and waiting to prove this statement wrong.

    Yeah, but I still like revolvers but G-d still decides when to f*ck w/ the affairs of men 🙂

  24. avatar JustAnotherMike says:

    There are good reasons for both. Personally, I’ve carried revolvers for (~25) years. When I first started, my wife would check to see if she could spot any tell tale signs; usually the ‘softer’ corners of revolvers concealed better. I think a lot has to do with body type. I’m skinny and tall, and the blocky butt of a semi has always been hard to conceal for me, regardless of position. Concealing length isn’t much of a challenge. Generally I carry a J-frame Centennial (its light and easy to carry), with a 4″ model 66 (modified to have a round butt) otherwise. They don’t have as many corners / angles to print on me. I’ve carried that J frame everywhere, including lots of miles running.

    I’ve carried a full size 1911 (usually IWB) but the grip will print unless I’m careful +/- wearing a fairly heavy jacket. I find it easier to conceal my 4″ N frame than a 1911.

    Plus, I don’t like chasing brass 🙂 I think its important to carry something you are comfortable operating and carrying – most of my friends carry semis, and that works just fine for them. Just my $0.02.

  25. avatar tdiinva (now in wisconsin) says:

    Which is why the Army chose the S&W 686 for its next handgun. /sarc

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Big difference between self defense and combat. If I were kicking in a door (along with 20 of my buddies) knowing there was a band of terrorists with AK-47s on the other side I’d pick a high capacity semi-auto over a revolver. On the other hand you might not even know you’re involved in a self defense situation until you’ve already been knocked to the ground and now somebody’s stabbing you or slamming your head against the sidewalk. Now is not the time to worry about taking the slide out of battery on a contact shot. This is a lousy time to practice your malfunction drills. That first shot or two are far more important than the 15th and 16th.

      1. avatar Montesa_VR says:

        And when that guy starts slamming your head into the concrete, God help you if you carry your semi Israeli style.

        1. avatar strych9 says:

          If it comes to that and you do Israeli carry, reach for the knife. Honestly it’s generally a better weapon at that range anyway.

  26. avatar Bud Harton says:

    I am both a retired cop and a retired Army Infantry senior NCO.

    To the three reason I say; no, no and oh,hell no.

    I used to think taking a .44mag revolver when in the outback of Alaska but have since decided a 12 gauge with slugs and a 10mm Glock or Sig is an ever much better idea.

    Revolvers are pretty souvenirs of times (long) past.

    1. avatar tdiinva (now in wisconsin) says:


      These are myths propagated by geriatric revolver guys.

      The reliability advantage is way oversold. Unless you are using a HI Point the revolver reliability advantage isn’t sugnificant. It’s like saying Toyota is more reliable than Honda.

      Revolvers, at least those that are conceaable are not more powerful than automatics with same footprint. On the contrary the automatic can be chambered in more powerful cartridge. Your J-frame is the size of a G-43 or XD/s and is chambered a cartridge that is inferior to 9mm. A snub nosed .357 is about the same size as a G-22 or full sized XD/m both of which be had in .40 caliber. Even 45 ACP +P will put out more energy than a snub nosed revolver chambered in .357. Don’t take my word it, just check the ballistics tables.

      You can dry fire a revolver to master the ridiculously long, heavy trigger pull but what about the blinding flash and absurd recoil? You can put snap cap in an automatic and master its better trigger far more easily.

      Most gun fights are 3 rounds in 3 second affairs. Take the 3 second test. Set up a 18 x 24 inch target at 5 yards and compare your performance with a revolver and automatic. Unless you have Jerry Miculek like skills where it won’t make difference, you will consign the revolver to the range, cowboy action and backup.

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        I didn’t realize being a quadragenarian made you ‘geriatric’. I guess 40 is the new 80?

      2. avatar jwtaylor says:

        “Most gun fights are 3 rounds in 3 second affairs”
        Compete myth.

  27. avatar PeterW says:

    I Love my .38 revolver, which is why I carry a Glock 26. On the hopefully never situation that I had to shoot someone, I can always get another Glock 26, but the ’68 Mod. 10-5 will not be made again.

  28. avatar Bob says:

    Revolvers are works of art……..Pistols are graffiti.

  29. avatar Kirk says:

    revolvers don’t leave fingerprints behind……………just sayin’

    1. avatar MLee says:

      Neither do semi-autos….well, if the cartridge doesn’t have your finger prints on them in the first place. Mine don’t! 😉

      1. avatar Bill says:

        Spent casings of any kind actually dont leave any finger prints either. It’s actually complete Hollywood myth that’s very ingrained in pretty much everyone’s head unless you’ve worked with a forensics unit, which I have. Spent shell casings burn off any usable finger prints from the shell. The best I’ve ever seen on any casing picked up from a crime scene is a smudged partial, which is useless in court.

  30. avatar adverse4 says:

    Everybody should have at least one revolver, .38 spl + P/.357 and up. I like even numbers, 6 rounds. A 4 inch barrel. SA/DA. Think of it as insurance, a fall back firearm. Mainly for home defense, or a spare in the car/truck. (Not so much for CC), Speed loaders and practice til you have the drill down.

  31. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Revolver stand up better to neglect.

    Autos stand up better to abuse.

    Some think the rounder grips of the revolver are faster into action.

    You cant limp wrist a revolver.

    357 magnum.

  32. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    Revolvers are simple….too simple, which means prone to failure.

    Three most common problems in my experience with Revolvers is a broken pin, a failure to fire, and jammed shell casings. With a light strike failure to fire, you can probably still fire the other rounds, and maybe even the original when it circles back around, but that takes time.

    Jammed casings? Maybe you can fiddle with them and break them loose, but that’s way too much time. I have a brand new revolver right now that I need to take a tool to and pry the casings loose. I could’ve done it at the range with my Leatherman, but that would’ve attracted the staff’s attention. You never want those jerks hassling you.

    As for a broken pin? Game over.

    I never have this kind of crap happen with any semi-auto. Revolvers are basically semu-functioning curiosity pieces nowadays, relics of a bygone era. They’re the turntables and cassette players of the firearms world. And that’s me being charitable. They’re really more like a phonograph.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      I guess you should have bought a Rug er.

      I think I have to call BS here. Are broken firing pins more common in revolvers than semi-autos? I doubt it. Jammed casings? You can’t slap the ejector and get the case out, but semi-autos never fail to extract? And how is the simplicity of operation pertinent to your argument? Maybe you got the worst rev olver to ever leave the Taurus factory in Brazil, maybe you’re just making sh!t up?

    2. avatar adverse4 says:

      You were born yesterday, weren’t you?

  33. avatar Bob says:

    younger guys like pistols…..and smart phones…….and all the trappings of modernity. Basically they are morons with no survival skills. Tacticool is the apex of moronville. Kinda like geek but without the intelligence. Tell a pistol, tacticool guy that water freezes at 32 degrees and he searches his smart phone for something about what is cool……….clueless! I love it when clueless people ask what pistol is best in bear country…… never even occurs to them that a revolver might fill the bill. Shmucks one and all.

    1. avatar strych9 says:

      Wow, and I thought I was an opinionated jerk.

      A suggestion: Keep your wild generalizations to yourself. It greatly increases the chances that you’ll avoid the embarrassment of having your ass handed to you by exactly the people you talk shit about.

      You might end up in a conversation about how pressure affects the freezing point of water ever so slightly or about the fact that you’ve failed to tell us what scale you’re using. Water also freezes, at 0 at 1atm or alternatively at 273 degrees at 1atm depending on what temperature scale you’re using.

      Now run along and figure out what scale means what.

      1. avatar PDW says:

        Off the top of my head…..Kelvin, Celsius, Centigrade ? I don’t remember how the scales actually compare to Fahrenheit though. High school graduation was in 1977 and I’ve slept since then.

        Anyway….revolvers are great but give me a semi-auto for DGU. Just my preference.

  34. avatar Chris M says:

    The only handgun I own is a Colt Government Model chambered in .45ACP. That being said – I would enjoy owning a Colt SAA very much (heck, even a Colt Model 1860 Army would be awesome!)

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      (heck, even a Colt Model 1860 Army would be awesome!)
      I just got one for a review. Absolutely love it. 2 1/4″ groups at 25 yards, firing a 150 grain round at 1400fps. I bought the gun.

  35. avatar KAP says:

    230 gr bullet at 900 FPS, out the front end of a 44 special, works really well, SAA”s usually have a nice trigger but slow to reload under stress, 38 special on the 158gr +p the original American 9mm pistol came about because of the Army! hard to find a swing arm revolver in .45 colt
    Actually preference is what I’m carrying that day, 380 – 44 Mag!

  36. avatar jwtaylor says:

    Almost every day I consider selling my auto’s and buying, and carrying, nothing but revolvers. I’d need a quality J-Frame sized backup in 9mm, and all the others would be either L-Framed .357s or N-Framed .44s for OWB carry. Always ready for the errant pig, white tail deer, or jackass.
    The only reason is the controllable ballistics of the magnum calibers.

  37. avatar Kitty says:

    I carry both and if needed I would grab my revolver first. That’s just me. To each their own. I don’t care what you carry, just so long as you do. And while I have no hard data to back it up, I imagine that the vast majority of civilian CCW carriers will probably never need to use their weapon at any time during their entire life.

  38. avatar Anymouse says:

    Left out the remarkable variety of ammo that will function in a revolver. Besides bullet shapes that won’t feed in a semi, like wadcutters, you can fire other ammo that’s shorter, e.g. .357 Magnum can shoot .38 Special, Long Colt, and Short Colt, and .22 Long Rifle can shoot Long, Short, CB, BB. The revolver will also function the same with a full house Magnum load as with a rubber bullet propelled just with a primer.

  39. avatar Mark Horning says:

    I have seen more revolvers fail in the past decade than autos. And when they fail, they lock up hard and need tools and a lot of time to fix.

    Best reasons for a revolver:

    1 – simplicity as above
    2 – is you can shove it in a bad guys belly and not worry about going out of battery.

  40. avatar Tom says:

    If there were more than one left handed revolver on the market I might be more interested in revolvers.

  41. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    One of the best reasons to carry or use a revolver wasn’t even in the list, which makes me wonder whether the author actually shoots a revolver.

    Let’s consider the canonical S&W DA revolver. Any of them will do for the purpose of this discussion.

    As you pull the DA trigger, you’ve got a long 12+ pound trigger pull. Longer than the NYPD Glock trigger pull, but it’s every bit of 12 pounds without an action job.

    But cock the revolver’s hammer back, and suddenly you have a short, crisp, 2.75 pound pull – and most people can become much better shots very quickly with that level of trigger pull.

    This is the one thing that semi-autos cannot do – is replicate the SA trigger pull of a revolver pulled into SA mode.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      When it comes to semi-autos I prefer DA/SA hammer fired pis tols over the striker fired ones for that very reason, but I have yet to discover a pis tol that has either a DA or an SA trigg er pull that compares to your average revol ver. Even without much practice a DA rev olver is fine out to 10 yards or so which takes care of 99% of self defense situations, but an accurate shot is just a stroke of the thumb and a quarter second away. Who could have a problem with options?

  42. avatar white says:

    Unless you shoot guns under water and limp wrist a lot, there are plenty of reliable semiautos to be had and so reliability shouldn’t really be a concern. A Glock, Tokorev, P64 Radom or even the tried and tested M92/96 Beretta will probably never malfunction during its lifetime under normal use. For all practical purposes, I think the brand and overall quality of the firearm in question is much more important then whether or not its semiautomatic or a revolver.

    I did have to qualify with a Smith and Wesson .357 revolver at my last job even though all the handguns I’ve owned are semiautomatics. My score, having never fired that type of gun before, was one point higher then with my trusty PX4 type C Beretta (advantage 17 round magazine in 40 S&W) the first time around!! That gun practically aimed itself, but the trigger was l-o-n-g and quite heavy. I can see why some people would gravitate towards something that accurate.

    Since you only have 6 rounds, my main concern is that the bad actors might be more likely to target me for a robbery since their semiautos would have a higher capacity and could be more rapidly reloaded. I elected to provide and qualify with my own personal weapon, which has never given me problems aside from getting defective ammo on one occasion.

    The main thing is that having any handgun in the first place for self defense puts you ahead of anyone who chooses or who is forced to travel around unarmed. In the end, it should really boil down to cost of the gun and availability of the type of ammo in your area.

  43. avatar Charles says:

    I carry both. A potent revolver and a semi-automatic (or two). I love the revolver and rely on the semi-auto afterwards.

  44. avatar Mikial says:

    We own two revolvers, and several pistols. I like the revolvers, but my wife doesn’t. I think they still have a place in self defense handguns, and don’t hesitate to stick one in my holster when going out.

  45. avatar Nach0z says:

    Maybe you can’t find a .45 mouse gun, but you can carry a Glock 29. 😀

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