12 Advantages A Revolver Has Over A Semi-Auto You May Not Have Thought Of – Content Contest

(This post is an entry in our spring content contest. If you’d like a chance to win a Beretta APX pistol, click here for details.) 

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, and being mechanical devices, revolvers can and do fail.

As the two weapons systems are essentially radically different designs to accomplish the same thing, being a revolver fan-boy myself, I have compiled a list of 12 other inherent advantages to a revolver. In no particular order;

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 – Inversely, a revolver’s cartridge isn’t compromised by the necessity to feed it through the grip. Magnum Research even makes a .45-70 revolver. Try putting that 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 .45acp 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 through the front of the cylinder. No pulling magazines and racking slides to see if the weapon is loaded.

7 – A revolver can be cleaned without taking it apart. Just swing out the cylinder.

8 – A revolver does not fling spent cases all over the place. 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 cannot 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 bleeding. This is 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’ve got a loaded magazine handy, reloads are quicker with an auto-loader, 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 jab you in the side when you sit down. Maybe this is unique to me, but revolvers are just more comfortable when pressed against your side.



  1. avatar Paul B says:

    No. 13, to quote Boris the Blade: “Heavy is good, heavy is reliable. If it doesn’t work you can always hit them with it.”

    1. avatar Tim says:

      #14: Revolvers’ intuitive manual of arms make them ideal for quickly arming ‘non-gun’ people.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        #15 If you squeeze the trigger and your revolver fails to fire, you can just squeeze the trigger again. This eliminates having to practice (and be good at) the “tap, rap, bang” routine on semi-autos.

  2. avatar BCG says:

    automatically keeps the brass.

    1. avatar Bill says:

      This will likely shock most of you, it sure shocked me when I was told this… But spent shells actually do not retain any useful finger prints for a forensics unit. They get so hot the finger print it burned off mostly, at least to the point it’s not longer useful evidence. I was told this whole working with a PDs forensic department awhile back. They said the best they’ve ever seen on a spent she’ll is a partial smudge, which will not hold up in court. That whole urban legend was started on some cop TV show back in the day and everyone took it for gospel. Now, there are other reasons not to fling your brass around though.

      1. avatar lightfoot says:

        If it’s a “Good Shoot” and a “JUSTIFIBABLE DGU”, who cares how much brass you leave behind.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          As long as you didn’t forget to unload and lock up your EDC before you hit the New Jersey state line…

        2. avatar Tom in PA says:

          “God Bless America, except New Jersey – F**k New Jersey” – shirt worn by a great guy from NJ at a carbine class in PA. Priceless.

      2. avatar Charlie says:

        Sounds iffy to me: Finger prints contain oils, salts, dirt, and other things that you touch. You could vaporize the oils and still leave the salts and dirt stuck to the case. I bet there’s a way to visualize that!

        Sounds like we need a government grant to do the study. Has anyone got an ounce or two of ninhydrin laying around?


        1. avatar Bill says:

          I don’t think they can. You gotta remember what’s needed for something to hold up to scrutiny in court. If there was a way, I’m sure they’d have figured it out by now. Because even the FBI can’t make it happen.

        2. avatar TommyJay says:

          You might be right about salts etc., but ninhydrin reacts with amino-acids which would be destroyed at relatively modest temps.

        3. avatar neiowa says:

          I’m not sure counting on a gov’t employee/thug, who wants a conviction, to honestly testify to a jury is a plan. They testify concerning the religion of DNA testing and polygraph testing daily across this country. Why not stretch the truth about fingerprints on a case (or projectile ID)?

      3. avatar Ken says:

        I was a Crime Scene Tech before I retired from LEO. Fingerprints on a spent case are pretty non existant. You can match a case to a specific weapon. I never saw a spent shell printed.

  3. avatar BLoving says:

    Good work, Gov! Personally, I just like the clockwork… dare I say… gracefulness of a revolver – not the jerky reciprocating of an auto.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      That slide spring eats up lots of recoil that can be damn painful for some folks. Like the kind of folks that aren’t snot-nosed kids or whipper-snappers. Or arthritic. Or…

      (In fairness, I prefer the reliability of a revolver.)

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

        IMHO that’s pretty much negated by #1, if you’ve got the right grip at least

      2. avatar JDC says:

        All kidding aside, if you are arthritic to the point that the recoil reduction of an auto is a plus, you are probably going to have a hard time racking a slide on an auto. Which is where a tip up barrel would be great, if you can find one(Read: Tomcat)

        1. avatar Tom in PA says:

          Exactly the situation with my mother in law – revolver for her. There’s no way I’m getting her past the learning curve of a semi auto, and she really doesn’t have the strength.

        2. avatar Joe in San Antonio says:

          There are always low pressure loads, 32s, and single action 22s

        3. avatar JSW says:


          My hands are so arthritic that I can no longer easily work the slide on my XD or S&W, so I’ve returned to my revolvers for carry and local steel and IDPA competitions. Oddly enough, despite having only six rounds, my scores on steel are not much slower than when using the autos. Of course, I can’t carry as much ammo as two mags, but at least I’m carrying and will have a gun if I ever (hopefully never) need one.

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

      One I forgot, you can load and unload the same ro und in any one of the cylinders as many times as you’d like without having to worry about a catastrophic failure due to bul let setback. Maybe next time I should start writing before I start drinking.

      Would be ironic if I won that plastic abomination with this one, don’t you think?

      1. avatar BLoving says:

        Safely assuming I don’t win it myself, you could just give it to me? Eh, ol’ buddy? Ol’ pal?
        Oh who am I kidding, I (likely) would never shoot it and would simply trade it for a Ruger of some flavor.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Well I’ve already got a P95 and a 1911, so I’m probably set enough for semi-autos. There’s still a few revolvers I’ve got my eye on though. Someone put an 8″ gong at the 200 yard mark at the local Izaak Walton League range and I’m thinking I need either a Super Red hawk or Super Blackhawk Hunter with a 2-6x scope so I can ring it with a handgun. Little too far out for my GPs.

      2. avatar Walter, NOT The Dude says:

        You had me at “Deer Grenades”.

        I laugh snorted at that one.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          I’m convinced that the SWCHP is the ultimate handgun defensive ro und, provided the lead has an appropriate hardness for the velocity. Unfortunately BB is about the only place you’ll find them in loaded amm unition.

  4. avatar Jean-Claude says:

    I always start new shooters with my 4″ 686 and WWB .38s. They are so mild and it’s such a substantial firearm, that recoil is minimal. I had an action job done so the pull is light and smooth with just enough of a break that the shooter can tell when it’s going to go off. Then if they show an interest, we start talking about autopistols.

    But for someone who isn’t going to spend a lot of time training? 4″ .357 loaded with 37 +P. Substantial ballistics, simple operation, very little chance of malfunctioning—and if a round does fail to go off, they just have to pull the trigger to rotate a fresh round into position.

    1. avatar Walter, NOT The Dude says:

      But it takes soooooo long for those 37+Ps to come in on order.
      I mean dang, I can get .9 mm all day every day compared to the 37’s.

      1. avatar lightfoot says:

        Online stores typically have a lot of choices, at far better prices than your local (out of stock) WalMart. I just checked LuckyGunner.Com, and they currently have 94 styles of 28sp in stock for immediate delivery.

      2. avatar JDC says:

        Those .9mm’s will kill you dead!

      3. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        I’m guessing he meant .357+p but those are just as hard to find. Amazing how many g un guys don’t know that the hot loads in .357 are just full pressure loads and everything else is downloaded. Buf falo Bore does have .44 magnum +p loads. Never seen one in .357 though.

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          I took a look at those and they seem to be the “Ruger and TC” loads you’ll find in reloading manuals.

      4. avatar Jean-Claude says:

        Good one….

  5. avatar pete says:

    Modern cheapo revolvers one can see the rims, some old ones had a lip. Being able to tell if it’s loaded from in front, looking down the charge holes… eh, not a major asset to me, thanks.

    Cleaning them is more of a drag for me because the barrel starts at the frame window, no straight path in from the breech end. Unless it’s an old open top or Dan Wesson maybe.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      I guess I’ve never seen any re volvers other than the modern cheapo ones like Ru ger and S&W.

      If you’re shooting a rifle at 1000 yards you need to clean your bore from breach to muzzle. Handguns at 25 yards? Not so much.

      1. avatar pete says:

        Yeah, you’re basically using a narrow selection of revolvers with corners cut during manufacturing. Sorry to hear that.

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          This is not the case at all. It’s design, that even varies between models in manufactures, some of which are excellent.

      2. avatar LarryinTX says:

        OOOoo! Let’s have a pissing contest! My stodgy old 4″ Python you can see the rims, with no indication available whether the cartridge has been fired or not. My el cheapo 8 3/8″ nickel S&W .41 mag you cannot, cylinder is inlet and fit very tight. At least on #6, one size does not fit all. OTOH, if your revolver does allow visual inspection like that now, it always will!

  6. avatar Rokurota says:

    13. Wider selection of grip materials and shapes

    14. No magazine failures or improperly seated mags

    15. You get to refer to “clips” without the gun pedants jumping all over you

  7. avatar Ed Rogers says:

    Great work, thanks!

  8. avatar OmnivorousBeorn says:

    For me, how little room there is front to back on a revolver is awkward (I like my support hand’s palm heel on the left grip; is that wrong?).

    I don’t think polymers or broken-in 1911s have any trouble feeding JHPs, although low recoiling ammo could be a problem, I guess.

    Unless you’re an “MI7” agent or something, I don’t see why casings with your finger prints matter. If you can carry somewhere, you can probably trust the justice system.

    #10 is a legitimate upside for sure.

    Okay, who carries loose rounds in their pockets? Unless you’re in a war zone, this seems like an obscure advantage, especially for a gun that isn’t exactly optimal for modern warfare.

    All that said, good writing and congrats on getting published! Sorry for being so, uh, shall we say, opposed to revolvers. =)

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Not really sure about your gr ip, but you do want to keep your fingers and toes away from the cylinder gap when firing a rev olver.

      In fairness I had a Ber etta 92fs that I put about 5000 rou nds through without a single malfunction. Although only a couple hundred of them were ho llow points.

      I don’t trust the legal system, but you’re probably going to be at their mercy anyway. That and some people choose to exercise their constitutionally protected right to self defense in jurisdictions that don’t follow the Constitution.

      Loading loose ro unds is more of a range benefit. I guess it could potentially come into play in self defense, maybe you left your EDC in the car and now you’re in a mad rush to get the safe open and load a weapon. Or something.

      Thanks for your input!

  9. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    Still plenty of revolvers being made and sold, though they have lost a lot of market share to semi-autos.

    I love revolvers. Here in Illinois, plenty of people hunt deer with them (‘cuz rifles are so scary!). I think if you’re going to carry in a purse it should be a revolver for the reasons mentioned above.

    As for what I strap on, the capacity/weight ratio has been the deciding factor, and revolvers can’t compete in that category.

    1. avatar lightfoot says:


  10. avatar Jason says:

    13. Makes a better bludgeon if things really go sideways.

    1. avatar BLoving says:

      My Ruger SP101, damn right you can. A Ruger LCR? Not so much…

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        If pis tol whipping were a socially acceptable pastime there would be no more appropriate tool for the job than the good old 6″ GP 100 with the full underlug. Might as well be a baseball bat you’re swinging!

  11. avatar JDC says:

    I agree with all of these. Some have more weight than others. I have always made the point about loading magazines. If you have magazines loaded in advance, that’s great, but what happens when you’re out of magazines? Loading a revolver under stress might be a bitch, but what about loading a mag? In addition, if you are a soldier in modern battle situation, you have the luxury, not always, but many times, of a large ammunition supply over a period of time.If you are a civ in a SHTF situation, you aren’t going to have a large supply. Revolvers make you use less ammunition. If you have a large mag, you’re going to use the whole mag. I know someone is going to chime in, and say they have 3 million rounds of 5.56 loaded into 100,000 magazines buried in the dirt, but most of us don’t. Plus, you can only carry so much at once. You have better fire control with less rounds.
    What happens if the mag gets lost, stepped on, etc.?
    Semi autos certainly have advantages to civilians, but so do revolvers.
    I said this before. If I was limited to only one handgun in a SHTF situation(hopefully won’t be!), it would be a medium frame .357 revolver witha 4″-6″ barrel.

    1. avatar Anon in CT says:

      In my zombie apocalypse scenario the kids can load/reload mags while my wife and I shoot.

      Outsourcing is where it’s at, baby!

    2. avatar Ironhead says:

      I have 3 million rounds loaded in 100,000 mags before a tragic boat accident….
      Sorry had to do it.
      One downside to the revolver. If your support hand is in the wrong place when you pull the trigger… bad things will happen.
      Honestly though I could go either way. I love a 357 magnum revolver, but I love my 1911s and my xdm as well.

      1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

        “One downside to the revolver. If your support hand is in the wrong place when you pull the trigger… bad things will happen.”

        That’s been known to happen with semi-autos, too.

    3. avatar J says:

      No ones reloading mags in a gunfight. If you didn’t come to the party with 5-10 loaded mags, i dunno what to tell ya…..and wheel guns aren’t exactly the best tools to engage multiple attackers with…

      1. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

        What percentage of DGUs involve more than five or six shots from the defender. I don’t know the answer, but I do know that the answer is relevant to this conversation.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          I don’t know the exact answer, but I know it’s a tiny fraction of your odds of getting struck by lightning, so I’m not going to worry about it too much.

        2. avatar Tom in PA says:

          There’s multiple sources for information on violent attacks. When put together as a whole, a rough order of magnitude on the percentage of violent attacks involving multiple attackers is about 40% or so. You also have reduced hit rates, and reduced hit rates to vitals, when under stress, so the math is not moving in favor of the defender with minimal ammunition in a multiple attacker scenario.

        3. avatar LarryinTX says:

          APM, I think you’re asking the wrong question, as stated I’d suspect the answer would be “quite a few”. I have seen videos and read accounts of DGUs firing 10-15 shots many times, I recall one dashcam of a cop attacked right in front of his car, emptied a 17-round mag in about 2 seconds and hit nothing at all. Correct question would be people found murdered holding an empty *revolver*. People with 17-round mags purposely train, and evaluate their equipment, to facilitate extremely rapid fire for its own sake, hits don’t matter. Almost as bad as “spray and pray” from the Army in Vietnam, unload 140 rounds in a minute or 2 without ever seeing an enemy, much less hitting one, then screaming for more ammo.

    4. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      ‘Revolvers make you use less ammu nition.’

      This is true, they make you make every rou nd count, and they make you better at it.

  12. avatar Norincojay says:

    It seems a lot of single stack autos designed for concealed carry only hold 6-7 .380 or 9mm. So the capacity is a toss. Except for the ease of mag changes with the autos.

    I like the new Kimber revolvers. Only 1.31″ width. Pretty cool. I think 6 rounds.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Even the GP 100 is only 1.55″. Considering the barrels on re volvers are much thinner than slides on semis and the grips can be too, it really doesn’t make for a bad concealed weapon.

  13. avatar Weylon says:

    when my model 1960 something S&W Combat Magnum runs our of ammo I can crack skulls with it. it’s like carrying a 5 pound sledge that shoots 6 .357s first.

  14. avatar tdiinva (now in wisconsin) says:

    Revolver guys are worse than 1911 Fanboys and Glocktards. I will give you one reason why automatics are better and it is the only reason you need. You are more likely to put rounds on target under stress with an automatic. I gave a 71 year old revolver gal my 1911/10mm. She hit the 10 ring first time, every time. She thought it had less felt recoil than her LCR firing 38 Special.

    1. avatar Jean-Claude says:

      Um, you compared a 1911 to a polymer framed snubnosed revolver and are saying the shooter felt less recoil?

      That’s because the shooter did. Now, give that same shooter a 4″ 686 loaded with .38 + P and repeat the test.

      Apples to apples…

      1. avatar tdiinva (now in wisconsin) says:

        Apples to Apples? A 686/4″ with 357 vs the same 1911/ 10mm with Buffalo Bore.
        is Apples to Apples. The 1911 will have the lesser felt recoil. All the energy from the revolver gets transmitted to the shooter’s hand while much if the energy is absorbed by the slide mass. You will have higher rate of fire with greater accuracy with the 1911.

        1. avatar Timothy says:

          I’d say that Bob Munden would argue about the semi auto being a faster shot than the semi auto. But what do I know? Personally I carry a semi except when I wear a coat and can carry my Dan Wesson. Since most DGUs end without a shot fired, I can easily believe there’s an intimidation advantage to a mid-full size revolver that a semi auto doesn’t have

        2. avatar tdiinva (now in wisconsin) says:

          Guys like Bob Munden and Jerry Miculek are a rare breed of shooter. They are equally fast with any gun. I doubt anyone who posts here is in the same class.

          A 1911, Full Size Glock, Springfield, M&P or Sig is far more intimidating than any revolver that you can carry concealed.

        3. avatar Timothy says:

          Jerry Miculek is probably equally fast with all gun types, I’ll give you that. But Bob Munden is a solely revolver guy with split times even Jerry can’t touch. As for intimidation, it’s probably subjective, but I’d wager most people are more intimidated by a mid sized revolver than any semi auto

        4. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

          You do realize that a slide has to stop eventually, and that your hand has to do it.

        5. avatar Jean-Claude says:

          That’s why I said to load the 686 with .38 +P. Much less recoil.

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

      Try standing more than 3 feet from the target, it gets more challenging. One of the reasons I personally prefer re volvers is their ability to shoot accurately at 50 or 100 yards, although I didn’t include that because it’s not really an advantage if you’re shooting a 10 ounce polymer snubby. These are advantages that all rev olvers share.

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        Boy, do I agree with that. I’m old and shaky now, but 20-30 years ago, if I dropped on my belly with my 4″ Python, you did *NOT* want to let me fire my measly 6 shots at you at 150 yards, maybe not at 200.

  15. avatar W says:

    14. You can carry different loads and have quick access to each. Say you’re hiking out west. You can have a 6 shot revolver loaded with 3 snake loads and 3 SWCs. Then you’d be quickly able to switch between snake and coyote defense.

  16. avatar VillarPerosa says:

    this entire article or whatever this is, is complete nonsense.

    1. avatar peirsonb says:

      Nice counter point…

      Good work Gov.

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        Thanks. No point arguing with someone who doesn’t believe that rev olvers don’t have mag azines that feed through the gri p.

  17. avatar former water walker says:

    Great list Gov! I prefer a semiautomatic for ease of carry and capacity. Not at all worried about malfunctions…

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Semis have their advantages. Well one anyway, capacity, which is kind of a big one. About the only counterargument to that is that speed strips are far smaller, lighter and easier to carry than extra maga zines. But if you’re carrying 17+1 that’s already a full cylinder +2 strips.

  18. avatar Rusty Chains says:

    #8 If you live in a place like that, move! Seriously, get the hell out of that place, because you are exactly one riot away from becoming a casualty of the boyz clubz that infest those places. Since you don’t belong to that protected class of criminals, using your own defensive tools in a way that might damage the downtrodden gentle souls who, after all, are only peacefully proclaiming their need for your stuff, would set you on the path of spending many of your remaining years in the happy company of their friends and relatives.

    1. avatar J says:

      You mean like the guy who just shot 3 intruders with an AR in OK?

      1. avatar Rusty Chains says:

        No it is OK to shoot bad guys in OK, shoot bad guys who are attacking you in most states in New England and see what that gets you, let alone with an AR.

  19. avatar P-Dog says:

    I don’t know about the #7. A revolver may technically be easier to clean because you don’t have to strip it, but I find myself spending a lot longer to clean a revolver than I do my semi autos. This is due to the typically 7 holes (1 barrel + 6 shot cylinder) to clean on a revolver vs 1 on a semi auto. Also, clearing up the forcing cone area on revolver is a pain, and I’ve kind of just thrown my arms up and let it remain mostly black.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      I have said before that if you want to know how lousy of a job you’ve been cleaning your guns, buy a stainless revo lver. Also, no way to lose a part or get the weapon put back together wrong on a re volver. Not that most semis are that complicated…

  20. avatar Patrick says:

    You don’t have to worry about limp wrist with a revolver.

  21. avatar TexTed says:

    I think this is an excellent list. I’m a big revolver fan, I even have a revolver rifle just for the hell of it.

    One thing left out of the multicaliber section was the Judge. Not only does it provide some multicaliber capability, but it can also fire shotgun shells; I don’t think you’ll ever see a semi-auto firing shotgun shells (well, except for the CCI ratshot).

    Well done, Gov!

    1. avatar achmed says:

      The Judge. That would make a fun gun to shoot clay pigeons with. Other than that as a pistol probably one of the silliest firearms ever made. Dick Metcalf should beat himself.

    2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      ‘One thing left out of the multicaliber section was the Judge.’


      1. avatar Chris T from KY says:

        If there is another ammo scare I will have caliber adapters for my judge. A judge can fire .22, .32 H&R, 32 SW long, .38 special, .380, and 9mm with caliber adapters. Plus the 45 long colt and 410 shotgun shell. Yes the judge is not the best carry gun. Its heavy and large. But when you can’t get ammo for your favorite 9mm semi auto, the judge will do just fine.

  22. avatar Brassporkchop says:

    Getting older and revolvers are growing on me.

    For one the thought of never having to worry about losing, damaging, finding affordable or keeping track of magazines again is very appealing. If I felt inclined I could throw out all the clips and speed loaders and still have a complete functioning package.

    Also don’t shoot nearly as much as I like and go through long periods of not being able to shoot. The ability to not keep track of magazines and lower maintenance is also appealing.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      I had never cared for revolvers because I had been unable to hit the broad side of a barn with the three I’d shot in the past. Until I bought a black powder revolver (1861 Colt), which led to another, and another and…eventually a couple of 1873s. I actually own more revolvers than semiauto pistols.

  23. avatar Rick says:

    Because, Dirty Harry!

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Yea, that whole ‘Do you feel lucky, punk?’ monologue just wouldn’t be the same with a Glock.

      1. avatar neiowa says:

        Try it with a Pepé Le Pew voice. NO?

  24. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    #11 is a little iffy. Set aside for the moment that you can always have spare magazines for your SA and reload more quickly. Even assuming loading from scratch one round at a time, revolvers can still be trouble. Casings can get stuck in the cylinder so stubbornly that you need a tool to extract them.

    A nasty stove pipe round in a SA can require that, too, but that’s far less likely. Overall, I’d give semi-autos the advantage in speed reloading.

  25. avatar Anonymous says:

    Governor. You forgot the most important. When a pistol jams on a cartridge or if you have a dud, you have to clear it. With a revolver, all you need to do is pull the trigger again. If there is a dud, the cylinder just moves to the next cartridge.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Kind of figured that fit in the ‘capacity vs. reliability’ thing.

  26. avatar Anonymous says:

    Now – the cons on revolvers:

    1) They hold a very limited number of shots – maybe 5 to 10.
    2) A loaded magazine is faster to reload in a pistol than a revolver speed loader in a revolver.
    3) The bore axis is usually very high in a revolver compared to a pistol. Therefore the recoil is more pronounced and it takes longer to get back on target.
    4) If you put your fingers near the cylinder – forcing cone gap, you will blow your fingers apart with dramatic blood, mess, and gore. (Just google duckduckgo it).
    5) The trigger pull is amazingly heavy compared to a striker fired or DA/SA pistol. Unless you want to pull the hammer back each time – then it’s just an inconvenience. (This is good for safety, but bad for accuracy).
    6) Because of the shape of the revolver, it is easier to maximize surface area of your hands on a pistol (thumb over thumb, etc) than to try the same on a revolver.
    7) You can see if a revolver is loaded by not even touching it. So only point loaded guns at house intruders people.
    8) If you fire a revolver inside a pocket using a powerful cartridge such as a 357mag or 44mag, etc, the blast resulting from the cylinder – forcing cone gap will blow your jacket pocket to pieces, in a very dramatic way.

    1. avatar lightfoot says:

      1-7 are just basic safety issues that pertain to ALL firearms. #8, while shooting your fancy jacket apart, at least enables you to discharge the revolver from your pocket, WITHOUT it getting jammed up in the maelstrom of fabric & jam the rail gun that you tried to do the same thing with.

      1. avatar Anonymous says:

        1-7 are just basic safety issues that pertain to ALL firearms.

        1) How many shots a revolver holds compared to modern pistols has nothing to do with safety.
        2) How fast you can load a pistol magazine into a pistol when compared to a speed loader in a revolver has nothing to do with safety.
        3) Muzzle rise on a revolver compared to that of a pistol has nothing to do with safety.
        4) The cylinder – forcing cone gap is unique to revolvers – certainly not a safety issue pertaining to all firearms.
        5) The differences in trigger pull and operation between a revolver and pistol is a discussion in trigger pull and operation – not of safety.
        6) The comparison between the shape of a revolver and that of a pistol is not a safety discussion.
        7) The fact that you can see right through the cylinder of a revolver and cannot in a pistol and making that comparison is not a discussion in safety, and it most certainly doesn’t pertain to all firearms.

    2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      #3 – Muzzle rise, not recoil is more pronounced.
      #4 – Cylinder gap burn is offset by slide-bite. Either way you’re doing it wrong.
      #5 – The original concept behind the DA rev olver was DA for up close fast shooting and SA for well aimed shots. Inside 10 or 15 yards the DA trigger pull isn’t a problem. Outside of that it only takes a quarter second to thumb cock the hammer, an option you don’t have on a striker pist ol.
      #6 – Your experience must be a bit different than mine. Thumb over thumb is by far the most common way to use your support hand on rev olvers.
      #7 – True with any gu n.
      #8 – Not to mention the bull et.

      Come up with 4 more and maybe you’ll win a plastic Italian abomination.

      1. avatar Anonymous says:

        I agree with everything you said. All true.

        When I hold a revolver I typically cover my primary hand with my support hand and don’t get any additional surface area. On a pistol, my support hand is far forward contacting the frame of the pistol and I normally grip the front of the trigger guard with the index finder of my support hand.

        “Come up with 4 more and maybe you’ll win a plastic Italian abomination.”
        In all honesty, I’d rather have an all steel revolver in .327 or larger than a plastic framed beretta.

    3. avatar Jean-Claude says:

      The “trigger pull is too heavy” argument comes up a lot when discussing revolvers. Really? My 686 is not a difficult pull at all—and what were all these weak-fingered people doing in the days before Glock hit the scene?

      Were they crying about the DA pull on their Smith and Wesson 39 and 59 derived pistols? On the SIG P series guns?

      My 70 year old mother can pull the DA trigger on her S&W 649 all day with no problem.


      1. avatar Anonymous says:

        It isn’t “too” heavy. But it is substantially more heavy than a DA/SA in single action operation or most striker fired pistols.

  27. avatar Hannibal says:

    “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 through the front of the cylinder. No pulling magazines and racking slides to see if the weapon is loaded.”

    -You can see if it’s loaded with something, not necessarily live rounds unless you look down the barrel end. More importantly, you can’t tell if it is UNLOADED using this method.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      You can clearly see the bul lets in 4 of the chambers without actually putting your face in the path of an NG. But if you really need to know the status of the rou nd pointing down the bar rel that, unless the hammer is already cocked, can’t be fired unless the trigger is pulled 6 times, you might want to go ahead and swing out the cylinder.

  28. avatar Isaac says:

    New to revolver… but three things I’ve noticed:
    1. I removed the two farthest sections of my right index finger, which makes for nasty slide bites on the stump when I practice weak hand shooting. Revolvers don’t have a slide so it works better for shooter with a hand deformation!
    2. It’s great for dry fire.
    3. Revolvers are CHEAP up here (North Dakota), my little EAA was sub-$300.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      How do you like the EAA (Witness?)? I think they’re pretty reasonably priced everywhere.

      1. avatar Isaac says:

        As for mine, it’s a 4″ windicater in .357 and I personally like it… the reviews can get a bit mixed (particularly for the 2″ barrels).
        But with about 1000 rounds on it:
        1. Reliability is there.
        2. Accuracy is good with a rest and in single action I can keep 90 rounds inside of the 7 ring at 15 yards (if I throw out the like 5 flyers everything is in the black–probably my fault my first revolver).
        3. For .38 the thing is built like a tank, there has been some mention of them going out of timing with extensive hot .357 loads (but I tend to think that’s an issue of wear and tear).
        4. My wife has known the guys that sold it to me for 30+ years, they’re selling “quite a few” and “haven’t ever had any issues with them coming back”.
        5. They fit a standard 10a speed loader which is nice.

        Now for the not so nice stuff:
        1. The sights suck in my opinion, I like mepolites on my Glocks and these are plain Jane black blade and stepped U stuff (I should paint them or something) the sight picture’s a lot like a browning buckmark actually only not adjustable.
        2. The trigger is only ok.
        3. The grip on mine needed a quick tightening (screw is on the bottom).

        All in all not bad, at this price point (comparable to hi-point and less than a used macarov) actually pretty good.

      2. avatar Isaac says:

        Also the witness is a semiauto (I think 9mm) the windacator is the revolver

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Yes, now that I think of it the Witness is a CZ75 clone, I think.

          Good info. If you’re ever thinking of stepping up I can recommend the Rug er GP 100. No worries about using the hot stuff with them, they’re built like tanks. The standard models have a front sig ht that can be removed in about 2 seconds flat by pushing a plunger in and it pulls right out. I replaced the plain black sig ht on my 6″ with a Hi-Viz fiber optic. Also have a 3″ Wiley Clapp model with Novaks, plain rear and gold dot front. White U-notch in the back and either white or gold/brass dot or FO front is probably my favorite set up. I’ve got a Blackhawk with black si ghts that I put a bar on the front with white nail polish, and that works well. It’s lasted several years now with no sign of wear (although it’s not been holstered) and should be easily removed without damaging the finish.

        2. avatar Isaac says:

          I looked at Rugers and up here that was my second choice based on price (they were running $450+) up here.

          Also this is not an old injury (I took that finger off September of 2016) so I’m still trying to train around it with a new trigger finger… so why worry about a forever revolver when I really need a cheap platform to learn and make mistakes on?

        3. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Understandable. A $2 bottle of white nail polish will improve your si ghts 1000%.

        4. avatar Isaac says:

          I was thinking something like blaze orange for color. But more to the point any new style (long range rifle, modern sporting, semiauto hand gun, shotgun or revolver) has a learning curve to it. For example I did make mistakes with my first semiauto handgun the night sights and extended slide release are good but the extended mag release turned out to be very bad for a lefty (me) and resulted in me dropping the mag every time I walked through a door. It will be the same with revolvers and if it turns out I hate whatever color I go with… well I’m just some dude who’s wife sent him to Walmart for nail polish, grocery and since I’m there anyways catfish treble hooks.

      3. avatar Anonymous says:

        I have an all steel witness in 10mm and I love it.

  29. avatar achmed says:

    1, 6, 9, 10 – good points
    7, 4, 2 irrelevant to self defense
    3 – 20 years out of date
    5, 12 “meh” kinda sorta
    8, 11 – herpa derp / whatever

  30. avatar Ralph says:

    Gov. for Pres.!

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Well this does need to be Grant’s last term. Oh who am I kidding, I’m just concerned with protecting my phony-baloney job!

  31. avatar Timmy! says:

    #…. um, whatever the hell number this is: C’mon! Just LOOK at that thing! That’s some dead sexy shi… uh, stuff right there!

    Oops, did I just come out of the ammosexual closet?

    1. avatar kenneth says:

      No, you proved you’re straight. It would take a rather special brain to insinuate that a tupperware gun is sexier than a good revolver. With a nice, deep, hand polished blue job, and a hand stoned to glass smooth DA? Oh, baby!

  32. avatar jwm says:

    Tale of 2 guns. One purchased by a husband for his new bride when she was home alone. A colt .38 revolver. No more than a single box of shells fired thru it in over 60 years. Husband dies and the widow is in her 80s. Once a year I go over and put fresh ammo in the gun.

    Older coworker knows nothing of guns. Instead of asking he goes to lgs and is convinced to buy a Star .40 cal. Never fired the gun and had only the 2 mags that came with it. It was loaded and unfired to the day he died.

    Who was better armed for the real world circumstances they lived in?

    1. avatar Tom RKBA says:

      Neither were armed because neither knew what they were doing. Both were blithering idiots for having a weapon in the house and no idea how to handle it.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Numerous stories right here on TTAG and other sources tell of elderly people who’ve kept guns under the same circumstances and they’ve survived their home invasions and in many cases killed their attackers.

        A revolver needs no training or skill set outside of how to point and squeeze. Really is that simple.

        But too many potg are invested in Walter Mitty fantasies of fighting off teams of military grade terrorists to see that some folks only want a gun as a just in case.

  33. avatar SteveM says:

    #5 gets me all of the time, can’t seem to get sub-MOA with with pistols.\

  34. avatar 5spot says:

    Above it was said you retain brass in a revolver keeping fingerprints. It was argued…

    A better reason for retaining your brass is crime scene investigation after a DGU. The lay out of the casings from a DGU can and may convict you. In addition, you are not thinking right with the adrenaline dump and all. You may say something that is incorrect, an accidental error or incompatible with the casing lay out at the crime scene. This may provide the the prosecution with evidence they would otherwise not have with a revolver.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Excellent point. Those DAs can be wascally little wabbits. And they’re frequently far less concerned about justice than they are about their conviction rate.

    2. avatar Tom Zeeba says:

      That may be true, but the case head markings can be compared to the bolt face and firing pin as ballistics do with recovered bullets. Granted, ya gotta have the gun to compare it to, but still, I’d rather not leave anything laying around. Neatness counts. 🙂

      1. avatar 5spot says:

        They will get your gun in a DGU, not really my point but noted.
        My point being your case landing points at a five foot ejection average put you here however you said you stood here when you engaged the bad guy etc …..etc…..where were you? Could you have gotten behind the car or run into the building instead of shooting the perp etc….etc….They don’t have this advantage in questioning with a revolver.

  35. avatar Badwolf says:

    Gov, you forgot 1 important advantage of a revolver:

    Some people (age or disability) are too weak to rack the slide on a semi auto.

    1. avatar kenneth says:

      My sister has that problem. It’s the overriding consideration for her. She owns only revolvers, no other firearms.

    2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      I thought of that, but I was thinking that if your hands are that arthritic you might have a hard time pulling a DA trigger. Got a ways to go before I’m there, so I’ll leave that one up to others to decide.

  36. avatar Anonymous says:

    In a SHTF scenario, or some sort of post-apocalypse situation, you don’t have to worry about losing magazines.

    Doubly true, if you have a lever action carbine that uses the same ammo as your revolver.

  37. avatar Tom in PA says:

    Outstanding, relevant and informative article. I carry and shoot semi autos all the time, but I still love my custom SP101 and Colt Trooper. The SP101 saved me from an angry rattlesnake I accidentally stepped on, and a Redhawk with dispatching some wild hogs that were making me nervous. My only reservations with revolvers for carry, like small single stack semi auto’s, is that they’re essentially 1-2 attacker pistols, which is why I prefer to carry a higher capacity semi auto and extra mags. However, there are times when a revolver is better choice, and when I get old and don’t have the strength to run a semi auto, I’ll be toting a revolver. Use the tool that works for you and get good at it.

    1. avatar Jean-Claude says:

      Just how many attackers do you think you can handle?

      1. avatar Tom in PA says:

        It depends. It’s purely contextual, but it’s part of why I shoot competition, train with quality instructors, and use a variety of courses of fire. Consider that about 40% of violent criminal attacks will involve fighting more than one attacker, depending on your research source. Fighting one person is bad, fighting more is really, really bad. Add the concerns over recent domestic terrorist attacks, violent flash mobs upset with election results or other forms of snowflake butt-hurt, and the threat assessment regarding multiple attackers is absolutely valid, particularly if you’re in an urban area. Add to that a reduced hit ratio under the duress and speed of a lethal engagement, and the round count goes up, even for those trained and experienced. Obviously the best way to “win” is to avoid it altogether (always my preference), but that’s not always possible, and the answers are usually contextual rather than absolute. The only real absolute is doing whatever is required to secure ones survival.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          If you’re under attack by multiple assailants, one of two things is going happen. Either the surviving attackers will turn tail and run when the gunfire starts or they’ll stand and fight. If they stand and fight you’ll be lucky to get more than 6 shots off before they take you out regardless of what you’re armed with. Best defense against that is to travel in packs yourself.

        2. avatar Paul B says:

          @The Gov. Thank you for making this point. I’d argue that far too many have the me v. the world fantasy of fighting off a horde of ne’er do wells. If one is so unlucky as to be up against a multiple people (say more than three) who are armed and willing to fight then I don’t see how a double stack 9mm is going to even those odds. Best case scenario is that such an occurrence would happen at home, where one keeps a long gun…and some body armor.

        3. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          At home I’ve got 6 ro unds to get to the g un room, on the street I’ve got 6 ro unds to get to cover. Either place the rou nd count is probably not nearly as important as your proximity to cover. I certainly wouldn’t want to just stand there, take my 16 or 18 shots and load another mag azine being exposed the whole time to incoming fire.

          Personally I think the capacity advantage in the real world (of civilian self defense) is mostly theoretical and probably not likely to be any more of an advantage than the power advantage of a .357magnum.

  38. avatar Old Region Fan says:

    Several of those are just, well……………not true wheelguns are still awesome but we don’t need to add to awesome to make it seem more awesome.

  39. avatar pg2 says:

    Revolvers better for leftys.

    1. avatar Isaac says:

      Lol since when?

      1. avatar jwm says:

        1892. French service revolver. Cylinder swings out to the right. You’re welcome.

  40. avatar IdahoPete says:

    #13: Clearance drill for a dud round: Pull the trigger again. (Does not apply to a squib round where the bullet may be lodged in the barrel. Your critical judgement is required.)

  41. avatar Gene Parmesan says:

    12 Advantages a Semi-Auto Has Over a Revolver That You May Not Have Thought Of

    1. A revolver’s substantial gap between the cylinder and the barrel means that much more of your propulsive energy is lost versus a semi-auto, so you have to use a larger powder charge to move the same projectile to the same speed, which means more recoil to move the same projectile at the same speed

    2. The higher bore axis of the revolver vs. the semi-auto results in higher perceived recoil for the same amount of physical recoil. And you won’t have the same physical recoil, as explained above you will have higher physical recoil when comparing “apples to apples” the same projectile at the same velocity.

    3. The gap between the cylinder and the barrel, which spews ultra-hot gasses as you’re shooting, is exactly where you’d want to rest your off-hand to get the strongest possible grip on the revolver, similar to how people are trained to hold semi-autos. This limitation to your gripping of the gun will decrease your resistance to perceived recoil. So to recap: the gun is producing more physical recoil forces, at a higher angle that levers it more against your grip, while you are being forced to hold the gun with a worse grip. A trifecta of challenges to your ability to control the gun and make followup shots… before you even get to the trigger…

    4. You’re probably lying to yourself about how proficient you are with the relatively long and relatively heavy trigger pull of a double action revolver. Mastering that skill takes months of dry fire practice. You can train a complete novice to shoot pretty well with a given striker fire gun in a single range session.

    Any more? I thought that knocking the revolver for its much worse ammo capacity, much more reload time, heavier weight, and shorter sight radius were all too obvious to be worthy

  42. avatar borg says:

    The 13th advantage is that operating the revolver requires little strength when compared to many semi-autos.

  43. avatar miker says:

    Sometimes defense means animals. Revolver/auto is a tough call where it might be a grizzly and it might be a feral dog or wolf pack.

    Mag springs – revolvers can sit for years at ready. And 10-15 rounds is all you need to test ammo reliability.

  44. avatar Derringer Dave says:

    #13 When your state follows the current trend and passes a new law banning “high capacity” magazines (anything larger than 10 rounds) and refuses to “grandfather” existing magazines, if you own revolvers, you won’t have the expense of destroying, “surrendering” them to authorities, or throwing out your old magazines and buying all new magazines that comply with the 10-round limit.

    That’s exactly what just happened to us in the People’s Republic of New Jersey last month when Governor Murphy decided to lower the max magazine capacity from 15 rounds to 10 with no grandfather clause, only a 180-day “grace period” to “surrender” your magazines or face arrest (you can’t legally use them during the 180-day “grace period” even if someone breaks into your house and tries to kill you). This New Jersey law is so poorly written that it appears that the only sure way to avoid arrest is to “surrender” your magazines to the chief of police or destroy them with a sledgehammer.

    You could try to sell your 15-round mags out of state during the “grace period” (if your state’s new law allows you to sell them out of state — it’s unclear whether NJ law allows that), but nobody wants to buy USED magazines. I’ve had a hard enough time selling my brand-new, never-opened, still-in-the-box 15-round magazines on Gunbroker before the ban (I saw it coming as soon as Governor Murphy won the 2017 election). Trying to sell USED magazines is like trying to sell used underwear — nobody wants them!

  45. I have owned and shot both revolvers and pistols for over twenty plus years. Revolvers were always my choice. Now, however since they have come so far a pistol has to be my choice. One they are MUCH easier to maintain. Cleaning and field stripping of the newer ones is a breeze compared to the drudgery of a revolver. Also, recoil ( unless you are shooting a small caliber revolver) is much less due to the slide movement absorbing the recoil. Shorter barreled revolvers (J-frames) are much more limited on distance. Granted 21 feet is suppose to be the max. for PP but who knows. Accuracy, well I have seen some folks able to drill a dime at 25 yards with a 1 7/8 revolver and others not able to hit anything with a 3 1/2 barreled pistol or revolver. Give that to you. It’s your choice, oh the slide action putting a bullet in the chamber may deter you from a pistol. It is easier to just drop a bullet into the cylinder on a revolver. To each his own. Try them both THEN make up your mind.

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