[ED: RF’s take on why wheel guns still make very viable concealed carry guns from the archives.]
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 re-loadability 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 revolvers make very good sense for concealed carry and self-defense.
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. Beginners and non-enthusiast shooters? Not so much.
A revolver couldn’t be easier for novice gun owners. Open the gate, insert cartridges (bullets face forward), 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., the holes).
While a revolver surrenders capacity to a semi (and how), and some say the definition of an optimist is a revolver owner who thinks he can reload in a gunfight, the wheelgun is the most user-friendly concealed carry firearm money can buy. For millions of Americans who can’t or won’t be bothered to master a semi-automatic, a 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 revolver. The most likely part of a semi likely to fail? The ammunition magazine. How many mags does a wheelgun have? None.
Yes, 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 for some reason, you just pull the trigger again.
Compact Stopping Power
Some gun guys reject the idea of “stopping power.” Shot placement is everything. 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 (they make a bigger hole).
If you have a concealed carry permit and 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 ACP semi carry guns, but you can’t buy a .357 magnum semi-automatic “mouse gun” for personal defense pocket carry. And as far as shot placement/accuracy goes, it’s a lot easier to dry fire a revolver than a semi-automatic pistol. Practice really does make a difference and that’s the best way to improve your shooting.