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Is the modern revolver still a viable choice for self defense? I don’t have any statistical data, but Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Kimber, Colt and the rest don’t seem to be hurting for wheelgun business. Interest in carrying revolvers is greater than I have seen in a long time. The question: is it still a good idea?

Revolvers get a bad rap by many a gun guru. The problem is, a lot of their arguments have valid points.

The revolver’s long double action trigger requires skill to master. Wheelguns are lower capacity firearms. Reloading is crucial — and very challenging to master. When your life may depend on hitting your assailants, these are no small matters.

You will notice ‘assailants’ is plural. One of the main drawbacks I see to carrying a revolver every day is, it’s a one-man gun.

Many armed Americans carry a revolver and hope for the best. They hope the mere presentation of a firearm will deter an attack. Or that perforating one bad guy will make the rest scatter. And it just might.

I’m more inclined to prepare for the worst, though. In my mind, any lethal confrontation is a worst-case scenario. Add multiple attackers and a revolver carrier may truly be in a bad way.

Rock Island Armory AL9.0 9mm Revolver
Dan Thurs for TTAG

Some people only carry a revolver as a backup weapon to their primary semi-automatic firearm. While I have done so more times than I can count, I’m not comfortable carrying a different platform from my primary gun. Not only is the platform different, the guns fire different ammunition (usually 9mm and .38 Special).

As training resources are limited (and ammunition is scarce and expensive), I have a hard time justifying spending time practicing with something I may use.

What I'm Carrying Now revolvers
Courtesy SLD

The time you have to put into shooting smaller, more recoil-sensitive “back-up” revolvers isn’t the issue. With lighter, less recoiling training rounds you can increase the round count to gain the expertise you need. It’s the time needed to master revolver reloads, along with the challenges of carrying these reloads that present the greatest challenge.

Proficiency volume is relative, but (while maintaining strict standards) the higher the volume, the higher the proficiency level. Getting more time on the longer double action triggers should be a top priority — balanced with the ability to reload under a variety of conditions.

Whatever your preference for carrying revolver reloads — loose rounds, speed loaders or speed strips — practice is the key. Marksmanship requires lots of live fire training. Use that time to practice your reloads.

When it comes to marksmanship I remind folks that it’s the Indian, not the arrow. Even short-barreled revolvers with low profile sights are still plenty accurate, especially for personal defense use.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll never have to shoot your snubby at longer distances, though. But be proportionate in your training. If you think there’s an 80 percent chance of using your revolver at close ranges (inside five yards) then use 20 percent of your range time shooting at longer distances.

Well, maybe not that long. You don’t have to develop Miculek-style revolver shooting skills. You just need to be proficient. Another way of looking at that is, you want to suck less than the bad guy.

Modern day revolvers really haven’t gone anywhere. There are millions of them out there and plenty of people who are still buying them. Lots of gun owners prefer them for home defense and EDC use and more people are recognizing they’re not just a backup option. Just remember making that choice means you’ll need more time practicing and training.

 

Jeff Gonzales is a former US. Navy SEAL and preeminent weapons and tactics instructor. He brings his Naval Special Warfare mindset, operational success and lessons learned to the world at large. He is the president of Trident Concepts in Austin, Texas. 

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93 COMMENTS

  1. Nice thing about a revolver is reliability and simplicity, OH, and you don’t leave shell casing at the scene, you know, if you spend a weekend in Chicago.

    • >>>”…and you don’t leave shell casing at the scene…”

      This right here, 100%. Extra bonus points if the revolver used delivers rounds from a rimless cartridge (9mm, 10mm, .45). Anything extra to throw Scooby & the gang off one’s trail…

    • Revolvers have different failure modes than semi-autos, but they do have them.

      If you open up a revolver’s side plate, you’ll see the “simplicity” thing isn’t really so. There are still a lot of moving, sliding and rotating parts in a revolver, and they all have to work together in order to have a successful “go-bang” moment.

      Likewise user hazards. Revolvers have that little gap at the end of the cylinder but before the barrel, for instance, alongside which you do not want to have soft bits like, oh, fingertips, when you pull the trigger.

      I don’t think revolvers are better or worse than semi-autos; I think they have a different set of tradeoffs, is all. You’ll lean towards one or the other depending on your preferences and needs. Neither is ideal; neither is terrible in the abstract; both have really horrible specific models out there; and both are worlds better than derringers … in most situations, that is. 🙂

      • ‘If you open up a revolver’s side plate…’

        What’s a side plate?
        Sincerely, Ruger Fanboy

  2. If you’re a limp wristed fancy man then an NAA mini revolver on a lanyard around your neck will be what passes for adequate self defense. I guess the goal is to neutralize your theoretical assailant by having them double over in mock filled laughter…

      • He wouldn’t stop harping constantly about vaccine conspiracies. Dan Z finally had to tell him to knock it off….

        • Wait, I remember that person, every thread was about children getting vaccine and autism.

        • His name was pg2.

          Personally, I always found Vlad more obnoxious but that’s just MHO.

        • His name was p…g…2. But without the ellipses.

          Personally, I always found Vlad more obnoxious but that’s just MHO.

          Interesting that saying his name, the v a x guy’s name that is, is still something that will get you modded. Dat ban.

        • Vlad was more annoying, no doubt. But some others and Miner (as well as miners emoji alter ego) are tame compared to this guy. It’s borderline stalking and it’s super creepy, not to mention, immature. We all have it out with some of the others, but this guy needs to take the one guy one glass jar challenge.

    • The “mock filled laughter” is what everyone does behind your virgin back… 😉

    • My opinion of always carrying a 1911 has changed with age. Late 60’s it’s strictly a revolver or two.

      Arthritis and multiple surgeries it’s situational awareness, tactics and deliberate shooting.

      As for the double action trigger pull I mastered it years ago. I find the 10-12 pound pull and the simplicity of the revolver comfortably reassuring. With age it’s KISS.

      Realistic article by Mr Gonzales.

  3. In a close grappling situation, you can press a revolver into the assailant and still reliably fire. The slide on many semi-auto pistols will catch on skin or clothing and fail to reseat in the same situation.

    • I’ve heard that pressing a revolver into an assailant will work fine for the first shot, but there is a chance that gory bits might gum up your revolver making it difficult for the revolver to function properly. I have no idea if there is any real world basis for that assertion, but I could see that happening.

      • There’s always a chance, but press the slide back on a semi auto and it fails 100% of the time because it’s out of battery.

      • Possible, given that the round is powerful enough. Say, a .44 Mag with HP ammo may just blow your assailant in half, causing a possibility you won’t be able to shoot him again, due to da goo. But even a hot loaded 10 mm will fail to fire if jammed into a bad guy, the FIRST time, but after he has killed you it will come back into battery so he can use it to kill you again. Aren’t we getting a bit silly, here? Semis are useful if your plan is to spray BBs all over the neighborhood in the hope that enough of them will impact the bad guy to convince him to leave you alone. Revolvers are helpful for those who plan to shoot an opponent only once, say with a 125 g .357 Magnum, leaving the ability to deal with 5 of his buddies. My 30-40 years carrying a Python I never carried a reload, also never needed one. Now too old for such fun, I carry a semi and a spare mag.

    • I once took a course that had us place our thumb on the rear of the slide or use our support hand to press the slide against one of those 3D targets.

      It was pretty cool. Just remember to manipulate the slide after that shot for the follow ups.

    • This is one of those things that gets a lot of attention but I doubt it matters often.

      IMHO, the argument isn’t revolver vs. semiauto. It’s how to avoid being at that distance against a violent aggressor in the first place.

      Can you get a round off with a revolver more easily at contact distance? Yes, obviously since there’s no slide to be pushed out of battery.

      How often does it matter? How often are you going to be able to get the gun out and on target at that distance? I doubt the answer is “often” as a percentage of those close encounters. Even Mr. Miculek will find that being in the middle of a fisticuffs match hampers his draw. Drop a hand and… well, take an intro boxing class to find out.

      I’m not trying to be offensive here but the majority of people who carry a revolver are already in the position that if it’s bad breath distance they’re already at a significant disadvantage. Part of that is that the law makes this a real PITA in some cases for the elderly and infirm when they’re out in public. (Which is not to say that ALL wheel gun carriers are old or infirm, but it’s a healthy percentage and… really this applies to ALL people who carry regardless of what they carry.)

      Even if the threat is correctly identified at the range at which one would need to start working on producing the gun it’s unlikely one could produce the gun without taking other actions to make space. Which is just the nature of things if one doesn’t have a legal shield like… a badge. But the real issue is that most older people these days just aren’t in the kind of shape to do that (and often haven’t been for a long time).

      Then there’s the secondary issue that you dropped at least one hand out of the fight to get your gun out. At contact distance it’s a coinflip that you traded a GSW for a stab wound in which case you lost because one of these things if fatal far more often than the other and you’re not on the winning side of that equation. And if your gun gets BG-goop in it that jams the cylinder you probably traded one, statistically less lethal/incapacitating GSW, for multiple stab wounds which are, statistically, more like to kill and rapidly incapacitate.

  4. As someone who for nearly 30 years has carried a Centennial style revolver both in steel as well as aluminum frames as a back up weapon in a caliber different from my primary semiautomatic pistol this is by no means difficult or a hindrance. In the age of double action pistols (hammer & striker) the double action pull of a small back up revolver is not hard to transition to or master.

    The concealability, reliability, readiness for use as well as the ability to retain during a struggle give the snub revolver many advantages the small semiautomatics lack. It is important to have a reload for the back up and the skill to make it happen but, if you’re making speed reloads under duress with the back up you are already treading water at the deep end of the pool.

    The matching caliber question is of little merit for most people in either a self defense or law enforcement situation unless you’re deploying overseas. If that’s the case your primary weapon will be a long gun in a rifle/carbine caliber, your sidearm in 9mm and then perhaps a back up pistol also in 9mm.

    Mr. Gonzales is correct about knowing your limitations with the revolver especially the snub variety and mastering their qualities.

    • The author, while obviously qualified, is also making a mistake when he compares a revolver to semi auto with the “one man gun” comment. 90% of the gun buying public are not comparing a revolver to a glock 17 for concealed carry, they are looking at similarly compromised semi autos, cheap, small, thin, low capacity and often underpowered firearms. I would much rather have the advantages of a revolver given the real world comparisons of what people actually buy and carry.

  5. I carry a snubby .38 because after 20 years of trying other options, it is the only thing I will carry 95% of the time. Besides, revolvers are second nature to me.

  6. This again, eh? I’ll bite.

    First, Mr. Gonzales makes some excellent points, and no doubt speaks from magnitudes more experience than I. I only question his top-level approach to the topic of what handgun to carry.

    Every aspect of preparedness is risk mitigation. The magnitude of risk is a combination of probability and consequences. The greater each of those, the greater the overall risk. A minor injury or fire in the house is a significant risk (in terms of probability/frequency and/or consequences), so I keep a FAK and fire extinguisher handy.

    In order of appearance in the article, paraphrasing the references in the article:
    1. Revolvers are one-man-guns: It’s one less man I have to deal with, and his buddies are duly informed that they have encountered a non-compliant target. In your daily life, given your awareness of crime rates and details of how those crimes overwhelmingly occur, 5-6rds may sufficiently address your risk of interacting with a criminal.

    2. Many Americans carry a revolver and hope for the best: No, we carry (insert ANY gun, flashlight, knife/multitool) to mitigate a risk. There is no hope involved, there are only calculated measures to address a specific risk.

    3. They hope the mere presentation of a gun will deter a criminal: Strawman. However, in many instances, presentation/yelling/aggressiveness without firing a shot actually works. I don’t count on it, but a free bonus feature with zero additional effort is a win.

    4. I’m more inclined to prepare for the worst (citing carrying a larger/higher cap gun): But you don’t…you don’t carry an M240 and bring along a squad of buddies everywhere you go. Preparing for “the worst” is an ambiguous term that could just as easily fall into an argument against whatever handgun Mr. Gonzales carries. Mr. Gonzales takes specific measures (carries a handgun of XX capacity and in XX caliber) to mitigate specific risks (multiple bad guys, barriers, visiting specific areas of the Austin area, whatever it is). If you calculate that you need more than a revolver to address that combo of probability/consequences (risk!)…then do it! It’s a (mostly) free country, take personal responsibility by the reins!

    5. Carrying different platforms: Different training is a valid point, speaking to each platform independently. However, the risk of crossing streams among platforms for carry is overblown. Ex: Assuming your primary carry gun is down (empty, no reloads, blew up) and you move to a backup revolver, you’re already in a stressful situation and that few extra pounds of trigger pull isn’t a factor. Train mostly with your primary, train when you can with your backup, and you have devoted the appropriate amount of resources to each of your risk mitigation efforts.

    6. I have a hard time justifying spending time practicing with something I MAY use: That’s applicable to every aspect of self-defense, whether a gun, a knife, martial arts, all of it. Still, we’re mitigating a risk and if a box of ammo fired in training every couple months maintains some minimum level of familiarity, then you may find that sufficient for the risks you expect in your daily life.

    7. Capacity, reloads, DA trigger–all valid drawbacks, of course. However, these are features inherent in revolver design, not necessarily a reason to disregard them as the best measure by which you mitigate risk in your daily life.

    Overall: The theme of the article focused on the platform, revolvers vs. all other options, and all the benefits and drawbacks thereof. When we frame it as risk mitigation, context is everything. I carry a .22WMR revolver when mowing the lawn because my greatest risk is finding a snake. I carry a G20 when hiking because the greatest risk is a combo of mountain lions, bears (highly unlikely they’ll attack), and other humans; 10mm can handle any of them. I carry a Ruger LCR (.327 Fed Mag) when running errands in town, because I live in a small town and gangs/criminals nearly don’t exist; any self defense scenario in town is nearly guaranteed to be a one-on-one with an out-of-towner. If I lived in an apartment in Phoenix, I would be carrying a 10+ capacity 9mm everywhere I went, and likely much higher capacity depending on where I was going that day.

    TTAG has published risk mitigation articles before, I think with Leghorn as the author.

    • Regarding #5, are you saying that the situation was not stressful BEFORE your primary arm went down and you were forced to go to your backup revolver, in the midst of combat with multiple trained opponents? I really have to wonder how many times in human history such a situation has ever occurred to a non-military, non-LE individual going to the store for some Coke. Or mowing the lawn. Can we try not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good? Carry something which will fire ONE SHOT, to begin, and don’t let advice that if you are not carrying enough ammo to kill a regiment you may as well not bother, affect your decision at all.

      • No, that was not my intent. I think we agree on your point. I was merely addressing the point Mr. Gonzales made, in the context of this article.

        Expanding: IF you found yourself in a situation where your primary gun didn’t do the job (empty, hard fail, whatever) and you then also used a backup, some difference in the action type or manual of arms is a tertiary concern.

        On that note, I absolutely agree with you—I’m still waiting for evidence of a single civilian DGU that involved this happening. Not drawing and using a backup gun first, not a cop drawing an ankle gun because their duty gun on their belt wasn’t an option…no, a civilian expending everything in their primary gun (or experiencing a failure in which drawing a backup was a better option than addressing the failure) and drawing/firing a backup. If it exists, great—it’s one anecdotal data point that still doesn’t convince me the cost of carry (weight, inconvenience, comfort) is worth it.

        When I say “it”, I revert back to mitigating a risk…a risk of a situation that is statistically non-existent. IOT for this situation to occur, you must first be in a DGU (extremely unlikely, particularly with good situational awareness and planning/decision-making, but that’s up to each individual and how they live their life), and THEN empty your first gun (within a DGU, also relatively unlikely; reference numerous studies of shots fired in a DGU), and THEN successfully draw/fire your backup gun (within this scenario, probably unlikely). So it would require 3x sequential events to occur, all individually unlikely.

        I carry one gun to mitigate a risk. Under most circumstances in my daily life, I’ll accept the risk that one gun isn’t enough.

        Under other circumstances, such as knowing I’ll be driving through a bigger city, traveling after dark, or need to fuel up in an unfamiliar area of any town, I bulk up my preparation with gun and non-gun means.

    • I would generally agree but I would point out that in reference to #2 and #3, which are different flavors of the same thing, your mindset is not shared by everyone.

      There are a great many people who do have the mindset that the author mentions in the article. In fact, several years ago, there were quite a few of them present on this very forum with the “Eh, whatever I’ll just shoot them” attitude who very clearly had not given much thought to how to make that desired action actually happen. They were carrying a gun as if it was a magic talisman that either warded off evil or gave the carrier some sort of magical power to overcome his/her adversaries.

      The hallmark of this is encapsulated in the “Old guys will just shoot you” attitude that some people have. They’re not wrong about the attitude but attitude doesn’t carry the day when your planning and tactics are essentially non-existent, which is unfortunately more common than we’d often like to admit.

      I’ve personally been involved in two knife fights in civilian life. In both cases I had both a gun and knife on me. In neither case was getting one of them into the fight an option. I might as well not have had them because the situation simply didn’t allow me to access them. It was open hand vs. a guy with a knife in both cases because the distance to the aggressor at the time they “dropped the pretense” was ~2 yards and they came at me hard. Training in hand to hand and some assistance from Lady Luck kept me alive. Less the training, and not with a gun because I might as well not have had a gun in either case, I’d probably be dead.

      • I’ll concede “hope and a prayer” (haha) in #2 does occur with some folks. As unfortunate as that may be. I’ll never scoff at someone’s choice of carry gear (or lack thereof) as long as they can communicate a solid line of reasoning on how they arrived at their EDC setup. If their thought process ends at a shoulder shrug, then I wish them the best.

        For #3, I’m only stating that any situation in which I’m legally authorized and actually draw a gun with the intent to fire, but then don’t have to (display of the gun works), or shoot, miss (dammit), but the gunshot (blast, noise) has the desired effect of ending that situation, then it’s a win. I absolutely do not bank on that unexpected win occurring. I won’t draw unless the situation forces me to use deadly force; brandishing, and grossly misinterpreted video reels of DGU encounters thrust into the court of public opinion, without context, are a real threat to my wellbeing and the wellbeing of my family. If I draw, I’m doing so with the expectation and mindset that the situation will most likely end with firing the gun, because the situation leading up to me drawing all pointed toward that end. If I draw and walk away unharmed with a full cylinder of loaded cartridges, something wonderful happened.

        The Biden “blast a couple shots in the air” defense is not

      • Anner:

        You’ve clearly thought through it. Sadly many people haven’t and that’s really the “target audience” for a piece like this. Especially these days with so many new gun owners who are probably rather overwhelmed by the whole situation.

        I can’t imagine being brand new to guns right now and living in a state like, say… IL, where the normal permitting process is a PITA and now it’s even worse. Plus an ammo shortage? Plus the rest of the stress that caused them to buy the gun in the first place at this point? Jesus, it’s a nightmare to be a noob right now and things slip through the cracks in those situations, like the details of legal niceties perhaps, or the details on how to deploy the gun (safely, legally and effectively) to get that desired effect.

    • There actually is a “best” firearm for every situation in which you find yourself needing one…

      it’s the firearm you have.

  7. Is a J-frame sized gun an expert’s weapon? Yes. I will say on the flip side of that they are set up way better than they were in the past too which makes them way easier to shoot. Lighter trigger pull and they don’t put those target stocks on them that are almost impossible to hold on to. After I did these upgrades on my Model 38 it’s a way better gun than it was before.

    That said as mentioned the close range thing is a big advantage in my mind. Look at Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin. Both of them were shot and killed but there were technical issues with semi autos at that point. The SIG having second shot capability possibly saved the officer’s life and Zimmerman was lucky his one shot was enough. It may not be a common thing but it certainly has happened. You can also shoot from a pocket if need be and get multiple shots.

    In terms of this debate, I think it’s interesting but framed wrong. A J-frame is as small as you’d practically go for a revolver and if you look at the smallest 9mm or 380 pistols they don’t necessarily hold a ton of rounds either. Now then if you wanted to talk a K frame vs a G19, or even a Hellcat or P365 I could see that being another thing on the capacity front.

    I will say one big disadvantage in my mind for a revolver is carrying ammo to reload with. Speedloaders are bulky and speed strips slower although they do have the advantage of being able to do a tactical reload of a partially emptied gun.

  8. ‘Do Revolvers Still Make Sense for Self-Defense?’

    Of course they still make sense, assuming you have nothing better.

  9. Yes, if you carry a revolver, you might — MIGHT — have to know how to use it. Holy cow! Alert the media!

    And woe betide the revolver guy who is surrounded by hundreds of bad guys, which happens all the time.

    BTW, I’m beginning to understand this new TTAG format. And I still hate it.

  10. I know a couple of guys who have been police officers for 30+ years. Most days they carry a lightweight semi automatic, but when they have to attend a raid or wear a uniform, they take an old S&W 686 .357 instead.

  11. “The revolver’s long double action trigger requires skill to master. ” I call BS on this, a tired and piss poor excuse of an argument.

    The trigger doesn’t require any special training, no more than getting accustomed to ANY styled action on ANY firearm. I prefer SA/DA, it is what I learned to shoot handguns with and I like the options it provides. If I am handed a Glock or other striker fired handgun it will take me some time to get accustomed to the way it handles and functions because I don’t use them and don’t train with them, I certainly don’t own one.

    Anything that is different and uses another system than we are familiar with will require a learning curve. As much as I crap on Glocks and firmly believe that steel and wood hammer-fired pistols are the right way to go 😉 i understand there is no “one size fits all”; I can appreciate other forms and functions along with individual preference and ability.

    • ““The revolver’s long double action trigger requires skill to master. ” I call BS on this, a tired and piss poor excuse of an argument.”

      Then you would be wrong.

      • I fired many thousands of rounds from a variety of Pythons, I’d guess 90% were single action, that is what I practiced consistently and I could hit you every time one-handed and offhand at 100+ yards, with the first shot, which you would not survive. But when the gun came down after recoil it would be cocked again when it came on target. Tell me again how the double action trigger pull was important to me, or how superior your 20-shot capacity bean shooter is. There is no single answer.

        • Exactly. And this doesn’t even mention all those guys out there who could pop a pack of cigarettes at 100 yards with a Super Blackhawk or a S&W Model 29. And we’re all being told to pack an underpowered item by people who practice hosing man sized targets at 15 feet.

        • The double-action pull is important when the target is at 7 yards or less instead of 100+. Of course, accuracy isn’t nearly as important when the target is that close and closing.

      • Larry, are you trying to imply that a .357 from a 2” barrel has a significantly greater probability of stopping an opponent with a single shot than a 9mm would? Because if so, that’s incorrect. I love .357, but it’s performance out of a 2” barrel is only marginally better than a .38 out of the same barrel

        • On a bullet by bullet comparison, 357 in a short barrel, often has 10-20% more muzzle velocity. I could not hit a thing on the second shot out of a 357 snubbie, but for one shot it is often a lot more powerful.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD2t_qG9dls

          5:40 or so has the velocity comparison data

    • I can walk into the local store and buy a S&W 642.
      I’m not allowed to buy a SIG P365(retail), because CA.

  12. a small 9mm is much more shootable than a j-frame, having said that a four inch K-frame .38/.357 will probably get you through 95% of shootings if you do your job.

  13. The Taurus 692 in 9mm configuration holds 7 and uses moon clips. I find the moon clips a pretty quick reload. I do not think that the Taurus is at a significant disadvantage vs a M&P Shield or similar compact semi.

  14. “You want to suck less then the bad guy” , I like that.
    I dont think a person looks as cool shooting sideways with a revolver.
    My president told me all I need is a shotgun, and if anyone knows what I need it should be the president. After all he is a world leader.

  15. How many times is the same asinine “article” going to be written?

    Yes, a revolver is an excellent self-defense weapon. Many of us can reload a revolver as fast as a semi-auto.

    That’s not the point though is it? The “author” has nothing new to talk about so we get the one millionth revolver post.

    Go away now.

  16. There is a very simple solution to the limited capacity of both revolvers and small semi-auto pistols: carry a second handgun — a.k.a. the “New York reload”. While a single snubby with five rounds is obviously a bit lacking in a multi-attacker scenario, two snubbies with five rounds each makes things a lot more exciting in that same multi-attacker scenario. Furthermore, on the off chance that your multiple attackers are attempting to surround you AND you managed to draw a snubby in both hands, you can simultaneously shoot in multiple directions.

    And no, I am not kidding in my above comment. Carrying two snubbies or small semi-autos is the fastest possible reload AND they allow you to shoot in two different directions simultaneously AND you have a spare handgun if one of them fails. What’s not to like?

  17. Can anyone ID the first and last Smiths in this article? I’m guessing a 586 for the first. Maybe 629 for the 2nd? If they are Smiths. I couldn’t see the circle on the side plate.

  18. One point of carrying a revolver is that they wear out, I carried a S&W 586 for about 10 years at a round count of about 9000 it had to be shipped back to S&W and rebuilt. To my surprise, they rebuilt it and re-blued at no charge. I shot an average of 100 rounds every month (twice a month range time).. I then went to a a Glock, when they first came out. Yes, I am that old.

    I must say, that S&W 586 never had any issue, It never failed to fire, ever. Great gun.

  19. Good grief

    How many videos on GoogleTube show cops pumping 6, 7, 8 or more rounds of 9mm squish into a perp? There was one on TTAG the other day, and the guy soaked up TWELVE (12; 10+2) 9mm squish within 5 yards before he hit the pavement. So much for capacity. So much for “modern bullet technology.”

    I don’t care what firearm you carry or who you are. If you are alone and are attacked by 3+ determined guys with firearms, you’re done. Finished. That’s why cops storm crack houses en masse, even with their 9mm 17 shot capacity Glocks and 30 round ARs.

    5 or 6 rounds are plenty for 99+% of civilian self-defense encounters. 99% of those encounters, you don’t even need to pull the trigger. If you need more, you need to re-evaluate where you live / who you associate with.

  20. I’m personally of the opinion that what matters more is what happens leading up to you drawing rather than specifically what you draw.

    If you walked into the wrong situation because you were not paying attention or were unlucky then pulling out a M109 isn’t going to help you. Luck you can’t really do much about, paying attention you can do something about.

    I also personally believe that treating yourself sort of like a mobile castel with concentric circles of defense based on various distances is a better option than having one ring at a singular range. But hey, you do you.

  21. I love one revolver. The one.

    Model 327.
    Or 329PD – because a couple extra inches never hurt (that’s what she said)

    Oh, fine, I like revolvers. I just don’t carry them. I’m 36 and have no problem with them, but I personally prefer more ammo and a more modern setup. My first handgun was only 10 years ago after leaving the military, so I honestly don’t have much experience with them (compared to some here, and some I frequently shoot with). We won’t talk about the ones I carried before the military, which were never fired but brandished many times (I am not proud of the things I did back then, leave it at that). But, thankfully, never fired. Hell, the first gun I shot outside a .22 or a shotgun as a youngster was in the military, and they were a Beretta M9 and an M4 (along with some others that don’t really play well in this kind of topic – more… crowd control). So maybe one day I will have the funds for such an adventure but I just refuse to settle for anything less than the 327. Principles.

    I don’t care what you carry. Just carry. Ok, maybe I care a little. Is that a hi-point?

  22. I am quite happy with my Ruger LCR .357. The recoil is stiff but if its ever needed it will more than suffice. I’ve been carrying it for ten years and so far have only fired it at the range.
    I prefer revolvers for their simplicity of operation and safety. While I own several automatics, I am not comfortable with a compressed firing pin spring behind a live round. I’ve had a couple fire when racking the slide and it is at best embarrassing. Yes, it means something is wrong. That knowledge does not unshoot the bullet. So when I carried an auto it was always with a clear chamber. Safe, but need to rack the slide to use it. Revolvers dont have that problem.

    • Chum,

      Yes, it means something is wrong. That knowledge does not unshoot the bullet.

      Ha ha. That there was funny.

      To be fair (with respect to your argument), your claim is the first time that I have heard of a semi-auto handgun with defect which made it go bang without you pulling the trigger. That should be next to impossible with modern semi-auto handguns which typically block the firing pin until you depress the trigger. While it is possible that a semi-auto handgun could have two simultaneous defects (one defect which prevents the firing pin block from blocking the firing pin and a defective sear which releases the striker without pulling the trigger), that is extremely unlikely.

  23. I carry a revolver when I go camping/hiking, because revolvers are more versatile when it comes to ammo (lack of) sensitivity. A revolver (mine, anyway) doesn’t care if it’s snake shot or Buffalo Bore hardcast. I also usually have a snubbie as a truck gun. It’s great for close quarters.

    I like semi-autos plenty, and usually carry my PX4 in .40. But I don’t feel “undergunned” with a revolver in most cases.

    And in case of multiple attackers, well, that’s why you put Claymores in your cargo pockets. (Remember, “Front Towards Enemy”).

    • +1 for the Px4 in .40…that is my primary carry gun, compact model. Always fund to shoot at the range and has been a champ in reliability.

  24. They have their shortcomings, but they are simple and they work.

    I should also mention that if you ever live in a foreign country, or currently do, it is A LOT easier to legally obtain a revolver than a semi-auto.

    You can even get a revolver in the notoriously anti-gun UK if it is at least 50cm long. One Englishman on Youtube had a Taurus 66 with a welded shoulder stock and a carbine length barrel.

    Also, if you enlarge the primer hole with a 3/32″ drill bit, you can load primer only with some wax bullets. Primers are about 3 cents apiece, and wax bullets are the cost of a melted candle on an old cookie sheet (or 2 cents apiece ready-made in bags of 5000, if you don’t have time for that, like me). You can practice with those in your garage using a plywood or carpet backstop.

    Capacity is low, but speedloaders are about 10 dollars apiece, and it is not that hard to carry 2, 3, or even 4 of them. Practice, practice, practice, and speedloaders will become an automatic reflex.

    It is also not that hard to carry 2 revolvers for the classic “New York reload.” Just make sure they take the same speedloaders and caliber.

    If you do not want to look at the revolver while reloading it, do the following, using the classic reload:

    Holding the revolver in your left hand, placing your thumb on one of the flutes.

    Holding the speedloader in your right hand, place your index finger between two of the cartridges on the speedloader.

    While loading, try to touch your left thumb with your right index finger. This will allow you to automatically line up the cartridges with the chambers without looking. As I said before, practice practice practice.

    • I should also mention that you should make sure the revolver grips do not interfere with the speedloader.

      I have a Smith and Wesson 642 where the factory rubber boot grips interfered with the number 10 speedloader I was trying to use.

      I took the grip off the gun, cut away a portion of it with a boxcutter, smoothed the place with some sandpaper to de-Bubba it, and now speedloaders fit behind the cylinder of the revolver just fine.

      one final note: I still prefer a semiauto, but every gun owner should familiarize him/herself with every type of platform, because whatcha got is whatcha got, and you never know what you might have to use in an emergency (The gun within arm’s length is the one that counts, because if it ain’t within arm’s length, you ain’t got it. A guy on the Joe Rogan podcast was charged by a Kodiak bear, and his gun was sitting just a few feet away from his chair. The bear was later shot in self defense by a different hunter, who had his gun on his person. A survivor of the Golden State Killer, whose girlfriend was raped and murdered in front of his eyes, had a pistol under his mattress.)

  25. I love my revolvers.

    My “woods” gun is a 6″ 686+ .357

    My jogging gun is a LCR in .38 special.
    at some point when finances allow I’ll probably pick up a snubnose S&W. as a new jogging gun. Not that there’s anything wrong the Ruger. But, I’d love a nice airweight.

  26. I love revolvers. I compete in ICORE. I frequently carry a 6-shot LCR in .327 Federal Magnum (usually with .32 H&R) with a Hogue Bantam Boot grip and a trigger guard in my pocket.

    As far as reloading – I can reload a revolver in under 4 seconds but the reality of a reload in a self-defense scenario is unlikely.

    • A lot of things are unlikely…

      Like needing more than 6 shots to stop a threat or needing to get to it quicker than you can get out of a pocket holster…

      but they happen. I’ll take a speed reload from AIWB in under 3 seconds with 15 rounds instead.

      • You do you. I’ll frequently carry an APX AIWB or a full sizer on my hip under my suit. But a little snubbie is great if I’m hopping out for a few minutes to the store and don’t feel like I need to get prepared to breach houses in Fallujah.

  27. The semi-auto crowd has really messed it up for new gun owners. A revolver is the best thing for a new gun owner. Who was probably not going to take more than one gun class. Who is probably not going to spend much time at a gun range. Semi-autos require far more training than a revolver does.

    In most DGUs only a single shot is fired. Two at the most. A gang of five will scatter and run away never to return. When the first shot is fired. They will leave their wounded and dying comrade on the ground.

  28. These never ending, forever repeating articles are just noise. Like when a gun writer is out of ideas and needs to meet a deadline.

    A Charter Arms Off-Duty, 5 shot .38 snubby, is one of my self defense guns. That’s “one of”, not the only one. Not my first choice anymore but I like it, well practiced with it and I continue to keep it handy.

    Besides, it’s old, like me, and we get along well.

  29. This again. Well the correct answer is no, never use a revolver for defense. There’s no good justifiable reason. All manufacture of concealable revolvers should stop, be deemed unethical and a dangerous temptation. Meanwhile, I’ll still carry mine (with the pink grips), and not as backup. They go bang when the others won’t. Sort of like what they say about motorscooters (and some other things). They’re fun, simple, easy and serve most all intents and purposes as a motorcycle. You just don’t want to be seen with one.

  30. Years ago, there was a valid reason to prefer a revolver versus a pistol. Thought was that springs would go bad if a mag was left loaded too long. Quality of mags have greatly improved, but should still rotate mags bi-monthly. Soo – minimum of (3) mags, with (2) loaded and (1) resting AFTER checking if mags all work properly. Or load mags to 75% of full. and “top off” when leaving the home. As to why revolvers are still valid, try racking a slide with minimal hand strength. A 1911 that one shoots/carries in their 50’s becomes a safe queen when you are in your 70’s. Only issue with the “J” frame is that the 3″ model 60 is a much better balance of weight versus recoil than a model like the 2″ 638. P.S. – “house gun” is a Henry “X” model in .357, and beats any handgun for seniors.

    • Grumpy 49,

      Disclaimer: I am trying to be helpful and not trying to be a jerk …

      With proper technique almost any adult (and most children age 9 and up) can rack the slide on semi-auto handguns which have reasonable recoil springs in them. I have taught tiny/frail women to easily rack the slide of a handgun when they were previously unable.

      If you lack the strength to rack the slide using proper technique, you probably cannot keep a revolver on target while you pull its double-action trigger — not to mention the fact that you would also probably be unable to control the recoil. If you are at that point, then your only reasonable self-defense firearm platform for the home would probably be something like a semi-auto rifle in .22 LR or maybe a semi-auto carbine chambered in 9mm Luger (yes, a carbine chambered in a handgun caliber). Note that both of those options, while not ideal, are still fairly formidable self-defense platforms in the home.

    • In general (YMMV), Semi autos are somewhat more forgiving of abuse, revolvers are somewhat more forgiving of neglect.

      Personally, I like both but prefer revolvers for general use. I’m a little recoil sensitive, so I usually stick to .38 (although I haven’t actually seen any .38 or .357 in the wild for almost a year now).

      Others may disagree, and that’s cool. I support their right to keep & bear whatever they want.

  31. First of all, I know a lot of people (esp women) are naturally better at shooting revolvers due to the grip angle. So, it may or may not take longer to achieve proficiency.

    Second of all, a lot of people are carrying these compact semi-autos that only hold 7 or 8 shots, not a full size pistolo. Heck a 1911 might hold 9. I carry a SW 686+ that holds 7. If I am walking around Florida in shorts, would I rather have a subcompact pistol that holds 7 or 8, or a SW686? I think its a push. Of course, my full size CZ 75 holds 20, but it will also print like an mfer.

    But if a few bullets in the mag makes a difference then that brings me to…

    Third, when I am worried about multiple assailants and want to be prepared, I carry a rifle, or a rifle caliber pistol. Geez, what if I face multiple assailants with machine guns too? I cant carry a Chuck Norris, nor even a submachine gun.

    My feeling (backed up by statistics and science) is that #1 rule, is avoid stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things (say, 24th street in Bodymore), and #2, bad guys run (all of them) when you brandish, even in Bodymore, so carrying something is 93% of the battle. You should carry the most affordable gun you shoot well in a crisis. If that gun is a revolver go for it.

  32. OLD revolvers rule. Colt and S&W prior to circa 1970. The new ones are “assembled” by pot smoking hippies.

  33. ok, I will put my 2 cents in. first to MAGA, the number 10 speedloader is for a 6 shot “K” frame or Colt “D” frame revolver, not a 5 shot S&W M642 38 special “J” frame revolver. that one need the one marked “36”. ( for the M36 chiefs special that S&W makes). are revolvers good for self defense, I have a S&W M432 .32 h&r on me right now , in my pocket. do I own semi autos? yes. do I carry them, sometimes. most of the time a small revolver is in my pocket. either one of my Colts or S&Ws. do they work against multiple targets ? yes. the late Jim Cirillo of the NYCPD Stakeout Squad used his Colt Cobra to take out 3 armed robbers. he fired 3 shots.” not, point in the general direction, pull trigger until gun is empty, one of those will get them”. he aimed. he used cover. he had tactics. the big debate over many attackers? most of you will die, I don’t care what you are carrying or how many rounds it will have. you are in a very bad situation and you cannot engage all of them at once. and most of you have a false sense of security and no tactics. be aware of your surrounding and try, always try to avoid situations. get into a fistfight while carrying a gun? do you have ANY martial arts training? it will help. and if you break loose you turn around and run like hell, look for cover, get out of there, get to safety. do I think having guns that hold alot is a good idea?absolutly. but train, practice, dont get into a false sense of security. I also think having a small revolver backing that up is also a good idea. and if you want to carry a larger revolver? great. most smart people will never need to shoot anyone at all and if they do the revolver will do, very well. does a 357 snub beat out a 9mm? it certainly does. but like someone also said here your first shot will be good and your 2nd shot will be off target. think about that because every bullet you shoot has a lawyer, anti gun DA and anti gun politition attached to it. and 38 specials work just fine.even wadcutters going about 650-715 fps.( and low recoil). always look to avoid trouble. buy both semis and wheel guns. they both work well and each fills a tactical role. and they work well together. and practice. niether one is an experts gun. they both need to be practiced with. if you can buy a 22lr version of them. or even an air soft or BB version of them. and they all can be fun.

    • “the late Jim Cirillo of the NYCPD Stakeout Squad used his Colt Cobra to take out 3 armed robbers. he fired 3 shots.” not, point in the general direction, pull trigger until gun is empty, one of those will get them”. he aimed. he used cover. he had tactics. the big debate over many attackers? most of you will die, I don’t care what you are carrying or how many rounds it will have. you are in a very bad situation and you cannot engage all of them at once. and most of you have a false sense of security and no tactics.”

      So much this!

  34. I have carried and still carry revolvers and semi auto’s over the last 5 plus decades.

    I have shot close to 200,000 rounds through the two plat forms.

    From 22rf to the [email protected]

    Some days I have been known to carry both depending what I am doing on any day. When I have my revolver on I am very comfortable knowing I can take care of any problem I run into.

    When I carry an auto the same holds true.

    If one can not use the double action feature accurately you have not been trained and or practice properly.

  35. I grew up primarily with revolvers. They come “natural” to me. A backup .38 Spl in your front weak-side pocket to balance your strong-side weapon of choice is a no-brainer. The only autos I shot growing up were my Dad’s Gold Cup and S&W M-52 (He was on the pistol team for his Department). Some very good memories associated with both of these fine old firearms. It’s a shame that S&W, Colt, Ruger or, even, Kimber don’t come out with a 1911-pattern pistol to rival the Model 52 .38 Master…always room for one more in the safe.

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