Jeff Gonzales: Revolvers for Self-Defense

Is the modern revolver making a comeback in the concealed carry world? I don’t have any statistical data, but Smith & Wesson and Ruger don’t seem to be the hurting for wheelgun business. And interest in carrying revolvers is greater than I have seen in a long time. The question is: is it a good idea?

Revolvers get a bad rap by many a gun guru. The problem: 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 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 with carrying a revolver every day: it’s a “one man” gun.

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

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

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).

As training resources are limited, I have a hard time justifying spending time practicing with something I may use versus something I most likely not use.

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 volume to gain the expertise you need.

It’s the time needed to master revolver reloads, along with the challenges of carrying these reloads that presents the greatest challenge.

Proficiency volume is relative. 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 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.

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

You don’t have to master the skill of revolver shooting Miculek-style, 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 didn’t go anywhere, more people are recognizing they’re not just a backup option. The benefit is not without a higher demand for practice 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 unapologetically to the world at large. Currently he is the Director of Training at The Range at Austin. learn more about his passion and what he does at


  1. avatar TFred says:

    “Smith & Wesson and Ruger don’t seem to be the hurting for wheelgun business”

    Just imagine how many MORE revolvers S&W would sell if they just got rid of that stupid lock! A lot of people, myself included, will NEVER buy a S&W with one of those locks.

    1. avatar Ed says:

      ^^THIS^^ +100

      I also would like to know why the Navy Seal assumes that all carry wheelguns are D.A.O. IF I were to carry a revolver it would have a shrouded hammer so I could single action my first shot if at all possible. A Smith 642 would be perfect and I would already own one….except for that damn Hillary hole.

      1. avatar Frank says:

        You can get the 642 and 442 with no internal lock.

        Here ya go:

      2. avatar Tal says:

        Do you mean a 638?

        1. avatar Ed says:


  2. avatar former water walker says:

    NO ONE has mastered revolvers like old Jerry. I’ll never carry one each to his(or her) own…

  3. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

    I don’t think a carry revolver need be a snub. You can make things a lot easier on yourself by carrying a gun long and heavy enough to be easier to shoot well than a snub. In a good holster a 40oz revolver is not uncomfortable. Not as uncomfortable as shooting a hard recoiling light weight snub anyway.
    Also, how many folks here intended to draw and then wait long enough to see if it scares your attacker away before firing? If you are faced with an immediate deadly threat are you going to draw your gun and then let the threat make the next move?

    1. avatar Andrew Lias says:

      Even a 2.5″ k-frame is an awesome shooter. Yeah it’s definitely bigger than a “J” but certainly not implausible to carry especially in the winter. You also get a round as a bonus.

      I will say one point soon in my life I’d like to own a Model 12. They kind of have a mixed rep in terms of durability but I’d consider that the best compromise in terms of shootability and carry.

      I have a S&W Model 38, I will say that grips and reducing the DA trigger return spring are a must IMO. I did that and things were significantly better in terms of shooting capability.

      Like anything else, be choosy about ammo.

      1. avatar Ian says:

        I carry the new 2.75in Model 66, it is an exceptionally easy gun to carry, kind of the G19 of revolvers. I have tend of thousands of rounds though various K frame revolvers, and a heavy barrel round butt Mod 10 would be my first choice as a defensive revolver.

        1. avatar DrewR says:

          A heavy barrel, round butt model 10 is my nightstand gun. I carry it from time to time as well.

      2. avatar Maz2331 says:

        I’ve carried a K-frame .38 with a 4 inch barrel concealed. Under a jacket, it was not much different than, say, a 1911 or Glock. Of course, that Model 10 was loaded with handloads WAY over the +P+ level, they were just under the starting load for a .357 Magnum. A 125 grain JHP over 10.5 grains of Blue Dot in a .38 case is quite potent, and throws a very big ball of orange fire out the muzzle. I fired hundreds of those at the range, and the old Model 10 handled them just fine.

  4. avatar racer88 says:

    Reloading is crucial — and 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 with carrying a revolver every day: it’s a “one man” gun.

    Are reloading skills THAT crucial? I’ve read numerous articles (some here?) decrying the emphasis on reloading skills in defensive courses in the context of the likelihood of its need in an actual defensive situation being quite remott

    Likewise, it seems that in a majority of DGUs with multiple assailants, once the first bad guy takes a round, his “friends” run for the hills. Once defensive bullets fly, the bad guys scatter like cockroaches in bright light.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      The guy that wrote this screed was a navy seal. I’m thinking, as an x serviceman with a little experience, that my military training and experience really doesn’t translate well to the citizen DGU. I’m betting that an operators experience and training really does not translate well at all. Really. Unless he lives in Mogadishu.

      When he came home he didn’t want to be an insurance salesman or a warehouse guy. So now he trains people for money. And if they want to put out that green to say they got operated on by a seal, more power to them.

      1. avatar Andrew Lias says:

        I agree with this mentality. I’m probably avoiding some place that is “may use” a gun vs “most likely not to use.” If that isn’t possible, I’ll gun up at that point. We live in a society where we by and large have that option.

        “As training resources are limited, I have a hard time justifying spending time practicing with something I may use versus something I most likely not use.”

    2. avatar Tal says:

      Ballistic radio recently featured the host of Active Self Protection from YouTube. Out of 5000 videos he has watched only twice did the defender need to reload. Both occasions was an off duty cop who had to pursue and continue the fight.

      The host stated the primary focus should be on drawing and putting the first shot on target. I agree.

      1. I subscribe to ASP Youtube channel. Out of 5,000 videos, the defender dies 3,500 times.

      2. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

        That would kind of argue for a .45 as well. I have a nagging suspicion the the first one or two shots are orders of magnitude more important than the rest. Maybe because until now I have carried a 5.7 with the thought that volume of fire was more important than individual shot damage. It is not that I think my chance of success is a lot greater with a heavy hitting gun but that maybe it is a little bit better. I look at an expanded .45 HST and compare it to my tumbling 5.7 or even a 9mm HST and kinda like the .45 better. Of course, my primary carry gun is a .357 now and none of my expanded shots look as good as a .45 so I am still not taking my own advice.

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

          The .357 slug travels at upward of twice the velocity (depending on barr el length) as the .45 and does massive (relatively speaking) damage outside of the direct path of the bull et. Especially with the full power stuff. If two bull ets hit flesh and penetrate to the same depth, the one with the most energy (.357) wins every time. Same applies to 9 mm, only with most loads you’re getting roughly equal energy to the .45.

        2. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

          Gov. William J. Le Petomane – Thanks. I have a crisis of faith about the notion that displaced fluids and semi-fluids increase the damage to beyond what the bullet directly crushes with it’s frontal area. This is, of course, for bullets at pistol velocities, I have much more confidence that rifle bullets do damage well beyond their path. I don’t even know if there is a gradual change in displaced fluid damage as velocities increase of if it just starts happening around 2,000fps or so. Can you point me to evidence that my <2,000fps bullets are doing damage beyond their immediate path? There seems to be some controversy about whether ballistic gel (which I use on an almost weekly basis) over estimates bullet damage with those "permanent" wound channels they suffer. I want to believe:-)

        3. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          I have no proof, only theories. The whole ‘hydrostatic shock’ thing has to increase in the same manner as energy – doubling the velocity increases energy by 4x and therefore 4x the amount of damage outside the path of the bull et. Or at least 4x the energy that flesh must absorb. A 55gr. slug from an AR travels about 3-1/2 times the velocity of a 230gr .45 slug, so the effect is obvious. The flesh (or fluid) just can’t get out of the way fast enough and slams into more flesh with enough energy to damage or destroy that flesh. But the same graduated rate would have to apply at lesser differences. Either way if neither over-penetrate then the body must absorb all of the energy. BTW, this is why you’ll never see any dangerous game rou nds screaming along at 3200fps.

          The differences between gel and flesh are significant but vary by the type of flesh – lung tissue isn’t as tenacious as muscle, for instance. However, gel isn’t a good medium for low speed projectiles. You can push your finger right into it. So my theory is that when you see the end of the temporary cavity and the bul let streams through another 3″-5″ leaving almost not cavity at all, in flesh that last bit just wouldn’t happen. So personally I prefer to see penetration on the deeper end – at least 16″ or so.

          That said, those .45 HPs do look very impressive, even in the cartridge.

        4. avatar Maz2331 says:

          Don’t underestimate that little 5.7 round – it is quite effective, and is as close to carrying rifle as you can get in an auto loading pistol. It punches far above its weight just like a .223 rifle does. While I like the big bores like the 10mm, .44 Mag, and .45, the little 5.7 is not to be dismissed at all.

  5. avatar DaveInAK says:

    I love revolvers. I shoot them competitively almost exclusively and I’m pretty good with the trigger and reloads. But I don’t carry one everyday. Why? Two main reasons. Unlike typical semiauto guns when a revolver has a malfunction it is often catastrophic. A high primer, deformed or bulged case, bullets walking out or whatever the gun often gets locked up solid and there is no fixing the problem. (I’m not talking about mechanical problems which are very rare.) I can clear most problems with a bottom feeder within 3 seconds and be back in the fight. The other reason is reloads. Both the process and carrying them. I can reload my carry semiauto from concealment in less than 5 seconds. Much faster from open carry. The revolver using my competition gear takes about 6-10 Sec onds, 10-12 seconds with everything concealed. And carrying speed loafers or moon clips is a royal pain.

    So while I love my Smith 686 for IDPA and my 929 for USPSA I daily carry a Smith Shield.6

    1. avatar kenneth says:

      What you are talking about is “stoppages”(which is what semis do), versus “jams” which is what revolvers do.
      Stoppages are defined as; failures that are quickly and easily cleared while at the firing line. Jams, by contrast, are failures that require tools and perhaps a bench to clear, and cannot be done while on the firing line. This is the preferred failure mode of the revolver, but they do so very much less often than stoppages.
      So it is a six of one, half dozen of the other, thing. And, don’t forget, both CAN happen to either type action, its just that stoppages are MORE likely with autoloaders, and jams are MORE likely with revolvers. So, would you rather have a greater chance of a lesser failure, or a lesser chance of a greater failure? A matter of personal choice. I prefer a “J” frame or a Ruger LCP if concealed, and a 1911 or S&W 659 if open.

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

      3 seconds might as well be 3 years if you’re in the middle of a gunfight. That’ll be about 2-1/2 seconds longer than you have.

  6. avatar jwm says:

    The K frame sized revolver is the perfect fighting tool for the non gun person. Actually the pump shotgun is the perfect gun for the non gun person. But most of them will get a handgun instead.

    I know a metric shit ton of folks, mostly past 50yo, that own one gun. A revolver, normally chambered in .38. They aren’t going to learn to tap and rack. They usually buy the gun and 1 box of ammo. And that box of ammo is still with them til they die, go to the home, or they use their gun and the cops evidence it.

    The one guy that I knew that bought a gun in this category that bought a semi loaded the one mag he had for it into the gun. The gun remained unfired until he died.

    The revolver may not be perfect. But it’s perfect for these folks.

    The trigger is not hard to master on a double action revolver. At house ranges how much of a master do you need to be?

    Old fart back home woke up to a healthy young guy trying to smother him with a pillow. Old fart had a revolver under the covers in the bed with him. 1 shot fired blindly thru the blankets, he had a pillow on his face, and the young guy was gut shot.

    If I was a cop or a soldier I would want a hi cap semi. But I’m neither and since I live in CA I can’t have a hi cap mag so I’ll just stick with my revolvers and my single stack Mak.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      That reminds me of my grandfather’s gun. He bought it when he was a bank clerk–in the 1920s. It was fired twice–in the air–when the bank was robbed, and never again. It sat on a shelf in his closet until he died 60 years later. the gun was such a worthless piece of junk that when they were burgled, the burglar didn’t even take it. The ammo was pretty green from corrosion. I suspect this story is repeated thousands of times around the country every year.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Yep. There’s an elderly lady in my circle that still lives in her house alone after her husbands passing many years ago. He bought a Colt and a box of shells. Its lived in the dresser drawer ever since. About once a year I take a pocket of .38s and freshen it up for her. Little hoppe’s and oil and new bullets.

    2. avatar Peter Wolf says:

      +1. “The .22 in your pocket when you need it beats that hell outta the .45 at home in your night stand.”

      I teach a lot of older folks and girls to shoot that are never going to be operators. A few become gun folks, but most are not going to go to the range and practice much at all. So what’s the better gun for someone like that? Revolvers almost always go bang, and when they don’t, all you have to do is pull the trigger again.

      Is it going to solve all situations when a gun is necessary? No, but it will solve almost all. Most civilian DGU requires just showing the gun. Where shots are fired by civilians, it is almost never more than 2. The little Ruger LRC is inexpensive, light enough to carry, and reliable. Practice with (and there is some research saying carry) wadcutters and the recoil is negligible. The revolver in your pocket…

  7. avatar Tile floor says:

    The Smith R8 is one of the sweetest shooting handguns I’ve fired. Plus with 8 .357 pills, I certainly wouldn’t feel underarmed with it as a nightstand gun.

    But I can’t drop a grand on a revolver right now, having a six month old son takes financial priority

    1. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

      I paid a shit-ton for a much more expensive six shooter but I very much suspect that if effectiveness was my primary consideration, as maybe it should be, I would carry an R8. I am obviously not an entirely rational creature.

    2. avatar Defiant Deity says:

      I bought the S&W m&p R8 last month, it was my first revolver and I am very impressed. It is a big gun but the recoil is the same as a 9mm, most likely due to the weight. For some reason I shoot a lot more accurate with a revolver which I was not expecting. 8 shots of .357, better accuracy, and don’t need to worry about things like a bad round that doesn’t fire, or doesn’t cycle with a revolver. You just need to pull the trigger again and it goes to the next round. This is a major advantage when in a situation when your adrenaline is flowing. It may be no big deal out at the range but during a DFU having to fix the malfunction can cost you your life and with a revolver you just have to squeeze the trigger another time. Chances are low of this happening but when you life is on the line I would rather rely on a revolver and have a semi as a backup.

  8. avatar Mark N. says:

    Have a DAO pistol as your primary and then the training issue with the revolver trigger is virtually eliminated. And yes, BGs do scatter when the firing starts because nobody wants to get shot, and unless they are intent on killing you in the first place, they are not going to stand around exchanging gun fire, but will be running for cover.

  9. avatar Accur81 says:

    I occasionally carry a Smith 340 PD, and I’m still looking for a holster for my 627 PC. I don’t feel at all undergunned with an 8 – shot .357 loaded with Underwood JHP.
    I’ve got a video shooting 1 gallon water jugs with the Underwood 125 grain JHP .357 / 627 combo versus a Smith 4006 TSW / .40 Ranger 180 grain JHP.

    Well, the .357 having about twice the energy of the. 40 is immediately apparent. The 5″ 627 .357 is also much more accurate than any typical duty pistol. And it’s better looking.

    Revolvers are doing just fine, and that’s as it should be.

    1. avatar Bob h says:

      For your 627pc, Simply rugged sourdough pancake holster or Tucker gun leather IWB Revolver holster. I carry my 4.2″ Judge IWB all day with my simply rugged, the only thing I wish it had was kydex belt clips instead of carry straps, but it’s 2 holsters in one so I went with that option. The Tucker option is good too it has kydex belt clips and is fully cant adjustable.

      1. avatar Accur81 says:

        Thanks, I’ll check those out!


  10. avatar Ted Unlis says:

    Congratulations Jeffery, you broke into the top ten all time list of [email protected]$$ed click bait questions ever asked at TTAG!

  11. avatar Tal says:

    I love wheel guns. My primary EDC is a Smith 442 without the lock. MY understanding is they do still produce them as this one was new when I bought it. I just wish more were 6 shot.

  12. avatar CD Carpeti says:

    Quote: “I’m more inclined to prepare for the worst. ”

    Unless your everyday carry includes a full auto assault rifle and a brace of handguns, shotguns and a flame thrower or two, obviously you do not prepare for the worst.

    What a maroon.

    1. avatar strych9 says:

      You’ll note that he said “…prepare for…” not “I am prepared for…” which are two completely different statements. Besides, your suggestions here would still leave him woefully unprepared for “the worst”.

      “What a maroon.”

      Pot, Kettle. Kettle, Pot.

  13. avatar Klause Von Schmitto says:

    Every now and then, especially when it’s hot, I’ll slip my original (1960’s) Charter Arms undercover into my pocket for a grocery run. It’s small, doesn’t weigh anything, and goes pow every time. I looked at one of the new ones a couple of years ago. Big pass.

  14. avatar Kyle says:

    The biggest problem I see is you tube. Every time they show a DGU, the bad guy is in full retreat running for his life after the first bullet is fired at him. Its hard to impress the need for 4x 17 round magazines when 3 bullets seem to be overkill!

    I own a fair set of ccw pistols but I find myself going back to the old SW 640 often. Its light and, again…3 seems to be 1 too many, based on our friends at You-Tube.

    Sure if I’m in a firefight with ISIS, I’m screwed. but I’m also screwed if I’m in a firefight with a North Korean invasion force. I gotta play the odds. odds seem to show, 5 is fine.

    1. avatar kenneth says:

      Agreed. I’ve had two DGUs in my life, and both times ZERO rounds was enough. All I had to do each time was empress upon the perp(s) that I was ready and willing to put some extra holes in their anatomy and they suddenly remembered urgent business elsewhere.

      1. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

        If they were within that 20ft or so, sufficiently aggressive, decided to rush you, and your kung-fu wasn’t up to snuff (which it might well be, I don’t know) you might have ended up in a grapple. My grappling ability is so low that I don’t want to take that chance. I am not sure than I can tell the difference between a killer and a thief from a few seconds of observation. Obviously, you made the calls that allowed you to prevail at the least cost, but I fear that I might not, and suspect that if it ever comes to a situation where I am inclined to draw, I will assume that that they will not be dissuaded by presentation. I realize that that will be an expensive choice.

  15. avatar Pg2 says:

    SW J frames allow many people to carry who otherwise would not. It may not be the best solution, except when it’s the only solution.

    1. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

      At the same time, everyone I know that carries a snub or subcompact, does so for convenience rather than necessity. Those are often the type that I buy better ammo for after I find out what they have loaded. Then again, I suppose that I am less likely to know about the ones that do it from necessity.

  16. avatar Tom says:

    There will always be a place for a reliable revolver!

  17. avatar TexTed says:

    I am a massive revolver fan, own many in various sizes and calibers, but rarely carry them. Semis are just tremendously more practical.

    Take the mega-popular LCR, for example: retails at $480, has a capacity of five, and shoots .38 Special (a round that lies somewhere between .380 and 9mm). A gun like the Springfield XD Mod.2 is literally the exact same length, height, and width (althoug it weighs more), shoots the more powerful 9mm round, and has a capacity of 3x as many bullets (13+1, so 14 in the gun at once). 14 rounds of 9mm vs. 5 rounds of .38, it’s just no contest. Admittedly the XD Mod.2 weighs twice as much as the LCR, which is a drawback, but it’s also probably one reason why it recoils less even while shooting a more powerful round; the reciprocating slide being the other. And it cost me less, got it for $429.

    As the article said, revolvers are a one-man gun. Even the tiniest semi-auto, like the LCP, will hold 7 shots, vs. only five for the LCR. Most single-stack 9’s hold at least 7 shots, and are notably thinner than a revolver’s cylinder. The revolver is fine for a holdup at the ATM by one guy, but miserable if you’re trapped in a “protest” at Berkeley or a mob riot or a multi-thug home invasion or a terrorist attack at the mall, and only marginal for something like a two-man carjacking.

    With that all said, I do have to say that I loved that post here about a year ago or so where thugs came crashing into a pawn shop and the old lady behind the counter pulled out her little revolver and shot some down and chased them out.

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

      I’ll take 6 rou nds of full pressure .357 over 6 rou nds of .380 any day, regardless of how many assailants I’m fighting off.

    2. avatar Art out West says:

      Somehow the J-frame just carries easier and better than even the thin single stack 9s (comparing my 642 to my Shield). The 642 pocket carries great, while the Shield requires a fairly large pocket.

      The LCP/P3AT/TCP class .380s carry easier still, but look like toys (J-frame better intimidation factor). Still, I have a P3AT and an LCP for the rare times I can’t carry the 642.

      The compact XD is only similarly sized on paper. The weight makes a big difference for carry.

      Also, the revolver can’t be limp wristed (even if you are shooting from some weird contorted angle with a 300 pound biker on top of you). The revolver won’t be pushed out of battery for the contact body shots. The revolver can be fired out of a pocket.

      With the civilian defensive shooting, up close and personal is likely. Thus, those are all major advantages for the revolver.

    3. avatar Peter Wolf says:

      You’re spending too much on the .38 LCR. I bought one last week on GunBroker for $319 delivered to my FFL dealer. The real gem is the .327 Federal Magnum that I picked up in April at a gun show for $439.47. Too bad Ruger’s not making the LCR in .327 anymore, but you can still find them on GunBroker. Six shots, practice with .32 wad cutter or S&W long, and carry the Federal .327 reduced recoil. New shooters love the gun – little recoil, shoots flat and accurate. Perfect little pocket gun.

  18. avatar Ralph says:

    “I’m more inclined to prepare for the worst.”

    Me too. Which is why I always have two Gatling guns mounted in the trunk of my car and a flame thrower up front. In case I’m attacked by a company of ISIS jihidiots.

    No, really. Oh, and I always have a S&W M642 in my pocket.

  19. avatar clst1 says:

    If it can be concealed, goes bang and emits a projectile that will stop the threat, then it is a good carry gun.
    Hopefully the trigger finger is attached to a person who has become proficient with the firearm prior to facing the threat.

  20. avatar Hank says:

    I’ve noticed that since I got my .38 snub, its always on me. Always. That wasn’t so when I carried a larger and admittedly more effective gun. A small revolver just makes carrying easy. Especially when you live in an insanely hot, humid climate that still doesn’t allow open carry because the state is overrun with RINOs. If we ever get open carry here in Florida, I’ll carry something bigger, openly. Until then, my options are a .38 snub or a pain in the ass that I won’t want to carry.

  21. avatar Totemic Monkey says:

    Who makes that speedloader holder sitting on that guys belt?

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      I would also like to know that… would be some useful info instead of navel-gazing about gun choices

    2. avatar Specialist38 says:

      I think it a Crossbreed product.

  22. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    Id still be carrying my Model 66 snubby if I wasnt in Florida. Tee shirt and jeans daily. IWB only no belt holster or Hawaiian shirts for me……….. sorry.
    Not much difference between 6 rounds of 149 gr 38 spc P+P or 125gr 357s.
    Or my current Officers 1911s 8 rounds of 230gr HST 45acp really. Plus a reload.
    Ballistically about the same due to short barrel lengths.
    I dont feel under gunned due to capacity.

  23. avatar Jason says:

    For what it’s worth, Jerry didn’t hit the balloon. Look at the impact mark. Lead splatter popped the balloon. Though that being said it was still quite a shot hitting the steel at that distance even if he did have a spotter calling it in..

  24. avatar Hannibal says:

    “You will notice assailants is plural. One of the main drawbacks I see with carrying a revolver every day: it’s a “one man” gun…”

    Tell that to Bernhard Goetz.

    1. avatar Richard Steven Hack says:

      Assassination is not a gun-fight…which is why Mossad carries .22’s…when they’re assassinating people…

  25. avatar tiger says:

    Beware of wheel gunners. They aim & shoot vs spray & pray like some automatic users.

    1. Need to see more people shooting revolvers sideways gangsta style.

  26. avatar Specialist38 says:


    I’m pretty sure 38 special is a decent defence cartridge. 357 is a superb cartridge.

    I guess some people just need to constantly reaffirm that what they carry is not just justified but absolutely necessary.

    Give me a minute to don my pair of Glock 17s with 4 33 round mags. Just need my drover’s coat to conceal them.


    1. avatar Hank says:

      That’s what I’m really starting to hate about the gun community. It’s becoming a bunch of douche canoes that have to justify their gun or caliber of choice by demanding everyone agree and carry by their standards. It’s like “oh you don’t carry a glock? You POS non operator get on my level.”!

    2. avatar TXMI says:

      Those glocks won’t do you any good when the terrorists with body armor show up. Open carry a rifle and wear your plate carrier at all times to be completely prepared to go get groceries.

  27. avatar AZgunner says:

    I won’t carry a revolver simply because I’m much better with semi autos. I also like the capacity and caliber. However, if someone is more comfortable with a revolver, more power to them.

    Also, once you start getting into the ultra small handguns like the Ruger LCP or Glock 42, I don’t see too much advantage over a revolver. At that point, you’re really just choosing your preferred handling characteristics.

  28. avatar Malcolm says:

    It makes JMB sad if you carry a revolver

  29. avatar Darkwing says:

    I have rarely heard of a wheel gun jam but an auto, a lot. Auto have more moving parts to go wrong.

  30. avatar Mad Max says:

    I carry a semi-auto on my strong side hip and a j-frame on my weak side front pocket.

    In a close encounter, while my strong hand is reaching for the semi-auto (drawing the bad guy’s attention) my weak hand will draw the j-frame and shoot.

    I practice weak hand shooting with the j-frame every week (along with the semi-auto) and I’m pretty sure I won’t miss at close range.

    If I encounter a threat beyond 21 feet and closing, I’ll seek cover while drawing the semi-auto.

  31. avatar SurfGW says:

    An aunt had a PPK she kept loaded for years. Someone tried to force her door during the LA riots. She fired 1 shot at the rioter through the glass on the door (missed because she never practiced). The rioters ran away and did not return. When I saw her PPK years later, it had a round in the chamber; the magazine spring was so weak that the rounds rattled in the magazine. If she had to fire a second shot, it probably would not work. In cases like hers, it is better to leave a stainless revolver loaded than an autoloader.

  32. avatar Sprocket says:

    The author has some valid points. However if you want to talk percentages, the chances you are ever going to unholster your firearm are pretty low, the chances you are going to need to fire it are lower still. The chances you’re going to be fighting off hordes of savages, a’la Rourke’s Drift, are about the same as being mauled by a capybara. So, as long as they put in some range time, most people will be well served by a revolver.

    That said, my EDC is an LC9, it’s just sooo easy to carry. It is a constant source of bitterness for me that, other than wearing a mumu, I there’s no way I can conceal my 4″ N frame and speed loaders. It sounds odd, but in terms of getting accurate rounds on target soonest, the big Smith does better than any pistol I own. I even ran it in a tactical class and cleaned up in the student competition at the end.

  33. avatar Hugo says:

    There is no single gun that is perfect for every situation. There are times when a snubbie in a pocket holster works well for me and I’m comfortable that it will get the job done most of the time. If I find myself up against multiple attackers on that day, I’ll still be glad I had something in my locks besides my keys.

  34. avatar Joshua L says:

    Having shot numerous semi-autos and revolvers, I personally prefer revolvers. Being that I live in NY capacity is not a big issue (since anything over 10 rounds is super dangerous!). I do have an 8 shot 627 pro for cold weather, and I carry my 642 all day everyday since it’s compact and lightweight.

    I also have a Beretta nano (which I have come to despise). Basically, just by going by statistics no more than 3 rounds are typically used in a defensive gun use. I don’t see why people are carrying 50 plus rounds on them no matter which state you live in.

    Also slightly off topic, but man I’m sick of 9×19 handguns being stated as the best and only caliber to carry. Most overrated caliber in these modern times.

  35. avatar Dayne says:

    Jeff, my first reaction was “Not another wheel gun argument,” but after reading, I give kudos for a more focused “if you’re going to carry one” article, more of education than disagreement. I have to remind myself, and hope others will too, that even if we’ve seen the same information every few years, we’re also getting new members into the fold of firearm enthusiasts and carry.

    Even beyond the instruction for revolver carry, anyone who is going to have a firearm on their person will greatly benefit from situational training, not just holes in paper. Many ranges now have virtual simulators, and while that’s still just one tool in the training box, it helps us begin to recognize our strengths and our weaknesses.

    A revolver may not be the best choice, when there are smaller guns with more rounds and more firepower. Many of us rightly believe, that any gun is better than no gun, but that argument holds more water if it’s also a gun that the individual trains with, and maximizes proficiency and situational awareness.

    This fact can be argued as well, that the mere presence of a firearm can end a confrontation. However we have no way of knowing in advance if that will be true in our case, so if someone simply chooses to, or recognizes the need to carry a firearm, they must make an informed choice and make that decision based on whatever pros and cons works for their situation.

    There is a reasonable belief that some carry revolvers for its simplicity. It can be stated that there is less that can go wrong between a revolver and a semi-auto pistol. Revolvers are less ammo picky. DA/SA revolvers chip away at the heavy-trigger concern. While many small semi-autos have safeties, many don’t (Ruger LCP, Taurus 738), and so the heavy trigger of a revolver gives a form of safety.

    I will agree with you on this point, that short barrels can be very accurate. I am quite far from being a marksman, but after a lot of practice, I am happily proficient with my Ruger LCR. I’ve learned a particular grip that most instructors would chide me for, but it works, and it works every time. So again, it’s about training, not just buying a gun and sticking it in the pants or purse.

    Finally let me point out that choice of caliber introduces and entirely new volume of information to consider. I suspect the average person considers a .38 special the de facto standard for personal defense revolvers. Reading Jim Cirillo’s narratives suggest that a .38 might be a poor choice. Jim and others, including emergency room personnel, personally attest to a .38 round striking the head, but skirting around the skull between skin and bone, and never penetrating. Certainly .38, like most ammo, has much improved since Jim’s days, but power between rounds remains the relative same (for that same reason – improved).

    Though you can buy a .357 revolver, use .38 for practice, .357 for carry, there is another, perhaps little known option. The .327 Federal Magnum. If you’ll check the ballistics between most of these rounds, the .327 Federal Magnum greatly overpowers the .38 in velocity and foot pounds of energy, yet it gives up only 0.045 in size. For practice it fires every .32 short, long, and .32 H&R Magnum.

    The main drawback I see to a .327 revolver is there aren’t a lot of choices, particularly for concealed carry. It is however, part of Ruger’s LCR line, which may arguably be the best choice for many seeking to carry a revolver anyway. It’s six rounds, and H&K has a speedloader for it. If you want or don’t mind a heavier gun, there is a .327 in Ruger’s SP101, 4.2 inch barrel. Or if a big gun isn’t a problem, the Single Seven, which as it says, is a single action with seven rounds. I believe Taurus, Smith & Wesson, and Charter Arms also made a .327 Federal Magnum revolver. They are out of production so would be a great find. A secondary drawback is this ammo can be hard to find, at least locally. We’re enjoying a great harvest now, but a couple of years ago it took almost a year for a backorder to ship. In a pinch, the .32 H&R Magnum isn’t a bad load either, and it out performs a lot of the .38 PD rounds.

    But let’s come full circle: Whatever one carries, it should be a reliable round in a firearm you know how to use effectively. And train!

    Thanks for keeping information fresh Jeff, and for the chance to let me weigh in. Stay safe!

  36. avatar Randy says:

    The thing about revolvers is once you master the trigger they are actually very easy to shoot and shoot well. They are about as mistake free as a handgun can be with a long and heavy trigger that virtually eliminates accidental discharges. The other thing I like about my revolver ( a S&W Model 60 with 3″ barrel) is that I shoot better than any of my pistols, it is easy to conceal and the grip on the thing fits my hand like it was made to be there. I do worry about low capacity and reloads but in the end concealed carry is, for most of us, about compromises and for me my revolver is it.

  37. avatar Richard Steven Hack says:

    I agree with this post completely.

    I’ll also reiterate that if you carry a gun at all, you’re paranoid based on the simple statistic that probably 98-99% (if not higher) carriers will NEVER draw their gun against another person.

    Therefore, why is it paranoid or “statistically improbable” that you may need more than 5 or 6 rounds? Or that your multiple assailants will run? There have been cases reported just this past week or so where multiple ARMED assailants attempted home invasions. Maybe they ran, maybe they didn’t.

    Why is it paranoid or “operator chic” to want to increase your odds against what is already a statistically insignificant event?

    Those who accuse semi-auto people of using their awareness of this fact to justify their personal preference for a semi-auto are doing the EXACT SAME THING when they cite the statistical improbability of needing more than six rounds.

    Citing a bunch of little old ladies with un-maintained firearms is hardly an argument, given that they already made every mistake in the book.

    If you really believed the statistics, you’d only carry a .45 derringer with two rounds. Presumably no one is that stupid.

    Also, since almost ALL of you CIVILIANS who carry have NEVER fired in anger in a civilian encounter, how do you know how many times you will MISS due to STRESS? Statistically speaking, if I’m not mistaken, a large percentage of – if not most – shots fired in engagements MISS.

    All you need to do is miss enough times that you’re one bullet short of being able to finish the one perp or his accomplice. One guy is on record of being shot THIRTY-THREE times with 9mm and still managed to run 100 yards before collapsing. What if he was shooting back at you instead of running?

    A revolver is suitable for sport shooting and hunting. Period. It is NOT suitable for self-defense unless it comes with ten rounds. And even that weapon has an issue with slower reloads.

    1. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

      I read your comments and predictions from 2011 at
      Not many of mine prognostications have come to pass either.

      1. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

        It was way past my bedtime when I so misspelled “my”:-)

      2. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

        I’ll interject a bit of advice from Mr. Heinlein. “Beware of altruism. It is based on self-deception, the root of all evil.”
        Altruist have always been the most dangerous people.

    2. avatar tiger says:

      To say they are not for self defense use; just threw the whole post into la la land.

  38. avatar Phil Twiss says:

    I keep hearing the same argument against revolvers “they fall apart in a gun fight” were as pistols only “fail to feed / fire in a gun fight” but never seem to have mechanical failures in a gun fight….

    Hmmm, Given, they are both mechanical devices and mechanical devices are prone to failure… Wouldn’t be fair to say that both revolvers AND pistols that have a mechanical failure would require tools & parts to get back into the fight?

    Just saying, revolvers will never have the capacity of pistols and pistols will never have the fire power of revolvers … So, I wouldn’t take the word of these pistol operators for much, when they don’t have the honesty to make a fair comparison without saying that the $800.00 revolver is going to fall apart any faster then their $500.00 Glock …

    My 66 can fire from inside a pocket, pressed against the belly of an attacker and after years of sitting around in its holster… That’s why I put up with the weight, capacity and pistol operators that seem to abound with criticism of a weapon system that works.

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