Some thirty years ago the American gun-buying public began to see semi-automatic pistols as reliable firearms. Once semi-autos cleared that hurdle, their superior capacity and quick reloadability ruled the day. When cops switched to semis, that convinced a lot of average gun buyers that it was safe to do the same. And yet revolver sales are still going strong — and for good reason! Here are three very good reasons to carry a revolver instead of a semi-automatic pistol.
Gun guys find it easy to load, unload and reload semi-automatic handgun magazines and firearms. They know when and how to rack the slide. They may have little trouble disassembling and re-assembling a semi for cleaning. Some are cool with manipulating frame-mounted safeties. Beginning shooters and non-enthusiast shooters? Not so much.
A revolver couldn’t be easier. Open the gate, insert cartridges (bullets face forward), close the gate. Aim. Squeeze the trigger. If you want a lighter, easier trigger pull, cock it first. When the gun goes click instead of bang, open the gate, remove the casings, and replace them with new cartridges. To clean, shove something through the cylinder chambers (i.e., the holes) and the barrel.
While a revolver surrenders capacity to a semi, and the definition of an optimist is a revolver owner who thinks he can reload in a gunfight, the wheelgun is the most user-friendly firearm money can buy. For millions of Americans who can’t or won’t be bothered to master a semi-automatic handgun, the revolver is the right choice.
With proper care and feeding, a modern semi-automatic pistol is a supremely reliable firearm. But a semi-automatic pistol has a lot more moving parts — bits that can become damaged or wear out — than a wheelgun. The most likely part of a semi likely to fail? The ammunition magazine. How many mags does a wheelgun have? None.
Revolvers can fail (click here for proof). But the bottom line remains: a revolver is, on the whole, more reliable than a semi-automatic handgun. They’re much more resistant to neglect than a semi. Not to mention the fact that you can’t “forget” to do anything to a revolver before shooting (aside from loading it and having one with you). And if a revolver doesn’t fire, you just pull the trigger again. And/or run.
Compact Stopping Power
Some gun guys reject the idea of “stopping power.” Shot placement is all. Period. And there’s no question that it’s generally more difficult to shoot a double-action revolver accurately than a relatively light-triggered semi-automatic pistol. But all things being equal, it’s better to shoot a bad guy with a bigger bullet than a smaller one (makes a bigger hole).
If you want compact (i.e., easily concealable) stopping power, you can carry a .357-firing snub-nosed revolver in your pocket. There are relatively small .45 semis, but you can’t buy a .357 semi-automatic “mouse gun.” And as far as shot placement/accuracy goes, it’s a lot easier to dry fire a revolver than a semi-automatic pistol. And that’s the best way to improve your shooting.
This article was originally published in 2017.