Let’s bury the myth about revolvers.

Posted: September 5, 2010 in Practical Shooting

There are many myths that are common in the gun world.  One of the more pervasive is that “revolvers are more reliable than automatics”.  While this may appear superficially true, it is very misleading to assume that a revolver is, well, “bullet-proof”.

A revolver isn't the best gun for all situations.

Revolvers WILL fail. When they do, they are nearly impossible to return to service without tools.  While they will tolerate neglect, they have almost no tolerance for abuse, and limited ability to handle mud or dirt.

A revolver’s weak point is the cylinder. If it won’t turn, open, or close, you have a fancy paper weight.

Drop your revolver and let it land hard on the cylinder on a concrete sidewalk and see if it still works with a bent ejector rod. Toss it in the dirt and see if the cylinder will turn with mud caked between the cylinder and the frame. With only .002 to .010 inch between the cylinder and the frame it won’t take much mud or grit to keep the cylinder from moving. (Just a small bit of mud or sand and the cylinder might not even close.)  Grab the cylinder with just two fingers (much less a “deathgrip” like you would anticipate in a struggle over the gun) and see if it will cycle or fire.

Why would someone abuse their gun and get it dirty?  As a defensive weapon, it is reasonable to assume the potential for hand-to-hand combat if the weapon is used as a carry piece. Revolvers are just fine for home defense (though a shotgun is better), or as a “glove box” gun, but have serious practical limitations (beyond just ammo capacity) for carry duty.

Semi-autos tolerate abuse better than they tolerate neglect. “Working” guns (like the crop of Tactical Tupperware guns we now see) tolerate more abuse and neglect than “competition” guns (that have tightened tolerances to increase accuracy) or have been modified by (alleged) gunsmiths of dubious skill.

A Ferrari is always more trouble than a Toyota, but try getting hot chicks with a Corolla.  Yes, you will need to perform some maintenance on your gun for it to function reliably.  (If you plan on defending your life with it, a quick weekly field strip should not seem too onerous.)  Using a fussy, high-cost gun for self-defense work is as sensible as using the Ferrari to tow a boat.

A modern auto holds MULTIPLES of the quantity of ammo a revolver does and reloads can be completed in seconds.    (The ever-popular YouTube torture tests demonstrate the amount of abuse a good “working” gun can take and still function.)

The auto’s parts are enclosed inside the gun where it is much harder for mud and other junk into get into the mechanism.  Yet if they do, an auto can be field stripped without tools, cleaned and be back in action fairly quickly. (The revolver is more likely to need the services of a gunsmith.)

If you want a gun to be reliable in down and dirty conditions where you may not have the ability to keep the gun perfectly clean, or it is likely to be abused and it still needs to work, the “working” autoloader is a much better choice than a revolver.


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Comments
  1. dan0105 says:

    i like this post 😀

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