Why Are Revolvers Still Used For Carry Guns?
Since there are so many semi-auto pistols on the market, and they can hold so many rounds, why is it that people still shoot and carry revolvers? Aren’t they obsolete at this point?
They are. And they absolutely also aren’t.
There are a number of reasons why a decent revolver will always be a good choice for a concealed carry pistol. The ease of use and reliability of a revolver will always make them dependable carry guns or home defense guns.
Also, the available chamberings make revolvers far more potent than semi-autos, which has applications outside of concealed carry or home defense that are worth mentioning. Oh, and they’re just plain fun to shoot!
Revolver Operation Couldn’t Be Simpler
One of the appeals of revolvers is that revolver operation is about as simple as it gets. Put bullets in cylinder. Fire. Remove cases from cylinder. Repeat as needed.
Single-action revolvers must be cocked before every shot. Double-action revolvers can be cocked and fired, with a short, light trigger pull, or can be fired in double-action mode by pulling the trigger.
Most revolvers sold these days are double-action. Therefore, all you really have to do is load, aim, squeeze and repeat. Not too much to learn, really.
The only thing that approaches any complexity is the loading operation.
Most revolvers these days use a swing-out cylinder, while a smaller number – though still significant – using a pinned cylinder design.
The former has a latch and crane system that swings the cylinder out to the side when the latch is released. To remove any spent cases or cartridges, you depress the plunger at the front of the cylinder, which pushes the extractor to the rear and thus pushes the empties out. Pretty simple.
A pinned cylinder, however, is fixed in place via the pin in the center of the cylinder. To remove cartridges, a sprung extractor rod is located under the barrel. The barrel has to freely rotate – usually requiring the pistol to be put on half-cock – and you align the chamber with a loading port, almost always located on the right side the gun. Push an empty cartridge out, rotate to the next chamber until you’ve emptied the cylinder. Time consuming, sure…but pretty easy.
Revolver Concealed Carry Is Good For Deep Concealment
Revolver concealed carry was once the standard on carrying a concealed pistol, whether for law enforcement or a licensed carrier. In fact, revolvers were pretty much the only game in town for most of the 20th century outside of target shooting and the military; police didn’t start carrying semi-autos with almost any frequency until the 1970s.
Granted, a few PPKs got picked up and there was the odd Saturday Night Special. However, for the most part, snubby revolvers were it until handgun manufacturers figured out
The Smith and Wesson J-frame, Colt Detective Specials and Colt Cobras were the Shield and Glock 26 of their day. They may not enjoy the same dominance in the marketplace, but a lot of people still carry snubbies, either as deep concealment pistols or backup guns to their main carry gun.
The beauty of most snubbies is that they’re big enough to carry in a holster, if desired, but small enough to conceal in a pocket (we don’t recommend it) if one had to.
Since most defensive shootings occur up close and are over quickly, a snubby is – on that basis – all the carry gun a person needs. You get 5 or 6 shots of .38 Special or .357 Magnum. While shooting at distances beyond, say, 10 yards will require a good bit of practice to gain real proficiency, good hits inside that range are easily managed.
Features and so forth on a carry revolver are up to the person getting on. Get the barebones for everything you need and nothing you don’t, or get all the bells and whistles if desired.
The simplicity of use and easy concealed carry of most compact revolvers makes them a very viable carry gun, which is why so many people still carry them.
Magnum Revolvers Are The Kings of Power
If you want more power from a handgun, magnum revolvers are pretty much the only game in town. There are some boutique magnum semi-autos, but they’re rare, expensive and some are known for being a little finicky.
That said, for the person who needs more punch…a wheelgun is the dominant form, whether one is looking for a home defense, woods carry gun or hunting handgun.
For personal defense, the .357 Magnum is arguably the standard by which others are judged. The .41 Magnum, in lighter loadings, .44 Special and all but the +P loadings of .45 Colt are likewise well-suited for this role. All are proven performers as personal defense pistols. The .32 H&R Magnum and .327 Federal Magnum rounds – though rare at this point – are also very viable for personal defense.
The larger magnums, such as .44 Magnum, .45 Colt +P, .454 Casull, .460 and .500 S&W Magnums, and .480 Ruger would be considered overkill in personal defense roles, at least in the home or urban environment. Instead, these chamberings are better suited as woods carry guns or hunting handguns, as each of these loads are proven performers in these roles.
So, why do people still carry revolvers?
Easy to use and very effective in multiple roles. Revolvers are also capable of firing the most powerful of handgun rounds, which may be necessary depending on the application.
They’re also a lot of fun to shoot! A plinker revolver in .22 LR is a lot of fun, and a great training tool. One can also be used to bag small game, if a person becomes proficient enough. A .357 Magnum, loaded with .38 Special, can be shot all day with ease. Also, the weight and feel of a revolver, any revolver, is much different than that of a semi-auto.
Also, the double-action trigger is one of the best training tools available. In times past, that was how people learned to shoot; to get any good with a handgun required proficiency with a DA trigger. Anything lighter than the 12- to 15-pound pull of a DA wheelgun is a breeze by comparison.
Learn to shoot a revolver, and you’ll start wondering why anyone complains about one on a plastic fantastic.
So don’t give them short shrift just because they only hold 5 or 6 shots.
About The Author
Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.