The revolver revolution will not be televised.
About 32 years ago, in the wake of a famous FBI vs. Bad Guys shootout, America’s law enforcement began to transition from the traditional revolver to polymer-framed, high-capacity semi-automatics. American civilians fell in love with them, too—for a while there, it looked as if the venerable wheelgun might become a relic of the past. But a funny thing happened on the way to the “ash-heap of history”: Manufacturers began to introduce new revolver designs in the 2010s…and the public snapped them up. Here’s three reasons why revolvers still deserve a place in our hearts…and on our hips.
1-Their Magazines Never Wear Out
One of the most vulnerable components of a semi-auto isn’t actually part of the gun—it’s the magazine. The springs in your mag that allow the gun to feed are perishable, and that’s compounded if you’re tough on them. Training and practice are good and should be encouraged, but mag changes and reloads that result in your magazines hitting the floor significantly cut into their lifespan. What’s more, it’s not immediately apparent when your mag is circling the drain…meaning that it could fail on you right when you need to put that training and practice into a real-world defensive situation. Revolvers, on the other hand, don’t have magazines to wear out.
2-They’re Not Picky Eaters
Every time you read a professional review of a semi-auto, you’ll get at least a paragraph (and sometimes a handy chart) showing accuracy results with a number of different types of ammunition. That’s excellent information to have, but you’ll notice something else: failures to feed with some types of ammo. Oddly enough, those results aren’t always reproducible. The most common advice is just to try a number of different loads and see what seems to fail on you the least.
This leads many gun owners to ask themselves: How about instead we use a gun that, like my ex-wife, will just devour whatever is put in front of it? (OK, that bit about the ex-wife was specific to me. But you get my point.)
3-They’re Good For Beginners
I’m going to go ahead and get this out if the way: Revolvers designed for concealed carry are challenging to shoot accurately, and aren’t necessarily the best guns for a first shooting experience. That said, from a safety perspective, they’re great for newbies. There is no guesswork about whether the gun has an empty chamber or not. Either it’s loaded or it isn’t, and you can tell by simply swinging the cylinder out. And once that cylinder is out, the gun is as safe as a break-action shotgun—so muzzle discipline isn’t quite as urgent as it is with a semi-auto.
Of course no one, new to shooting or not, should ever point a muzzle in an unsafe direction. My point is merely that muzzle discipline is one of the things new shooters screw up while they’re still learning, and that the experience is much safer if that happens while the gun is incapable of firing.
Finally, ask yourself this question: If you ever needed to give a firearm to a loved one who didn’t know much about guns with which to defend themselves, what would it be? Say, for example, your sainted Nana who lives in a hurricane zone and is too stubborn to evacuate? Would it be a gun that requires a 30-minute tutorial? Or would you feel better saying, “Point that end at the bad guy and pull the trigger”?
This isn’t to say that revolvers don’t have their downsides. There’s a reason that American law enforcement (and military) agencies have overwhelmingly switched to semi-autos, and magazine capacity is a huge part of why. But America still loves wheelguns for self- and home defense…and that’s the kind of love that never results in alimony payments.
Do you still love revolvers? Post your mash notes in the comments!
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