Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • DavidR

    My bet is that these comments will devolve into a revolver vs semi debate, and while I would like to NOT to be the first one to start down that path, this is a good place to relate a telling event that I witnessed.

    It happened when I got my carry permit in the mid-1990s. At our qualification shoot, there were two separate weapons malfunctions on the line–both were irreparable (at least they couldn’t be fixed then and there) and both occurred in revolvers (both guns were new-ish S&Ws).

    Freak occurrences or not, this experience highlighted for me how the whole revolver vs semi debate had become kind of silly by that point in time. Basically, by the 1990′s, auto loaders had become at least as reliable as wheelguns. Both handgun designs, when well implemented, will get the job done equally well.

  • Bill Lester

    My experience since 1980 is the exact opposite of DavidR’s. I’ve seen far more self-loaders choke than revolvers. I will agree that when a wheelgun does have a problem, that weapon is usually out of the fight. But in my experience it happens so infrequently that the point is moot. I appreciate the revolver’s attributes far out of proportion to the über rare times it fails.

  • Don

    I prefer revolvers. I also agree with caleb.

    Really a gun is a gun and if the guy actually sees it before you shoot him then A. he’s not going to think “well that’s a only .25 acp, I’m going to keep assaulting this guy” and B. too slow.

    I like revolvers because of their “simplicity and reliability” but I’m sure most of that is in my head. Good autoloaders are probably equally as reliable. 5 shots of .38 +p is enough insurance for where I usually go.

    One thing that happens with my autoloaders more than anything else is when shooting up against a wall like in an indoor range, I’ve had casings bounce off back into the damn ejection port. You’d think that would be a rare event… I suppose that is one thing that can’t go wrong with a revolver…

    -Don

  • Stu C.

    I, personally, am of the opinion that anything mechanical can fail. I feel comfortable carrying either and own quite a few, but then again I’ve never seen a revolver fail.

  • Hellhound

    60 – 40 I would have to give the advantage to revolvers due to the fact they have less malfunction issues, but auto-loaders are hold more ammo and more fun to shot. When it comes to concealed carry the ratio is switched, but a snub is always a good backup.

    “I’ve had casings bounce off back into the damn ejection port.” How is that even possible? The milliseconds it takes for a auto-loading weapon to cycle a round, I can’t imagine another round entering. I have shot firearms that had stovepipe malfunctions, but if that truly happened it is amazing timing.

  • Aurelien

    It is my experience that revolvers are pretty much as fast as pistols on the reloading side, when you are trained properly. Based on that, i’d say when you’re proprely trained on your carry weapon, semi-auto or wheel doesnt really change a thing.
    Personally i’ll go with a semi-auto but i can see how some prefer the revolver. ANyhow, CC is not allowed here.

  • c. trapp

    When I was still smoking (and sailing), I repeatedly failed at tossing cigarette butts overboard by hitting the 6 mm wire of the boat’s sea fence. From four meters away in windy conditions while aiming at the ocean. Such things just happen and laugh in the face of probability.

  • Don

    Hellhound,

    Yes, it has “truly” happened to me more than once and yes I wouldn’t have believed it either. In the thousands of rounds I have fired I’m not saying it’s something likely to worry about though.

    -Don

  • http://gunnuts.net Caleb

    The one problem with the whole “revolvers don’t fail” line of reasoning is that it’s not true. While the common naughties that affect semi-automatic pistols don’t mess up your wheelgun, if/when a wheelgun does stop going bang for a non-ammo related reason you generally can’t clear the malfunction with the assistance of a pair of pliers and a screwdriver.

  • Carl

    I would suggest looking at what the professionals use. Cops, soldiers, bodyguards etc.

  • Stu C.

    The whole casing bouncing back into the ejection port has happenned to me several times as well. An advantage not often thought about, if you reload it is much easier to collect your casing from a revolver rather than chase them across the range floor.

  • http://www.msn.com Ermac

    “There is little doubt a revolver is loaded and many times the threat/attacker will see it’s loaded by simply looking at the cylinder and seeing the ammunition in it.”

    The dirtbag can think my autoloader is not loaded at his own peril.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

      Ermac, LOL

  • Tom Stone

    Snubbies take a lot of practice to shoot well in my experience,I am very fond of my 442 and am quite comfortable with it as a self defense weapon.I also like my Kimber cdp2.they each have advantages for different situations and neither is perfect.If push comes to shove any firearm that works is just fine.

  • http://www.practicalgunreview.blogspot.com practicalgunreview

    Revolver or Semi? Whichever you practice with is the most deadly! I prefer to practice with my Semi-auto.

  • Hellhound

    The whole casing bouncing back into the ejection port is amazing to hear that many people have experienced this. I’m just wondering which way is the rim facing when you find it jamming your weapon?

  • Aurelien

    “The one problem with the whole “revolvers don’t fail” line of reasoning is that it’s not true. While the common naughties that affect semi-automatic pistols don’t mess up your wheelgun, if/when a wheelgun does stop going bang for a non-ammo related reason you generally can’t clear the malfunction with the assistance of a pair of pliers and a screwdriver.”

    I’ve had a 686 fail me one time, that did not go well. On the other hand, every failure i’ve had with semi-autos were cleared on site with a basic kit.

  • http://www.dooms-day-device.com Puke

    I like both. Kind of like watches.
    Revolvers are my fancy open-carry guns. Like my analog fancy watch.

    But when I just want something that works and isn’t quite as pretty I use a pistol or a digital Timex.

  • Matt Groom

    For plinking, reloading, target shooting, and hunting, I likes my rotators.

    For concealed carry and combat-oriented backup, I like bottom feeders.

  • Zach

    I like both, both have their merits. But as stated above when a revolver has a problem it’s ususally fatal, but it doesn’t happen often. Auto loaders have that more often but usually you slap the mag rack the slide and you’re back in the fight. But both shoot well and very fast, just keep in mind you have to train differently for a wheelgun then with a semi.

  • Dave Faulkner

    dude auto loader no doubt
    auto loaders all the way

  • gunslinger

    DavidR

    you were right, it did turn into a wheel vs auto discussion.

    I just want to add my 2c about the article itself. the debate is one like the AK vs AR or Mossberg vs Remington, MN 91/30 vs K98, etc… I’ve seen plenty of articles where the author had a bias towards one or the other.

    really, this article seemed like just a bunch of self-hype press release. but any thing from a company that says their company is the best, take with a grain of salt. would you believe a pr that toyota came out with saying toyota cars are the best compared to others? i don’t think so.

    so yeah, it doesn’t surprise me that CA did this, but wow. at least try and hide the bias in it first.

  • Thomas

    I not only like autos, I prefer a semi-auto for most self defense applications. However, a revolver is less susceptible to failure than are autos. Autos are much more ammo sensitive and they have more moving parts to fail. Also, revolvers require less training to use safely and effectively. But, the autopistol provides more on-board ammo, a slightly higher rate of fire and much faster reloading.

    About failures. Revolvers have two types of failures that render them inoperable, one is a blocked barrel from a squib load and the other is a mechanical breakage that causes them to fail. Auto pistols have these two types of failures in common with wheelguns and it renders them them as fatally inoperable as they do the revolver. And the mechanical failure is slightly more common in auto pistols because they have more parts, the failure of which, will kill the weapon. The auto pistol also experiences stoppages from improper grips, under powered ammunition and magazine faults. These latter can usually be cleared quickly, if the operator is properly trained to do so quickly.