I am one of those millennial gun owners. Being on that fringe of 33 years old I like to align myself with modern technologies and a taste of the old school as well. If you looked into my gun safe you would see a pretty even collection of modern or polymer, semi-auto handguns as well as a robust collection of wheelguns. So, that begs the question… Which are better? To answer that question, I would further press someone as to what they are using their handgun for? At what distance? And what are we taking down? Is it paper targets, squirrels, or grizzly bears? To frame the question helps us answer it. Regardless of the scenario or clawed combatant, in this week’s Wheelgun Wednesday I will offer up 5 Reasons Why Revolvers are RAD, and why they should not be overlooked as outdated, too old, or not viable in the 21st century. Let’s dive in!
5 Reasons Why Revolvers are RAD: #1 – Big stinkin’ cartridges
There is not much to explain here. If you want to curb stomp a steel plate into next Wednesday, or you are going to go hiking in grizzly country and want to tell about it, then you want a big stinkin’ cartridge! With the ability to own snubby revolvers chambered in .44 Magnum, .460 S&W Magnum, and even .500 S&W Magnum you can carry around a LOT of power in a tiny package.
To play devil’s advocate to myself, yes, semi-auto handguns are chambered in big cartridges also like the Magnum Research Desert Eagle in .50 Action Express (.50 A&E), but it simply does not compare to the thunderous ballistics of some of the revolver rounds out there. Plus, you need to have Paul Bunyan hands to adequately grasp a Desert Eagle. Conversely, most revolver frames are standardized sizes where there is a bevy of aftermarket grips you can purchase to suit your personal hand size and needs.
5 Reasons Why Revolvers are RAD: #2 – ability to shoot multiple cartridges
While semi-auto handguns are cool and all, they definitely cannot shoot multiple cartridges in the same barrel. Look at a wheelgun chambered in .460 S&W Magnum for example. Those revolvers can blast .460 S&W Mag, .45 Long Colt, and .454 Casull to allow for multiple uses without ever changing a single component on the firearm. Drop in 2 of each cartridge, spin the cylinder for a surprise, and the gun can safely and effectively shoot all 3 cartridges. Yes, semi-auto handguns can shoot multiple cartridges (sometimes using the same magazine even), but then they require additional barrels (more money out of your pocket). The .460 S&W Magnum is maybe one of the best examples, but there are many others.
- .32 H&R Magnum – .32 S&W | .32 S&W Long | .32 H&R Magnum
- .357 Magnum – .38 Special | .357 Magnum
- .44 Magnum – .44 Special | .44 Magnum
- .460 S&W Magnum – .45 Long Colt | .454 Casull | .460 S&W Magnum
These are a few of the common examples where you can basically shoot a less powerful cartridge out of a wheelgun for lighter-recoiling paper punching, and then you always have the option to throw in the full-house, steam-roll round as well for some serious blasting. The ability to shoot multiple cartridges in revolvers makes them pretty rad.
5 Reasons Why Revolvers are RAD: #3 – nostalgia that never dies
One of the faces on the Mount Rushmore of firearms, Samuel Colt, gave us a lifetime of wheelguns and provided the blueprints, technologies, and stepping stones to 100+ years of revolver goodness. If not for the failures, successes, and foibles in his early pursuits who knows where handgun technology would currently lie. We have a lot to thank for one audacious man’s endeavors in the pursuit of igniting gunpowder in repeating arms.
If Samuel Colt does not drum up intrigue for you then for many of us it can be traced back to Clint Eastwood in timeless classics like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly plus many more classic westerns. Who did not grow up wanting to be a sheriff, righting all the wrongs in a dusty ol’ town, and catching the favor of all the ladies? A pretty romanticized story indeed, but because of that, I would beg my mother as a child every time we stopped by the local apothecary to get one of those admittedly junky, plastic cap guns. You know the ones. Lots of orange plastic, semi-transparent, prone to breaking, but loud enough to scare the bejeezus out of your brother or the neighbor’s cat. Revolvers are rad because they simply invoke nostalgia that semi-auto pistols do not have.
5 Reasons Why Revolvers are RAD: #4 – scopes for long distance lead lobbin’
When was the last time you saw a 2-7x32mm handgun scope on a Glock?… The answer is never. With revolvers, it is totally feasible to put an extended eye relief, or handgun scope, on most of them to let the blistering ballistics work for you over long distances. If you want to go deer hunting with your Ruger Super Redhawk, Taurus Raging Hunter, or Smith & Wesson 629 all of these revolvers can have a Picatinny rail or rings mounted directly on them to allow for the adaptation of a scope.
While it is all the rage to put micro red dots on semi-auto handguns, and I have completely jumped on that bandwagon as well, it is next to impossible without some extreme gunsmithing to get a scope with magnification on a semi-auto handgun. That is why revolvers have a leg up on their polymer counterparts when it comes to shooting long-distances. Not only do revolvers have many more cartridges that could punch out to 100 yards, but they also are more ready from the factory to allow for the optics to make those shots easier.
5 Reasons Why Revolvers are RAD: #5 – heavy metal
Like an ’80s heavy metal rock band, metal guns simply are better in so many ways. Without getting too nerdy, metal guns are more rigid, produce better harmonics throughout the firearm, and have tighter tolerances (when the manufacturer does their job). In comparison to many semi-auto handguns constructed of plastic, regardless of how you produce a polymer gun there is going to be more flex, more “whip,” and more lesser tolerances from the word BANG! This is not an indictment on polymer gun manufacturers, but in comparison to metal… heavy metal does it better.
Anecdotally speaking, I have had significantly more broken semi-auto handguns through the 12 years my family’s gun shop has been selling arms than revolvers. In fact, I can probably count less than 10 revolvers out of thousands we have sold that have required warranty work. Typically it takes a negligent user to wreck a revolver… I wAnTeD tO pUsH tHe BaLlIsTiCs So I wEnT bEyOnD rEcOmMeNdEd PrEsSuReS wItH mY rElOaDs… don’t be that guy that blows up a .44 Magnum, simply don’t. Aside from those errant users, revolvers flatly have less issues than polymer guns.
So, while I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on the Top 5 Reasons Why Revolvers are RAD if you ended up getting triggered do not worry, you can have your payback next week. Check out next week’s Wheelgun Wednesday where I will counter myself with the Top 5 Reason Why Revolvers are the WORST! As always, we hope we have inspired you to spark some conversation in the Comments and you let us know what you think. We always appreciate your feedback.