The revolver is an awesome weapon and one you still see on the shelves of every gun store. The simple reason why is even though automatic handguns are extremely popular, the revolver still has some advantages. It’s a more elegant weapon from a less civilized time, and revolvers are proven workhorses. Here are ten reasons why the revolver is better than the semi-auto.
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Simpler to Use
Load the cylinder, pull the trigger, and call it a day. The revolver is incredibly simple in every way. So much so that learning one double-action revolver easily translates into learning how to use most double-action revolvers. Loading one is dropping round bullets into round holes and if you can do that you are golden. Revolvers have been around for a very long time and their designs have changed, but the core fundamentals are always the same.
Reliability – Mechanical and Human
Mechanically revolvers are inherently very reliable. They tend to have fewer moving parts and this prevents jams, failure to feeds, and misfires are quick and easy to fix. If the gun doesn’t go bang when you tell it, just pull the trigger and tell it again. On the human side, you can fire it without the worry of limp wristing causing a malfunction.
If you can pull the trigger, you can fire the gun. You can fire it from a purse or coat pocket, from less than ideal situations all around. Simply put the revolver conquers both mechanical and human reliability.
Revolvers are available in the most powerful of calibers. This includes rounds like the .454 Casull, the .480 Ruger, and .500 S&W Magnum. These calibers allow you to hunt game of near any size. Heck, even shotshells can be loaded into some specific revolvers. These different revolvers can be used for hunting anything from small to large dangerous game. While magnum automatics exist, they cannot chamber the most powerful rounds and are notoriously finicky.
Eats All the Ammo
Revolvers will work with all types of ammo types, as long as they are the right caliber. This includes reduced recoil loads, hollow points, soft points, wadcutters, and more. Also, some calibers allow you to interchange ammunition like .38 Special and .357 magnum, .44 Special and .44 Magnum, .454 Casull and .45 Colt, and so on and so forth. Some revolvers even have interchangeable cylinders to allow you to fire automatic cartridges like 9mm and .45 ACP.
Small Size, Big Power
A small revolver can be chambered for big cartridges. Most commonly this is a .357 Magnum in a tiny snubnose revolver. An automatic can’t match the size and power ratio of a revolver. Heck, Taurus made snubnose .41 magnum and .45 Colt guns some time back and they were off the scales powerful for a concealed carry gun.
Even outside of snubnose revolvers, a medium-frame 357 Magnum revolver is still smaller than any .357 Magnum in an automatic platform. A medium-frame .357 Magnum is roughly the same size as a compact Glock 19, but contains a whole lot more power.
Perfect for Reloaders
Do you reload your ammo? Or would you want to? It saves money, allows customizable loads, and more. Revolvers keep your ammunition in the cylinder allowing you to easily pocket it or stash it in a box or bag for reloading later. This is especially handy for shooting those expensive magnum calibers. Saving the brass cuts down a lot on ammo costs and the more you save on ammo the more you can shoot.
Easier to Conceal
Revolvers are typically easier to conceal than an automatic. Not just due to their size and power ratio, but due to their rounder design. The round grips, barrel, and cylinder are less likely to print and create lines under a t-shirt. This prevents printing and ensures your revolver is never easily spotted. Revolvers also come in what’s known as air weight models. These are incredibly lightweight weapons and very comfortable to carry.
The grip of a revolver is not subject to the size of a magazine like an automatic. This allows you to choose short grips, long grips, wide grips, and thin grips. The controls are minimal, and they can be easily accessed by hands both large and small. They are simple guns and that simplicity translates over into minimal but well-placed controls. Also, they come in a lot of different calibers from .22 LR to the most powerful production cartridge in the world, the .500 S&W Magnum. Somewhere in between those calibers, you’ll be able to find a gun that works for you size and weight.
Revolvers are beginner-friendly by the way. They allow for easy dry fire practice with an empty cylinder because all you have to do is pull the trigger. No reracking or resetting the firing pin. Revolvers are also much easier to clean and maintain. The deliberate and long trigger pull gives you a safe weapon that’s also safety free. Lastly, when training you can load every other cylinder and train to beat flinch. Flinch is the most common issue for new shooters and revolvers offer a means to easily correct it.
The Cool Guys Use Them
Who uses revolvers? Wyatt Earp, Dirty Harry, Murtaugh, and enough detectives to earn a catalog model from Colt. Revolvers are cool, stylish, and just plain awesome. Okay, this is likely the silliest reason, but I’ve bought guns for much sillier reasons. However, in the days of the roaring 30s, the revolver still ruled against machine guns and automatics, so the revolver can hold its own.
The Six Gun
Both modern revolvers and old school cowboy guns still carry a certain appeal to them. They are graceful and deliciously old school in their nature. The revolver is still a popular concealed carry weapon and new models are still produced every year. If you are looking for a revolver you should most certainly know its advantages, and its disadvantages. The best thing you can do is get out and shoot and shoot a lot. Learn your gun, and train yourself in how to use it.
Owner of Reloaderaddict.com, Boyd Smith is a major handgun enthusiast, and although he owns Glocks, he prefers the revolving wheel type. His go-to guns are a Smith & Wesson 642 Performance Center for carry and a Ruger GP100 in the nightstand biometric safe (he has kids). He loads both revolvers with old-school 148-grain Federal Gold Medal .38 wadcutters. It’s OK if you think he’s a wimp. Email him.