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Top 9 Reasons Why You Need a Revolver for Self-Defense

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Editor’s Note: Today’s article is courtesy of Ben Baker. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter the Prepper Journal’s Writing Contest today.


Packing heat is always a good idea because you never know what this world is going to throw at you next. Revolvers make an excellent choice as a Concealed Carry Weapon, backup or self-defense piece. Here are seven reasons why the wheel gun excels.

Dependability

Revolvers have the earned reputation of being dependable under pressure.

A wheel gun can put up with a lot more abuse than an auto-loader. Drop it in the dirt. Roll it around in the mud. It is still going to function. Semi-autos are a lot more finicky about dirt and dust.

Even a cheap revolver is going to shoot a round that fits correctly in a cylinder chamber. New ammo or reloads, it does not matter. You can mix loads too. Load the first one or two out the barrel with a hot JHP to avoid over-penetration. Then, lower power loads behind that like lead ball to fill the rest of the cylinder.

Auto-loaders definitely express preferences in ammo. I once had a 1911 that digested factory JHP and FMJ just fine. Drop some hand-loaded round ball and it jammed every time.

Revolvers do not jam. Auto-loaders can. Misfeeds can be caused by a bent lip that you didn’t notice before slapping a new mag home or a weak mag spring. Auto-loaders are also susceptible to “limp wristing”, a problem that a revolver never has.

Fits your hand better

Even a cheap revolver is going to shoot a round that fits correctly in a cylinder chamber. New ammo or reloads, it does not matter.

Even a cheap revolver is going to shoot a round that fits correctly in a cylinder chamber. New ammo or reloads, it does not matter.

Revolvers come in all sizes from the diminutive North American Arms .22 and .22 Mag to the behemoth North American Arms BFR in .45-70

Auto-loaders do get small, but not as small as the NAA revolver.

The BFR is not suited for concealed carry, unless you are about 12 feet tall. A lot of people say the NAA revolvers are also not suited for concealed carry. If you must have maximum concealment and minimum size, the NAA offers fit both categories. If the choice is between no gun or an NAA revolver, these pocket powerhouses win every time.

Read More: Top 5 Firearms you need to get your hands on now!

Auto-loaders do not reach the sheer size of the BFR either.

A new generation of auto-loaders with different grips is out. Revolvers have had this for years and the choices are much broader.

A good revolver will also fit in the best hunting backpacks as a backup.

Shooter Friendly

Light loads are the perfect way to get used to shooting a revolver and to teach newbies. Shoot light and carry hot.

Light loads are the perfect way to get used to shooting a revolver and to teach newbies. Shoot light and carry hot.

The revolver is more shooter friendly than an auto-loader. Because the revolver does not require recoil or gas to cycle, you can load revolver rounds very light. If you load auto-loader rounds light, you run the risk of a jam. The slide may not come all the way back. It may come back just far enough to begin the ejection of spent brass, but not complete it. There is another jam.

Light loads are the perfect way to get used to shooting a revolver and to teach newbies. Shoot light and carry hot.

Auto-loaders have a slide that comes back to cycle the weapon. More than one person has been pinched by the slide, usually because of limp wristing.

Easier to repair

A revolver has just a few parts. Most revolver parts can be milled in short order by any good metal shop.

Greater Durability

Revolvers have the least chance of failure of any handgun except single shots and the derringer.

Revolvers have the least chance of failure of any handgun except single shots and the derringer.

The revolver is older than the auto-loader. What we know from a century of using both firearms is that the revolver lasts longer. Shooting does wear both firearms, but a well-built wheelmen will last longer than all but the most expensive semis.

The move to polymer parts on handguns in the semis is another reason many of these guns will not last as long as a wheelgun. Plastic, call it what it is, won’t hold up the way steel does.

Put another way, revolvers have the least chance of failure of any handgun except single shots and the derringer.

Safer

The revolver does not have a safety by and large. A few, like the Heritage rim-fire, do have a safety, but this is not common. Why no safety? Not needed. To make the revolver fire, the hammer-firing pin has to hit the primer hard enough to effect a detonation.

Double action revolvers do take some strength to pull that trigger to cock the hammer. Single action means you have to manually cock the hammer.

If the hammer is back, you know the gun is ready to fire. In a semi auto, especially with no exposed hammer, you have no idea if the gun is ready to fire.

Easier to Clean

Cleaning a wheelgun means running a patch down the barrel and through the cylinder chambers. Cleaning an auto means field stripping and putting it back together. For experienced shooters, this is not a problem. For someone who is new to guns, it can be daunting.

Law Friendly

Getting a permit to carry a revolver is easier in states that link a carry permit to the type of gun. Even New Jersey is more likely to issue a permit for a wheelgun than an auto. If you live in a state where the permit is keyed to you instead of the gun, a revolver still makes a good choice.

Conceal-ability

Hiding a revolver is easy. Modern holsters hide the profile very well. The holsters also come with features that make the holster snag in your pocket when drawing. You come out with the gun, the leather stays behind.

Revolvers also carry well in a shoulder holster, if that’s your thing.

I carry a Cobra hammerless snub .38 in a Bianchi 152 holster. The pistol is rated for +P ammo. The little holster fits most snubs. This is the second .38 snub I’ve had as a carry piece. The first one was traded to lady who wanted something for her purse and had a rifle I wanted. If I ever trade this one, its replacement will be a .357 snub hammerless or shrouded hammer. That way I can carry .38 Smith & Wesson, .38 Short Colt, .38 Special or .357.

About the author: Short, round, genius with a thing for hunting, fishing, well-aged bourbon and dark beer, Ben Baker is a hunter and fisherman based in South Georgia. He’s traveled North America hunting and fishing. You can read more articles from Ben at https://stayhunting.com.

27 Comments

  1. Ben Leucking

    June 12, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    No argument from me about wheel guns – I have models in three different calibers. Although revolvers (in the right size) are easily concealable, I would only go to one if my semi failed for some reason. If you use good ammo and properly maintain your firearm, there is no reason for a semi-auto to fail. The simple truth is that semi’s provide more rounds in the magazine. Also, revolvers transmit more recoil because the barrel length tends to be pretty short and none of the gas is used to eject the spent cartridge. I will never ditch my semi-auto pistols or my revolvers. They both have their place.

    • david blanchard

      June 12, 2017 at 8:02 pm

      When it hits the fan my four inch 629 Smith in a .44 mag caliber beats any automatic in any caliber !

  2. equippedcat

    June 12, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    Revolvers don’t conceal as well as semi’s because of that which revolves – the cylinder. This makes it thicker than most semi’s and “bulge” more. On the other hand, you can leave a revolver loaded “forever” and not worry about any spring “taking a set” and failing when you really need it. This makes the revolver particularly suited for a defensive weapon which you don’t normally carry, such as a “bedside” gun. Of course, you CAN carry it; it just takes a bit more effort to conceal it well.

    Revolvers generally hold fewer rounds than a semi and are slower to reload. Which is only a problem if you need more than 5 or 6 rounds; if you do need more, it is a big problem. Speedloaders can help with this but require a lot of practice iito be fast and reliable..

    Perhaps the ultimate defensive revolver is a .45 ACP revolver using Full Moon clips. With only a little practice, these reload almost as fast and reliably as a magazine fed semi.

    • DA

      June 13, 2017 at 1:55 am

      I’ve heard that the magazine spring taking a set is a myth. It’s loading and unloading that kills the spring. In theory, it’s best to just keep the mags loaded all the time.

      • equippedcat

        June 16, 2017 at 12:37 am

        Well I haven’t experienced a magazine spring set, but that may be because I didn’t use to keep loaded magazines around. I did once have a striker fired 22 automatic which stopped reliably igniting the shells due to the hammer spring taking a set stored under tension.

  3. Matthew Wooddell

    June 12, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    Awesome article! Thanks for writing. It was a really good read!

  4. Greg Cantin

    June 13, 2017 at 1:09 am

    A concealable revolver is not as accurate as a good semi of the same size. I’ve had both and like the new semi’s better.

    • Novice

      June 13, 2017 at 3:42 pm

      Most new shooters get the opposite result. Due to the length of trigger pull on a striker fired pistol accuracy suffers for those who don’t know how to compensate for it or don’t train with it.

  5. DA

    June 13, 2017 at 2:41 am

    Don’t get me wrong, I love revolvers. And they are beautifully simple. But this article contains a lot of passion-fueled misinformation. I’m sure I’ll get blasted for this, but here are a few rebuttals …

    Auto-loaders also come in all shapes and sizes and fit the hand quite well.
    Auto-loaders are not unreliable. Military and law enforcement carry them almost exclusively because they meet their strict reliability rules. Glock, Sig, Ruger, and many others make totally reliable pieces that will shoot just about anything you shove in them.
    “Shoot light and carry hot” is terrible advice. The worst. Everyone please erase that from your memory. You need to practice with the same (or similar) round you’ll have under pressure. If the load is hot when stress is high and you’re not ready for it, you’ll miss. A lot. And with a revolver you only have 6 chances (good for innocent bystanders, I suppose).
    Polymers are very durable, especially those used in firearms. In some situations (moist environments) a polymer frame performs better. Fiber-reinforced polymers can also outperform steel in strength-to-weight ratio (great for everyday carry).
    In terms of repairs, you could argue that auto-loaders are easier. They tear down so you just pull out the offending part and drop in a new one. Keep some spares around. No visit to the machine shop required.
    One of the noted upsides of revolvers is the visible hammer, but hammerless revolvers are the format of choice for concealment and are even recommended at the end of the article. And, for the record, you can get an auto-loader with an exposed hammer too.
    Concealed carry revolvers typically exhibit more recoil than a similarly sized auto-loaders. A 380 auto or light-loaded 9mm is one of the easier pieces for a new shooter to handle. (And, no a good 9mm loaded light will not experience problems)
    If you are getting pinched by the slide (not common), you aren’t familiar enough with your weapon to be carrying it in the first place. Spend more time at the range.
    ^ Ditto if you don’t know how to clean your semi (it’s really not hard at all).
    In states where you need a revolver to carry, do it. In the majority, that’s not a concern.
    The semi is better design if “no print” concealment is of concern. The wheel just doesn’t conceal as well.

    In the end, if saving lives in a critical situation is the intent, I want as many rounds at my disposal as possible. As an everyday carry piece, I’m unlikely to carry extra rounds. I’m going to have what’s in my gun and nothing more. With options ranging from 5+1 (small, single-stack gun) up to 17+1 (full-size, double-stack), you simply have more rounds with the auto-loader format. That’s hard to argue with as a primary carry choice.

    • RL Puckett

      June 16, 2017 at 2:41 pm

      I agree with you. I have revolvers. But my auto-loaders are easier to carry and conceal, are just as accurate, are a snap to disassemble for maintenance or repair (although I have not needed any repairs so far), and provide more fire power. I can’t imagine dumping a revolver in mud and/or dirt and expect it to continue to operate dependably, but my Glocks will!

  6. Flattop

    June 13, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Using a weapon, whether it be a handgun, rifle, shotgun, should always be a defense of last resort. When you send a round of ammo into a persons body, it opens up several scenarios of which none are good. Your personal reaction to what you have just done, law enforcement, medical services for the victim if you have not terminated their life, and other. You need to prepare yourself mentally for all the above prior to any confrontation with a weapon.

  7. Meledie Knopf

    June 13, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    All aside, the strength in the shooter’s hand(s) is the deciding factor for me. Simply put, my hands have become weakened by crippling arthritis and has limited me to a revolver. I can no longer pull back a slide, nor can I field strip a semi anymore. I am thankful for the reliable, easy to load/clean revolver. My preferred carry .38 snub nose J-frame is a wee bit bulkier concealed, but still out-of-sight in my jean’s pocket. I have a .22 9-shooter in my EDC bag. My .357 mag, .44 mag, and .45 all loaded and perfect for sitting by my side while driving. No need for a quick reload. Just how fast I can pick up a different revolver.

  8. Meledie Knopf

    June 13, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    This was a great and appreciated article! Thanks for sharing your detailed findings! I’m seriously going to pick up an NAA mini. It sounds like the perfect pocket gun! I had shyed away from them because I didn’t think they’d be reliable or strong. I am happy to find out that’s not the case.

  9. vocalpatriot

    June 13, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    2 revolvers are desirable, a .22lr or .22 mag and a .357mag or .44 mag. the rest just ain’t needed.

  10. R. Ann

    June 14, 2017 at 1:59 am

    x2 – DA – June 13, 2017 at 2:41 am – ‘“Shoot light and carry hot” is terrible advice. The worst. Everyone please erase that from your memory. You need to practice with the same (or similar) round you’ll have under pressure.’ – Find a FMJ or wadcutter practice ammo that both shoots to the same point of aim ECU and CU/MS, & FEELS the same as your defensive or hunting ammo.

    In defense of revolvers, however, people with problem hands (injury, EOA/EORA, age; safe to shoot and carry but with physical restrictions) CAN routinely get that one bar/pin pushed in enough to remove the cylinder & then get the cylinder back in & re-set for cleaning and maintenance easier than they can a lot of semi-autos.

    It’s also sometimes to regularly easier on older & weakened hands to reload a revolver over a semi-auto, especially the smaller rounds, newer mags with tighter springs. The easier it is to practice, the more practice gets done, the better the shooter. Without hand fatigue from loading, better practice or more legitimately good practice.

    My overall is that there is a reason firearms (& airguns) diversified – they all have pro’s and con’s.
    Cheers!
    Rebecca Ann

    • Roger

      June 14, 2017 at 11:18 am

      Revolvers are safer and more accurate for novice shooters the biggest drawback in my opinion is I prefer NATO caliber rounds

      • R. Ann

        June 15, 2017 at 11:43 am

        You replied to my comment, so I’m going to go ahead and address these two.
        Every gun is loaded, and should be treated as such until it’s in pieces or has a flag in it. That safety thing … no. Not as a blanket statement, and not with the “you can see the hammer, see” argument from above.
        Modern revolvers have a bar between them and the hammer, whereas old revolvers didn’t (which is why CAS/SASS shooters follow the old horseback rule of load one, skip one, load four, so revolvers are all sitting on an empty chamber and period and replica and mid-80s guns don’t go “boom” if they’re dropped or have an idiot/ignorant shooter behind the trigger).
        If your semi-auto goes boom all by itself, it needed a gunsmith and to not be carried in the first place, or for more unloaded and dummy gun practice to be conducted before somebody started drawing it.

        As far as revolvers being more accurate … no again.
        Two general things happen to affect accuracy – the sights and the speed with which sights can be acquired, and somebody fighting too long/hard of a trigger pull.
        (I’m throwing out #1-ammo, because I reload my own ammo, and have churned out both precision and “lob it” crap, jusst like I have bought both precision and “lob it” crap.)
        A DA that is cocked already may have a shorter trigger pull than SOME semi’s, but not all, giving it minutely less pull and more accuracy for people who can’t hold sights for a long, stiff pull. That’s some revolvers, over some semi’s. And trigger pull is one of those $50-100 smithing jobs if it’s a real problem (although with some-many revolvers, there’s also a set of springs in the handles that is not the rec’d way to lower pull and get a looser trigger in 30 seconds with just a screwdriver).

        Revolvers have the same range of sights on them as semi-autos.
        I have yet to see a semi-auto that only has a groove notch in the frame for a rear sight to go with a blade of varying height. I OWN both replica CAS/SASS revolvers (Vaquero, Colt 1909, Schofield 855), hunting, and defensive and CCW revolvers (RIA M206, Ruger SP-101, S&W Model 13, Taurus Judge) that don’t have what I’m going to call “elevated” rear sights – just that frame groove.
        I’d like to say the Chiappa does too, which is a NATO-caliber revolver with a VERY different grip from anything else, but I can’t actually remember right now.
        That groove is NOT an easier shot than the blocky sights where the front blade fills the gap of a Sig or a Glock, and it’s only neck-and-neck for a tougher, more time-consuming, more light-dependent shot than the low-profile thin- and low-blade fixed sights on my Wild Bunch 1911.
        I’d bet there are other revolvers with either the same loose sights as the 1911 or the off-the-shelf Benjamin NP trail pistol that require lining up a front sight inside a lot of space, or that groove sight – like, many of the hammerless snubby revolvers I can call to mind – which puts them WAY behind guns that have good ammo, a shooter who practices consistency, and sights that have smaller gaps in the sight alignment phase (and are faster and easier to keep aligned because of it).
        So accuracy? No.
        Accuracy is very gun and person specific, NOT general firearm type. That’s like saying a pump shotgun is more accurate than a semi, or a bolt rifle is more accurate than a semi.

        And, yes, I have revolvers for some jobs, prefer them in some situations, and have carried and CCW’d both revolvers and semi’s, compact and full-size. I can even tell you which stripper clips work for .45LC and .38Spc or .357 as an alternative way to carry a few extra rounds with less imprint in chicks’ dress clothes.
        It’s not a general hatred of revolvers – I love my revolvers like I love my 870 and my dogs and my bacon.

    • DA

      June 15, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      You make a great point about special circumstances (which I wasn’t addressing).

      There are plenty of semi options that work for the general population. OTOH, if you have a unique condition like arthritic hands then your daily carry needs to fit that condition. The right gun may very well be a revolver so go for it

      Revolvers are great. Just not to the detriment of other options.

      • R. Ann

        June 16, 2017 at 5:40 am

        100% agree on your “right gun” and “other options”. Firearms (and airguns) diversified for a reason.

        Ammo caliber and heat, firearm weight (comfort, wrist-hand strength, recoil suppressant), double stack vs single stack, carry-profile over exposed hammers, and if or WHERE we plan to carry, on our bodies and our climate-lube pairings (especially for the .22s that get pushed sometimes, and tube mags in rifles that don’t side-hatch load) all affect what gun is right for us.

        It comes down to comfort in our hands and shoulders and on our belts/ribs.
        I’ll also say it comes down to comfort in our headspace, too – although some eddimification in action types and deployment options is a major plus. If we’re not confident in something, there are too many places to rent a machine, get training (regularly for free or lower cost) and gain the familiarity and comfort before buying to get locked into any one particular firearm type.

        There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to guns.
        That’s why military, police, ranchers, and hunters all tend to have more than one tool in the toolbox (by squad and squad car and platoon, by bells and whistles we can hang, by calling in SF and SWAT and QRF and arty/CAS; by knowing when we’re in shotgun shot range and need, and when a single projectile is mo’ bettah so’s we don’t shoot our livestock saving it from a yote or coon, or only take out one deer, not a deer and the one standing beside it or a bug-eating songbird 10 yards past it), and why we can benefit from the same.
        Throwing away one general action type by declaring another a be-all is shooting ourselves in the foot.
        🙂
        Cheers!
        Rebecca Ann

  11. Jon

    June 14, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    Really a revolver doesn’t jam and they last longer. These statements alone tells me the author is clueless. They jam my friends, and when they break unlike a Glock you need a trained gunsmith to fix them. There’re people still carrying 1911s, that are over a 100 years old. I challenge you to find someone who carries a revolver that’s over that age, not some pre-1899 replica either. I’ve linked a great article from us concealed carry that addresses the authors misstatements well.

    https://www.usconcealedcarry.com/revolvers-dont-jam-firearms-myths/

    • DA

      June 15, 2017 at 2:36 pm

      Great article. This is a great “experience stat”. Reminds me to think twice about daily carry with one mag …

      “more than 90 percent of malfunctions in a semi-auto pistol can be remedied by ripping out the existing magazine, running the slide, and inserting a fresh magazine. Short of a serious parts breakage, the most common failures in a semi-automatic pistol are all ammunition or magazine related.”

  12. Larry Mast

    June 15, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    Revolvers can’t be fired unless already cocked with hammer back if the cylinder can’t rotate… Making them slightly less reliable.. If attacker grabs and holds the uncocked revolver by the cylinder, it can’t rotate to allow chocking and fitting, and it becomes useless for defense. A chamfered but uncocked double action semi auto can be fired with safety off by simply pulling the trigger even if the slide is firmly held by an assailant. Most modern semi autos now have a loaded chamber indicator and manual safety. Many modern revolvers have manual hammer/firing pin block safeties… Which can prevent accidental discharge if the revolver is dropped on a hard surface and lands on the hammer… Which can cause discharge in many older safetyless revolvers. Most robbery or mugging scenarios happen with less than 8 ft separation…many at less than three feet (within arm reach of assailants). Many fatal shooting incidents happen at about 6 ft separation. Be able to quickly draw and put a bullet in each of three separated 2″ circles in less than six seconds at 6 feet distance to be “safe and sure”. Things to think about.

    • Larry Mast

      June 15, 2017 at 4:05 pm

      Also, proper grip is key to reflexive target acquisition. Hold the grip firmly, but not tightly, look at a target, close your eyes focusing on target in your mind, raise the pistol to firing position, look at the sight picture relative to the target: if the sight alignment is on target as you “point” with your hand, the pistol grip is correct for you. If the sight picture the pistol is left, right, down, or up from the correct target acquisition alignment, the grip is a mis-fit for you, so try a different pistol. At ten feet, prior grip fit largely eliminates the need to “aim” using the sights. Practice makes for better accuracy!

  13. Bob Arky

    June 25, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    No. 10: No brass left behind in case you are forced to run to survive.

  14. David

    June 25, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    The author got quite a bit wrong. Revolvers sustain abuse better?! Toss your favorite revolver in some mud and see how long it is before you’re able to fire the first shot. Or, hold your revolver sideways and drop it. On concrete. The cylinder will likely lock up, taking it out of action. Now, do those things with a Glock/M&P/XD, etc. Aside from aesthetic scars, the gun(s) will run just fine.

    Revolvers don’t jam? Those are the words of someone who doesn’t fire revolvers much.

    Revolvers outlast auto loaders? See above.

    I like revolvers, but, unlike the author, I’m very much aware of their deficiencies.

  15. Jim Kramer

    June 25, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    I own both types, but my go to is a S&W Airweight Bodyguard J-frame in 38+p. An Ajax spring kit and some light polishing took the double action trigger pull from 13 gravelly pounds to 9lbs and smooth as glass.

  16. Gary Gaiser

    June 28, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    If a revolver is what you want then a revolver you shall have, I’ll be over here with my well maintained highly reliable semi auto with more then double the round count and the ability to reload in seconds. I am and will remain proficient at operating, cleaning and maintaining my firearm in perfect condition.

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