How much more reliable have your revolvers been than your semi-autos?

This is a discussion on How much more reliable have your revolvers been than your semi-autos? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Revolvers can jam, but it has been less often for me - as in a handful of times over 35 years. My 22 kit gun ...

View Poll Results: How much more reliable have your revolvers been than your semi-autos?

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  • Much more reliable.

    51 39.84%
  • Much less reliable.

    1 0.78%
  • About the same.

    76 59.38%
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Thread: How much more reliable have your revolvers been than your semi-autos?

  1. #31
    Member Array bsms's Avatar
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    Revolvers can jam, but it has been less often for me - as in a handful of times over 35 years. My 22 kit gun had such a narrow cylinder gap that I finally filed it it open it a little...otherwise it would bind up after perhaps 50 rounds. But it has been good to go for the last 30+ years. I had a new S&W that would only fire DA. Turned out the strain screw was about to fall out, and I hadn't checked that. Once tightened, it shot everything asked. If you buy reloaded ammo at a gun show, it is a good idea to check for primers sticking out. That can prevent the gun from firing, although I wouldn't use ammo reloaded by a stranger as defense ammo. And that is it.

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  3. #32
    Senior Member Array Phillep Harding's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlr1m View Post
    Anyone else ever loaded up a new bullet style in their reloads only to find out when you get to the range that they need to be seated just a tad farther back?
    Thnx. Hadn't thought of that. Means a lower max load.

  4. #33
    New Member Array jonny4523's Avatar
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    I gave 3 semi autos the I shoot the most: Springfield XD (USPSA), Glock 36 (carry,IDPA) and Springfield TRP (all 3). The XD has THOUSANDS of rounds through it. Probably 2-3k through the 36. The TRP is new and only has around 500 or so through it. The only issue I've had with any of them were ammo related (improperly sized reloads). After I corrected the issue with my reloading technique, all run like champs. I wouldn't hesitate to trust my life to any of them.

    I think as long as you buy quality and practice using correct techniques, a semi will benefit you.

  5. #34
    New Member Array Stanman's Avatar
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    Common Sense

    Quote Originally Posted by soIcouldSee View Post
    So I'm trying to decide whether I want to primary carry a revolver or a semi-auto.

    On the one hand, the semi-auto is more appealing because of the lower recoil, lighter trigger pull, much higher capacity (often over 10, vs. just 5, maybe 6 for the revolver), and the choice of superior (I think) calibers. (Yes the .357 is a great caliber but it tends to have quite a bit of recoil and muzzle flash, especially in a J-frame.)

    On the other hand, the revolver is more appealing for one huge reason that could potentially outweigh (for me) all of the benefits of a semi-auto: reliability. From what I've read at least, revolvers are much more reliable, and less picky about how you hold it, if you limp wrist it, etc. If nothing happens when you pull the trigger, just pull it again. Of course, malfunction-proof they are not, and if a revolver malfunctions, it's not easy to fix. Whereas with a semi-auto you can typically fix the issue pretty easily. But still, in the reading that I've done -- unfortunately there's no official scientific test comparing the reliability between the two -- malfunctions of revolvers seem to be few and far between compared to semi-autos. But maybe that's not actually true?

    So my question for you guys is this (I also created a poll, but further elaboration would be awesome if possible, such as what model(s) you have): how much more reliable/free-from-malfunction have your revolver(s) been compared to your semi-auto(s)? Taking into consideration the difference in fired round count between your revolver(s) and your semi-auto(s) of course.

    Thanks in advance!
    Most important in any decision is deciding on the purpose by which you are making your selection. What will be the likely encounter that you anticipate? Consider the fact that most firefights are known to take place at relatively short range, about 21 feet or less. I would also consider the fact that trying to fire a semi-auto from a pocket, if necessary, is far more prone to malfunction with clothing or the slide hitting your anatomy than a snub-nose revolver with an enclosed hammer. Another fact is that one shot on target is better than fifteen that miss. Consider what you will shoot the best and find the weapon that meets your priorities. Often, ammunition can make up a difference in energy choice. If you can't hit with what you select, then what good is your choice?

  6. #35
    New Member Array rugerflhx's Avatar
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    you must know your gun, use the best ammo for your gun and pratice with your gun. The best quality gun always helps.

  7. #36
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    I shoot more than the average bear. One of the benefits of free ammo I suppose. Usually not that important, but for the purpose of this conversation I'd say it matters. My Glock 23 and STI 1911 have had about 12,000 rounds through them so far this year. No issues from either pistol... nor have I had problems in the past with either one other than a faulty 1911 magazine that has since been thrown away. The second round from that magazine would require a tap/rack just about every time.

    My mom's duty first duty gun was a S&W model 10. No clue how many rounds she put through it or how many I have but it isn't a small number. Never a problem. Her Model 66 is a malfunction machine due to light strikes but that's due to an idiot deciding to play gun smith with it. She has a Model 64 snubbie that's never had a hiccup. I have a 642 that runs like a champ every time you ask it to.

    On the other hand I have a PF9 that likes to give me problems. I had a Wilson 1911 that was a nightmare. I had a Hi Power that nobody could figure out but it wouldn't eject reliably no matter who shot it or who worked on it. You do have to make sure the gun will work. But if it does, you can feel pretty sure it'll keep on working as long as you maintain it properly.
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  8. #37
    Distinguished Member Array hardluk1's Avatar
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    I think with a well made and assembled pistol or revolver thats well serviced over the years ether will run for a life time. But that was before MIM and forged. Buy a borderline firearm and just know that something will break in it one day. I have a buddy with a early pair of springfireld 1911 with over 80,000 rounds thru each with no breakdowns used for match shooting. He also has a newer springfield 1911 for different class with only a few thosand rounds shot . It broke the extractor this weekend. Its ether cast or MIM piece. Broke in 3 pieces. I have an old taurus j frame and 3 DW revolvers both with forged parts that have many thousands of rounds fire and all work still like new and a 1964 colt huntsman that may have 100,000 rounds thru it. Still all orginal and a nice plinker. Buy some made today and it may not make 50 rounds.

  9. #38
    New Member Array R8RCraig's Avatar
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    Revolver reliability vs semi autos

    Gentlemen, as i often tell my daughters, the truth doesn't matter anymore, only what you choose to believe as truth matters. I love all my different guns both revolvers and semi autos. I used to constantly carry my Glock 22 40. Caliber S&W as my primary concealed carry weapon. I love that gun. However bly sweat and small of the back sweat made me constantly have to.clean it and even sandpaper some small rust spots off. So i started double packing and also carrying my SW 627 8 shot revolver in stainless steel. It never got any rust spots. So i switched to a stainless 45 ACP which is very formidable. Yet it was harder to conceal. Both semi autos required routine cleaning due to lint , belly sweat etc. as a concealed carry weapon. I used them all often. Yet the 8 shot 357 mag never rusted , always shot 8 and never had a hiccup, yet was deadly accurate, reliable, no matter the ammo or situation. It has plenty of.stopping power. As much as any semi auto. Yet i still preferred the semi autos. However my backup mags always stayed loaded as extra mags. I would just continually load the one magazine. After much use the number one magazine springs became worn and would occasionally cause stovepipes and jams even in factory ammo. So i switched to the backup mags which turns out also had worn springs from being compressed and unused causing jams and stovepipes. So i bought all new mags for both semi autos. Still occasional stovepipes and jams so i got the springs redone in the semi autos slides. Once again they functioned flawlessly with factory ammo. What i learned was that i had to put a lot more time and money into regular use and maintenance on my semi autos to keep them working awlessly and they are high quality guns. The revolvers never ever have not functioned perfectly every time in condition or circumstance, including lint, body sweat, ammo type etc. Stainless steel revolvers were best. The 8 shot sw 627 357 mag got me closer to semi auto capacity. I now only carry my 8 shot revolver for concealed carry. Reliabity and low maintenance are my priorities followed by one shot stops. The revolver won my heart. But.i believe you go with wht youike and believe best suits you. For me, I always got 8 for sure every time without question. These 8 are high one shot stop probabilities as good as a 45 acp or better in semi auto. I have ultimate confidence in my SW 627 SS 357 mag snubnose and i swear by it now. Im sure others have a different opinion, but that is my experience. For open.carry i prefer the 45 acp. But concealed i go.with my revo. Always eight and straight.

  10. #39
    Senior Member Array RebelSoul's Avatar
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    My "insert brand name" semi runs flawless. All I've done is change the springs, buy new mags, polish the ramp, talk to it real sweet - works every time. I mean, I had a dozen FTF or FTE, but after 500 rounds I trust it.

    Super, to get my Smith revolvers ready - I open the box.

    There are some fine semi autos out there for sure - glock, S&W M&P, others...but theres not one person here who has shot semi's that can honestly say they have never experienced a FTF, FTE, or jam. It's just a fact it sometimes happens.

    I'll wager there are some however who have never experienced a revolver misfire of any kind whatsoever. I for one never have.
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  11. #40
    Senior Member Array sonnycrocket's Avatar
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    thread is 2 years old......why ?
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  12. #41
    Ex Member Array DetChris's Avatar
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    How much more reliable have your revolvers been than your semi-autos?

    If you buy top of the line for either platform (S&W or Ruger for revolvers, same two plus Glock for the other) it'll be almost equal. I've carried and owned both before but switched solely to semis, specifically Glocks.

    Are revolvers more reliable? Maybe. Until you forget to fully depress the trigger to reset and it trips up the cylinder action. Or when you have to reload (a very real possibility with only 5 shots) under pressure or if the cylinder binds on a bad round (no tap and rack drill to clear that one).

    Will semis malfunction more? By it's very nature of relying on recoil to work it's action, yes. Bad rounds, incompatible ammo, limp wristing, and other factors can cause issues. To answer your OP, I've experienced zero malfunctions on my former revolvers aside from short stroking the trigger or fumbling a speed strip reload. But semi autos do trip up. A big majority of my Glocks have been flawless but my former G36 and my current G30S had "break in periods". Other lesser brands of semi auto pistol have been spotty to downright useless. And I've owned quite a variety!

    On the other hand semis offer high capacity, very quick follow up shots, lower recoil and lightning quick reloads that's possible under pressure.

    It comes down to 5 rounds (revolver) or 33 rounds (Glock 19) at your disposal. Buy a proven semi auto and reliability will go way up.


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    Last edited by DetChris; February 20th, 2014 at 02:34 PM.
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  13. #42
    Member Array globetruck's Avatar
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    Food for thought: just about every military and police agency has already chosen the semi over the revolver. It appears that the rater large increase in capacity and reload ability outweighs the slight decrease in reliability.

  14. #43
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    Both EDC pieces are 100% reliable.
    1911A1 and Ruger SP101 .357 snubby.
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  15. #44
    VIP Member Array StormRhydr's Avatar
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    I owned a Kahr PM 40. A rubber band gun would have been more reliable than it.

    Saying that, there are semis that actually run well. Glock being one of them.

    I would trust any revolver over that Kahr I owned, but trust my glocks as much as my snubbies.
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  16. #45
    New Member Array Payton's Avatar
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    As DetChris said the reliability of a quality revolver and a quality semi will be on par with each other as long as they are taken care of. I would recommend you go with whatever you are personally more comfortable with. I enjoy shooting revolvers much more than semis so I only carry revolvers, but if you are not completely comfortable with your gun you could end up fumbling around trying to load a revolver or work the slide and safeties on a semi.
    DetChris likes this.

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