I wrote this some time ago, and I think it is still applicable.
I think the tactical application of a medium to large sized revolver is highly under rated. Most shooters think of revolvers in terms of small .38 back up guns, and large over powered wheel guns are just hunting pieces, and single actions are just for guys in boots and big hats.
One of the most common phrases I hear at gun shops and online in discussion forums is “Just get a Glock”. This off the cuff remark really makes me question the intellect of the speaker. Not everyone wants a Glock and a Glock is certainly not necessarily the answer to every question. Yes, I think Glocks are just fine guns for some applications, but they leave a lot to be desired… wood grips for one thing. What did people carry, and how did man kind survive before Gaston Glock saved the universe?
Most police departments carried revolvers… mostly .357 Magnums, and did so with good effect. Some may argue that, but everyone has their own opinion.
A revolver has a greater power potential than an automatic, and a greater accuracy potential as well. Revolvers are capable of putting a powerful, heavy, hard hitting slug on target, with rapidity, at longer rangers than most service grade automatics. Revolvers are capable of firing a greater variety of ammunition without effecting reliability than an automatic as well.
This gives the revolver potential tactical advantages that are not lost on those willing to open there eyes to see it… and if have ever in your life said “Just get a Glock”, you probably have not seen it. Undoubtedly MadOgre.com readers are astute enough to have seen it, so I am not worried about offending anyone here. The US Navy SEALs sometimes use .357 Magnum revolvers on a mission. This makes me curious about that missions nature that made them want to use a revolver over the automatic, but if they are doing it, then there is a tactical reason.
The .357 Magnum has a great following, but the platform from which they are launched offers other choices… such as the .41 Magnum, .45LC, and .44 Magnum. These can offer huge take down ability, rivaling a rifle… But then there is my new pet caliber… the old mostly forgotten .44 Special. When the .44 Magnum hit the scene and especially thanks to the Dirty Harry movies, the .44 Special just went Bye-Bye. Some makers still rolled out a few guns for .44 Special… but for the most part it just faded away. Kinda like the even older .44 that the Special improved upon, the .44 Russian.
I have to admit that I have really fallen for the .44 Special cartridge. It can be loaded as mild as vanilla, or as hot as habeneros, with slug weights from 165 to 300 grains. This gives you a wide ballistic spectrum to play around in… one that even enters into the lower portion of the .44 Magnum spectrum. It’s almost a shame that the .44 Special has been so overlooked… it virtually dropped off the planet once the .44 Mag rolled out because the Special was “obsolete” as many have said. I don’t think any cartridge is really ever obsolete… less commercially viable is a different matter altogether and popularity has nothing to do with effectiveness. I think the F-20 Tigershark was a fantastic jet fighter… but since the Air Force didn’t buy any, it flopped. Too bad… I liked it better than I do the F-16, but that’s another story. Rum Raisin. Awesome icecream flavor that you never really find in a ½ gallon carton at the store. If you want it, most of the time you have to go to an icecream shop and then only to the ones that offer a wide variety of choices… but this doesn’t reduce the enjoyment of the Rum Raisin’s flavor… or does it? Does the popularity of a think play some effect on our perception of the quality of the item? To some people it really does. To me, not a bit. When I was younger, all my friends were getting into smoking weed. They enjoyed it. It was popular and cool. I tried it. I inhaled. I didn’t like it, so I didn’t do it. Popularity or not. During school I took music classes and could play any of the Brass instruments, any of the horns. But the one I liked the most was the *ahem* French Horn. To my ears it had the best sound… the best tone… it was almost creamy when everything else sounded like it had freezer burn to use the flavor context again. I still think that today. Popularity has nothing to do with effectiveness or quality, and my last case in point on that matter is Brittany Spears’ music.
This lack of popularity has created a downside to .44 Special, and that is in price and availability. I can find .44 Magnums and .45 Long Colt all over the place. I can’t find any around here save for one flavor of it, and it’s expensive. I’m looking at $1.10 per round here. If I fire the gun dry, that’s $5.50. Plus tax. Needless to say, you empty a cylinder, you have just eaten your Happy Meal, because that was your lunch money right there. Of course this is a locally inflated price, but by the time I pay for shipping, I might as well buy it local anyways and not have to wait for a delivery.
All is not lost. I have access to a fully equipped reloading bench, which I have yet to take advantage of, but will at the end of this semester. It’s good equipment. Solid. Good condition… but old. It’s not the new progressive style that does everything with one pull of a handle. But this is just fine. I’m shooting a 5 shot and a 6 shot revolver and I don’t have to worry about filling up a 30 round magazine. This is plenty good enough for me, because my tastes are changing… just like my taste in Bikes. I enjoy the ride for the ride, if you know what I mean… I don’t have to attack the road and blitz the curves to enjoy it. I can just enjoy the whole reloading process and the art of reloading. I used this equipment before and found it to be an experience worth savoring. My friend Steve has progressive press and one day I went over and used it for awhile, and I was amazed at how you crank the handle, boom, there is a round. Fast. But it really didn’t give me the satisfaction that had felt before using the old fashioned methods. There is really nothing else like it… I can’t explain it. I’m looking forward to reloading when I can devote some time to it. Reloading by hand, I can get the cost down to about 6 or 7 cents a round… so the economic advantage (not counting time) becomes great. But the real reason I am itching to reload the .44Special… Most of the loads I have seen are loaded to meet specs from a 4 to 5 inch barreled gun. I have a 3 inch. And there are other little revolvers that I like that have even shorter barrels. I want to work up an ideal .44 Special Snub load… now if I can just find a chronograph to borrow…
The tactical applications of revolvers maybe have become more specialized now, but they are there. Ammunition flexibility, accuracy, reliability, no ejecting cases… all features of a revolver that give it specialized applications that can be a tactical advantage over an automatic.