Revolvers for SD - am I missing something???

Revolvers for SD - am I missing something???

This is a discussion on Revolvers for SD - am I missing something??? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I'm just not getting the revolver thing. I like them and have a number of them. But I'm finding that many of the revolver claims ...

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Thread: Revolvers for SD - am I missing something???

  1. #1
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    Revolvers for SD - am I missing something???

    I'm just not getting the revolver thing. I like them and have a number of them. But I'm finding that many of the revolver claims are not very accurate. I understand the nostalgia and affection for revolvers, I have that too, but I’m speaking from a self-defense perspective only.

    From this it could be deduced that I’m anti-revolver, but that’s not the case at all. I’ve been carrying my S&W Model 60 a lot lately. But for those that say they wouldn’t feel under-gunned with a revolver, I have to say, between a five shot, slow reload, requiring high manual dexterity under extreme pressure, apparently I’m failing to see the logic of choosing a five shot over a 15 shot.

    Here are the typical claims:

    1- they're light
    2- they're compact
    3- they're reliable
    4- insensitivity to ammo
    5- simple failure to fire drill - just pull the trigger again
    6- they’re easier to shoot – just point and shoot, i.e. no safetys, decockers, etc.

    Responses:
    1- Well they're light if you get the airweight models. E.g. my S&W 340 (I think that's the model) weighs 12 oz. But that's not the whole story. That light weight is carry friendly, but I've yet to hear of anyone that enjoys shooting it. The standard response is "You won't feel recoil in a gunfight." You may not but you cannot avoid the effects of it, and heavy recoil, as with the airweight snubs will have to be dealt with. I think that also suggest that more training and practice would be wise for these hard recoiling guns.

    What if you don't get the airweight?
    My stainless steel S&W model 60 weighs 22.5 oz and my Glock 17 (full size) weighs 22 oz. So now we have a snubby you can shoot some, but it weighs more than a full size Glock.

    2- they're compact
    They aren’t nearly as compact as you might think. I laid my model 60 over my G17, so that the butts are even, the only difference I see is the G17 (full size) barrel/slide is about a half inch longer. The height is essentially the same, but I do need to say that I have the longer grip on my model 60.

    Yeah, but what about the shorter grip j-frames? Well they are shorter than a G17 but if we move to a more appropriate comparison, the G26, the j-frame will be longer and as tall or more so than the G26 and the G26 has less recoil, holds twice as many rounds, and weighs less to boot.

    Then there’s the sight radius. The more compact a gun is, the shorter the sight radius, which many feel leads to proportionally less accuracy. But there is a very interesting difference between a subcompact revolver and a subcompact semi-auto. The rear sight of a semi-auto is at or behind the web of the thumb and index finger. The rear sight on any revolver is an inch to inch and a half or so in front of the web. The significance of that is that with a comparably sized auto and revolver, the semi is gonna have about a 1” – 1-1/2” longer sight radius.

    3- they’re reliable – yes, they are, more so than a semi? Do we really know that? More reliable in what sense? Is a revolver more reliable than a semi if they get dropped in sand? I had an opportunity to talk to a Border Patrol officer that worked when revolvers were the issued handgun. He said he use to always carry a backup just like his issue revolver under his coat. He said the reason was, even though it was against regulations, was because if he got in a struggle that wound up on the ground (sand), there was a good possibility his main carry revolver wouldn’t work.

    I talked to a long time Gunsite instructor about revolvers and he said he accidentally dropped a j frame in the sand and it locked up. He had to take it home and take it apart to get it working again. I believe it was in that same class that a student lost his Beretta 92fs in a draw and fire drill. The gun went end over end for about 10ft and then skidded to a stop in about another 5 feet. He picked up his gun, blew it off and continued.

    I was practicing a one hand reload drill and my 686 fell from my waist band. It hit the ground and when I picked it up the cylinder wouldn’t close. I had to take it home to fix it. But so much for abuse that we know a SD will never get; we’ll leave those issues with the Border Patrol and other professionals.

    Massod Ayoob tells the story of a LEO that pulled his j-frame from his coat pocket and the gun wouldn’t fire. IIRC, the LEO was killed in the incident. They found that pocket lint had got behind the hammer and wouldn’t let it travel far enough to fire.

    But the point here is, if we’re gonna claim more reliability, we need to define what we mean by reliable. I would presume one that would be pointed out is a semis’ failure to feed, etc. I took a Sig 226 police trade in to Blackwater, fired 2500 rounds through it and didn’t have a single failure. I took a Glock 21 to Blackwater and fired 2500 rounds and never had a failure. I took a 1911 I built to Gunsite and fired 1200 rounds without a failure. I took another 1911 I built to Thunder Ranch and fired 1200 rounds through it and some of that started with the gun on the ground in the dirt, in the dark, and we even had to change positions so we wouldn’t know which/whose gun we were getting. Again, not a single failure to load or fire.

    4- insensitive to ammo – my thought - ok, and your point? This purported advantage usually takes the form of you can put just about anything in a revolver and it will shoot it – that can’t be said for semi’s. Weeeeell, maybe, maybe not. Those ultra-light revolvers that are so comfortable to carry are well known for unseating bullets from their cases via the heavy recoil. More than one revolver has been locked up from this because the bullet has unseated enough to prevent the cylinder from rotating. Yeah, but who’s going to do that you say? Well who’s gonna put ammo in a semi that could cause problems? You see what I’m saying – what goes for one goes for another.

    Another issue is the wide range of loads a revolver will shoot vs a more limited range for semis. Well, that’s true enough, but so what? We’re talking self-defense, we should know what works in our gun and what doesn’t. Most guns, esp. Glocks and I think more so Sigs, shoot just about any range ammo and SD ammo you can put in them and very reliably. Moreover, Bullseye shooters download their loads so low you wonder if they’ll reach the target. Well a bit of an exaggeration perhaps but the point is they use really low power loads and their 1911s still cycle them – they just tune their gun for the load. But that’s a very specialized event, and most semi’s will shoot any SD load you put in them. If they won’t handle something well, there’s lots more to choose from they will handle well. The point here is that how wide of a range of ammo do we need for a SD gun? I mean are there times we need to download our SD loads? None that I ever heard of.

    5- simple failure to fire drill - just pull the trigger again. Well that is true, but that’s not quite the whole story again. If a round fails to fire in a revolver, you’re capacity just went from 5 to 4 for the entire gunfight. I think I’d just as soon rack the slide and go again.

    6- they’re easier to shoot – just point and shoot, i.e. no safetys, decockers, etc. What about Glocks, Sig DAKs, and other DAO semis? Can’t the very same thing be said about them? Sure. But here’s what’s interesting: a short while back I posted a thread about long triggers. Many made the case for short trigger pulls being easier to shoot than heavier long trigger pulls. Very, very few of the revolver aficionados showed up to defend the long, heavy trigger pull on their revolvers. Does that mean that revolvers are more difficult to master because of the long trigger pull? Does that mean more training time is needed? Revolvers still easier to shoot?

    In conclusion, and I know you’re glad to see that, I’m puzzled by what all the todo is about revolvers. As you can see the claims typically made are quite misleading and aside from our affection toward revolvers, I don’t see the utility.
    I'm too young to be this old!
    Getting old isn't good for you!


  2. #2
    Ex Member Array Compact45's Avatar
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    Wow I just dont know were to start on this lenghty opinion / question ...

    At first glance IMO you have answered most of your own questions.

    My question to you is... Why do you carry a Mod 60 if you dont get all of the todo?

  3. #3
    Member Array Blue Jacket's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tangle View Post
    ...aside from our affection toward revolvers, I don’t see the utility.
    Simple answer. We're all different.
    May we never forget those in uniform who protect us night and day in lands far away. And those in all wars who paid the supreme sacrifice in defense of our country. May God Bless our Troops and First Responders.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Compact45 View Post
    ...My question to you is... Why do you carry a Mod 60 if you dont get all of the todo?
    To see what all the todo is about.
    I'm too young to be this old!
    Getting old isn't good for you!

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    Can't disagree

    I like revolvers, but you make some good points.
    Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the Peoples' Liberty's Teeth." - George Washington

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Jacket View Post
    Simple answer. We're all different.
    I understand we're all different, I was really asking why people find the revolver to be an adequate SD piece. I like 'em too, but I see many of the reasons given for revolver preference to be a bit shallow and often the real reason is we just like 'em and that's really all that matters.

    I'm really just trying to provoke/solicit thoughts from the members about the revolver as a SD gun.

    Quote Originally Posted by pogo2
    I like revolvers, but you make some good points...
    I like 'em too! But the 'points' do bother me.
    I'm too young to be this old!
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    Ex Member Array Compact45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tangle View Post
    To see what all the todo is about.

    I personally rely on a STI Escort 45 for my EDC but will and often carry a 38 snubnose revolver as BUG....

    IMO if you dont see the todo then don't carry a revolver...We are all different and some of us at times like a revolver for SD.
    Last edited by Compact45; February 8th, 2010 at 02:12 PM. Reason: Clarication

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    Good post, Tangle. I'm sure you'll get eaten alive for it - but before you do, I just wanted to say that I appreciated it .

    I've wandered thru the same thought process myself. I still love revolvers and often carry a 637. Although I am careful to inspect it often for pocket lint. I like the exposed hammer, but am aware of its draw-backs.

    The more I over-think EDC's, the more I like Glock. I suspect that another may add itself to my armory this week...
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Compact45 View Post
    IMO if you dont see the todo then don't carry a revolver.
    How would one ever know if it's right or not for himself if he doesn't experience it first hand?

    Did I mention I took a 686 to Gunsite's Advanced Tactics Pistol course?
    I'm too young to be this old!
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHEC724 View Post
    Good post, Tangle. I'm sure you'll get eaten alive for it - but before you do, I just wanted to say that I appreciated it .

    I've wandered thru the same thought process myself. I still love revolvers and often carry a 637. Although I am careful to inspect it often for pocket lint. I like the exposed hammer, but am aware of it's draw-backs.

    The more I over-think EDC's, the more I like Glock. I suspect that another may add itself to my armory this week...
    I hope I get eaten alive - I hope all those concerns just go away, but in reality I know better.

    In reference to your last statement, I've carried a lot of revos and semis; I've built 8 1911s from scratch, but when it comes right down to it, a Glock is my choice.

    I've tried the M&Ps, XDs, Sigs, PX4s, 92FS, H&K USPS, H&K 2000s and not that they aren't fine weapons, they are, but for me, Glocks are about as good as it gets.
    I'm too young to be this old!
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    Member Array Blue Jacket's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tangle View Post
    I understand we're all different, I was really asking why people find the revolver to be an adequate SD piece.
    I guess I'm old school. Having been issued the S&W M10 .38 special revolver for a duty sidearm in 1972 I found it to be a killer. In those days, cops carried revolvers with 158 grain FNCJ ammo. Many BG's were shot and died from a revolver. A few officers I knew were shot and killed with a revolver. So, it seems to me if one chooses to carry a revolver for CC it could get the job done if needed. Granted some feel better with an auto and 15 rounds. That's fine. Even I carry an auto, a specific model I'm use to with a nine round total load. It's medium size, flat and seems easier to conceal. But I have at times carried a M640-1 revolver with five rounds. Either or, it's simple, we're still all different in our carry gun beliefs.
    May we never forget those in uniform who protect us night and day in lands far away. And those in all wars who paid the supreme sacrifice in defense of our country. May God Bless our Troops and First Responders.

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    Ex Member Array Compact45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tangle View Post
    I hope I get eaten alive - I hope all those concerns just go away, but in reality I know better.

    In reference to your last statement, I've carried a lot of revos and semis; I've built 8 1911s from scratch, but when it comes right down to it, a Glock is my choice.
    I've tried the M&Ps, XDs, Sigs, PX4s, 92FS, H&K USPS, H&K 2000s and not that they aren't fine weapons, they are, but for me, Glocks are about as good as it gets.
    Your claim of Glocks are about as good as it gets .

    And see a Glock would be my last choice in a pistol for many reasons. We are all different and IMO I cant see all of the todo over a Glock..

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    OK I'll play and I'll answer your points:

    Here are the typical claims:

    1- they're light, sure some are, my Model 36 is 19.5 oz, but my 686+ weighs 36.8 oz. my Model 65 and my Kimber fall in between.

    2- they're compact, some yes, again the Model 36 is tiny and I can hide it anywhere, the 686 is bulky and doesn't hide as well under lighter summer clothes. I make it work, because I'm very comfortable carrying it.

    3- they're reliable, kept clean, like I do with any firearm I own, there is less that can go wrong if something gets caught up in the proverbial fan. Whatever I carry, gets cleaned regularly, sometimes just a wipe down and a blast of compressed air, other times a thorough cleaning. I can be a bit of a nut about cleaning them, but they are an investment and insurance rolled into one, and I actually enjoy cleaning them.

    4- insensitivity to ammo, yep I haven't tried any ammo that the wheel guns didn't like, but the Kimber can be picky with certain hollowpoint rounds.

    5- simple failure to fire drill - just pull the trigger again, yep, no tap-rack-bang problems, no magazine failures, no dropped mags, and for me just as fast to reload my revolver with a speed strip as to reload the the bottom feeder. I haven't tried a one handed reload with the Kimber, not sure how that might work?



    6- they’re easier to shoot – just point and shoot, i.e. no safetys, decockers, etc. Again and especially for me faster to pull out, point and shoot. I practice using only the front sight most of the time, and shoot all of the revolvers better than I do either my Kimber or the hubby's Glock.

    Revolvers just feel more natural in my hand, the shape of my hand and the grip of a revolver seems like they were made for each other.
    I carry only what I feel comfortable with, what I've proven on the range, what I can conceal and a gun I know and trust, both it's abilities and mine. That leaves the Glock out of the running, at 21 feet I feel lucky to hit paper with it, I can shoot 2-3" groups at 21 feet all day long with the revolvers. The Kimber falls in the middle, I'm not bothered with recoil, but muzzle flip bothers me to the point I have to tell myself I can't stop the flip, concentrate on holding it perfectly still and not pulling it down as the shot breaks. Sure I know the issue is more in my head than anything else, but in a defensive situation, I don't want that in the back of my head if my behind is on the line.
    As far as sight radius, again I shoot the 1.875 inch Model 36 better even than the 6" GP100, so for me at least, it's not a concern.
    All in all it's about what each of us is most comfortable with, what we shoot best and the gun that you have the most confidence in.
    I've even factored in the round count, Kimber holds 1 in the pipe and 7 in the magazine, my 686 holds 7 in the cylinders, giving me only one round more and my accuracy with the 686 will easily trump that 1 round.
    Carry what you like best, and carry 24/7.
    Disclaimer: The posts made by this member are only the members opinion, not a reflection on anyone else, nor the group, and should not be cause for anyone to get their undergarments wedged in an uncomfortable position.

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    Ex Member Array jahwarrior72's Avatar
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    well, i started off carrying a polymer wondernine, then traded it for a 5 shot .38 snubby. i guess i went the opposite way of thinking as you, where i didn't see the value of revolvers at first, but grew to recognize it. this was also around the time i made the switch to 1911s. now, i feel my stable isn't complete without at least one DA revolver. they definitely have advantages over semiautos, most of which you already listed.

    revolvers aren't any better than semiautos, and vice versa. it's just a matter of personal taste.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Jacket View Post
    I guess I'm old school. Having been issued the S&W M10 .38 special revolver for a duty sidearm in 1972 I found it to be a killer. In those days, cops carried revolvers with 158 grain FNCJ ammo. Many BG's were shot and died from a revolver.
    A lot more men were killed with musket balls too, but...

    This really isn't a critique of those that prefer revolvers, we all like to carry what we're familiar with. What I'm asking is do you find any inaccuracy in my perception of the claims about revolvers.
    I'm too young to be this old!
    Getting old isn't good for you!

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