Questions about Revolvers

This is a discussion on Questions about Revolvers within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; First of all, I don't own one. But when I'm in the store, sometimes I look at them and think I'd like to buy one ...

Results 1 to 11 of 11
Like Tree2Likes
  • 2 Post By gasmitty

Thread: Questions about Revolvers

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array adric22's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Posts
    1,146

    Questions about Revolvers

    First of all, I don't own one. But when I'm in the store, sometimes I look at them and think I'd like to buy one at some point. I'm aware of some of the advantages, such as unlikely to jam. But there are 3 things I'm curious about:
    • Why do they seem to be so expensive compared to semi-autos?
    • Why does the cylinder have to be towards the middle of the gun, giving the handle a curved shape? Why can't they make one shaped more similar to a semi-auto, putting the cylinder further towards the rear of the gun? That would give it a longer barrel, making it more accurate, but the gun wouldn't be any longer from front to back than it is already. It would also look less like a gun from "the old west."
    • Since there is a gap between the cylinder and barrel, doesn't that mean the bullet would not have as much pressure behind it when it exits the muzzle?
    "Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws." -Plato

  2. Remove Ads

  3. #2
    Moderator
    Array gasmitty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Gilbert, AZ
    Posts
    10,315
    Only a guess, but I think the sheer popularity (= market demand) for auto pistols means there is greater price competitiveness than for wheelguns. Also, the small bits (hand, extractor star) for revolvers seem generally to be more precise and in need of hand fitting than the small parts on an auto.

    I think the answer to your second question is "because the revolver came first." In design, if you leave style behind, "form follows function." The grip of most autopistols is designed to enable a magazine to be contained within, whereas revolvers don't have that requirement. Actually, you may have that backwards - why don't autopistols have grips shaped more like those on revolvers? From a strictly ergonomic standpoint, I think a curved grip is more ideally suited to the human hand than the straight grip on most autos. Consider the grip on a broomhandle Mauser pistol for a different approach to grip design.

    The cylinder gap clearly is a leakage path for the gas propelling the bullet, and typically a revolver and an automatic with equal barrel lengths firing the same load (if you can find one!) will show a slightly lower velocity for the revolver. However, that's a very broad generalization, and our own bmcgilvray just posted some chrono results within the past few days that showed revolver velocities topping those of autos for certain loads. Pressure range, bullet diameter and actual cylinder gap all play into what the pressure loss actually amounts to.

    I think the "thinking man's battery" needs to include some representation from the wheelgun side!
    bmcgilvray and Secret Spuk like this.
    Smitty
    NRA Endowment Member

  4. #3
    Member Array Eaglebeak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Republic Of Texas
    Posts
    367
    1. More expensive because there's more higher quality steel and more precision mechanics involved to turn the cylinder and lock it in place before the hammer drops that a SA doesn't require. Cylinder is like six barrel chambers that each must withstand pressure of its individual round where a SA only has a single breech chamber.

    2. Cylinder must be forward of the grip to allow room for all the trigger/hammer firing mechanics plus the additional mechanics required to turn and lock the cylinder. Revolver grips come in many different styles, sizes, and shapes. Partial answer to #3 is "yes" there is considerable fire, pressure, and hot gas escaping between cylinder and barrel; so it doesn't take rocket science to figure that moving the cylinder farther back would put your trigger finger on the 1000 degree/F BBQ grill with each shot - owwwwwie!!

    3. Technically, yes, there is a loss of pressure between cylinder and barrel. However, the cylinder remains fixed during firing where a SA expends much of it's initial pressure in moving the slide to the rear instead of applying it all to the bullet. Looking at the trade-off in both cases (with equal barrel lengths), there's probably little or no difference in bullet velocity unless your SA has a locked bolt/gas-operated action instead of the most common inertia type.

    Edit: Apples to apples comparison of barrel lengths between a revolver and SA would be "revolver barrel length + cylinder length" since barrel length of a SA includes the chamber.
    Last edited by Eaglebeak; December 23rd, 2011 at 01:08 AM.

  5. #4
    Member Array JerryMac's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Kentucky
    Posts
    397
    I think it depends on which semi autos your comparing the price to ........
    The design is what works best, and if ya dont have one, well,,,,,ya should, "-)
    Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you, Jesus Christ and the American GI. One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.

    I asked my stock broker the other day, what I should be investing in ....his reply, canned goods n ammo !!!

  6. #5
    Member Array TommyGun4169's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Killadelphia, PA.
    Posts
    147
    The old west look is part of the beauty, why would you want to get rid of that ?
    There are plenty of modern revolvers that aren't "western" looking. One being the S&W M&P or the Nightguard !
    Even the S&W model 10, I don't think "cowboy" I think Policeman !
    As for price the steel construction has much to do with it, but also the decline in popularity. 20 years ago and before, revolvers were cheaper than semi-autos, now it's the opposite because of the demand, popularity, and manufacturing techinques of the semi- autos. Revolvers can't be belted out like the SA's, for they are more meteculous.
    Every gun lover should own at least one or two revolvers today !

    Outlaw Guns and Only Outlaws Will Have Guns !!

  7. #6
    Moderator
    Array bmcgilvray's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    10,059
    Hi Adric22;

    Revolvers traditionally required a lot of hand-fitting during initial production. MIM parts, unitized lock work, and molded polymer frames have mitigated that to some extent. I'm not personally interested in such cheapened revolvers but such manufacturing techniques do help keep revolvers competitive in the marketplace.

    Revolvers are all hammer-fired as far as I know unless there has been some odd European design that is striker fired. It would be considered both uncommon and unsuccessful if it exists at all. No matter, there must be adequate space behind the cylinder, which is effectively the revolver's magazine, to house the lock work needed to fire the piece. A hammer, of suitable weight and powered by a spring, must pivot on a stud and needs enough space to complete its arc. After being pressed, the trigger requires some sort of trigger return mechanism and a mechanism is required for rotating the cylinder as the revolver as fired. It requires an area behind the cylinder to house a revolver's action.

    Actually, the cartridge's chamber in an automatic is as far forward as that of a revolver, for all intents and purposes. The automatic also requires an area for a hammer or striker to operate, depending on which system the automatic uses to fire its cartridge. Consider the breech face of the automatic and the breech face of a revolver. They are located very closely to the same place in relation to the shooter's hand.

    Consider how much "gun" is behind the chamber of the familiar 5-inch 1911 design and where the shooter's hand is positioned in relation to that chamber when the gun is grasped for shooting.


    No compare the automatic above with a common mid-sized 4-inch revolver. When the triggers are pulled as far to the rear as they will go, where will one's finger be in relationship to the breech face on each of these?


    One can't give the advantage in barrel length to the automatic for its barrel also houses its chamber. The revolver's chamber is housed within its cylinder. So, the 1911 above has an effective barrel length of barely 4 inches even though it is stated to have a 5-inch barrel. The cylinder of the revolver is not considered a part of the barrel so the revolver above has what is closer to a true 4-inch barrel. The proper way to measure a revolver's barrel is from muzzle to cylinder face.

    A barrel's length has nothing to do with intrinsic accuracy. The increased sight radius enjoyed by the longer barrel can contribute to increased accuracy. Problem is, handguns featuring barrels long enough to have a beneficial sight radius for accuracy are generally too unwieldy to effectively conceal.

    As far as velocity/performance loss, who cares about the barrel/cylinder gap and escaping gases if one can achieve 800-1000 fps with decent bullet diameters and weights in standard calibers and 1100-1500 fps in the Magnum calibers when used in common revolvers? That's more than enough performance to accomplish the great majority of handgun chores. If a handgun, any handgun is not enough, then one hopes there's a handy rifle nearby. Besides, a revolver's barrel/cylinder gap is nothing to be concerned with as it has negligible effect on performance

    The Zulaica automatic revolver was one of several European designs that bore a grudging resemblance to a semi-auto but the appearance really doesn't do much for me. It was of Spanish manufacture and was made sometime between World War I and World War II. It didn't "set the woods on fire" for sales, at least here in the States. It was still hammer fired. I think the Czechs had some sort of cheap revolver that looked similar about the same time.



    Appearances are subjective. To many current handgun enthusiasts modern revolvers don't look "old West" at all. To me the modern double-action revolver, especially as rendered after World War II, looks efficient and business-like. The revolver was restyled in appearance and sighting equipment beginning about then. It was a restyle as the design and function remained unchanged. Smith & Wesson still makes the K-Frame Model 10 .38 Special to the same basic design that originated when the first K-Frame .38 Special was introduced in 1899.

    None of these .357 Magnum Smith & Wesson models look very "old West" in my view. They don't look like some sort of hermaphrodite like that sad Spanish revolver does either.
    Last edited by bmcgilvray; December 23rd, 2011 at 01:53 PM.
    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society

    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893

  8. #7
    Member Array usmc0311's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    52
    There are plenty of modern revolvers that aren't "western" looking. One being the S&W M&P or the Nightguard !
    Even the S&W model 10, I don't think "cowboy" I think Policeman !



    Look at the Chiappa Rhino.... there's a new take on the revolver- the round is discharged from the bottom of the cylinder (or hexagon i should say). Saw and handled one at a recent gun show and they sure are cool.


    chiappa rhino.jpg
    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

  9. #8
    Moderator
    Array bmcgilvray's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    10,059
    Yeah, usmc0311, I handled a friend's Rhino snub and it was not bad at all. Despite being as hidebound and traditional as I am, it even got on the extended list of guns I'd like to acquire. He speaks glowingly of its ability to tame .357 Magnum recoil due to the low barrel configuration. I only got to handle it in his living room unfortunately and didn't get to take it on a range trip.
    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society

    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893

  10. #9
    Member Array Bear4570's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Door County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    29
    Nice explanation Eaglebeak, that about hits the name on the head.

    As far as loss of velocity I recently did some Chronographing of the same round out of my Para GI Expert 1911 and my Springfield armory Loaded 1911 comparing it to my Smith 625 Model 1989 45 acp revolver. Shooting the same rounds thru all three guns there was not a spit worth of difference between the three regarding velocity. The one thing that nobody has touch on is the fact that the Smith and Wesson and Colt revolvers (especially the older models) just have a sense of beauty and class that you cannot find in the mass array of polymer and matte black finish of many of the autos on the market today. Don't get me wrong I like autos and have several 1911's along with Ruger, Sig and Beretta's but deep down I have always been and will always remain a revolver guy. When I got my CCW I started carrying my Ruger LC9 but soon switched back to my Colt Detective Special and although it has one round less I feel just as comfortable with it as the seven round 9mm.

    Stopped into a new gun shop in Green Bay the other day and I was excited to see an honest to goodness gunshop with dozens of guns on the wall racks and scores of handguns in the show cases, 90% being of the semi-auto variety, the few revolvers caught my eye and I ended up getting a Smith Model 42 lemon squeezer, love the feel and after appropriate break in and practice at the range, have no doubt it will become my every day companion. Add a couple of speed strips or speed loaders and I'm good to go.

    Ya know, for some reason I don't think I will not feel undergunned for not having a modern tactical tupperware loaded with 18 rounds.

    Just my 2 cents and the ramblings of an old die hard wheelgunner

  11. #10
    Moderator
    Array gasmitty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Gilbert, AZ
    Posts
    10,315
    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    Be still my heart... what a great pic!
    Smitty
    NRA Endowment Member

  12. #11
    Distinguished Member Array RevolvingMag's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Rock Hill, SC- Across Town From Where All the Homicides Happen
    Posts
    1,266
    I don't know what kind of revolvers you're looking at, but I picked up my 2" .357 for right at $300 out the door. Brand new. My least expensive semi-auto was just under $400 before the box of ammo I got to go with it.

    The relative simplicity of a revolver is part of what makes it so appealing- as long as there are live rounds in the cylinder, IT WILL go bang. Semi-autos just can't really give that guarantee. (And, before anyone jumps on me for that statement, please keep in mind that my EDC is now/currently a 1911) It's hard to make a revolver jam, and it's even harder to have a failure to feed/eject.

    I love my .357, and it's by far my favorite handgun cartridge. It's kinda hard to get a .357mag semi-auto. I KNOW they're out there, but they cost at least 3 times as much as my revolver did.
    "Rock and load, lock and roll... what's it matter? FIRE!!"

    "Gun control means hitting your target every time."

    Please take everything I say with at least one grain of salt- I am a very sarcastic person with a very dry sense of humor.

Links

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Search tags for this page

38 revolver w/ hexagon barrel

,
38 special smith and wesson model 10
,

about revolvers

,
double action revolvers with old west shape
,

handguns old west

,
hexagon barrel revolver
,
modern revolvers
,
revolver chamber
,
revolver zulaica
,
smith wesson revolver spain
,
spanish revolvers
,

zulaica automatic revolver

Click on a term to search for related topics.