Anon said…I agree with most of your post (the hammer is cocked, not the slide). The origin of the revolver reliability reputation comes from way back when autos failed miserably often. They didn´t feed reliably, they broke and jamed often. Reliable autos were rare.
Revolvers are more user friendly than semi automatics and that’s where the myth of revolver reliability finds it’s origin. A person who operates a semi automatic needs to actually know something about the pistol to operate it reliably. There’s the basic things like turning off the safety, not limpwristing, but what about keeping it oiled, using the correct ammunition, replacing springs when worn out and using clean and reliable magazines. Even very reliable designs like the 1911 and Browning Hi-Power had their serious issues. The 1911 for quite a while only reliable with 230gr FMJ ammo and the BHP needing to have it’s magazines underloaded. Then there was the not uncommon practice of leaving the chamber empty and forgetting to cock the slide. How many times has someone fired a semi automatic and heard it go click? Then you have firing pins breaking due to dryfiring. A revolver (Ruger/S&W at least) in contrast doesn’t really have any of these issues.
Nowadays with the prelubed, no external safety, difficult to limpwrist Glock’s the semi auto pistol is a lot more user friendly. Leaving the chamber empty seems to be the biggest issue that still remains and so anyone that might be tempted to do that would better be served with a revolver. (where the practice of leaving a chamber empty for safety purposes is rare and more importantly easily rectified by pulling the trigger again, unlike a semi auto) The slide being pushed back isn’t an issue if the gun comes with a holster.
Revolvers though have become less reliable nowadays. First we have the ‘safety lock’ mechanism in some S&W’s, the real issue of using overpowered ammunition in an older revolver and S&W’s use of exotic revolver material like aluminum alloy and polymer, the former well known not to stand the test of time if used regularly. (I think that was the problem with your Model 12 airweight Ferfal http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smith_%26_Wesson_Model_12). There’s the issue of rounds coming unstuck and jamming the cylinder in lightweight revolvers using .357 ammo. Getting dirt in it’s mechanism jamming it. The real possibility of hitting your cylinder on something hard and it jamming.
Inspite of all those above problems many involving serious downtime of minutes to days, as long as we are talking about quality steel revolvers by Ruger and S&W for the average civilian a revolver is still more reliable.
But anyone who would be considered to be ‘above average’ in regards to learning new skills or better yet sees the their purchase of a handgun as a serious decision that they are willing to pay to learn how to use (training class), deserves a semi auto. A more reliable and a more effective handgun than a revolver.
Today the story is very different. You have pistols like the Glock that can fire thousands of rounds without a problem, drop the thing from a speeding car in the pavement, pick it up and keep shooting, something that would be short of miracle in a revolver with its comparably much more delicate revolving sistem.
Even in the old days, pistols like the 1911 and Hi Power were much more resistant and reliable than the revolvers of their age. Proof of that is that if you pick service revolvers from the 50´s or 60´s that have been well used, they generally work much worse or dont work at all, when pistols general age much better. Its common to find fifty year old 1911s and Hi Powers, just to mention a couple, that still work reliably and shoot accurately while revolvers that have been used extensively from that era will spit lead all over or dont work at all.
There´s nothing wrong with a good revolver, but you have to understand what it can and what it can´t withstand.
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