Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Handgun or Revolver as a one and only weapon for SHTF?

We’re having this classic thread over at GTA forum.

I thought it was worth it to dispel some of the common misconceptions regarding the traits of each system.



*Simpler to operate ( does NOT mean it’s simpler mechanically speaking)
*Does not rely on ammunition gases for the next shot. Means a dud gets left behind with the pull of the trigger.
*Can fire underpowered reloads that may jam a semi auto.
*Can fire different projectile shapes and weights which may jam a semi auto.
*Can handle more powerful ammunition.


*Mechanically more complex than autos
*More sensitive to abuse, grit and pebbles getting in the mechanism
*Harder to repair
*Less capacity
*Slower Reloads
*Slower follow up shots



*Much more rugged. Some autos fire many thousands of rounds and keep working well. *Service pistols can take much more abuse compared to service revolvers.
*Easier to repair
*Fires big bore ammo that is readily available and inexpensive
*Greater capacity
*Faster reloads
*Faster follow up shots.


*More ammo sensitve.
*The possibility of failure to feed ammo or eject the empty case
*You have a single shot if the magazine fails
*A more complex operator’s manual (though DAO and weapon like the Glock are much more simple than traditional DA/SA with safeties)

These are all characteristics most of us already know well, that’s why we prefer autos for self defense.
The thing that I’ve learned to appreciate more though besides the obvious fact of almost 3x times the capacity of most revolvers and the fast reloading is the ruggedness of the semi auto system.
I’ve read for many years in various gun media that the revolver is more rugged. That simply isn’t true. It may be more reliable but its certainly not more rugged.
When it comes to comparing service military models revolvers don’t even come close to handling the kind of abuse some autos have.
There are Glocks that have been torture tested in way no revolver could tolerate. Some had hundred of thousands of rounds fired through them. Again, a feat a revolver will not tolerate simply because of parts wear and delicate internal clockwork.

Glock Torture Test Story (must read!)

I can dig out old abused 1911’s and get them back runnining very well with little or no part replacement. Its even easier with Hi Powers, one of the toughest semi automatic pistols ever made. I’ve got both Hi Powers and Ballester Molinas that are visibly beaten on the outside but still work perfectly well, very accurate.
A service revolver? Unless its been in storage for most of its live it will have problems, a rattling cylinder and out of timing.

This old Colt 38 Special still works, but requires a caring owner.

Just one handgun and one that will last a lifetime and you can repair it yourself with little gunsmithing skills, that’s a service auto pistol. Glock, Hi Power, 1911 and CZ75 (and the clones made by reputable manufacturers) there are others good too but theses and the most successful, most widely spread designs.



Anonymous said...

Agree with most of what was said above, but through in questionable ammunition source and you get a whole other animal. Revolvers don't depend on cartridge pressure to function like automatics do. Nor do revolvers care what bullet tip shape is involved, unlike a lot of autoloaders.

That will make a difference after factory ammo is gone. For this reason, I keep a few revolvers in the stash as well - just in case. Including .45acp and 9mm revolvers as well.

EN said...

I've not run into any commercially made Ammo that wouldn't feed through my Pistols, although, I read lots of stories. No one around me has ever experienced bad factory made ammo, other than individual rds. Reloads are a different animal. I stay away from them in my Pistols. At the time of this writing no one in my shooting circle (13 men by my count, with six retired cops in the mix) still uses revolvers, but most of us do own them. As little as ten years ago about half preferred revolvers. And... I'm a lever action guy. I will defend myself with a Marlin 1994 and not worry about having an AK or M-1A. No one can say I'm into Fads.

The Urban Survivalist said...

I own more revolvers than semis but I consider my semis my self protection guns. If I do carry one it's a BUG.

parabarbarian said...

Come on Ferfal. You make some good points but comparing a Glock made 10 years ago to a Colt Detective Special made at least 40 years ago is extremely disingenous. The advances in metallurgy alone make that comparison suspect.

FerFAL said...

True, but what if you compare it to old Ballester Molinas, Sistemas, 1911s, Hi Powers?
Even a brand new revolver has most of the disadvantages mentioned, including much shorter lifespan when compared to autos.


Anonymous said...

ferfal: pistols require practice.
revolvers require cleaning.
very few will practice using
1000 rounds of anything.
many will shoot one box of
ammo, clean it, and put it
away until needed. once,
i entered a handgun competition using someone else's gun. it was a stress-fire situation. the revolvers won (i didn't) not because they were more accurate, but they would FIRE! pistol firing is intricate...revolver firing is instinctive.


jack said...

I own 80% revolvers and 20% semi-auto pistols.

The revolvers I own are for fun and variety: 44/44 Mag, 38/357 Mag, 22/22 Mag.

My semi-autos are for combat: 9mm, 45 cal. My EDC is a Glock.

budda said...

There are good and bad points to using both types. For an all day carry gun Id prefer a glock. Due to capacity and weight.For a post shtf gun Id prefer a revolver to match ammo to my lever and be able to hunt with it aswell.The revolver can stay loaded all day long without hicups and not reliant on mags that can eventually break or malfunction.

Anonymous said...

I know the guys who did that Glock torture test and what they did was even more interesting, check out their youtube channel for more - dropping it out of a airplane, dragging it behind a truck, burying it for over a year in the back yard and dumping magazine after magazine through it.

That's one tough Glock!

Anonymous said...

In my household the overiding advantage of a revolver is the increased comfort level which my wife has with them. My experience is that an inexperienced or infrequent shooter will handle a revolver better and with more confidence.


Ryan said...

To me the biggest benefit of a wheel gun is that the 'failure drill' is just pulling the trigger again.

With wheel guns there is no 'are you familiar with that model/ type' discussion. There are at least 3 distinctly different types of auto's with numerous different examples of each. That being said if you someone who is capable of using a gun a loaded revolver they will be able to use it. Not so easy with an auto.

Pitt said...

Look at the parameters of the post.

"Handgun or Revolver as a one and only weapon for SHTF?"

If you only had one (1) pistol, would you choose a revolver or a semi-auto?

I would choose a semi-auto. It would be a Glock. It would be a 9mm. It would be compact. It would be the G19.

The revolver is simple, but so is the Glock. You would have 2.5x the ammo vs. the revolver. The 9mm ammo is nearly half the price. And it is a much more rugged weapons system.

In a SHTF situation, your problems will come in larger chunks than in everyday life. Look at the home invasion vid on Youtube, where the 4 La Raza gangbangers try to rob an Arizona homeowner. The crooks had an AR15 and at least one pistol (that I saw). The home owner used a high capacity semi auto and made them turn tail and run.

Thats a huge argument for the semi-auto pistol in my book.

Anonymous said...

My background is a police officer, SWAT dude, firearms instructor and armorer.
I was an officer back in the day when we were issued .357s, most carried the S&W model 66, many bought the 686 or Colt Python.

We had many more break-downs, jams, stoppages, etc. with our revolvers than we have ever had with our since issued 9mms (we had the S&W 5906 series for almost 20 years, now Glocks).
The Glock 17 or 19 would be the top choice for a one and only SHTF weapon.
They are, in my experience, one of if not the most durable and reliable pistols ever built.
They are easy to clean, easy to work on when needed (which is seldom) and withstand abuse that would wreck a revolver.

For someone who will only own one gun, I'd VERY strongly advise getting a G17 or G19 (depending on what they can conceal), ammo, some extra magazines, and an Advantage Arms .22 kit for cheap practice.