Are Revolvers Passé?

BY Herschel Smith
1 week, 6 days ago

AllOutdoor:

A recent article in a second-class gun magazine reviewed several handguns that were introduced at the 2017 SHOT Show in Las Vegas. The author called revolvers “antiquated technology on par with the manual typewriter,” but went on to state that despite this, American gun consumers simply cannot get enough of them. He was certainly correct on that account.

If anything, revolvers are just as popular today as ever, if not moreso given the introductions of new, exciting models from major gun manufacturers. If these wheel guns did not sell, why would gun makers continue to produce them? In fact, they cannot keep up with demand for new revolvers.

Now, to be fair, that author is just another millennial type who was not raised on wheel guns. These guys grew up on cable TV, tofu, sushi, MTV, X-Boxes, and sports drinks. They go all goo-goo for pistols. The more switches and buttons to push, the better. Just the sound of a racking slide makes them break out in goose bumps.

Trying to describe the practical aspects of a revolver, the fun and beauty of the timing of a hammer cocking to align with a loaded cylinder chamber is like trying to talk about a 1955 Ford Thunderbird or a Chevy SS with a 396 under the hood. That guy probably drives an electric car.

I recently spoke to a gun store employee who said the same thing.  There has been a rediscovery of revolvers within the past year to two.  I hope I’ve been in some small way responsible for that in my own little circle of readers.  I commented to him that there is no reason that the revolver should ever become obsolete.

He shrugged and said, “And they’re a ton of fun to shoot!”  Well, yes, more fun than pistols, but I agree with the author.  It’s more than that.  It’s the beauty of the machine, the precision of the action, the gorgeous build of the gun, the feel of the “purchase,” and the sweet, light trigger in single action.

And don’t discount the reliability factor either.  Finally, the small gap between the cylinder and forcing cone means that rounds that cannot be handled in most pistols (excepting the VERY large and heavy Desert Eagle) can be handled in revolvers, up to and including 500 S&W.  You cannot achieve 1400 FPS with a 9mm pistol because of chamber pressure, but you can with a .357 magnum wheel gun.

I did the plastic (polymer) gun scene, and sold them all for 1911s and revolvers.  Revolvers are only passé to immature, pea brain millennials who have no appreciation for the finer things.

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Comments

  1. On December 4, 2017 at 9:28 am, John Taylor said:

    Couldn’t agree more. Though I have in specific situations carried 1911s and striker-fired pistols for years, my go-to for self-defense is and will always be a .357 Magnum revolver.

  2. On December 4, 2017 at 12:29 pm, Pat Hines said:

    I added a revolver last summer, my S&W 360PD. It’s probably the lightest .357 Magnum capable revolver made today. I don’t load it with the magnum rounds, though, because that would be very punishing to my hand and wrist. I load it with .38 Special +P, pretty stout still. I like this revolver because I can slip it into my pocket, even on sweat pants, and not have that side sagging below my waist. Only five rounds, though.
    https://media.fotki.com/2v29nqvi3xQKds.jpg

    If, on the other hand, I’m wearing pants with a belt, my SIG P229 is carried on my strong side with a double magazine carrier on my weak side. That’s 37 rounds total, more than I want to have to shoot “in the gravest extreme”, but comforting nevertheless.

  3. On December 4, 2017 at 1:48 pm, Bill Buppert said:

    Leave no brass behind.

  4. On December 4, 2017 at 9:39 pm, Matthew Wilbanks said:

    Have to disagree here, in part at least. I’ll say right up front that situational awareness is king, skill is queen and hardware will always come a distant third.

    Pretty much any reliable gun in skilled hands will end 99% of self-defense situations. Unfortunately revolvers are completely inadequate for the other 1%. They are not obsolete, but they are obsolescent. They will always serve a small purpose since the things they do well are not duplicated by any other type of gun, but they can never equal semi-autos in the modern world.

    I also agree that they have their own certain panache. You mention beauty, precision and build. Those things don’t win a gun fight though. A revolver in most situations against semi-autos is barely better than taking a knife to a gun fight. Old technology doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just means it’s been surpassed by new technology.

    A computer from 10 years ago is more than adequate for the average user even today, but when compared to current technology it can’t keep up.

    Whether a revolver will still serve today isn’t a binary question of obsolete or not obsolete. It’s a question of what you’re going to use it for. Running to the store for milk? Absolutely. Daily carry in a small town? Sure. Primary self-defense weapon for police, military or civilian in any area that has more than a minimal threat? Absolutely not.

    The right tool for the right job, chosen based on what the opposition will most likely be using.

  5. On December 4, 2017 at 11:26 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    @Matthew,

    A .357 Magnum is like bringing a knife to a gun fight. Those are words I never thought I’d hear. It sounds amazingly dense and stolid.

    EDIT: Sorry, that sounded harsh after I said it. But I said it, so there ; -) No offense intended, sir.

  6. On December 5, 2017 at 12:33 am, Matthew Wilbanks said:

    Hehe, no offense taken and none intended by me. Knife to a gun fight was obviously exaggerated by me. I just think a 5-8 shot .357 versus any high capacity semi-auto is a losing proposition, unless of course you are incredibly skilled and your opponent not so.

    More than twice the capacity to begin with, faster reloads, with each reload also adding twice the capacity. If the contestants are of remotely comparable skill it’s game over for the revolver.

    To me it’s just another example of the lesson LAPD learned years ago when they went up against those bank robbers who had semi-auto rifled and they were stuck with their sidearms and patrol shotguns.

    This isn’t to say I won’t carry a revolver. I have a couple mouse guns I routinely carry around my small, mostly sleepy town. A snub nose .38 has about the same capacity and a bit more power so it would work just as well. There is nothing like a snubby to just drop in your pocket and not have to think about it. In fact I’ve been thinking of replacing the mouse guns with a 9mm revolver. More reliable and ammo commonality with most of my semi’s.

    Strangely enough, this reminds me of the final gun fight in one of the best action movies ever made. James Caan winning the day with a snubby .38, but that’s Hollywood :)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBlkUc2IzOY

  7. On December 5, 2017 at 10:08 am, Paul said:

    I find the J frame revolvers very useful for CCW. Usually a ‘Hot Jocks’ or ‘Thunderwear’ while jogging or a IWB made for appendix carry. I use the 642 (with no lock) for this. Otherwise I pack a Glock in a OWB behind the hip carry.

    The larger revolvers I use in the woods hiking. I can have bird shot, waddcutters, or full loads in different chambers. Just cycle the action a time to two for the right load (for the right situation) to come up.

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