Opinions vary widely when it comes to the viability of the revolver as a combat weapon, which is interesting when you consider the revolver has been acquitting itself quite well both in combat and on the street since firearms were invented. This fact is not lost on everyone, and as much as the 1911 is making a comeback, so too is the revolver. With the advent of so many small lightweight revolvers these days, it is gaining popularity as a concealed carry gun, pocket gun, or simply a good gun to have at the ready. Properly loaded and operated by a trained individual, the revolver is as good as any other firearm for self-protection. Given good ammunition, the revolver will go bang when the trigger is pressed, continuing to do so until the last round is fired. This translates easily to the self-defense world, even given lower capacity when compared to an autopistol. In most cases six is plenty given appropriate shot placement.

For many years revolvers were all about big, powerful cartridges in small frames. That meant more recoil and less accuracy. There is still a vivid memory of the first scandium .44 Mag that went through my hands using full loads. The first words were expletives for sure and shooting it was anything but fun. Thankfully in the last few years the trend has been to produce more lightweight revolvers in moderate calibers.

The same advancements in bullet technology that have made the small semiauto viable have benefitted the revolver. Add to that the addition of new lasers that are small, consistent, and reliable and it gets even better. There are still some things the revolver just does better than the semi-auto for the average person carrying concealed.

Strengths

Especially with a hammerless version there is nothing to snag on during the firing process. You simply press the trigger and continue to do so. This is true even when fired from a pocket, purse, or jacket. It wreaks havoc with the garment, but as a general rule it does not normally jam. While three-inch barrels are about the limit for most semi-autos, the 2-inch revolver has been used for years. Many an officer carries a two-inch revolver as a back-up gun. When asked why, the general answer is simple; “When you need to use your second gun it had better work.”

Revolvers tend do be a bit more forgiving of load differences. Failures to fire only require you press the trigger again—no malfunction drills. Malfunction drills are great, but not something you would prefer to do in a gunfight.

Revolvers come in all shapes and sizes now with all kind of sighting systems. They weigh less and even the triggers on some of the small pistols are incredible. Having just handled a new Bodyguard from Smith and Wesson, that trigger is astounding for a small revolver. There really are a ton of choices out there now and the revolver can fit into many areas.

Cons

If you need a ton of bullets, you’ll need an autoloader. Storing spare ammunition on your person is also problematic. Speedloaders can be hard to conceal, and truly concealable things like pouches and speed strips are slow. Semi-autopistols also tend to have less felt recoil, especially with many self-defense loads.

The most critical of these is the need for training. The idea that a revolver needs less training to operate properly and use in a self-defense situation is mostly mythology. The opposite is true and is the very reason many departments went to semi-auto pistols in the first place. The stronger triggers and longer pull are difficult for many and impossible for some. Most people just shoot semi-auto pistols better with less training, and certainly less consistent training. You really need to get some training if you are going to carry a revolver for self-defense, and you need to get it from a proven trainer or facility.

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