Justified shootings by victims who turned the tables with revolvers encompass everything from .22- caliber “mouse guns” to rip-roaring magnums. In South Africa, writer Keith Dyer reported the case of a hunter who returned home from the bush wearing his new big-game hunting revolver, a .454 Casull, to find an intruder in his home, coming at him with a large knife. The hunter blasted a mighty .454 Casull round through the intruder, instantly and fatally ending the encounter. South African police later ruled that the shooting was justifiable.
Years ago, I debriefed Helen Weathers, the survivor of an armed rape attempt. A thug had put a .25 ACP pistol to her head with one hand, grabbed her with the other and dragged her into the bushes near the darkened office building she had just left. With her free hand, she grabbed an heirloom Smith & Wesson Model 29 revolver from her purse and promptly pumped a couple of 240-grain .44 Magnum hollow points into him, bringing the encounter to a satisfactory conclusion. Her use of deadly force against the attacker was quickly ruled to have been justified by authorities.
At the other end of the spectrum, the lowly .22 revolver has sometimes given a good account of itself. In California, a woman shot her attacker with a North American Arms mini-revolver in .22 LR. It worked, and he stopped.
Many years ago, I spoke for Mary Hopkin, a 63-year-old battered woman who had shot her burly, violent common-law husband, who had threated to kill her and was coming at her. She pulled the trigger as fast as she could, hitting him with three shots from her borrowed .22 LR RG14. The first bullet from her revolver hit him in the chest, the second in the side and the third in the back as he spun away from the gunfire. As soon as she realized he had broken off the attack, she ceased fire. However, because one of the bullets had struck his heart, it was too late for the assailant. He ran from the home, collapsed and died in the backyard. When Janet Reno, then the state’s attorney for Dade County, Florida, charged Hopkin with manslaughter, attorney Mark Seiden hired me as an expert witness for the defense. We won an acquittal.
Writer, researcher and instructor Chris Bird has documented many cases of armed citizens saving their lives and the lives of others. His book “Thank God I Had a Gun: True Accounts of Self-Defense” features a couple of revolver shootings that stand out. He tells of Judith Kuntz, a 64-year-old widow who used a small five-shot Rossi .38 Special revolver to shoot and kill an invader who broke into her home.
Bird also cited the case of Susan Gaylord, who bought a five-shot Smith & Wesson J-Frame .38 Special after her 6-year-old granddaughter barely escaped a kidnapping attempt. Sometime thereafter, she used that revolver to save herself and granddaughter from a new threat: a home invader. The intruder became much more docile after she put a bullet through his thigh. Everything ended well for both Kuntz and Gaylord.
Private investigator Paul Huebl was an ex-Chicago cop when he needed a revolver to save his life. When a violent man pulled a loaded .45 semi-auto on him, Huebl was faster. He whipped out his .38 Special S&W Bodyguard with a shrouded hammer and shot and neutralized the assailant. The shooting, of course, was deemed justifiable.
Huebl also tipped me to the story of heroic Ann Leybourne. She was a very young Chicago Police Department recruit in the early 1970s and, while off duty, fell victim to a serial rapist who had been terrorizing the city. Kidnapped at gunpoint in the front seat of a car, Leybourne fought back. She drew her revolver, a snub-nose Colt Detective Special, and shot the gunman. He was temporarily able to overpower her and knock the .38 from her hand as they struggled in the front seat, but she snatched his .32-caliber revolver from him and kept shooting until he was dead. She singlehandedly ended a serial rapist’s reign of terror.
Revolvers protect the rich and poor alike. In another Chicago case, an elderly black woman lived in a crime-ridden housing project. Beloved throughout the neighborhood as “Aunt Bessie,” she lived in fear of local criminals. She had inherited a snub-nose Colt .38 from her late husband and kept it in the front pocket of her apron. When a violent criminal broke into her home and threatened to kill her, she drew and fired. He left in a body bag. She lived to continue to be a blessing to her neighbors and was never charged.
The double-action revolver has a long, honorable history of protecting innocent people from evil in America. Some of that, of course, was earned by police officers wielding service revolvers in defense of society. However, much of it—and proportionally more now than ever—is a history of revolvers preserving innocent lives when wielded by ordinary, law-abiding men and women.
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For example, years ago, I debriefed Helen Weathers, the survivor of an armed rape attempt. A thug had put a .25 ACP pistol to her head with one hand, grabbed her with the other and dragged her into the bushes near the darkened office building she had just left. With her free hand, she grabbed an heirloom Smith & Wesson Model 29 revolver from her purse and promptly pumped a couple of 240-grain .44 Magnum hollow points into him, bringing the encounter to a satisfactory conclusion. Her use of deadly force against the attacker was quickly ruled to have been justified by authorities.
Scroll through the gallery above to learn about nine different cases where armed citizens from all walks of life used a revolver to turn the tables on violent criminals.
This article was originally published in “The Complete Book of Revolvers” 2017 #199. To order a copy, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.
Smith & Wesson has followed up its M&P M2.0, released earlier this year, with...
by Personal Defense World / Oct 3, 2017