In a world with so many semi-automatic weapons, with their high round counts and quick reloads, some people wonder if the revolver still has a place when it comes to everyday protection or concealed carry. Some folks argue that the revolver is an antiquated design, a hindrance should you have to rely on it to save your life. Contrary to this view, there are still many gun owners out there rocking revolvers.

Concealed Carry Revolvers

Revolvers definitely have stellar attributes that keep their fanbase going strong. This article isn’t meant to point out reasons why the revolver is better than other guns, but rather to shed light on why it should not be dismissed as a viable option. The revolver has been with us and trusted for many years, and will be for years to come. So, let’s look at some of the reasons people might choose a revolver for personal defense or concealed carry.

Wheelgun Advantages

First off, the reliability of the revolver can be traced back to 1836 when Samuel Colt received a U.S. patent for a mechanism that enabled such a gun to be fired multiple times without reloading. Since then, in regard to technical functionality, not much has changed with this platform. One reason the revolver maintains a certain reputation for reliability in contrast to its semi-auto counterpart is the fact that it does not contain a magazine requiring a round to be chambered from the magazine well. This eliminates the possibility of feeding issues or malfunctions, and the shooter will never have to “tap, rack and flip” to clear it.

If there ever is a time where the revolver fails to fire, simply pull the trigger again to get to the next round. And I’d estimate that a revolver shooting modern jacketed bullets can usually fire anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 rounds before requiring a deep cleaning. Up to that point, it can be considered reliable for every round.

Many revolvers also have the ability to fire two different cartridges. A revolver chambered in .357 or .44 Magnum, for example, can run those rounds for self-defense or hunting purposes. But they can also run .38 and .44 Special rounds, respectively, which can be used for training or precision target shooting, since they offer less recoil and muzzle blast.


But the biggest advantage of a revolver is probably its simple operation. Place rounds in the cylinder, close it, aim and fire. Remove the spent cases from the cylinder and repeat. Of course, there are both single-action and double-action revolvers. Single-action revolvers must be cocked before each shot. Double-action revolvers can be fired repeatedly with the pull of the trigger alone. Both types are still made today, but double actions are more popular.

Shooting a revolver also eliminates the argument about carrying a handgun with a round in the chamber. For newer shooters who are just starting to carry, revolvers sometimes seem a more comfortable path to take. Many people in the semi-auto realm argue that carrying a gun without a round in the chamber is like trying to put on your seatbelt seconds before you crash. In the heat of the moment, you may forget to rack your slide to chamber that first round. That’s not necessary with a revolver, which gives some people a certain level of comfort.


Simply stated, revolvers are quite easy to conceal. These are the original subcompact guns. Typically smooth with rounded edges, revolvers are perfect for deep concealment while being comfortable to carry. But this is where the timeless “round count” argument creeps in. Many people say you don’t need more than five or six rounds should a deadly threat appear. Realistically, you just never know, and I believe it is always better to be prepared than to be out of luck. If you choose to carry a revolver, you need to become skilled and able to reload quickly. And just like a semi-auto, you should carry additional ammunition for your revolver.

Revolvers typically have shorter barrels, and therefore they aren’t exactly great for shooting long distances. A short-barreled revolver shines at 5 yards and in. With practice, 10 yards is possible, but realistically, 5 yards or closer is the norm. This isn’t exactly a disadvantage. If you actually need to pull your gun in an emergency, you’re typically going to be at what’s considered “bad-breath distance.” At greater distances, it’s time to get away and do whatever it takes to not have to pull your gun at all.

Of course, while some people may think a gun is a gun in terms of operation and handling, there are a few things we need to keep in mind when running a revolver. First up is your grip. The grips on most revolvers are small compared to those of standard semi-auto handguns. With your strong-side hand, grip the revolver firmly, making sure your trigger finger can rest squarely on the trigger, then make any adjustments to try to align the pistol with the bones in your forearm. This will help manage recoil. Try to keep your strong hand as high on the backstrap as possible.

Alternating Grips

I suggest two different grips for revolvers depending on the size of the gun. With each, you need to be conscious of keeping your fingers away from the cylinder, as hot gases can vent from the sides when firing powerful loads. On a larger revolver, wrap your support hand around your strong hand, and lay your support thumb on top of your strong thumb to lock it all down. This keeps the thumbs clear of the cylinder and gives you a solid grip. With smaller guns, I encourage actually wrapping the support-side thumb behind the strong thumb behind the hammer. This is very different than what we would do with a semi-auto, but it works well with a revolver.

Reloads can also be fast with some practice. When the gun runs dry, depress the cylinder release with your strong-side thumb. As it releases, use the middle and ring fingers of your support-side hand to push the cylinder open. At the same time, allow the muzzle to point toward the sky. Now push the ejector rod down firmly and quickly with the palm of your hand. This will clear the chambers.

Now invert the gun with the barrel downward as you grab a speedloader. Keeping everything close to your centerline will make it easier. Align the speedloader and insert the fresh rounds. Release the rounds into the cylinder and drop the speedloader to the ground as you use the base of your support-side thumb to close the cylinder and reacquire your shooting grip.

As you can see, in the hands of a skilled and practiced shooter, the revolver can be a formidable weapon. If you still don’t believe this, I encourage you to Google a gentleman named Jerry Miculek.

This article is from the Buyer’s Guide issue of Personal Defense World magazine. Grab your copy at For digital editions, visit Amazon.

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