Semi Autos versus Revolvers

I guess I am stepping into dangerous ground here.  Semi Automatics and revolvers each have their diehard fans.  I am not going to say that one is better than the other.  Each one does have different pluses and minuses.



When I talk about revolvers, I mean primarily double action revolvers.  That means that you can have the hammer down, squeeze the trigger which brings the hammer all the way back and then drops it, firing the round.  There are single action revolvers still around which require you to hand cock the trigger.  I am going to rule those out for a home defense weapon.

The benefits of revolvers are that they are simple.  When loaded, you just point the weapon and pull the trigger.  Most revolvers don’t take a lot of hand strength making them good for women.  If they are extremely weak, you can teach them to hand cock the weapon and then the trigger squeeze needed will be very little.

Also, revolvers aren’t fussy as to ammunition.  If you can fit in into the cylinder, it most likely will work.

Now some of the same things that are benefits of revolvers are also there weaknesses.  The simplicity and openness of a revolver opens it up to dirt and foreign particles.  Also the cylinder is bulky if you want to carry it or store it in a drawer or glove compartment.

Finally you are carrying at the most 6 to 8 rounds.  When in a critical situation you expend those rounds, you will get no warning except that stomach churning click.


Semi automatics are slim.  You can carry a large bore semi auto with easily a magazine of 12 rounds on your body without most people detecting a bulge.  They draw very smoothly without the bulkiness of a revolver.

Semi autos tend to be more accurate ounce for ounce of a revolver.  You won’t be able to get the same barrel length in revolver as in a semi auto unless you go for a huge cowboy looking pistol.

The compactness of semi autos make them more tolerant of outside dust, dirt and debris.  While you shouldn’t do it unless you have to, you can trust a semi auto to fire at least once after crawling through the mud.

I already mentioned the capacity of a semi auto greatly exceeds that of a revolver.  On top of that you can carry slim magazines giving you the ability to be very well prepared for a long gunfight. Finally in the matter of ammo, when you run out, you easily see the slide locked backed and can readily insert a new magazine.

Now semi-autos have drawbacks too and like revolvers some of their drawbacks come from their strengths.  Magazines can be a problems.  Good quality magazines can stay loaded for long periods and still function well.  However occasionally they don’t and that can mean a jam in a bad situation. Magazines need to be maintained and rotated on a regular basis.

Semi autos tend to be finicky with ammunition.  Different types of bullets and bullet shapes can make a particular pistol jam.  You need to run a couple hundred rounds through your semi auto before you depend on them in a life or death situation.

Semi autos can be a too much for a weaker person to handle.  They have to be able to rake the slide in a safe manner.  Also if you are wounded with only one arm or hand, you have to know how to rack the slide one handed.


Now I am going to take the easy way out here. I say go with what you are familiar with.  I learned to shoot in the military with semi autos and that’s what I am comfortable with.  If you want a easily concealable weapon with high round capacity you might want to go with a semi auto. Now if you are looking for a weapon for your 100 pound wife and the gun is going to sit for months if not years without being fired, a revolver might be the best choice.  At the end, you have to make the choice which is best for you.

Leave a comment about which type pistol you like and why.


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