5 Times when a Revolver is Better than an Auto Pistol

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Auto pistols are without a doubt king of the hill when it comes to defensive shooting. Weight, capacity, reliability and accuracy. In the hands of a well-trained shooter there’s no doubt the auto pistol is the way to go.

But that’s not always the case and here are a few examples as of when you may want to go for a trusty wheelgun.

1)Lack of training

This is maybe the #1 reason to get a revolver over an auto pistol. How simple the manual of arms is with them. As long as the gun is loaded all you have to do is pull the trigger for it to fire a round, something that comes pretty instinctively to a person when attacked. During such a stressful event fine motor skills are compromised and its easy for someone without a good amount of firearms training to mess up. Either forget to put a round in the chamber, remove or mistakenly engage the manual safety, even press the magazine release or jamming the gun by nervously checking to see if its loaded.

All of this is far less likely to happen when manipulating a revolver if you don’t have a lot of training. Therefore I recommend revolvers for people that will just buy a gun “for defense”, take it to the range and fire a couple dozen shots to try it out,  then leave the gun next to a half empty box hidden somewhere in case they need it.

2)Physical impairments

Sometimes people struggle badly or just don’t have the strength, due to age or some medical condition, to effectively chamber a round. In that case not only is it impossible for them to chamber a round, but also to clear any malfunctions.

Revolvers don’t have this problem. In the case of 357 magnum revolver they can be loaded with lighter 38 special loads if recoil is too much as well.

3)Long-term storage

If a gun is stashed somewhere for emergencies, maybe somewhere around the house or in a safe, then it’s a good idea to go with a revolver if you don’t want to check that it is in proper working order with certain frequency. Some law enforcement recommend rotating magazines every 3 months. And there’s also the chance of it rusting or the rounds tarnishing and getting stuck and not feeding properly.

While modern magazines are incredibly reliable, and I have kept Glock and 1911 magazines loaded for years without a problem, they are still the component most prone to failure in an auto pistol. Time flies and before you know it several years can go by without that gun being touched. While high quality magazine springs aren’t supposed to set or cause problems, if the gun will be stored for long periods of time then a revolver is a good idea.

4)Hunting and other Outdoors activities.

Revolvers tend to come in bigger, more powerful calibers. Even a 357 magnum can be loaded with much heavier, hotter loads than what you would usually use against two legged predators. Of course you have 44 magnum, 454 Casull, 500 S&W and so on. These bigger calibers are usually preferred when you have to pack for large dangerous game.  This same reason makes them better suited for hunting.

Revolvers are also practical for when you need different kind of reloads. A 357 magnum revolver can fire hot magnums for defense or very light 38 special reloads for hunting smaller game depending on what you need, giving you a versatility you don’t have in auto pistols. Revolvers can be loaded with special birdshot shells for snakes or birds. Revolvers don’t eject the empty case, which is also something reloaders appreciate.

5)22LR and SHTF ammo

When it comes to 22LR, the problem is that it’s not always as reliable as we wish it was. Especially the cheaper ammo bought in bulk, you sometimes get a dud, underpowered loads or a round that takes a few strikes to fire. In an auto pistol this means clearing a failure. The light recoil means frequent failure to eject or stovepipes, which also have to be cleared.  Because of this revolvers are good choices when looking for 22LR handguns you need to depend on when you pull the trigger.

This same logic applies to ammo of questionable quality and less than ideal reloads with mystery powders and homemade cast bullets. Auto pistols require perfectly good ammo to run reliably, while a revolver is more forgiving and you can feed it any 38 special or 357 magnum load you come across.


Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”