Tiger McKee

Shootrite Firearms Academy

Revolver Or Semi-auto?

Lately I’ve been running across a lot of people, both new and experienced shooters, who have been touting the benefits of revolvers for beginner interested in self-defense. Since this subject has been coming up a lot I figure there must be a common stream of consciousness flowing out there, so I feel the need to address this subject here. When it comes down to it, semi-autos are the easiest pistols to learn how to shoot and operate, and are more reliable than revolvers.

Most people think revolvers are easy to shoot and operate, and for some reason they think this is especially true for women shooters. This is simply not the case, regardless of the shooter’s gender. The trigger on most revolvers is longer and heavier than the majority of semi-autos. More than a few women have come to class with revolvers who didn’t have the hand strength to smoothly press the trigger. Triggers can be lightened and smoothed up, but that still leaves us with the revolver’s sights. The short sight radius – the distance between front and rear sight – and the fact that most revolvers don’t have great sights, makes them difficult to shoot accurately, especially with at a small target or extended distances. While the majority of self-defense use is at close range there is always the possibility your fight will require surgical precision. A short barrel revolver requires expert abilities to make surgical shots.

Revolvers are more reliable than semi-autos. Not true. A little bit of powder residue, lint, or dirt will cause the revolver to jam. A high primer on a round of ammo jams a revolver. A malfunction is easy to clear; a jam takes your weapon out of the fight. Semi-autos will run dirty, and it takes a major problem to create a jam.

Are revolvers safer than semi-autos? No. When you apply the safety rules and have the proper skills all pistols are equal. If you don’t know the safety rules and won’t learn how to operate your weapon then you shouldn’t carry one – period.

Another myth is that revolvers are easier to carry due to their size. Compare a compact semi-auto pistol with a revolver and you’ll see there isn’t a lot of difference. Plus, sometimes pistols can be too small. Little pistols are more difficult to manipulate, especially if you have large hands. Small lightweight pistols have more recoil. If it hurts to shoot it you’re not going to train or practice much.

I carry revolvers, both small and large frames. But after teaching thousands of students there is no doubt in my mind that a semi-auto such as a Glock, XD, or M&P is the best weapon for new shooters. The semi-auto is easier to shoot and operate than a revolver, and they hold more ammunition, which may not be necessary but isn’t a bad idea either. When it comes to fighting, simplicity and reliability are major advantages.


September 19, 2010 - Posted by | Auto Pistol

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