Jerry Miculek Says Never Do This with Your Revolver…

There’s an old commercial that most of you won’t remember that says when a certain person talks, “people listen.” I’m that way with several folks. Jerry Miculek is one of them.

Jerry Miculek talking with a revolver in his hand
When Jerry Miculek speaks, we should all listen.

Jerry needs no introduction to the firearms crowd, but I will note, in reference to this article, he has been a professional revolver shooter for over thirty years. So, this ain’t your average guy with a YouTube channel and Instagram feed.

The question here is what happens when you handle your revolver incorrectly?

That’s a serious question because many people don’t know some little things that can seriously impact the well-being of a revolver, even one of good quality. I was once one of those people and, while I have since learned the error of my ways, I’m glad to be reminded occasionally, because it’s so easy to casually fall back into those bad habits.

The primary moving part of a revolver is obviously the cylinder, and it’s here that most people make their mistakes. In Jerry’s words, you can “beat it to death” by operating the cylinder incorrectly. Jerry notes that a revolver is “just a machined piece of steel,” and I think that’s where many folks run into a problem. A good quality revolver feels almost indestructible because it IS a heavy piece of machined steel. What is there to beat up? Jerry points out that just like a nail can be bent, so can a firearm. It takes a lot more to accomplish, but it can be done, and it has been done.

Now, most of us don’t go around trying to destroy our firearms, but not knowing the proper way to handle them means you can put unnecessary stress on them without even knowing it. So, what is he talking about? Read on as Jerry lays some learnin’ on us.

Opening the Cylinder: You May be Doing it Wrong

When you open the cylinder, do you put pressure on it before hitting the release mechanism?

Do you know whether or not you do that? It’s often an unconscious thing. If so, you’re putting stress on the center pin, weakening it over time. It also causes wear on the frame as the pin drags across the rim of the hole. Jerry says he’s seen some really good guns destroyed that way.

revolver cylinder release
Improper use of the cylinder release causes unnecessary wear on the center pin and the frame.

When pushing the cylinder out, do you push on the cylinder’s top or bottom?

Again, it’s an unconscious thing. Do you know which one you do? Either/or, maybe? Always push on the top of the cylinder, which allows it to rotate and disengage the cylinder stop normally. Just let it roll out. Pushing on the bottom causes the stop to drag on the corresponding notches on the cylinder, causing wear. This wear occurs on the rearmost and shallowest part of the notches, which are most vulnerable to wear. This eventually causes the cylinder to not rotate properly and possibly skip a charge hole. Not good.

So, make a conscious effort to hit the release mechanism first, then push the cylinder out from the top, allowing it to rotate. This prevents any unnecessary stress on the gun.

always push the revolver's cylinder out from the top
Always push the cylinder out from the top.

Closing the Cylinder: Are You a “Dick Tracy?”

The cylinder is heavy, especially when loaded with large caliber rounds.

Closing it quickly causes it to rotate the wrong way and beats up the cylinder stop notches. Again, they will be dragging the shallow part of the notches, causing extra wear.

revolver cylinder stop notches
The cylinder stop notches are easily damaged if the cylinder isn’t opened and closed properly.

NEVER flip the gun to the side, causing the cylinder to close on its own. Jerry says that’s “Some kind of Dick Tracy thing,” and that it’s “the worst thing you can do to a revolver.” Again, the cylinder is rotating the wrong way, causing wear on the notches. Plus, the weight of the cylinder, especially one that’s loaded, produces extra stress on the whole system when it slams home, especially those notches.

large caliber revolver cylinder, open
The cylinder gets even heavier when loaded with large-caliber cartridges. Increasing the stress caused by improper closing.

When closing the cylinder, even on speed loads, Jerry never allows the cylinder to rotate. As he says, “I just close it.”

Jerry recommends a two-handed reload designed to eliminate cylinder rotation while closing. Many people, he says, don’t want to change their grip while reloading, meaning they often rotate the cylinder while closing it. He demonstrates his two-handed close in the video.

Jerry Miculek opening revolver
Don’t be Dick Tracy.
Jerry Miculek closing revolver with two hands.
Jerry’s two-handed reload grip makes sure the cylinder closes properly.

I do want to note that I’m aware that some revolver cylinders rotate opposite the way that Jerry’s Smith & Wesson does in the video. The point is to understand how your gun operates and take steps to avoid excessive wear caused by doing it wrong.

What it comes down to, as Jerry says, a revolver is “a very precision fitted instrument and you want to treat it that way.” He says that the things he talks about here don’t sound like much, but once you do it ten, twenty, thirty, forty thousand times, you can cause real problems with your gun. Maybe you don’t plan to shoot it that much. I know I won’t, but I also want to leave it in good condition for my son and, hopefully, his kids. A good revolver can be an heirloom. It might be a good idea to treat it like one.

William "Bucky" Lawson is a self-described "typical Appalachian-American gun enthusiast". He is a military historian specializing in World War II and has written a few things, as he says, "here and there". A featured contributor for Strategy & Tactics, he likes dogs, range time, and a good cigar - preferably with an Old Fashioned that has an extra orange slice.

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3 thoughts on “Jerry Miculek Says Never Do This with Your Revolver…

  1. Years ago when I got my 1st revolver, I would flip the cylinder shut because I didn’t know any better. I did this in front of 1 of my Uncles, and he told me to never do that. He said that the cylinder was precisely “timed” in alignment with the barrel. He told me that if I continued to do that then it would throw the “timing” off and cause the revolver to “split lead”. I haven’t done it since. My 1st revolver, the 1 that I was flipping the cylinder to close it, is just an inexpensive Rossi revolver but it shoots fairly decent for a cheap revolver. In my honest opinion, whether you have just became a new gun owner or you are a “seasoned veteran”, if you don’t know something then just ask. The only “stupid question” is the question that you never ask. So talk to people if you don’t know something. It’s better to “do it right” than to “do it wrong”. In a world where crime is on the rise, it could be a life and death situation. So do it right.

      1. This really has nothing to do with Hollywood. A firearm is a machine. It has to be treated well in order to maintain its peak functionality. And when it comes to a life and death situation, then you want your firearm to function properly.

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