Why a Revolver?

Revolvers are outdated. If you’re offended by that statement, please vent your frustration in the comments and change my mind. I mean, you’d do that anyhow, but it’s nice to have permission. But before you get all fired up, read a little further. They might be outdated in terms of capacity and, to a lesser degree, reload speed, but there’s one thing a quality revolver has over every autoloading pistol: reliability. And yes, that applies to you Glock fanboys too.

I’ve been a gun owner most of my life, but I’ve only been heavily INTO guns for about fifteen years. When I started taking more of an interest, I asked one of my gun-savvy friends about the advantages of revolvers. “The main thing,” he said, “is they go ‘bang’ when you pull the trigger.” Being mostly inexperienced with handguns at the time, I didn’t really understand the significance of that statement. It took some learning, sometimes the hard way, before it really rang true.

In this video, 1911 Syndicate talks about just that.

He says that you should have at least a couple of revolvers in your collection, even though he’d “rather have a Glock or 2011 in a pinch or as a bedside gun, range gun, or whatever.” No argument here, but what’s behind his reasoning? There are three main reasons (you may have more) why everyone should have a wheel gun or two:

• It is conceivable that magazine-fed handguns could be banned in the future. Unlikely, perhaps, but possible.
• Revolvers are easier to train a new shooter with if you find yourself in a pinch.
• Reliability. Like I said earlier, they will go “bang” when you need them to.

1911 Syndicate Colt Python
1911 Syndicate recommends a full size revolver, like this Colt Python, and a compact like the Colt Detective Special.

So, let’s look at each of those in turn. A ban on magazine-fed handguns is not outside the realm of possibility. Never underestimate the power of a sufficiently emotional narrative driven by a dishonest press, nor an opportunistic politician. And make no mistake, that is one of the goals of the anti-gun crowd. If it were to happen, better to be ahead of the buying spree.

Second, revolvers have a faster learning curve for new shooters. There’s basically nothing to go wrong. They’re easy to operate and easy to reload. As long as you don’t start them off with a .44 magnum, or something equally ridiculous, they will experience success and confidence relatively quickly. It’s much easier to hand a revolver to an inexperienced shooter in a bad situation and have them up and running quickly with basic instructions. They may not be accurate, but they can operate the gun if they have to.

Smith & Wesson Model 19
The Smith & Wesson Model 19 is another great full-size option. Revolvers are easy to operate and reload. (Left image, courtesy of the author. Right image, Guns and Ammo)

Finally, and most important in my mind, revolvers are reliable in almost any situation. There are no magazines or slides to operate. No worries about failure to load or failure to eject. No out of battery issues. If a revolver doesn’t fire, just pull the trigger again. In many cases, you can reset the hammer manually and try it that way. I do want to reiterate that he is talking about quality revolvers. As with any gun, you get what you pay for with revolvers. As the saying goes, buy quality and only cry once. So, a Colt, Smith &; Wesson, Ruger, maybe an older Taurus, and a couple others should be what you’re looking for.

The guy in the video (I never got his name) suggests a full-size and a compact revolver, assuming you’re only going to own two. Where’s the fun in that? But I digress. He pulls out two examples of this philosophy: a full-size Colt Python and a compact Colt Detective Special. Caliber is up to you, and no one needs my input on that, but the chamberings are varied enough to serve all your needs. Ammo is readily available for those chamberings. He does recommend six-shooters over those with a five-round capacity for obvious reasons, but, again, that’s your call.

Ruger GP100 and older Taurus revolver.
There are many good full-size revolvers, such as this Ruger GP100 and an older Taurus. This Taurus doesn’t even have a model number, but it’s served my brother well for 35 years. (Photos property of the author)
The Colt Detective Special and the Smith & Wesson Model 442 are quality compact revolvers.
The Colt Detective Special and the Smith & Wesson Model 442 are quality compact revolvers. (Colt Image source: The Specialists LTD. S&W image property of the author)

The Python can serve well in any situation: bedside gun, self-defense, and even concealed carry if you do it right. There are obviously other choices here, like maybe a Smith & Wesson Model 19 or a Ruger GP 100. There are plenty from which to choose. The Colt Detective Special is perfect for concealed carry but can serve other roles if needed. Like the full size, there are lots of alternatives, like the Smith & Wesson Airweight series or the Ruger LCP.

So, once you get the essentials of your gun collection squared away, like a carry gun, bedside gun, etc., look into a couple of revolvers. Or maybe the revolvers cover all those bases for you. Yeah, they are a little outdated, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work. You do you.

And, finally, revolvers are cool, from their workmanship, to pop culture, and historically. As this dude says, “There’s something neat about that.”

Unidentified Confederate soldier with Bowie knife and Colt Army Model 1860 revolver
Revolvers played an important role in our history.
John Wayne revolver
Revolvers are imbedded in our pop culture. (Image source: Mostly Westerns)
Doc Holliday with revolver
Who’s your Huckleberry? (Image source: Vocal Media)

Doc Holliday GIF

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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