This is an article that I did a little while back. I did do something that might anger some in the community, but it was in a controlled environment, and it was to prove a point more or less. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to leave a comment, and to follow the Liberty First Foundation’s Facebook page.
Whenever someone posts that they carry a snub nose revolver or revolver in general they are generally mocked and told that their choice of weaponry is outdated. Is that truly the case though? Do revolvers have no place in the modern defensive world? I believe that they do.
In the world of semi-auto pistols, revolvers have to some extent been thrown onto the back burner. A lot of people chuckle at the notion that people still carry revolvers and even more just reject the idea as a whole- even as a back-up gun due to the fact that they can have one that takes the same magazines as their primary carry.
Truth be told revolvers make for excellent training guns for multiple reasons. The first of which is that they are inherently more accurate than semi-autos, because of this your mistakes as a shooter will be magnified. This magnification isn’t only caused by the fact that the system is inherently more accurate than semi-autos but also because of a revolver’s trigger.
Take for example the Smith & Wesson Model 64-5 I had. It has a single action trigger that sat below 1lb in pull weight and had absolutely no trigger travel before it broke. Not only was my flinch more visible on paper but it magnified all of my other mistakes. The double action trigger on revolvers is also notoriously heavy when being compared to most modern semi-auto triggers these days…now what does the heavier trigger help?
Well, it builds up your index finger’s strength which helps decrease the movement of the handgun when pulling the trigger (this is especially helpful if you carry something like a Sig P226 decocked). Despite the ergonomics being different with revolvers, the corrections that pop on the correction targets like the one above can be carried over to semi-autos.
As far as a primary carry gun…well this is really a subjective area and isn’t entirely black and white. If you’re someone carrying something like a Glock 43 or a Sig P938…you’re rounds limited just as you would be carrying a snub nosed revolver and both platforms suffer from poor performance with standard carry loads. Right now you might be thinking something along the lines of “Well, the semi-autos still have box fed magazines.” You aren’t wrong, but, with training a person can become proficient enough with a revolver to perform out reloads in roughly the same amount of time. With reloading a revolver, you don’t risk short stroking the slide or any first round feeding malfunctions.
Where do I stand on using either of these (micros of snubnoses) as a primary carry gun? I don’t think either side has the right to criticize the other. Snubbies are less prone to malfunction than micro-compacts, but micro-compacts require a lower skill level. When it comes to larger framed handguns, however, I do believe that as a primary carry any modern quality semi-auto does outperform and outclass your larger revolvers, but if you’re proficient with a revolver… -insert shrugging emoticon-
Where do revolvers reign top dog if there ever was an area though? I would say it still holds supreme as a back-up gun over all other options. Before I get started I want to say if you’re carrying a back-up gun you are preparing yourself for some of the worst confrontations there are, and in these situations you have to minimize chances of anything going wrong as much as you possibly can. If you’re carrying a semiautomatic back-up gun, you are not doing that.
If you are forced to use your back-up gun everything has gone bad- your primary either catastrophically failed, you weren’t able to clear a malfunction in time, the attacker knocked the firearm out of your hand before you stopped them, you couldn’t get to your primary, and more. You want your back-up gun to match the scenarios its there for. In these scenarios where you cannot risk anything going wrong, the attacker is more than likely at bad breath distance. When you go for your back-up gun you will more than likely jam it into their body and with that being the likely scenario, I’ve conducted some nonscientific tests for you.
The testing was done with unloaded hammer fired semi-autos in both single action and double action and striker fired guns. This testing has led me to the conclusion that they cannot be trusted to fire if you have to jam them into an assailants body.
When I did my testing with hammer fired semi-autos I used three unloaded and cleared guns. These handguns were the CZ SP-01 Tactical, the CZ SP-01 Compact, and the Beretta 92A1. The testing was performed by jamming each gun against my leg and into my side and attempting to use both double action and single action. Each handgun was tested a total of 40 times. Each had ten tries in single action against both the leg and side, as well as ten tries in double action against both the leg and side. These are the results:
Both being pressed against the leg and into the side resulted in a dead trigger 100% of the time in both double action and single action.
CZ SP-01 Compact:
Against the leg it resulted in a dead trigger 100% of the time in double action and single action.
Against the side it resulted in a dead trigger 100% of the time in double action and 80% of the time in single action.
CZ SP-01 Tactical:
Against the leg it resulted in a dead trigger 100% of the time in double action and 90% of the time in single action.
Against the side it resulted in a dead trigger 100% of the time in double action and in single action it resulted in a dead trigger 70% of the time.
I was pressing the handguns as hard as I could to try and mimic the force that could be applied in a defensive situation. It is possible that during the last tests against the side with the two CZ’s that I did not press as hard each time. As you can see though, there is a high chance of a hammer fired semi-auto having a dead trigger while being pressed into a person’s body.
When it comes to striker fired semiautomatics I do need to conduct more testing. I can say that things aren’t looking much better. When I had the Walther PPQ I was experiencing “FTC” or failure to chamber malfunctions with very specific rounds of ammunition. The gun would almost be entirely in battery and the trigger could and would still release the striker (we’re talking a literal hair out of battery) and the rounds would not discharge.
Conclusion right now: A striker fired gun’s trigger can still be active, but the firing pin will not contact the primer hard enough (if at all) to cause detonation. The next time I have a striker fired gun for review, I will be doing some more testing with live ammunition (obviously not like I did with the hammer fired semi-autos) for a more conclusive answer.
This comes around to snub nose revolvers do not go out of battery when jammed against a person’s body. There is no risk of it going out of battery. Are there issues that revolvers can experience exclusively? Yes, definitely, however, these issues with quality revolvers are very, very rare. If you experience a light primer striker/hard primer with a revolver..there’s no need to rack a new round into the chamber either (which in the situations we’re talking about…might not be possible to do), you just pull the trigger again and again until it discharges.
Overall, I would say that full sized revolves are outclassed in many cases as carry guns.. As far as using a snub nose revolver as your primary carry, train. If you won’t dedicate the required time, go micro-compact. As a back-up gun it will be really hard to find something that will take the throne from a snub-nosed revolver. Let me know what you think on Facebook guys and thanks for reading!