Most individuals who are relatively new to the concealed carry market will typically go the way of semi-autos and be done with it. There’s still a large group of individuals who carry a revolver on a regular basis, and I will admit I am usually one of those people. There are a few advantages to both along with a few things that each system has issues with, in their own ways. Let’s dive deeper into the great debate of Revolver vs Semi-Auto.
There are a number of different benefits to each weapon platform. I can argue both for and against semi-auto handguns as well as revolvers. A number of forums and authors have debated about this but both have valid positions to be a daily carry piece.
Semi-autos have a pretty big advantage over revolvers in a number of categories. Probably the two biggest advantages over revolvers are capacity and capability. This isn’t anything new and autos have been offering higher capacity magazines for well over twenty years. Semi-autos, even in the early 2000s, like the Kahr PM9 offered 6+1 magazines as well as 8+1 capacity early on. Having capacity like that quickly outclassed the revolver. Fast forward almost twenty years and things have changed just a bit. With the debut of micro double stacks like the SIG P365 and Springfield Armory Hellcat, you can have double the capacity of a traditional revolver without adding a ton of weight.
So modern-day autos have revolvers beat easily in the capacity category. When it comes to being well rounded, the semi-auto also has the advantage in this round as well. It used to be the case early on that smaller micro or compact handguns were terrible to shoot at the range. Typically, this was true for any considerable round count. I remember trying to learn with my PM9 at first and it wasn’t an easy gun to tame recoil with when you’re a new shooter. One of the best things about smaller handguns today is the ease of use.
These little micros like the P365 are very enjoyable to shoot and it’s very possible to take it out for a full day of shooting at the range. Most smaller framed handguns come with extended magazines and this helps immensely with training and just ease of use. In the past, there were typically two types of semi-auto handguns: small concealable handguns and guns that were enjoyable to shoot at the range. With the new modern offerings on the market, these two categories have now joined into one. This is possible with the addition of larger magazines and better recoil systems in the modern semi-autos.
Revolvers have a number of advantages depending on the experience level of the shooter. For new shooters, revolvers are incredibly simple to point and fire. People like being able to shoot for the first time without having to worry about racking the slide like they would with a semi-auto. Revolvers are no thrills and under regular circumstances are incredibly reliable. Along with reliability, certain models of revolvers are incredibly lightweight making it very easy to conceal them with minimal effort.
Having something like a Smith & Wesson 642 with a self-contained hammer is great for having a snag free pocket pistol. If you need to wear formal clothing or just want to have a lazy day, a pocket revolver is perfect. One of the big drawbacks with having a high capacity micro is that it can sometimes have a little bit of weight to it when carrying in the pocket.
No weapon platform is perfect and will inevitably have flaws for various reasons. Probably the biggest drawback for semi-auto handguns would be the process of loading it and cycling the first round into the gun for a new shooter. It seems like a simple task, but for many new shooters, it can be challenging. If you have something with a DA/SA trigger, it can be even more challenging for a new shooter to become accustomed to the different trigger pulls.
Another huge disadvantage for semi-autos is not being able to shoot easily in tight spaces. Realistically, If you ever find yourself in a close quarters situation, it can sometimes be hard to fire a semi-auto handgun. As a result, If you’re too close to the attacker the slide can be pushed out of battery not letting the gun fire. Now on the contrary, if you’re too close to your body it may be possible to snag the recoiling slide on your clothing causing a malfunction. Both of these scenarios are possible if you’re ever attacked and something like a revolver may be easier to use in a very close quarter situation.
If I’m honest, revolvers have their own issues though and don’t make much sense for people carrying in 2020. The biggest issue for revolvers is the low capacity. Having a revolver to carry works very well for reliability but having only 5 or 6 rounds in something that weighs as much as a modern semi-auto is hard to justify. I will admit, there’s something special to carrying a revolver but if I had to pick one handgun to carry on a daily basis, a revolver is not something I would pick over other options.
Another issue with revolvers is their lack of reliability in adverse conditions. If you throw something like an AirWeight into mud or sand, it will have serious issues firing and can sometimes throw the timing off making it incredibly dangerous. Something like a Glock won’t have the same issues and won’t have a catastrophic failure like a revolver will. I know this may seem like an unlikely circumstance, but throughout various tests I’ve conducted with a number of revolvers, it doesn’t take much to create a stoppage in the cylinder.
In short, I love revolvers to shoot at the range and carry when I’m just running to the gym in sweat pants. As a whole though, I will take a semi-auto any day of the week over a revolver. They are much easier to carry and have a higher capacity which gives me peace of mind when I carry on a daily basis. I’m curious what some of you guys prefer and want to hear your thoughts on this. Be sure to leave a comment below telling me what platform you prefer and why. If you have any questions feel free to shoot me a message on my Instagram @fridgeperator. Stay safe out there.
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