I see it all the time. Someone walks into a gun shop and is looking for advice on handguns. The guy behind the counter starts pulling the Glock out of the case, passing by the Smith & Wesson revolver without even touching it by accident, like it’s diseased.
Revolvers are fantastic firearms. They are reliable and powerful, but there are a few things that some folks just can’t get over. One of the main reasons people tend to overlook a revolver is the capacity. Your standard 3-4″ barreled .38spc/.357mag revolver is a six-shot and with the more compact revolvers you only get 5. There are higher capacity revolvers as well in the 7-8 shot range (which is the same capacity as most 1911’s and pocket semi-autos). Another issue tends to be cost. A brand new Smith & Wesson is very easily more expensive than most of the handguns you’ll see in a case at your local gun shop. I feel that a gun is an investment. Price is irrespective of it’s utility, accuracy and comfort. This applies both up and down the price scale. If you find something that fits you extremely well and you can shoot it well, what does the price have to do with it? Make a budget and save your money. Another issue that tends to trip people up is reloading speed. If you’re taught to correctly reload your revolver with the right equipment and you train with it, your reload speed will improve to near magazine fed firearm levels. Don’t believe me? Jerry Miculek will be happy to prove you wrong.
I had the pleasure of carrying a Smith & Wesson revolver as a duty gun for a few years and at no point did I ever feel out gunned. Initially I was somewhat disappointed about my new duty weapon since I was carrying an M9 before that, but I grew to love it very quickly. We were issued good ammunition, and received adequate training on reloading correctly, I was just as fast as guys qualifying with semi-autos. While it was heavier than a semi-auto, the trigger was very smooth and extremely consistent. It was boringly reliable and accurate beyond my abilities. All are supreme qualities to have in a defensive firearm. A quality grip on your revolver allows incredible shooting comfort as well. Revolvers aren’t constrained by a magazine feed angle and size like semi-auto’s are. I have never shot a more comfortable handgun than my Smith & Wesson 686 with a Hogue Mono-grip.
Revolvers deserve a very close look if you’re in the market for a defensive handgun. There are a few makers that make great firearms. If budget is really an issue, buying a used handgun is always an option. There are some other budget friendly revolvers out there. Taurus makes a very well made revolver and it’s a very faithful copy of the Smith & Wesson at a lower price point. Speed loaders and moon clips aid greatly in a speedy reload, even under stress. There is a whole host of calibers available in revolvers. .40S&W, .44mag, .45LC, .45ACP, 9mm..etc. The only revolver I own these days is a 1895 Nagant Gas Seal which is a pretty cool firearm to itself but horribly impractical as a defensive firearm. It’s been a while since I’ve relied on a revolver as my daily carried defensive firearm but I can tell you this, I wouldn’t hesitate to ever do it again and you shouldn’t either.