Defensive Revolvers: Just a Fad or Here to Stay?

You can calm down because this is not another one of those “Revolver vs. Semi-auto” articles. However, I am curious about all of the recent interest in defensive revolvers that I see on social media. Colt has recently made a big splash with the reintroduction of their Python revolver. At the same time, we continue to see and hear from shooters who cleave to their Smith & Wesson J-frame revolvers. And there seems to be continued interest in revolvers manufactured by several other companies. A custom holster maker recently told me that 70 percent of his orders are holsters for revolvers. I am curious if we are seeing a stable trend back to the defensive six-gun, or if this is just some sort of fad.

Of course, many of our older shooters have never quit the revolver. They learned to shoot it and shot it well. In many cases, these folks have had revolvers save their lives, and it’s pretty hard to quit a gun that you could rely on in those circumstances. These older shooters passed their love of revolvers on to their children, affecting the younger generation’s choices.

Also, I suppose that a certain number of folks are just looking for something new to play with. They’ve done their time with the big service semi-automatics, like the 1911, moved on to one or the other of the polymer guns, and are just looking for a change. 

There are also some older shooters who, because of physical conditions, find it difficult to rack the slide on a semi-automatic. They may also like that it is a bit easier to remember how to properly load and operate a double-action revolver. Finally, they may not shoot as often as they used to and the loaded revolver can lie, ready to go, without any springs depressed.

As an instructor, I have found that many people, especially novice shooters, find that the revolver is easy to shoot. It is, in fact, easy to shoot, but it is challenging to shoot well. That double-action trigger pull takes a lot of practice if one is intent on delivering accurate shots.

Regardless, the current interest in revolvers intrigues me. And, as we begin a new decade, I wonder where it will lead. We here at Shooting Illustrated would be interested to know what you think. Let’s don’t turn this into a Revolver/Semi-auto debate because I just don’t care—both are good guns in the right hands. Are you a revolver shooter? Why? Do you think it’s just a fad? What makes you think so? Let me hear from you. I’d be interested to know your thoughts.

This article originally appeared in Shooting Illustrated.

This entry was posted in Guns, Personal Defense, Revolvers and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Defensive Revolvers: Just a Fad or Here to Stay?

  1. Derry Gallagher says:

    Sheriff Jim
    I guess I’m a straddler, I’ve got a chopped round butted S&W model 58 with a big dot front sight in my desk drawer. I have one of my custom horse hide rigs for it.
    In my night stand I have a Les Baer Combat Comanche in an old original El Paso Saddlery fully carved 9688. I had to form it to the Comanche.
    I picked it up in El Paso in 68 after my first Nam sabbatical.

  2. Brad Carlton says:

    Hi Jim,
    I generally carry revolvers in the great outdoors – farm, field and woods. I like the ammunition versatility afforded by revolvers – light plinking loads, defensive loads and heavy hog loads, all function without any concerns about cycling or reliability. Also, that long, deliberate trigger stroke provides an extra measure of safety against negligent discharges in tense situations. And they’re just fun to shoot too!

  3. Larry Berry says:

    At the present time I know one person that has a revolver for defense. He also has a semi automatic for defense. Everyone else has a semi automatic for defense . Most all small caliber . In my opinion most of the people that have small caliber semi automatics would be better off with a revolver . The people I know do not practice . So have never shot their guns . When I mention that maybe they should have a revolver and explain the spring situation between the revolver and auto they will have none of it . They want a semi automatic . Since they want a semi , I have suggested some brands of guns . That usually does not sink in either . They buy the cheapest semi they can find . I have almost given up on the situation . I carry a 1911/ .45acp . And practice .

  4. Matt says:

    I guess I straddle the fence, I typically carry an accurized, optically sighted Glock 19 when I’m out with my family. On the other hand, when it’s just me out running errands, knocking around the woods, or riding my ATV 95% of the time there’s a .357 or a .44 on my hip. As someone noted above I appreciate the ammo versatility of the revolver. Also, and I say this as a guy who carried a Glock 19 for 27 years, the polymer framed wondernines may be wonderfully efficient self defense tools, but they lack soul. Attempts to pretty up a Glock or M&P are, to me, akin to painting racing stripes and flames on a hammer. It doesn’t make it a bad hammer, but I don’t see the point. Revolvers, 1911s and High Powers, blued or stainless, these to me are aesthetically pleasing firearms. I do realize that taste is subjective and if a Punisher themed, cerakoated Glock or M&P floats your boat, more power to you, it just isn’t for me.
    On a side note, RMR type sights and XS big dots are the bees knees for old, farsighted eyes. I thought I could see the front sight well enough to precisely align it in the rear notch. Then I put an XS Big Dot front sight on a 2 inch model 60 .357 and found myself shooting it better than revolvers that are ostensibly much more accurate. Either I have the worlds most accurate J frame or I can’t see the sights on my 686 and S&W Model 19 nearly as well as I thought I could.

  5. Berk says:

    Nice article, I find myself carrying a single action in 45 colt more and more everyday. Can change ammo when needed to hunting or snake rounds just by turning the cylinder.

  6. Ed davis says:

    Great article, I’m a fifty yr old man that grew up shooting revolvers with my father, he preached the effectiveness and reliability of them and it stuck with me. So much so that I despised my service issue. When I asked him about capacity he would say carry two but if you can be accurate you don’t need 15 rounds.Ruger security six .357 x2. 4inch and six inch

  7. Jesse says:

    As a LEO I use a J frame as a backup. Working with many other “Millennial” generation officers, and being one myself, it is a very uncommon sight at the qualification range. I get asked why I use a revolver as a backup. I explain I can employ it if I’m in real a jam without the need to draw from concealment (I.e. a pocket) something that is difficult to accomplish with a semi auto. I also explain there is no need to rack a slide in case of a misfire – particularly if one arm is disabled. It has definitely caused some in my department reconsider the revolver, which fills the niche of a backup weapon very nicely.

  8. Timothy McCann says:

    Try and find a revolver today, they are in short supply. Try to find 38sp ammo, even hard to find.

    • Brian S. says:

      I imagine that if there are any revolver shortages in the market at present, it is most likely because 1. they sold out LAST during the rush to buy guns and 2. manufacturers are now focusing entirely on production of polymer framed, semi-auto pistols in response to the Covid-19 gun buying panic. You know…supply and demand. At this time, revolvers probably aren’t selling as well as in pre-pandemic times…they are kind of on the “back burner” for both the manufacturers and consumers as well.

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