Handguns > Revolver

Why Choose a Wheelgun?

Revolvers are simple and reliable as self-defense firearms.


Semi-automatic pistols seem to be firmly entrenched as king in the defensive handgun market these days. They certainly do dominate, especially as the number of models designed for comfortable concealment continues to grow. Some folks may go so far as to say the defensive revolver has gone the way of the Dodo, but that would be an incorrect assumption. Wheelguns continue to have a quiet, but loyal, following amongst modern handgun owners—and for good reasons.

At the top of the list of reasons for recommending revolvers for personal protection is their simplicity of operation. In a self-defense situation, fine motor skills, memory and the ability to focus can go right out the window. Modern double-action revolvers lack the buttons and levers that can get in the way of bringing a handgun into action. Take aim and pull the trigger to fire, that's all there is to it.

Also, malfunction drills developed for handguns over the years were worked out for semi-autos, not revolvers. This is because the reliable function of a semi-auto is significantly influenced by ammunition selection. The action of the pistol is cycled by the energy released from a fired cartridge. If the pressure levels are not high enough, the pistol can jam. If the dimensions of the cartridge are off a bit, then the gun can fail to eject or have a spent case catch in the ejection port. If the cartridge is faulty, and does not fire, then the gun has to be cycled manually to resolve the problem. Semi-autos are also susceptible to "limp wristing," which is a jam induced by the shooter having too weak of a grip when firing the pistol.

Revolvers, on the other hand, do not rely on ammunition to operate the mechanism. Ammunition pressure levels are irrelevant for the most part, so a revolver can operate with a wide variety of mild, moderate and hot loads. This gives the added bonus of being able to change ammunition to suit a shooter's needs, such as boosting penetration for dangerous animals or reducing power for those who are sensitive to recoil. In some situations it may be useful to mix the types and power levels of cartridges loaded in your handgun. This is not a problem with a wheelgun.

The minor variations in cartridge dimensions that occur in different ammunition brands are unlikely to cause malfunctions in revolvers. If a cartridge fails to ignite, instead of having to Tap & Rack the revolver to get it back into action, the operator simply pulls the trigger to cycle the cylinder to the next live cartridge. Since recoil is irrelevant to revolver function, they’re also completely free from limp-wrist related problems. This comes in very handy if the revolver must be fired under adverse conditions, such as when the operator has to work the revolver with one hand.

Fans of semi-autos enjoy the benefit of reloading their pistols quickly with removable box magazines. It's a good system, but not a perfect one. Magazines can be a source of malfunctions just as much as ammunition. Slam the magazine in too hard and the gun may malfunction, not tightly enough and the magazine may fall out or fail to feed. Cheap, damaged or worn out magazines can make an excellent pistol run poorly. If the magazines are dropped or lost, then the pistol is out of action. A revolver's ammunition containment system, meaning the cylinder, takes a bit more time to open, eject spent cases and reload, but it’s firmly attached to the frame. Cylinders do not have springs or followers, like magazines, to wear out and cause jams. Reload times can also be improved by using speed loaders, like those available from HKS and Safariland.

Working with the cylinder in a revolver has some additional advantages worth mentioning. When a defensive handgun comes into play in a home-defense situation, it's important to verify if the handgun is properly loaded. This is easy to do with a revolver, even in complete darkness. Carefully open the cylinder and run a finger tip across the primers of the cartridges to verify their presence, and then close the action. It's just as easy to verify that the revolver is completely unloaded for cleaning or storage: just swing the cylinder out. Removing the magazine from a semi-auto does not remove a round from the chamber, whereas opening the cylinder of a revolver guarantees no rounds are in line with the barrel.

Shooters should also never underestimate the importance of a good grip-to-hand fit with a defensive handgun, as the grip shape and material can make a huge difference in how a handgun shoots for you. Revolvers offer removable grips allowing the shooter to change the size, configuration and the material of the grip. Slip on a compact grip to make the revolver more comfortable to conceal, or attach a hand-filling full-size grip to help tame the recoil. While semi-autos are pretty much as-is in the grip department, revolvers can fit any hand that wants to fire them.

The last consideration of the never-ending revolver versus semi-auto debate is ammunition capacity. Today’s semi-autos tend to hold somewhere around 10 to 18 rounds of ammunition, compared to a revolver's typical five to six rounds. The importance of this difference in ammunition capacity is debatable. Some self-defense gurus support the idea that more is better. Others point out that most civilian situations happen so quickly, with only a few rounds fired (an average of three), that handgun capacity is a moot point. The truth is tactics, training and situational awareness will always be more important than the gun you choose to use.

The debate over which handgun design is "best," the semi-auto or the revolver, is likely to continue until firearms become obsolete. Choosing a handgun should always involve research, evaluation and some time to actually fire the guns you are considering before buying one. Semi-autos may claim to be king, but the revolver's simplicity, reliability and ammunition flexibility ensure that it will be useful as a self-defense handgun for some time to come.

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43 Responses to Why Choose a Wheelgun?

Rod wrote:
October 25, 2013

Nothing wrong with the revolver. It defended our families and it was carried by peace officers for decades. Awareness and avoidance is the key , in a self defense situation you may run of time enforce you runout of ammo. That s why my daily carry is a 442 j frame

Wicklund wrote:
July 10, 2013

My EDC is fixin to be revolvers for these and other reasons. I like semi's ok but don't like that in normal ready to fire carry position they have springs constantly under tension 24 x 7 while the revolver doesn't. Over time (who knows how long) the constantly compressed springs in a semi will eventually fail unless changed/replaced - not a concern with revolvers. They can sit for 100 years and still fire all rounds while a semi might fire the one round chambered but not confident about the following feeding right because of the spring that was compressed for that long of time.

george wrote:
April 12, 2013

I like both revolvers and semi automatics. The small light .38 special revolvers rated for +p ammunition are excellent for concealed carry. For most people they are a good choice for personal defense. They are easy to carry. If a larger and heavier gun is going to be carried I think the polymer frame semi automatics become much more practical because they offer more firepower which, except for hunting, is .normally the primary reason for carrying the larger gun. The balance moves back to large revolvers for hunting.

Joe wrote:
January 10, 2013

Sam, I agree with you for the most part, however one of your claims is flat wrong. The South Korea military issues a revolver as their standard sidearm; other militaries may as well.

Rex wrote:
December 31, 2012

enjoyed the article and comments.if properly maintained either an auto or a revolver will work for most needs of the common man.For a first gun I suggest a semi-auto 22 as they are realitivly inexpensive and one can develop appropriate mechanics by lots of inexpensive practice.If someone is intimadated by the gun they have they will be reluctant to practice with it. We do WOT traning and start the students with 22's to learn appropriate handgun mechanics and get used to noise and recoil the students love shooting the 22's and generally shoot them well. When they shoot the centerfire handguns most do well with 9mm. Those using revolvers have difficulty shooting double action as the trigger pull requires more strenght and some of the cheaper revolvers have da triggers that are awful makeing the shooting experience unpleasant thus discouraging further practice. My point is that telling first time handgun owner to purchase your favorite kind of gun is probably not a good idea as they could benefit more from shooting an inexpensive 22 and developing shooting skills while having fun rather than keeping their gun in a box somewhere in the house.What ever one chooses to carry they will benefit from practice. I would also encourage getting active in shooting sports for revolver lovers I suggest hooking up with your local ICORE club (or starting one) to improve revolver skills

Dennis Easley wrote:
December 22, 2012

I have carried the revolver for many years and my weapon of choice is the S&W model 19. I do a lot of reading and from what I read, the 125gr SJHP is certainly one of the top man stoppers on the market. I don't need 18 rounds, I'm not the aggressor, but defending myself and family. I practice continually and know where my placement is going. Face it, if a 357 will bring down a large animal such as a deer, it will stop the man attacking you. Placement, training and mindset must go along with any gun.

Adam wrote:
December 07, 2012

I often hear people say "you won't feel the recoil in a real gunfight". Likely so, but if you want to win the fight you must train diligently and shoot a lot of rounds. If the gun is unpleasant to shoot, you will be reluctant to do so.

Ruger Shooter wrote:
November 26, 2012

My wife & I use a variety of Ruger revolvers in .357--GP100, SP 101 3" & 2.25" spurless hammer & LCR--These complement a Marlin 1894C in .357--If it will not chamber a .357, I do not want it--This way we can shoot any type of .38, .38+P, or .357--The utter simplicity of Ruger revolvers along with their unfailing ability to always function is why we choose a Ruger revolver as our primary defense weapons--By adding a lever rifle like the superb Marlin 1894C, you have a very versatile survival set up--We do also have .22 LR in pistols,revolvers & rifles along with a 12 guage pump--I see a lot of semi autos jam/fail at the range that have big reputations that are well cared for--A revolver does not care what you feed it, it fires--There is also a wider variety of ammo types that work well in revolver, including shot shells--Try reliably feeding shot shells in a semi--If I need some serious fire power, HSM 180 Bear Loads are beyond belief--1489 FPS & 886 '# ME out of the GP100--Out of the rifle they are even more incredible--For us there is nothing more reliable or versatile than a Ruger revolver in .357--By the way, even full house .357 out the LCR is comfortable to shoot--Try that with a lightweight S&W

Charles wrote:
November 18, 2012

I grew up with wheels - a ruger .22 and a .41 I liked neither of them. They didn't fit, the loading (side port, 1 at a time) didn't work right...(for me) But now, much later, after firing many, and owning a couple, I will say this. It's not about the gun, it's about the wielder. If it does not fit, feel right, feel automatic... Then it isn't right. For me, personally, "right" is a smith revolver. (629 or 617) For my wife, "right" is her fathers service python. (she shoots a mean group) Besides the added steps of unlocking safeties and racking the slide - don't forget the 2 basics... practice practice practice. And without that... fit fit fit! If it isn't comfortable to begin with, should you train that away, or start with something that works?

Mack Missiletoe wrote:
October 07, 2012

Just have to say it: A revolver is easy to reload from empty. An autoloader is not. Once you are out of mags you are out for sure

Kevin W wrote:
October 05, 2012

I will stake my life and those around me on my Ruger SP101. And have on 2 occasions, I even used the heavy 6" barrel as a club when I ran dry and was unable to reload due to 2 9mm rounds in my left arm. I love my 1911, but the Ruger has been my lifesaver.

Crash Corrigan wrote:
October 03, 2012

I carried a S&W Model 10 .38 SPCL. for twenty years whilst a LEO in NYCPD. It always worked. With a 4" tube I survived 5 gun fights and only once did I need more than 3 shots. I carried a 2.5" tubed Mod 10 off duty. I retired in '84 and I normally carry a Charter Arms .44 Special Bulldog Pug with a 2.5" tube in my pocket at all times with two speedloaders and all with Hornady Critical Defence 185 gr hollowpointed ammo. When I expect trouble I strap on a 1911 loaded with 185 gr Hornady CD hollow pointed rounds and bbacked by two 10 round McCormick Power mags. My revolvers always work all the time and my semi's work almost all of tthe time. Big difference.

Rick wrote:
October 02, 2012

I've carried an S&W model 66 .357 snub since '93. I've had to pull it 3 different times and have NEVER had to worry about whether it was going to perform or not. Years ago while working bail enforcement I was set up to be eliminated. At the time I was carrying a Dan Wesson .44 mag with a 4 inch bbl. loaded with 210 grain silver tip hollow points. I still have that box. I was hit 9 times and could barely get my gun out of its holster let alone use both hands to cycle a semi-auto. I got off one shot. That one shot stopped my attacker and saved my life. I now keep my .357 packed with silver tip hollow points with 2 speed loaders as back up, although I don't think I'll ever use them. Oh, I also carry a 5 shot .38 on my ankle, just in case. Yes, it's loaded with silver tipped hollow points. I stake my life on them and my wheel guns!

rmb armour wrote:
October 01, 2012

My first comment to any forum as I'm a fairly new gun owner. Very good article for me as it also helped me decide today NOT to get a 9mm semi-auto with 19-round magazines as my next handgun. So with that decision now done, I will continue to enjoy handling and shooting my Ruger SP101 .357 revolver. Glad to read the many good reasons supporting revolvers both in the article and in helpful comments by other revolver folk. BTW, my second revolver is an NAA-PUG with both .22 magnum and .22LR cylinders. A solid revolver at the other end of the caliber spectrum. Both are great to own and shoot. Thanks again for the good commentary!

Jerry Kolberg wrote:
September 25, 2012

My choice is my .38 S&W revolver because of all the reasons you mentioned. I also keep two speed loaders ready and close by. Besides, my girlfriend can't handle auto's for the same reasons that you also mentioned. Good article.

Dan wrote:
September 24, 2012

Sam & Thomas I was a marksmanship instructor in the US Air Force and we used S&W Model 15 .38 specials that our security police, air crews and OSI carried. This was the 1970s into the 1980s. Setting aside that you may consider the Air Force our "students" fired literally tens of thousands of rounds from our handguns at the range day in and day out. I NEVER experienced a bent ejector rod (what are your people doing to your handguns!!)and very rarely had freezeup in a round failing to extract although on occasion it got very difficult after firing several hundred rounds for the various courses (buildup in the cylinder). Never experienced a cracked mainspring. My point is, after having worked extensively with revolvers both in the military and as a police officer and then making the transition to automatics as an officer, I would recommend a revolver for a novice to start out and if one is NOT going to spend a lot of time practicing shooting. The auto would be, in my opinion, for a more experienced shooter or someone with military/police experience. Not that a revolver would not pack a wallop. A lot is personal choice. And by the way, during WWI S&W and Colt both produced a large number of double-action revolvers for the military. Personally I would hate to be shot by a .45 from either a automatic or a revolver.

Fred Sed wrote:
September 20, 2012

John said ,"I have had only one problem with my (ancient) model 10. The ejector rod occasionally tries to walk out, which will tie up the cylinder." Same with my Smith. It's the reason I do not consider it a good revolver for defense. Kinda hard to reload if the cylinder is locked closed! I have been wanting a Ruger since I got it! Can you explain further why Ruger's design prevents this? I was not aware, though yes I do want a Ruger since I have had so much trouble with this issue with my Smith. Thanks

Steve wrote:
September 18, 2012

I prefer my revolver, over my semi auto, for self defense purposes. For starters, the intial excitement and adrenaline rush of having to unholster a weapon, could leave you forgetting to remove the safety on a semi auto. Secondly, if you prefer to carry a semi auto without a round in the chamber, and you are taken by surprise, and one of your hands are shot, stabbed, held, or otherwise incapacitated, there is no way to rack the slide to chamber a round. A revolver is always ready at a moments notice.

Chuc k wrote:
September 16, 2012

My Uberti single action 357 Cattleman conceals well and shoots well. I can put 50 rounds in a 4 inch target at 75' and still hit accurately at 75 yards if needed. 357 hollow points will put a man down fast if needed.

John wrote:
September 14, 2012

I have had only one problem with my (ancient) model 10. The ejector rod occasionally tries to walk out, which will tie up the cylinder. I've developed the habit of checking it frequently. Ruger revolvers make this issue moot by virtue of their design. If you need firepower, go auto. For simplicity and complete reliability with all ammo types, you want a revolver. Simple.

Dale wrote:
September 14, 2012

Lets add another problem with semi auto. The pistol must be gripped solid, a "weak wrist" will result in a single shot semi auto. Also "fingers or thumb" can slow a slide so that it doesn't go into battery. A revolver will fire every time the trigger is pulled. Except for reloads used in practise never had a revolver "locked up" and thats why you carry factory ammo for self defense.

Bob wrote:
September 14, 2012

It's interesting to note the differences from state to state. Paul mentions that in Nevada qualifying with a revolver qualifies you for all revolvers but semi-automatics have to be qualified one at a time. In Texas qualifying with an automatic qualifies you to carry a semi-auto or a revolver. Qualifying with a revolver only allows you to carry revolvers. I don't think anything more than the bias of the law makers is proven by either state but the laws governing you certainly make a difference in what you use to qualify.

Marq wrote:
September 14, 2012

Paul E.: While that was previously true in NV, it no longer is. Now in Nevada qualification with any semi auto allows the carry of any semi auto. While the thinking was rational (all revolvers function alike but every semi auto has it’s own quirks), it turned out to be a bit flawed in practice. Now my two cents on the actual question. When I was a peace officer I carried a 1911 and a 442 for back up. I would have been just as comfortable with a S&W 19 as a primary but just preferred the 1911. Now that I don’t carry a badge I never leave the house without the S&W 442 and only rarely put on a full size auto any more. Partly due to our weather (115 degrees makes concealment a chore) and partly due to physical restrictions that make belt carry challenging at times. I own several “small” semi auto’s, but none in a caliber above 380. The new micro 9's don’t allow a significant increase in capacity or power over my 442 and no semi auto is as reliable as a quality revolver in my 30+ years of carrying experience. Ultimately I live by the first rule of gun fighting and concluded the 442 with 5 rounds of 158 gr LSWCHP +P’s would “always” be in my pocket while I would be tempted to “maybe” carry a larger semi auto. And, in the words of a former college and (unbeknownst to him) mentor, “Handguns are just to get me to the trunk where the nasty lives.”

Jerry in AZ wrote:
September 13, 2012

I'm in agreement with Vinnie (And the author) when it comes to wheel guns. During my 50 year of gun ownership, I've never had a S&W malfunction, including two model 36's (1958 & 1962 vintages) I recently purchased and just put 100 rounds through each. I have had miss feeds and/or stovepipes on every semi-auto at one time or another. That's why my carry piece is a model 637.

JP wrote:
September 13, 2012

I find that for IWQB carry, my Ruger SP101 snubby(.357) is much more comfortable than my Ultra Carry (45 ACP), due to the rounded grips and no slide-lock safety sticking me. The snubby is somewhat more concealable due to kits "rounded" grip and no mag, that in spite of the wider aspect due to the cylinder. Not much different in ammo cap 5 vs 7-8 dpending on the mag + one chambered. On reliability - have to say that i have had a S&W M-28-2 that developed an indexing problem that took gunsmith to fix and am having another problem (cause not yet known) on my other SP-101 snobby. Only problem I've ever had with my 1911's is one broken slide stop --but the pistol still functioned just that slide didn't lock back when it went dry.

Paul E. wrote:
September 13, 2012

In Nevada, If, when going for your CWP< you qualify for a revolver, you qualify for them all. Each semiauto must be qualified for separately. I think that says a lot about simplicity. I view a revolver like a slot machine; you pull the lever and you win or lose. A semi-auto is like a poker machine; In between the start and the action, there are a lot of buttons and levers to push, each one can cause a loss. Semiautos are great, but they need a lot more practice.

Vinnie wrote:
September 13, 2012

Sam your comments are well taken, however I own numerous S&W revolvers from model 10, 15, 25, 66, 60, 1917 etc, and have never seen or experienced any of the catastrophic failures you talk about. Having been a cop for about 28 years and now still shooting to qualify, I have never seen anything like that happen. We carried and shot only .357 magnum for many years with no failures. I prefer my model 60 over everything else as my CCW weapon of choice.

jane wrote:
September 13, 2012

S&W Mod 327 - 8 rounds of .357 mag (or .38 or snake shot) in moon clips allowing a reload just as fast as a mag in a semi-auto. Goes "bang" every time I pull the trigger and - MOST IMPORTANT - does NOT go "bang" if it happens to fall out of the pocket of my robe. The two semi-autos live in the safe. The "old-fashinoned" wheel gun goes with me everywhere.

Ron H. wrote:
September 13, 2012

I preach and teach wheelguns. I carry one as well. Simplicity, user friendly, and no chance for being ammo particular. I see arguments about high capacity mag, caliber wars, etc. There are three things only that count in a gunfight,,,SHOT PLACEMENT, SHOT PLACEMENT, SHOT PLACEMENT.

David Weiss wrote:
September 13, 2012

My late wife was small and weak. She could not rack the slide on my .22LR pistol, but she had no problem whatever with my S&W Model 19 revolver.

Matthew wrote:
September 13, 2012

A wheel gun is a great choice for self defence. I have people ask me all the time what gun should they buy for the houes or carry for their first hand gun. I always say a revolver. If you are not a 'gun person' and you want or need a hand gun for the house a wheel gun can't be beat. Fully loaded there are no springs getting weaker over time and if it does not go bang on the first pull just pull agin and the wheel moves the bad shell out of the way and puts another in its place. If you are fighting with someone and press your pistol into them a simiauto will come out of battery and can't fire wheel guns don't have that problem. Keep those wheels turning.

Rick wrote:
September 13, 2012

I rely on a Smith & Wesson J frame .38 snubbie everyday, all day, everywhere, as my concealed carry gun. It only holds 5...but it's 5 for sure !! A S&W revolver and a lever action rifle...I consider myself well armed.

Don wrote:
September 13, 2012

Military and Police agencies use semis because they are much more likely to engage multiple opponents, be it in an ambush or in a bank robbery. For self defense purposes a revolver is more than suitable. In either of the above scenarios, a semi-automatic rifle would be best.

GaryInSandyEggo wrote:
September 12, 2012

In response to the question just below, the topic is self/home defense. Not warfare. The given assumption is that the firearm skill level will vary widely, with some of the individuals having never fired a handgun, including the one they buy for home defense. As the article pointed out, the revolver is simplicity itself.

Essential Defense wrote:
September 12, 2012

1. Revolvers jamming from poor maintenance is irrelavent. Whether an auto or wheel gun maintaining your carry gun in clean good condition removes this concern. 2. Comparing civilian and battlefield(military0 needs is apples and oranges. As a civilian you are not defending a position from an over run attack by 30 or 40 soldiers from Imperial Japan. The battlefield handgun provides officers and NCOs with a portable weapon of short effective range that can put out an extremely high volume of fire coupled with a fast reloading box magazine. This is the short coming of the revolver. Even so the military has been trying to replace the "sidearm" for decades with the PDW. For civilian applications the revolver is "sufficient" without creating large amounts of collateral damage when used in a public place.

Matt wrote:
September 12, 2012

for me it boils down to stopping power, then comparability, then conceal-ability. Semis will jam, there is not doubt about that. Keeping them clean is key. Revolvers are very simple. I will always carry a revolver no matter what idiots say about semis. They just like wasting ammo and taking 10-15 rounds to stop someone with their tinny 9mm.

Fred wrote:
September 12, 2012

Well Thoams, comparing the shooting needs of a solider on a battlefield filled with people trying to kill him to that of the average soccer mom walking out to her car from the shopping mall is part of the problem here. The military issues hand grenades too but I doubt they would make a good defensive option for the average joe dealing with a mugger. Don't get me wrong, semi-autos are just as awesome as everyone says, there's nothing wrong with them. But a good revolver is a good choice for self defense and in some cases a better choice for ordinary guys going about their business.

Grunt4life wrote:
September 12, 2012

Thomas, The U.S. Military goes with Semi Autos for the ammo capacity.

Thoams wrote:
September 12, 2012

If a revolver holds equal or more benefit then a semi why does the military go with semis for pistols?

Sam wrote:
September 12, 2012

It is false that a revolver is inherently more reliable than a semi-auto. What do I base this on? I do instruction for a private agency that still issues a S&W M64. These guns don't lock up often, but when they do they LOCK UP. It will take a gunsmith to get it working again. If a Semi-auto jams on you, it won't take more than a few seconds to get that gun operational again. How can you lock up a wheelgun? 1. Bend the ejector rod enough so the cylinder can't turn all the way. This usually happens when reloading under stress, which you'll have to do every 6 rounds, and you're shaking a bit and you've lost your fine motor control so you drop the gun with the cylinder open, bending the ejector rod. 2. Cracks in the mainspring which cause the spring to break. The hammer will not fall with no spring tension. 3. Case failure resulting in cylinder lockup. In any of these situations, it will take a n armorer or even a gunsmith to properly get the gun working again. Then there is the fact that the more time you spend manipulating the weapon, the less time you're spending dealing death. There is no arguing that this has a big negative impact on your chances of winning that gunfight. Notice that there is no law enforcement agency in the US and no Military in the world that still issues a revolver. The above are two very good reasons for this. Yes, the semi-auto can jam, but you can get it back into the fight very quickly.

Pete Bensen wrote:
September 12, 2012

When you get down to brass tacks, 158 grain 38 special loads have a BIT more punch than 9mm. Use of 357 magnum, well that's heavy artillery IMO. A revolver is idiot "resistant", not quite "fool proof". Revolvers DO jam or misfire, albeit rarely. In my experience, you still need skills to make the tool of your preference work.

Gary wrote:
September 11, 2012

If the average gunfight is only three rounds long, either a semi-auto or a revolver would be eligible. But stop and think what that statistic is telling you. It is saying that your first and second round didn't end the fight, it was your third so you were probably getting shot at. And then you have this epiphany: wouldn't it be better to hit the BG with my first shot and put his butt on the floor so he couldn't shoot me? Luck and training will determine if you get a good hit with your first shot but your weapon will determine if one round does the trick. This is where a high-powered revolver, with only five or six rounds, trumps a low- or medium-powered pistol with a big magazine. You would think that the .357 Magnum would be the obvious choice but here's what the FBI had to say about it: "We haven't found one (a load for their 3-inch S&W M13) that is sufficiently better than the best .38 load to justify all the sound and fury of shooting it, unless you need the increased effective range, which the higher velocity gives you. We have only tested five so far, and none of them stands out." This is proof that a .357 needs a long barrel to be a Magnum; snubby barrels simply turn them into .38 Specials. So what calibers does that leave for the best chance of scoring a one-shot stop? Only the .41 Magnum, the .44 Magnum, and the .45+P Colt. If you had a load that fired a lighter-weight JHP bullet at extra-high velocity, you could maximize expansion and reduce penetration to man-thickness from big game-thickness. You would then have under your control the ability to produce the largest hole possible, drive it deep through clothes and bone, and inflict the absolutely largest dose of pain possible with a handgun. What's that? Shooting something that powerful is uncontrollable? The idea here is to find the load that gives you the best chance of stopping the BG with one round so you won't need to fire two more. Hunters never remember recoil when firing at game, can you do that?

Silas Longshot wrote:
September 10, 2012

Exactly my reasoning for .357 mag revolvers in my defense selections. This caliber, among others, also works nicely in my Winchester 94AE 'Trapper' lever action rifle, the far longer barrel giving a potent pistol round another 300 fps or so going downrange. Hunting with hot loads and 180 grain bullets, it also makes a nice defensive weapon. Just remember 'tactical is mindset and training, not just the weapon in hand. Surviving urban crisis . com