5 Reasons Not to Buy a Budget Revolver

FIE budget revolver

This budget revolver was purchased in 1989 for $75. Its value has ballooned and is today worth as much as $125 to $150. The lockup is a little scary but the barrel is drilled and tapped for the front sight rib and it has only flown off once.

(Editor’s note: This is just one man’s opinion.  Remember that.  You are entitled to disagree and respectfully respond to his arguments in the comment section below if you so wish.)

One of the most common questions I hear asked in gun shops and online “I’m looking for a handgun but I don’t have a lot to spend. Can you recommend a budget revolver?” This question in particular comes up with people new to shooting, which makes things even more difficult. The truth is–especially for new shooters–there are more reasons not to get a budget revolver then there are to get one.

People like the idea of buying revolvers because at a glance they’re simple to use and less complicated-looking than semi-automatic pistols. Gun stores across the country repeat this every day. But they aren’t telling the whole story; it’s their business to sell guns, after all.

And it’s easy to sell revolvers. They’ve got a long, proven track record, ammo is easy to find and not really expensive, ammo options run from light target and self-defense loads to roaring magnums, people intuitively know how to make them fire and the organic outline appeals to the eye and conceals easily…it’s just not that simple.

“Simple” is the most misleading word ever used to describe revolvers. The manual of arms is usually called “simple,” as in, to make it work, all you have to do is pull the trigger–simple, right?

That all falls apart as soon as the revolver needs reloading. Reloading revolvers is tricky and so are revolver reloading systems. Stripper clips are slow, speed-loaders are hard to carry, and moon clips, well, moon clips don’t fall into the budget category very often. Even the process of swinging out the cylinder and ejecting spent cases can be difficult and it requires serious practice to perform under stress.

smith wesson combat magnum

Revolvers can be much more complex than modern semi-autos.

Many people are under the impression that because revolvers are based on older technology that internally, they’re simple, too. The reality is that on the inside they’re more complex than almost every modern semi-automatic service pistol in production today.

Revolvers were developed in an era of handcraft where clockwork mechanics were themselves in mass production. They’re complex, with many small, precisely- and individually-hand-fit components.

Today’s manufacturers have developed ways to overcome some of the complexity and necessary hand-fitting through engineering, though, which brings us to the first reason not to buy a budget revolver.

1. Budget Revolvers Can be Clunky

If the main reason good revolvers are good is because they are an assembly of intricate hand-fit parts, and you take away the intricacy and work with tolerances and clearances that eliminate the need for hand-fitting, you’re eliminating the essence of what makes them good.

When you look at a lot of budget revolvers they have heavy double-action triggers and in many cases heavy, gritty and otherwise sub-par single-action triggers, if they even have single-action triggers.

Some of this is because of the geometry of the parts but a lot of this is the use of heavy springs, which are necessary to overcome rough, unfinished surfaces that have a lot of friction and drag on each other. With lighter springs those rough surfaces become a liability and can lead to poor reliability.

The end product is a gun that’s harder to use, harder to aim well and ultimately will not last long.

2. Budget Revolvers Can be Loose

In order to reduce or eliminate the need for hand-fitting, budget revolvers designs tolerate wider gaps between parts. This isn’t a huge deal for internal trigger components; they’re under spring tension which takes out any noticeable slack. But it is a huge deal for the cylinder.

The cylinder is the heart of the revolver. Everything about a revolver centers on getting the cylinder turned to and aligned with the barrel. There are a lot of moving parts involved and the gap around each adds up.

There are mechanism on every revolver to lock the cylinder in place while firing, but like with the rest of the gun, budget manufacturers will accept more play with these parts, and the result is a revolver with looser timing.

The worse the cylinder timing is–its alignment with the barrel–the worse the wear on the cylinder parts will be. This is cumulative with every shot and worst with magnum loads. Every gun wears a little with every shot, but revolvers that don’t lock up tightly don’t wear, they self-destruct.

Some of this can be addressed by using low-pressure ammo, but then the revolver loses one of it’s best selling points, the ability to shoot ammo that is off the table for all but the most exotic semi-autos.

3. Budget Revolvers Can use Cheap Metal

Even if the timing is pretty good on a budget revolver, one of the most cut corners is the cost of quality alloys for frames. It’s not just the metal used to manufacture parts that saves budget manufacturers money, it’s all the tooling used to cut and finish those parts–everything costs more when a company chooses use harder alloys for their products.

All of the problems that are caused by loose timing are exaggerated when a revolver is made using inexpensive materials. The cylinder parts wear faster, the timing goes out more with every shot and the frame can begin to stretch, increasing the cylinder gap and mis-aligning the barrel and cylinder.

These can, and have, lead to the death of many cheap revolvers. The thing is, most people don’t put the round count on a budget revolver to cause these kinds of problems, and that’s something the people making these guns rely on.

4. Used Revolvers Can be Better

Thirty-eight Special has been kicking around for a century and then some and there are plenty of used handguns out there to prove it. With patience and a little knowledge its not to hard to find what you’re looking for.

These guns may have surface wear and dull finishes but they were made to a higher standard, and even used with often unknown round counts, are still tougher and better-fit than many new budget revolvers.

You don’t need Python money to get a good used revolver from a private sale or police trade-in. People find and trade old guns all the time–something GunsAmerica.com knows more than a little about–and there are many good guides out there to help you buy guns online and in person.

If you’re on a budget the condition isn’t quite as important, and if the gun has been refinished that just makes it more affordable. You might not find a deal today but there will be one down the road.

Buy a Used Model 10 on GunsAmerica.com: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=smith%20wesson%20model%2010

Buy a Used Single Six on GunsAmerica.com: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=single%20six

If you feel like you need a new gun in a hurry, you can always buy a budget semi-automatic instead.

DB9 18

The budget semi-auto market is bigger and better than ever with a lot of solid options in the $200 to $300 range. (Photo: Flemings)

5. New Semi-Autos are Everywhere

For self-defense there are few reasons to pick up a revolver over an automatic today. The era of unreliable subcompacts and pocket pistols has been over for a long time and today not only are they proven, they’re affordable, too.

Automatics in general have a much greater capacity, less felt recoil for high-pressure rounds, shoot faster follow-up shots and often have provisions for night sights and weaponlights. They’re a million times easier to reload and spare magazines carry easily.

The argument that they’re simple is only a half-truth, and when a revolver has a stoppage it can take a trip to a gunsmith to fix. Should you experience a failure to eject or double-feed on a semi-auto–as unlikely as they are today even with cheap pistols–they’re easy to fix with a malfunction drill.

Revolvers have one advantage that is often touted in the revolver-versus-automatic debate, and it’s undeniable: you do not have to rack the slide on a revolver; you can’t, it obviously doesn’t have one. That single element has sold more revolvers, budget or otherwise, than any other revolver characteristic. The thing is, that, too, is misleading.

Short of a disability anyone can learn to rack the slide on a handgun. It’s a matter of technique, not sheer strength, and in extreme cases there are slide-racking accessories including hooked sights, extended striker plates and tabbed slides to make it possible for anyone to get their pistol loaded and ready.

Now with this all said, does that mean there’s no reason to buy a budget revolver? No, not at all. Knowing what their deal is and their shortcomings, a budget revolver can be a fun and useful addition to any handgun collection. But for a first gun, or a gun you may need to depend on, a budget revolver can come up short. Keep an eye out for wear, don’t shoot them if they stop locking up tightly, and never forget that they have a half-life of sorts, and every round gets you closer to it.

Check Out These Guns at $350 or less on GunsAmerica.com: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.htm?T=<id-cl=1&as=365&mx=350&cid=3&ns=0&numberperpage=50&

{ 99 comments… add one }
  • Osceola 71 September 30, 2017, 12:38 am

    Well, this degenerated once again to an argument about this gun or that gun and this caliber or that caliber. So let’s all just agree that everyone should own a tank and be done with it.

  • slfree June 24, 2016, 6:36 pm

    If you can’t put a name next to the word “budget” you are a chicken. And the author would not even admit the brand of the gun in the picture. You help nobody if you can’t say what you are opining about. I grew up around folks that spoke well of Rossi. I’ve owned 2 and will not buy a third. In the same “Budget” category you will find Charter Arms. In my circle always spoke of as junk. I’ve owned 2 still have the second and would buy another anytime. So now you have a couple of brand names. But I’m not a hotshot gun writer, rather I’m a guy who could not always afford a Smith & Wesson. Yet I found guns I’d bet my life on. After all is said you are betting your life on a tool. Get the S&W if you can but be open minded.

  • BIGKIELBASSA April 10, 2016, 10:43 pm

    Cheap ? In price, but only if there is good quality. How much is your life worth ? I personally wouldn’t wanna get shot by a cheap gun or an expensive one. And neither does a bad guy. Any gun is better than none. I’ve always been partial to S&W K frame snubs like models 10, 64, 66. Cheap is only good if it only applies to the cost of the firearm. Cheap in quality is a waste of good money .. Buy its your life, & your choice.

  • Rikk April 8, 2016, 10:53 am

    I think the question is what is the weapon to be used for. If someone wants an inexpensive “home protection” handgun and does not plan to put hundreds of rounds through it at the range then I advise people to go with a revolver. If you can find a used S&W Model 10 that’s been checked out that’s great, but if the weapon is to be left in a convenient location for the one time that you hope never happens then the point and shoot revolver is the best way to go. For people who want a weapon for just this reason their mindset is more important. I always ask if they were confronted by an intruder would they fire center mass and continue to fire until there was no longer a threat? If their answer is anything but yes without hesitation I tell them to save the money. I always advise people who want a weapon for just the purpose I listed to never buy a cheap semi-auto for a possible one time occurrence. The people who want this protection are less than novices and although I agree with many of the points made by the author in his comparisons, in the heat of the moment these people just want to point and shoot. (I’m a 30+plus police veteran from a large violent city)

  • Stevechallis April 3, 2016, 6:13 pm

    This is a question we often get asked in the courses we offer at our training school ,Harmony Hollow. I respectfully disagree with the writers opinion. That the only guns worth while buying are the quality expensive ones ,usually out of reach of the student,or housewife looking for a gun to defend themselves. I have also heard certain instructors say that if you cannot afford a proper gun,then you should save up and buy one,on lay away ect.

    what these people are actually saying is, keep putting money away towards your cold ,S&W ect ,and should a bad guy break into your home at night ,show him the receipt for your deposit from the FFL and ask him to come back when you have a means to defend yourself.
    My advice is. Always ,any gun is better than no gun. If all you can afford is a.cheepo .25 Raven ,then get one,then start saving for something better. Of course we do not recommend any particular brand of gun,as each student is different and so are their needs.
    We do have a selection of gun types that we allow students to try, and often that steers them towards a lightweight snub nosed revolver or a .380 semi Auto. I feel it s not our job to sell guns or promote different types.or manufactures. We are aware that most students come to us to learn how to defend themselves and we facilitate that. There are a number of second hand options that are worth considering, recent releases of law enforcement Glocks and the release of a large shipment of ex Brazilan police .38 Taurus revolvers are good examples. In our 6 years of operation we Have seen a wide variety of guns produced for use at our CCW classes. The oldest being a .german .32 semi auto Walther ,a WW1 battlefield pick up by his grandfather. The gun passed our safety checks and performed faultlessly. On of our instructors ,was so impressed he presented him with a copy of a disassembly and re-assembly sheet for the gun. ,from his own extensive archives. (He had a similar Model in his collection.).
    As stated we are a school that caters for CCW both student and instructor as well as a comprehensive range if NRA and tactical courses,including night shoots and women on target events.

  • james Greer March 31, 2016, 1:51 am

    (amongst such experienced shooters, I feel humbled)
    I take this opportunity to add – Saturday Night Specials are bad – mkaayyy????
    A recent surviving spouse, showed me what her Husband had purchased for security 30 yrs ago. It was a Davis Industries, P380 made from ZAMACK. I looked it up, looked around, looked on GA, and SOB! It is a SNS, just like the song mentions.
    I came up with a better title – it is like a 100 pound grenade; its not very accurate, and it might kill you as well! She liked it, and it will be grinded up and it never even fired a single round. The original 5 clip mag was with it.
    I will spend time with her at the range. I will coach her on how to make her house more resistant to an intruder. But I WILL NOT teach her how to shoot a SNS and think I’m doing her a favor.

  • Larry Koehn March 29, 2016, 5:11 pm

    This article is insane! Get a Tarus M-85. They are cheap, warranted for life, and the equal to any similar sized S&W.

    • Chris March 30, 2016, 4:44 am

      If you own a Taurus revolver that works, you are lucky. Myself and 2 other people who shoot at our shooting range have had malfunctioning Taurus revolvers. They are not reliable. Go with Ruger or Smith and Wesson.

      • Mike S April 2, 2016, 3:44 pm

        Agreed. I had a Taurus Model 856 that was plagued with light strike issues. About 1 in every 3 rounds it would surface. There’s no reason to buy a sub-par wheel gun when you can purchase a used Smith and Wesson Model 10 for similar pricing, if not cheaper, and with 10 times the reliability.

  • gary March 29, 2016, 11:09 am

    One thing not mentioned is the warranty. I find it is a good indicator of the gun’s quality. If the new gun has a lifetime warranty expect good quality. Then look for a used version. With patience you can find one that is turned in to sell fast, not what it’s worth. I recently got a 44spl charter from 1977 for$200. Felt tight, good gap, good barrel and trigger. Goes bang everytime with any type ammo, and more punch than a 38. Jackpot!

  • W.P. Zeller March 29, 2016, 10:44 am

    It’s expected that there was going to be plenty of unhappiness with this article from the revolver-preferrers. But it stands as one of the best pieces I’ve read in terms of actually looking at the functional aspects of the subject. My only possible criticism is that it understates the difficulty of shooting revolvers well versus semis- and double especially in the case of small, inexpensive revolvers.
    Now, I own more revolvers than semis and love to shoot them- a lot. I’m classified “B” in USPSA Revolver Division. But for so many of the reasons discussed above, I try to dissuade new shooters from small, inexpensive revolvers.
    The failure rate of the kinds of guns mentioned here is high. Spend some time with the gunsmith or warranty return person at a large gun store and you can learn a lot. We instruct at several larger ranges in a large metro area and get to see an awful lot, and talk to the people who are actually dealing with the mechanical problems customers are actually having with their guns.
    One large store keeps selling cheap revos despite their having to deal with a failure rate of over 25%. That means they sell four guns and one or two come back with failures. And that, for guns that are lightly-used and shot not very much, almost entirely with moderately-powered “practice” .38 Special ammunition.
    The largest store in our area ceased altogether selling a couple of well-known brands but continues to sell one that I personally would like to like, but just can’t. At a recent trade-show type event, our table was not far from that maker’s, and I observed one new gun, on the table for the attendees to shoot on the range, with an extractor so badly fitted it wouldn’t drop back into place very often. It wasn’t dirt- it just plain didn’t fit right.
    Flimsy cranes, cheesy stars, skinny, soft hands- all elements of early failure.
    Even bigger makers like Taurus have high return rates. One store gunsmith opened one up to see why it stopped running during the first box while I was there. There was no way the gun could have been expected to work more than a few times- the parts were bent, weirdly-sized, unfitted to an extreme, and colliding with one another in bad ways.
    Yet this is a common thing there, and even these $400 guns go back in droves.
    There’s the problem- you won’t know when that hand is going to break, or the rebound is going to crash into the trigger arm, and tie the works up.
    Maybe you will function-fire your new semi 100-200 rounds; that isn’t going to happen with Jane Average and her little snubnose.
    In fact, few things set our teeth more on edge (my female partner and I) than watching women walk up to gun counters and ask to see little five-shooters. There isn’t a gun harder to shoot than a tiny five-shooter- it’s an expert’s piece. But, my partner has many a time gently intervened and tried first to learn the motivation- almost invariably, the response is that the smaller, lighter gun seems easier to handle and control. Of course, nothing is further from the truth, but there’s no way for them to know.
    That leads to the final and worst problem with these guns- they’re very hard to hit with, and very, very hard to hit fast with.
    Even though I no longer seriously compete with my revos, I still practice very hard with my small snubs, a pair of Colts, light and steel, and a 642, because they’re darn hard to shoot fast and well. I can do 150-200 rounds a month, no problem, because I’m on a range at least four days a week, and I reload to hold down the ammo expense. Still, the results I get quickly slip away if I don’t maintain a substantial volume of shooting.
    A new shooter is a whole different story. Our front-line product is a women’s intro to handguns class and we’ve run easily over a hundred of them, not to mention the co-ed version with many women even more times. We get a lot of ladies arriving with J-frames and the like. Few leave satisfied with their purchase, once they’ve learned something about handgun shooting.
    We know this- we can get much better holes in the targets, at a much higher rate of fire, out of a new shooter with a Glock 19 (and here I interject- I’m not at all a Glock person- my guns are metal) than we can with any revolver large or small.
    Yet in all these years and hundreds of classes, we’ve only had perhaps a handful of people- all older women- who simply could not manage the operation of the semi, i.e., rack the slide. As stated in the article, it’s about technique, and if taught, virtually anyone without serious medical issues can do it.
    Worse still is mastering the double-action trigger of the small revolver. This is where there’s a fracture along a fault line of unintended consequences. Way too many shooters thumb-cock their revolvers as a matter of constant habit. Yet, for a device to be used for self-defense, that’s about the worst thing you can do. Thumb-cocking is slow, awkward, and prone to fail- fine motor control that is unreliable under stress. We don’t let our shooters thumb-cock their revolvers at all. I don’t- I probably have well over 20,000 rounds in just my one Detective Special alone, and I’ve never fired it single-action, and I never will. I don’t even want to know what it feels like.
    Yet this is how so many revolver owners operate their gun, and then expect to somehow transition in a panic to effective double-action fire. I couldn’t count how many revo shooters we’ve asked: have you ever fired your gun by trigger-cocking? and been told “never”.
    Try to make the fire their guns DA, as they would need to in an emergency, and there will be bullets everywhere. But only a few, and very slowly.
    Sorry, round gun lovers, but small cheap revos aren’t a very good answer to an important problem.

  • Norm Fishler March 29, 2016, 10:12 am

    I remember standing in a Safeway in 1981 in Burien, WA watching a frame by frame examination of Hinkley shooting President Reagan. Then I saw the little revolver in his hand & I gasped out loud to everyone there, “My God! That’s an RG!” Hink the Kink was shooting an RG 14, loaded with explosive .22 LR ammo known as “Devastators”. From that point on, the poor little RG has been the much maligned symbol of ‘gun violence’. “RG” was used interchangeably with “Rotten Gun.” To this day few are those who understand that Hinkley’s RG 14 fit a well rehearsed plot line of presidential assassins. A (usually) sexually messed up loner obtains a firearm through either unconventional or devious means. The firearm itself is usually open to controversy, and sometimes, as in the Reagan/Hinkley affair, so was the ammo. I became enamored with RG’s and have owned at least a dozen of just the RG 14’s since that time. I have found them to be utterly reliable and ingeniously designed. As long as one NEVER dry fires them you’ll be okay. (Their firing pin’s are made of a zinc alloy & extremely fragile.) Notwithstanding, they do work & I’ll take one any day over my fists. Of course, if I were fighting for my life, I would much prefer a seven shot 686, but sometimes one has to play the hand they’re dealt. Today my last RG 14 sits in a safe where I can grab it at a second’s notice. If that is not enough deterrent for the problem at hand, then we’ll move on to something else . . .

  • Earl March 29, 2016, 8:04 am

    Re:op. Have over 30 years experience shooting just about any kind of handgun worth loading up and taking to the range. Have used handguns recreationally, For hunting, and only if you miserable occasions have had to use a handgun for SD/HD. I have One some cheap 50–100 dollar revolvers. I have on some cheap hundred – $200 automatics. The revolvers were cheap but they were trouble free. The automatics were a little more expensive than wants a sorted out issues like springs and magazines, Those automatics were very usable.

    I currently have a nice colt 1911 that is a bit idiosyncratic. It is not the first time of had a 1911 that was a little cantankerous. There are plenty of folks who have had similar experiences. It is very likely that changing the recoil spring and using better quality magazines will take care of these issues. If this was a revolver that was demonstrating light strikes on primers are a failure to lock up correctly, I would simply clean the revolver and probably install a new set of springs. It really is not a big deal. I would do the same thing with any rifle or shotgun, clean it thoroughly and make sure that all the springs were fully functional before putting it into service.

    There are poor quality revolvers that one came buy, Commonly called Saturday night specials by those who want to justify confiscating guns with the excuse that the guns are cheap and not worthwhile. The same can be said of automatics Produced by bury a smokers often calibers that the firearms cognizant despise. I cannot imagine cosigning to the purchase these pistols Seppa because in someone’s opinion but are lacking.

    You are welcome to your opinion. I consider it to be like a nose. Most everybody has one. No one needs a second nose. So, you hold to your opinion and I will hold to mine.

  • IDAN GREENBERG March 28, 2016, 8:24 pm

    In owning & shooting various revolvers & automatics for over 40 years, with many makes of ammunition, I have experienced numerous failures to function, with both revolvers & automatic pistols, some ammunition caused & some by defects in the design or manufacture of the guns. Other malfunctions were aggravated by both factors. Some causes of function failure in revolvers, are poor machining of the recoil plate, damaging burrs, foreign material, or corrosion in the internal mechanism, or firing pin aperture, as well as poor chamber polishing, weak internal springs, backing out, or poor fitting of the mainspring tension screw, firing pin/ striker & bad timing, from wear or defective manufacture, of the hand & ratchet mechanism, which effects the cylinder advance. Poor fitting, or wear of the cylinder positioning mechanism in the frame, inadequate cylinder/ barrel gap and damaged or defective manufacture, with bent cranes/ cylinder pins, will also cause function failure in revolvers. So will various ammunition defects, such as poor sizing, over, or under loading of the powder charge, loose, or high primer seating in the cartridge case & bad case metallurgy. I have shot defective ammunition with primers protruding from the back of the cartridge case in an automatic, without problems, that would jam a revolver shut. But I have shot ammunition with below normal charges in a revolver, with no problems, that would cause malfunctions in an automatic. And I have experienced these problems in all well known makes of revolvers and automatics & most manufacturers of ammunition. I have seen cheaply made revolvers, such as RG’s & Clerkes that I would not want, except for a paperweight, or doorstop, fire reliably with a certain make & lot of ammunition, yet have seen brand new Colts, Smith & Wessons, Rugers, Charter Arms & Dan Wessons, that would not fire well made ammunition, from Remington, Winchester & Federal, without regular malfunction. I have experienced (to paraphrase Rolls Royce), automatic pistols of well regarded manufacture, FAIL TO PROCEED as well, though clean & well oiled. This included recent manufacture expensive pistols made by Colt, Smith & Wesson, S.I.G, Glock, Walther and Beretta, to name a few. Neither revolvers, nor semi- auto pistols, as a design configuration, possess an ABSOLUTE reliability superiority, of one over the other. Preference for revolvers or automatics, for self defense, seems to depend on an individuals subjective preference as to the limitations of the cartridges with they are chambered for, which type FEELS better, in his or her hand, how well an individual shoots with it & the relative ease of getting it into action, from the carrying mode into the firing position & condition. I would avoid lesser quality revolvers and automatics in general, as I feel that one of the worst things to try to save money on, is a defense firearm, or it’s ammunition. If one has to curb one’s spending, it should be done with food, lodging, transportation, entertainment or other costs, not firearms & ammunition. Firearms as machines are basically nothing more than gas pressure control devices, regulating tens of thousands of pounds per square inch of hot gas & high speed projectiles. With bad manufacture ammunition, damage to the gun, or design or manufacturing defect, either revolvers or automatics can be self destruct hand grenades, or a not very good club. No selection of a handgun, revolver, or automatic should be made for defense, without testing it with the actual make, type and lot of ammunition one intends to use in it for self defense, both for proper function and reasonable accuracy. I suggest this by the end user, with a two handed hold, at a center of mass target,(all shots striking in a 6 inch or less group) from arms length to at least 15 yards. As for what is a BUDGET revolver, or automatic, I think that is a matter of saving money, shopping around & taking a test drive with any handgun one is considering, which can often be done at commercial indoor shooting range/ gunshops, particularly those with good customer satisfaction policies. Both autoloading pistols & revolvers have their operational advantages & disadvantages. After a hand operation, which left me one handed for some months, I switched from carrying an automatic to a revolver, until the hand healed, as I could not load a magazine one handed, nor retract the auto’s slide, but could load a revolver, as an example. In conclusion, when choosing a self defense firearm, one should get some experience first, then make a thoughtful choice. I enjoyed the article by Max Slowik & the following comments I read.

  • Mikial March 28, 2016, 7:47 pm

    One thing that too many of these gun guru writers don’t take into consideration is that not everyone has a lot of money to spend on a gun, ammo and range time. I’ve talked/communicated with quite a few people who express this frustration that so many of these articles seem to say that if you don’t spend a lot of money on a gun and high dollar ammo, then you are somehow beneath the guys that do.

    I’m blessed with a good income and the ability to purchase good, solid mid-range guns for my wife and I and to go to the range every week. I have a nice stock of ammo and plenty of training. But someone who is struggling every month just to make ends meet doesn’t have that benefit. They may live in a small rental or a mobile home, and work their tails off every day, and maybe all they can afford is something that works well but will never win any beauty contests.

    We aren’t revolver people, but I wanted my wife to know how to use one. So, we bought a used, German made .38 Special on Gunbroker for a couple of hundred dollars, and took it to the range. It works great and is reliable and accurate. Is it pretty? Is it a Python or S&W? No. Does it work and do the job? Yes.

    It would be refreshing to see some articles about good, solid, dependable guns for self defense for people who simply don’t have a lot of money. Why is that so hard to accomplish?

    • Hakeem Saleh March 28, 2016, 11:46 pm

      While I understand where’ you’re coming from, it sounds like you missed the entire paragraph where he recommended budget semiautomatics in the $200 range and even included a link to their listings.

  • alan keithley March 28, 2016, 7:28 pm

    would not trade a truck load of any auto for my stainless 90s era 686…thousands upon thousands of all kind of rounds 38 special and hot reloads in 357 mag and guess how many misfires, jams have i had?????????????????? NONE ZERO NADDA pretty good odds that it WILL go BANG on the next trigger pull… never had an auto i could say that about.

  • OFBG March 28, 2016, 7:10 pm

    I believe that several other folks have mentioned these points already, but let me put them together.
    The author seems to be confused about what defines a “budget” gun. A used revolver offered at at low price may well be higher quality, and in better condition, than a new revolver at the same price. He seems to equate inexpensive modern revolvers with the “Saturday Night Specials” once common (and still available) but as new production now essentially extinct. And what modern revolvers are made with “weak metal?” I have a few of the “Suicide Specials” made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and some of their parts are indeed weak (to call them “pot metal” would be kind). As for the comment that gun shops are in the business of selling guns – implying that you may not get good advice about a purchase – even though I’m not a dealer, I find that insulting. Yes, there are less reputable shops as there are in any business, but most get weeded out by word of mouth if nothing else. Most honest dealers have a gunsmith on premises, and failing that, offer a fair return policy. Caveat Emptor.

    • Ben March 29, 2016, 11:40 pm

      If I had dime for every time I had a student in class carrying a gun that some jackass in a gun store recommended that is not suited for their ability, I’d have enough to buy a new gun every year. I’m not saying it’s always malicious intent but it’s either that or sheer incompetence. You can find it insulting but that doesn’t make it less true.

      • OFBG March 30, 2016, 8:50 pm

        You might try reading my comment again without your obvious prejudice. If you are “not saying it’s always malicious intent” then you agree with me. The comment that gun shops are in the business of selling guns – and so will mislead a buyer, either intentionally or by way of “sheer incompetence” – implies malicious intent.

        • Ben April 3, 2016, 11:23 pm

          A gun salesman is just that… A SALESMAN. Some are honest and some are just trying to make a sale. I stand by my point after re-reading your comment. Your indignation does not change the reality of the situation. A salesman is a salesman, not your buddy.

        • Ben April 3, 2016, 11:24 pm

          A gun salesman is just that… A SALESMAN. Some are honest and some are just trying to make a sale. I stand by my point after re-reading your comment. Your indignation does not change the reality of the situation. A salesman is a salesman, not your buddy.

  • papa jim March 28, 2016, 7:05 pm

    great column and terrific comments. I think tactics and practice matter more than auto-vs-revolver debates. If you can’t function in a high stress moment or if you lack the resolve to defend your life when confronted by an attacker it won’t matter much what kind of gun you carry, or not.

    If you don’t take the importance of tactical skills seriously you are an accident waiting to happen. Take a course. Find out how bad you suck. It’s really embarrassing to suck, but it is way better to find out in the classroom or on the target range, than it is in a dark parking lot somewhere in the boons.

  • Ken March 28, 2016, 4:31 pm

    The guys who talk about buying what’s right for what you need and are willing and able to practice with are right on. For daily carry, I started with a Colt Police Positive .32 revolver 50 years ago, switched to a Browning Hi Power .40 S&W which I carried for many many years. But when my arthritis made it difficult to clear or even rack a round I went back to a wheel gun, Ruger GP-100 in .357 magnum. Every one of these was a quality and reliable tool. Bottom line, buy what’s right for you and buy quality you’re willing to bet your life on because that’s exactly what you may be doing.

  • Sam Meyer March 28, 2016, 2:57 pm

    Another useless GA article by an unknown “expert”. No mention of specifically WHICH revolvers this author finds questionable, so no help to newbies in avoiding them. A waste of time.

    • Chris March 28, 2016, 4:56 pm

      Sounds like you didnt read the article, or your comprehension is lacking. The writer CLEARLY mentions any cheap revolver can have issues if it is worn out. He then explained the why and how.

  • This article reads like it was written pre-GCA 68 and then had some commentary about modern semi-autos cut and pasted in. The picture amplifies that impression; an Arminius? When was the last time those were imported?

    It’s good click bait, though. I fell for it.

  • Steven Marley March 28, 2016, 12:25 pm

    If I’m trying to help someone with selection, my second question (after “What do you want it for?”) is “How much do you want to spend?”. And my 3rd question is “Are you willing to spend the time and money to learn to use it?”. We 2A proponents need to remember that just because someone has a right to own a gun doesn’t mean they SHOULD own a gun. The answers to these 3 questions tells me whether I should assume the responsibility – and the risk – of helping that person.

  • donald comfort March 28, 2016, 11:58 am

    I started in Law Enforcement in 1970. WE carried revolvers as duty weapons30 or 357. I now teach the course for CWP in my State and have done so fo a number of years. “Back in the Day’ I always recommended a new shooter buy a revolver. However the gun industry has grown by leaps and bounds and there are countless handguns available. When asked what type of hand gun to purchase by a new student, I explain guns are like shoes, different types for different purposes. My First question is “What do you want to use the handgun for ” If they are simply going to shoot it a few times and then put it a night stand for home defense, I recommend a revolver. Ic\t may lay there unused for years. Inexpensive mags in a semi will get memory and loose their ability to properly feed if left unattended for very long periods. If someone wants to carry a concealed semi, I always caution them to carry an extra mag, not necessarily for more shots but ti replace the mag if it has a malfunction.
    Bottom line there is no “one size fits all” and something overlooked many times is it is Imperative to fit the hand gun, revolver
    or semi to the buyers needs, requirements and the weapon fits the buyers hand for correct trigger control.

    • Ben March 29, 2016, 11:47 pm

      Memory loss, spring fatigue, whatever you call it, has been disproven hundreds of times over. A magazine stops working after thousands of rounds have been pumped through it. A mag that is loaded once and never touched for 50 years will work flawlessly. The ammo will lose its effectiveness before the mag.

  • Craig Ramsey March 28, 2016, 11:57 am

    Women can use all the technique you suggest but still can’t rack the slide. Biggest reason they don’t buy autos.
    #2 is double stack clips make the grip too big for their hands. I never understood the need for 15 rounds.
    #3 Women realize they won’t use a hand gun much if at all and are the budget shoppers. I’ve heard them say “I’m not going to shoot anybody, I just want it for protection.”
    Guys hope to pass their Python on to their sons and spend the money for a quality firearm… shotgun, rifle, etc.
    More cheap autos come to my mind than revolvers… Kel-tec, Hi-Point, Cobra, Century

    • Oaf March 28, 2016, 5:42 pm

      Kel Tec Tec a cheap gun????

    • Ben March 29, 2016, 11:58 pm

      I’ve trained hundreds of women to not only rack the slide, but probably shoot you under the table. You don’t understand the need for 15 rounds (and I’m sure a lot more than that) but I’ve never heard of anyone surviving a gunfight and saying they regretted having more ammunition. Again, the grip can be easily achieved with proper instruction. Maybe you should get some.

    • Ben March 29, 2016, 11:59 pm

      I’ve trained hundreds of women to not only rack the slide, but probably shoot you under the table. You don’t understand the need for 15 rounds (and I’m sure a lot more than that) but I’ve never heard of anyone surviving a gunfight and saying they regretted having more ammunition. Again, the grip can be easily achieved with proper instruction. Maybe you should get some.

    • a June 20, 2016, 2:03 am

      Um..I know virtually nothing about guns and was able to pull the slide back on 3rd attempt and that’s with no muscle tone LOL. I’m fine with learning on a .38 though.

  • john hoglin March 28, 2016, 11:31 am

    Many years ago when I was first married, we did not have a lot of extra cash around, so I bought a budget revolver. A Ruger 6″ Security six in 357. In the early 80s it cost $225 a SW 66 was around $300. Taurus, Rossi and Charter arms now fill the economy class section for revolvers. All of them make good effective guns, I still personally think a 4″ 38spl will meet almost any personal defense need you have. And I own many more Semi autos and revolvers now, but my house gun is a used S&W 64 with 158 SWHP +p the old FBI load with a set of crimson trace grips.

  • Lance March 28, 2016, 11:01 am

    There are a great many “budget ” revolvers out there and I’m talking price wise, not manufactured wise. Problem is people don’t know where to or even how to look for these bargains because they’re too lazy. Most pawn shops are not the place nor are big name stores, they’re all about profits and that’s it. Get online, look in the paper(if you can read real print anymore!) You’ll find bargains if you take the time to look. Do not just rely on the guy behind the counter, most times he or she only knows what they personally own and nothing more. You must be willing to put in the time to research and you will find what you seek eventually. In regards to an earlier comment, just because you can’t afford the big name brands doesn’t mean you don’t belong to our gun community, that person needs to get a clue big time! Anybody who is interested in self defense and wants to learn to shoot is more than welcome to join our gun loving community regardless of what some mindless idiot thinks. Keep looking, don’t be in a hurry and you will find a really good deal on a “budget” though quality made revolver or semi auto handgun.

  • Robert Sweeney March 28, 2016, 10:55 am

    The author’s comments about revolvers actually being more complex than semi-autos is rather disingenuous. There may be a greater number of parts and more hand fitting involved in the manufacturing of a typical revolver, but the majority of those parts are assembled permanently with no need for the end user to ever disassemble. Most revolvers require no disassembly for routine cleaning, as opposed to semi-auto pistols, some of which can get pretty complicated to “field strip” for cleaning. I also think that the caveats mentioned in the article concerning poor cylinder lock up and too much play in the action would pertain more to used revolvers rather than any new models currently being sold in the US.

    • Ben March 30, 2016, 12:07 am

      Revolvers may be easier to perform basic cleaning but when the internals need cleaned or maintenance or repair, it generally has to be taken to a gun smith. They are more complex than any modern semi-auto. No buts about it.

  • Don March 28, 2016, 10:50 am

    I was agreeing, until the author started steering the reader to cheap semi autos. Never by a low quality gun of any type for defense.

    • Ben March 30, 2016, 12:11 am

      There are MANY inexpensive quality semi-autos that are acceptable for defensive use. The authors point was that same is not necessarily true of revolvers.

      • OFBG April 1, 2016, 7:26 pm

        There you go again, Ben, not paying attention to what Don was saying. Yes, “There are MANY inexpensive quality semi-autos that are acceptable for defensive use,” but there are just as many that are junk. Your comment that “The authors point was that same is not necessarily true of revolvers” may be correct, but only if you are considering revolvers made many, many years ago. Can you name many, if any, modern revolvers that are not acceptable for defensive use, and why?

        • Ben April 3, 2016, 11:49 pm

          I can easily recommend many good semi-autos that can be had for $300 or less. For $4-600 there are dozens of semi-autos that are great guns. Now by good, I mean it actually works reliably and by great I mean it works and has additional nice features. There are revolvers in these price points such as used S&W and Rugers, maybe s few Colts. Most of these will be fine for self defense. But the only new ones are imports from EAA, Taurus, and Rock Island, etc. If you actually read USER reviews for these guns, you’d see that many people have serious issues with these guns that the author of the article is trying to caution people about. I’m sure some are fine but many aren’t. Since it’s a crap shoot anyway, why not buy a used revolver from a reputable maker or a semi-auto? To answer your question, any revolver that doesn’t work out of the box is not acceptable for defense because it may not go “bang” when needed? Any other questions?

  • 3rdAFCrewChief March 28, 2016, 10:33 am

    There is no price tag I can put on my life, my family and those around me, when it comes to my EDC. Choosing what I carry is personal.Someone here mentioned about reloading a revolver and a semi auto. Personally my EDC is a Glock 27 with extended mag that holds 15rounds of plus 1 in the chamber totaling 16 rounds of .40 cal FMJ HP and 2 extra mags that are hot.. Pro revolver guys do the math. You pull off 6 rounds and need to reload, I pull off 6 rounds and have 10 rounds left before I have hit the mag release insert another 15 rounds and rack the slide. My objective is to stop the threat ASAP without injuring bystanders etc. I don’t know if I will be dealing with 1 threat or 2, 3 or 4 threats. I do know I have 16 rounds to stop the threat. I hope the day never plays out where I need to drawdown.

  • Steve W March 28, 2016, 10:14 am

    Yet another ill informed and poorly researched hit piece about revolvers. It is readily apparent that the author is unable to ascertain the difference between ‘poorly made’ and ‘budget.’ He then goes on to pontificate about the superiority of lower end semi-auto pistols and completely leaves out the comporable pot metal pistols.

    Reloads are more important on semi-autos simply because most of their malfunctions are ammo related, forcing the shooter to clear and quite possibly reload in order to continue solving the problem.

    Perhaps the author will spend a bit of time researching words like “research”, “objectivity”, and phrases like “cognitive dissonance” and “preconceived notions.”

    • Ben March 30, 2016, 12:21 am

      How many revolvers can you honestly recommend that are under $350 brand new? I can name at least a dozen good semi-autos in that range and many more that are used. A $350 Colt or S&W is a parts gun. Hell, I’d rather have a $100 Hi-Point than a busted revolver.

      • OFBG April 1, 2016, 7:31 pm

        What universe do you live in? I have never paid more than $250 for a Colt, S&W, or Ruger revolver and they all are smooth, tight, and accurate. Are you just saying that you don’t have the knowledge to evaluate the condition and quality of a revolver?

        • Ben April 3, 2016, 11:53 pm

          I suppose I live in 2016. Must be nice to have never left the 1980s. Hey I’ll give you $500 for a python. Since you can buy them for $250, you’ll be doubling your money.

  • Steve March 28, 2016, 10:02 am

    Good article and some very good comments here. Don’t buy any budget gun period. I’m all for wheel guns as a first gun for anybody. The article supported the correct notion of a revolver being more intricate than a semi-auto. I still use a revolver as my go to gun. Don’t get sucked into the old gun magazine hype of 45 caliber and bigger being the only effective weapons. Or you have to have ultra high capacity to defend yourself and your family.You’ll most likely not be protected well, except in your mind. I prefer single action, but that is just a personal preference. The 38 caliber pistol has been so maligned that great deals are available. I f someone were to kick my door in, I’d hope they just acquired a weapon that’s too big for them and they’re not proficient with. The 686 S/W in 357 would be my next upgrade. 7 shots of some very powerful ammo, with the ability to be loaded with light 38 loads for cheap practice. The price goes up significantly with this revolver. Find a gun store with good selection and competent employees. They’l be willing to help you find what”s right for you and in the budget. Like stated, good used beats cheap and new every time. Stick to popular brands for parts and repair ease. Buy a good one and repair won’t usually be an issue.

  • James McGraw March 28, 2016, 10:02 am

    If you are interested in helping folks why don’t you mention who is manufacturing these budget revolvers that they should avoid? Is the lowest price S&W a “budget” revolver? Does Ruger make a “budget” revolver I should avoid?

    • Craig Ramsey March 28, 2016, 11:33 am

      They are advertisers.

  • Peter J. Kolovos March 28, 2016, 9:53 am

    I’ve grown quite weary of hearing client’s cry poor-mouth about the price of firearms, ammunition and shooting. My response when it comes to them not having the money to buy a battle-proved firearm instead of purchasing a sub-standard firearm is simple. “Either save your money until you can afford the gun you should buy from the get-go because you’re only going to spend more in the long-run buying cheap and then needing to upgrade, or find another hobby.” Shooting is not a cheap sport and it most certainly is not for everyone. It’s also a Thinking Person’s sport. The more people I train, the more and more I’ve come realize that there are people who should not be among our rank’s.

    • Troy March 28, 2016, 9:41 pm

      Our rank’s what? A thinking person’s sport indeed…

    • Ben March 30, 2016, 12:29 am

      I didn’t know shooting was a sport (sarcasm.). I train people to use a firearm for defense, nothing more. Some of those people are poor and can’t afford elitist guns. I’m sure the concerns of the rabble don’t concern you but there are plenty of inexpensive options for those of us who know what we’re doing.

  • Jay Manges March 28, 2016, 9:49 am

    I love these stories where the bad guy is standing 15 yards away while you dump three 15 round magazines at them to stop the threat. Too bad the author writes from a fictional perspective rather than one based in reality. That reality is the threat is going to attempt to catch you by surprise and the encounter is going to be very quick, and very up close and personal. Chances are, you might not even be able to clear your holster before being in direct physical contact with an assailant. In such a scenario, a good quality revolver will not fail you. Auto loader with slides, safeties, mag releases…. Sorry. Too much to go wrong when you need it most.

    • Doc March 28, 2016, 10:43 am

      If not for my Ruger SP 101 revolver, I wouldn’t be writing this right now.

    • Doc March 28, 2016, 10:53 am

      If not for my Ruger SP 101 revolver, I wouldn’t be writing this right now. I paid about 550 new in box. When I pull the trigger it shoots whether it’s in my pocket or not. The author of this article is mistaken about aiming a revolver. Any firearm takes practice if you want to become proficient. I’ve been in a gunfight. Armchair quarterbacks who read about gunfights need to stick to what they know and quit giving advice without experience.

    • Ben March 30, 2016, 12:40 am

      The average gunfight is 2 seconds and 4 rounds. Of course being an AVERAGE, that means there are many that require more than 6 rounds, particularly if there is more than one bad guy. But if you’re caught in a situation in which you can’t get a semi-auto out of the holster please explain how a revolver is going to be any better. Talk about a delusional fairy tale.

  • Vinny March 28, 2016, 9:33 am

    What about any of the Rugar revolvers that are built like Tanks ? Just try to wear one out. Go read Grant Cunninghams books on revolvers and watch his videos. Any revolver or pistol is a tool and has to be maintained just like any other tool .

    • Oldsailor65 March 28, 2016, 11:23 am

      When my daughter was in college I bought her a Ruger Single-six which I still believe is a relatively safe pistol for a beginner.
      With a single action the shooter doesn’t have be concerned with the safety being on or off.
      For a low cost simi-auto I bought a HighPoint .45 new for less than $200 10 years ago and it is made in Lima, Ohio. The people who can afford the brand name guns look down on it but it takes care of my needs at the range.

    • Ben March 30, 2016, 12:42 am

      Rugers ain’t cheap, but they are good guns.

  • Greg Webb March 28, 2016, 9:07 am

    The average person, male,female or older person will be much better served with a budget revolver that is in good condition than with a new semi-automatic pistol. Revolvers are much more reliable than semi’s, they are easier to load, there is no slide to pull back, no magazine to load and be sure it is locked in place, no stovepipes, fewer chances for an accidental discharge, etc…
    Mastering a semi-auto takes training, dedication and constant attention to detail or it will fail you at the worst time.

    • Ben March 30, 2016, 12:46 am

      Revolvers are infinitely more difficult to master than semi-autos. If revolvers are so great, why has every police department and military abandoned them? You clearly have NO experience with both.

      • OFBG April 1, 2016, 7:45 pm

        If you have the experience you claim, you should know that the reasons the military and police have gone to semi-auto pistols are capacity and ease of reloading, in spite of the issues very clearly stated by Greg Webb. The pistols most often chosen by police are Glocks, which are as close to a double-action revolver as you can get.

        • Ben April 4, 2016, 12:20 am

          Capacity and ease of reloading is the reason police have gone to Glocks? Really? Gee when you put it like that it kinda sounds like a modern semi-auto is a far superior weapon if you consider that it needs to reload less often and when you do it’s easier. I mean it would at least be easier to learn how to use properly with training don’t you think? I was only thinking about the shorter, lighter trigger pull plus the capacity to mount a weapon light, red dot, laser sight, or a supressor, the lighter weight of the gun, and lighter recoil, and that each mag holds 2 or three revolver loads. If a Glock is as close to a revolver as you can get, then a new Corvette is as close as you can get to a Model T.

  • Troy March 28, 2016, 9:02 am

    The best firearm is…
    1. The one you can afford to acquire
    2. The one you can carry on you
    3. The one you can afford to practice with

    This is always the case, but I guess if we stopped here we couldn’t write 1,000 articles on revolver vs semi auto. I will say that this was an interesting read on what can potentially go wrong with a revolver, and perhaps a debunking of the misconception that a revolver is “simple” regarding the mechanism. Other than that, the article is just vague supposition (what is the difference between “wearing” and “self destructing,” and is there a particular gap range that is acceptable vs one that isn’t etc?). Unlike “stopping power,” which cannot ethically be tested in a controlled setting, many of the claims in this article can be tested or verified. For instance, do we know that a particular revolver’s heat treat or alloy is actually superior to another’s, and if so what are the meaningful outcomes for a user? I don’t doubt that this is the case, but just making the supposition that it is, and then making the logical leap that it results in lower reliability does not constitute information, even if correct.

    I would also like to commend the author on actually having this article proof-read, or just randomly not having any ridiculous spelling or word choice errors, which has become the norm at GA. Although, I do have to say that following up a semi-colon with a sentence fragment is tantamount to fumbling while celebrating before getting into the endzone.

  • John K. March 28, 2016, 8:55 am

    In the gun culture you have the tactical community (gun snobs) who feel that any handgun other than a Glock 19 is going to get you killed in the middle of a war zone (somewhere in America, I suppose). Then you have the self defense community which feels that any gun will do as long as you can reload quickly enough to take down a drug-crazed lunatic inside your house who is hell-bent on ending your life because… that’s what drug-crazed lunatics do, I suppose. And then you have the people who just want to defend themselves from being a victim, and who will never encounter a determined killer because they’re not a cop or a soldier, and they don’t live in some gang-infested drug-infested hell-hole of a town like Detroit, Chicago or Los Angeles. In most street-crime related incidents, it only takes the firing of a few rounds to save your life. (And THAT is the primary goal of self-defense: saving your life; not necessarily running down bad guys and killing them.) If the gun IS budget-friendly but not CHEAP in construction, if it can get off a cylinder’s worth of bullets reliably, it can save your life. And quite frankly a lot of people are barely getting by from paycheck to paycheck. Their options are to either to not have a gun and become a victim, or have some kind of gun that they can afford without them declaring bankruptcy and preserving their life.

    • Charles A. Bailey March 28, 2016, 10:12 am

      If you aren’t going to practice with any firearm enough to “point and shoot” well enough to hit your mark you, and any bystanders, are better off with a pocket full of rocks.

  • Steven March 28, 2016, 8:47 am

    Every pawnshop in my town has old, beat-up looking – like they weren’t taken care of – S&Ws & Colt 38 Special revolvers for $500 – $650 bucks, not negotiable. Not a budget, and not even worth looking at.

    • Steve March 28, 2016, 10:07 am

      $500-$600 will get you in the ballpark of a new quality revolver. Shop around, it’s worth it. Use the over priced store to get transferred to.

      • Steven March 29, 2016, 8:27 am

        It just amazes me that someone puts a high resale price on something that looks so abused & neglected, just because it has S&W or Colt stamped on it.

        • Ben March 30, 2016, 12:53 am

          What town do you live in? I’ll make a road trip for some Colt revolvers for $500. You might wanna stock up. You won’t find them anywhere else that cheap and appearances don’t tell the whole story.

  • Chris Baker March 28, 2016, 6:27 am

    All well and good saying there’s lots of reasons not to buy a budget revolver but the one overriding reason to buy a budget anything including a revolver is that you are barely scraping by from paycheck to paycheck in the first place. You can’t afford a better gun so you buy what you need. Which is why the first gun I bought was a Smith & Wesson Model 13 that had been well used but was still serviceable for $125 from a woman who’d pawned it and needed some money to get it back and a bit more to buy some food. It was all I had at the time and it would be easier for me now to go buy a brand new Redhawk or GP100 than it was to pay for that model 13.

  • Martianone March 28, 2016, 6:27 am

    Another poorly written revolver bashing.
    “Budget revolvers can be- loosely made of weak metal, have a lot of parts, etc.”
    Sounds like a budget pistol to me.

  • James C Robinson March 28, 2016, 6:26 am

    their are really no average firearm price’s when a .22cal cost more than a 3.357 mag. I shop around and research every firearm I buy. Modern buyers purchase them because of video games and hearsay . Just like ammo the prices are way too high

  • roger March 28, 2016, 5:46 am

    RIA has a really nice 38 bargain revolver under $300. Rossi, Taurus and Charter arms are north of that quite a bit and they also are good revolvers. There are some older break top H&Rs or Iver Johnson’s 38 S&W out there in excellent condition that will kill a person. Light recoil for the challenged and easier placement. 38 S&W is comparable to the 380.
    Colts, Ruger and S&W will be above $400.

    • Steven March 29, 2016, 8:18 am

      There is also a ton of H&R/N.E.F. R-73 & H&R 732/733 swingout revolvers in very good to excellent condition floating around in the $200 range. Charter Arms 357 Mag Pugs can be found in the $250-$300 range.

  • CJ March 28, 2016, 4:45 am

    In January I purchased a new Rock Island M 200 38 spcl revolver and I am impressed. I own some nice revolvers from the big three manufacturers but am enamored by the value and utility of this old school “Coltish” piece. Rock Island revolvers will not win a beauty contest but timing and lockup are great.The cylinder gap checked .005″ when new and after 500 + rounds it still is .005″. Rock Island revolvers are mechanically similar to Colt Detective specials and have the look of Colt and Smith and Wesson “Victory” revolvers made for the war effort. With a street price under 250.00 they are certainly worth a look.

    • Steven March 28, 2016, 8:52 am

      Stay away from those M&P 38s that were converted from 38 S&W to 38 Special in England, overpriced junk!

      • OFBG March 30, 2016, 9:18 pm

        Some of what you mention, as with many other old guns, are indeed “overpriced junk” insofar as the “average” shooter is concerned. Others are good, serviceable firearms. As I stated in another post, “Caveat Emptor.” Because such conversions were made by a variety of “gunsmiths” the quality of the result varies.
        The primary issue/problem with such revolvers is that the .38 S&W is slightly larger in diameter than the .38 Special; reaming out the cylinders to .38 Special will not correct this, resulting in bulged cases upon firing. This is not so great as to present a safety issue, but certainly a fit/function/reloading issue with quality brass cased ammo. I have a S&W “Victory” M&P (precursor to the Model 10) that was converted to .38 Special in London, along with shortening the barrel to 2″ and a reblue. The gunsmithing was top-grade and wear on the gun suggests that it had been carried, if not actually used, for some time. I acquired it as part of my collection of S&W revolvers and so did not care about its use as a CCW gun, but having shot it I would not hesitate to use it as such.

  • Tom Horn February 26, 2016, 5:47 pm

    Good place to find budget revolvers is at a big chain gun store that buys/sells used firearms. Their current business model has them hiring employees for firearms dept at about the same pay as Walmart. Although they do attract some gun savvy employees (take advantage of 20% ammo discount, etc.), in their desperation they often hire ignorant young folk, who are then charged with buying/pricing used firearms. They are sometimes not price correctly, if you know what you’re looking at.

    I have purchased many bargains in this manner. Was in one of these stores the other day, pair of Colt 1917’s, $750 each. Didn’t have time to check them out.

    • Calvin Grimalkin March 28, 2016, 9:29 am

      The Gander Mountain stores in North Carolina have used “Junk” handguns priced at practically new prices. Not even any kind of bargain.

      The current political atmosphere, ( for at least the last 6 years ), has caused an artificial out-of-proportion increase in the price of used firearms and just about any kind of ammo. Wages for most Americans have been pretty much stagnant for the past 7 years, while the price of most firearms and ammo have pretty much doubled.

      All that being said, The article does say that as long as you accept the facts that many so called bargain revolvers may not be a long term bargain, they do provide a function. Back about 40 years ago, the only revolver we could afford to put in the budget was an RG14, a .22 revolver with a steel barrel and cylinder, pot metal frame and a barrel that was maybe an inch and 3/4ths long. I think it retailed new for maybe $27.00. It was certainly no target piece, and I assume that running thousands of rounds thru it would have loosened it up considerably, but the timing was good, lockup was tight, and it gave us a sense of security better than nothing at all.

      In the end, the by word is always “Caveat Emptor”, let the buyer beware.

  • Chris Baker February 26, 2016, 9:05 am

    Interesting but not the whole story. Depends on what you consider a budget anything. A budget anything is only a budget if it does what it’s supposed to do. My idea of a budget revolver would be one that is inexpensive, shoots well and reliably and is easy to find ammunition for. My first handgun was a Smith & Wesson Model 13 that I bought from a friend who had pawned it and didn’t have the money to get out of pawn. Paid her $125 for it. That was quite awhile ago, somewhere around 1985. Now I have a GP100 that is easy to use, reliable and I think I paid about $425 for it new. I don’t really consider either a budget gun, but they were within my budget so yeah, they were. The GP100 gets smoother the more I shoot it and I have reduced the spring tension twice so far. I don’t buy into your argument that speed loaders are difficult to carry or to use. They are no more bulky than a magazine for an autoloader. Both of these revolvers were as reliable as an anvil. I get the impression you are one of the people who just prefer autoloaders. That’s fine. But for a neophyte an autoloader is more difficult to learn how to use than is a revolver. Reloading a revolver is dead simple. Swing out the cylinder, dump the spent cases and stuff in loaded ones, swing the cylinder back into battery and you’re back in action. For an autoloader you have to eject the magazine and (assuming the same situation as a revolver, no speed loaders no spare magazines) you have to pick up the magazine, shove the bullets into the magazine then put the magazine back in the magazine well, then rack the slide and you’re back in action. Which is simpler? Revolver wins. If you want to include magazines and speed loaders there are some very interesting clips on you tube that show how fast someone can reload with a speed loader. Yes it’s slightly slower than inserting a magazine but you don’t have to rack the slide so it comes out pretty close to a tie.
    It’s so close that it all comes down to a matter of personal preferences. I carry an autoloader for what it’s good for and I carry a revolver for what it’s good for. Either one would be a budget if I ever have to use them to save a life.

    • Ben March 30, 2016, 1:16 am

      Reloading a revolver can be almost as fast as reloading a semi-auto (certainly has to be done a lot more often) but takes much more practice to achieve the same level of proficiency. I carry 18 rounds on a single load so it’s much less concerning, but I still have a spare mag loaded. Why would anyone carry loose rounds anyway? That sounds asinine. When I do carry a revolver I have 2 speedloaders and 2 speed strips (still less ammo than my 92 with 2 mags.) Supposing I only had loose rounds in a semi-auto, I could still drop them in the chamber, close the slide and shoot faster than reloading a revolver.

  • Nate February 26, 2016, 8:32 am

    I don’t see how we can have a meaningful discussion along these lines without being much more precise about the meaning of the word “budget”. If you’re talking about 150 dollar wheel guns then a lot of these arguments make sense. If you’re talking about 300 dollar wheel guns… a lot of these arguments no longer apply at all.

    Another issue I take is the whole reloading time subject. How many defensive shootings in the last 50 years actually involve a reload? I don’t know the exact answer to that but I do know that number is amazingly small and the odds of it happening to you are somewhere in the win-the-lottery range.

    Now contrast that with what you admit in your article here… that revolvers are easy to conceal. They are. Which means they are easier to carry. Which means you’re more likely to carry it rather than leaving it home.

    So you’re trading a six shot weapon that you are more likely to carry for a weapon that is harder to carry but is easier to reload, and in many cases also only holds 6 shots. That’s not even close to a cut-and-dry decision. In fact the main argument for capacity is to give you more chances to hit your target, not to avoid reloading.

    Its very easy to dismiss wheel guns in 2016. When you really sit back and look at the facts though, there are many strong arguments in their favor.

    • Smoke Hill Farm February 29, 2016, 12:24 am

      I agree, and keep in mind that when you pull your revolver, the chances of being able to use all six shots are about 100%. In fifty years of handling guns (a lot), with 21 yrs in the Army, a number of years as an FFL dealer, and many years of teaching handgun classes, I have NEVER had a revolver fail to fire — except one time when I was trying to use up a lot of very old .22 ammo and some questionable reloads a friend had run up for me.

      Semi-autos, though — a much different experience. Every semi-auto I’ve owned (probably two dozen) has required a test period to see what it would eat happily, or not. Some would eat a wide variety … some would not. Add to that the possibility of a very quick, imperfect grip on the gun, or finding that you’ve had to roll around in the mud with a perp …. your odds of a misfire (or only getting in one shot before the slide jams on something) go up quickly.

      I love my semi-autos at the range, but only carry my Ruger .357 or Colt .38 when I’m out and about.

      • Mitch Spence March 28, 2016, 8:33 am

        Well said. A brand new Glock will choke on “everyday” budget ammo. You don’t want to find that out at the wrong time.

        • Ben March 30, 2016, 1:26 am

          Glocks will eat any load that is made to spec that you put in the mag. The only bullet that shouldn’t be used is non jacketed lead as it will guild up in the rifling.

        • Ben March 30, 2016, 1:27 am

          Glocks will eat any load that is made to spec that you put in the mag. The only bullet that shouldn’t be used is non jacketed lead as it will guild up in the rifling.

      • Ben March 30, 2016, 1:21 am

        Roll a revolver in the mud and shoot it. I can’t wait to see this.

    • Irish-7 March 28, 2016, 1:15 pm

      Great point about the number of defensive shootings that involved a reload! I am reminded of a video by The Yankee Marshall, a survival enthusiast that admits his EDC is a 5-shot Ruger LCR in .357 Magnum. He quoted statistics of defensive shootings that proved most encounters are over very quickly, and do not require reloading. I think that people hold on to images of large scale shootouts from television or the movies. I am just as guilty. Although I do not live in the Los Angeles area, I will never forget the video of the riots in 1992, particularly Reginald Denny pulled from his truck and savagely beaten. I realize the chances of me experiencing a similar situation are microscopic. Regardless, I carry a .45 ACP with multiple magazines everywhere I go. I also have a large caliber revolver next to my bed, and within reach in my vehicle. Honestly, that is what I am going for in a dangerous situation, one of those 6-shooters.

  • Tom Horn February 25, 2016, 9:53 pm

    Two quality revolvers that can be picked up used at bargain prices now, S&W 686 (and variants 586, 681.ect.), and Ruger Security/Speed Six. Can pick nice one up for about $350. Compare to new prices on 686 or GP100.

    • Bill Connor February 26, 2016, 8:13 am

      Tom, when was the last time you bought a good S&W 686 for $350.

      • Nate February 26, 2016, 8:52 am

        i dunno about the 686 but there are 360s and 642s in that range all over the place. Not to mention a mountain of Taurus revolvers. I don’t know what your opinion of the taurus wheel guns is, but I have a few of them and like them a lot.

        • Charles Erps March 28, 2016, 9:31 pm

          Anyone thats had the opportunity to examine the lock work of a Taurus revolver will notice that it is almost identical to Smith and Wesson inner workings,

      • Tom Horn February 26, 2016, 5:21 pm

        Bill,

        Got to admit it was 2013, picked up very nice used 681 (my favorite double action S&W) for $350. Guess I should check prices again, eh? At $450 I would consider it a bargain wheel gun

      • Tom February 26, 2016, 6:24 pm

        Bill,

        Appears I wasn’t too far off the mark. Here is a recent listing on GunsAmerica, a 681 for $395: https://www.gunsamerica.com/921117675/S-W-68.htm

  • Mark N. February 25, 2016, 9:12 pm

    There is nothing complex about the Colt (or clone) single action black powder or model 1873 revolvers, although they are admittedly heavy. The primary components, aside from the cylinder, are the hammer, hammer spring, trigger and cylinder lock (which share a spring), and hand and its attached spring. It is also true that they aren’t very good concealed carry pieces.

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend