Editor’s Note: The following is a post by Mark Kakkuri, a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.
Read Mark’s previous articles in this “Top Five” series:
- Top Five Most Comfortable Concealed Carry Locations
- Five Ways to Improve Situational Awareness
- Shoot Better with These Top Five Tips for Firearms Training
- Top 5 Ways to Carry Concealed When Dressed Up
- Top Five Every Day Carry Essentials
These are great days for those who carry concealed. Small, concealable auto-loading pistols have never been more numerous, reliable, accurate, affordable and accessorizable. Yet revolvers abound for concealed carry and new models continue to show up. This isn’t by chance, and if you’re considering a revolver for concealed carry, here are my top five reasons for doing so.
1. High Degree of Reliability
Today’s autoloading pistols are reliable. Very reliable. So reliable that I hesitate to make this comparison. The only reason I sometimes desire to carry a revolver more than an auto-loading pistol is because, in my opinion, revolvers have less that can go wrong when squeezing the trigger and firing. Yes, in a revolver, the cylinder can get jammed and something could go wrong that could be a serious detriment to its use as a self-defense tool. I just think this is less likely with a revolver than with an auto-loading pistol, which still has a somewhat complex series of actions to accomplish through the process of firing, ejecting a round, scooping up the next round and seating that round properly. Moreover, as long as you can keep squeezing the trigger, a revolver will fire as it does not require a firm grip on it to cycle the slide. In other words, there’s no limp-wristing a revolver. Similarly, you can fire a revolver from a jacket pocket or pressed up against an attacker’s body. Because there’s no slide to catch on clothing in close proximity or to move out of battery if pressed from the muzzle, a revolver has this additional advantage.
2. Consistency of Trigger Stroke
Today’s auto-loaders have consistent trigger strokes — sometimes evident in single-action or double-action-only. The single-action stroke, of course, is short; there’s nothing to really remember other than to just press it, and the double-action-only strokes of most semi-automatics are pretty good. You can discern the different feels of triggers from various manufacturers, and many guns have reduced the double-action-only stroke to a short, smooth 4- or 5-pound pull. They’re good, sure, but I still like the long, relatively heavy (but buttery smooth) stroke of a revolver. Maybe it’s because I grew up on that type of trigger, but there’s just something about a revolver’s trigger that helps my strong hand grip the stocks just right and squeeze smoothly all the way through.
3. Range of Calibers
Today’s autoloading pistols are becoming more modular and there has been some interchangeability of caliber worth noting. But, in defensive handguns, a .357 Magnum revolver is a true dual-caliber gun since it can fire .38 Special rounds without any modification whatsoever. With two calibers compatible with one gun, many have advocated for shooting the less-powerful, less-expensive rounds at the range and saving the more-powerful, more-expensive rounds for actual carry. Consider, though, the opposite scenario. Because you can find excellent defensive ammunition chambered in .38 Special +P, why not carry that and practice shooting with a few .357 Magnums? One benefit is that if you can get used to shooting .357s, then .38s will seem much easier to shoot. Moreover, the .38 Special +P defensive ammunition available today is very good — comparable, in fact, to some .357 loads but with far less bark.
4. Availability of Accessories
Today’s autoloading pistols — depending on the make and model — have a wealth of accessories available for customization or for gearing up with holsters, reloads, sights and almost anything else you can imagine. But so do revolvers. In fact, revolver accessories might include more options for significantly changing a grip, which is arguably the most important customization you can make. Revolver grips can change your gun from a two-finger grip to a three-finger grip, from wood to rubber, from skinny to fat, and so on. Moreover, you can carry your revolver reloads in speedloaders, in speed strips or in a belt pouch.
5. Simplicity of Use
This really is my favorite reason for carrying a revolver. To shoot, just draw, aim and press the trigger. To shoot again, aim and press the trigger again. If a revolver doesn’t fire when you press the trigger, just press the trigger again, which will cause the cylinder to rotate and put a fresh round in place. And that’s it. You can train up for tap-and-rack and other types of failure drills — and you should if you carry an autoloader — but for the one, two, maybe three shots you would need (statistically speaking) to defend your life and get to safety, it’s difficult to beat the simplicity of a revolver.
Here’s one more intriguing reason for a revolver: If you carry a small revolver, it’s really not too difficult to carry a second small revolver. Depending on your situation, a second gun — affectionately known as a “New York reload” — has a few advantages. First, it might be faster to draw a second gun as opposed to reloading a single gun. Second, if the first gun fails, you can draw the second.
Admittedly, a revolver isn’t for everyone and might not be a good choice in your personal circumstance. But before you dismiss it as limited or outdated in favor of a more modern pistol, think through the pros and cons to discern whether the defensive gun you’re considering (or already carrying) is really the best fit for your needs. Revolvers are here to stay, and there must be a reason (or five) they keep flying off the shelves.
What’s your favorite reason for carrying a revolver — or your best reason for not?
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