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A few thoughts about the revolver in self defense.

A few thoughts about the revolver in self defense.

Regular readers know that, despite my (occasionally) bombastic promotion of the wheelgun, I’m the first to admit that it is not the perfect tool for all jobs. The revolver’s suitability for self defense depends on the nature of the threat one expects to encounter.

The revolver’s greatest weakness is its limited capacity, while its greatest virtue is its resistance to externally induced failures.

It is something of a trend among today’s fashionable criminals to attack in multiples, i.e. more than one assailant. If each of the assailants is committed to the success of the attack, especially if each of them will have to be shot more than once, the revolver may in fact be at a disadvantage. Remembering that there is no such thing as a magic bullet, if you have three assailants and only five rounds you may have some hard choices to make.

This scenario often plays out during home invasion robberies. In these types of incidents, a revolver for home defense may be sub-optimal; a high capacity autoloader may be a better choice.

While many may scoff at the idea of more than a single attacker, or believe the old saw “shoot the leader, the rest will run”, this is a very real risk. This is particularly the case in areas with substantial gang activity (which is just about everywhere these days.) If you keep a revolver for home defense, this is a possibility you need to consider.

On the other hand, most assaults are still of the good ol’ one-on-one variety, and those outside of the home tend to fit this profile. These are personal crimes, and the action tends to be close in, fast, and violent – conditions in which the revolver, being the quintessential reactive tool, shines. It is quick into action and is less likely to experience functional failure in a close fight; there is no slide to be pushed out of battery, or slowed to induce a jam.

That isn’t to say an autoloader is useless in that environment, only that it requires a bit more management. Craig DouglasĀ is at the leading edge of teaching close-in handgun deployment, and he’s developed techniques to keep autos running in tight conditions. A revolver, though, is largely immune to the mechanical difficulties of fighting “in the hole”, and remains a viable choice for that reason.

Is that a reasonable tradeoff for capacity? It’s your call.

-=[ Grant ]=-

  • Posted by Grant Cunningham
  • On November 4, 2009

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