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Revolver vs Semi Automatic: What Gun Should You Choose For Self Defense?

Self Defense Hero

Handguns are a popular choice for self-defense. Their smaller size makes them easy to carry or hide. They can be drawn and ready to shoot in just a moment when an emergency suddenly occurs. They may not be as accurate as rifles or as powerful as shotguns, but handguns certainly have stopping power in close- to mid-range encounters.

If the speed of the draw and the security brought by the smaller size have drawn you to a handgun, you still have a few choices to make. The major choice here is to invest in a revolver or a semiautomatic handgun. Both have pros and cons, and ultimately it will be for you to decide what makes the most sense for your needs, comfort, and tastes. But first, know the major facts about these two types of handguns.


Self Defense Revolver

Revolvers are not a new gun: in fact, they go all the way back to 1836. The gun manufacturer Samuel Colt won a patent for a mechanism that would let a gun shoot multiple times without having to be reloaded between each individual shot.

Nowadays, revolvers are usually made as “double-action” guns. That means that one trigger pull both cocks and releases the hammer, firing the bullet. Many do have an option to switch into single-action mode; in this case, the shooter would cock the hammer first, and then the trigger is easier to pull. Revolvers generally hold 5-7 rounds, and are often heavier than other handguns due to their steel or aluminum frames. The advantage here is that heavier guns have less intense recoil, as their extra weight soaks up some of the impact.

Revolvers have several advantages. First and foremost, they are easy to operate. If you’re worried about keeping track of a complicated gun during an emergency situation, or if you’re new to firearms and just choosing a gun for home-defense, this simplicity is crucial. A revolver is straightforward, and you can generally see how it works. You open the cylinder, put the bullets in, close it, and pull the trigger.

But of course, there are also disadvantages to the revolver. The 5-7 bullets held by the revolver may not be as many as you need, and is less than half the number of bullets a semiauto holds. Stopping to reload in the middle of a stressful situation means sacrificing precious time, and focusing on something other than the whereabouts of your target.

Semi Automatic Handguns

Self Defense Semi Auto

Semiautomatic weapons are newer than revolvers, but they’ve still been around since 1892. They usually hold as many as 17 rounds of ammunition in a magazine that goes into the grip of the gun. Most pistols are double-action, just like revolvers, though some can be adjusted for single-action. Historically, pistols have been primarily made of steel, but there are now lighter models available made with polymer.

As mentioned above, pistols hold twice as many bullets as revolvers, which can make a huge difference in an emergency situation. They are also easier to reload, as swapping magazines can be done quickly. If you practice enough, you’ll likely be able to change out the magazines in your pistol without even looking, allowing you to keep your eyes on the threat. Several pistols also have rails, where you can attach lights or laser pointers.

However, pistols take more time to prepare in an emergency. You have to rack the slide of the pistol in order to put a round in the chamber to fire. This can be easy to forget to do in an emergency.

The way around this is to store the pistol “cocked and locked,” which means storing it loaded, cocked, and with the safety on. But if you have children in the house, or your pistol doesn’t have a manual safety, this is not an option.

In Conclusion…

If you have little or no gun experience, but want to invest in something for home-defense, a revolver is a good choice. There are many excellent revolvers on the market: make sure you get one that’s simple to operate, weighty enough to protect against intense recoil, and accept .38 Special or the more powerful .357 Magnum ammunition.

If you know your way around a handgun already and you’re not worried about chambering, a handgun is probably the right choice for you. Look for one with a higher bullet capacity, heavy enough ammunition to stop a target, and that fits well in your hand.

No matter what you choose, practice with your gun, and make sure you will be able to maintain a level head in a stressful situation. Make using your gun second nature, so that it doesn’t trip you up when you are facing an emergency.