There are 15 people right now at your local gun shop. Step in and ask them if you should concealed carry with a revolver or a semi-auto and you’ll get 15 different opinions.
Well here’s another opinion for you: To end the revolver vs. semi-auto debate, you need to consider your concealed carry needs, your shooting style, and a few other factors those 15 guys at your local range aren’t even thinking about.
Sure, there are already 1,000 opinions out there on forums, blogs, and in magazines…
Isn’t it time to analyze your style, needs, and goals and come up with your own opinion? Keep reading to learn more…
Let’s Talk Reliability and Concealed Carry
If you’ve been reading about revolvers already you’ve heard quite a bit about “second strike capability.”
So, if you’re firing a revolver and you have a misfire, you can just pull the trigger again.
Revolvers allow you to make this second strike. Your trigger pull advances the next cartridge.
Die-hard proponents of revolvers for concealed carry will tell you “semi-automatics don’t have second strike capability.” You know what? It’s true. A few semi-automatics allow you to pull the trigger again to re-strike the same cartridge…but that’s not even the same, is it?
But here’s the thing…
You’re going to have to look hard to find a pistol you’re willing to actually buy for concealed carry that you can’t rely on.
Think about it! Out of all the brands you’ve been looking at…
Revolvers, semi-autos, Smith & Wesson, Glock, Taurus, Colt, the list goes on…
There are few pistols from major manufacturers available today that you can call “unreliable.”
On top of that, when loaded with the ammo you’ll use in a life-or-death situation (that’s right, the premium stuff, not low-quality home-reloaded from the hobbyist down the street with second-rate powder), you’re very unlikely to experience failure.
When you pull the trigger, it’s likely your premium self-defense ammo will fire in any modern pistol. “Second strike capable” or not, reliability in this regard is a wash.
Now what’s out of the way, let’s talk about what’s really important…
Think Recoil, Not Reliability
So you pick a revolver because of reliability…
Now you have something else to face: Recoil.
When you fire a revolver, the hammer drops, the bullet leaves the barrel and nothing else moves. All of the force from the bullet you just fired needs to go somewhere. And it heads right back into your hands.
Heavy revolvers help reduce this recoil. Most of the revolvers you’ll concealed carry don’t (simply because they are smaller and lighter).
Semi-autos are built to dissipate the force of a bulleting being fired.
Some of the force from every bullet leaving the chamber is used to move the slide back. Pressure bleeds off and moves the barrel. The motion of the gun itself and the design of semi-automatics draw away the force and pressure of firing your pistol.
What does this mean?
Pick a caliber and a pistol weight and a semi-auto will feel like it recoils less.
When seconds matter and help is minutes away, you’ll want less recoil to keep your rounds on target.
Capacity is Another Consideration
This one is short…
You can fit more rounds in most semi-automatics.
Higher capacity without reloading (and faster reloading time) is paramount to nearly everything else in life or death situations.
You’ll be trained to carry concealed, you’ll be prepared to fire (hopefully), and even then, in most “must shoot situations” not all of your rounds will make it to target.
Studies show that most of the time simply having a weapon, firing a single round, and hitting your target just once will protect you and your family. Armed assiliants are rarely prepared for bystanders who are carrying concealed.
But at the end of the day would you rather be prepared to reload quickly? Armed with a magazine of 10 rounds you can reload in under 2 seconds? Or do you want to fire 5 or 6 and end up stuck reloading a revolver?
But What About Complexity?
Revolvers are easier to fire.
They are simple, with no-frills operation.
Put rounds in, close the cylinder, pull the trigger. Rinse and repeat.
Semi-automatic pistols have more steps. Insert mag, rack the slide, safety, shoot…
Revolver fans love simplicity. There’s less to go wrong and (importantly for some) fewer steps to “learn.”
But if you’re carrying concealed, you’re going to be training anyway, right?
How Do You Choose?
Here’s the bottom line…
Semi-Automatics give you more rounds, less recoil, and improved reloading time. Do you need to worry about duds and second strike capability? Maybe.
Are revolvers easier to operate? You bet.
At the end of the day you need to choose the concealed carry pistol YOU feel most comfortable with. That’s how we can all end the revolver vs. semi-auto debate.