Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Survival Handguns, My Thoughts.


I like revolvers, I think it goes back to watching westerns as a kid but they do have a lot of advantages as well.
A little while ago I was reading Brigid, she had done a guest post  with some advice for newer shooters, especially women and commented how a revolver is an excellent choice for a first handgun. I agree, I am not saying you can't learn a semi auto pistol I just think it takes less to 'sort out' if you know what I mean.
I am not trying to start an argument here but it dawned on me there are people out there who are fairly new to shooting or who are preppers and wondering what kind of guns would be good for them so I will list my reasons for liking them.

First I should point I am referring to good quality revolvers, S&W, Ruger, Colt etc. they can be found for excellent prices if you look around at used models, in fact I think all mine I bought were used so they can be found if you look. 
First I will list the disadvantages I see of revolvers, most only hold 6 shots (some 5) and are a little slower to reload. They also tend to be bulkier and harder to conceal than a semi auto especially if they are a big caliber.
Now for the advantages I see,
 I mentioned most hold only 6 shots, to me this is not an issue because semi auto pistols you usually wait till it is empty to reload but with a revolver I can swing the cylinder out and by partially pushing the ejector rod I can lift out the spent cases and replace them thus leaving me with a full cylinder. Apart from target shooting I have never had a NEED to shoot more than 6 shots in rapid succession and I maintain if you ever find yourself in that situation you have bigger problems than your handgun can solve. Another reason I like revolvers is they tend to be more forgiving to dirt and grime and lack of cleaning which could be important in a survival situation. 
 I mentioned earlier they are (in my opinion) a good first gun choice, the reason for this is there is less to think about if you find yourself in a high stress situation, this is very important because you draw it, pull the trigger and it shoots (double action guns of course) You do not have to worry about removing the safety, wondering if one is in the chamber or racking the slide or wondering if the slide is all the way home.  The magazine release button never gets accidentally pushed thus causing a jamb (I have had this happen quite a few times) In the case of a misfire you keep squeezing the trigger till it goes bang, no need to tap, slap, rack to clear a jamb. I have never had a revolver jamb with factory ammo. The only jambs I have had (very rare) are with very hot hand loads and the primer bulged thus causing a jamb.
This leads me to another reason I love revolvers, I do like to reload my ammo, it saves me a lot of money and I don't have to crawl around on the ground looking for all my brass. I also cast my own bullets which saves a lot of money as well and revolvers love cast bullets. I do reload for my 45 and 9mm but they don't feed cast bullets quite as well as ball ammo and this could be important in a survival situation where you would only have access to cast bullets. In a survival situation reloading components may be hard to get but as long as I had primers I could cast bullets and pack the cases full of black powder and have a good functioning weapon, I don't think most semi autos would feed that well with black powder. In a good strong revolver like a Ruger you could devise all kinds of loads which may be necessary in a survival situation and it would function and with some of the long barrels guns you can even hunt quite effectually with them.
There may be a day coming when reloads are all you can find and I can tell you from experience semi auto pistols are not that fond of cast bullets, dented cases, slightly bulged cases, dis-formed lead, weak loads etc, all of which are possible if you don't have the best to work with. I could take a less than perfect re-loaded round and even if I had to force it into the cylinder of a revolver it would almost always fire without jamming. This is just some of my thoughts on handguns.

OK I know I have opened a can of worms and probably started an argument (it's not the first time) I am not against semi autos, in fact I love my 1911 and others however I would never want to be without a revolver as well, especially in a survival situation which will be a less than perfect world.

29 comments:

  1. I agree with your conclusions; revolvers are more-or-less problem free. I also noticed something in the WWII training films for using the M1911A1.

    The army instructors mentioned that revolvers generally line up with a novice shooter's instinctive aimpoint, whereas (they said) the 1911 needed to be canted a bit, which they claimed feels "unnatural" to a new shooter.

    And it's a fact that if you're in a fight & need someone to back you up, you don't have to explain how a revolver works. It's the original point-and-shoot interface.

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    1. Rev Paul, very true, the learning curve for a revolver is not as bad as for a semi auto.

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  2. While I have several semiauto's, I love the idea that a revolver doesn't need a magazine that can go bad.

    And how's about a good shooting revolver for a "precious-metal" in a post collapse world?

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    1. Matt, like I said I love my semi auto's as well but I do love to shoot revolvers.

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  3. Good post, pretty much lines up with my thoughts as well. One addition I would make would be a good old fashion cap and ball blackpowder revolver as well. As you said, we may get to having to simply reload and, it may reach a point where even brass is hard to come by. It's cheap insurance and fun as well.

    My 2 cents anyway.

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    1. Cap and ball is fun as long as you keep supplies to shoot them. I have an 44 cap and ball (it's a replica) and it is fun to shoot.

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  4. Somewhere I recall seeing that the threat distance that women typically worry about is 5'

    If you are not stopping your target after bullet number 4 at 5', I am not sure that it matters if you stop a number 6, or 10, or 17.

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    1. Very true, if you NEED more than 6 quick shots you have bigger problems to worry about.

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  5. Great post and I agree. Add a little .22 revolver and most people are set.

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    1. Bubba, glad you point that out, a 22 revolver is pretty much a must in my book as well.

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  6. All makes sense to me! Besides, I like the clean looks of the revolvers!

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    1. HermitJim, I agree, they do look sharp of course some may disagree but I tried to stick to solid reasons for choosing them. Thanks my friend.

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  7. Model 29, .44 Mag.

    Kit gun, .22 RF

    Thanks for a good article.

    Mountain Rifleman

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    1. Thanks, the first gun in the blog pictured is my model 29 with a 4" barrel, I love that gun, I shoot mainly 44 special loads through it.

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    2. I too, use the .44 Spl. case. I load the 250 grain plain base Keith lead bullet to 1,200 fps. Great elk killer. I keep my shots under 60 yards. Very long case life for reloading.
      Mountain Rifleman

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  8. Saw your comment on MDR so here I am. I've always preferred revolvers over automatics and have had quiet a few. I'm more accurate with them for some reason, but all I have now is an auto. Maybe that will change before long?

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    1. tffnguy, Funny thing most people seem to shoot better with a revolver, they seem to have a natural aim point. Maybe it's the way the barrel looks as you sight down it, more slender, who knows?

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  9. Great post. I also love revolvers. A friend of mine carries two revolvers, at all times. he has a old colt, as his main weapon in 357/38. And then he has a neat little snub, in 38, as back up.

    Plus you can take a old beat up revolver, and toss it in your B.O. Bag, with some extra ammo. And your good to go.

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    1. Very true, there are many old beaters out there that might not look to good but they function perfectly.

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  10. Revolvers were the first handguns I did competition with way back when ago. Not a fabulous competitor, usually in the middle of the pack. Now I use 16 shot XD's and run the middle of the pack. Upon occasion, I bring a wheelgun to compete with and, strange as it sounds, even on the scenarios with 20 or more shots per set, I don't do any worse useing the Ruger and speed loaders than I do with the XD. Last time I did this, the revolver gave me the best times. As Gomer says, "Surprise-surprise-surprise..."

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    1. Shy Wolf, It's good to use what you shoot good with but like you say sometimes it doesn't make much difference. Nevertheless revolvers are always good to have and practice with because you never know what you will have to work with.

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  11. Duke, great post. Despit my fondness for the 1911, wheel guns were and still are my first love.

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    1. Shepherd K, I love the 1911 as and would never give mine up but they don't work as well with 'trashy ammo'

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    2. People should purchase reliable handguns that they are comfortable with and know will work for them when they need it. That is much more important than getting something because it holds more rounds or has a bunch of the latest bells and whistles. Keep it simple and stay alive.

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    3. Marty, very true...simple is many times the best choice.

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  12. Reloading and casting are the main reasons I shoot my wheelguns and bolt guns more often. Tried reloading cast in my 1911, the gun didn't like the bullet. I may try again with another mold, but I can't afford factory jacketed.

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    1. If the feed ramp on the 1911 is polished good, cast bullets will feel fairly well but not good enough for me in a survival situation but they are fine for killing tin cans.

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  13. 23 years of military service and 50 years hunting and living in neighborhoods that would make your skin crawl and stones freeze taught me when you positively must have a second round go bang, nothing fits the bill like a revolver, especially in the hands of someone who has not mastered a pistol and what it takes to "slap, rack, bang" that second shot. For myself I prefer a 4inch .357 mag, 125 grain or a 1911 old style with 230 grain HPs. Barring that a pump action like an 870 12 gauge using #4 buck. In the wilds of Montana and drowning worms in the back country, I carry a 44 mag with a can of bear spray as the first line of defense followed by 6 rounds of 240 grain HPs. When camping in back country and hunting, the camp gun is a Rem 870 with OOO or OO buck. Otherwise, I don't usually pack a revolver if carrying my .338 win mag. When walking the dogs and just generally out and about, I CC with a .45 1911 (230 grn HPs)and a shoulder carry colt defender in 9mm (147 grn HPs). Molon Labe!

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    1. Anon, well put my friend. Thanks.

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