Quantcast
  1. Sign up now and join over 35,000 northwest gun owners. It's quick, easy, and 100% free!

Revolver vs. Semi-auto as far as simplicity goes.

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by PlayboyPenguin, Nov 25, 2009.

  1. PlayboyPenguin

    PlayboyPenguin Pacific Northwest Well-Known Member 2016 Volunteer

    Messages:
    4,833
    Likes Received:
    1,744
    A post on a nother forum mentioned an ad for a revolver company that says something to the effect of "When you life depends on it aren't you glad you kept it simple?"

    Do not get me wrong, I love revolvers and have more than a few of them...but I do not feel they deserve the reputation of being the "simpler" firearm.

    As someone that refinishes guns and often has to tear down and rebuild them I find the clockwork mechanisms of the standard revolver to be much more complex than the standard semi-auto. In fact most of the revolvers I work on make most semi-autos look about as advanced and complicated as a stone wheel.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. SavageGerbil

    SavageGerbil Salem, OR Active Member

    Messages:
    785
    Likes Received:
    143
    Well, you and the ad campaign both have a point, the big difference is there choice is simplicity is when you're in trouble and need no-fail help right now, revolver reliability is nice. Tear down and maintenance complications tend to occur when you have plenty of time to use bad language, scratch your head and curse the designer of the particular firearm.

    That said, in high quality autos I haven't experienced a whole lot of jams, and safeties are a moot point since if I have them, I almost never use them (single action only excluded), so I do like the fact that the "Is the timing ok?" question just means "do the springs need replaced?"
     
  3. OFADAN

    OFADAN Brownsville, OR Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,099
    Likes Received:
    286
    I'm confident the ad is referring to the manual of arms while under the stress of a catastrophic emergency and not the complicated inner mechanical workings of a revolver.

    The ad is implying it is easier to use in an emergency (just point and shoot) compared to a "more complicated/difficult" semi-auto pistol. The two systems (revolver and semi-auto) manual of arms are certainly different but I'm not so sure a revolver is any "easier". And there is no such thing as a point and shoot in self defense.

    Reloading a revolver in the dark while moving and while under duress isn't certainly any easier than a semi-auto....yet clearing a Phase Two Malfunction with a semi-auto certainly requires a few mores steps than clearing a Malfunction with a revolver - which is indeed easier (all things are relative).

    If injured in a arm/hand or a hand/arm is tied up holding onto someone then a semi is certainly easier to reload using one hand, with either hand, than reloading a revolver with one hand. A revolver can be reloaded singled handed but it is a bit more challenging for those who do not learn the safe and correct method and hence practice regularly.

    It is remotely common (not rare yet not frequent either) to see a semi have a malfunction but not a jam. Semi's can jam but so can revolvers. Generally revolvers are just as prone to ammo related malfunctions as a semi but if they jam (there is a difference between a malfunction and a jam) they REALLY jam and are rendered completely inoperable and one needs to transition to a secondary system. Some semi's can be more malfunction prone than a revolver but again once an individual has master the correct manual of arms then malfunctions are just a minor irritant and can be cleaned quickly two handed or singled handed and you continue on with the fight. Because of the tighter tolerances on a revolver they tend to jam easier than a semi and a semi is probably more prone to malfunctions - if I could "generalize" something.

    A lot of guns stores defer novices to revolvers because of the claim "they're easier" and we get the end result at OFA...If I was in a position where I could mandate it...I'd require every gun store owner and counter worker to train for two hours with a J Frame revolver or these smaller framed semi autos and I'm 99.8% certain they would change their mind on what recommend to novices in the future. I'm a former gun store owner so I can say this. Revolvers in general and smaller and lightweight semi-autos do not necessarily = "easier for a novice to learn or shoot!" At OFA we've contracted with several gun stores over the years to train their employees for a day or two. When these folks leave at the end of the first day they have a new profound respect for their recommendations and choices especially to novices and women.

    Any way after teaching for as long as I have and working with 1000+ students each year I can honestly say one system in not "generally" easier or better than another - their just different. It is much more important to match the handgun to the individual rather than make a generalized claim one is easier than the other. There are some people who show up with a revolver that within 12 minutes they realize this is not a good match for them...so we have spare handguns in our Academy's armory just for such an occasion. We'll fix them up with a semi- and within 4 minutes they're smiling and happy conversely the same with someone who shows up with a semi and it isn't a good match...we loan them a revolver and wah lah they're good to go...it is all about building success and confidence!

    In my most humble opinion and one shared by my mentor Clint Smith a J Frame revolver is an experts handgun...his words not mine. I fully concur with this. Granted people can "shoot them" or train wit them with a few rounds but to really immerse themselves into serious defensive training with a light J frame expending more than just 20 to 50 rounds on dynamic moving threats is different than shooting static pop cans or paper at a rock pit at a known distance. We have one student who has really mastered a J Frame (as his back up) and it took him a while and he had a bruised hand to prove it. After two seperate half day tutorials with me - he turned to me and said "why do gun shops recommend these to newbies, women, and senior adults? It is very obvious those who sell these things never train with them huh?"

    Revolvers easier? Hum...I'm not so sure...there is a hint of truth to it but again it all depends upon the individual. Their marketing claim is an over-generalization, that unfortunately, many unsuspecting unconscious incompetent folks have bought off on.
     
  4. sheepman

    sheepman Las Vegas NV Member

    Messages:
    136
    Likes Received:
    4
    The auto is a better choice for CCW but I still keep a double action revolver next to the bed for middle of the night use. For me the long heavy double action trigger is desirable when I am less than awake. While the auto is simpler to work on the double action revolver is simpler for the person who does not train and does not shoot to learn to operate, JMHO. My carry guns, Glock, Kahr and Sig were chosen because they are simple to use. For competition the 1911 is my choice but I prefer not to carry it.
     
  5. ZachS

    ZachS Eugene/PDX Active Member

    Messages:
    1,119
    Likes Received:
    11
    OFADAN, I hope you turn that into an article and publish it... great summation of this issue!
     
  6. twoclones

    twoclones Tri-Cities, WA Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,129
    Likes Received:
    180
    Perception vs mechanics and a software parallel.
    During the act of firing, a revolver certainly feels less complicated to me. I pull the trigger, hammer falls forward and it's done. An auto still has to cycle the slide to reload it's self which, to a 99% revolver shooter like myself, feels like the gun is falling apart. It's my perception of that which makes me a revolver fan.

    Hmmm. If the revolver is more complicated inside... heading out on a comedic limb here; I'd like to compare it to Windows and the auto-loader to DOS. :) The Windows graphical user interface [revolver] is much simpler for the user but requires enough code to fill a CD. DOS [auto-loader], by contrast, is viewed as being more complicated to use and barely requires 1/1,000 as much code as Windows.

    While there is no doubt that DOS is more reliable than Windows, violence could erupt in a revolver vs semi-auto discussion. :laugh:
     
  7. OFADAN

    OFADAN Brownsville, OR Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,099
    Likes Received:
    286
    Are revolvers more reliable than a Semi? Hum...they certainly have had a longer time period of history used in law enforcement, competition, and combat to refine them to ensure they are mechanically more reliable than they used to be. Granted by today's standards the inner workings are more "complicated" than the workings of an XDM or GLOCK. But that doesn't necessarily make them more or less reliable - not today after years and years of perfecting them. However since the mid 80's with the advent of the wonder-nine period in our history (oh how I remember the controversy then!) we're seeing semi's becoming more and more reliable as well.

    Semi-autos have began to dominate the defensive, competition, and law enforcement market place since the early 80's. To capture this market the manufacturers needed more than "high capacity" to satisfy prospective customers. They needed highly reliable weapon systems. Since the 80's they've been perfecting (like their predecessors the revolvers have had to do prior) them to make them more and more reliable.

    I think it is unrealistic to compare them against each other as this is NOT an equal comparison i.e. Chevy vs Ford - apples to oranges. Revolvers are the same as a Semi-Auto but different. Instead we ought to compare them against themselves - Brand A revolver compared to Brand B revolver and Brand A Semi compared to Brand B Semi.

    Because the reality is one can "short stroke" a revolver and create a malfunction as easily as someone can "limp wrist" a semi auto inducing a malfunction. It has nothing to do with the complicity or simplicity of the design/system itself...it has to do with the interaction of the individual with the system. Generally speaking, today, more malfunctions of high quality revolvers or semi-autos are human induced than mechanically induced only to be seconded by ammo quality and performance. Maintenance is another issue but that goes back to the human induced because firearms don't clean and lube themselves.

    I'm not certain one system (revolver or semi-auto) today (now that they've both been so refined) is necessarily inherently more reliable than the other. There are some grossly inherently unreliable revolvers on the market that when they show up on the campus I'm already pulling a handgun out of the armory "just in case"! As is the case with the semi-autos...we see a certain make/model show up on campus we're making wagers the gun won't make it through the first hour of class. And we're usually right on both accounts. There are some "poorly designed and manufactured" handguns on the market - semi and revolvers. But again, I don't believe one is more reliable in general terms than the other.

    Today, most manufacturers in order to stay in business and to entertain "enticement" with the buying public, law enforcement agencies, and other agencies must build extremely reliable firearms. If they don't the forums and gun rags eat them for lunch. The day of being able to market successfully - at market prices (not the cheap guns at cheap prices) requires they meet a minimum standard of reliability.

    So I believe instead of comparing a revolver to a semi...we ought to match the system to the needs and capabilities of the individual and compare the system to others within their genre
     
  8. PBinWA

    PBinWA Clark County Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,092
    Likes Received:
    359
    I know my wife can't figure out a semi-auto but she can point and shoot a revolver. So for your basic gun-tard a revolver is much simpler. (Did I just call my wife a gun-tard :rolleyes:)
     
  9. Blackfeather7

    Blackfeather7 Oregon Member

    Messages:
    230
    Likes Received:
    2
    Simplicity? Technically the revolver seems simpler, but I'm no gunsmith.

    As far as "reliability" goes however I only have my own experience to go on. In many years of shooting I have had only one jam and failure to fire with a revolver. This was ammo related. I can't count the times I have had to stop and clear a jammed semi-auto. I carry a 642 and my backup is a 9mm auto in the safe in the truck.

    John Dillinger said, "Never count on a woman or an automatic pistol."
     
  10. pioneer461

    pioneer461 Columbia County, Oregon Active Member

    Messages:
    313
    Likes Received:
    142
    Simplicity? Ok, let's keep it simple. The outfit that placed the ad is trying to sell revolvers. How's that for simple?

    Some folks prefer revolvers, some like semiautos. Viva la differa'nce.

    Myself, being a more broadminded sort, I like to carry both. Sometimes at the same time. How's that for diversity?
     
  11. warnerwh

    warnerwh Portland, OR Member

    Messages:
    351
    Likes Received:
    22
    For simple I thought they meant to get into action. No safety to mess with, just pull the trigger. If for any reason that round doesn't go off just pull it again. These days either is fine for self defense but I'll take a revolver. No muss no fuss.
     
  12. orchemo

    orchemo Portland Active Member

    Messages:
    739
    Likes Received:
    60
    I grew up shooting singe action Rugers. Pretty basic, pull the hammer back and pull the trigger. Unloading and re-loading are a bit more complicated.

    Todays semi-autos are reliable and easy to use. I like Glocks, keep them in a trigger protected holster, if you need to shoot it, pulled out gun and pull trigger. My Glocks always have gone bang. The trigger pull is always the same, unlike my Sigs SA/DA or wheel guns.

    Eric
     
  13. DALE

    DALE Boring, Oregon Member

    Messages:
    238
    Likes Received:
    2
    Hmmmm...The operation of a Revolver should be easier to comprehend for a non mechanical individual. "If I point it at the target, pull the trigger, it goes BANG!" With a Semi-Auto..."Is there a round already in the chamber? Wonder what a chamber is anyway? Is there a mag inserted? I think I'm holding this thing properly so that thingy on the top can slide back without hurting me again. Is the mag loaded? Do I need to rack the slide?, I know I am supposed to do that at some point...I think it might go BANG when I pull the trigger." :p
     
  14. soberups

    soberups Newberg Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,335
    Likes Received:
    1,398
    Just a few things to ponder;

    In a self -defense situation where you and your assailant are wrestling or otherwise in close proximity to one another...if you stick a semi-auto pistol into his gut and pull the trigger, you will probably only get off one shot before your weapon jams. Any physical contact which interferes with the ability of the slide to move freely or the casing to eject fully will often cause a malfunction.

    The revolver, on the other hand, can be shoved into someone's gut and emptied. It can be fired upside down or at any angle. It isnt affected by physical contact. It doesnt need to eject a casing in order to operate.

    There is also a huge tactical advantage in being able to fire a revolver from within a coat pocket. You can have your hand on your weapon, drawn and ready to fire...without ever exposing it or even making a potential assailant aware that you are armed.

    In terms of affordability, the revolver wins hands down when you factor in the cost of testing your chosen carry load for reliability. Premium quality self-defense ammo is expensive. Many people recommend running a minimum of 500 rounds of carry ammo through a semi-auto to insure reliable feeding before trusting that ammo for carry. With decent self-defense ammo costing at least $25 per box, you can wind up spending more on the ammo than you did on the gun. No such issues exist with a revolver; you practice with the cheap stuff, run half a box of the spendy carry ammo through it to see where it hits, and you are good to go.

    And last but not least; if you do wind up in a gunfight and you are hit...or simply spazzed out on adrenaline...are you 100% certain of your ability to remember to put the safety back on? I'm not, so once again the revolver rules.
     
  15. Gouki

    Gouki PDX New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    0
    tl;dr Glock. 33 parts. No revolver blowback.
     
  16. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,109
    Likes Received:
    835
    The one thing I know about a revolver is that when I've fired my five or six shots I'm all done. I'd better hope the BG's are too.

    There are risks associated with both types of firearms. With modern DAO autos with no safety, I'll take the quickly replaceable mags over the perceived dependability of a revolver all day long. 15+1 + 15 + 15 right in and on my belt. With the PF-9 in the summer it's 7+1 +7 +7.

    I have no argument with those who prefer revolvers, or Chevys, or no onions on their hamburger.

    I just sold my last revolver this month. Actually I traded it for a Winchester Defender 12ga 7+1 riot shotgun because I have my carry pieces, and the 5 shot .38 revolver had lost its appeal for me as a home defense bedroom gun.

    $.02 and not worth that much. :)
     
  17. I-Shoot

    I-Shoot Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

    Messages:
    288
    Likes Received:
    117
    All good points made. All of my carry guns are striker fired - every trigger pull is the same (no SA/DA), and no manual safeties -- in other words, they are revolver simple in terms of MOA. That's why I went that way.

    'soberups' points about the benefits of a revolver have definitely made me consider carrying one on a regular basis, but in practice I've gone the other way, because I usually carry a semi. My 642's five rounds and almost non-existent sights can't compete with my G19s 15+1 rounds and night sights. If I could find a seven round .357 that would carry comfortably IWB, I might consider it, but I think that cylinder would be too large.
     
  18. madderg

    madderg Salem oregon Member

    Messages:
    95
    Likes Received:
    2
    a revolver can sit in a drawer for years, you take it out and pull the trigger and BANG! It has no springs in the magazine that get weak or compression memory. If you don't plan on working with, and keeping up with the maintenance of a handgun...a revolver is the best bet.
     
  19. Riot

    Riot Benton County, Washington Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,047
    Likes Received:
    1,741
    Some good points in these replies...but it all comes down to preference really. Both guns have their pros and cons and some things are just plain easier to do with one than you can with the other (i.e. reloading vs. shooting).

    For use as a backup gun with the possible need to reload or use different types on ammunition for? A Semi-auto wins by far.

    A nightstand gun that you always keep loaded by the bed and don't need to worry about magazine tension or if you have a round in the chamber? How about if you have a missfire? A revolver wins by far.

    They each have their purpose...it's like saying which is better, the newer electric saw or the hand saw? Obviously you can cut much more wood with the electric saw with ease, but what about those areas where carrying the electric saw is difficult (like up in a tree or in a tight corner).
     
  20. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,109
    Likes Received:
    835
    One more time guys. Magazine springs don't weaken over time from leaving them loaded. Not one bit. They weaken only from cycling, meaning loading and unloading. They weaken from use.

    The spring doesn't care whether it's loaded, unloaded, or partially loaded - it won't weaken if left alone. It's loading and unloading which causes weakening, and even then it takes a lot.

    If the design or manufacturing of a spring is defective, you're up a creek anyway and that could even be true in a revolver hammer spring. Defective springs are rare in a quality gun.