Brief Overview of Revolvers

Brief Overview of Revolvers

I’m Paul DeClark. I’m the Chief Instructor with Command Performance Firearms and Training in Venice FL…. And here’s a quick overview of revolvers.

Maybe you know nothing about handguns, and are already lost, or maybe you’ve been shooting for a while and you still might be able pick up a pointer or two…

In another session we discuss semi-automatics. They are a whole different functioning mechanism. The fundamental difference is that, in a revolver, the ammunition stays in place throughout the entire firing cycle. In a semi-automatic, the ammo travels through the gun and the empty case is expelled after being fired.

(using gun in made-safe condition)

Today we’re talking about revolvers, and as you can guess, they get their name from the fact that the cylinder revolves! More specifically, the hammer rotates the cylinder. Under normal shooting circumstances, the trigger pull causes the hammer to pull back, causing the cylinder to rotate, bringing a new chamber into battery. Or simply put, it spins and puts a fresh round of ammo in place to be fired.

So you will note that, when firing the revolver, at the last instant the ammo moves into place and is fired. The empty ammo case stays in that location until the hammer is pulled again, or the gun is emptied.

I’m handling a double-action revolver. “Action” refers to how many processes the trigger does to the hammer, in this case two. This a common self-defense gun, available in a variety of calibers (that’s ammunition size) and barrel lengths. The most commonly chosen self-defense configuration is a .38 Special caliber with a two-inch barrel, often called a “snubnose”. Typically they hold 5 or 6 rounds (shots). In fact, this is a very commonly purchased self-defense gun.  Unfortunately, it is not the easiest gun to shoot well, despite the fact that well-meaning but misinformed advisors tend to recommend a revolver to a newbie or a female, because it is simpler to operate. It is but the price paid is more felt recoil and a much harder trigger pull, usually 8-10 lbs, which is more than many people can pull without radically losing their sight alignment.

Some will want to cock the gun to make it easier to shoot, but for self-defense that is flat out wrong on many levels. That’s an entirely different discussion. Just don’t do it.

Notice the cylinder release, which can go forward or backward (or up or down) to release the cylinder, which must be manually pushed open. From here you can use the ejector rod to empty all the spent  cases, and if this was a gunfight, my right hand would be getting my ammo reload at the same time. I then pull my fingers out while I rotate the cylinder up and lock it, regrip and I am back in the fight.

This is a single action revolver, like the Old West guns. They have to be cocked after each shot, since the trigger can only do one thing to the hammer, which is release it. Therefore, if it is not cocked, it cannot fire (despite what Alec Baldwin says). So, they are not desirable as a self-defense gun due to being very slow to shoot.

Some people refer to revolvers as “idiot-proof”, thinking they are impossible to jamb. In fact, they are less prone to jambing but jambs can occur from a gun failure, ammo failure, or most commonly, operator error. The most common error is failure to bring the trigger back smoothly so that the hammer spring is at full extension.

Another drawback of revolvers is that they hold less ammo than almost all semi-automatics. Five or six may be enough, but nobody ever walked away from a gunfight complaining that they had too much ammo!

This sights on snubbies tend to be very basic, and these guns are designed to shine in close quarters.

Their profile is a little fatter than small semi’s so they are a bit harder to conceal.

Though we recommend a thorough cleaning after each shooting session, revolvers will tend to be more forgiving of dirt, soot and dust which might choke up some semi’s.

Is a revolver right for you? We would need to get with you and show you the proper way to handle it, including making it safe, loading and unloading, and grip. Common semi-auto gripping will not work for a revolver.

In fact, in all of our classes, handling a revolver is standard procedure for all students. Only with that and after shooting can you decide if a revolver is the right choice for you.

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