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Revolvers vs Semi-Autos: Which is the Better Choice for Concealed Carry?

Handguns come in most every type of action that rifles come in, from bolt action to semi-auto and everything in-between. However, there are only two types of handguns that are ideal for concealed carry purposes – revolvers and semi-autos – and there’s plenty of debate about which type is best.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how these two types of handguns stack up against each other in a variety of categories to help you determine which type is best for you.

Magazine Capacity

The first and most prominent argument in favor of semi-auto handguns concerns magazine capacity. Even small, single-stack semi-autos are typically able to hold upwards of seven rounds, while larger, double-stack semi-autos can often hold fifteen rounds or more.

Revolvers, on the other hand, rarely ever hold more than six rounds. There are even a few seven and eight round revolvers on the market, but they’re not nearly as common as the five and six round varieties.

Granted, in most every self-defense scenario, six or even five rounds should be more than enough. The key word here, though, is “should” – you never know what’s going to happen, and having more rounds than you need is always going to be better than not having enough.

Reliability

Having looked at the most prominent argument in favor of semi-auto handguns, let’s look at the most prominent argument in favor of revolvers – reliability. Revolvers feature a much simpler mechanism than semi-autos with far fewer moving parts. Since the ammunition in a revolver isn’t cycled in and out of the chamber, it’s virtually impossible for revolvers to jam.

The same can’t be said for semi-auto handguns. While most high-quality semi-auto handguns are made to be incredibly reliable, no semi-auto handgun manufacturer can guarantee that their firearm will never jam. Revolver manufacturers, however, are able to make that guarantee with confidence.

The chances of a semi-auto handgun jamming when you are counting on it are quite slim, especially if your purchase a high-quality firearm and keep it clean and well-maintained. However, if you want to know with 100% certainty that your firearm will send a round downrange every time you pull the trigger then a revolver might be the right choice for you.

Accuracy

Neither revolvers nor semi-autos are inherently more accurate than the other. With that said, though, most shooters will find that they themselves are more accurate with a semi-auto than they are a revolver.

The reason why this is the case mostly has to do with trigger pull. When you pull the trigger on a semi-auto, all you are doing is releasing the tension on the firing pin. When you pull the trigger on a double-action revolver, though, you are cocking back the hammer, rotating the cylinder, and releasing the hammer. This means that the trigger pull on a revolver is going to be much stiffer than the trigger pull on a semi-auto, and experienced shooters know that stiff triggers are the enemy of accuracy.

Safety

While the stiff trigger pull of a double action revolver does make it a little more difficult shoot accurately, it can also make revolvers a little safer to carry. Many concealed carry enthusiasts are adamant about not having safeties on their firearms, which is understandable seeing as fumbling around with a safety could waste precious seconds in a self-defense scenario. Given this concern, many handguns designed for concealed carry don’t feature a safety at all.

Carrying a firearm that has a hair trigger and lacks a safety, though, causes some people to think twice about the possibility of accidentally putting a bullet through their leg. While this concern certainly still exists with revolvers as well, the stiffer trigger on revolvers makes them far less likely to accidentally discharge.

Ease of Concealment

Semi-auto handguns typically feature a slightly slimmer profile than revolvers since they don’t have to house a cylinder that bulges out from the side of the gun’s frame. This slimmer profile makes semi-auto handguns a little easier to conceal without worrying about the gun printing (bulging through your clothing).

Conclusion

Both semi-auto handguns and revolvers feature their own distinct pros and cons. In the end, the decision about which type is best for concealed carry comes down to your own personal preferences and priorities.

With that said, choosing a handgun that you are comfortable shooting and comfortable carrying is going to be much more important than analyzing the minor differences between the two types.

~ National Gun Network

16 Comments
  1. Chuck Cochran says

    When I talk to folks about what they should get, and go over the pros and cons of each type of firearm, I also ask “How much time are you willing to spend at the range?” Most new gun owners don’t have or don’t want to dedicate the time it takes to become completely familiar and competent with their new gun (especially women and young mothers). Those that are willing to spend the time, I steer towards a semi-automatic, those that aren’t or can’t spend the time, I steer towards a revolver. Semi-automatics, by their nature, have a steeper learning curve, and so require more time being devoted to have proficiency with them. Revolvers, not as much.

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  3. Yosemite says

    There is more INHERENTLY that can go wrong with a Revolver than a Semi-Auto………
    In GENERAL and “”Rule of Thumb” onl THREE things go wrong with a semi-auto
    1.Bad Magazine
    2.Bad Ammo
    3.Dirty weapon
    Those are in General and certainly other things can go wrong.
    Failure to properly eject and extract could be ammo or could be more serious.
    The ammo may not be loaded properly and will not completely cycle the slide OR
    OR You may need a different Recoil spring….
    It willl not feed hollow Points….any ammo Failure to Feeds should try a new magazine BUT
    It could be( using 1911s for example) the ramp could need polishing or a dirty weapon.. The best thing to do with ANY semi-auto is
    Fire 500-1000 rounds of hardball and then try different types of ammo……
    Keep the weapon clean and properly lubricated…..

    Magazines will go bad so have quite a few! Anything from bent feed lips to the spring itself….not to meantion getting lost!!.

    I have not checked recently but Revolvers have more moving parts than a semi-auto……… The more moving parts leaves more room for MISTER MURPHY to show up……The more complex something is, the easier it is to break.
    Revolvers
    There are numerous more springs and parts…….
    Also the Timing can go off………. You are screed it it goes out by 1k of an inch……
    The ejector rod in some models can come loose and lock up the cylinder and one cannot open the cylinder and extract and eject the empty brass and reload new rounds….

    i have not checked in a while So my information may be outdated…….

    Then there is this……..
    http://preparedgunowners.com/2015/07/30/why-revolvers-are-not-more-reliable-than-semi-auto-pistols/

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