Semi Auto vs Revolver

Discussion in 'General Firearms Discussion' started by Back2School, Apr 10, 2015.

  1. Back2School

    Back2School Member

    I know this has kinda been beaten to death, but I was wondering about a few things I rarely see discussed in this and was hoping some of you more knowledgeable guys could explain it to me. I have been carrying condition 3 simply for safety on my semis.

    I understand the arguments that neither will fire unless you pull the trigger (except if there is a safety failure) so I really didnt want to get into that part. I know this is the part where everyone argues. But after reading about peoples procedures to unload (in the thread about testing holsters). It reminded me of my CCW class and the instructors insistence of the need for a "bullet trap" when unloading. As I never carried with one in the chamber, I never felt the need for this. So here are my questions:

    • Are NDs that prevalent in semis when unloading?
    • Is there a need for anything similar with a revolver? (stupid question I know, but I am trying to be thorough)
    • Do you unload your carry piece every night? ( I can see yes for semi but no for revolver)
    • When researching my Shield, there was a lot of people blaming reloading the same round over and over for causing kabooms in the .40 version. Sounds logical, but have any of you seen something like this?

    With the way I think these will go, it might make it a little safer for me to carry a revolver if I want to carry ready to go. Either that or maybe I am just trying to find an excuse to add an LCR in .38 or 9mm....
  2. Think1st

    Think1st Supporting Member

    Bullet traps contribute to NDs when unloading a semi-auto. What typically happens is that people come back in from patrol or a shift, depending on the circumstances and location, and after racking the slide to clear the chamber, they drop the mag and dry fire into the bullet trap (clearing barrel). Unfortunately, because they didn't drop the magazine before racking the slide, the dry fire ended up being a live fire.

    After going through the procedures scores or hundreds of times, all of which finish with dry fires, some people get complacent and don't bother to use a combination of visual and tactile confirmations to ensure that the chamber and magazine well are both empty before dry firing into the bullet trap. If you make just use a little discipline and make sure to do the checks, then there is no reason to even need a bullet trap. The bullet trap just lulls people into a half-assed series of clearing procedures.

  3. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    Not really necessary on most modern auto-loaders.

    Not really.

    No. All modern carry centerfire wheelguns use a swingout cylinder. Only exceptions I can think of are rimfire pocket holdouts like the NAA minis. Probably some other esoteric wheelies that don't fit that mold but any CC-worthy revolver you're likely to come across these days, priced from low to high, are going to use a swingout cylinder.

    No. I think it's a bad idea. They stay loaded and go into my bed-side safe ready for bumps in the night. They get unloaded for range trips or periodic servicing and that's it. The point of unloading the firearm is for safety. But every time you unload, it's an opportunity for an Unintended Discharge. Therefore, take some time to figure out why you're unloading it. A duty weapon, it can make sense to require post-shift unload. A SD weapon, not always.

    Bullet setback due to frequent chambering is known to happen with every caliber. There were some early issues with bullet setback occurring due to recoil with the Kel Tec P3AT! There was even a special type of setback in that firearm known as "smilies." It was an issue for the Ruger LCP as well.


    If you're happy with a revolver, you might also be happy with a PF9 or something in that class. If the R51 proves reliable when Remington re-releases it this year, that might be a good option also.

    But a lot of people are still very happy with revolvers. For CC, you might prefer a 5 shot revolver. We have a couple of revolver experts hanging here. I think Papataylor is one of them. I'd solicit his advice.

    Peace favor your sword,
  4. A semi is just as safe as a revolver. A Glock is just as as safe as a 1911.

    Safety is between the ears. Getting lax, repetitive tasks without thinking, just poor gun handling can bring on UD.

    Many people stick with revolvers because of the reliability, but that is not the only reason. Power wise it is hard to beat the revolvers capability. Accuracy in some high level revolvers is beyond compare. Ammo versatility is well above that with a semi.

    I do not unload my guns either, unless there is a very good reason. Most times when I do unload it is at a target pulling the trigger.

    I do support the use of clearing barrels and using a safe method or direction to clear any gun. Murphy's law is always there, and I don't know of anybody being shot with a mishap at a clearing barrel, unless it was not being used properly.

    Clearing barrels are not there for when there is no mishap, they are there for the mishaps.
  5. I dont understand why you would unload your CCW, unless you dont lock it, and have small children around.

    But yeah, usually if you leave it loaded and know its loaded you wont have an AN/ND because you pulled the trigger thinking "ITS UNLOADED"

    now for guns im not going to be shooting or carrying for a long time, yeah i unload them. be safe, think it through. and its not a problem.

    But i do LOVE revolvers, and do personally feel they are a little safer than a glock. but i feel my safety on the side makes my semi safer than a glock.
  6. I would also like to ask.
    why do people dry fire to prove the barrel is empty? why not a visual check, re rack the slide?
    TO me, this goes against a lot of safety rules.
  7. SWAGA

    SWAGA No longer broke... Lifetime Supporter

    Purpose being to release any firing pin springs or any other mechanisms that may be under tension because the slide has been racked.
    So you bring the gun to 'full rest' if you will.
    I have my .45 JHP condition 3 ( sort off)
    Drop the mag, rack the slide, make sure it's all empty. Insert the mag about halfway ( I still have the mag safety) pull the trigger and insert a full mag.
    Safety off. All I have to do is rack and fire if needed.

    I keep my carry guns loaded.
    One is a striker fired so it's got a round in the chamber and safety on.
    My two other carry guns I've decided to carry Condition 2.
    Hammer down on a loaded chamber with safety off. Cock the hammer and go.
    I've never liked Condition 1.
    All that needs to happen is that the safety comes off during manipulation or body movement and you now have a live gun with the hammer cocked.
    That hammer is not going to cock itself.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2015
  8. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    If that is so, then it's worthless. Storing springs under tension/compression doesn't hurt them. The only reason to do this would be if you need to release the springs for stripping and maintenance.

    I'm not arguing over why this is done, only that it's a false benefit.

    Peace favor your sword,
  9. Think1st

    Think1st Supporting Member

    In addition to the other reasons already mentioned, dry firing is used to confirm, for RSOs or patrol leaders, that the chamber is, indeed, clear when on a military range or when using a clearing barrel. Quite frankly, I think that that habit is what can lead to some people getting complacent.

    No, I'm not blaming the clearing barrels. The problem is that some people end up using them as a substitute for good habits. When the mental hardware is engaged, they do make good tools to supplement those safe habits. It is just important not to let tools take the place of sound practices.
  10. A revolver has a longer sometimes stiffer trigger pull. A safety on other guns, IMO, does not make them safer. It is never the gun in good condition that is unsafe. Any gun.

    Now some guns, like Glock are less forgiving of lapse of concentration. Some people should not own a Glock, that is not Glock's fault.

    The problem with guns with manual safeties is without proper discipline, and training it could result in the gun failing to fire when needed. Due to operator error.
  11. Or an ND, again (and well put!) "due to and operator error"!

    Like the "Brady Times" said.

    "Handgun crosses room, loads itself and shoot poor kid"! lol

    Sure there have been failures that caused accidents but by far,
    most problems are people not observing correct safety procedures!
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2015
  12. cicpup

    cicpup Resident PITA Supporting Member

    I don't even take it out of my jacket.
  13. papataylor

    papataylor Member

    • No
    • No
    • No; I carry both a revolver and a semi auto - both stay loaded accept for cleaning and "show and tells"
    • There has been a lot of posts about this here and elsewhere you should look into - I can't recall all the information shared but at least with my semi auto I make sure the chambered round that has been unloaded from the chamber is loaded at the bottom of the magazine in order to keep rechambering to a minimum.

    I'm very happy with a revolver. So much so that I've converted my brother to the revolver scene.

    I see the situation was follows:
    1. Self Defense situations statistically involve 2 fired shots, there's not statistical need for 17.
    2. Revolvers are gauranteed reliability - even if out of time (very rare) you can slam fire the round (also doable with a worn sear) using the hammer and hand rotating the cylinder.
    3. No risk of slam fire, stovepipe, double feed, etc.

    I highly suggest the S&W 637 airweight or similar model 36. They're budget friendly and I genuinely enjoy them. I'm not a big fan of the Ruger revolvers (especially their LCR, the GP101 is too large to be easily concealable). Don't event think about Taurus, the price saves you nothing when the Smith is in the same price range. If you'd like to splurge I can go on and on about Colt revolvers ;-)
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2015
  14. Back2School

    Back2School Member

    Papa the, I read a lot of the back and forth on here before about this, and the consensus seems to be either has about the same chance of ND. Yeah I know it's all the operators responsibility. I also saw about rotating ammo. It's just I rented the LCR and really liked it.

    I have been going back and forth on my carry piece. I like pocket guns, but the only one I like in my pocket is my naa 22 mag. The shield doesn't fit right in my pocket. If I go IWB, I can hide the M&P full size almost as easily (and the M&P has the nicest holster). I know it's MY ignorance, but I feel safer with the NAA revolver in my pocket than 1 in the chamber in a semi. I know if I go IWB the revolver would be fine.

    Like I said, I think I am just trying to convince myself of a reason to buy another. I know so we swear by the S&W, but LCR in .38 or even 9mm would be fun
  15. bluharley

    bluharley Member

    I'd like to carry a revolver, much more reliable I think. But two things, the price, and the bulk. I know they make small revolvers, but no wheel is going be narrower than a semi, at least not what I can see. And I don't unload unless I'm playing with it. I have no one here but me and my cat, and I love her to death, but she just isn't that smart.
  16. Kiln

    Kiln Member

    I've had more revolvers lock up than semi autos broken. If you buy a revolver you should get one with a warranty because internal work by a gunsmith will cost more than Fedexing it back to the factory.

    A malfunction with a semi auto requires a tap/rack to correct. A malfunction with a revolver requires a gunsmith.

    Most parts on a semi auto drop in with very little fitting. If you have alockwork problem with a revolver you'd better be knowledgeable about the internals or else you can end up with an extremely dangerous (for you) gun. Then there's the ease of carrying/swapping mags vs carrying/swapping speed loaders. Personally I own lots of revolvers and semi automatics and my preference is toward autos.

    Grandpa's belief that the revolver is ultimately more reliable and much simpler than a semi automatic isn't as true as you might think.
  17. bluharley

    bluharley Member

    Good to know. Guess I'll spare the expense and stay with semi automatic.
  18. papataylor

    papataylor Member


    I find that incredibly hard to believe. Perhaps it was your own rotten luck, but there is a reason behind the revolver stereotype. Civil war era revolvers still function, while "pre-war" (meaning before WWII) semi autos are prized for surviving with function in tact, and command premiums for doing so.

    Yes, a lot of semi autos have survived the test of time... Millions even. But revolvers have proven to be more reliable over the test of time. If it weren't so reviewers would speak to timing issues as frequently as stove pipes.

    As far as the parts concern you do have a valid point. Thus the market moves on, and those who carry revolvers are left behind...
  19. Kiln

    Kiln Member

    Revolvers I have had issues with that required gunsmithing:
    H&R Sportsman 9 shot, Rossi model 68, Rohm RG66, Ruger Security Six.

    Also a valid note is that many inexperienced people who have revolvers splitting lead don't even notice until the lead builds up enough to cause a different problem like noticeable grit in cylinder rotation.

    Timing IS a frequent issue. Check out the Taurus forum or even a Ruger forum and you WILL find people *****ing about having to return their guns to the factory.

    Semi Automatics that I've oned that required work (which I did myself):
    CZ70, Jennings J22 (still unreliable but functioning).

    I've got revolvers that work great, don't get me wrong, I'm just saying that in general if you have problems with a revolver it is a PITA.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2015
  20. To be certain! But I have to add... Taurus much more frequently than Ruger or Smith.