Thursday, April 23, 2009

Carry systems-The defensive revolver

Let me start by saying that I only carry two types of primary guns: DA revolvers and 1911s. Ever since I saw Yosemite Sam dual-wielding wheelguns on tv, I had a fascination with them. As such, the first handguns I bought were revolvers. I trained with them and shot them endlessly. The modern DA revolver is a marvel to me. Below, you'll find my thoughts on it as a carry gun.

Ammo Flexibility

All of my main carry revolvers have been chambered in either .38spl or .357. For training and pure marksmanship practice, an all-stainless .357 shooting some light .38s is a pleasant experience. For defensive work, the .357mag is a pretty potent cartridge. Unlike some semiautos, most revolvers will fire just about anything you can cram in the cylinder. With a snubbie like the S+W 640 that I love carrying, I rarely feel like I'm ill prepared to defend myself. In addition, having two calibers of ammo for my carry gun on the shelves these days does make me feel a little better given the current state of the ammo market.


J-frames conceal easily. Not just in a strong-side belt holster, either. I've carried S+W, Taurus, and Ruger wheelguns in belly bands, ankle holsters, a variety of pockets, and a SmartCarry. I've even carried K and L frame Smiths with very little trouble. I would suggest that hammerless DAO or bob-hammered DA revolvers without the target-style rear sights be used for carrying.


A well cared for and well made revolver should last you a lifetime and give you very few problems. I have the utmost faith in all of the wheelguns I carry. They aren't susceptible to limp wristing or failing to return to battery when jammed up against something and fired. I would like to add that, if you have a Smith or Taurus with one of those awful integral locks, you should seriously consider disabling it permanently. Yes, I know the chances of its failing are small, but so is the chance that you will have to engage multiple targets in a low-light environment. We're pretty much all prepared for that, right?

Ease and flexibility of use

We all know how simple the manual of arms is. What I'd also like to add is that they are pretty versatile. One gun can easily serve as your primary carry during the summer when concealing is difficult and as your backup in the winter. You can even change the grip size to suit your concealment needs.

Limited capacity and difficulty in reloading

It's pretty easy to empty a wheelgun the loud way. Learning to reload a revolver quickly is a chore. Don't expect to walk into your local firearms training center and find a class on snubbie techniques and tactics, either. You'll have to practice diligently and scour the internet for information. Then, you'll have to practice more.

Difficulty in mastering

It's really, really hard to shoot a DA revolver well. Even with a trigger job or a well-worn action, it will never be a trigger pull like that of a Glock or a 1911. The sight radius is also shorter and most of the sub $800 dollar snubbies I've seen lately have plain black fixed-blade front sights and frame-notch rear sights. While these are great for an unimpeded draw, they are less than ideal (unless you're a point-shooter). Paint those front sights orange and practice. A lot. There's an upside to being really proficient with one... you'll be a lot better with your other guns.

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