Longevity: Pistol vs. Revolver


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Phydeaux642
October 21, 2007, 03:51 PM
First, let me say that I own both pistols and wheelguns and enjoy shooting both (except for the Walther P22:cuss:). I don't get involved in the arguement over which is better. I think that either type from a reputable manufacturer are equally reliable. I know that both have their pros and cons, but I will shoot any gun that is put in front of me and most likely enjoy it.

My question is this: With all things being equal (cleaning, quality of ammo, etc.) will a pistol and revolver be similar in the number of rounds that can be put through them reliably? Will my S&W revolvers and SA 1911 last about the same number of rounds without major problems arising? And, will my XD9s come close to what the others will do?

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rcmodel
October 21, 2007, 04:01 PM
I doubt that anyone can answer that with any degree of certainty.

We know that many old Colt revolvers have survived since the civil war, and are still perfectly shootable today.

We know that many 1911's from WWI are still in service and performing just as well now as they did then.

What we don't know is how well the Plastic-Fantastic guns of today will survive the next 100 - 150 years. Somehow, I doubt many of them will last that long.

As for number of rounds?
Any of them will need things such as barrels replaced & tightening up before the gun itself becomes just so much junk. Getting replacement barrels for older S&W revolvers will become more problematic then it already is now.
But shooting only lead bullets in revolvers prolongs barrel life indefinitely.

1911 & XD barrels will still be available, assuming the government and Hillery haven't banned them all by then.



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rcmodel

zinj
October 21, 2007, 04:09 PM
Autos need more regular maintainence (replacing the recoil spring is a big one), but when a revolver needs a tune-up it often requires a gunsmith.

jwr_747
October 21, 2007, 04:14 PM
revolvers,hands down.lots of old Black Powder Cap and Ball revolvers out there,can't recall ever seeing a Black Powder Cap and Ball Semi-Auto. jwr

jefnvk
October 21, 2007, 04:36 PM
revolvers,hands down.lots of old Black Powder Cap and Ball revolvers out there,can't recall ever seeing a Black Powder Cap and Ball Semi-Auto. jwr

Gotta believe that has to do with the number of cap and ball semi-autos made.

Walkalong
October 21, 2007, 04:42 PM
I was going to reply, but rcmodel pretty much spelled it out.

I will only add that I have not worn out either, yet. :D

glockman19
October 21, 2007, 04:44 PM
My .02

I'd venture to say that a revolver with fewer moving parts and made of stainless steel would last longer than a polymer pistol only time will tell if I'm wrong. A 1911, again all steel, would fit into that catagory of long lasting.

I prefer Steel over Aluminum and Aluminum over polymer, (weight not being an issue), for the long haul. Ask me again in 30-50 years and the answer might change.

Fumbler
October 21, 2007, 05:22 PM
It's hard to say, there are too many variables.
I wouldn't say which would last longer unless I knew what models, what calibers, and what kind of ammo.

But think of this, a revolver has a hand, pawl, and bolt that wear out resulting in headspace and timing issues.
In a semiauto you shoot it until the slide or frame cracks, but if you replace the recoil spring regularly then you reduce the liklihood of those problems.

I know it's a special case, but look at how often competative revolver shooters have their guns rebuilt. You don't have to rebuild a competition semiauto, just replace the recoil spring.

Vern Humphrey
October 21, 2007, 06:45 PM
Is there content in this thread?

If the question is, "Which has greater longevity, a pistol or a revolver" the answer is you can replace all the parts in most modern pistols by yourself -- I have personally built an M1911 from a partially-finished frame and slide. I couldn't do that with a revolver.

Phydeaux642
October 21, 2007, 07:08 PM
Very strange! I don't know why this thread showed up twice - one with content and one without. It is close to Halloween, maybe my computer is haunted.:evil:

RyanM
October 21, 2007, 07:08 PM
What the heck happened? Where's the first post?

Anyway, I'd say the frame of most autos will last much longer than a revolver frame, in equivalent power calibers. But the auto will need small parts replacement sooner.

doc2rn
October 21, 2007, 07:12 PM
+1 to Ryan

However I still have a ccw that is older than I am, dunno what that says xcept they sure don't make like they used to.

RyanM
October 21, 2007, 07:13 PM
Oh, here's the thread. Well, then, I'd say an auto frame is going to be more durable than a revolver frame (in equivalent calibers, sizes, weights, etc.), but a revolver's small parts will be more durable than an auto's.

Edit: Oops, they merged them. So this post is redundant.

Surefire
October 21, 2007, 09:39 PM
IMO.... typically, if you are lucky to get a Ruger DA revolver that works out of the box... they keep on going, and going, and going like the energizer bunny.

Even "nuclear" loads don't seem to phaze Ruger DA revolvers.

In my view, the Ruger DA revolvers are going to outlive most semi-autos, all things being equal.

Fumbler
October 21, 2007, 09:47 PM
typically, if you are lucky to get a Ruger DA revolver that works out of the box
I must be lucky, all mine worked out of the box.

jaholder1971
October 21, 2007, 10:19 PM
Given proper care and sensible ammunition choices, there is no handgun out there that won't outlive you.

The only (minor) exception to that is Smith and Wesson K frame .357's subjected to gas-cutting with the lighter, go-fast loads. Even then it's going to take more ammo than most people will ever shoot to destroy one.

Surefire
October 21, 2007, 11:43 PM
I must be lucky, all mine worked out of the box.


The majority of my recent GP 100 purchases have had to go to a gunsmith to get them up to par--poorly fit parts that crippled the function. I haven't been so lucky.

Even with this said, once they were adjusted properly, they are my favorite revolvers.

10-Ring
October 22, 2007, 01:05 AM
All things being equal -- frame materials, similar caliber (ie a 45 acp semi auto vs. 45 acp wheelgun), same number & type of ammo and shot the same way (primarily range gun let's say), I would think the wheelgun would last longer before maintenance or replacement were necessary.

Seancass
October 22, 2007, 11:35 AM
interesting to ponder how many rounds have been through the tried and true WWI 1911 and the 50 year older revolver.

which has really lived longer?

Ghost Tracker
October 22, 2007, 11:46 AM
I would have to pick revolver over autoloader because of the reciprocating parts of an autoloader that wear against each other (slide/frame, barrel/slide lugs, recoil spring/guide rod, hammer strut/hammer spring, etc.) at recoil. Unless I'm mistaken (which is entirely possible) there are no parts in a revolver that wear against each other as a result of that immediate & violent reward recoil force.

My money's on the revolver for longevity. But I carry both!

.41Dave
October 22, 2007, 07:10 PM
If the question is, "Which has greater longevity, a pistol or a revolver" the answer is you can replace all the parts in most modern pistols by yourself -- I have personally built an M1911 from a partially-finished frame and slide. I couldn't do that with a revolver.

Only because you haven't been motivated to do it. A semi-handy person with the correct tools can replace any parts on an S&W revolver except the side plate. And the sideplate will NEVER wear out as long as you don't damage it by removing it improperly.

eldon519
October 22, 2007, 07:21 PM
It's tough to define longevity. They each age differently. The 1911 will get loose and rattle. The S&W will eventually lose its timing and with a diet of magnums, the side plate may get loose, cylinder lock up will get loose, and you'll get end shake. Mechanically, I think the 1911 would last longer. The S&W will probably wear out its forcing cone/top strap before the 1911 physically breaks the frame or slide. Both will probably go through a handful of spare parts and springs here and there before either fails in an unrepairable way.

Vern Humphrey
October 22, 2007, 07:30 PM
Only because you haven't been motivated to do it. A semi-handy person with the correct tools can replace any parts on an S&W revolver except the side plate. And the sideplate will NEVER wear out as long as you don't damage it by removing it improperly.
Try taking the barrel off a modern Smith. Then replace it. Accurately.

On the other hand, I can replace the barrel on an M1911 with my fingers.

CoRoMo
October 22, 2007, 07:39 PM
Well... if you continue to properly replace the worn and broken parts, they'll never die. But I know what you're asking.Several different things affect the lifespan of any firearm, but the simple fact that a revolver has, by far, fewer moving parts than a semi-auto, I'd have to say it should out-live the other. Reliability? Revolvers beat out the autos most all of the time.
Barrels are going to only tolerate only so many rounds and then you'll just have to replace the barrel.

Treat 'em right, and they'll be ready when you need 'em.

SlamFire1
October 22, 2007, 08:05 PM
My question is this: With all things being equal (cleaning, quality of ammo, etc.) will a pistol and revolver be similar in the number of rounds that can be put through them reliably? Will my S&W revolvers and SA 1911 last about the same number of rounds without major problems arising? And, will my XD9s come close to what the others will do?

Modern product design follows requirements. A System Engineer sits down and decides on what the customer wants, and works with a multi disciplinary team to figure out what requirements can be traded to achieve a cost effective product.

I have no doubt that this approach is followed in modern firearms design. It probably was followed in pre WW1 design to a certain extent, and only verified by “lifetime” test. Now days you can do an incredible amount of optimization before you get to test. Tests are very expensive. The M1911 is an example of a firearm that went through years of field testing, actual endurance tests, throughout this period there was considerable model evolution going on, and the final iteration turned out to be very robust and well designed. But this is hideously expensive and taking a decade to get something to market without a return is not practical in today’s marketplace.

So, I will ask you, how many rounds does the average person put through a firearm? How long does an average person own that firearm?, and how much is an average person willing to pay for a firearm?

I will bet that those numbers are very similar for revolvers and pistols. So the design team would design those products to very similar lifetimes.

As for historical designs, some have proven to be more durable than others. All the S&W revolvers I have, their basic design envelopes date back prior to WW1. When you get into modern era firearms, well I can’t ever recall hearing about a worn out Ruger revolver.

chris26
October 22, 2007, 08:27 PM
I go with the revolver. I own both but I seem to remember Colt aluminum frames cracking after only a few hundred rounds (probably symptomatic to a specific year/material) on the Officer Models. As far as 1911 Competition Models never needing to be tightened, it is a matter of friction/physics that easily allows for normal wear to eventually erode the tight frame to slide fit. After all, don't Les Baer and similar high grade/competition 1911's have to be fired a recommended 500 rounds before they loosen up to function/cycle completely and reliably? Like I said, I have both, love both but I have to go with revolvers, if all things are equal (ie 45 ACP, 40 S&W or 10mm in both guns). Given that the revolver has the fewer moving parts, the recoil is aborbed by the recoil shield, not a spring and battery of action and the fewer moving parts, the less wear. The argument that the pawl, hand and bolt will wear out quicker than an auto seems to hold no water either. As the hammer,trigger,sear engagement surfaces in a 1911 will wear out just as fast or quicker than that of a revolver's trigger mechanism. However, it also matters what these parts are mde of, MIM or the old case hardened steel. All in all, I would invite anyone to disassemble their 1911 and revolver side by side and compare the amount or small parts and or springs in each that would be prone to breakage during prolonged use. I have and can easily tell you that the revolver wins hands down. Just my .02 worth but then again, I am a Smith nut! But honestly, the gun that lasts the longest is the one you take the best care of!

PS To the Ruger fans...although I am a die hard Smith man, it is true that I have never heard of a Ruger DA ever hiccuping under heavy loads. Although, the triggers are like pulling an anchor through swamp mud and the looks are akin to an inbred cousin, they definitely have what it takes to take a beating and come up roses!

obxned
October 22, 2007, 09:01 PM
You'll either be living in a cardboard box under a highway overpass or dead and gone before either wears out.

Phydeaux642
October 22, 2007, 10:48 PM
You'll either be living in a cardboard box under a highway overpass or dead and gone before either wears out.

I sure hope it's option number two, because I'm guessing a guy in a cardboard box with 10,000 rounds of ammo and and a gun safe might draw a little attention.:D

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RPCVYemen
October 23, 2007, 11:51 AM
I have to believe that a revolver design would win out (particularly a modern SA). Implementation may be a different story :).

But the various pieces of a revolver move at more or less human speeds, as opposed to bullet speeds. And every piece is in a fixed position when the weapons is subject to the forces of detonation. Except for Jerry Miculik, humans can not pull triggers as fast as slides fly back.

Thinking about my Blackhawk and moving parts:


Cock hammer (which also rotates cylider) - very slow movement.
Pull trigger - pretty slow, the hammer falls at spring rate
Fire round - nothing move
A big number of milliseconds later, go to "cock hammer">



Mike

MrBorland
October 23, 2007, 12:43 PM
I have to believe that a revolver design would win out (particularly a modern SA). Implementation may be a different story


This is a good point. Fanning that Blackhawk or doing your best Jerry Miculek imitation on your S&W is a quick way to wear them out, so while the design of revolvers may be inherently robust under normal usage, the same design may render them somewhat susceptible to wear and tear from abusive shooting styles. Because the action is gas-operated, I'd suspect that pistols would be more resistant to abusive shooting styles.

Fishman777
October 23, 2007, 02:11 PM
All gun manufacturers make an occasional lemon. The blanket statement about all Ruger DAs needing work to function is an absolute load of garbage. My personal experience, and what I've heard from most people is that Ruger DAs usually function flawlessly out of the box.

It is my opnion that out of the box, Ruger DAs revolvers are among the most durable and reliable handguns on the market, period. I fully expect that my GP100 will continue to function long after I'm gone.

Outside of a couple of minor tool marks, my GP100 was flawless out of the box. Butter-smooth trigger (although somewhat heavy), tight cylinder gap, the whole nine yards. I shoot that gun better than any other gun that I've ever shot in my life.

Cosmetically, Rugers might not be the nicest of guns because Ruger doesn't invest a lot of manufacturing costs into polishing their guns. If Ruger DA guns were hand polished, it is very likely that they'd be priced higher than many Smith and Wesson revolvers. According to Grant Cunningham, the polishing process is usually the most expensive part of the manufacturing process, because it is done by hand. Also according to Grant, Rugers are one of only revolvers on the market that haven't cut corners in an effort to reduce cost. They are actually the revolvers that he recommends when people ask him which revolvers they should buy.

http://www.grantcunningham.com/blog_files/448400adaed4f0a82d4961b5b2d91d8b-116.html

The quality of Ruger DA and SA revolvers is just fine. I'm not a fan of Ruger's centerfire semis, but their revolvers are tough to beat.

f4t9r
October 23, 2007, 02:17 PM
Both will out last you and the person you hand them down too.

Mr. Designer
October 23, 2007, 02:24 PM
I would say revolvers. Simpler design with less moving parts.

jonboynumba1
October 23, 2007, 02:32 PM
It also depends what you are shooting in them. Ball/HP vs. Ball/HP the semi-auto probably gets an edge as far as "usefull" life as you can swap bbl's quite easily as well as small parts without a great degree of skill needed for proper fitting. Revolvers are less likely to have breakages but tend to be more involved when something does go wrong (my opinion) But if you shoot largely cast reloads with some jacketted ammo occassionally...well depending how you load they both may well outlast any of us and our children with proper maintenance! Stainless bbl's in both platforms have lengthened bbl life for both platforms. Revolvers seem to get shot less on average to me...just my observation...obviously that is "my" revolvers...outside of my single six...it has countless bricks through it! (love that little gem)

CajunBass
October 23, 2007, 02:44 PM
I hope to someday have the time and the money to shoot enough to even think about wearing out a gun.

Surefire
October 23, 2007, 02:59 PM
Unfortunately, its been more than an occasional lemon for me. Since 2000, I've had to send FOUR NIB GP 100s off for repair--all special ordered. IMO, quality control has slipped since 2000. Based on my last 8 DA purchases, I've had 50/50 results. 2 GPs were just fine, my Redhawk is spectacular, and my SP is fine. But the 4 GPs that had misaligned parts were more than unacceptable. The problems I had were misaligned cylinder latche pins in back on 2, and most seriously cylinders that wobbled and caused rubbing / grinding / and complete cylinder locking in one case.

Got them fixed, but it was expensive (I used gunsmiths). I feel that if the factory can't get it right the first time, I don't trust them to fix it.

My philosophy now is no longer ordering special orders with DA Rugers. Only buy something one can examine in advance at a gunstore.

Fishman777
October 23, 2007, 03:46 PM
I'm sorry to hear that you've had such bad luck.

I've got a little theory about special order guns. I think that, in general, the nicer, cleaner guns typically get shipped to gun stores. The cleaner specimens are the guns that would be the easiest to sell. If distributors sent "out of spec" guns to the gun stores, the pieces would probably never sell, unless they were heavily discounted. When you special order the gun, you are a little more locked into the purchase. I could be wrong, but I think that most distributors would reserve the "bad" guns for special orders, because many people would not refuse the guns after paying for the shipping.

I special ordered one gun a few months back. The gun was probably sitting in a warehouse for several years. I popped by before my waiting period was over and asked to see the gun. I guess they didn't have a chance to clean up the gun, but I was really upset when I saw it. It was the first time I bought a gun without fondling it first. The gun was covered with finger prints and rust, and .22lr cylinder had a ding in it. I told the owner of the shop that I wouldn't accept the gun. He returned the gun and ordered a replacment. My guess is that most shops would not have done this for their customers. This shop took a hit on the shipping charges, but won my business for life.

I agree with you, I would not special order any more guns.

Surefire
October 23, 2007, 04:04 PM
That is my theory as well. I've never had an issue with a gun I inspected before buying.

The problem with not special ordering is that it is harder to get rare models.

However, being able to inspect before buying outweighs this.

Its too bad that the distributors just don't send defective guns back to the manufacture, rather than hoping that the buyer accepts it.

Ala Dan
October 23, 2007, 04:17 PM
of a firearm is certainly an uncertain gray area, if you will? But, I would bet
that under the same set of circumstances for both a quality revolver and
auto-loader; given the same TLC, that both would out last the user, say if
the user was 50+ years old~! :scrutiny:;):D

Noxx
October 23, 2007, 05:15 PM
You know it's funny, I was always in with the crowd that says "six for sure is better than sixteen maybe" i.e., that a wheel gun can be counted upon where a pistol cannot.

After extended sessions however, I have to say that without cleaning or maintenance, my pistols are still firing when my S&W revolver is choking and being generally bitchy.

Overall longevity with maintenance? Hell I guess it's a toss up, old SAA's shoot just fine, but so do 1908's.

All in all, I think it's sort of a moot question. If you take a minimal amount of care for any gun, it will serve when you need it. Hell in 1980 my grandfather shot a burglar with a hundred year old Aetna, that had been sitting on the wall loaded for 50 years with no more than an occasional dusting, and you know it dropped that goblin in his tracks just like a Sig 220.

Guns work. Don't make too much of it.

AZ_Rebel
October 23, 2007, 06:45 PM
This is a difficult question to answer due to the variables of parts replacement. I have a hatchet that is over 200 years old and its in perfect condition. :rolleyes: Its had 7 new handles and 3 new heads but its in like new condition! Maybe that's because it has no moving parts!:)

SlamFire1
October 23, 2007, 09:29 PM
One time I was talking to S&W customer service and I asked them about the longevity of their pistols. I was told that they were aware of K frame revolvers being used at firearm arms training facilities. These K frame pistols, and I don't remember if they were 357's or 38's, had around 250,000 rounds through them and they were still ticking. I do remember being told that light 38 special loads were being fired in them.

I think that is pretty good service.

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