Dependable when dirty?


August 28, 2008, 11:13 AM
Testing my theory here...

In a situation where getting your weapon dusty and sweaty is unavoidable, is a revolver more dependable than an autoloader?

I work collecting soil and rock samples in very remote wilderness areas. A normal day consists of carrying a heavy load up and down steep terrain, digging lots of holes and kneeling to collect soil from the bottom of a hole. Basically, I act more like prey than predator... and I get dirty!

So if you had to depend on a dusty, sweaty firearm in bear and cougar country, what would you carry?


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August 28, 2008, 11:28 AM
I think the revolver would be more reliable in that situation. I always carry a revolver when I go in the field, whether hunting or camping.

August 28, 2008, 11:34 AM
Based on your criteria, revolver would be my choice.

August 28, 2008, 11:37 AM
is a revolver more dependable than an autoloader?

August 28, 2008, 11:48 AM
Conventional wisdom a few decades ago rated revolvers as more tolerant to dirt exposure. As a general rule, revolvers are fairly tolerant of dirt, so long as none of it gets under the extractor star of a double-action revolver.

As someone who prefers to carry revolvers, I have to point out that modern, military-grade autoloaders, such as Glocks, have become fairly tolerant to dirt, particularly if, like the Glock, they require minimal lubrication or if you use a modern lubricant, such as Militec-1. The latter is sold as a metal treatment and, when used as directed, provides a dry lubrication, as opposed to an oily coat that retains dust and dirt.

In summary, I believe that there are now combinations of autoloading pistols and lubricants that should be as reliable as revolvers in a dirty setting and that you have some flexibility of assessing whether a wheelgun or a bottom-feeder best meets your needs. one factor you may wish to consider is number of rounds versus power of rounds - if you envision multi-assailant scenarios, you may want the greater capacity of an autoloader. If you require Magnum power, a revolver may be a better choice.

Ala Dan
August 28, 2008, 11:58 AM
Great thread and post's~! I too have to agree, that todays top quality
military auto-loaders (like the Glocks, SIG's, and H&K's) can withstand
a certain amount of grit and grime. Another good product worth its
weight for use in such conditions is Eezox; when applied (and after
a few minutes of drying), it too protects metal surfaces really well.
So much is the case, that Eezox won the endurance labatory test
for protection for all metal surfaces~! ;) :D

August 28, 2008, 11:59 AM
1911 in 10 mm for reliability and adequate power. Similarly, a Glock 10mm would do. Since the gun is going to get ugly and dirty, might as well pay less for the Glock and cut to the chase. :neener:

I've had enough revolvers try to lock up on me with grime under the ejector or on the cylinder face that I don't want to shoot one dirty when there's a bear trying to gnaw on me.

August 28, 2008, 12:23 PM
Don't know for certain but my bet would be on the semiauto. I'd even include STI's "duty models" in the "runs dirty" group.

If nothing else, I do stuff to semis I would never do to a nicely blued model 57. It does provide some comfort when carrying a semi that's tolerated some abuse.

The rinse cycle:

There are other even worse pictures but out of respect for both bandwidth and folk's sensibilities they're better left out.

It ran like a champ. Urped up a fair slug of crud on my forearm with the first round but just kept on chuggin'.

I've had a revolver seize from crud under the star, don't know if the OP's scenario would apply - crud under the star I would assume needs the thing to be shot - not just carried in dirty conditions.

dagger dog
August 28, 2008, 12:26 PM
Why not carry a 18" bbl Trapper style lever action carbine on a sling.
It will be only a pound or two heavier than a all out bear revolver and will be available in calibers not found in revolver. The rifle can be kept at arms reach and most people under pressure will shoot the rifle better than a hand gun.

August 28, 2008, 12:27 PM
one factor you may wish to consider is number of rounds versus power of rounds

For this reason, I've been considering the S&W Model 627 Pro .357 mag w/ 8 rounds as a compromise between 6 round revolver and autoloader.

Other considerations of mine are:
cheaper .38 spl practice ammo
stainless finish won't wear off like blued steel

Sadly, none are to be had locally. But my local Sportsman's Warehouse does have a Model 327 TRR8 in stock. Same gun in Scandium alloy {6 ounces lighter} plus tactical rails. I may be talking myself into this one...

August 28, 2008, 12:37 PM
The rifle can be kept at arms reach
Thanks for the suggestion but "at arms reach" isn't as comforting as hanging under my arm.


August 28, 2008, 12:38 PM
stainless revolver is the way to go.

August 28, 2008, 12:41 PM
Another thing to take into consideration when deciding between an autoloader and a revolver is caliber. You specifically mention looking like prey in cougar and bear habitat. So it sounds like those two dangerous creatures are the ones you are concerned about. Autoloaders that fire 9mm, .40 S&W, even .45 ACP are not quite ideal for dangerous game. Of course, I'm sure someone here could claim taking a black bear with 9mm or .45, but you'd find many more claiming this same thing with a .357 or .44. The .357 and .44 magnums are superb calibers for woods protection, and have been used since their invention as hunting calibers. Except for a few heavy semi-autos (Desert Eagle), when it comes to handguns, these calibers are found only in revolvers.

Although I have no experience with the 10mm that can be had in a few modern semi-autos, I hear many good things about it's performance against targets black-bear-sized and smaller. But when I head out into cougar and bear habitat, or I know it's going to get dusty, muddy, rainy, cold, sweaty, etc., I always take along my .357 magnum revolver. Ruger and Smith & Wesson are the brands to go with in a wheelgun. Good luck!

August 28, 2008, 01:07 PM
Two to three revolvers. Two on the hips and a back up on the ankle. Just in case.

August 28, 2008, 01:20 PM
Glock 20 (10mm) for sure.... loaded with
I have neglected my G19 purposely as far as cleaning goes (~1500 rounds without a cleaning) purposely and she just won't choke. I gave in before she did.

August 28, 2008, 01:25 PM
Sounds more like a holster issue then a type of gun issue to me.

Pick whichever type of gun you are most confident in and can shoot best.

And then get a well made, full coverage flap holster for it.

That will keep 99% of the dirt & crap out of the gun in the first place.

That is why GI holsters have had full coverage flaps on them since, forever.


August 28, 2008, 02:09 PM
I hereby retract my answer and release my delegates to endorse RCModel's answer.

Better it should just not get dirty in the first place.

deputy tom
August 28, 2008, 02:20 PM
Another vote for flap holster and your choice of gun.tom.:cool:

August 28, 2008, 05:45 PM
After considering everyone's input, and considering that I just plain like revolvers, I purchased a S&W Model 327 TRR8 Revolver. It's a Performance Center gun...

I went from the store to the range to run 100 rounds through my new piece. Wow!!! On the 50' range, target all the way back, I put 39 of my first 40 shots inside of the 6" target. That was great for me. Two weeks ago my shooting improved quite a lot after following the tips on Jerry Miculek's video but this new gun brought things up another notch.

Now for some holster shopping :)


August 28, 2008, 06:20 PM
Even though you have already made the decision and bought the revolver, I don't understand why you are willing to expose your revolver to dirt, and moisture like that when you do not have to do so. Why not look into a pack type holster, to keep out most of the crud, or purcahse a flap holster, as suggested above, which will keep out more crud than a regular holster, but probably nowhere near as much as one of the pack holsters.

Here is a pack holster that may suit you perfectly while working:

My guess is that the above type holster, if not that specific brand, could be that which would suit your purpose.

And here are a couple of name brand waist-pack holsters:

I think Bianchi also sells flap holsters.

You may also want to consider wearing a mask that mimics a human face on the back of your head. This supposedly worked pretty well in deterring tiger attacks on humans in India. Apparently many big cats usually attack from the rear, and seeing what appears to be a face when your back is to them confuses them. Don't know if it works with cougars, but my bet is it could not hurt. I don't think it would detract a bear from what I have read of bear attacks.

All the best,
Glenn B

August 28, 2008, 07:15 PM
Don't know if it works with cougars, but my bet is it could not hurt.

And at best you could scare the SH*T outta some coworker who approaches from behind!

August 28, 2008, 07:26 PM
Any firearm with really tight tollerances will not do well when dirty. You need something loose and sloppy. Like an old well worn cop revolver, or an old army 45 auto.

August 28, 2008, 07:46 PM
This Glock got punished. You be the judge.

August 28, 2008, 07:54 PM

"Willing" has little to do with it. It's a matter of needing to have the weapon immediately available while I am working. I'm preparing for an attack. Not to shoot a treed animal.

"Work" can mean wearing a back pack frame with up to 6, 4' long 4x4 posts while carrying a shovel, hammer, gps, compass, drinking water, snacks, tags, flagging tape, some first aide supplies, 2-way radio and Spot Messenger. Oh, and a gun,,, This is usually at 7,000 - 9,000+ feet elevation.

Experience has shown me that a holster on the waist is uncomfortable and in the way of my packs. A vertical shoulder holster worked well. Haven't tried a horizontal. Anything in front of me would interfere with bending over to collect samples, crawl under logs, climbing rock faces, running from bears, etc.

While I haven't tried it, I have joked about painting eyes on the pockets of my jeans....


Old Fuff
August 28, 2008, 09:48 PM
So if you had to depend on a dusty, sweaty firearm in bear and cougar country, what would you carry?

Frankly, (and I live in bear-mountain lion country) I would carry a Ruger N.M. Blackhawk .44 Magnum, with as long a barrel that was practical. It is next to impossible to put this revolver out of action, because it is so simple. There is no way to get dirt under the extractor star because it doesn't have one, and the gun is built like a brick outhouse. In the event that it had to be fired there would be plenty of time to cock the hammer while recovering from the recoil of the previous shot. With a hard-cast lead bullet it will out penetrate any 9mm, .40 or .45 pistol, and with a bear you may need that penetration. Much less so with a mountain lion.

If I carried it in a shoulder holster it would be made of one of the woven plastic materials that breathe, but can be laundered when dirty.

I noticed that you've made your choice, but I decided to get in my two-cents worth. I hope everything works out for you.

August 28, 2008, 10:56 PM
I liked my fullsize witnesss on my hip with an OWB holster. It was surprsingly comfortable because the belt went across it just right.

If not that, I'd probably be looking for a thigh holster of some sort.

August 29, 2008, 08:20 AM
I'd trust my Makarov to fire when it's filthy. I also have two Norinco TT33 types, a Model 213 and a 54-1, and a couple of CZ 52s. I think they'd all be good in your more wild situations.

For revolvers, if it's small caliber, I'd check out H&Rs. They're solid reliable, whether they're clean or dirty. For larger caliber revolvers, my only experience has been with an old S&W M&P and a Model 67. I'd wager that the S&Ws would be more sensitive to dirt than any of the above. I really don't want to test it as I really like to keep my old M&P clean and shiny. I know that the Model 67 will get a little stiff after firing a lot of rounds at the range. I think actual dirt would make it even more so.

August 30, 2008, 01:39 PM
You want a rig compatible with packs? The Safepacker from was designed to be compatible with packs, and can be worn in other ways, too. Think of it as a full-coverage flap holster. Moreover, with a bit of practice, access is quite fast.

August 30, 2008, 02:33 PM
If you take ALL of the modern autoloaders and ALL of the modern revolvers and compare them, you'd probably find fewer malfunctions with the revolvers. That said, it would probably be very close, as the days of autoloaders "not being reliable" are long, long gone.

Also, since the original poster is more or equally concerned about four legged predators as two legged ones, the calibers in a high capacity revolver, like the 627 Pro, would probably suit him better.


August 30, 2008, 02:50 PM
In these conditions I would go with a glock or revolver SP101

August 31, 2008, 02:02 PM
i would say an N frame .44mag since youre concerned about bear and mountain lion. my suggestion is to be sure to have a good field holster that has a flap cover for the gun for added protection from your work.

p.s. we can only hope to get attacked by a "Cougar"....LOL

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