Are Semi-Automatics Reliable Enough to Carry?


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Phriend
October 14, 2009, 02:19 PM
Do you feel that semi-automatic weapons are reliable enough to carry? I've noticed that a lot of people here carry revolvers for their reliability. This has me a bit weary about choosing a semi-auto as my weapon of choice. Your thoughts?

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rcmodel
October 14, 2009, 02:25 PM
Quality semi-autos can be as reliable as revolvers.
They are more dependent on perfect ammo, and perfect magazines then revolvers.

With that said, I have a S&W Model 39 I bought in 1970 that has never jammed once that I can remember.

I have a Glock 23 that I can say has never jammed once in 14 years I have owned it.

A SIG P6 I acquired last year has worked flawlessly with everything I have shot in it including a bunch of 9mm reload rejects that had accumulated on the loading bench.

If you pick a quality gun, and function test it throughly with the ammo you intend to carry in it, there is no reason to think it will not preform at 100%.

rc

QUICK_DRAW_McGRAW
October 14, 2009, 02:27 PM
if they wheren't do you think they would be sold as much as they are or carried by our armed forces?

Bluenote
October 14, 2009, 02:32 PM
Do you feel that semi-automatic weapons are reliable enough to carry? I've noticed that a lot of people here carry revolvers for their reliability. This has me a bit weary about choosing a semi-auto as my weapon of choice. Your thoughts?
They *can* be , but if you're going to carry one it well behooves you to make absolutely DEAD certain that it functions 100% reliably with your carry ammunition.

You could be betting your life on it functioning. I've got two 1911s that work completely reliably ( a springfield and a Kimber) , but I've had several SAs that didn't.

BP Hunter
October 14, 2009, 02:35 PM
Most if not all militaries around the world and law enforcement agencies carry semi auto pistols as their side arm. That by itslelf explains it all in safety and reliability.
I prefer a single action/double action pistol where I can keep one up the pipe. I, personally, am not completely comfortable keeping one in the pipe with the striker types of pistols (Glock, Springfield XD, etc), so I carried a revlolver for awhile. I then purcahsed 2 striker hammer pistols, the Sig Sauer P220 in .45 and CZ75B in 9mm.

Just One Shot
October 14, 2009, 02:42 PM
http://springfield-armory.primediaoutdoors.com/SPstory11.php

mljdeckard
October 14, 2009, 02:43 PM
Yes, I trust an auto to let me deliver more lead on target to save my life than a revolver.

I carry a 1911 with nine total rounds, two reloads. My 1911 is the most reliable gun I have owned. (It's a Kimber Custom II.) If it DOES malfunction, I can clear a stoppage very quickly, I train by having a friend load a dummy round into my magazines. (I can't remember the last time it jammed any other way.) The key is to practice, and test your gun with the ammo AND magazines you will be carrying.

I'm not much of a revolver guy. My 1911 is always a single-action pull, with a very good trigger. If you carry a revolver defensively, you should fire it in double-action, meaning, not cocking the hammer before you fire, making it a long, heavy pull before each shot. It is less likely to jam, but if it DOES, it can be more difficult to clear. (Imagine a bullet protruding too far from the cylinder, preventing it from turning or folding out.) Most revolvers that most people carry are five or six rounds. I have never been able to reload a revolver quickly with a speedloader.

This doesn't mean that they aren't for anyone. If you can REALLY shoot, (meaning, better than me, which isn't saying much,) and you know what you are doing, a revolver can be very effective. (Google some videos of Jerry Mickulek.) But in my lifestyle, budget, and situation, I don't have the time or the inclination to become proficient with a revolver. Maybe one day when I have more time and money I'll work on it.

dom1104
October 14, 2009, 02:52 PM
It has not always been the case, but the modern autoloader is a very reliable machine, if you


A. buy a good model

B. test it


The age of revolvers being used for reliabilitys sake is over, most people use that as an excuse for liking revolvers better. Which I admit, they are nice and there is a lot to like.

But reliability is no longer a selling point, due to the advancement of the reliable autoloading pistol being easily and inexpensivly available.

MT GUNNY
October 14, 2009, 03:23 PM
Manual Transmission VS Automatic Transmission.
GMC VS Chevrolet.
Car VS Truck.
Gas VS Diesel

Just saying!

possum
October 14, 2009, 03:33 PM
if a gun i have isn't reliable that i get rid of it. I carry only semi autos. i would like to get a s&w 442 in the future, but other than that i prefer semi autos.

i have been shooting/ training a while, and i have seen alot of different handguns, and rounds fired a year, and i can tell you that there are semi autos out there that are more than reliable for carry.

for example my xd has over 17,000rds through it without issue, my glock has 3,500rds (i know i don't shoot it that much, i prefer the xd, but it has been through 2 training courses so i know it runs.)

these are just 2 of the many reliable semi autos out there.

sixgun_grunt
October 14, 2009, 03:41 PM
in my expieriance most semi autos malfunction due to poor quality ammo and poor mainitence , i would recommend you test many different brands of ammo and see which is the most reliable in your pistol, but most quality autos are very reliable these days, i've got a cheap keltec p11 that eats anything i can feed it and i got a pricey para ord wharthog that is quite picky about ammo

ArmedBear
October 14, 2009, 03:54 PM
But reliability is no longer a selling point, due to the advancement of the reliable autoloading pistol being easily and inexpensivly available.

That's not entirely true. I have both.

I don't have to test out a new kind of ammo to be sure it feeds in my .38. If I buy quality defensive ammo, I can drop the rounds in the cylinder, stuff the gun in the holster, and be on my way. I can alternate snake loads and animal defense magnums in my .44, again without running a bunch through the gun to make sure they'll feed every time. They do.

That's a form of reliability.

Autoloading pistols can be quite reliable, but I don't know of anyone who doesn't recommend running a bunch of a certain kind of round through the gun before trusting it.

Revolvers can break, and modern autos are reliable. But there are still differences between them that go beyond just "liking" one or the other.

Obviously, autos have higher capacity for a given size. There is a price for that, and it may be well worth paying it for self-defense against human attackers. It may not be, if you have other applications for the handgun. Many people don't think beyond the one use they have for theirs.

sixgun_grunt
October 14, 2009, 04:01 PM
what armed bear said is true you cant beat a revolver for reliability if you get a faulty round you simply pull the trigger again ( or hammer for a SA ) reloads are a bit slower but 5 or 6 rounds should be plenty for most situations

MCgunner
October 14, 2009, 04:03 PM
Mine are. YMMV

CorpITGuy
October 14, 2009, 04:06 PM
Most of these points have already been made, but I thought I would write a post anyway since it rather summarizes some of what you've heard and adds one new thing:

1. Autos *can be* just as reliable as revolvers.
2. But; you must keep them clean and lightly oiled.
3. Also; you must be certain your defense ammo cycles well.
4. Don't buy a super cheap one (mid-range models can be okay, just do your homework and practice).
5. The complication of clearing jams, unlikely as they may be, requires a lot more practice, especially initially.
6. They have the ability to deliver more lead, more quickly. Some will disagree (and claim that they are faster with a reloader on their wheel guns) but those people are in the minority. I'm faster with my auto.

This is all coming from a HUGE revolver guy. I much prefer carrying my revolver but I feel very confident that my auto would do the job as well, or I wouldn't carry it (you're better off begging for mercy than pulling the trigger to no avail).

General Geoff
October 14, 2009, 04:12 PM
Autoloading pistols require consistent, properly charged ammunition to cycle reliably. Revolvers depend entirely on their own lockwork to cycle.

John Wayne
October 14, 2009, 04:17 PM
Neither is reliable enough.

You should carry a single shot smoothbore matchlock pistol to make sure it works every time. You need to be able to check your ignition source frequently to make sure it's ready to go, no more wondering if those $8 a piece Extreme Shock rounds have dud primers because the ninjas spilled oil in them when they were loaded. Just make sure there is a little smoke rising off your match cord, and knock the ash off it from time to time.

Or a cut-down arquebus, with a folding stock in a shoulder holster (no SBR stamp needed!). It's the perfect solution to the 9mm vs. .45 debate.

Critics of semiautos say revolvers have been around much longer and are somehow more inherently reliable. Well, guess what? The arquebus beat out ol' Sam Colt's Peacemaker by 300 years, a fact which obviously makes it superior!

Vern Humphrey
October 14, 2009, 04:21 PM
John Farnham said (in The Farnham Method of Defensive Handgunning), "The most common cause for a stoppage in the revolver . . . [and] in autoloaders is running out of ammunition."

My M1911 with one up the spout and an 8-round McCormic mag gives me 9 rounds before that happens, and a second mag on the belt can be reloaded much faster than a revolver.

rcmodel
October 14, 2009, 04:30 PM
Nobody mentioned the one revolver stoppage that is really gonna stop you cold in your tracks.

Bullet pull under recoil is a real possibility with the ultra-light little revolvers being made now.

If a bullet pulls and sticks out the front of the cylinder, you are SOL for quite awhile before you figure out why the cylinder won't turn anymore, and you can't get it open to clear it.

No, not common.
But possible.
And a good reason to throughly test your choice of carry ammo in a revolver too.

rc

Vern Humphrey
October 14, 2009, 04:35 PM
Which is another reason why, when I carry a revolver concealed, it's a Colt Detective Special with standard .38 Special loads.

ArmedBear
October 14, 2009, 04:41 PM
I don't think that revolvers are "more reliable". I think that each platform has its upsides and its downsides.

Those who think otherwise, no matter which side of the "fence" they're on, haven't thought it through.

But yes, modern autoloaders are reliable enough to carry. They offer high capacity and quick reloads. They just aren't necessarily the best choice for all the possible applications of a handgun.

WRT bullet pull, I don't believe that is a serious concern with top-quality defensive loads in reasonable combinations of gun and load. I.e. .38+P in a 14 oz. gun is still reasonable. REAL .357 Magnum in an 11 oz. gun? That's pushing it.

That's also why I crimp my rounds carefully when I shoot full-house .357 and .44. Never had anything remotely resembling a bullet pull, or even a measurable change in OAL. I test it.

Don't shoot junk ammo for any serious use, in any type of gun.

Cosmoline
October 14, 2009, 04:50 PM
A quality semi is certainly reliable enough to carry. There's really no reasonable dispute about that. But you don't want to go to the el cheapo section with semis. A used service issue Model 10 or Official Police is liable to be incredibly reliable with a mix of .38 Special loads even after 50, 75 years or more. The same isn't always the case with the well used semis. I've had a number of failures with semis of this class. Parts just wear out from all the movement after awhile. Basically you want to pay a little extra to get the better model with semis. The most reliable of the ones I've had have been Sig's (P225) and Glocks (G23). Other than a few stovepipes I never had an issue with those. In fact they were so reliable as to be dull and I traded them off.

Drail
October 14, 2009, 08:07 PM
Absolutely not. I shot IPSC and steel for years with a 1911. For carry use I use revolvers. I saw too many failures to trust my life with one. I used to make a living fixing 1911s. I know what they can do and what can go wrong. Revolvers can fail but it's a pretty rare occurrence.

BlindJustice
October 14, 2009, 08:19 PM
gee I sure hope so, since I carry a 1911

I think the revolvers most carried are snubbies
easy to conceal

Randall

RevDerb
October 14, 2009, 08:32 PM
Have you seen a revolver in a LEO's holster lately? :uhoh:

rockstar.esq
October 14, 2009, 08:42 PM
In my experience two things make semi-auto's less prone to jamming:

#1 well made magazines

#2 Not being a 1911, Walther, or a Hi Point. For every one you can prove does work perfectly there are 20 that won't feed all SAMMI spec ammo 100%.

searcher451
October 14, 2009, 09:08 PM
http://images.ibsrv.net/ibsrv/res/src:forums.corvetteforum.com/get/images/smilies/icon_bs.gif

I've been carrying a variety of Walther PPKs for years and have never experienced a single hiccup of any kind: not with the original German model, the French/Manurhin guns, the Interarms guns, or the current S&W model.

I've also carried a Walther P5 and a Walther P99C: same perfect results.

Wild, blanket statements that are unprovable are ludicrous at worst and irresponsible at best.

ArmedBear
October 14, 2009, 09:50 PM
Hell, I have an old P1 that I've used to win a steel plate charity match. I don't think it's ever hiccupped, with anything I've fed it, and it wasn't even made to feed all SAAMI spec ammo.

1911s run the gamut from worn-out WW I service pistols to highly-modified target pistols that are made for specific ammo, made by god-knows-how-many vendors.

I'm not a 1911 nut. I don't currently own one, even. But a given, quality 1911, not shot-out, made for the purpose in question (feeding anything in spec, as opposed to shooting one-hole groups with downloaded SWCs), is a very reliable firearm.

TimboKhan
October 14, 2009, 10:04 PM
Have you seen a revolver in a LEO's holster lately?

No, but that's really neither here nor there. I think there are (a fairly small percentage of) officers who would carry a revolver, but can't on account of departmental regulations. You can't base what is good to carry or shoot off of regulated agencies. If you did, and if that logic held true, then it would be true that the M9 is a better pistol than the 1911, a point that is in reality deeply arguable.

With that being said, carry what your most comfortable with. I carried a revolver way back when I used to carry, and I still use that same revolver as a truck gun. I bought it less because of reliability issues and more because of caliber: I wanted a .357, and for the most part, you can't have that round in an auto. I have also carried a full size .45, a pocket .380 and a full size 9mm, all of which were autos, and all with the same level in confidence as far as function is concerned.

If put in a corner, I would say that I believe revolvers to be more inherently reliable on account of fewer moving parts, but the reality of the situation is that I really don't feel that way.

Noveldoc
October 14, 2009, 10:22 PM
Another side of the debate. What is going to happen when 158 38 spl from a snubbie hits the alleged perp compared to a 230 gr RN from my 4" barrel 45 ACP? Which is going to be more reliable in knocking said perp on his butt?

Tom

2nd 41
October 14, 2009, 10:23 PM
I have a pair of Sigs. A 230 & a 232. I'd bet my life on them.

MR_A
October 14, 2009, 10:25 PM
I have carried both on duty and off, and i think it comes down to which one you are the most proficient and confident with. If you can't end the situation with 6 shots i don't think 15 will make any difference. I like both and sometimes carry both, sometimes an 1911 .45 - 459 9mm or mod 66 2 1/2"
and sometimes a 380 and a mod 37 ant the same time. They all work well for me.

ArmedBear
October 14, 2009, 11:06 PM
If you can't end the situation with 6 shots i don't think 15 will make any difference.

Yeah, I have carried a hi-cap pistol with two additional mags, but it was because we were heading into a canyon in the evening. I wanted an emergency signal device that would be good for more than two 3-bang signals. Didn't use it, but since I'm a civilian, that's the only situation I've gone into where I really thought that 40 rounds would do better than 6.:)

Guy de Loimbard
October 14, 2009, 11:29 PM
Most of the time I carry my CZ-82. In the three years I've owned it it's jammed once, and that was due to the bullet being setback in the case. I look over my ammo better now.

Publius1688
October 14, 2009, 11:30 PM
This is probably a discussion along the lines of Yankess vs Red Sox, Catholic vs Protestant, et al.
As the gentlement before have said, modern, well maintained, good quality autos are as reliable as revolvers. If, and that's a big IF, the person carrying the pistol knows how to care for it and maintain it.

huntsman
October 14, 2009, 11:40 PM
Another side of the debate. What is going to happen when 158 38 spl from a snubbie hits the alleged perp compared to a 230 gr RN from my 4" barrel 45 ACP? Which is going to be more reliable in knocking said perp on his butt?

Tom
Neither and both.

okespe04
October 14, 2009, 11:44 PM
All firearms can fail, carry a sharp stick instead. Ok really though you have to find this out for yourself. Buy a well made firearm shoot it care for it and decide if you would rather have that or a pointy stick.

TimboKhan
October 15, 2009, 12:12 AM
Which is going to be more reliable in knocking said perp on his butt?

I don't know that you can definitively say that either is, of it's own device, more reliable. I do know that the shooter that has shot 1000 rounds of .38 is going to scare me a heck of a lot more than the shooter that has only shot 50 rounds of .45, and vice-versa.

As time rolls on, I have really truly gotten to the point that I don't have any more faith in one round over the other when it comes to the major defensive calibers. I prefer a .357 because I enjoy shooting them and for whatever reason shoot them well and I prefer the .45 in an auto for much the same reason. But I also happen to shoot about twice as much 9mm (which, not so long ago, I railed long and hard against) as I do either of those rounds combined, partially because of economy and partially because it's just a pleasant round to shoot. With that having been said, and with preferences aside, which caliber does it make more sense for me to carry and use to defend myself? I would say pretty clearly 9mm, though most would probably say that it is far less reliable "manstopper" than any of the other major defensive calibers.

Of course, my shooting time this year has been just north of zero, so maybe I should just stick to chucking rocks....

jackstinson
October 15, 2009, 08:45 AM
Absolutely not! Semi-autos are totally unreliable.
That is why armies, police, etc etc etc worldwide don't carry semi-auto pistols.

No wait.......most of them have been using semi-autos for decades. Almost a century in cases like the 1911.

Deanimator
October 15, 2009, 09:29 AM
I carry both interchangeably. I wouldn't carry ANY firearm I didn't trust, be it revolver, semi-auto or a Contender.

Hawk
October 15, 2009, 10:52 AM
Semi-autos are plenty reliable as are revolvers - both should be thoroughly vetted before placing one's trust in the product.

The revolver's long-vaunted insensitivity to ammo has taken it somewhat in the shorts with the ammo shortage. If you're in an area where choices of brand are limited make sure it'll run with what you can get.

http://grantcunningham.com/blog_files/5664e330f77e0d21fdac0f877139ab5c-323.html

Same for the semi if not more so. I check revolvers for ignition with multiple brands and semis for general function - couple hundred rounds for each - nothing is exempt.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain revolver and semi "versus" and "love" threads - they're filled with what amounts to inside jokes and good-natured ribbing more than sound advice. Some of the clichés have been abridged to the point of being dangerous if read by a newcomer.

For example, "just pull the trigger again" is a Reader's Digest version of "In a combat situation just pull the trigger again". Taken literally, it likely accounts for most every exploded revolver picture on the intertubz. The barrel / cylinder gap makes revolvers slightly more prone to squibs lodging bullets in the barrel and I have up close and personal experience with factory squibs - they do exist. If you're not in a desperate hurry, don't just pull the trigger again - at least until you know you can detect squibs and develop my rather unsafe attitude about hangfires.

The problem with revolver reliability is that they are, indeed, very reliable - this leads some folks to confuse "very reliable" with "bombproof, for certain, never-fail, however many 'fer sure'" which can lead to a complacency possibly more dangerous than the semi gagging - at least you're likely to have practiced malf drills with the latter as opposed to simply making assumptions with the former.

RevDerb
October 15, 2009, 02:15 PM
No, but that's really neither here nor there. I think there are (a fairly small percentage of) officers who would carry a revolver, but can't on account of departmental regulations. You can't base what is good to carry or shoot off of regulated agencies. If you did, and if that logic held true, then it would be true that the M9 is a better pistol than the 1911, a point that is in reality deeply arguable.

With that being said, carry what your most comfortable with. I carried a revolver way back when I used to carry, and I still use that same revolver as a truck gun. I bought it less because of reliability issues and more because of caliber: I wanted a .357, and for the most part, you can't have that round in an auto. I have also carried a full size .45, a pocket .380 and a full size 9mm, all of which were autos, and all with the same level in confidence as far as function is concerned.

If put in a corner, I would say that I believe revolvers to be more inherently reliable on account of fewer moving parts, but the reality of the situation is that I really don't feel that way.
I stand corrected.

Hawk
October 15, 2009, 02:31 PM
...

If put in a corner, I would say that I believe revolvers to be more inherently reliable on account of fewer moving parts, but the reality of the situation is that I really don't feel that way.

I'm not even sure I'd go so far as to take fewer moving parts as an article of faith in all cases.

Without digging out the schematics, I'd take a wild guess that a SAA has fewer moving parts than an STI TruBor but the Python looks pretty intimidating next to a Glock.

Compliments of Numrich:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=90925&d=1231889152
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=90926&d=1231889165

I note that the Python listing has every single part making up the adjustable rear sight numbered so one can't go by "highest part number" but still...

That's a mama of a clockwork on that pony.

shephard19
October 15, 2009, 07:13 PM
Revolvers are far more reliable than semi-autos, becuase they are simple and therefore ther are less things can go wrong and in most cases less things do go wrong with revolvers. Anecdotaly see how many threads there are about unreliable semi-autos especialy 1911s. As a non-LEO or military guy you are highly unlikely to need more than 5 shots in any likely encounter. You should also remember that LEO departments and militaries where not thinking of individuals when they adopted semi-autos. Even though these groups would have more stopages of individual guns their total volume of fire would be higher as a group than if they used revolvers, this of course is not a great consolation for the individual who is stuck with a jammed gun in a criticial situation.

CWL
October 15, 2009, 07:20 PM
Revolvers are far more reliable than semi-autos, becuase they are simple and therefore ther are less things can go wrong...

And that is why the Python illustrated above has ~20 more parts than the Glock in the above illustration?

oldgoat46
October 15, 2009, 07:37 PM
Basically it depends on your familiarity with firearms. If you are able to think rationally in an agitated combat situation by all means a semi auto. if you might in a panic. go for the safety and drop the clip out or have phobias about carrying with a loaded chamber ( If you have to rack a round in the chamber you are dead) If under extreme pressure all you can think of is point and click your best bet is a revolver. Kahr, Sigs, older Walthers, and some of the finer 1911s (if you are very accomplished.) some high end Berrettas. Yes they are reliable but every firearms CCW instructor I ever met says the same thing. Revolver

TimboKhan
October 15, 2009, 07:44 PM
Well, as I said, I don't really feel that way, and now I really don't feel that way!


That being said, it's interesting that you mention SA's. As a rule, I really do think they are more reliable on account of simplicity than the average auto, particularly Ruger SA's. However, I and most everyone else would agree that they are not the best choice as a self defense tool, unless your self defense needs are more of the swarthy outdoorsman variety. I do not think that is so true of DA revolvers, as the pictures showed.

Girodin
October 15, 2009, 07:53 PM
Do you feel that semi-automatic weapons are reliable enough to carry?

In a word, yes. I have owned various semi autos of various make and model that I would have confidence in to carry. The guns I carry most often are semi autos. Ironically, the only gun I own right that I would not carry based on fears of reliability, is a revolver. It is having trigger reset issues that I have not had time to sort out yet.

There are lots of good very reliable semi autos. With any gun I would want to test a given load for reliability in my particular gun before I carried it. For a semi I would want to test any magazine as well as they are often the culprit of stoppages. (it seems I saw an article where Clint Smith said that the most frequent causes of stoppages in order are mags, ammo, shooter, guns. I would also want to be confident in the manual or arms for my carry gun. This would include clearing stoppages in an auto.

KyJim
October 15, 2009, 08:08 PM
This was a debatable question 25 years ago. It's not today. Semi-autos, except for bottom feeders, are more reliable than they were then and have been time tested. Sadly, there seem to be more revolvers with problems than there used to be; or maybe it's just that we hear of the problems more.

dom1104
October 15, 2009, 08:11 PM
Semi-autos, except for bottom feeders,

What does this mean? I cant think of a semi auto that is NOT a bottom feeder.

Dogbite
October 15, 2009, 08:31 PM
Yes, good quality semi-auto pistols are extremely reliable, with premium ammunition. I have carried semi-auto pistols a bunch, and revolvers a bunch.

Hawk
October 16, 2009, 10:58 AM
What does this mean? I cant think of a semi auto that is NOT a bottom feeder.

My wild guess is that the poster is using "bottom feeder" in the vernacular to indicate "bottom shelf", "dregs", "not best of breed" - that sort of thing.

Bear in mind that semi-autos feed from the TOP of a magazine.

"Bottom feeder" used to refer to all semi-autos is one of those "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" clichés that are liberally sprinkled throughout "versus" threads - it's never corrected as it's mildly witty and not particularly offensive.

But it's still dead wrong.

I suppose a case could be made for a converted Sten being a bottom feeder but most all semi-autos will continue to feed from the top.

I believe you may have confused a mild pejorative with an actual factual description - the later can be rather rare in "versus" threads.

Semi-autos are actually top feeders but where's the fun in that?
:D

gyvel
October 16, 2009, 08:34 PM
Quality semi-autos can be as reliable as revolvers.

Can be, but usually aren't.

GRIZ22
October 16, 2009, 09:24 PM
Have you seen a revolver in a LEO's holster lately?
__________________


LE agencies have adopted semi-autos as it is easier to develop a adequate level of expertise. A DA revolver trigger pull is harder to master. There is also the capacity question. Having more ammo makes people feel better.

Back to the original question.

Comparing modern quality revolvers to their kind in the semi-auto world, I would give revolvers a very slight edge. Put up against certain semi-autos (Glock for one) they are equal or the auto may have a slight edge.

I don't feel undergunned or less capable carrying either.

I think some unreliability with semi-autos is induced by the owner. One example is swapping recoil springs in a 1911. 16 pound was what Browning designed it with. Don't you think he thought that out? That's a topic for another thread though.

mustang_steve
October 16, 2009, 11:22 PM
Take care of your semi-auto, and it will take care of you.

I recommend using the factory recommended ammo (NO RELOADS) and a lightly-used magazine for SD. Use the beater mags and alternate ammunitions for the range.

Reason for this is the pistol was designed around that ammunition, thus should operate in the ideal fashion with it. The lightly used magazines is because I do not trust unused equipment...I would use that magazine about 10 times at a range to verify it works, then use it.

Keep the mags clean, use good conditioned ammo (not some corroded junk), and make sure the feed ramp, extractor and the bore are mechanically sound. As in no debris fused to the inside of the bore, the extractor should be looking more new than worn and the feed ramp needs to offer a smooth loading action. If it's got all of this, it will function as expected, when expected.

Drail
October 16, 2009, 11:51 PM
I wouldn't put too much stock into LE agencies choice of equipment. Their equipment is usually approved and purchased by adminstrators who know very little about firearms.(or anything else)

Redneck with a 40
October 16, 2009, 11:53 PM
uh....yeah! I've got over 3500 rounds out of my XD-40, FMJ and JHP, it hasn't choked yet. I have very high confidence in this pistol.

JShirley
October 17, 2009, 12:28 AM
I never had any malfunctions in my Glock 23, except with one +2 magazine.

The truth is, while revolvers can indeed be chambered for more powerful rounds, overall, semi-automatics are stronger. If you slammed a 1911 or Glock against a wall, you might mar the finish and damage the sights, but you could almost certainly pick it right back up and safely shoot it.

If you did the same thing with a service-sized revolver, you would probably knock it out of time. Shooting it would then be dangerous.

A friend of mine and I went on a S&W .41 Magnum kick some years ago. I bought, and he traded me for, a beautiful S-prefix model 57, which looked gently used, at most.

When he fired the 57, it was just enough out of time that he suffered some small burns to his face. Fortunately, he was wearing shooting glasses.

When it comes to fighting, I'd take something like a Glock 19 or 23, or a Taurus or Beretta 92, over any wheelgun. In fact, if I could only have one handgun to do all the various missions a handgun might be called upon to perform, a Glock 23 might well be my first choice.

That said, I'm down to a stable of 5 handguns I use. A compact and full-size double-stack 1911, and Smith J, K, and N frames. :)

John

kd7nqb
October 17, 2009, 12:31 AM
Semi autos have been tested re-tested and over tested that the reliability issue has been essentially eliminated assuming that you put quality ammo and any parts you change are quality. The old crap in crap out theory.

That being said if I were in an environment where I expected large amounts of dust/ dirt or bugs so thick they would cake onto the gun and I was carrying openly then I might very well choose a revolver since there is less of a chance of an important function being stopped by debris.

JShirley
October 17, 2009, 12:38 AM
Hm. I'd actually go the other way. When things get really nasty...a tough autoloader is completely the way to go.

armsmaster270
October 17, 2009, 12:47 AM
"If you can't end the situation with 6 shots i don't think 15 will make any difference."

As long as you don't get into a shooting situation like the North Hollywood bank robbery. However you have to plan on the worse case scenario. I carry a Sig 226 in .357Sig and a S&W 340pd as backup. Any quality semi Auto or Revolver can be reliable if fed the proper quality ammo.

Riss
October 17, 2009, 01:25 AM
Hell yeah. I have had no weapon induced failures in over 6000 rounds with my Glock 35. It is slightly modified, but runs great. Only malfunctions have been from me not reloading properly.

JShirley
October 17, 2009, 09:33 AM
Oh- and I've had malfunctions in quality revolvers, too- and I baby them much more than my autos. True, usually pulling the trigger again will get a "bang"- but then, you have a max of 5 left from most wheelies, and even less in some, like my 642...

Cayoot
October 17, 2009, 10:17 AM
if they wheren't do you think they would be sold as much as they are or carried by our armed forces?
__________________
Diagnosed with Mosinsitis

Ask the soldiers in vietnam who were the first ones to be issued the M-16 about that theory. In fact, when we were issued the M-16 in the early 1980's, it still wasn't all that reliable.

All that aside, you must remember that the military issues ball ammo for the side arm. Ball ammo is the most reliable feeder and the most unreliable man stopper.

I don't think many civilians would choose to carry ball ammo in their carry weapons.

Cayoot
October 17, 2009, 11:54 AM
While I believe revolvers are inherently more reliable than autos (I often hear auto guys say something like "my auto has fired X thousand rounds without any failures except fill in the blank here). However I feel that semi autos can be reliable enough with proper ammo and maintance. The important thing for semi-auto shooters to do is to burn the old "Tap-Rack-Bang" routine into your muscle memory to the point that when the gun fails to go "Bang", without even thinking, you have done the "Tap-Rack-Bang" drill and you will be back in action. It only takes a split second for someone who is well practiced.

In our I.D.P.A. club, we haven't seen a revolver failure in years, but every week we see an auto failure. However, if the auto shooter is skilled, he/she doesn't miss a beat...just Tap-Rack-Bang and they are back in action so fast that, if you weren't paying attention, you would never have known that they had a malfunction.

The modern semi-auto is more sophisticated than the modern revolver...thus requires a more sophisticated level of training to use effectively.

I carry a revolver...I keep wanting to buy a semi-auto, but in the back of my mind is that I want to be able to hand all of my guns down to my grand kids when I pass (hopefully many years from now). So in the back of my mind is always the question..."If I buy this semi now and want to pass it down to my grandchildren in 40 years...do I need to buy extra mag springs and recoil springs and mag followers etc?

I know that if I load my S&W 686 now and put it in a nightstand drawer; then don't touch it for 40 years. It will probably still fire perfectly (barring fire/flood etc) just like today.

However I worry about semi autos because so many springs must remain under pressure all that time for the gun to be always ready.

Of course this is only my $.02...which after inflation is really only worth about $.000378.

mustang_steve
October 17, 2009, 02:37 PM
Yep, my semi is considered "unreliable" and "crap" by web consensus, and 450rds, one FTF, it was a sideways primer in factory ammo, thus not attributable to the pistol. I actually found it to be very accurate and unqestionably reliable.

Springs won't wear out for being under tension, it's movement of the springs that wears them out. Basic metals knowledge there.

We owe it to ourselves to understand how our firearms work, how the materials play into it and the theories behind them.

Cayoot
October 17, 2009, 03:42 PM
Springs won't wear out for being under tension, it's movement of the springs that wears them out. Basic metals knowledge there.

I have heard that many times, but what I don't get is why that statement doesn't apply to the main spring?

The hammer/striker is cycled many more times than any magazine, yet hardly ever do I hear of a main spring for the hammer or striker going bad. That goes for both autos and revolvers.

I have heard of magazine springs going weak and not providing proper function though.

NMGonzo
October 17, 2009, 03:44 PM
Yes they are.

Buy a nice one that makes big holes.

Dont' pay too little for it, don't pay too much for it.

Vern Humphrey
October 17, 2009, 03:55 PM
The hammer/striker is cycled many more times than any magazine, yet hardly ever do I hear of a main spring for the hammer or striker going bad.
For one thing, the hammer spring is very short-stroke. Magazine and recoil springs have long strokes, and are the ones replaced most often.

I did once, however, get a very good deal on an M1922 Springfield because it's striker spring had failed. I took a standard M1903 spring, cut off a couple of coils and the old rifle is a tack-driver.

mustang_steve
October 17, 2009, 04:33 PM
I have heard that many times, but what I don't get is why that statement doesn't apply to the main spring?

The hammer/striker is cycled many more times than any magazine, yet hardly ever do I hear of a main spring for the hammer or striker going bad. That goes for both autos and revolvers.

I have heard of magazine springs going weak and not providing proper function though.

Less movement, less extreme movement will both result in lower wear. The bending is altering the internal bonds within the metal, but steel is a relatively elastic metal. So long as it's threshold is not exceeded, it will not distort. The further from that threshold a motion is, the less impact it will have on the lifespan of the part.

Aluminum has no such threshold, thus any force applied to it will reduce it's strength until it fails. Given some aluminum alloys are very durable...but they will eventually fail, and earlier than a steel component would.

Hawk
October 17, 2009, 06:31 PM
While I believe revolvers are inherently more reliable than autos (I often hear auto guys say something like "my auto has fired X thousand rounds without any failures except fill in the blank here).

Ah yes, the time-honored "ceptin'for". While I tend to agree with your observation, I've noticed it on both sides of the fence. My wheelgun has been 100%...

ceptin for when I forgot to thread lock the strain screw.
ceptin for when I used CCI primers / S&B / Fiocchi.
ceptin for the times before I installed the extended travel firing pin.
ceptin for when I tried to run my newer x25 without clips.

At the risk of gross oversimplification and stereotyping, if one really appreciates his weapon he'll blame himself for failure to thread lock or overlook a little file work in the slide notch - but if it's an employer issued polymer handgun and you tell the owner it's his fault for not re-torquing and thread locking the fasteners, he'll look at you like you have three heads.

There are few internet truisms I subscribe to. One of them is "if you haven't had a failure, you haven't shot it enough". That one I accept as the given word.

JShirley
October 17, 2009, 06:51 PM
The modern semi-auto is more sophisticated than the modern revolver...thus requires a more sophisticated level of training to use effectively.


Really? Or do you just mean until you have to reload? You really think reloading a modern autoloader requires "more sophistication"?!

Personally, I think it's mostly experts who show up at good gun schools with wheelguns, because they require a higher level of skill to run effectively under pressure...

J

KyJim
October 17, 2009, 07:12 PM
Semi-autos, except for bottom feeders,

"Bottom feeder" used to refer to all semi-autos is one of those "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" clichés that are liberally sprinkled throughout "versus" threads - it's never corrected as it's mildly witty and not particularly offensive.

But it's still dead wrong.
Bottom feeders = Jennings, Lorcins, etc. If you think these are reliable feeders as a class, I'll shut up and let everybody laugh you off the board.

Cayoot
October 17, 2009, 08:46 PM
Really? Or do you just mean until you have to reload? You really think reloading a modern autoloader requires "more sophistication"?!


I was talking about the need to incorporate failure drills (i.e. "Tap-Rack-Bang" drills)...that was the whole point of my tirade...wow, talk about pulling a sentence out of context!

win-lose
October 17, 2009, 09:27 PM
Ok... I haven't read the thread so I'm sure others have probably already said this but:

For every 1 highly reliable auto loader I've seen, I've probably seen 2 that aren't reliable. This is obviously just reflective of my experience.

Here's what I don't like about auto loaders.... They are a pain in the !@#$ to live with.

No matter what anyone tells me, I'm not inclined to believe that removing a chambered round is a safe operation. It's not even a graceful operation in most cases. Once the round is ejected it then has to be managed, both short term and longer term. Magazines must be managed. Springs need more attention then with their counterparts. Besides the ejected round, ammo in general requires a lot more attention and expense. It's just too much!!! TOO MUCH I TELL YA!!!! :banghead:

I have only one auto loader, a S&W 1911. It will run anything, all the time. I haven't cleaned it close to a 1,000 rounds and haven't had a single malfunction in well over 3,000. I have it "for" when I know I'm going into a bad situation with potentially multiple adversaries. As such, it gets used very seldom (for that purpose :D).

Me, I can't live with an auto loader as an edc. They're just too high maintenance.

JShirley
October 17, 2009, 10:16 PM
talk about pulling a sentence out of context!

So, you don't feel that knowing how to rapidly reload is a skill that could be useful in your life is threatened? Would you not agree that reloading is a normal part of " effective use"?

mustang_steve
October 17, 2009, 10:24 PM
I think the reason we see unreliable autoloaders these days is only the educated handgunner seems to buy revolvers anymore.

Given when I was new to this, I preferred semis. Once I recieved my grandfather's old K22, I was in love with wheelguns. I'll still use a semi as my SD piece, but I want more revolvers. Perhaps a S&W k-frame snubbie is in my future.

edit: I guess I should clarify....I meant that first-time shooters seem to go towards semis, and for a first-time shooter, they are not the best idea since there are more parts to worry about...thus we get all kinda of issues from maintenance snafus. The best way for a new shooter to maintain a semi-auto is to learn how it functions. Extractors are easy to crud up, just like the firing pin if one uses an liquid or gel lube in it (dry lubes are best in this area).

CZ223
October 18, 2009, 06:25 AM
in answer to the original question. I have yet to own a Glock that isn't 99.99999% reliable with any factory ammo. :D My Taurus PT1911 has over 2000 rounds of factory and reloads through it without a bobble that wasn't caused by my reloads, 3 in all.

Remember, revolvers are not infallable. Six for sure is not a sure bet. I have had revolvers tie up on me while shooting. When a revolver does go down it is usually much harder to get back up and running than an Auto. Don't get me wrong, I love wheelguns. I have owned at least a half dozen 686's, three 629's, 14 Vaqueros, a chiefs special, a Colt Detectives special and a couple Sp101s. While all of them were good and some even great, if I am going to a gun fight I am taking my two Glock 23s and all the mags I can stuff in my pockets.:evil:

Cayoot
October 18, 2009, 07:58 AM
if I am going to a gun fight I am taking my two Glock 23s and all the mags I can stuff in my pockets.

Not me...give me every friend I know and FALs and M-4s, and even an M-60 if I can get one.

Better yet...I'll just stay home!

Hawk
October 18, 2009, 08:53 AM
edit: I guess I should clarify....I meant that first-time shooters seem to go towards semis, and for a first-time shooter, they are not the best idea since there are more parts to worry about..

One wonders if it's even possible to drive a stake through that assertion which, I must admit, I hear often and may even be true in limited cases or specific contexts such as visible or manipulable parts.

Nonetheless, just for the sake of discussion, how about checking out post #43 on page 2 of this thread and offering your thoughts thereon?

JCisHe
October 18, 2009, 09:53 AM
Yes, semi's are reliable.

mustang_steve
October 18, 2009, 12:43 PM
Hawk, I was thinking more along the lines of routine maintenance. Not so much a full disassembly.

To clean a revolver, you just swing out the cylinder, clean the cylinder and surrounding areas, then the barrel.

To clean a semi, you have to strip it, then clean the slide, clean the barrel, clean the frame, possibly the magazine. It's a lot more work after a day of shooting. I can easily see where they'd get a stuck cylinder or hte likes from ignoring the cylinder/barrel interface when cleaning and the like.

The only reason my K22 takes longer to clean than my cpx-1 is due to barrel length and how many rounds get fired per session (200-300 vs 50)

BaltimoreBoy
October 18, 2009, 02:31 PM
I'm really glad to see people chiming in against the "police and military carry it so it must be safe and effective" meme.

In addition to the points already made on that topic, I'd also point out that what plants are located in which congresscritter's district and how many rowdy parties were thrown by which lobbyist may also have some bearing on the subject.

That said, I would say it comes down to the shooter. If you practice a lot and like an autoloader - do it.

If you don't practice much - I'd say the edge is to the revolver. And don't fool yourself about how much you'll practice. Be honest.

JShirley
October 18, 2009, 04:39 PM
I think it takes a much higher skill level to reload a revolver (http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3507/3745290160_37ae726104.jpg) well than it does to reload an autoloader. Fighting revolvers are for experts, like Johnny Guest (http://www.flickr.com/photos/46538089@N00/3745216832/) (seen here shooting weak-hand at a competition in July).

The "revolvers are better for beginners" meme is only true if your assailants helpfully only threaten you in low numbers, and obediently stop aggression when hit. I never believe my days are going to go that well.

John

Vern Humphrey
October 18, 2009, 05:03 PM
Revolvers are for beginners because they are inherently safer (due to the long, heavy double action pull), and simpler to shoot. As a person gains skill and safety consciousness, automatics come to the fore.

D!rty H@rry
October 18, 2009, 05:14 PM
GLOCK

end of story!

JShirley
October 18, 2009, 05:43 PM
Vern, I'm understanding you to say, "Revolvers are safer for beginners because they don't know not to touch the trigger before they intend to shoot."

armsmaster270
October 18, 2009, 06:17 PM
I don't know about "educated" but I have been shooting since the early 50's when my father took me out with a S&W K-22 checked out from the PD and taught me shooting at about 5 1/2 and hip shooting a year later. I have 18 years on the Police Department, 20years in the reserves as a M.P. and Armorer both revolvers and semi-autos have their Pro's and Con's. Revolvers are simpler but carry on yhe average less ammo, Semi-Auto's are more complicated but mostly carry more ammo. Some (not all) women and the infirm have problems pulling the slide back to chamber a round. Some people "limp Wrist" autos causing Malfunctions. Revolvers a squib load or blown primer can put you out of action. I have a fair selection of carry weapons to choose from.

http://i239.photobucket.com/albums/ff207/armsmaster270/writings/handguns.jpg

I choose to carry these.

http://i239.photobucket.com/albums/ff207/armsmaster270/writings/DSCF1056.jpg

Primary is the Sig 226 357Sig and a S&W 340PD as backup. as I write this one is on my hip and one is in my pocket. I love both platforms.

Hawk
October 18, 2009, 06:36 PM
Hawk, I was thinking more along the lines of routine maintenance. Not so much a full disassembly.

Ah, I see. It would not have occurred to me to think of "parts to deal with to clean".

I'm perhaps less fastidious than many with my semis - after a typical range trip it gets "snaked" from slide lock. The revolver gets the barrel snaked then all six of the chambers - it's like cleaning 7 semi-autos. I take more care with the finish as well - my semis aren't as pretty.

Every now and again the semi gets properly cleaned whereas the revolver only gets the sideplate pulled once so it probably evens out between the two types over the long haul. I've only got one semi that seems to have developed an affinity for jacket fouling and that tends to put in toward the rearmost of the safe. In general, the snake does everything I need till around 500 or 1000 rounds.

mustang_steve
October 19, 2009, 12:42 AM
I'm one of those that cleans my handguns thoroughly after each session...if I cannot rub anywhere and come back with a clean patch...it's not clean enough yet. then it gets re-lubed and assembled.

Given, I'm a little OCD about taking care of my stuff.

Gary A
October 19, 2009, 10:59 AM
I'm pretty much a revolver guy, and mostly a single-action revolver guy, but I think the question of whether a quality semi-auto is reliable enough to carry was answered sometime way back in the last century. I wouldn't worry about it at all if the weapon is maintained at all properly.

easyg
October 19, 2009, 01:38 PM
In my opinion....

Yes, most autoloaders are reliable enough to carry if you train to clear a stoppage.
This is because most autoloaders will experience a stoppage at least once in the shooting life of the gun.

But revolvers are more reliable and may never experience even a single stoppage in the shooting life of the gun.

M1911
October 19, 2009, 01:51 PM
Yes, they are reliable enough.

BlayGlock
October 19, 2009, 02:06 PM
The only semi-auto I carry any more is a 1911. The only reliability issues I have ever had with any of them are magazine related. Dont get cheap magazines. I also carry a J-frame just as often. For a new gun owner, I would tell them to get a revolver.

Clarence
October 19, 2009, 11:48 PM
I've got 5,000 trouble free rounds through my Ed Brown 1911. Not one jam of any kind using factory hardball, cast bullet reloads, and HP Self-Defense loads.

That's reliable enough for me.

woad_yurt
October 20, 2009, 09:28 AM
Are Semi-Automatics Reliable Enough to Carry?

Some are and some aren't.

Feanaro
October 20, 2009, 11:43 PM
That being said if I were in an environment where I expected large amounts of dust/ dirt or bugs so thick they would cake onto the gun and I was carrying openly then I might very well choose a revolver since there is less of a chance of an important function being stopped by debris.

I think the opposite is true. A revolver has at least two areas that can easily be gummed up. Dirt has easy access to the star and the cylinder notches. It's a mite hard to clean dirt out of those darn notches. Once you start opening things up, the crane can be gummed up with muck, preventing you from closing the revolver. Dirt could impede the function of the hand or cylinder stop. Don't get anything under the star! Lord help you if anything gets in the lockwork.

I still like revolvers more than autochuckers but some people ain't very realistic in their assessment of the old thangs, me thinks.

P97
October 21, 2009, 07:57 AM
I have two defense handguns. My defense gun for protection against humans is a Ruger P90DC(Which is an Auto). My defense against animals is my New Vaquero 45colt. They both serve the purpose which I use them for, and I fully trust each one to do its job.

christcorp
October 21, 2009, 09:35 AM
The question isn't whether a revolver is MORE reliable than a semi-auto or whether the semi-auto is reliable enough. The question is: "ARE YOU RELIABLE ENOUGH TO SHOOT A SEMI-AUTO FOR SELF DEFENSE"?

Granted, the semi-auto has MORE things that can stop it from shooting than a revolver. That is a fact; can't be changed; and anyone who argue that is simply rationalizing. But what matters is that in the middle of a situation where you have to pull a gun, and actually PULL THE TRIGGER; are YOU RELIABLE ENOUGH. If you practice with the semi-auto on a regular basis; and you PURPOSELY load some dud ammo in the magazine to practice simulating a misfire, stove-pipe, feed issue, etc... then you might be reliable enough. If you shoot only a couple of times a year, and just put ammo in the magazine and shoot, then you probably AREN'T reliable enough to shoot a semi-auto.

If you can clear a fubar WITHOUT THINKING, then you are reliable enough. If the first thing that "Might" go through your head is "OH S$*T"; then you AREN'T reliable enough. A revolver has much less chance of fubar. If it's a misfire, simply pull the trigger again. Rounds in the gun should NOT be a deciding factor of why you choose a semi-auto over a revolver. If you honestly believe that a 15 round magazine has advantages over a 6 shot revolver, then you definitely aren't reliable enough. If you were reliable enough, you'd hit what you aim at. To prepare for zombies or to believe that you're going to be in a gang fight with 5-10 other people is simply paranoia.

So, stop thinking about the gun, and start thinking about yourself. If you WANT the semi-auto to be Reliable, then YOU HAVE TO BECOME MORE RELIABLE. There isn't one gun on the planet that ever killed a person. It's the idiot holding it. Just like there isn't one gun on the planet that ever SAVED a person. Again, it's the person holding and using the gun. So; "ARE YOU RELIABLE ENOUGH FOR A SEMI-AUTO?"

Vern Humphrey
October 21, 2009, 09:45 AM
I think the opposite is true. A revolver has at least two areas that can easily be gummed up. Dirt has easy access to the star and the cylinder notches. It's a mite hard to clean dirt out of those darn notches. Once you start opening things up, the crane can be gummed up with muck, preventing you from closing the revolver. Dirt could impede the function of the hand or cylinder stop. Don't get anything under the star! Lord help you if anything gets in the lockwork.
The Army issued S&W .38s to aircrew in Viet Nam. I saw many a fine revolver literally turn into junk in the jungle environment. Another problem they had was the need for hand-fitting parts -- whereas with the M1911A1 all parts are drop-in.

Commander Crusty
October 21, 2009, 01:21 PM
Only you can answer the reliability question using your semi-auto and your chosen ammunition.

If you and the gun can't shoot at LEAST 200-300 rounds of your self defense ammo without a hiccup, then it is NOT reliable and can't be trusted. My choice is to start with a .45 using ball because it's easy to get 300 rounds of ball to work in most any quality .45. THEN, I start working in the hollow points one box at a time till I get to at least 200 rounds. That should give me 500 trouble free rounds (300 ball, 200+ hollow points). If the pistol will do that, I feel pretty safe carrying it.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with a good revolver, BUT you should also run 200-300 rounds of your favorite carry load through your carry revolver. What? It hurts your hand to shoot +P hollow points in a 12 oz. J-frame. Hmm. Maybe that means you shouldn't carry a 12 oz. J-frame with +p ammo. If the goal is to hit your target, then maybe you need a little more gun or a little less bang. Maybe your "trusty" revolver will break a firing pin or fall out of time in 200-300 rounds. It's happened before.

So, my advice is to test it yourself and see.

JShirley
October 29, 2009, 01:28 PM
If you honestly believe that a 15 round magazine has advantages over a 6 shot revolver, then you definitely aren't reliable enough.

Which is why our military and police carry the 6 shot revolver, because large magazines have no advantages.

Wait, no they don't. :rolleyes:

Of course more readily available ammunition is an advantage. I would say knowing that is a result of training, but honestly, it's just common sense.

J

Vern Humphrey
October 29, 2009, 01:39 PM
If you honestly believe that a 15 round magazine has advantages over a 6 shot revolver, then you definitely aren't reliable enough.
I assume you carry a flintlock?;)

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