Why are there so few Moon Clip Revolvers


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Mightee1
April 7, 2010, 09:52 AM
Reading through these self / home defense threads, it has become apparent that reliability and ease of use are huge factors when selecting a handgun. Given that, it seems that auto loaders are generally accepted as the weapon of choice despite the fact that they are more complicated, have more parts, and have more feeding issues than revolvers. Revolvers have a slightly smaller capacity (a 6 shot revolver only has 1 or 2 less rounds than a 1911) but are more reliable and intuitive to use (aim and squeeze), even in the dark for someone who might not be familiar with firearms.

Even though speed loaders are available and work well, they are rather bulky and take a bit of practice to operate effectively. It occurred to me that revolvers that accept moon clips would be more commonplace. They are cheap, easy to use, and no bulkier than speed loaders.

So my question is… what are some of the reasons that revolvers utilizing moon clips are not a common home defense weapon?

http://deuce45s.com/images/M%201917%20Full%20Moon%20Clips.jpg
Image courtesy of http://deuce45s.com/images/M%201917%20Full%20Moon%20Clips.jpg

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loadedround
April 7, 2010, 10:13 AM
You just about answered your own question re autoloaders. If you remember the 45 ACP revolver and moon clips were developed to help alleviate the shortage of 1911 pistols during WWI, and soon after the 45 Auto Rim was developed to eliminate the moon clips completely. The only other revolver to use moon clips was the S&W 10MM revolver and that too was discontinued quite a few years ago. The Ruger 9MM doesn't count as it didn't use moon clips. Most shooters just don't want to troubled by the fuss or bother involved using these clips when there equvalent rimmed relvolver cartridges. Just on man's opinion. :)

MrBorland
April 7, 2010, 10:24 AM
Well, in .45 acp, 10mm, and .38super (and in some cases, .357), bulk comes to mind. Terrific game and/or range guns, but big to carry.

S&W makes the 646, a 0.40S&W moonclip gun. Also a terrific gun (if you can find one), but built on the medium-large L-frame, it'd be pretty big to carry.

How 'bout another common semi-auto round - 9mm? They do exist, but never caught on it seems. The 9mm is a tapered cartridge and the whole moonclip seems to have trouble reseating after firing. Obviously, it'd get worse as each round is fired, so by the 6th, there's a pretty good drag on the trigger.

You can moonclip revolver cartridges, such as the .357 mag, but I understand their length makes them clumsy to feed into the gun - think of pushing spaghetti.

Finally, even though moonclipped revolvers stood the abuse of WWI combat, the moonclips can bend, in which case, you have a feed and/or reliability issue.

auto loaders are generally accepted as the weapon of choice despite the fact that they are more complicated, have more parts, and have more feeding issues than revolvers.

OT, but this is debatable. Ever open a DA revolver up and peek inside? Not sure one can categorically say they're less complicated and have less parts. And they're not categorically more reliable, either. They're plenty sensitive to their own gremlins.

earlthegoat2
April 7, 2010, 10:26 AM
Ruger SP101 9mm could use moonclips. They came with them. Doesnt mean you had to.

S&W has made the 610 10mm revolver quite recently. Might still be in production even.

bdb benzino
April 7, 2010, 11:46 AM
I have vever had problems with my 9mm moonclips bending, they wont last forever but they are cheap.

Sam1911
April 7, 2010, 11:47 AM
Aside from the legendary Model 1917, 25, and 625 .45 ACP moon-clip guns which really started the whole idea, S&W has also made and still makes (some) moon clipped guns in 9mm, .38/.357, .40 S&W, and 10 mm.

In fact, they still produce 8-shot N-frame .357s that come with moon clips (627).

Ruger has also made SP101s, and Speed Sixes (I beileve) cut for moon clips.

Further various companies will cut almost any DA revolver to use them, if you want.

As a competition tool, they work awesomely. Well, the stubby auto-pistol cartridge versions do, anyway. Longer, more traditional, revolver cartridges tend to be a bit "spindly" and getting 8 rounds lined up will always be harder than 6. Further, the clips designed to fit traditional revolver rounds snap into the very tiny groove on top of the case rim, rather than into the large, robust extractor groove of an autoloading case. Therefore the clips have to be very thin and so, easily bent. A bent moon clip will jam a revolver pretty solidly. So, for traditional revolver cartridges, speedloaders are probably a little more positive/robust than moon clips.

One of the other little "snags" with any revolver reload (using speedloaders or moon clips) is that to be very fast, it helps to use a FMJ "ball" ammo profiled bullet. A more classic revolver shape like a SWC or other flat-nosed round tends to resist funneling into the charge holes when you're trying to find them in a hurry, especially when it's six or eight at a time. If you're loading JHPs, that's probably not as much of an issue, though.

Most people looking for 9mm, .40 S&W, 10 mm, or .45 ACP guns are thinking of the benefits of autoloaders, so it is a niche market.

Oh, and by the way, most .45 ACP 1911s run 8-round mags so you're starting with THREE more in the gun than a 625, not "one or two." That's 33% more ammo in a more easily reloaded platform. Unless you are a die-hard revolver guy, running a revolver effectively -- even/especially with moon clips -- is a set of skills that takes a fair bit of practice to master. And the benefits are a bit hard for those poor, uneducated, non-revolver-shooters to comprehend! ;)

shockwave
April 7, 2010, 12:33 PM
Unless you are a die-hard revolver guy, running a revolver effectively -- even/especially with moon clips -- is a set of skills that takes a fair bit of practice to master.

A really great answer to the original question, Sam - comprehensive and informative. Regarding the above, I count myself as a die-hard revolver guy, and I practice speedloader drills regularly. There are always faster people out there, but in timed events where I've competed against autoloaders, I've found that when I'm in the groove my reloads are only about 2-3 seconds longer than theirs. That could be a lifetime in a gunfight, sure. Moonclips appear to shave those extra seconds off and bring a revolver into autoloader reload speeds.

By the way, when you say, "especially when it's six or eight at a time," we 686+ guys aren't feelin' the love. Seven shots splits the difference!

Manco
April 7, 2010, 03:07 PM
Even though speed loaders are available and work well, they are rather bulky and take a bit of practice to operate effectively.

In the hands of all but the best-trained experts, the use of speed-loaders has always looked awkward and clumsy to me, and not always so speedy. You have to twist the release knob without pulling the cartridges out, then some cartridges might refuse to come out, and then you have to properly seat all of them afterward. Perhaps worst of all, it demands from most people their full attention and for them to stare downward at the process for proper hand-eye coordination the whole time. I might be making it sound worse than it really is, but seldom have I seen truly smooth uses of a speed-loader.

It occurred to me that revolvers that accept moon clips would be more commonplace. They are cheap, easy to use, and no bulkier than speed loaders.

I've been looking into adding some revolvers to my home-defense arsenal of late, and I've been wondering the very same thing. Not that I expect to need that many rounds to be available for each weapon for home-defense use, but since revolvers do have lower capacity, the odds of needing to reload at least once are somewhat greater, and moon clips seem to be an ideal solution.

So my question is… what are some of the reasons that revolvers utilizing moon clips are not a common home defense weapon?

That's a good question. If I had to guess at an answer, it would be that those who favor capacity and fast reloads would naturally gravitate toward autoloaders because they have a sizable advantage in capacity in most states; you brought up single-stack 1911s as a counterexample regarding capacity, but many of those who favor this platform do so for other reasons, some tangible (e.g. its trigger is quite different from those of double-action revolvers) and some intangible. And those for whom capacity is not as critical an issue would naturally tend to use traditional revolver-specific calibers in revolvers because, well, they're traditional. Strongly reinforcing the latter tendency is the appeal of the flexible, versatile .357 Magnum/.38 Special combination (even if a majority of people will never really have a use for .357 Magnum ammunition).

Aside from the main reasons, moon clips are really more practical with calibers designed for autoloaders because the rounds are generally shorter and easier to insert, and the clips themselves can be thicker and more robust, while moon clips designed for rimmed ammunition are thinner and more prone to warping and failure. Most would opine, rightly or wrongly, that it's not worth giving up the advantages of the .357 Magnum chambering for the convenience of moon clips, and that speed-loaders will serve the same purpose.

As you can see, much of the reason for this and just about anything else consists of happenstance and history rather than raw pragmatism. Then again, autoloaders can be quite reliable these days, too, so even pragmatism is more arguable than ever. In my opinion, if one has compelling reasons for using a revolver specifically and are concerned about capacity and reloading, then they should seriously consider revolvers chambered in rimless calibers and fed by moon clips. While I think that more people should go for this type of configuration, it will probably always be more of a niche than mainstream.

Most shooters just don't want to troubled by the fuss or bother involved using these clips when there equvalent rimmed relvolver cartridges. Just on man's opinion. :)

That may be true, but I think moon clips would be very useful for combat or even home-defense. The problem is that you generally can't have both in a single revolver, as thin moon clips and long cartridges aren't an ideal combination, and to use thick moon clips you can't have rimmed cartridges.

Finally, even though moonclipped revolvers stood the abuse of WWI combat, the moonclips can bend, in which case, you have a feed and/or reliability issue.

The problem is that you have to choose between strong, reliable moon clips like those used with .45 ACP cartridges, and rimmed cartridges--you can't have them both at once, as far as I'm aware.

OT, but this is debatable. Ever open a DA revolver up and peek inside? Not sure one can categorically say they're less complicated and have less parts. And they're not categorically more reliable, either. They're plenty sensitive to their own gremlins.

From what I've seen, at least, while autoloaders may be more subject to transient malfunctions that can be quickly cleared, revolvers are perhaps more subject to mechanical failures, and are generally more sensitive to physical abuse (they may be strong when firing, but probably can't take as much stress or shock from other sources).

S&W has made the 610 10mm revolver quite recently. Might still be in production even.

It's still listed in their catalog, so they probably do a production run every so often to meet the limited demand. It can shoot .40 S&W, too, making it useful for multiple purposes, sort of like .357 Magnum. However, as revered as 10mm Auto is in some circles, it's hard to challenge a legend in the world of revolvers.

Sam1911
April 7, 2010, 03:33 PM
In the hands of all but the best-trained experts, the use of speed-loaders has always looked awkward and clumsy to me, and not always so speedy.
You may be slightly overstating the case, as I see revolver shooters in competition regularly who manage to make it look something better than awkward and clumsy, but -- as I mentioned before -- this does take practice. Not VAST amounts of practice, but a considerable amount more practice than it seems folks commonly are willing to spend with their self-defense guns.

You have to twist the release knob without pulling the cartridges out, then some cartridges might refuse to come out, and then you have to properly seat all of them afterward.
Switching from the old HKS style speedloaders to the Safariland Comp IIs or IIIs will fix that problem, and get you VERY close to moon-clip speed if you put the practice in.

Even if you shoot a .44 and don't have that option (like ME) the HKSs can be run a lot more smoothly than this with practice. If you're having trouble releasing the cartridges and accidentally extracting them as you drop the loader, and having to properly seat them before closing the cylindar, your technique just needs to be fixed. Again, a practice issue -- but one that may seem daunting to folks who find autoloaders to be more "where it's at."

Perhaps worst of all, it demands from most people their full attention and for them to stare downward at the process for proper hand-eye coordination the whole time. I won't argue that one. I do drop my eyes to the gun and focus on the reload. And that's not something you can do "up in front" like you can when reloading an auto quickly. It doesn't bother me, really, but it is something to get used to.

9mmepiphany
April 7, 2010, 04:19 PM
Switching from the old HKS style speedloaders to the Safariland Comp IIs or IIIs will fix that problem, and get you VERY close to moon-clip speed if you put the practice in.
the switch from the HKS speedloader to the Safariland was ahuge improvement for me when i started in LE back in the days when we all shot revolvers.

the HKS had 3 strikes against it
1. the rounds jiggled in the holder
2. it required a separate motion to release the shells
3. the knob twisted the "wrong" way. twisting into the "window" can move the whole cylinder, whereas twisting outward the cylinder is already stablized through the crane abutting the frame.

Perhaps worst of all, it demands from most people their full attention and for them to stare downward at the process for proper hand-eye coordination the whole time.
if they are doing that, they are just reinforcing their technique through visual verification...much like a semi-auto shooter will "look" his mag into the magwell...but it isn't really needed. in my academy, one test was being able to reload your revolver in the dark...simulating darkness or wanting to keep your "eye" on your target...it's just a technique. it's a matter of indexing your support thumb on a flute on the cylinder and a finger between two shells...the finger finds the thumb and two shells align with two chambers, which in turn aligns all your bullets.

i've had cartridges "hang up" in chambers before (not fully seating), but that was during a 300 round match when i didn't brush out the chambers between stages (and it only happened with swagged wad cutters)...i don't think it would happen in less than 50 rounds.

the big disadvantage of carrying a revolver is that the moon clips/speed loaders are harder to carry as they are not as flat as magazines. plus they need to be correctly carried on the same side as the gun

Manco
April 7, 2010, 05:27 PM
You've all made valid arguments regarding speed-loaders and such, so I'll just say in general that anything that requires more effort and practice to do proficiently will result in fewer people being able to do it as proficiently as something simpler. It's not just a matter of being lazy or unwilling--some people just aren't going to be as skilled as others at some things. Just like revolvers are often preferred for their simplicity, I think that in terms of reloading a weapon, there is also an advantage in simplicity, and moon clips are pretty simple.

Another advantage of moon clips that I haven't seen mentioned yet is that they aid in the complete ejection of all spent rounds on the first try. Granted, this shouldn't be an issue with a well maintained revolver that is kept ready for defensive purposes at all times (and many train to push the ejector rod several times quickly anyway), but weird things can happen and some may view this as providing additional peace of mind.

And perhaps one of the major knocks against moon clips is not just having to load them but having to remove spent rounds from them, which is a hassle if one shoots a lot.

jfh
April 7, 2010, 06:25 PM
For revolver home defense use--what's the matter with a New York reload?

Jim H.

Rexster
April 7, 2010, 07:38 PM
Back before I realized N-frame sixguns were too big for my hands, I owned a couple of S&W Model 25s that used moon clips. Well, it didn't take too long to get tired of them, for concealed carry. Speedloaders are sturdier. Sure, speedloaders are bulkier, but a hard case to protect delicate moon clips makes THEM bulky, too.

FWIW, I found HKS speedloaders sturdier than Safariland, at least the Comp 1. Safariland Comp 1s are OK, until a clumsy, obese fellow officers steps on one's speedloader, on the qual line. Moreover, I LIKE the slight looseness, that helps jiggle the bullet noses right into the chambers. Having said all of that, the SL Variant speedloaders have caught my interest.

To echo jfh, though, my favorite speedloader for my SP101 revolvers are made by Ruger, Inc., of stainless steel, and bear an amazingly resemblance to an SP101. ;) I have carried as many as three SP101s at a time, during the time they were my 24/7 carry guns.

Gunfighter123
April 7, 2010, 07:38 PM
And then there is the S&W 627-4 ----------- a .38Super that uses 8 Rd. Moon Clips;
http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b199/Jailbird123/DSC01674.jpg

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b199/Jailbird123/TAC_001.jpg

Gunfighter123
April 7, 2010, 07:41 PM
S&W 646 in .40S&W;
http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b199/Jailbird123/DSC01468.jpg

S&W 610 in 10mm -- custom DA only;
http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b199/Jailbird123/SW610-10MM.jpg

Manco
April 7, 2010, 09:37 PM
For revolver home defense use--what's the matter with a New York reload?

Well, it costs twice as much and is far less convenient to carry around in the somewhat unlikely event that one would need to reload. It would be much easier to grab a full moon clip and stick it in one's left pocket or pants just in case. Maybe some of us here can wear a holster or two at all times, including in bed, but that wouldn't work for every situation. And for those who have a need to place several revolvers in strategic positions, this can get expensive in a hurry (and I for one would hate to have to run to some other part of the house to reload).

On the other hand, if one were a policeman and had to carry revolvers, or generally in the case of concealed carry, then a New York reload would definitely be the way to go, in my opinion.

9mmepiphany
April 8, 2010, 01:05 AM
It would be much easier to grab a full moon clip and stick it in one's left pocket or pants just in case

you reload a revolver with your left hand ?

Manco
April 8, 2010, 02:53 AM
you reload a revolver with your left hand ?

I momentarily forgot how most people reload revolvers. :) I can reload a swing-out revolver with my right hand (the switch method), as well, with my left-hand fingers grasping the cylinder through the frame, but sometimes it just seems simpler or more efficient to reload with my left hand (also lets me keep my right hand on the grip). I actually didn't learn the switch method until later. I just thought "The cylinder swings out to the left, so I should reload with my left hand just like I would a semiautomatic pistol"--it was consistent in that way and made sense to me. While I think there is a major advantage to the switch method when using speed-loaders, since I can actively prevent the cylinder from rotating, I was talking about moon clips, which I would reload with my left hand like I usually do with individual cartridges.

9mmepiphany
April 8, 2010, 11:36 AM
While I think there is a major advantage to the switch method when using speed-loaders, since I can actively prevent the cylinder from rotating, I was talking about moon clips, which I would reload with my left hand like I usually do with individual cartridges.
thank you for explaining. i guess i was just used to switching hands to reload from when i shot a SAA with the loading gate better situated for southpaws.

when i was at the academy, they taught us both methods...as well as loading from loops...and most folks found that reloading with their support hand usually caused more "cramping" of their forearm and more "break" in their wrist to align the loader and the cylinder.

when we moved on to low-light shooting and reloading, using the support hand to stabilize the cylinder proved much faster. i've just hadn't seen many left hand reloads except in pre-moonclip competition.

WC145
April 8, 2010, 01:40 PM
I own several revolvers in several different calibers that use moonclips, both factory set ups and guns that I've had modified. I prefer them over speed loaders and have never had a problem with them being "delicate". I keep a S&W 586 L-Comp on my nightstand.

Boxhead
April 8, 2010, 04:11 PM
I can't offer a view as just a few weeks ago I picked up my first "moon clip" revolver and I will not get out with it for a few months. Good stuff for me in the above posts.

http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2005-7/1055658/M25-2andBFR017.JPG

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