why do so many people say revolvers are more reliable than autoloaders?


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beehlebf
April 9, 2012, 08:39 PM
Revolvers are complicated pieces of equipment. They have timing that needs to be precise. They may not be ammo finnicky like some autoloaders can but have their own sets of priloblems. I will talk to shooters who say a revolver cant fail. They say its simpler, quite frankly many modern autoloaders will have less moving parts than a revolver. I feel that shooters see autoloaders fail with picky ammo therefore they assume then inferior. I know if i need to replace parts on an autoloader it will be alot easier than getting a locked revolver back running.

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M-Cameron
April 9, 2012, 08:49 PM
True, revolvers can fail..... But problems with revolvers are a lot more rare than with auto loaders.

As you said, revolvers can go out of time.... But for a revolver to go out of time enough to the point that it won't function takes a LOT of screwing around.

Revolvers are also not ammo picky..... With autoloaders, the wrong ammo can cause FTF, FTE, ect. Those are problems you simply don't have with a revolver



That's not to say a revolver is a better gun than an autoloader, because each have their strengths and weaknesses. It's just that from a mechanical standpoint, there is less to go wrong in a revolver.

R.W.Dale
April 9, 2012, 08:51 PM
revolvers do fail but with the exclusion of bullet pulling big bore magnums its very seldom due to ammunition. You oft hear of the desirability of a "second strike" with an autoloader. Well on a revolver that second strike happens of a fresh cartridge rather than the same crappy round that didn't go off the first time.

In terms of pure mechanical failure I feel the two platforms are about even. I will say though that any mechanical problem tends to render an revolver inoperable compared to an automatic where there are some things that can go wrong and the gun still function in a limited capacity.

btg3
April 9, 2012, 08:59 PM
I know if i need to replace parts on an autoloader it will be alot easier than getting a locked revolver back running.

It seems that reliability is generally questioned in the context of self-defense -- in which case, ease of replacing parts is a mute point. That aside, I agree that:
1. Those who argue that you can keep yankin' the trigger on a revolver until it fires, have little appreciation for wheel gun complexity.
2. Technology gains have brought autoloaders well beyond the earliers years of dubious reliability.

Given that the majority of both military and law enforcement professionals no longer carry revlolvers on their belt, those that cling to revolvers do so for their own reasons rather than choosing the superior platform.

allaroundhunter
April 9, 2012, 09:03 PM
I have found that when a revolver malfunctions, it typically requires a disassembly to fix. However, when an autoloader malfunctions, it is generally an FTE which is fixed with either a tap-rack or a double feed which is fixed by ejecting the mag, racking the slide 3 times, inserting a fresh mag, and then chambering a new round. These two autoloader malfunctions can be cleared in under 5 seconds.

So, IME revolvers do fail less often, but they take longer to fix when they do fail than do semi-automatics. Autoloaders are still very reliable however, as my M&P has been 100% and my Glock is around the 97% mark. Both good enough for me.

JEB
April 9, 2012, 09:09 PM
In terms of pure mechanical failure I feel the two platforms are about even. I will say though that any mechanical problem tends to render an revolver inoperable compared to an automatic where there are some things that can go wrong and the gun still function in a limited capacity.

R.W.Dale nailed it! my exact opinion as well.

GLOOB
April 9, 2012, 09:15 PM
Revolvers are complicated pieces of equipment.
Most people don't really care what's underneath that side plate.

In the Mongol Army, every individual warrior could craft, repair, and maintain his own bow and arrows. In the European armies, the archers were issued bows and arrows from the bowyers and fletchers. When something went wrong with their equipment, they took it back to the expert. So it goes, today. Most people have no clue what makes a gun go bang, and for the most part they don't care.

beehlebf
April 9, 2012, 09:23 PM
All very good points. If u stay away from low quality revolvers and autoloaders u will probably be ok. Their seems to be more cheap autos than revolvers. Really when u think about guns have it touh. People expect them to work dirty and unmaintained 100% of the time.

wanderinwalker
April 9, 2012, 09:38 PM
R.W.Dale is spot on! I consider myself a "wheelguns are real guns" shooter, but when something goes down on my 6-shooter, I have a club. (Granted, it makes a much better club than my Glocks, but the Glocks will still be slinging bullets... ;) ). On the other hand, the revolver will function 100% for 6 shots if held in a slippery hand, by trigger finger and thumb, shaking so fast the sights are blurred. I have faith in the Glock, but that's a FTE waiting to happen.

Oh, and my favorite revolver "What the?": crud under the ejector star. You get your first six off, reload and go for the next 6 and wonder why the cylinder won't close.

Bushpilot
April 9, 2012, 09:44 PM
IMHO the reason more people say it is because it’s true... They both may be similar in terms of reliability from mechanical breakage but the revolver is the winner under most normal conditions in terms of functional reliability. Even if you give the auto the benefit of the doubt and say that a revolver is TWICE as likely to suffer from mechanical breakage under harsh conditions (which in reality I think is a stretch) I don't think its uncommon to see 5 times more autos in the shop with malfunctioning issues that range from ammo sensitivity, magazine problems or feeding/ejection problems that of course just aren't applicable to a revolver. Never the less, regardless of the reason, I think a revolver is more likely than an auto to go BANG when the trigger is pulled under most conditions.

beehlebf
April 9, 2012, 09:53 PM
Would a high quality revolver or autoloader be more reliable in a toss it in the mud and getting it all gritty dirty sort of way? Not that this is ever the case for shooting or concealed carry just wondering

btg3
April 9, 2012, 09:53 PM
At an Atlanta indoor range which had a large selection of rental handguns, I asked the owner which handguns gave the most trouble and which were trouble free. From best to worst...
Glock and M&P polymer pistols
SW and Ruger revolvers
1911
other revolvers

My experience for a few years of IDPA shooting...
Polymer pistols run almost trouble free.
1911 have the most hiccups.
Not enough revolvers to assess.

wrs840
April 9, 2012, 09:55 PM
If you just do the right thing and acquire a dozen or more of both you can make up your own mind what's good for what.

Bushpilot
April 9, 2012, 10:22 PM
My experience for a few years of IDPA shooting...
Polymer pistols run almost trouble free.
1911 have the most hiccups.
Not enough revolvers to assess.

I really don't think that the material the frame is made out of makes the slightest bit of difference in terms of functional reliability as long as it meets some basic requirements. Most of the actual friction points on most polymer guns are steel anyway. The frames are made of polymer for other reasons; weight, corrosion resistance, ect.

BSA1
April 9, 2012, 11:13 PM
You are making a statement which you fail to support . The revolver is superior is the following areas;

1. The revolver is less sensitive to ammo failures. With the semi-auto a clearance drill must be following to bring the piece back into working order. With a revolver a simple second pull on the trigger brings the piece in firing order.

2. The revolver can fire a wide variety of bullet types and velocities. The semi-auto is limited on bullet style to prevent feedway failures and a narrow range of power to function.

3. Repairs and maintenance is easy. With a S&W revolver the sideplate is easily removed exposing all of internal parts which can be easily taken out with the minimium of tools. All I need is a screwdriver to release the mainspring, to remove the sideplate screws and to compress a spring inside the action.

Semi-autos are a can of worms with screwdrivers, slave pins and controlling springs to keep them from being launched to the darkest corner of the reloading room never to be seen again.

4. As for reliablity in harsh field environments the revolver served well in the trenches of WW I.

5. Revolvers are more inherently accurate than semi-autos. There is no getting around the fact that having the barrel locked in place with the frame is a more accurate platform than trying to get the barrel of a semi-auto to return to the same place after each shot.

5. The main advantage to a semi-auto is shooting a lot of bullets. Most cops are bad shots so they like semi-autos.

If you prefer autos so be it but do not make untrue statements about the revolver to bloster your feelings.

sirsloop
April 9, 2012, 11:15 PM
because its true?

My revolver has shot tens of thousands of rounds of homebrew full horse .357 magum. I broke the locking block on my semi after 7000rds of factory 115gr 9mm.

MrBorland
April 10, 2012, 12:20 AM
why do so many people say revolvers are more reliable than autoloaders?

Because so few run them hard enough.

Kiln
April 10, 2012, 12:22 AM
because its true?

My revolver has shot tens of thousands of rounds of homebrew full horse .357 magum. I broke the locking block on my semi after 7000rds of factory 115gr 9mm.
Thats what you get when you buy a Beretta 92.

Also, I've had multiple high end revolvers lock up on me during firing, not allowing for a simple second trigger pull to advance to the next round.

wrs840
April 10, 2012, 12:59 AM
...I've had multiple high end revolvers lock up on me during firing, not allowing for a simple second trigger pull to advance to the next round.

Really? Which ones?

PabloJ
April 10, 2012, 01:18 AM
Revolvers are complicated pieces of equipment. They have timing that needs to be precise. They may not be ammo finnicky like some autoloaders can but have their own sets of priloblems. I will talk to shooters who say a revolver cant fail. They say its simpler, quite frankly many modern autoloaders will have less moving parts than a revolver. I feel that shooters see autoloaders fail with picky ammo therefore they assume then inferior. I know if i need to replace parts on an autoloader it will be alot easier than getting a locked revolver back running.
EIGHT-shot shorter barrel .357 S&W revolver loaded with standard .38 158gr JHPs would be impossible to beat for the first EIGHT shots......and von Reichenau always said two shots were plenty.

R.W.Dale
April 10, 2012, 01:23 AM
I've had a couple of revolver lockups one a Taurus raging bull the other a ruger sbh.

It turns out that in the unlikely event of a box of 44spl ammunition comes with two flashholeless rounds the primer will instantly pierce and stick the firing pin in the primer cup.

I also had a security six that had finally gotten shot enough to go out of time to the point of locking up. But that was one well used revolver.

posted via mobile device.

captain awesome
April 10, 2012, 01:37 AM
In a word , and as already stated, picky. I have fired thousands of rounds through a gp100 I sold, more thousands of rounds through the model 27 that replaced it. never, not once had a hick up with either of those, and they were all reloads. Concerning the rest of my revolvers, only one (out of nearly 20) has ever given me any issues, and it is because of a hammer spring being too light to strike the primers hard enough to fire; a problem that can happen with both platforms. It came that way from the factory.
As for my semi autos, every single one of them has at some point or another had failures to feed, fire or eject, some of them more than others.
So, with that in mind, can you guess what I have under my bed and in my pocket?

Shoobee
April 10, 2012, 01:38 AM
I think the revolver used to be the most reliable, however today, the semi-auto's are the most reliable. I have changed my thinking on this as well, from revolver to semi-auto as the most reliable.

I suppose the only way to settle it would be to get the fastest gun in the west with a revolver, against the fastest gun with a semi-auto, and let them draw on each other with snap caps, and out of 100 tries, see who shoots first, and see if either handgun, the revolver or the pistol, jams.

If neither of them jams, and both are equally fast, then the tie goes to the semi-auto because all subsequent shots would be single action already, whereas the revolver would continue to shoot double action, unless fumbling with the trigger, which takes more time.

You need scientific data to come to an absolute conclusion about anything. And there is no recent data available, that I know of. I tend to lean towards the semi-auto camp however.

As I read the above posts, they mostly sound anecdotal. And anecdotal is non-scientific.

Lost Sheep
April 10, 2012, 02:15 AM
You are making a statement which you fail to support . The revolver is superior is the following areas;

1. The revolver is less sensitive to ammo failures. With the semi-auto a clearance drill must be following to bring the piece back into working order. With a revolver a simple second pull on the trigger brings the piece in firing order.
Clearance drill is a lot quicker and easier than unjamming a revolver tied up by bullets jumping crimp.

Revolvers are more sensitive to bad maintenance than military grade autoloaders. Target grade autoloaders are more sensitive to everything than the military grade..

2. The revolver can fire a wide variety of bullet types and velocities. The semi-auto is limited on bullet style to prevent feedway failures and a narrow range of power to function.
Sure, but once you have a standard, reliable load dialed in, the auto is pretty darned good. And who goes in harm's way without thoroughly tested ammunition?
3. Repairs and maintenance is easy. With a S&W revolver the sideplate is easily removed exposing all of internal parts which can be easily taken out with the minimium of tools. All I need is a screwdriver to release the mainspring, to remove the sideplate screws and to compress a spring inside the action.

Semi-autos are a can of worms with screwdrivers, slave pins and controlling springs to keep them from being launched to the darkest corner of the reloading room never to be seen again.
Same thing happened with my S&W K-22. Parts flew out of the gun and I had little clue how they went back in. Fact is, field stripping an autoloader is most often done without any tools at all.

Detail stripping is another thing entirely. If you don't follow good gunsmithing techniques with any gun type when detail stripping, anyone should expect to lose parts.

4. As for reliablity in harsh field environments the revolver served well in the trenches of WW I.
Right alongside the venerable Browning-designed 1911 Semi-Auto.
5. Revolvers are more inherently accurate than semi-autos. There is no getting around the fact that having the barrel locked in place with the frame is a more accurate platform than trying to get the barrel of a semi-auto to return to the same place after each shot.
Not hard to do at all. I will admit that tightening up accuracy does usually come at the price of a bit of reliability. But I do have a couple of 1911s that are the equal in accuracy of my Dan Wesson revolvers. Colt Gold Cup, two Randalls (one, sadly and unwisely, gone) and, surprisingly, a Star PD.
5. The main advantage to a semi-auto is shooting a lot of bullets. Most cops are bad shots so they like semi-autos.
Irrelevant to the reliability question, but a good argument in favor of the bottom-feeder. Which side are you on?
If you prefer autos so be it but do not make untrue statements about the revolver to bloster your feelings.
Disclaimer: I like shooting revolvers and semi-autos equally. I believe both are about equally reliable, but get unreliable in very different ways. For example, the advancing hand on a revolver is delicate and finely tuned to achieve good timing (inherently essential to reliability). Likewise the extractor and the magazines of autoloaders. Revolvers fail differently than autoloaders. That is all.

Note that one of the things that makes semi-autos SO RELIABLE (that is, going "BANG" every time) is generous clearances so mud, dirt and fouling don't stop the gun from working. No revolvers I know of have that kind of flexibility. You are not able to trade accuracy for reliability with a revolver as easily as you can with an auto. So, flexibility goes to the auto? Except that revolvers can use a wider variety of ammo, so flexibility goes to the revolver?

To me, this debate is a tempest in a teapot. We are comparing apples and oranges. Both beneficial fruit. I like limes. Anyone want to compare the reliability of a break-action single shot to the reliability of a falling block?

Lost Sheep

Lost Sheep
April 10, 2012, 02:43 AM
I think the revolver used to be the most reliable, however today, the semi-auto's are the most reliable. I have changed my thinking on this as well, from revolver to semi-auto as the most reliable.

I suppose the only way to settle it would be to get the fastest gun in the west with a revolver, against the fastest gun with a semi-auto, and let them draw on each other with snap caps, and out of 100 tries, see who shoots first, and see if either handgun, the revolver or the pistol, jams.
I have to disagree with you Shoobee. Your face-off proposal does not test reliability in real use. Snap-caps do not test all forms of failure.
If neither of them jams, and both are equally fast, then the tie goes to the semi-auto because all subsequent shots would be single action already, whereas the revolver would continue to shoot double action
Why would the tie go to the autoloader? One of the problems with Autoloaders (DA/SA type) is that the transition from DA to SA impairs accuracy. A DAO Auto or SA auto might provide a better argument, don't you think?


unless fumbling with the trigger, which takes more time.

(edit 4/11/12: I got Bob Munden and Jerry Miculek mixed up. The double-action shooter with the 12 rounds in 3 seconds is Jerry Miculek. My mistake.)

Bob Munden has proved time and time again that you can get six rounds downrange faster with a revolver than with a semi-auto. The revolver's cyclic rate is not dependent on the return spring and a slide getting into battery, but on how fast the shooter can pull a trigger, and Bob was FAST. By its design, an autoloader can only cycle at the rate its return spring allows, which is limited by the need to be able to recoil back far enough to strip and chamber the next round.

Munden has fired 12 round (6 shots, reload and six more from the same gun) in 3 seconds. Most autoloaders with a 12 shot mag can't do that no matter how fast the shooter can pull the trigger because the slide just doesn't move that fast.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLk1v5bSFPw
Disclaimer. Munden was an exhibition shooter and had finely tuned revolvers, extraordinary hand-eye coordination and lots of practice. But you did say "fastest gun in the west with a revolver".

You need scientific data to come to an absolute conclusion about anything. And there is no recent data available, that I know of. I tend to lean towards the semi-auto camp however.

As I read the above posts, they mostly sound anecdotal. And anecdotal is non-scientific.
Anecdotal is illuminating, though. And face it. All data is anecdotal. Scientific? Science forms a hypothesis and then tests that hypothesis. A poorly formed hypothesis winds up being unprovable as well as un-disprovable. I have yet to see anyone define "reliability" in a testable manner that would settle this question. It is far too broad. It does, however, lead to a lively debate and provides a lot of food for thought.

Lost Sheep

Shoobee
April 10, 2012, 02:47 AM
Well then you also have the issue of the super-expert versus the ordinary joe.

It still strikes me that the double and single action semi-autos are more reliable, faster, and more accurate for the ordinary joe's (LEOs, military, etc) than the revolver.

You have cited one expert, however it seems to me (by inference) that his results are not relevant. Does my logic make sense to you?

Lost Sheep
April 10, 2012, 03:27 AM
Well then you also have the issue of the super-expert versus the ordinary joe.

It still strikes me that the double and single action semi-autos are more reliable, faster, and more accurate for the ordinary joe's (LEOs, military, etc) than the revolver.

You have cited one expert, however it seems to me (by inference) that his results are not relevant. Does my logic make sense to you?
No, what post were you responding to? If it was to one of mine, was it #24 or #25?

In your post #23, you posed a contest between two experts, not an expert and an average shooter, so I responded in kind. I knew the name "Bob Munden". I don't know of a similarly expert semi-auto shooter, though, as I said, no semiauto shooter can make that slide move any faster than physics allow.

I could have cited Jerry Miculek instead of Bob Munden, but he shoots revolvers, too. However, there is this video which I have not examined in detail, but you can view it at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbC5mEc6ipE&feature=related
Let us know what you think.

But this is all beside the point, I think.

The original question was between two action types, presumably in the hands of average, well trained shooters (though that was not specified) and enough of them that the results are statistically useful.

My contention, as I stated in my post #24 "I believe both are about equally reliable, but get unreliable in very different ways." Let me define "reliable" and I will take either side of the debate. However, while I like to think of myself as open-minded, but not so wide open that my brains fall out.

Like I say, good, lively debate brings a lot of thoughts and varied points of view to different people who might not have considered those things before. I almost always learn something reading here.

I don't mean to be confrontational and if I come across as such, I beg your forgiveness.

Lost Sheep

edit: In this and my earlier post I got the names Jerry Miculek and Bob Munden mixed up. My apologies to those two gentlemen and all the forum.

Readyrod
April 10, 2012, 10:31 AM
This is from another thread but it makes sense. Revolvers can handle neglect better than semi autos, but semi autos can handle abuse better than revolvers.

j1
April 10, 2012, 10:46 AM
When most revolvers fail to fire all the shooter has to do is pull the trigger again to place a fresh cartridge under the hammer. Easier and faster than clearing a jammed auto.

scythefwd
April 10, 2012, 11:01 AM
because for the longest time revolvers WERE more reliable than semi-autos. That said, we still have good revolvers from 130 years ago that are functioning fine with appropriate loads... there aren't many semi-autos that have stood that test of time. Hell. I'm not sure there are any autoloaders that are old enough to have even taken that test of time. There are a couple models that are close.. the 1911, but you don't see too many of them from 1911 to even verify function. My old man has an 1890's revolver at the house that still goes bang.

allaroundhunter
April 10, 2012, 01:25 PM
When most revolvers fail to fire all the shooter has to do is pull the trigger again to place a fresh cartridge under the hammer. Easier and faster than clearing a jammed auto.

False. This is true when the problem is ammunition (which is rare with modern centerfire ammo) or a light primer strike (also rare with revolvers). When a revolver fails to fire due to mechanical problems, the gun is out of the fight 99% of the time.

scythefwd
April 10, 2012, 01:34 PM
but when a semi fail mechanically its still in? most fte/ftf ive seen in semi autos was ammo caused. its not like you're going to swap to a lighter recoil spring in the middle of a fire fight either.

lets be honest here if the gun mechanically breaks... its out of the fight. I cant think of one semi breakage that is both mechanical and lets you still fight. Extractor will leave the gun functional... but it wont be useful. slide stop... out of commission. besides springs wearing out, these are the most common mechanical failures i hear about.

Girodin
April 10, 2012, 02:04 PM
revolvers do fail but with the exclusion of bullet pulling big bore magnums its very seldom due to ammunition.

This can happen with other revolvers as well. I personally experience it with a 9mm revolver shooting factory 115 grain ammo.

Shoobee
April 10, 2012, 02:05 PM
With regular care and maintenance, and an occasional trip to the gunsmith, neither the revolver nor the semi-auto should fail.

It then all comes down to the shooter, and for ordinary joes (LEOs and military), either type would probably be about the same.

Semi-auto's give you more cartridges, and against a Mexican gang that may be what you need. In Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Southern California that may be the determining factor.

Otherwise everything else is probably equal.

Anecdotally I know of several women who prefer the .38 revolver.

I myself (US Male) prefer the 45ACP. But even so that is with 2 legged predators in mind. Whenever I venture into the forests or mountains, I have my .44 rem mag revolver in tow in case any 4 pawed predators lose their fear of man.

Jonah71
April 10, 2012, 03:32 PM
You are making a statement which you fail to support . The revolver is superior is the following areas;

1. The revolver is less sensitive to ammo failures. With the semi-auto a clearance drill must be following to bring the piece back into working order. With a revolver a simple second pull on the trigger brings the piece in firing order.

2. The revolver can fire a wide variety of bullet types and velocities. The semi-auto is limited on bullet style to prevent feedway failures and a narrow range of power to function.

3. Repairs and maintenance is easy. With a S&W revolver the sideplate is easily removed exposing all of internal parts which can be easily taken out with the minimium of tools. All I need is a screwdriver to release the mainspring, to remove the sideplate screws and to compress a spring inside the action.

Semi-autos are a can of worms with screwdrivers, slave pins and controlling springs to keep them from being launched to the darkest corner of the reloading room never to be seen again.

4. As for reliablity in harsh field environments the revolver served well in the trenches of WW I.

5. Revolvers are more inherently accurate than semi-autos. There is no getting around the fact that having the barrel locked in place with the frame is a more accurate platform than trying to get the barrel of a semi-auto to return to the same place after each shot.

5. The main advantage to a semi-auto is shooting a lot of bullets. Most cops are bad shots so they like semi-autos.

If you prefer autos so be it but do not make untrue statements about the revolver to bloster your feelings.
Thank You...now all I need to do is agree.

allaroundhunter
April 10, 2012, 03:44 PM
but when a semi fail mechanically its still in? most fte/ftf ive seen in semi autos was ammo caused. its not like you're going to swap to a lighter recoil spring in the middle of a fire fight either.

Semi's are pickier with ammo than revolvers are, which is what causes the majority of their malfunctions.

99% of semi-autos malfunction due to ammunition. An easy manipulation will clear it.
99% of revolver malfunctions are not ammo related. And these failures typically cannot be fixed quickly.

I am saying that a malfunction in a revolver will more than likely put the gun out of commission, because it will be a mechanical failure; whereas a malfunction in an automatic will not will most likely be able to be cleared quickly and the gun still operable.

JohnBT
April 10, 2012, 05:14 PM
I believe I've seen two revolver malfunctions in 50 years that locked the guns up briefly. And they both had very tight, very dirty, cylinder gaps.

When I was a kid, cheap mass produced revolvers were more reliable than cheap mass produced autoloaders. They probably still are.

I read about semi-auto malfunctions on line every single day. Kel-Tecs, Sig 238, the Solo, and the list goes on. Look at the recent Kimber thread, a famous person said not to trust them. Ammo, mags, it's always something. Slide stops break, safeties fall off, the net is full of stories.

I have never heard a revolver user, or maker, warn folks to shoot 500 rounds of your carry ammo to make certain the gun works. :) Maybe the revolver guys have been living dangerously.

Loosedhorse
April 10, 2012, 08:11 PM
Because so many people have had autos jam on them, but not revolvers? You can argue with opinions, but not with someone's personal experience.

ACP
April 10, 2012, 08:30 PM
I've been shooting handguns for about 20 years.

I have NEVER had a revolver fail to chamber or fire a round.

I have FREQUENTLY had quality semiautos fail to chamber or eject a round -- Colt, Glock, S&W just to name a few. Feed ramp angle, bullet ogive and extractor/magazine spring tension seem to be the main culprits.

That's why I say revolvers are more reliable than semiautos.

jad0110
April 10, 2012, 09:49 PM
First, I'd like to preface my post by stating that as mechanical devices, either can break. Either can be 100% dead reliable, or they can be well, 100% dead on arrival. That said...

As for my semi autos, every single one of them has at some point or another had failures to feed, fire or eject, some of them more than others.

My experience as well. Every semi auto I've owned, and nearly every one that I've shot, has screwed up at point or another.

They say its simpler, quite frankly many modern autoloaders will have less moving parts than a revolver.

Some have less parts, others don't. All things being exactly equal, more moving parts in theory would increase the odds of a failure. But all things are rarely equal. A Camry has more moving parts (and far greater complexity overall) than a Yugo. So the Yugo should last longer, right? :D

If the gun is well made with quality materials and it is properly maintained, it should work fine for years and thousands of rounds.

Sure, but once you have a standard, reliable load dialed in, the auto is pretty darned good. And who goes in harm's way without thoroughly tested ammunition?

Sadly, lots of people. Dare I say a majority of gun owners probably buy the gun, 50 rounds of ammo and call it good. Some may buy 100 rounds, and shoot 50 before throwing the gun in a drawer to sit for 20 years. I think here on THR, we are generally the exception to this rule.

Given that the majority of both military and law enforcement professionals no longer carry revlolvers on their belt, those that cling to revolvers do so for their own reasons rather than choosing the superior platform.

I'm not the police or the military. I get to pick what I shoot best (most consistently) and has proven it's reliability. For me, that is a double action revolver. For me, it is the superior weapon. For someone else, it might be an XDM, Ruger P90, etc.

On the other hand, the revolver will function 100% for 6 shots if held in a slippery hand, by trigger finger and thumb, shaking so fast the sights are blurred. I have faith in the Glock, but that's a FTE waiting to happen.

I like doing the limp wrist / limp arm test with my guns to simulate shooting with an injury. I suppose I could put water on the grips to make them slippery, simulating blood, but that probably wouldn't be very safe to do. Most autos I've tried this with jam roughly every other shot (more or less), except for my 1911. Like my revolvers, it didn't really care how I held it. Granted, in such a situation your accuracy is likely going to suck, so this is probably all moot.

Ironic actually, as some autos that have gone through some of this absolutely ridiculous, over-the-top torture tests without a hitch (dunking in mud, getting run over by a truck, thrown into a cement mixer, thrown out of a plane, etc) can fail because they are held weakly. Something to keep in mind.

If neither of them jams, and both are equally fast, then the tie goes to the semi-auto because all subsequent shots would be single action already, whereas the revolver would continue to shoot double action, unless fumbling with the trigger, which takes more time.

If you are waiting for the gun to settle back on target before releasing the trigger and starting the next squeeze (as most shooters seem to do) then yeah, a short SA trigger will be faster to shoot than a longer DA. Now, keep that DA trigger in a constant state of smooth motion (squeeze, bang, release during recoil, start next squeeze during recover, target acquired, bang, repeat), either can be plenty fast. Both autos and revolvers have a speed limit: autos are limited by the speed the slide can cycle and revolvers by how fast the trigger can reset. And ultimately, the speed limit could be how fast the gun comes back on target. Either can be faster than most of us are capable of.

One of the problems with Autoloaders (DA/SA type) is that the transition from DA to SA impairs accuracy.

It trips me up too, but in fairness this is a training issue and something a lot of folks are able to overcome. Same with pure DA shooting.

scythefwd
April 11, 2012, 06:55 AM
So you are dismissing ammo failures completely for revolver then but not for the semi? Basically, to determine reliabilty, we need to assume that the gun, be it revolver or semi, is %100 reliable unless the gun itself breaks. If we throw in ammo related failures on one platform, we need to do it on both. A failure is a failure, dismissing them for one platform and not the other is in no way an apples to apples comparison. Including ammo failures, a quality revolver can handle a larger range of ammo, and will go bang more times before it stops. You have eliminated 3 types failures immediately with the revolver. No more failure to feed, extract, or eject. If we discount ammo failures, then it is a test of material durability and design. On revolvers, you have springs to break, the pawls that turn the cylinder can get messed up. Firing pin can break. Frame can break. On a semi-auto, you don't have to deal with the pawls, but you do have to deal with variable spring tensions on the mags, all of the other breakages are possible from the list on the revolver. Depending on what is wrong with the pawls, you can hand rotate the cylinder and be back up.. just slower, so even that isn't a guaranteed stoppage. You also have slide stop breakages, extractor breakages. There IS more to go wrong with a semi-auto, because it isn't being mechanically controlled throughout the firing cycle. Yes, a revolver can break. Many will, but they do have the fact that they aren't relying on the shooters arm, or a sufficently charged case (saami spec ammo... improperly loaded ammo is a whole different bag of worms), or inertia to complete the cycle. I saw a cx4 that wouldn't eject reliably when firing lighter, but still saami spec, plinking ammo. There is a variance in pressures in factory ammo. As long as the bullet leaves the barrel, the revolver won't have many, if any ammo related failures. Even a failure to fire can be fixed with a second strike most of the time (same applies to a semi-auto, if you have that ability.. many don't any more.. all revolvers have it). The bullet leaving the barrel is the last thing to happen on a revolver, it's one of the first things in a chain of events that have to go right on a semi auto. How many threads have we seen where a fluff and buff fixes feed issues? Or a polishing of the ramp/chamber fixing them? You just don't have to do that with a revolver.. either it's going to work or it isnt out of the box. Yeah, there are timing issues.. but they aren't common. I don't hear about them very often at least.. they may be very common for all I know. I do hear about a semi needing a burr from machining removed to cycle right or they have to use +P ammo to get it to cycle right. Hey, they got it to cycle right... awesome... BUT they did have to fix a mechanical flaw before it would even cycle right. The most recent I heard about was a kimber... so we aren't talking about cheap guns. Hell, a fluff and buff did wonders for my cz...but it was reliable before the F&B.... only 2 failures in 200 rounds before I got rid of it. Tap/rap bang cleared all issues too. It was better suited for combat than my ruger six single.. but the ruger IS more reliable. It's never had a failure.

To be fair, I'm only counting quality firearms for semi-autos. I'm counting taurus, heritage arms, etc.. in for revolvers. Do you really want me to include RG, Rohm, FIE in for reliabillty on the semi-autos? How bout phoenix? High point after 2000 rounds?

I wonder what the MTBF (mean time between failure) is for a quality semi-auto vs. a quality revolver. I'd be inclined to believe that the MTBF is probably pretty close, with the revolver slightly ahead just due to longer development on the platform. I'm betting it's something stupid that takes the semi-auto out of it too.. like a chipped or broken extractor. And that is one malfunction tap/rap/bang wont always fix (depends if the chipped/broken extractor got the case clear of the chamber or not).

Thats a fair comparison. Lets conveniently forget to mention that semi-auto's mechanically break as frequently as a revolver.. putting both out of the fight.

fatcat4620
April 11, 2012, 07:25 AM
Reliability= glock> revolver> sharp stick> 1911

scythefwd
April 11, 2012, 07:31 AM
fatcat - care to use something like .. you know evidence to back up that claim? I know a glock has done a 20,000 round with no cleaning torture test... got anything that shows that has even been attempted on a revolver? I think you're working with an incomplete data set and making an inference that there is no data to back up.

If you want to buy me 20,000 rounds of 32 H&R magnum, I'll gladly test my ruger without cleaning it. Right now it has in the neighborhood of 50 through it since the last cleaning.

JohnBT
April 11, 2012, 09:07 AM
Like most people, I don't abuse my guns and I clean them fairly often. Torture tests are useless to me.

scythefwd
April 11, 2012, 10:31 AM
But john.. I want the free 20k rounds for the ruger.. I'm not worried at all about it being able to handle it :)

SlamFire1
April 11, 2012, 11:07 AM
Also, I've had multiple high end revolvers lock up on me during firing, not allowing for a simple second trigger pull to advance to the next round.

I would be curious to know the revolvers and failure modes.

If you have over pressure loads and the primer flows around the firing pin, it is going to jam a Ruger and any revolver that has a free floating firing pin. These mechanisms do not have a positive firing pin retraction.

Older S&W's with the firing pin on the hammer nose, you can pull the hammer back and clear the jam.

My revolvers are trouble free when compared to semi autos.

I remember the early days of IPSC, all these M1911 guys with their customized M1911's, and these things were jam o matics.

The current crop of semi autos is much better but I still see jams in autos.

Not that many people shooting revolvers as there used to be.

Sky
April 11, 2012, 11:56 AM
why do so many people say revolvers are more reliable than autoloaders?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Revolvers are complicated pieces of equipment. They have timing that needs to be precise. They may not be ammo finnicky like some autoloaders can but have their own sets of priloblems. I will talk to shooters who say a revolver cant fail. They say its simpler, quite frankly many modern autoloaders will have less moving parts than a revolver. I feel that shooters see autoloaders fail with picky ammo therefore they assume then inferior. I know if i need to replace parts on an autoloader it will be alot easier than getting a locked revolver back running.
__________________


Anecdotal; With out getting into what is bigger or best....I know guys who carried autos all their working lives and when they retired started carrying revolvers. On the other hand some kept their service brand make of auto. There are quality watches that are several hundred years old that will still run to this day. I tend to figure if it was put together with decent quality parts then when the trigger is pulled the revolver will cycle and go boom. The revolver is all I had for several years and even carried one in a shoulder holster during the great patriotic war.

Anecdotal is illuminating, though. And face it. All data is anecdotal. Scientific? Science forms a hypothesis and then tests that hypothesis. A poorly formed hypothesis winds up being unprovable as well as un-disprovable. I have yet to see anyone define "reliability" in a testable manner that would settle this question. It is far too broad. It does, however, lead to a lively debate and provides a lot of food for thought.


scythefwd post 41 pretty well covered my feelings on the subject.

coalman
April 11, 2012, 12:27 PM
People say revolvers are more reliable vs. autos because they are more reliable. Simple. Nothing said about revolvers being infallible. Nothing said about autos be unreliable. Keyword is more... and, comparing equal quality, they are.

45_auto
April 11, 2012, 01:24 PM
People who don't know any better say revolvers are more reliable vs. autos because they think they are more reliable. Simple. Nothing said about revolvers being infallible. Nothing said about autos being unreliable. Keywords are "don't know any better". Comparing equal quality, there isn't any difference.

You really believe that all those cops and military guys want to die, so they carry semi-autos to give the bad guys a better chance at them?

svtruth
April 11, 2012, 02:16 PM
I've had revolvers lock up because of powder debris accumulating under the ejector star. The cartridges backed out enough to jam the cylinder.

jmr40
April 11, 2012, 03:01 PM
Also, I've had multiple high end revolvers lock up on me during firing, not allowing for a simple second trigger pull to advance to the next round

Same with me. Overall I've had far more issues with revolvers not working than semi's. Ejector rods backing out, unburned powder under the ejector jamming up the cylinder. Out of spec cylinders, worn out parts. etc. Seen it with Rugers, Smith's and Colts.

The only 9mm pistols I've ever had a single malfunction with was CZ. Every single Glock, S&W, Ruger, Sig, FN, Beretta, or any other semi I've owned in 9mm has run 100% of the time.

I've had a few 40 pistols have the occasional FTF.

Every Glock, Ruger, Sig, FN, or S&W pistol I've ever owned in 45 has run 100% of the time.

My only 10mm experience is with a Glock 20, once again it has been 100%.

Very few 1911's I've ever owned were 100% reliable. The current 4 that I own are S&W X 2, Kimber and Colt. Those 4 have never malfunctioned. That is why those were kept and the others sent down the road. If you buy a quality semi and feed it quality ammo, they are very reliable. If you don't you may have issues

Basically if you take a quality revolver, keep it clean, take it to the range and shoot it, clean it, and keep it in the safe, you may well shoot a lifetime with zero issues. With a semi, you may well run into the rare malfunction that is almost always because of sub standard ammo.

But if you take a gun out and use it in harsh conditions where the gun will get dirty, dropped, and otherwise abused any of them will eventually stop working. But the semi will not only work far longer, it will be quicker to get back in action when it does go down.

Many of the revolvers major parts are outside the gun, exposed to weather, dirt and abuse. A semi's main moving parts are enclosed where they are better protected. Semi's are much easier to strip, clean and repair in the field. When a revolver goes down, it is out until it can be repaired with tools not usually available in the field.

B!ngo
April 11, 2012, 03:45 PM
So, lets try to factor this problem a bit and document some assumptions. I am by no means a handgun expert, but I am a bit of a scientific method and probability expert and some of this, I would argue, would apply:

I have to assume that both weapons are properly maintained and loaded with high-quality ammo. If this is not true, then the shooter is just not trying to succeed here. And yes, though each piece could be dragged through the mud, dropped from 25' onto concrete, and/or dry-fired 10K times, I'm assuming these are not in the equation;

With this factored, one component of the comparison is that the revolver has less complexity (moving parts, timing requirements, tolerances, etc.) than does the semi. Rules of entropy state that the one with more parts, and the accumulated tolerance failure will favor the revolver;

Additionally, though both could fail due to ammo problems, there are protocols to address each, that a good shooter can exercise, to mitigate such an issue (i.e. pull the trigger again or tap/rack/bang);

However (and this is a very important point that obviates most issues that others may take with the assumptions above), that the goal of this exercise is not just to have the weapon fire, but to hit the desired target.

So, let's assume that the failures from the issues above (entropy, ammo, quality care, quality of manufacturing) lead to a failure of 1 in 500 to 1 in 1000;

Looking at shooting statistics, the 'hit' rate of LEO's (for example) in a gunfight fall below 1 in 2. That is, they hit their desired target well less that 1/2 the time;

So, comparing all of this, the overwhelming metric is the one that allows more shots, or more rounds on target. That is, the failure to hit the target so overwhelms mechanical issues (assuming that hitting the target is the goal of this question) that only the semi-, with loads of 8-33 rounds, can ever prevail.

allaroundhunter
April 11, 2012, 03:50 PM
With this factored, one component of the comparison is that the revolver has less complexity (moving parts, timing requirements, tolerances, etc.) than does the semi. Rules of entropy state that the one with more parts, and the accumulated tolerance failure will favor the revolver

This is not always true. Some revolvers have less parts than some autos, some have more.

jcooper9099
April 11, 2012, 03:54 PM
Well I have never experienced a failure to load or a failure to eject with any revolver. It's something about their design.

Steve C
April 11, 2012, 04:16 PM
People who don't know any better say revolvers are more reliable vs. autos because they think they are more reliable.

The only people who think semi auto's are as reliable as a revolver are those that haven't had a lot of experience with both platforms. I own many revolvers and semi auto's and have put tens of thousands of rounds through both types over more years than I ant to admit. I can count the number of times I've had a revolver fail including ammo caused failure on the fingers of one hand. The number of times I have experienced semi autos fail numbers in the 100's.

Regardless of the reliability difference the semi auto platform is reliable enough to be carried for self defense, military and law enforcement purposes.

B!ngo
April 11, 2012, 04:55 PM
This is not always true. Some revolvers have less parts than some autos, some have more.
Fair point, but I believe it's generally true. And since the question is general in nature, I thought it applies.

45_auto
April 11, 2012, 06:32 PM
I own many revolvers and semi auto's and have put tens of thousands of rounds through both types over more years than I ant to admit. I can count the number of times I've had a revolver fail including ammo caused failure on the fingers of one hand.

So if you google something like "Taurus revolver problem" then you believe that most of those people are lying?

scythefwd
April 11, 2012, 07:52 PM
45..no, they carry semi auto hand guns in case they ever need one they have more ammo. I cqb, like a military hand guunner will see..there will be more enemies than you have ammo. A failure rate of 1 in 200 is fine...the need for extra capacity trumps all. It takes more time to reload a revolver than a tap/rap/bang most of the time. Semi auto handguns are the militaries last choice of weapons. Nobody inferred the semi is unreliable...we say they arent as reliable as a revolver. 45 1 revolver is what you are basing your argument on? Google kimber problem...who has more hits?

harmon rabb
April 11, 2012, 10:12 PM
All modern militaries and police forces issue semi-autos, not revolvers. If the darn things didn't work, I somehow don't think that stat would be true.

That said... I have never personally experienced or seen someone else experience a revolver malfunction. I have, however, had multiple semi-autos and witnessed multiple semi-autos malfunction.

Note: 95% of the time I carry a semi-auto.

JohnBT
April 11, 2012, 10:34 PM
It's about ammo capacity. Read the post before yours.

Smokin Gator
April 11, 2012, 10:36 PM
"Munden has fired 12 round (6 shots, reload and six more from the same gun) in 3 seconds."


In a later post you mentioned that you could have mentioned Jerry Miculek instead of Bob Munden. When you mentioned Munden firing 6 shots reload and 6 more shots in 3 seconds, are you sure you're not confusing it with Miculek's famous 2.99 second 12 rounds including reload. Munden usually shoots single action revolvers but could have done something fast with a double action. I don't think he could do this with 1 single action revolver.


"why do so many people say revolvers are more reliable than autoloaders?"



"Because so few run them hard enough."

I think there is a lot of truth to this statement. A lot of guys I know will shoot plenty with their semi autos and then maybe shoot a couple cylinders full through a revolver, if any at all. We do have an ICORE club, so I am around a bunch of revolver shooters who do put a lot of rounds downrange too.

Mark

MCgunner
April 11, 2012, 10:42 PM
Why I sorta prefer revolvers....

1) Don't have to pick up brass off the ground and don't lose any.

2) Generally a lot more accurate.

3) More powerful calibers in carryable packages.

4) 10 rounds of a new carry load tells me all I need to know whether to carry it or not. At a dollar a pop, that can be important.

5) More versatility in the field and can shoot frangibles without reliability problems if that's a preferred option.

6) Less chance of any sort of failure when it's needed the most. Yes, a revolver CAN fail, but it's not as common as with autochuckers.

That said, most of the time, my primary carry is an auto. The 9x19 subcompacts have advantages of their own for the CCW carrier that, IMHO, if proven reliable, outweigh the negatives of the autochucker.

coalman
April 12, 2012, 12:57 AM
Also, to add, key to any comparison is ensuring it's apples-to-apples. Otherwise, it's just biased.

So, here, you don't compare the S&W 642 shooting +p loads to the Glock 17 shooting bunny farts in a 10,000 round challenge. Nor the Beretta Nano running +p+ to the Ruger GP100 launching .38spl. Or, IMO/experience, anything Taurus (flame suit on) to a Glock 9mm. You, for example, compare the Glock 17 to the Ruger GP100 both shooting comparable loads in each caliber. The S&W 642 gets compared, for example, to the Beretta Nano, Ruger LCP, Kahr PM9, etc. You get the idea.

Basically, you compare quality brand/make/model to comparable quality brand/make/model, size to relative size, proper representative loadings in each, and so on. Very, very often it all changes when this is done.

And so, my comment earlier (revolver > semi-auto) is based on actual first-hand experience in both platforms, with multiple brands and sizes, over many years, including reloading for each. Take that for what it's worth.

p.s. And, semi-autos displaced wheelguns due to mainly to capacity, as well as the speed of reloads and the nifty containment of spare ammo. Seriously, let's keep this discussion somewhat sensical.

Lost Sheep
April 12, 2012, 01:14 AM
"Munden has fired 12 round (6 shots, reload and six more from the same gun) in 3 seconds."


In a later post you mentioned that you could have mentioned Jerry Miculek instead of Bob Munden. When you mentioned Munden firing 6 shots reload and 6 more shots in 3 seconds, are you sure you're not confusing it with Miculek's famous 2.99 second 12 rounds including reload. Munden usually shoots single action revolvers but could have done something fast with a double action. I don't think he could do this with 1 single action revolver.


"why do so many people say revolvers are more reliable than autoloaders?"



"Because so few run them hard enough."

I think there is a lot of truth to this statement. A lot of guys I know will shoot plenty with their semi autos and then maybe shoot a couple cylinders full through a revolver, if any at all. We do have an ICORE club, so I am around a bunch of revolver shooters who do put a lot of rounds downrange too.

Mark
You're right. I got the two names mixed up. I will fix my posts. Thanks for catching that.

Lost Sheep

45_auto
April 12, 2012, 07:17 AM
p.s. And, semi-autos displaced wheelguns due to mainly to capacity, as well as the speed of reloads and the nifty containment of spare ammo.

How many police departments changed from revolvers to 1911's between say 1911 and 1985, and how changed from revolvers to Browning High Powers between 1935 and 1985? Heck, how many even allowed semi-autos to be carried before the late 80's?

You really think that it took them over 50 years to realize that the semi-autos held more rounds and reloaded faster?

JohnBT
April 12, 2012, 09:05 AM
The 1911 isn't high capacity.

LE stuck with what worked - revolvers - until the crooks started using high capacity weapons. When was it the crack epidemic and turf wars started - 1983?

John

45_auto
April 12, 2012, 09:23 AM
The 1911 isn't high capacity

That would be relative to what you were comparing it to. How many major caliber revolvers do you know of that will hold more ammo?

brnmuenchow
April 12, 2012, 09:35 AM
Most quality modern day handguns "revolvers or autoloaders" are all going to be very reliable on avg. but it is true that if you take a simple revolver design and put it up against say an inexpensive simple auto design using many different types of ammo as a test mule I will put money & "my life" on the revolver any day of the week. Now you take a S&W model 586 or Colt "Python" vs. say a Sig Sauer P226 or H&K USP that would in theory still go with the revolver but if there were any problems with the autoloaders I would venture to say it's an ammo problem. (All just mentioned are top notch quality reliable type guns: And yes that includes Glock before I start getting ridiculed for leaving them out.) :D

scythefwd
April 12, 2012, 09:51 AM
It is higher capacity.. but the early 1911 and semiauto's weren't as reliable as new ones. It took them a very long time to switch for logistical reasons as well as distrust of the new platform. The early handguns weren't as reliable as older revolvers, period. At that time, the distrust of the new platform was enough to overcome the added capacity. Once they became reliable enough for duty (again, never said they aren't reliable, I say they aren't as reliable as a revolver.. both are plenty reliable for carry) that there was a real benefit to the larger capacity... they started switching them out.

BSA1
April 12, 2012, 10:05 AM
The most important reason the revolver is superior is in close quarter battle. I am not talking about the make believe stuff of hiding behind cover, using tactical reloads, tec. I am talking about when you are in a physical confrontation, use of sights is impossible and your only chance of survival is too somehow get your gun out, jam the gun into his body and pull the trigger.

The semi-auto is dicey. It is possible to push the slide of of battery far enough to cause it not to fire. If it does fire then there is the likely it will jam on the clothes of your attacker so their will not be second shot.

A revolver......jam the barrel into his gut and keep pulling the trigger until he does not want to play anymore.

jrdolall
April 12, 2012, 10:31 AM
I prefer auto. I carry an auto. I can fire more rounds more quickly from an auto. I own 20+ autos of various caliber and manufacturer. Every single one of my autos has had an issue at some point with an FTF, FTE etc, every one. Virtually all of these have been a result of either the gun being finicky about ammo or a magazine issue. I do not drag my pistols through mud and quicksand and then fire them. I have not fired 20,000 rounds through any pistol I own. That would be $800 in bulk .22 ammo and a cajillion dollars in .45. I know a lot of people will cringe when I say this but my Hi-Point C9 has never had an issue when I use the original factory magazine. Hundreds of rounds with no problems but the new magazines I got from Hi Point have caused a lot of problems so I keep the old mag in the gun loaded with JHP.

I only own three modern revolvers and all of them are from the 50s and 60's. Colt Trooper .357, a S&W .38 and a Ruger .22. All of these guns have been 100% reliable. They have never had a FTF of any sort with any ammo so I personally have to give the edge in reliability to the revolver.

This opinion is based on many years of firing these guns at stationary targets that were not shooting back. I am not a combat vet nor am I an LEO. I hope I never need to shoot anyone and I hope no one ever shoots at me. If they do I will probably mess my pants and scream like a woman while emptying my magazine in their direction.

Why do I carry a semi when, in my experience, the revolver is more dependable? The .357 is not a good conceal gun and I like more oomph than the .38s give me. The .357 stays in my nightstand and my wife keeps a S&W .38 in her nightstand as well as carrying in her ourse.

22-rimfire
April 12, 2012, 11:29 AM
With 22's, revolvers are kind of handy as you do get FTF's and you can simply pull the trigger again. Clearing a jammed (FTF or FTE) 22 round from a semi-auto pistol is not always a rack the slide kind of thing.

My assumption here is that the owner maintains the handgun and does not abuse it environmentally or drops it from a two-story building. In which case, I would take a revolver 8 out of 10 times over a semi-auto (any caliber).

Revolvers also have more ammo flexibility.

Semi-auto pistols are a simpler design which is why they cost less overall.

All guns can fail. But overall, I think a revolver is more reliable mechanically than a semi-auto pistol and that gets compounded in a self defense situation.

Jon Coppenbarger
April 12, 2012, 11:37 AM
good post.
I have many pistols also and on my night stand is a revolver. I have seen it said many times for someone looking for a pistol for a inexperienced shooter or someones wife or daughter that just wants sometime they can feel confident with without worrying about clearing a jam or stove pipe in the middle of the night and without all those trips to the range.

I like the fact I can just pick it up and pull the trigger while its pitch dark and I was just waken up. I carry both as a ccw and actually have a auto today. LOL

JohnBT
April 12, 2012, 01:29 PM
"The 1911 isn't high capacity" - me

"That would be relative to what you were comparing it to. How many major caliber revolvers do you know of that will hold more ammo?" - you

Sigh. Are you making stuff up as you go? The facts are clear. The 1911 has never been considered a high capacity handgun. The BHP with 13 rounds, yes. The 1911, no.

John

Teachu2
April 12, 2012, 01:32 PM
I've had primers back out and jam up the cylinder on a revolver - when I was working up loads for a Highway Patrolman. I don't know if many semi-autos would have survived the pressure involved... Those few were the only failures I'v encountered with any revolvers.
I used to be the Range Stooge for a very experienced gunsmith. Every gun that needed a test-fire was handed to me for a trip to the range. NEVER had a revolver need to go back for further work. Semis? About 15%, as I recall.
One other point - some have mentioned timing issues on revolvers. Many times, those develop over hundreds or thousands of rounds. They don't fall in the failure category so much as in maintenance - it's pretty rare to have a sudden timing issue. Even when they shave a bullet, they still fire.

I'm also ex-LEO, from the mid-1980's. Sheriff's Department I worked for issued Model 19s and +P ammo, but you could qualify with and subsequently carry just about anything w/o Magnum ammo. Lots of S&W K, L, and N frames in 38, 357, 41, 44, and even 45acp were on the street, as well as 1911s, 59s, and some 39s. I qualified my custom 1911 as soon as I finished the academy, when told I'd be working the area where I'd be most likely to encounter violent druggies.
The local PD (who only allowed department-issued equipment) went from issuing Model 59s to Colt 1911s, as the 9mm loads of the day proved inadequate when faced with armed PCP abusers.
The California Highway Patrol learned some painful lessons in the '70s and '80s about the need to bring enough gun to the fight, and especially about training officers in better tactics. They went from revolvers to semis, but discovered that it didn't matter what you were shooting if you couldn't hit the target.
Glock was the game-changer for many LE agencies. Glock owes their success in LE circles to two things: an extremely reliable design, and a revolutionary understanding of how to market to governmental agencies. It's debatable which was the larger factor, but I believe that both were required to so thoroughly dominate the LE market - which led to a huge (and hugely profitable) civilian market. Glock's design is about as reliable as any semi-auto, and far more so than most. The marketing schemes they used to get LE agencies to buy were awesome - they got samples into the hands of agency armorers, administrators, anyone who had influence. They bought lunches, dinners, and trips to ranges in prime vacation spots to get those decision-makers comfortable with Glock products. Then they hit them with pricing so low, they'd have been fools not to give them a try. They tailored deals to pretty much whatever it took to get Glocks issued to the entire agency. For agencies that had not standardized their sidearm, this was irresistable - everyone on their force carrying truly identical sidearms is a smart tactic, as long as you choose the RIGHT sidearm! When you can do that on the cheap, it's probably going to happen.
LE agencies are attracted to high-cap weapons, and when Glock and others started producing semi-autos that approached revolvers in reliability, the changeover was inevitable. Not long ago, a local nutcase slumlord decided to murder the health inspector who has shut down his rental, and her family. He then led LEOs on a merry chase, driving nearly 100 miles in a Lincoln full of phone books. He was finally forced to a stop, and died of a self-inflicted gunshot. The LEOs had collectively fired nearly 800 rounds at that point. With that kind of shooting, high capacity is a dominating factor.

Cosmoline
April 12, 2012, 01:35 PM
If you shoot enough wheelguns you'll find out they can fail. And when they do it's often a really BAD failure that requires work and maybe a new part.

Semis tend to fail more often but the failure are usually nothing too serious and can be cleared in a few seconds. Jams at the extraction point are most common.

Everything with moving parts will fail eventually. If you want nearly fool-proof go with a Thompson Center, where your hands are the moving parts.

zeke707
April 12, 2012, 01:55 PM
This may have been already posted. A few years back I watched a video on TV showing the "fastest draw point and shoot". Yep, the guy was using a revolver. ;)

RevolvingGarbage
April 12, 2012, 02:08 PM
Overall, if I had to fight with a handgun, and I had my pick, it would be my Colt 1911 for sure. It reloads faster and easier, it throws big heavy bullets, and Its just the platform I shoot the best.

That said, I have been carrying my 4" .38 spl instead of my 1911 almost exclusively. It's enough gun, it carries a little easier, and its just as dependable. As a big bonus, if I am ever forced to use it to defend myself and I loose the gun to a police evidence locker for a while, I'm only out a $200 revolver instead ofe an $800 semi auto that I have a lot of sentimentality involved with.

fatcat4620
April 12, 2012, 02:48 PM
fatcat - care to use something like .. you know evidence to back up that claim? I know a glock has done a 20,000 round with no cleaning torture test... got anything that shows that has even been attempted on a revolver? I think you're working with an incomplete data set and making an inference that there is no data to back up.

If you want to buy me 20,000 rounds of 32 H&R magnum, I'll gladly test my ruger without cleaning it. Right now it has in the neighborhood of 50 through it since the last cleaning.
Wow, first you missed the sarc by a lot in that and second we have been over this like 6 times this year. This IS the most reliable revolver http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manurhin_MR_73 but you average smith or ruger will go down before the glock. Of course we would need about 100k rounds to find out though I'm sure the 50 rounds you put through your gun means it would never fail.
Watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_vu2xEN7kA
Read this http://www.tactical-life.com/online/combat-handguns/glock-17-9mm-torture-test/

45_auto
April 12, 2012, 06:44 PM
Sigh. Are you making stuff up as you go? The facts are clear. The 1911 has never been considered a high capacity handgun. The BHP with 13 rounds, yes. The 1911, no.

Are you really that dense or are you just trying to keep the thread interesting?

You consider the BHP with 13 rounds to be high capacity, but the Springfield, Para, Caspian, etc 1911's that hold 17 rounds of 9mm or 14 rounds of 45ACP are not high capacity?

Try doing a search on "high capacity 1911" if you're really interested in learning, you might be surprised at how many people are selling "high capacity" 1911's, frames and magazines for something that according to you has "never" been considered high capacity.

Vern Humphrey
April 12, 2012, 08:45 PM
If you hang around here long enough, you will read first hand accounts of plenty of failures of revolvers -- broken transfer bars, locking up due to bullet creep, primers backing out, crud under the ejector star, ejector rod unscrewing, base pin creeping out, and on and on.

A good automatic with good magazines -- my choice is my Kimber Classic (MK I) and Chip McCormic 8-rounders -- is as reliable as any revolver I own.

wheelgunslinger
April 12, 2012, 09:30 PM
Yeah, people tend to feel safer with revolvers, when they've never seen one fail.

I like them, but they're machines. All machines break. Some spectacularly, like a Pinto in a rear collision, and some less so, like a computer with a bad power supply.

Shoot and carry what you like or want.

JRH6856
April 12, 2012, 10:15 PM
Revolvers are more reliable than semi-autos because they suffer less from the mechanical problems that plague semi-autos.

Semi-autos are more reliable than revolvers because they suffer less from the mechanical problems that plague revolvers.


Both can suffer from problems of ammo failures but to different degrees. Aside from the fact that the function of both is to discharge ammuntion and send a bullet toward a target, the semi-auto is partially dependent on the proper functioning of the ammunition for its operation. A revolver is not. If a round fails to fire in a semi-auto, pulling the trigger a second time either does nothing (SA) or drops the hammer a second time on the same round (DA) which may or may not fail to fire a second time. If a round fails to fire in a revolver, pulling the trigger a second time brings up a fresh round. The semi-auto can be manually cycled to overcome the failure. But manual cycling is required to operate the revolver in any case so the only disadvantage to the semi-auto is that the manual cycling is more involved than just pulling the trigger.

Quality of manufacture being equal, I don't see that either has an advantage in reliability.

buckhorn_cortez
April 12, 2012, 10:27 PM
The double-action shooter with the 12 rounds in 3 seconds is Jerry Miculek.

You can, apparently, attempt to "prove" whatever you want by cherry picking statistics...ready?

Todd Jarrett - 16 shots, 3.47 seconds with a 1911. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3txtcVLLrc)

Jerry - 1 shot every 0.249 seconds, Todd - 1 shot every 0.216 seconds.

1911 speed totally blows the revolver out of the shooting range:scrutiny:, ergo, revolvers are junk.

Please people, personal anecdotal data and cherry picked statistics don't "prove" anything. I always read the posts about the IDPA etc. shooters who note that ALL of the failures and clearance drills required were done by people shooting 1911's.

That's not my experience. I've seen one of the best shooters where I shoot action pistol consistently have trouble with his Glocks. But, he "tricks them out" to shoot better....(no comment).

The problem with 1911's is that they really do require more PM than any of the modern automatics. Most of the critical PM requirement being with the springs. The most sensitive being the recoil spring AND the magazine springs. My experience with my 1911's is that they run 100% of the time - but, I'm careful with making sure the springs get checked and changed at regular intervals.

I keep a box of new 1911 springs on my gun shelf. Having a number of them always on hand makes sure I'm never deterred from replacing a spring when needed.

A weak recoil spring can cause FTE, and weak magazine springs FTF - both of them weak and you're setup for 3-point jams.

Cleaning is also one of those things with a 1911 that's very interesting. I always wonder how many people regulary make sure the extractor hook is cleaned. Dirty extractor hook and you can have FTE or FTF.

1911's aren't finicky if you PM them properly, in fact you can run them with total reliability if you PM them, make sure they're lubed, and run at least mid-quality ammunition.

If you don't like that aspect of gun ownership, very simply, don't buy a 1911 - they're sort of like classic cars you have to want to "keep them up" and understand that's part of what you get if you own one.

As for revolvers...well, the worst two jams I've ever had were with a S&W model 25 .45 LC. Wonderful revolver, but whooo baby when that one locked up...at least 4 hours to clear it. I currently have a Ruger convertible that has to go to the smith because the cylinder rod keeps backing out and the cylinder jams in the frame.

Does either of those two experiences prove that revolvers as a whole are totally unreliable? No - it only proves I've had problems with ONE example of a double action and ONE example of a single action.

bikemutt
April 12, 2012, 10:45 PM
I shoot a fair amount. The only semi-auto I have never seen jam is my wife's Glock 21. Of all the revolvers I've owed or shot, which outnumbers the semi-autos by a fair margin, I've seen two jam. The semi-autos were cleared and resumed firing, the revolvers were pretty much done until repairs could be made.

Accordingly, empirically and statistically I trust Glocks and revolvers :)

SK2344
April 12, 2012, 10:59 PM
Yes, I have to agree with you but I did have a problem with a Taurus 38 special while I was doing my yearly qualification for my G License. It was a company issue gun and I had Frozen Trigger problems while on the range. I had to borrow a gun to finish my qualification round. The only guns that have NOT FAILED me are Glocks. I have been shooting them for 15 years and I presently own 4 and my EDC is the G 36. I am still waiting for my FIRST MALFUNCTION! But I also love my revolvers!

bikemutt
April 13, 2012, 01:09 AM
EDC is the G 36

I just bought one today.

scythefwd
April 13, 2012, 01:53 PM
50 rounds since I last cleaned it.. not 50 rounds total. Please read before you respond.

Tony_the_tiger
April 13, 2012, 05:41 PM
The answer is: it doesn't matter.

Carry what you feel comfortable with.

I've shot around 10k rounds in various revolvers without a single malfunction.

Couldn't get past 4 in a S&W semi auto.

Maybe it was just luck, but I personally trust my revolvers more.

We could set up a research study using 10 random factory revolvers and 10 random factory semi autos, shooting until a pre-specified sample of rounds have been fired that would allow us to make inference about larger round counts in the firearms, and settle the issue statistically.

45_auto
April 13, 2012, 10:20 PM
We could set up a research study using 10 random factory revolvers and 10 random factory semi autos, shooting until a pre-specified sample of rounds have been fired that would allow us to make inference about larger round counts in the firearms, and settle the issue statistically.

It's been a while since I had to do any sampling, but a sample size of 10 of each would be totally meaningless. I don't believe I've ever seen a sample size determination table that went below a 25% confidence level, and your 10 of each isn't even on that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sample_size

beag_nut
April 13, 2012, 10:39 PM
"why do so many people say revolvers are more reliable than autoloaders? "

Because they are. period.

Tony_the_tiger
April 13, 2012, 11:48 PM
You're right, I was not clear enough. The sample would have to be larger.

RockyMtnTactical
April 14, 2012, 10:40 PM
Same reason people say the AK never fails. One person says it and everyone repeats it.

There is no doubt there is a little truth in many of these myths, but they tend to be exaggerated like crazy...

hemiram
April 15, 2012, 03:18 AM
When I first started shooting, just after I turned 21, I bought a Taurus .38 that was total junk. It WOULD shoot six times in a row, but 12 was pretty doubtful. The cylinder wasn't machined correctly and just 8 or 9 shots would bind it up when the high side came around. It spit lead terribly too, and the bore/rifling was all messed up, you had to chisel out the lead or copper jackets from it! As bad as it was, I felt safe carrying it for the 6 months or so I had it, because it would work six times.

I replaced it with a Dan Wesson 15-2, that had a clipped mainspring and it was actually less reliable than the Taurus was! A simple cleaning and a new spring cured that totally, and I put thousands of rounds through that gun with zero issues, except for a couple of ammo issues, one of which caused a bulged barrel when I fired a round behind one that had lodged in there beforehand. A new $25 barrel and I was shooting again in minutes. My present Dan Wesson 715 6VH has been totally reliable, and if I was going to keep one handgun, it would be the one. I have a second, not so pretty one that I shoot most of the time, and it's rock solid too. I can't imagine either one of them having any kind of failure. I felt the same way about my old S&W 28, I was totally confident it would work, everytime. I can't say the same about my autos though. I have a group of them now that haven't had a single issue, jam, or anything else, but I never have the confidence level I have with my revolvers. Too many issues, most of them long ago, but I remember them well. My 1911 horrors are the basis of many, if not most of them. Friend's problems with their 1911's, both cheap and OMG, have kept me away from them. I have 3 .45 ACP guns, a S&W 4506, a 4586, and an EAA Witness fullsize. All three have been perfect, but there is always the "Is it going to hang up?" in my mind when I shoot them. I don't have a CCW yet, I need to do it, and I will almost certainly carry an auto, but I will have doubts about them, always.

j1
April 15, 2012, 07:15 AM
I will not enter the revolver versus auto argument because it is strictly a matter of different strokes for different folks BUT I will say that the revolver is more versatile as it is able to shoot loads from birdshot to midrange wadcutters to full house loads fo more serious occasions.

jad0110
April 15, 2012, 10:59 AM
1911's aren't finicky if you PM them properly, in fact you can run them with total reliability if you PM them, make sure they're lubed, and run at least mid-quality ammunition.

Agreed, also on the spring point. Not to drift too much, but what tools do you recommend to check mainspring tension? Is there a tool to check mag spring tension?

As for the 1911 itself, there are only what, 30+ companies making them? If you had 30+ companies making Glocks, all to slightly different measurements (with differing material quality standards), I wouldn't be surprised to see Glock's reliability reputation questioned too.

jdh
April 15, 2012, 01:31 PM
So many things.
I started my LE service with a revolver a Model 57 S&W.
For those of you who say you just cock the pull the trigger and clear a dud round, I take it you have never had a hang fire with a revolver. It ain't pretty.

Backed out primers and cocking the hammer to clear, No. The hammer on a S&W revolver retracts far enough just by taking your finger off the trigger BUT a backed out primer can still lock up the gun. The armorer kept a rubber mallet at the range house just for this. The bad part of this is rubber mallets can bend yokes, not good.

Let you ejector rod loosen up a little.

Revolvers fail to eject all the time. Case gets stuck and slips over the ejector star. Tell me you can clear that with a tap and rack drill.

Shoot hot heavy bullet loads. Bullets get pulled from the case all the time. Tap and Rack, Nope.

Revolvers are not immune to problems and when the do occur they take longer to remedy and usually require the use of tools to do so.

Now for the semis are jam-o-matics crowd, ancient history. Semis have benefited from constant development. Modern versions of the a species are more ammo tolerant, accurate, and problem free because of advances made in the manufacturing processes and materials used. Gun related malfunctions are not as common as you seem to believe. Ammo and magazines are the most likely causes followed by operator error.

No, they are not perfect, despite the claims of one well know manufacturer, but they are not the jam prone POSs that some of you try to make them out to be.

We had a "customer" at my last job who was a revolver user. I asked him why he did not use the more popular with his peers Glock. His reply was they were stupid to leave evidence laying around for the cops to find and use against them, while he could 'bust a cap' in you and the shell case stay with him when he left.

mljdeckard
April 15, 2012, 06:08 PM
Revolvers are much less likely to HAVE a malfunction.

Revolvers are much more difficult to get running again if they DO have a malfunction.

If I have a student tell me that revolvers are infallible, I have them hold one, and I tightly grab the cylinder and tell them to try to pull the trigger. OOPS.

Drail
April 15, 2012, 08:47 PM
Spend about 20 years working on all types of handguns and you will get the answer. My experience convinced me to shoot, collect, compete with 1911s. I dearly love them. For CCW use I will always have a revolver (generally in 41 Mag. or .44 Spl.)

jmorris
April 15, 2012, 09:34 PM
Jerry - 1 shot every 0.249 seconds, Todd - 1 shot every 0.216 seconds.

1911 speed totally blows the revolver out of the shooting range , ergo, revolvers are junk. .


Yeah that .033 seconds averaged with a reload is a deal breaker. I'll bet $20 and a steak dinner you couldn't match Jerry's revo time of 6+6 with any semiauto. If you try and his revo speed totally blows your auto out of the shooting range does that mean your auto is junk?

Smith357
April 15, 2012, 09:51 PM
When was the last time you ran through a failure drill with a revolver?? If the gun does not go bang just pull the trigger again.

Dave T
April 15, 2012, 11:17 PM
When was the last time you ran through a failure drill with a revolver?? If the gun does not go bang just pull the trigger again.

Or maybe there are no failure drills for revolvers because when they do jam you need tools or a gun smith to get them running again.

My personal experience in over 40 years of handgun shooting is that revolvers have been much more of a problem than autos, particularly the 45 ACP 1911 by Colt. It was many years of practice and competition before I had my first malfunction with a 45 auto. My first duty weapon, a M28-2, was so far out of time after one year of rapid DA practice with Magnum hand loads the firing pin would occasionally hit the edge of the primers. In practical pistol competition shooting revolver class I had to clean the face of the cylinder, under the ejector and the chambers between stages. My Government Model never once needed cleaning to get through a match, even a two day championship.

Sorry but the revolver being more reliable is a popular myth in my experience.

Dave

Paris
April 15, 2012, 11:47 PM
I suppose I have been lucky as none of my revolvers or autoloaders have had problems and I find both to be equally reliable in my experience (speaking to my specific guns).

PabloJ
April 16, 2012, 12:02 AM
Not only are those more reliable but can also be QUICKER TO RELOAD with speed-loader. If you do not believe me buy Polish P-64 or Walther HSC and try it for yourself. How is it you born here Americans say never say never or never say always?

coalman
April 16, 2012, 01:52 AM
I see lots of talk here blending more "reliable" for most gun owners and more "durable" in high volume shooting/gaming. IMO, there is a difference for most who buy a gun. For most gun owners, who just run factory loads in low volume, the quality revolver will run more reliably - go bang - without fuss. For serious high-volume shooters and gamers, which are the vast minority, the quality semi-auto may have the edge in durability (in high volume shooting) making it more "reliable".

j1
April 16, 2012, 07:24 AM
To take a little side trip to the main idea of this thread, do you think that older guns were made better than the newer guns. I have an old S & W mod 19 that is not and never will be for sale as long as I can still breathe.

Smith357
April 16, 2012, 10:20 AM
My personal experience in over 40 years of handgun shooting

In my 35 years of handgun shooting I have had the complete opposite experience, every single semiautomatic I have ever fired has had a failure of some sort with 1911s being the absolute worst offenders. Only one time did I have an extractor rod on one of my S&W revolvers back out and jam the gun up. I slapped the cylinder with my hand loaded another moon clip and still took second place in that stage against all the other semis. Still there is no such thing a tap rack slap kick do the hokey pokey drill for a revolver. Why is that?

jdh
April 16, 2012, 10:51 AM
With the exception of a couple exotics like the Webly-Fosbery and the Mateba there is nothing on a revolver to rack, perhaps.

So Smith357, 'splain me sumthin. You are at the range shooting you favorite S&W 357 revolver. You go through a couple boxes of 38 spec to warm up before changing over to the 357 loads you brought. You load up with 357s and fire away. When you hit the ejector rod one of the 357 cases gets stuck on the carbon ring left by the 38s and slips off the ejector star. What is the immediate action drill to clear the malfunction?

Teachu2
April 16, 2012, 11:26 AM
When you hit the ejector rod one of the 357 cases gets stuck on the carbon ring left by the 38s and slips off the elector star. What is the immediate action drill to clear the malfunction?


Call in the Florida Attorney General to declare you the winner? :D

Creature
April 16, 2012, 11:35 AM
Semis tend to fail more often but the failure are usually nothing too serious and can be cleared in a few seconds.

Thats just it though. In a civilian "shoot now or else" situation, I hope that I will hopefully have those few seconds (and a free hand) to clear that dud round.

Or I could just move on to the next fresh cartridge by simply pulling the trigger again. I will stick with my CC revolver.

Smith357
April 16, 2012, 02:13 PM
So Smith357, 'splain me sumthin.

Shoot .38s in a .38 and .357s in a 357, .45acp in a .45acp et. et. If you do shoot 44 special in a magnum or 38s in a 357 clean it well. Don't run a 1911 dry and don't grease up a Glock. simple enough. But then I'm a former US Marine who was taught to keep his guns cleaned and properly lubed at all times, so between strings I wipe them down and inspect them be it a bolt action .22 BR or a K-38 Masterpiece

golden
April 16, 2012, 05:17 PM
I believe that many people think revolvers are more reliable because they have not had enough experience using the high quality semi-auto pistols that are available.
I have seen all sorts of problems with revolvers over the years and they can be just as prone to problems as pistols. I have not had a problem with a warped frame on any of my BERETTA 92/96 pistols.
I did see a COLT Python with a WARPED FRAME.
I did not have a GLOCK that failed to go in battery and fire because the cylinder was off center. A S&W model 25 I tried to shoot did have this problem.
My S&W 547 could not be unloaded because the barrel had rotated in the frame and blocked the yoke from opening. This has never happened with any SIG I have owned.

When I went through the academy at FLETC, 12 of the 47 S&W revolvers we were issued had defects. Mine could not have the sideplate removed. Another one froze solid on the firing line with 6 live rounds in the cylinder and the trigger ALMOST FULLY COCKED!

Also, I have never seen a person get bitten by a GLOCK who did not PUT HIS FINGER ON THE TRIGGER WHEN HE REHOLSTERED his GLOCK.

I could go on, but I think I have made my point. A quality design is more likely to fail because of USER ERROR than anything else in my experience. I have no problem betting my life on a BERETTA 92 instead of a revolver and my experience backs it up.

Jim

jad0110
April 16, 2012, 05:18 PM
You are at the range shooting you favorite S&W 357 revolver. You go through a couple boxes of 38 spec to warm up before changing over to the 357 loads you brought. You load up with 357s and fire away. When you hit the ejector rod one of the 357 cases gets stuck on the carbon ring left by the 38s and slips off the elector star. What is the immediate action drill to clear the malfunction?

I do that plenty, and I've nevery once had this happen. Then again, I clean my guns after I shoot them and rarely put more than 150 rounds through them in any given day. The one time I had an extractor star jump the case rim, it was the first cylinder full on a gun with hugormous aftermarket grips which interfered with case extraction. Reached up and pulled the offending case out, then later swapped the grips for some Ahrends and haven't had a problem since.

EDIT: Oops, upon thinking about it, my memory is off. The grips impeded loading with an HKS speedloader. It was my 2" Model 15 that had the case extraction problem on one particular chamber. Basically thwacking the spent case with my fingers was enough to dislodge it. Turned out that chamber was bulged, which I discovered when cleaning it for the 2nd time. It was likely from a hot reload by the prior owner. I didn't catch that when I was looking the gun over, so that was my fault. Cost me $100 to get a new-used cylinder fitted. Runs perfectly now.

In my 35 years of handgun shooting I have had the complete opposite experience, every single semiautomatic I have ever fired has had a failure of some sort with 1911s being the absolute worst offenders.

I fall into your camp as well, but it just goes to show that some people have great luck with Fords and terrible luck with GMs and vice versa. It is what it is I suppose.

jdh
April 16, 2012, 06:52 PM
Side note: Academy guns are not the newest or most well maintained and you may not get the same one today you had yesterday.

Double_J
April 16, 2012, 07:39 PM
I have only had a few malfunctions with my autos, and almost every time it was ammunition related or technique related (I HATE non-dominate hand only drills). The standard way to fix it was slap/rack/bang. I still practice that drill on a daily basis, so that it becomes automatic in case of failure. That is what I was trained to do, and firmly believe in train like you fight.

I have also seen some malfunctions with revolvers. One of them involved an old smith and wesson .38 special (model unknown) that we ran at a shooting match. The mainspring had worn to the point that it would not always work the hammer back to the full range of travel. This issue lead to MULTIPLE failure to fire problems. These issues could not be fixed by "pulling the trigger again". When we tried that we heard "click" again, that is NOT a good sound when you are training for a real situation. If you think that it can not happen to you, think again. Is it not one of our primary rules to NEVER trust a mechanical safety as all mechanical things can and will fail?

Modern revolvers and modern autos are both reliable, we just need to learn how to properly run them and trust them. This means knowing what the failure modes are and how to deal with them.

Lost Sheep
April 17, 2012, 01:51 AM
This means knowing what the failure modes are and how to deal with them.
Exactly the point I tried to make earlier, but not as succinctly. And what I think is beginning to dawn on some of the participants of the thread.

All mechanical devices fail in their own particular ways. Mostly it is a loose nut behind the device. If the user knows how to maintain and operate his gun(s), reliability is enhanced, whatever the action type.

Lost Sheep

jungle
April 17, 2012, 02:33 AM
I have to agree with others here, if a revolver malfs it is usually much more difficult to clear. Over the last century the military powers of the world have issued both, but now the auto rules, among both the military and police. This is for many reasons beyond reliability, and may or may not have anything to do with your own preference or needs in whatever game you happen to enjoy.

45_auto
April 17, 2012, 07:51 AM
In my 35 years of handgun shooting I have had the complete opposite experience, every single semiautomatic I have ever fired has had a failure of some sort with 1911s being the absolute worst offenders.

You must be INCREDIBLY incompetent with a semiauto for every single one you've fired in 35 years to give you problems! Hard to imagine someone that bad!

scythefwd
April 17, 2012, 08:49 AM
You must be INCREDIBLY incompetent with a semiauto for every single one you've fired in 35 years to give you problems! Hard to imagine someone that bad!

Or he is counting ammo induced failures as well.

Smith357
April 17, 2012, 09:33 AM
You must be INCREDIBLY incompetent

My buddy handed me his new BHP the other day at the range to try out after 3-4 shots it stovepiped. It's just a fact that semis jam, that's why they incorporate failure drills into any and all training courses. Let's not try to be obtuse.

coalman
April 17, 2012, 11:40 AM
You must be INCREDIBLY incompetent with a semiauto for every single one you've fired in 35 years to give you problems! Hard to imagine someone that bad!

It actually takes very little "imagination" the more experience you have actually shooting guns you own. I've had a similar experience with most of my higher round count (e.g. >1k to >25k) semi-autos having issues (FTF, FTE, broken parts, etc.), including the highly-praised Glocks in 9mm, .40sw and .45acp. The 1911, too. Never a revolver, though admittedly these have been more limited ownership and lower round counts overall. Shoot your guns enough, especially more than you just stroke 'em, throw in a reload or two, shoot whatever ammo you get cheapest, add some practical shooting/gaming, skimp on cleaning/lube, get a bad mag, whatever, and it happens. The more you shoot the more you find things will fail.

45_auto
April 17, 2012, 01:11 PM
My buddy handed me his new BHP the other day at the range to try out after 3-4 shots it stovepiped. It's just a fact that semis jam, that's why they incorporate failure drills into any and all training courses. Let's not try to be obtuse.

I've been shooting semiauto's and revolvers for almost 50 years, running IDPA matches for almost 15 years. Shot over 100,000 rounds through some weapons, some for only a single magazine or cylinder. I've seen more jams and malfunctions in both than I can count.

I just find it hard to believe that you've never successfully test fired one complete magazine through a borrowed semiauto in 35 years of shooting.

scythefwd
April 17, 2012, 01:33 PM
45 - could have been too weak ammo for causing it to short stroke. He said it was new. It was an example of a less than reliable semi. He didn't say anything of the sort about not firing a full mag rhough a borrowed gun without issues. The fact that there are these issues out there that are most likely ammo related and most likely NOT going to happen in a new revolver.

It is instances like this that lends credability to the revolver being more reliable. A lot of new semi-autos need some tweaking to get working perfect.. if nothing else.. ammo testing for function. Something that isn't even in the picture when you are using a revolver.

I watched a cx4 stove pipe every few rounds.. it was his first time with that ammo. He now knows not to use that ammo, but at the same time.. it was a failure of some sort and does count against the reliability record of the gun. He had 10-15 fte in that box of 50. Yeah, it'll never happen again because he wont buy that ammo again, but it's still that many errors that aren't even possible in a revolver.

Gato MontÚs
April 17, 2012, 02:17 PM
An auto may be more susceptible to jams but when a revolver goes south it's going to need a gunsmith to fix it.

I hear this all the time yet it proves nothing. For one, since the two platforms are entirely different it's not as simple as an apples to oranges comparison. Each platform has it's own set of possible breakdowns and malfunctions so you cannot compare across the board like that. A revolver can never experience a stovepipe, nor can an auto have a loose ejector rod.

What is important to me is the performance of a weapon in a fight. Assuming both platforms are equally well maintained with professionally loaded ammo, I'm much more confident in a five shot snubby than a seven shot pocket nine.

"When a revolver jams it's going to need a lot more to fix it!"

Yeah, it's called a MAJOR malfunction, something that usually can be avoided if the piece is properly maintained. An ejector rod just doesn't one day say "I'm done" and unscrew itself from the cylinder; it takes time and if you check it nothing will ever come of it. Likewise, a worn cylinder stop is something one should be aware of. These things don't just break, they take time. Events such as jumping bullets are a rarity and usually with the super small big bore monsters, even still properly loaded ammo that you've tested shouldn't be a problem. Junk under the star? For this to occur in a fight it means that I've already got through a whole cylinder, and if I need to reload in the middle of a fight I'm on the loosing side already.

On the other hand, autos can and do suffer a whole new slew of malfunctions know as jams. FTF, FTE and double feeds are specific to the platform. These can happen whether you took awesome care or if you left the piece to rot in a trunk for five years. I don't care if you have 20k rounds through your pistol at the range, what I am concerned about is having someone on top of me, knocking the slide out of battery rendering the gun useless for the moment in which I need it most.

Further, beyond simple jams an auto can experience a major breakdown as well. A well worn slide catch snapping can permanently lock back an auto, as can a weakened recoil spring, etc. Just like revos, proper inspection and care should be able to mitigate these from ever occurring.

I carry both autos and revolvers, just depends on how I'm feeling that day. I will say that wheel guns need more regular servicing than an auto in the long run, but so what? What's important to me is on the spot reliability when I need it most, and for that a trusty revolver is all I need.

BSA1
April 17, 2012, 02:44 PM
We should be able to agree that both types has its strengths and weaknesses.

The threads on th eejector rod to solve the problem with it backing out was solved when the -2 was introduced in 1961. Going back over 50 years to find something to criticize is a bit of a reach don't you think?

A fired round slipping under the ejector is a definate problem. But guess what? It is easily avoided by hold the gun in vertical muzzle up position and punching the ejector rod firmly.

Taking a used revolver and running it full trottle with magnum ammo is like trying to run the family car in the Indy 500. I bet if the shooter had had the gun properly tuned it would ran just fine.

Bullet jumping their crimp is ammo problem easily avoided with quality ammo. This is not a problem with the gun design as the manufacturer can hardly be held responsible for the shooter using crap ammo.

We had a shooter qualifying last year with department issue 40 when the trigger froze up. I mean solid, like a drum. He had to disassemble it and still could not find the problem. After he cleaned it it works fine. He no longer trusts the gun but is stuck carrying it cause it is department issue. My point is simply this one experience does not make the revolver better just that Glocks are not as wonderful as some make it out to be.

My other point is no one has disputed my statement that the revolver is superior in close quarter battle. I am not talking about those silly hide behind cover, tactical reload games. That is offense action. I am talking about when you and your attacker are physically fighting and your last chance is to draw your roscoe, press it against his body and pull the trigger until he stops. and that may friends IS THE ROLE OF THE HANDGUN.

Guy B. Meredith
April 17, 2012, 03:19 PM
jdh,

My experience is that unless you're using dirty .38 spl ammo it takes more than a few hundred to build up enough carbon to cause problems with tossing in some .357 magnums. I use plated bullets with nary a problem and jacketed bullets should work fine as well.

I've had stovepipes, FTF, etc. with a semi and ejector rod and mainspring problems with revolvers. A touch of blue loctite on the mainspring tension screw and the ejector rod has kept the problem from happening more than once each in over 25,000 rounds of .38 spl and nearly another 10,000 .357 magnums. A touch of white grease cured most issues on one semi auto.

While I favor revolvers I can see that semi autos are convenient for SD. However, semis are finicky feeders so when the "right" ammo starts getting scarce they can become problematic while a revolver will happily devour just about anything that pretends to be the correct caliber.

allaroundhunter
April 17, 2012, 03:21 PM
My other point is no one has disputed my statement that the revolver is superior in close quarter battle. I am not talking about those silly hide behind cover, tactical reload games. That is offense action. I am talking about when you and your attacker are physically fighting and your last chance is to draw your roscoe, press it against his body and pull the trigger until he stops. and that may friends IS THE ROLE OF THE HANDGUN.

How is a revolver superior in this instance? A pistol will not stop working just because you are up close and personal with an attacker...If you are saying it will fail to go into battery, I highly doubt that.

Smith357
April 17, 2012, 03:42 PM
I just find it hard to believe that you've never successfully test fired one complete magazine through a borrowed semiauto in 35 years of shooting.

I have put countless thousands of rounds down range through both semi's and revolvers not to mention every style of rifle and shotgun. I own both and have been shooting both for many many years, in all that time and in all those rounds I have had a revolver malfunction one time. I can't even begin to count the number of times semi autos have had stoppages. I have built 1911 race guns from the frame up and can tear down and fine tune a DA S&W revolver. I just got done doing a Burwell trigger job to my plastic bottom feeder M&P45 so I sort of have a clue. I would not bet against your semi working right, but Mr. Murphy has a way of rearing his ugly head at the worst possible moment, that is why I choose to bet my life on those slow, old, antiquated, wheel guns.

M2 Carbine
April 17, 2012, 04:24 PM
why do so many people say revolvers are more reliable than autoloaders?
Because it's true.

Think not? How about this?

Put a thousand dollars in a pot, then have a revolver backer put a thousand in the pot. Count the semi autos that come into the range until one malfunctions.

Then count the revolvers until one malfunctions.

My money will be on the revolvers every time.


It's so rare for a revolver to malfunction at my range I can't remember the last time.

The last semi auto malfunction? What day is this?:D

loneviking
April 17, 2012, 08:34 PM
Allaroundhunter---take a snap cap and load/chamber it into your brass chucker. Jam the barrel into your couch cushions and press the trigger. Odds are that the gun won't fire as it will be out of battery.

And yes, wheelies are far less picky about ammo (esp. Reloads) than semi autos. Straight walled case, no taper needed. Far stronger action than a semi-auto which is partly why your big bore guns are usually revolvers.

Smith357
April 17, 2012, 09:58 PM
-take a snap cap and load/chamber it into your brass chucker. Jam the barrel into your couch cushions and press the trigger.

This is really not a valid argument, I can grab a DA revolver and keep the cylinder from turning so that you can not fire it. If the bad guy gets his hand on your gun he may be able to keep you from firing it whether it's a semi-auto or a round gun. In this particular scenario they are equal.

allaroundhunter
April 17, 2012, 10:10 PM
Allaroundhunter---take a snap cap and load/chamber it into your brass chucker. Jam the barrel into your couch cushions and press the trigger. Odds are that the gun won't fire as it will be out of battery.

I have jammed my Glock 19 into the side of a feral dog and fired 3 times. The gun did not fail to fire, it did not jam. 3 pulls of the trigger, 3 rounds discharged.

And as Smith357 said, you can jam the cylinder of a revolver...

BSA1
April 17, 2012, 11:37 PM
How is a revolver superior in this instance? A pistol will not stop working just because you are up close and personal with an attacker...If you are saying it will fail to go into battery, I highly doubt that.

If you will examine a semi-auto you will discover that the slide can be pushed out of battery from the front. In CQB situation one of two things are highly likely to happen with a semi-auto; a) the slide will be out of battery or b) the gun will fire but jam on the persons clothing rending it useless.

You probably have not experenced the CQB I am describing so it is difficult for you to recognize this shortcoming.

allaroundhunter
April 18, 2012, 12:24 AM
You probably have not experenced the CQB I am describing so it is difficult for you to recognize this shortcoming

Reread my post just before yours. I have had to jam my firearm into a living animal and fire, which I doubt you have had to. My gun did not fail to fire. I do understand that the gun can be pushed out of battery, but you do not have to jam a gun into a person as if you are stabbing them just because it is a close quarters engagement. You can push it up against the body without pushing the gun out of battery, it actually is not that difficult.

But also, close quarters is when shooting from retention can be very beneficial, whether it is with a revolver or semi-automatic.

scythefwd
April 18, 2012, 10:20 AM
all rounder.. out of battery.. especially if he is leaning on it is possible. Unless you can stop me from cocking my revolver on draw.. I don't need my cyl to move on that first shot. You've stopped followup shots though. Now, the web of your thumb in the hammer.. that'll do the trick.

Smith357
April 18, 2012, 05:00 PM
Unless you can stop me from cocking my revolver on draw

Using SA mode on a DA revolver is not a defense technique that any credited instructor or school teaches. In close quarter drills DA revolvers are always used DA, and should only be used in SA mode for shots taken at a long distances. The theory is too much time and motion is wasted thumbing the trigger, and many older revolvers actions are so slick they have the proverbial "hair trigger" that is generally not the best setup using a 2.5-3 pound combat magnum under stress. Now I'm not saying anyone here follows those rules but......just sayin'

jad0110
April 18, 2012, 05:06 PM
If you will examine a semi-auto you will discover that the slide can be pushed out of battery from the front. In CQB situation one of two things are highly likely to happen with a semi-auto; a) the slide will be out of battery

Some autos are more sensitive to this situation than others, depending on make and state of repair. allaroundhunter didn't have an issue with the particular weapon he used, though a different one in perhaps less than ideal mechanical condition might have been another issue entirely.

scythefwd
April 18, 2012, 08:01 PM
smith, of course they dont. It isn't wasted movement though. In no way does it slow the draw. I can draw as fast as I can, and even my single action revolvers are cocked by the time I get 1/2 to my target. They don't teach it because of one simple fact.. it takes a long time to get right.. and they teach skills that show improvement immediately, not 1000 draws down the line.

Usertag
April 18, 2012, 08:19 PM
With a Autoloader there are many reasons why it can fail: an under pressure round, if it isn't clean, the feeding ramp, the magazine lip, or just the round itself. Also an Autoloader has many more moving parts, which tends to have more issues, than a simpler design; such as a revolver. While a revolver mechanically chambers a new round without the need of a gas or blowback assist and there is no chance of jamming; when the round is already in it's own chamber. But on the rare occurence that a revolver does jam, it is because of the revolver design itself; like one that accepts a Moon Clip. Also a revolvers other flaw is a round misfiring, which can happen to the best of any firearm. Just sometimes it could be fault of the revolvers hammer and/or spring not functioning correctly.

45_auto
April 18, 2012, 09:06 PM
While a revolver mechanically chambers a new round without the need of a gas or blowback assist and there is no chance of jamming

Pretty obvious you haven't shot enough to see a revolver try to "chamber a new round" while it has a round with high primer in the cylinder ....

scythefwd
April 19, 2012, 08:20 AM
Or he only shoots quality ammo. I don't think I've seen a high primer in my 14 years of shooting.. what are you seeing it on? Now, most everything I've shot, save for military weapons, has been reloaded... and high primers don't happen if you are actually doing any sort of QC on your reloads.

easyg
April 19, 2012, 10:04 AM
Here's something to consider...

A DA/SA autoloader, or a DAO autoloader, or a cocked SA autoloader, or a Glock style striker fired autoloader, with a round in the chamber, is almost guaranteed to fire on the first trigger pull.
It might jam on the second round, but the first round is virtually certain to fire.

scythefwd
April 19, 2012, 12:35 PM
easy.. same could be said for a da/sa revolver, sa revolver...

allaroundhunter
April 19, 2012, 01:00 PM
easy.. same could be said for a da/sa revolver, sa revolver...

Not necessarily. The cylinder can be jammed up and you won't know until you try to pull the trigger (or cock the hammer)

beehlebf
April 19, 2012, 01:45 PM
I have shot a beretta 92 that had fte all the time. Idk if it was the cheap ammo as it was a friends gun. He had no problems so it might have been me holding it to lightly. However this shows how inexperience with a particular firearm can lead to problems

easyg
April 19, 2012, 06:28 PM
easy.. same could be said for a da/sa revolver, sa revolver...

Not necessarily. The cylinder can be jammed up and you won't know until you try to pull the trigger (or cock the hammer).
Exactly.

Basically, for the first shot the autoloader might actually be more reliable.
But not necessarily for subsequent shots.

BSA1
April 19, 2012, 10:12 PM
Not necessarily. The cylinder can be jammed up and you won't know until you try to pull the trigger (or cock the hammer)

That is just plain silly. If revolvers were that prone to malfunction our nation's leo's and across the world would not have carried and trustd their lives to them. Bullets jumping their crimp will only happen after the first shot but has anyone seen factory ammo have this problem?

High primer can cause problems in both revolver and semi-autos alike.

The fact is with good quality factory ammo a revolver is extremely reliable.

The fact is with good quality factory ammo a semi-auto can and often do jam whether due to mechancial (feedway issue) or shooter induced (limp wristing, improper grip).

BSA1
April 19, 2012, 10:19 PM
I have jammed my Glock 19 into the side of a feral dog and fired 3 times. The gun did not fail to fire, it did not jam. 3 pulls of the trigger, 3 rounds discharged.

That is sure to give you a lot of self confidence in your gun although having to shoot three times a contact distance doesn't say much for it's stopping power. Imagine what a 45 Colt, 41 or 44 Magnum would have done. (I don't like things that can bite me back).

jdh
April 19, 2012, 11:39 PM
BSA1 question for you. Winchester loads both the 10mm auto and the 41 Mag revolver with 175 grain bullets. Which one is faster/more powerful?

allaroundhunter
April 19, 2012, 11:40 PM
That is just plain silly. If revolvers were that prone to malfunction our nation's leo's and across the world would not have carried and trustd their lives to them.

So pointing out that a semi can be pushed out of battery is not silly? Police officers get into struggles with suspects and in some situations are forced to fire from contact distance. If their guns would fail to fire would they carry them?

That is sure to give you a lot of self confidence in your gun although having to shoot three times a contact distance doesn't say much for it's stopping power.

Actually, the stopping power has nothing to do with it. Just as you don't, I don't like things that can bite me back. I fired those three shots in rapid succession, I didn't wait to see if the first one had a deadly effect, because I know what these feral dogs are capable of. In one instance, we had a cow kick a feral dog and break 3 of its ribs (which we found after cutting the dog open); the dog continued the attack and pretty much tore the cow's throat out.

A .44 magnum is not practical for carry on the farm because follow up shots are not as fast, and shooting a running dog is not always a one-shot deal.

The fact is with good quality factory ammo a semi-auto can and often do jam whether due to mechancial (feedway issue) or shooter induced (limp wristing, improper grip).

I think that even those promoting revolvers will disagree with you here. With quality factory ammunition, semi-autos most definitely do not jam "often". It also seems that you do not have very much experience with semi-automatics if you are making that type of statement.


With quality ammunition, I will trust either a revolver or a semi-automatic. For my personal use, I just prefer to have more ammunition available before a reload becomes necessary.

sgt127
April 20, 2012, 12:44 AM
Been awhile since I posted this. My thoughts:

I started out shooting revolvers many years ago. Revolvers were quite reliable to work with and then along came the autos with new improved designs, better ammunition performance and greater capacity. In truth, I felt that the reliability of the auto finally came up to a level of what I felt was the tactical equivalency of well maintained revolvers and so I began to carry an auto.

Here are some random observations I have discovered about the two weapon systems. Revolvers will occasionally malfunction and so will autos. I accept the fact that a high quality auto is just as likely, or unlikely, to break a part that stops the gun from functioning, just as any high quality revolver would should it experience catastrophic failure of a particular part. I have actually broken more parts in autos than revolvers, but I can attribute that to sheer luck. Slide stops have broken, firing pins have broken, but statistically, I would argue that neither one is likely to just "break" when you need it.

On the few occasions that I have had a revolver stop working, it was a cumulative effect of shooting. It started to get dirty, crap under the extractor star, the barrel cylinder gap got lead and powder residue, the chambers got sticky from lots of .38's and then having to force a .357 into the chamber. In other words, most of the problems came on slowly. I knew eventually the gun was going to stop working because of the indicators it gave; such as the trigger pull beginning to feel heavy or the bind I felt when attempting to close the cylinder.

However, there were times that for no apparent reason, a clean, well-lubed auto, would sometimes just not feed, fire, or eject a round. The bullet nose would catch on the feed-ramp, an empty round would fail to get out of the way of the next round, or there would be some other type of failure that seemed to occur randomly, and without warning.

Standing on the line, at the range, neither gun failed very often. Nice firm grip, dry hands, locked wrists, all is well in the world of hand-gunning. But, in the neat world of tactical hand-gunning when a deadly force confrontation erupts, we know that it is anything but a static situation or under perfect conditions!

Recently, I have watched a few episodes of "Under Fire" on Court TV. Autos, good quality (and, hopefully) well maintained autos, sometimes crap out in the middle of a gunfight. These incidents can be attributed to such things as: a weak one-handed grip, or perhaps coming out of battery when rolling around on the ground, or when the weapon is shoved against the bad guy, or whatever else that can impact a weapon system in a serious close quarter fight. The auto needs a solid platform to work off of. In the real world of close quarter fighting you must remember this should your weapon malfunction!

At distances where the Officer could maneuver, even though it was still in close proximity to the suspect, the auto rarely seemed to jam. But, if the fight closed all the way down to contact distance, then there is the chance that the auto could turn into a single shot weapon.

As an example of this, there is one particular episode that comes to mind involving an Officer fighting with an experienced, no-nonsense boxer, that was about to beat the Officer to death. Finally, the Officer drew his pistol and got off one shot into the BG's midsection with little effect, and, the gun jammed on the first shot! The BG then grabbed the gun and beat the Officer with it and tossed it. The Officer was able to pick it back up later in the fight. (Interesting video if you ever get a chance to see it.)

On duty, I have to carry a Glock 35. And, I'm not sure I am ready to give up the general reliability, magazine capacity, and ease of shooting of a good auto for the vast majority of shooting situations. But, as a backup, I carry a 642. And, it seems a lot of others are big fans of the little revolvers as backup guns as well.

Off duty, I find myself carrying a 3" S&W M65 more and more. I envision an off duty encounter being a very fast fight that turns into a gunfight. Bad guy rushing you with a knife, BG jumping you, knocking you down and attacking you, two guys pinning you into a corner and the fight is on. Capacity becomes secondary to utter reliability for me at that point. I can still get good hits with a revolver out to 25 yards or so, if I have to, but it's not really something I see happening. Truth be known, the odds of needing a gun at all are pretty remote, but if we are the kind of individual with the right tactical mindset, then we should plan for those unexpected events and be ready for it.

So, what are some other's thoughts? Have you taken your favorite defense auto out to the range, held it with your left hand, bent your wrist and elbow and tried getting off as many shots as you could? Have you held it upside down, or covered your hands in soapy water and then tried to shoot through an entire magazine? Have you tried shoving it into the target to see if it gets pushed out of battery? The question then is - did it jam after the first shot? I have personally done all those things and found that the reliability of a quality auto weapon went downhill.

It seems that most autos jam during the feeding and ejecting cycle. That's the one part that you do manually before and after the festivities with a revolver. During a gunfight, a revolver cannot have a feeding malfunction or an ejection malfunction. I realize that clearing an auto jam is a lot faster than clearing a revolver jam. But, that really cool "Tap-rack-bang" that you practice on the range really needs that off hand to work. If that off hand is keeping a box cutter off your throat, things go downhill in a hurry.

This is not to say if you are carrying a revolver that you couldn't experience a malfunction with it as well. As an example, I am talking about something like a high primer, making it difficult to pull through on the trigger. To combat this effect - pull the trigger REALLY hard, it just may go bang again! There are pros and cons to both of these weapon systems.

If these thoughts get a few people to thinking, and helps you to become more aware of your own abilities as well as your weapon's capabilities and limitations, then great. If it just makes you train harder, for what YOU consider a real world gunfight, even better. Remember: practice hard, practice often and be safe. Best regard to you all.

allaroundhunter
April 20, 2012, 01:13 AM
But, that really cool "Tap-rack-bang" that you practice on the range really needs that off hand to work.

Great post, and I do agree with most of it. I will point out though, that you do not have to have two hands to perform a "tap-rack-bang" drill. You can also use your belt. I do recommend it, especially as you are (I assume since you mentioned "on duty") an LEO. If you do (God forbid) ever have to use your weapon and a malfunction happens, it does help to know how to (and to have practiced) clearing double-feeds and FTF's one-handed in case your off hand is for some reason inoperable or otherwise engaged.

wwace
April 20, 2012, 08:38 AM
As a kid I shot many revolvers, the only problem I ever remember was my dad lost the ejector rod off a single action Ruger .30 cal. I believe that it is still in his gun room without the rod.

My first semi was a Smith model 59 if I remember correctly in about 1978, I was shooting the second mag when it quit working. The mag ejector button was gone, never did find it. After waiting for 6 months for Smith to send the new parts I sold it to my brother in law.
These are both examples of lack of maintainence or poor factory assembly which caused the issue. While the .30 cal Ruger was still usable the model 59 was useless.

I have never experienced any other failures with revolvers, semi autos though I have had many problems, magazine related through FTF FTE etc. If you included .22 there would be no doubts. Quality of the firearm, ammunition, maintainance and circumstance all factor into the reliability equation. Given that all the above factors are equal the revolver will work more reliably than a semi.

Today we are lucky to have semi auto guns that have evolved into extremely reliable machines. Most problems with either platform are environmental or ammo related so in my opinion both are fine to depend on as long as you do what you can to limit failures from crappy ammo or environmental influences. The revolver just slightly more so because it will keep working without needing a Tap & Rack drill.

sgt127
April 20, 2012, 09:31 AM
I will point out though, that you do not have to have two hands to perform a "tap-rack-bang" drill. You can also use your belt. I do recommend it, especially as you are (I assume since you mentioned "on duty") an LEO. If you do (God forbid) ever have to use your weapon and a malfunction happens, it does help to know how to (and to have practiced) clearing double-feeds and FTF's one-handed in case your off hand is for some reason inoperable or otherwise engaged.

You are, of course, correct. I've caught the rear sight on the heel of my boot, the edge of a table and the upright arm of a barricade (among other things) to rack the slide of an auto to get it back in operation in practice. I also discoverd I am more likely to practice stuff like that with an issue Glock as opposed to my Wilson .45! :)

allaroundhunter
April 20, 2012, 12:22 PM
I also discoverd I am more likely to practice stuff like that with an issue Glock as opposed to my Wilson .45!

I'm with you there haha. The nicest handgun that I have is a Colt Combat Commander and it definitely does not get the abuse that my M&P and Glock 19 do ;)

Texas Gun Person
April 20, 2012, 04:23 PM
I say wheel guns are more reliable because in my years of shooting I have never, not once, seen a revolver fail to fire because of some failure with the gun itself. Not counting rim fire revolvers were the gun doesn't go pow because of the ammo. :p


I've seen... well I don't know how many autos mess up in some form or fashion.

Thefabulousfink
April 21, 2012, 01:42 PM
Don't get me wrong, I love revolvers, but I had an experience that taught me that nothing is perfect.

While at the Range one day I decided to get a little extra practice with my S&W 637 airweight. Now to save money I generally shoot cheap .38s out of it for most of the paractice and then occasionally run the +P stuff just to stay familiar. Well, that day I decided to shoot the +P ammo that I had been carrying in the gun for some time (6 months or more). After the second round was fired the revlover locked up and refused to function!

I couldn't pull the trigger, I couldn't cock the hammer, I couldn't even eject the cylinder. What had happend, was the recoil from the second round had un-seated the bullets of two of the round still in the cylinder. They had slid forward and jammed on the crane, locking up the whole gun and rendering it useless. I had to get a screwdriver and take the gun apart to fix it.

Now obviously this was the fault of bad ammo, but in an auto it would have been solved by a simple mag dump and clear. So revolvers DO fail and when they do...THEY FAIL HARD.

j1
April 22, 2012, 07:11 AM
Thank you for telling of your experience. Do you think that shooting fresh ammo would have done the same thing?

black_powder_Rob
April 22, 2012, 06:08 PM
I am thinking if you were shooting a load in an auto that would unseat a bullet than maybe you would do damage to the ejector or maybe (if a polymer frame) crack the frame. wonder how well the gun would function then?

22-rimfire
April 22, 2012, 07:58 PM
Once you shoot a revolver a bit and develop some trust on its functionality, I think they are more reliable. Semi-autos can develop problems (usually small problems) sometimes without rhyme or reason. I suggest you shoot factory ammo for home defense and carry.

jon_in_wv
April 22, 2012, 08:13 PM
The fact is with good quality factory ammo a semi-auto can and often do jam whether due to mechancial (feedway issue) or shooter induced (limp wristing, improper grip).

My M&P 9c has well over 10,000 rounds through it with 2 FTF. One was when I first bought it and the other was when someone else was shooting it so I have no idea what happened. I used to own a S&W 686 and the trigger locked one time when my glove jammed in front of the trigger, I had the gun lock up twice shooting reloads. All three malfunctions completely disabled the weapon and would have take me out of the fight. The two FTFs with the M&P were cleared by racking the slide and it was back in action.

Both can be extremely reliable platforms but to clearly declare one better than the other is a little disingenuous to me. They both have their strengths and weaknesses. There are time I would prefer a revolver and times I would prefer a semi-auto. Its like arguing bolt action rifle versus semi-auto.

Thefabulousfink
April 22, 2012, 08:35 PM
Do you think that shooting fresh ammo would have done the same thing?

Probably not, unless it was a manufacturing defect. I haven't had any problems since then with that gun, just now I make a point to regularly change out my carry ammo.

I am thinking if you were shooting a load in an auto that would unseat a bullet than maybe you would do damage to the ejector or maybe (if a polymer frame) crack the frame. wonder how well the gun would function then?

IIRC I was shooting Corbon .38 +P that was a few years old, but the gun was designed and rated to handle +P rounds. Either the bullets were improperly seated when they were made, or more likely had work loose after being handled, loaded, unloaded for some time.

In an auto, a standard load in a gun made to handle it should not damage the gun (with the exception of a squib load). If the first round fired and one of the subsequent rounds in the magazine unseated a bullet, I think the most likely result would be a fail to feed, and maybe the rounds in the magazine jamming. This could be sloved quickly by droping the mag, clearing the action, and loading a fresh mag. Much faster than it took me to clear my revolver.


Edit to add: In my opinion, an auto is more likely to jam (FTF, FTE, etc.) but it is also usually easier to get working again. Jams in a revolver are much rarer, but are usually more serious.

contender
April 23, 2012, 12:18 AM
a tap-rack-bang drill i do not want to experience with a threat within 3 feet of me...which according to stats is the most frequent self-defense shooting distance.

To go "bang", (mechanically), the gun is 50% of the equation. the ammo is the other 50%.

today's autos are light years ahead of the past offerings and very nearly rival the revolver for reliability. However, ammo is still ammo, a dud is still a dud. and i have sure encountered the rare bad primer before in the form of federal and winchester ammo.

i'll take the revolver with the immediate 2nd strike capability coupled with the rotation of a fresh round into position and leave the tap-rack-bang drills at hand-shake distances for more qualified individuals.

People generally will say bad ammo/primers are rare. Yet i am constantly reading various gun reviews on internet boards and in the gun rags about autoloader testing and some infrequent mentions of bad ammo during the tests. Often with the mention of:
1. a light strike and the round is chambered and fired again with a hard primer blamed..
2. a heavy good strike and the round is a dud and the primer blamed.

these problems are declared as ammo related (rightly so) and not gun related. Frequently, these ammo stoppages are the only negative shooting reports/experiences during gun testing it seems.

Ammo is the wildcard. and murphy's law is always on my mind. Especially since ammo companies are having a difficult time keeping up with demand.

mgregg85
April 23, 2012, 06:17 AM
I think the "bad ammo" thing so often mentioned in gun magazines is just a nice way of saying the gun jams. Kinda like when they say "acceptable combat accuracy", meaning the pistol shoots a shotgun like pattern at 10 yards.

philly3458
July 7, 2012, 02:17 PM
Small autos are less reliable than revolvers. If I can't carry a service quality auto stay with a revolver.

Certaindeaf
July 7, 2012, 04:10 PM
They are not ammunition reliant to the degree of an auto and you just pull the trigger to make it go bang, unlike many autopistols. A lot of it is tit for tat but that's pretty much it in the final analysis.

Now if you get into a "military" setting, where there is silt and gunk and stuff, and the operator knows his elbow from a hole in the ground, the auto is functionally superior.

AFDavis11
July 8, 2012, 06:19 AM
You can purchase excellent samples of both. The revolver design is a little more reliable, but it usually allows for fewer rounds in the gun.

In my house the revolvers are more reliable because I didn't purchase good autos. I owned an XD 9 mm once and it was very reliable.

To a small extent our experience with each weapon creates reliability. How you hold, load, and maintain a gun leads to its performance. I've met guys who could not make an auto work right simply because they didn't hold it right.

Same goes for revolvers. Dork up the trigger pull and a revolver can act weird too.

Big Lew in NC
July 8, 2012, 10:14 AM
It's well known that autos can have more issues than revolvers, BUT well said above that if you buy quality guns and amma you'll have few problems either way. There are some guns out there that I wouldn't own even if it meant going without. Just spend the money and get quality & go shoot!

DFM914
July 8, 2012, 06:23 PM
Because they are more reliable in general.

AZ Desertrat
July 8, 2012, 08:48 PM
It's not that revolvers are MORE reliable....they just have less moving parts and things to go wrong.....

Vern Humphrey
July 8, 2012, 09:26 PM
On the other hand, if you hang out here long enough, you will read a lot of posts about revolvers failing -- everything from broken transfer bars to crud under the ejector star.

Having carried a revolver (privately owned Colt M357) my first tour in Viet Nam, and seen a lot of S&W Model 10s turn into junk in the jungle environment, I don't think revolvers have any special claim to reliability. If you take good care of them, they will work -- but that's true of automatics, too.

Kiln
July 9, 2012, 01:59 AM
On the other hand, if you hang out here long enough, you will read a lot of posts about revolvers failing -- everything from broken transfer bars to crud under the ejector star.

Having carried a revolver (privately owned Colt M357) my first tour in Viet Nam, and seen a lot of S&W Model 10s turn into junk in the jungle environment, I don't think revolvers have any special claim to reliability. If you take good care of them, they will work -- but that's true of automatics, too.
Exactly, I've experienced a few problems with revolvers locking up myself. I've also had autos break small parts that rendered them useless as well. What is important in a defensive weapon is proper testing. Revolver vs automatic is a debate that won't be won in just a few lines so I won't even try.

Fire it enough to ensure that it works properly and clean it often enough to ensure that it continues to do so. You've just got to hope that the time you need the gun isn't the time that a trigger spring breaks.

scythefwd
July 9, 2012, 10:44 AM
I think the "bad ammo" thing so often mentioned in gun magazines is just a nice way of saying the gun jams. Kinda like when they say "acceptable combat accuracy", meaning the pistol shoots a shotgun like pattern at 10 yards.


I wish I could shoot that well. At 10m, a shotgun will put out a 2-3" pattern if you are using a full choke. Smaller with a flight control wad in conjunction with a x-full choke. I know I'm not capable of that grouping at 10m.. I shake too much.

Vern Humphrey
July 9, 2012, 01:26 PM
I wish I could shoot that well. At 10m, a shotgun will put out a 2-3" pattern if you are using a full choke. Smaller with a flight control wad in conjunction with a x-full choke. I know I'm not capable of that grouping at 10m.. I shake too much.
As Uncle Billy Tilghman said to my Uncle Carroll, "You don't have to hold it steady, boy. It just has to be on target <BANG!> when it goes off."

scythefwd
July 9, 2012, 01:33 PM
vern - still learning that skill. My grandpa had a 2" shake and could shoot sub moa.. I can't time my shakes like that.

Vern Humphrey
July 9, 2012, 01:52 PM
When it's moving toward the target, increase pressure. When it's moving away, hold fast.

scythefwd
July 9, 2012, 01:58 PM
vern.. it's a 1/4 inch shake.. and a lot faster than I can react. doesn't show up as much if I'm rifle shooting.. thats what slings are for.

Vern Humphrey
July 9, 2012, 04:36 PM
How badly does it affect your pistol shooting?

Personally, I think the prohibition on shoulder stocks should be repealed -- I have a great design for a shoulder stock for my Colt Woodsman.

jhco50
July 10, 2012, 01:51 AM
I have been shooting revolvers for many years and can honestly say, I have never had one fail me because of a mechanical problem with the gun. I have gotten ammunition that has failed, but not the revolvers. Even cheaper ones.

RBid
July 10, 2012, 01:57 AM
PEEPL SAY REVOLVYERS IS MORE RELIEBLE THAN A OTTOLODER BECUZ THEYR GOLLDANG LYERZ! THAY NEED TUH STAWP SIPPIN' ON THAT THAR PURPEL COOLADE AN RECUGNIZ THAT THARS A! GLAWK AN ITS MOAR RELIEBEL THAN ANY WHEELIE GUNNER!


My bad. I wandered into an especially horrific Walmart to buy rounds today, and I'm still trying to get my head right.

Revolvers seem like they have fewer potential areas of failure than autoloaders do. I say this as someone who has never fired a revolver, and as someone who used to own a Kel Tec Perpetual Failure-9.

My view in this matter is 100% speculation.

scythefwd
July 10, 2012, 07:42 AM
Rbid - get some quality semi-autos, and some quality revolvers (smith custom shop, both of em).. and I doubt you'll see the revolver break first. It'll be something piddly with the semi-auto, like the recoil spring wearing out, or a mag wearing out. The rest of the issues will be ammo or shooter related. I doubt most "average" shooters would ever push either gun that far.

jimbo555
July 10, 2012, 07:59 AM
Both types can fail.Thats why you should carry a back up!

Carl N. Brown
July 10, 2012, 08:06 AM
I have a Ruger Security Six that will fire reliably any .38 Spl, .357 mag ammo I feed it, low power lead wadcutters through FMJ magnums.

My autos (.45ACP, .40S&W, 7.62x25mm, 25ACP and .22LR) all require ammo within specific power levels for reliable function.

Skribs
July 10, 2012, 01:13 PM
That is a good point Carl, but if all you shoot is within a specific power range, that auto is going to be just fine.

Scythe, you bring up a good point, but if you're properly maintaining your auto (replace springs when they start to get a little different as opposed to when they start to fail) you probably won't have a problem.

Jhco, my Dad's first revolver locked up while dry firing. It wasn't an ammo issue. It was a Taurus ;)

scythefwd
July 10, 2012, 01:45 PM
skribs +1 on the maintenance. I also don't expect that from an average user either.

One_Jackal
July 11, 2012, 02:28 AM
The hing about revolvers is the design ia old. I have a Colt Army that is around 23 years old. It has never malfunctioned. Hard to find a 20 year old Glock. You can find Colt Army pistols over 50 years old that work just fine. If I was going into combat I would want a Glock. If we get attacked by Zombies I want a Revolver.

RBid
July 11, 2012, 02:41 AM
scythefwd,

In all honesty, I assume that revolvers are more likely to be reliable. Fewer lemons, at least. No mag issues. No feeding problems.

Of course, I know of many incredibly reliable semis, too. Zero failures = zero failures.

dogngun
July 11, 2012, 07:57 AM
At one time, this was perfectly true, and the revolver makers used it as a selling tool... but the revolver may still have a small edge over the autoloader in reliability, and there is always the fact that in event of a misfire, all you have to do is pull the trigger again for the next shot.
Mostly these days I think it's personal preference...I very seldom carry an auto.


mark

Skribs
July 11, 2012, 11:10 AM
The hing about revolvers is the design ia old. I have a Colt Army that is around 23 years old. It has never malfunctioned. Hard to find a 20 year old Glock. You can find Colt Army pistols over 50 years old that work just fine. If I was going into combat I would want a Glock. If we get attacked by Zombies I want a Revolver.

Why would you want a revolver against zombies? Zombies are known for travelling in large groups - I'd rather have more ammunition. In either case - combat or zombies - I'd have a long gun.

At one time, this was perfectly true, and the revolver makers used it as a selling tool... but the revolver may still have a small edge over the autoloader in reliability, and there is always the fact that in event of a misfire, all you have to do is pull the trigger again for the next shot.

I weigh the chance of a misfire vs. the chance of running out of ammunition and having to reload. I can clear a misfire fairly quickly with a pistol, much more quickly than the difference between reloading a pistol and revolver (for me, anyway).

OrangePwrx9
July 11, 2012, 12:55 PM
A couple of points from someone who shoots both:

1) Revolvers are more tolerant of neglect than they are of outright abuse; with autoloaders it's the exact opposite. Throw a revolver against a concrete wall and it'll likely be rendered non-functional and never be right again. An autoloader would most likely sustain only cosmetic damage.

OTOH, a loaded revolver that was carried/left in a nightstand/kept under a pillow for years without being fired or cleaned, would probably function just fine. The Autoloader would likely jam after the first shot.

2) The greatest variable in shooting is the ammo. From shot-to-shot, always a different round and sometimes a different load. The revolver will largely take this variable in stride. It's either insensitive to the variation or can ride through outright ammo failures while requiring no more than one functional hand to clear.

The Autoloader is not only sensitive to different loads and the quality of each round, but it also introduces a variable of its own; the magazine. Faulty/damaged magazines can cause as much trouble as the ammo. In addition, ammo/magazine caused jams normally require skill and two functional hands to be quickly cleared.

To me, this makes the autoloader a gun for professionals; trained people whose daily work is, at least in part, directly concerned with the proper use, care, feeding, and maintenance of firearms.

The revolver, OTOH, is the handgun for 'everyman'; the untrained person whose daily work does not involve firearms but who perceives a need for the protection a firearm affords.

Skribs
July 11, 2012, 01:26 PM
The Autoloader is not only sensitive to different loads and the quality of each round, but it also introduces a variable of its own; the magazine. Faulty/damaged magazines can cause as much trouble as the ammo. In addition, ammo/magazine caused jams normally require skill and two functional hands to be quickly cleared.

Problems with the "magazine" on a revolver are not easily fixed by tap-rack-bang or a reload.

Vern Humphrey
July 11, 2012, 01:46 PM
The hing about revolvers is the design ia old. I have a Colt Army that is around 23 years old. It has never malfunctioned. Hard to find a 20 year old Glock. You can find Colt Army pistols over 50 years old that work just fine. If I was going into combat I would want a Glock. If we get attacked by Zombies I want a Revolver.
My Colt New Service was made in 1906.

On the other hand, there are plenty of Colt M1911s from before the First World War still in people's holsters.

Skribs
July 11, 2012, 01:50 PM
My Colt New Service was made in 1906.

How can you still call it "New Service" when it's 106 years old?

scythefwd
July 11, 2012, 02:12 PM
And there are serviceable revolvers from the 1800's. My old man has one from the 1880's.. Thats only another 26 years older still. There are some antique BP revolvers from before that...

Vern Humphrey
July 11, 2012, 02:14 PM
How can you still call it "New Service" when it's 106 years old?
'Cause the Old Service is even older.;)

The Army adopted a modern swing-out cylinder Colt in .38 Long Colt in 1892. It was not a happy choice, and Colt developed a stronger revolver in .45 Colt, calling it the New Service to hint to the Army that was what they really needed.

Instead, the Army pulled out the old M1873 SAAs out of storage and issued them during the Philippines Insurrection. They ran out of SAAs and adopted the New Service in 1909 as the Model 1909 -- and it was quickly superceeded by the M1911 automatic.

When we entered WWI, we couldn't produce M1911s fast enough, so the Army contracted with both Smith and Wesson and Colt to produce revolvers chambered for the .45 ACP. Regardless of maker, they were called the M1917. The Colt M1917 was, of course, the New Service.

JohnBT
July 11, 2012, 04:54 PM
"How can you still call it "New Service" when it's 106 years old? "

http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRzVNIb71_re95dovG_rxja9O8i4xL06YmyT1PgCV4LZERfoYQ6lMf9FeQC

Because it's the name of the gun?

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