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Is the revolver platform more accurate?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by NCBeagle, Feb 20, 2010.

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  1. NCBeagle

    NCBeagle Member

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    While reading a thread about custom 1911s being more accurate than "off the rack" 1911s because of tight tolerances and all of that stuff, I got to wondering whether the revolver platform might lend itself to greater accuracy than the 1911 because of the fixed barrel? Of course, there are a few other types of guns with fixed barrels like PPK and so on.

    This is really just a question.
     
  2. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    How accurate is accurate enough? From a theoretical standpoint the single barrel/single chamber handguns achieve the greatest theoretical and practical accuracy. From that point on it becomes mostly irrelevant.
     
  3. NCBeagle

    NCBeagle Member

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    How accurate is accurate enough? Well, for me...most well made handguns exceed my capability. This is really more an academic question...as you pointed out.

    Of course, this hasn't stopped hundreds of people from posting threads about which highly tuned 1911 shoots the best 1/2 centimeter groups at 2000 yards. :D
     
  4. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

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    Revolvers have their compromises as well. In the end, though, many seem to give the revolver platform a slight (a very slight) edge in out-of-the-box accuracy. All bets are off when considering individual guns, though.
     
  5. Peter M. Eick

    Peter M. Eick Member

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    An interesting observation I made was that most bullseye shooting is done with autoloaders, but most long range silhouette shooting is with revolvers.

    My opinion is that it is easier to consistently make accurate autoloaders over revolvers.

    I still love a good revolver though.
     
  6. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    It depends on what kind of handgun you’re considering.

    1911 platform pistols, as well as a few others, can be set up so when fired from a machine rest they will beat most revolvers so far as accuracy is concerned. The reason is that the chamber is part of the barrel, and therefore always concentric with the bore. A revolver has six (or whatever) chambers and it is difficult to have all of them absolutely line up. Years ago target shooters would number the chambers and then test fire to find out which one was most accurate, and use it exclusively for slow fire.

    In a center fire pistol the trick is to get the barrel to return to battery each time to exactly the same position. While this is possible, zero wiggle can sharply reduce reliability. Service pistols must sacrifice some accuracy to insure reliability, and for this reason tend to be less accurate then best quality revolvers.

    Accuracy is relative. If you are shooting bullseye matches it is of extreme importance. A malfunction may cost you a trophy but it won’t get you killed. On the other hand reliability is far more important in a weapon for obvious reasons.

    A revolver offers an excellent compromise between accuracy and reliability, but its capacity is limited in most cases to between 5 to 8 rounds – depending on the particular make and model, and it is slightly slower to reload.

    So take your choice. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
     
  7. greyling22

    greyling22 Member

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    I've found that target revolvers tend to have longer barrels, sight radiuses (radii?) and better triggers than auto's. beyond that, ditto to old fluff.
     
  8. bluetopper

    bluetopper Member

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    I own all three, but I'll take my chances with a Smith model 17 revolver against High Standards or a Smith model 41.:)
     
  9. herbie1

    herbie1 Member

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  10. 336A

    336A Member

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    In a short word yes the revolver is the more accurate of the two. However that does not mean the semi auto handgun is not in-accurate. Basically it takes a lot of time and hand fitting to get a semi auto to be as accurate as some box stock revolvers. Good examples of this are the various K frame .38 SPL revolvers that are out there. In order to get the same type of accuracy from a semi auto you can expect to pay quite a bit more do to the amount of time it takes to get the tolerances just right.
     
  11. NG VI

    NG VI Member

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    Yeah the fixed barrel and frame really help things out for the revolvers, I think for silhouette shooting the revolver has a natural advantage because of the lack of adequate autoloaders for that kind of long-range plate smacking, while .357, .41, and .44 Magnums are quite common, ok maybe not the .41 but the other two are everywhere.
     
  12. golden

    golden Member

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    Depends on the shooter

    I have shot very accurate revolvers and accurate autos. I think it comes down to the shooter in most cases.

    The intrinsic accuracy of most guns exceeds my ability to use them.

    Jim
     
  13. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Esp. in single action mode I don't see how a semi can compare with a revolver. That's why the revolver is preferred for hunting.
     
  14. JTQ

    JTQ Member

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    The more likely reason is because of the more powerful calibers available in revolvers (.44 Mag, .454 Casul, .480 Ruger, .460 S&W, .500 S&W, etc) and the ability to more easily use heavy, wide meplat bullets rather than bullets that will feed in a semi-auto.
     
  15. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    I agree.
    Hunters use revolvers because of the Magnum class calibers they shoot.

    I would say that a run of the mill target sighted revolver is more accurate then a run of the mill combat grade semi-auto. You can prove that with a Ransom Rest shoot-off.

    But revolvers were out-classed by auto's about 50 years ago in NRA .22, Centerfire, and .45 Bullseye competition.

    That tells you right there that a Match Grade auto is more accurate then the best revolvers made at that time, including the K-38 S&W and Officers Match Colt.
    And those are two of the most accurate Target revolvers ever made.

    rc
     
  16. rmfnla

    rmfnla Member

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    "That tells you right there that a Match Grade auto is more accurate then the best revolvers made at that time..."


    No, it tells you that semi-autos are accurate enought to win a match in the right hands, not that they are more accuate than revolvers.

    I think trigger-pull is one of the reasons; you don't have to cock a semi-auto to shoot single-action so the gun doesn't need to be reseated in your hand for each shot.

    As far as inherent accuracy goes, the relationship between sights and bore never changes on a revolver, and I think that makes it the more accurate platform.
     
  17. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    It would be interesting to see a test where the seating of a typical delayed blowback semi barrel is tested for consistency of positioning with respect to the slide. Because it would appear that it is the nature of that locking up of the barrel as it is wedged into position when the gun racks forward that is going to limit the actual accuracy of the gun itself. Is there a slight but measureable change in this all important lineup from shooting where the residue is deposited on the barrel lugs and other internal parts or is it a non issue? It would seem to me that this would be where any slight disadvantage for a semi would show up compared to a revolver where all this is locked into position.

    But then revolvers have their own issue with cylinder to barrel alignment in terms of how accurately the stop and hand hold the cylinder from chamber to chamber. Just how much damage is done to the bullet as it passes through the forcing cone and wedged into place if the alignment isn't perfect? Or with soft lead bullets do they continue to obdurate and refit themselves to the barrel bore even if pushed a little out of round?

    Either way real world results would indicate that these factors are minor compared to how each shooter interfaces with each style of gun. For myself I have found that I can shoot both about evenly for group sizes. But it takes a lot more concentration to do this with a semi than with a revolver. Something about how my hands fit onto a revolver makes it easier to shoot consistently good groups with them. But this is purely to do with the how revolvers interface with my hands. Any super slight differences in inherent semi vs revolver format accuracy is just "background noise" in the far more predominant practical issues of holding the guns, bad eyesight and aging nerves that produce wandering sight pictures.
     
  18. EddieNFL

    EddieNFL member

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    Most silhouette shooters I know use single shots; either turn bolt or a break action type. While not as popular as in years gone by the revolver class still draws entries. I know one guy that uses a Freedom Arms in four different divisions.

    Autoloaders are popular in rimfire unlimited and production divisions.
     
  19. Deanimator

    Deanimator Member

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    I've owned exceptionally accurate revolvers. I also own one that keyholes with every shot (apparently some guy in his backyard in Mexico didn't know that .45 Colt and .45acp used to have different bore diameters when he converted a New Service from .45 Colt to .45acp.).

    A revolver can be very accurate. It also has five or six extra opportunities to be innaccurate compared to a semi auto. The semi-auto has one barrel and one chamber. The revolver has one barrel and five or six chambers. The forcing cone and any or all of the chambers in the revolver can have problems, especially oversized throats.

    I'm lucky to only have owned one revolver that was hopelessly inaccurate, and that because of ill-considered modification.
     
  20. makarovnik

    makarovnik Member

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    For accuracy it's hard to beat a straight blowback pistol that returns to battery in the same position every time. No gap or forcing cone to jump.
     
  21. Cactus Jack Arizona

    Cactus Jack Arizona Member

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    I think it really depends on the individual shooter, all things being equal. My dad shoots a revolver better than he does a semi-auto. Yet, I shoot a semi-auto better than a revolver. :rolleyes:
     
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