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Longevity: Pistol vs. Revolver

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Phydeaux642, Oct 21, 2007.

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  1. Phydeaux642

    Phydeaux642 Member

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    First, let me say that I own both pistols and wheelguns and enjoy shooting both (except for the Walther P22:cuss:). I don't get involved in the arguement over which is better. I think that either type from a reputable manufacturer are equally reliable. I know that both have their pros and cons, but I will shoot any gun that is put in front of me and most likely enjoy it.

    My question is this: With all things being equal (cleaning, quality of ammo, etc.) will a pistol and revolver be similar in the number of rounds that can be put through them reliably? Will my S&W revolvers and SA 1911 last about the same number of rounds without major problems arising? And, will my XD9s come close to what the others will do?

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  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    I doubt that anyone can answer that with any degree of certainty.

    We know that many old Colt revolvers have survived since the civil war, and are still perfectly shootable today.

    We know that many 1911's from WWI are still in service and performing just as well now as they did then.

    What we don't know is how well the Plastic-Fantastic guns of today will survive the next 100 - 150 years. Somehow, I doubt many of them will last that long.

    As for number of rounds?
    Any of them will need things such as barrels replaced & tightening up before the gun itself becomes just so much junk. Getting replacement barrels for older S&W revolvers will become more problematic then it already is now.
    But shooting only lead bullets in revolvers prolongs barrel life indefinitely.

    1911 & XD barrels will still be available, assuming the government and Hillery haven't banned them all by then.



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    rcmodel
     
  3. zinj

    zinj Member

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    Autos need more regular maintainence (replacing the recoil spring is a big one), but when a revolver needs a tune-up it often requires a gunsmith.
     
  4. jwr_747

    jwr_747 Member

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    revolvers,hands down.lots of old Black Powder Cap and Ball revolvers out there,can't recall ever seeing a Black Powder Cap and Ball Semi-Auto. jwr
     
  5. jefnvk

    jefnvk Member

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    Gotta believe that has to do with the number of cap and ball semi-autos made.
     
  6. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I was going to reply, but rcmodel pretty much spelled it out.

    I will only add that I have not worn out either, yet. :D
     
  7. glockman19

    glockman19 Member

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    My .02

    I'd venture to say that a revolver with fewer moving parts and made of stainless steel would last longer than a polymer pistol only time will tell if I'm wrong. A 1911, again all steel, would fit into that catagory of long lasting.

    I prefer Steel over Aluminum and Aluminum over polymer, (weight not being an issue), for the long haul. Ask me again in 30-50 years and the answer might change.
     
  8. Fumbler

    Fumbler Member

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    It's hard to say, there are too many variables.
    I wouldn't say which would last longer unless I knew what models, what calibers, and what kind of ammo.

    But think of this, a revolver has a hand, pawl, and bolt that wear out resulting in headspace and timing issues.
    In a semiauto you shoot it until the slide or frame cracks, but if you replace the recoil spring regularly then you reduce the liklihood of those problems.

    I know it's a special case, but look at how often competative revolver shooters have their guns rebuilt. You don't have to rebuild a competition semiauto, just replace the recoil spring.
     
  9. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Is there content in this thread?

    If the question is, "Which has greater longevity, a pistol or a revolver" the answer is you can replace all the parts in most modern pistols by yourself -- I have personally built an M1911 from a partially-finished frame and slide. I couldn't do that with a revolver.
     
  10. Phydeaux642

    Phydeaux642 Member

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    Very strange! I don't know why this thread showed up twice - one with content and one without. It is close to Halloween, maybe my computer is haunted.:evil:
     
  11. RyanM

    RyanM Member

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    What the heck happened? Where's the first post?

    Anyway, I'd say the frame of most autos will last much longer than a revolver frame, in equivalent power calibers. But the auto will need small parts replacement sooner.
     
  12. doc2rn

    doc2rn Member

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    +1 to Ryan

    However I still have a ccw that is older than I am, dunno what that says xcept they sure don't make like they used to.
     
  13. RyanM

    RyanM Member

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    Oh, here's the thread. Well, then, I'd say an auto frame is going to be more durable than a revolver frame (in equivalent calibers, sizes, weights, etc.), but a revolver's small parts will be more durable than an auto's.

    Edit: Oops, they merged them. So this post is redundant.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2007
  14. Surefire

    Surefire Member

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    IMO.... typically, if you are lucky to get a Ruger DA revolver that works out of the box... they keep on going, and going, and going like the energizer bunny.

    Even "nuclear" loads don't seem to phaze Ruger DA revolvers.

    In my view, the Ruger DA revolvers are going to outlive most semi-autos, all things being equal.
     
  15. Fumbler

    Fumbler Member

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    I must be lucky, all mine worked out of the box.
     
  16. jaholder1971

    jaholder1971 Member

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    Given proper care and sensible ammunition choices, there is no handgun out there that won't outlive you.

    The only (minor) exception to that is Smith and Wesson K frame .357's subjected to gas-cutting with the lighter, go-fast loads. Even then it's going to take more ammo than most people will ever shoot to destroy one.
     
  17. Surefire

    Surefire Member

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    The majority of my recent GP 100 purchases have had to go to a gunsmith to get them up to par--poorly fit parts that crippled the function. I haven't been so lucky.

    Even with this said, once they were adjusted properly, they are my favorite revolvers.
     
  18. 10-Ring

    10-Ring Member

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    All things being equal -- frame materials, similar caliber (ie a 45 acp semi auto vs. 45 acp wheelgun), same number & type of ammo and shot the same way (primarily range gun let's say), I would think the wheelgun would last longer before maintenance or replacement were necessary.
     
  19. Seancass

    Seancass Member

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    interesting to ponder how many rounds have been through the tried and true WWI 1911 and the 50 year older revolver.

    which has really lived longer?
     
  20. Ghost Tracker

    Ghost Tracker Member

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    I would have to pick revolver over autoloader because of the reciprocating parts of an autoloader that wear against each other (slide/frame, barrel/slide lugs, recoil spring/guide rod, hammer strut/hammer spring, etc.) at recoil. Unless I'm mistaken (which is entirely possible) there are no parts in a revolver that wear against each other as a result of that immediate & violent reward recoil force.

    My money's on the revolver for longevity. But I carry both!
     
  21. .41Dave

    .41Dave Member

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    Only because you haven't been motivated to do it. A semi-handy person with the correct tools can replace any parts on an S&W revolver except the side plate. And the sideplate will NEVER wear out as long as you don't damage it by removing it improperly.
     
  22. eldon519

    eldon519 Member

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    It's tough to define longevity. They each age differently. The 1911 will get loose and rattle. The S&W will eventually lose its timing and with a diet of magnums, the side plate may get loose, cylinder lock up will get loose, and you'll get end shake. Mechanically, I think the 1911 would last longer. The S&W will probably wear out its forcing cone/top strap before the 1911 physically breaks the frame or slide. Both will probably go through a handful of spare parts and springs here and there before either fails in an unrepairable way.
     
  23. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Try taking the barrel off a modern Smith. Then replace it. Accurately.

    On the other hand, I can replace the barrel on an M1911 with my fingers.
     
  24. CoRoMo

    CoRoMo Member

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    Well... if you continue to properly replace the worn and broken parts, they'll never die. But I know what you're asking.Several different things affect the lifespan of any firearm, but the simple fact that a revolver has, by far, fewer moving parts than a semi-auto, I'd have to say it should out-live the other. Reliability? Revolvers beat out the autos most all of the time.
    Barrels are going to only tolerate only so many rounds and then you'll just have to replace the barrel.

    Treat 'em right, and they'll be ready when you need 'em.
     
  25. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    Modern product design follows requirements. A System Engineer sits down and decides on what the customer wants, and works with a multi disciplinary team to figure out what requirements can be traded to achieve a cost effective product.

    I have no doubt that this approach is followed in modern firearms design. It probably was followed in pre WW1 design to a certain extent, and only verified by “lifetime” test. Now days you can do an incredible amount of optimization before you get to test. Tests are very expensive. The M1911 is an example of a firearm that went through years of field testing, actual endurance tests, throughout this period there was considerable model evolution going on, and the final iteration turned out to be very robust and well designed. But this is hideously expensive and taking a decade to get something to market without a return is not practical in today’s marketplace.

    So, I will ask you, how many rounds does the average person put through a firearm? How long does an average person own that firearm?, and how much is an average person willing to pay for a firearm?

    I will bet that those numbers are very similar for revolvers and pistols. So the design team would design those products to very similar lifetimes.

    As for historical designs, some have proven to be more durable than others. All the S&W revolvers I have, their basic design envelopes date back prior to WW1. When you get into modern era firearms, well I can’t ever recall hearing about a worn out Ruger revolver.
     
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