What is it about revolvers we like so much?

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Oct 28, 2009
The Great State of Texas
I'm 48 and been shooting and hunting off and on since I was in my teens. I have owned many semi-auto pistols in polymer and steel; 9mm, .40S&W and .45 ACP. I have owned SA XDs, Rugers, S&W M&Ps and other brands. I can never warm up to them and eventually sell them. However, I have a 686 Plus 4", a 642, and a Ruger LCR in .38 +P that I would never consider selling.

Right now I own three XDs; 9mm subcompact, 9mm Service Model and a .40 S&W Service model. They are very accurate and reliable pistols, but I don't carry them and don't enjoy shooting them near as much as my 686 Plus even though I am more accurate with them than my 686 Plus. I have bought and sold over a dozen pistols from Ruger, SA, and S&W over the years because I never developed an emotional attachment to them. I've got my XD .40 S&W up for sale right now and I'll probably sell the two XD 9mm's eventually. This is the second set of XDs in the exact same configurations I have owned. I also went through three M&Ps in 9mm, .40S&W and .45ACP in the last year. Fortunately I have broke even over all, so all I lost was time spent shopping for and selling them.

The only pistol platform I like almost as much as a revolver is the 1911. I have an older Dan Wesson in .45 ACP that I would never consider selling. It is a tack driver and will shoot as well as ANY Les Baer, but the reason I think I like it so much is because it is blue steel and wood.

I went through this same dilemma with AR-15s. I bought six of them and sold every one. I enjoyed building them out and taking them out a few times, but I grew bored with them and sold them within a year every time. I even have a M&P 15-22 that I have grown bored of and am selling. It sits in the safe while I shoot my Marlin 39A and an old Winchester semi-auto .22lr. I never liked the looks of the AR platform near as much as my lever and bolt actions, semi-auto and pumps in wood and steel.

All I can think about lately is finding a 686 Plus in a 6" barrel to go with my 4" 686P, but I don't sit around daydreaming about buying a 5" XD 9mm to go with my 4". So what is it about revolvers that attracts you? Could it simply be the look and feel of steel and wood?
Kinda like BIC pens and Timex watches: Work first time and every time, and take a licking and keep on ticking! I love them too, have 686 4" also, .38 Colt Agent lightweight in Blue, and a Ruger 44 maggie Redhawk in 44 with 7.5 " bbl.
Yep. They're Old School and they work. No muss, no fuss, no fancy controls. Load and shoot, yet perfectly safe as long as you don't yank on the trigger.

Should get my Model 10 from Bud's next week. Got the tracking # already.
Kinda like BIC pens and Timex watches: Work first time and every time, and take a licking and keep on ticking! I love them too, have 686 4" also, .38 Colt Agent lightweight in Blue, and a Ruger 44 maggie Redhawk in 44 with 7.5 " bbl.
I just love the look, feel and reliability of revolvers more than autos, excluding 1911 and hi-power. I am also partial to bolt action, lever action, and pump more than any semi auto rifle/shotgun. Oh and I was born after 1990.
Nothing wrong with you "sleepyone" unless there's something wrong with a lot of us. I'm a revolver, levergun, SxS shotgun guy and proud of it. As to why, the classic looks, the beautiful lines and the utter reliability of them. (at least for me)
I's the small cluster of holes in the nice tight pattern of the 5,6,7,9 shot cylinders that remind us of the small groups on the targets.:p
Fun. I was trained to shoot a 38 revolver in the DA mode with speedloaders to reload the cylinder. Can you say fun? I still find them to be more fun than a semi and I love pistols too. They're just not as fun.
Just like the look and feel

I have to agree with others. I think the traditional look and feel is what appeals to me with a revolver. Also, knowing I only have six shots even when target shooting, I try to make each one count.

I bought a 92F about 25 years ago and I like it just fine. The first time I went to the range I was talking to a fellow shooter who was killing the target with a Colt revolver (remember those) and he took a look at my Beretta. His comment was this must be for people who miss a lot. My response was something like, that would be me.

For fun shootinng, I enjoy the revolver more but I still practice with my semi. I keep one of each in my ready safe and in most cases I think I would pick up the revolver if I needed a gun.
To me there is also the appreciation of a fine old lockwork, hand crafted and individually fitted. Like an old Swiss watch you can shoot. Nowadays injection molded, CNC'd mass production semis may be efficient but lack "soul". Possible exception for custom or semi-custom 1911s.

The appreciation of industrial "art".
I recently traded my model 66 for a model 317 airweight. I have always wanted a .22 revolver from S&W and finally have it. No it's not wood and iron but I love it anyways. FWIW, I am in both camps. I love revolvers and semi autos and would never consider only owning one platform or the other.
I carry a revolver as my CCW because of the sheer simplicity to operate it...and the sheer reliability that a revolver offers. I prefer not to have to rely on ammunition for the reliabile functioning of a self-defense sidearm. Especially if I ever find myself in a situation that requires a couple of shoots from my CCW to end the danger. Ammunition today is very reliable, but I have experienced dud rounds even from well established and respected ammunition manufacturers.
Like you I have and have owned a number of semi autos, 22 up to 45. I have sold all but 1, a 357sig. I also kept my 1911's.

But S&W revolvers, forget it. They stay here. Only sold one and it was a round butt. I have them in 38, 357, 41, 44 and 45. Won't trade or sell.

Ya, your right. I am an ol fogey, 70 years young.

I carry a 25-30 year old Charter Arms 44 special, 5 shot revolver.


It don't get any better than this.
I love them all, but I must admit most of the time I carry a revolver. Utterly reliable, and if I have to use it, it's much more likely to be at bad breath range. Of course, it's a 2 or 3 inch revolver.

Close in, if someone grabs the gun - I figure I would in the same situation - and the trigger is pulled, a revolver is ready for the next round, an auto has a stovepipe to clear. There's only one good grip on a snubbie, and it's in my hand. A revolver can be stopped by grabbing the cylinder, but if I can wrangle a release (and once again I have the best handle) the revolver is ready instantly to fire. Grabbing an auto by the slide and pushing it out of battery disconnects the trigger and may once again lead to a stovepipe.

Old cops used to say you would run out of time before you ran out of bullets. However if I was a cop today, I would be carrying an auto with as many rounds as I could stuff into it - and a snubbie in an opposite side pocket for backup.

Other than defensive use - when I buy a gun for interest - I buy milsurp autos and admire their construction and features, and for purely pleasure shooting I buy revolvers - no small point is they don't throw or mistreat their brass and revolver loads are simple and easy to work with. Auto brass is worked at higher pressures then ejected so some care has to be taken to get it back to spec.

Finally, in your hands a revolver feels like a well crafted mechanism, the cylinder turns, the trigger responds to what's happening in the gun and as you become more sensitive to it things happen in a totally predictable way that can be sensed by a human. The auto is more disconnected, pull back until the release, then hold on while the gun does the rest. I think of it more like a stick shift and an automatic transmission.
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I carried a sidearm for 30 years as a LEO and for the majority of those years, they were revolvers. I've been retired for 22 years and still have a soft spot for the wheelguns. In fact most of mine are revolvers with only a few semi autos in the mix. One is the Beretta 92FC I carried OTJ for my last 3 years, which i bought upon retirement. One is a Ruger MK III, a beautiful 22 plinker, and one is a SA 1911 Custom Loaded, which my wife bought me several years ago. The zrest are revolvers; Smiths, Rugers, and an unfired Colt .22 Maine Sesquicentennial Commemorative. My 686 Plus 6" is a favorite as is my SW Model 60. All in all, there's something about revolvers that keeps them in the forefront. Maybe its dependability, maybe history, who knows? I recently picked up an old SW Highway Patrolman, Model 28, which is presently back at the factory getting a face lift. Waiting for that like a kid for christmas morning. :)
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I like the relability and the challenge, somewhat the same way I enjoy sailing and using a straight razor to shave.

I think another reason I like revolvers is that they don't hide their danger. Autos cover up and hide their bullets in an enclosure; revolvers let you see they mean business.
Why revolvers?


Maybe I'm just unlucky, but I've had magazine foul-ups with a Glock, Smith M&P, and an AR-15. It does not give me a warm fuzzy.

I've shot the mag-fed guns enough that I think they're okay now, but can't help thinking that if that fubar occurs at the wrong time I'd be in big trouble (I still carry either the M&P or an LCR though)
In my book, "Revolver" and "Magnum" go together like sugar and sweet.

But I digress. I love ALL REVOLVERS for their American Historical Significance.
I love to shoot em, clean em, hold em, ponder the history of their calibers and their genetic lines. I like wheel of fortune (casino and carnival style, and Vanna)
and that's what we have in a revolver in a strange and ominous sort of way.

I love popping the cylinder out in the DA's and with a stroke of the hand ejecting all five through ten spent cases on the ground with authority.
Then, replenishing the cylinder with fresh rounds two at a time as fast as possible. Slap the cylinder home with a resounding CLICK and target time is upon me!

Pick up a SA and you are thrust back into the days of Western Lore. With period calibers such as 44-40 and 45 LC you can almost feel the moment a cattle driver pulled down on a wolf, coyote or puma stalking the weak and young. Or............having to throw down with a cattle or horse rustler.

Man, I could go on. But....it's Mother's Day and I have a kitchen to clean, fillet mignon and lobster to prepare for the grill and a couple of boys to roust to help pitch in.
Everything. You don't get to choose who you fall in love with. It just happens and guns are no different. While my tastes and preferences may seem to be at odds to another, they make perfect sense to me. There are a lot of things I like but I love my wife, I love my family, I love my country, I love my truck and I love sixguns!
Right now I love revolvers for the simple fact that they don't toss my brass everywhere.

When I shot at a private range where I could casually pick up all of my brass I shot a lot of auto-loaders.

Now at a public range, I shoot revolvers because I don't lose my brass.
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