Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Satasaurus, Apr 2, 2013.
I used to think that a 5-shot revolver would suffice, but then I read about home invasions with multiple intruders, and gang attacks, and criminals working in pairs.
So I started having my doubts about 5 being enough.
But then I did more research and learned that the vast majority of shootings end with just a few shots being fired, and reloads are extremely rare (talking non-LEO self defense encounters only).
But then I thought, better to have them (bullets) and not need them rather than to need them and not have them.
But then I thought, "how often do I practice failure drills with my autos?".....the answer was "not nearly enough".
Was it better to have 6 extremely reliable shots, or 10+ somewhat reliable shots?
I've been carrying a revolver lately.
So the answer is five.
Of course it depends on what you've got. Some auto's will never be as reliable as a wheel gun.
If I go some place where I think 5 would make me comfortable I carry more.
On most days around town it is 8+1 of 9mm plus one spare mag.
If you aren't shooting you should be reloading. If you aren't reloading you should be moving. If you aren't moving you're dead.
It's not that the auto itself is less reliable, it's how the auto handles less than perfect ammo.
A perfectly functioning clean and well maintained auto can encounter a hard primer or a dud round and it's going to choke.
Sure, you will most likely get her going again with a quick tap-rack-bang drill (and of course everyone on this forum practices those drills religiously ) but it is still going to choke.
This is why guys shoot hundreds of rounds of expensive premium ammo through their autos...just to feel confident that the particular make and model of ammo used will work in that particular pistol.
And if you haven't shot hundreds of rounds of your preferred self defense ammo through your preferred self defense pistol, then you really don't know if your pistol is going to be reliable with that ammo.
It has been my experience that the question is NOT "will my autoloader ever choke?", but "when will my autoloader choke?".
Revolvers can fail too, but a clean well maintained and properly functioning revolver, carefully and properly loaded before being holstered, is going to be about as reliable as any machine made by man.
And if one of the rounds has a hard primer or is a dud round then all you have to do is pull the trigger again.
The only thing that will cause it to fail is going to a bullet that jumps crimp, a squib round, or something that breaks in the gun itself.
A properly functioning revolver can fail in other ways too, but only AFTER the first six rounds have been fired and when it is being reloaded.
In general, all other things being equal, revolvers are just more reliable.
That's just the nature of the beast.
I'm not bashing autos (I have quite a few myself), but if you're going to carry one for self defense then you had better practice failure drills till they are absolutely instinctive.
So, in my opinion, a semi-auto has to make up for that disparity in reliability (however small it may be) with capacity. Therefore, I don't see the point of a 5 or 6 shot semi-auto if I already have 5 and 6 shot snubnose revolvers. Even a 7 shot semi-auto pistol isn't of interest to me. I do have an 8 shot - a Hi Point ,380, but only because it was cheap. I also, have an 8 shot .45 because of that caliber's stopping power.
For 9mm, I have a 9 shot (mag) capacity pistol, and I would consider that my lowest capacity minimum (in that caliber) that's intended for self defense (Tokarev).
I also have a CZ 75B 9mm 14+1 - since the bullets weigh
considerably less than a .45 it needsto have that capacity eh?
as far as Semi-Auto vs Revolvers & Reliability
I've never left the range with a non-functioning Semi-auto
including the day my 1911 thumb safety broke and the plunger
came loose - it stillfired. My 625 .45 ACP - some dud primer
sttrikes, were solved with a longer firing pin, but one
day firing a shotshell - it back out and froze the cylinder.
on the other hand my Model 60 .357 Mag. has never missed
a beat uber reliable
In the field, try dropping a semi auto in a pubble of mud, and
do the same with a revolver.... which one do you think is going
to be back in service or easier to clean?
Also, I definitely don't want to go off topic and start a caliber war, but I was just doing the math and it's funny that a 1911 and 9mm throw the same amount of lead when all is said and done. 15*124gr=1860gr and 8*230=1840gr. Personally, I would rather have more chances of hitting something. I want a .45 at some point, but I don't feel undergunned with the 9mm considering the KGB uses a .380 Makarov(Deadliest Warrior anyone?).
I don't think the KGB still exist today.
It has been replaced with a different agency, the FSB I think.
And I don't believe they use the Makarov these days.
I think they might use the Gyurza these days.
No, not really. I am a more (within the bounds of reason) is better kind of guy. I have, however, carried 6(+1) guns and even 5 shot revolvers. Like many of us, my odds of being in a gun fight are probably extremely minute. I go out of my way to try to reduce them further by doing what I can to avoid trouble. As such, there are times I carry even a 6(+1) .380 due to balancing other real world considerations. I will be honest though, if I sit and contemplate being in a gun fight or situation where my life is under imminent threat and I have to use a handgun to defend my self the idea of that little .380 or snub nose 5 shot revolver is disconcerting. I'd much rather have something bigger and easier to shoot well and shoot well quickly. I'd also much rather have a 15-17 rounds on tap with another mag, or two, on my hip, whether I would have chance to use all those rounds or not.
Of course I'd rather have my AR and a plate carrier. Carrying a handgun is already a compromise one we make for the sake of concealment and convenience in our daily life. One we make balancing against the realistic threat level. How far down that spectrum we go with the handgun we choose to carry is a something that each person will work out and come to a different place where they feel comfortable. For some, like me, that may vary by day. That is sometimes concealment is at a premium, or having something small and light (like say if I'm out running) is and thus the balance changes. To each his own on this point, so long as it is a thoughtful, rationale, informed decision.
A 6(+1) semi still holds a distinct advantage in reloading speed versus your typical snub nosed revolver. Even my moon clipped gun is notably slower for me (and carrying moon clipped ammo in everyday attire in a practical way is much more difficult) A number of my 6(+1) guns have triggers that put even my tuned up revolvers to shame. Many people, myself included can simply shoot certain semi's better than most revolvers, particularly snubs. In a gun fight only hits count. My 6(+1) CM9 is a thinner smaller package than my 5 shot 9x19 revolver. It is, in my hands a better shooter too. In short, there could be much more to the decision of getting a semi over a snub nose.
As to reliability, my experience is probably an outlier but, revolvers have proven less reliable than a number of auto loaders I have. I had a pre lock S&W J frame lock up on me. If an auto chokes one can typically get it back in the fight. That J-Frame was DONE until it was diagnosed and repaired. If I was in a fight it would have been as useful as a stone. I had a Ruger that one day simply started failing to have the trigger reset. This one could have been still been made to fire in a fight (you could force the trigger back to reset) but once again the fix was a detail strip and part replacement type repair. I have experienced bullets jumping their crimps, this was with factory ammo each time. I haven't shot that many rounds out of those guns (relatively speaking at least) and experienced some troubling and dramatic failures. Like I say it is probably an anomaly, but that is my real world experience. I also have an LCR that I've seen a number of people I've let shoot it have issues with letting the trigger get all the way out to reset before they attempt to fire again. I'm not saying revolvers aren't reliable, but they are not the infallible guns some want to make them out to be.
On the other hand with the two semi autos I have used as primary carry guns I have experienced exactly one malfunction out of many thousands of rounds fired. Semi auto failures tend to very most often be mag related. Thus, if one gets some good mags reliability tests them and then uses those mags as carry mags (using other mags for training) and services them properly that eliminates probably the biggest source of problems. Some semi's are much more prone to failures when dirty/dry than others. For this reason, and others, it is a bit of a problem to talk about all semi autos as a class when it comes to reliability. Some are jam-o-matics and some are boringly reliable. Most all other problems are either bad/incompatible ammo (typically prevented by buying quality ammo for carry use and reliability testing) or user error.
In sum, I'm willing to accept that revolvers are in general more reliable as a class than semi autos (even if not the myth some people would have others believe). However, I don't believe revolvers have enough of a reliability edge over a number of particular semi autos for it to be much of a concern at all. There is not enough of an edge in reliability to outweigh what, to me at least, are the advantages of a semi auto. There is a reason few armed professionals use revolvers today. Many semi's are boringly reliable and offer a number of distinct advantages.
That said, in town I'd rather have a j-frame 38. It's about the same weight as a Bond derringer, but with three extra shots and hammerless.
OTOH, around my neighborhood, where I'm actually FAR more likely to meet an aggressive dog than a person, two tubes of 4-pellet plated 000 Buck in .410 is good comfort.
In the house, I'd rather have two barrels of buckshot than a wondernine... just my preference.
I want to be able to deliver multiple shots on at least two opponents without reload, so 6~8 shots cut it too close to the lower edge for me.
Less capacity is acceptable with secondary/back-up pistols.
Around town, running errands- 7 shots (in a M1911) with a spare mag is just fine and within my comfort zone.
On the road, away from home and all of the 'support' it offers, a fully-loaded Glock 17 with three full spare magazines and a 33-round G18 magazine 'in reserve' seems to be a bare minimum.
Never have to be deployed.
The first rule of a gunfight is to have a gun. The rule does not say to have a gun with more than X cartridges loaded in it.
It depends upon the situation and the number of guns I can comfortably carry. I prefer a higher capacity semi-automatic pistol, but I compromise when necessary. I'll carry a gun on my belt in the winter, but drop a J-Frame into my pocket because I cannot quickly access the belt gun due to clothing. Other times, a small gun in 380 Auto is all I can reasonably carry concealed. Besides, I have four pockets to hold four Ruger LCP's
I won't carry anything less than 9mm though, just personal preferrence.
If the most you can conceal today is a 5-shot revolver or a 6 shot semi-auto, so be it. If the most you can conceal today is a 13+1 .45 ACP or a 17+1 9mm, so be it.
Don't carry less than you can.
There isn't an amount that is "enough" to be "comfortable". The gun control nuts want to try to trick you into thinking a certain amount is "enough". Well, there isn't an amount that is enough because every situation is different and you aren't guaranteed to stop each attacker with one bullet (even assuming you don't miss at all).
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