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

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by beehlebf, Apr 9, 2012.

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  1. beehlebf

    beehlebf Member

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    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.
     
  2. M-Cameron

    M-Cameron member

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    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.
     
  3. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    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.
     
  4. btg3

    btg3 Member

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    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.
     
  5. allaroundhunter

    allaroundhunter Member

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    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.
     
  6. JEB

    JEB Member

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

    GLOOB Member

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    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.
     
  8. beehlebf

    beehlebf Member

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    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.
     
  9. wanderinwalker

    wanderinwalker Member

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    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.
     
  10. Bushpilot

    Bushpilot Member

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2012
  11. beehlebf

    beehlebf Member

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    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
     
  12. btg3

    btg3 Member

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    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.
     
  13. wrs840

    wrs840 Member

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    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.
     
  14. Bushpilot

    Bushpilot Member

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    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.
     
  15. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    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.
     
  16. sirsloop

    sirsloop Member

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    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.
     
  17. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

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    Because so few run them hard enough.
     
  18. Kiln

    Kiln Member

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    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.
     
  19. wrs840

    wrs840 Member

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    Really? Which ones?
     
  20. PabloJ

    PabloJ Member

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    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.
     
  21. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    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.
     
  22. captain awesome

    captain awesome Member

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    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?
     
  23. Shoobee

    Shoobee member

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    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.
     
  24. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    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..

    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?
    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.

    Right alongside the venerable Browning-designed 1911 Semi-Auto.
    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.
    Irrelevant to the reliability question, but a good argument in favor of the bottom-feeder. Which side are you on?
    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
     
  25. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    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.
    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?

    (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".

    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
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2012
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