There are both advantages and disadvantages associated with revolvers. While you may already know some of these, chances are others will surprise you.
While there are always exceptions to this rule, most revolvers offer greater reliability when compared to their semi-automatic counterpart. When a semi-automatic pistol fails to fire, the shooter must pull back the slide to manually clear the chamber by removing the failed round. Revolvers, however, don't have this problem, as energy used to cycle rounds is produced by either cocking the hammer or squeezing the trigger.
One of the lesser-known benefits of choosing a revolver is ergonomics. Unlike semi-automatic pistols, the grip does not hold a spring-fed magazine. Instead, the bullets are held in a revolving chamber that cycles after each shot. This allows for an ergonomically designed grip that's easier and more comfortable to hold.
The speed between shots is typically faster with revolvers, both single and double-action, as opposed to semi-automatic pistols. Semi-automatic pistols rely on the energy produced by the shot to cycle to pull back the slide, empty the spend casing, and ready a new round. This is done relatively fast, but revolvers perform their cycling operation even faster.
Loaded and Ready to Fire
Many people prefer revolvers over semi-automatic pistols because they are safer to keep loaded. Revolvers don't suffer from “spring fatigue” when kept ready to fire, neither are they dependent on lubricant. This makes them a popular by-the-bed firearm for homeowners in search of a self-defense weapon.
Among the potential drawbacks of revolvers is their low round capacity. It's not uncommon for semi-automatic pistols to sport 15-round or even 20-round magazines, whereas revolvers typically only support 6 to 8 rounds (note: there are some revolvers with 10-round chambers).
Furthermore, you can often purchase extended magazines for semi-automatic pistols but not revolvers. Keep in mind, however, that eight states – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York – plus the District of Columbia have either restricted or banned the use of high-capacity magazines. You can refer to this Wikipedia page for more information.
I think most seasoned marksmen and women will agree that revolvers take longer to reload. With most semi-automatic pistols, you can hit the magazine eject button to empty the mag and then pop in a fresh mag. With a revolver, you must load each round into the chamber; thus, it takes longer to reload. However, there are a few accessories that are designed to improve reload times with revolvers, one of which is a moon clip. This stat-shaped piece of metal will hold the exact number of rounds for your revolver (assuming you buy the right one). So instead of manually loading each round into the chamber, you can simply place the moon clip into the chamber.
As you can see, there are both pros and cons associated with revolvers. They are ergonomic, reliable, safe to carry loaded, and cycle rounds in minimal time, but they also lack the high round capacity of semi-automatic pistols.
* Image used by creative commons license, credited to Robert Soar.
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