Concealed Carry - Semi Auto vs Revolver

koolkoinskoolkoins Member Posts: 102 ✭✭
edited August 2006 in Ask the Experts
During my recent CHL course many semi-autos (including mine)jammed several times on the firing range which is a worrisome condition for a real life defensive situation. Would a double-action .357 revolver such as the Taurus 7-shot titanium "snubby" be a better choice for a concealed weapon ? Very concerned. Any advice or opinions would be helpful on selection of weapon.


  • je2140je2140 Member Posts: 225 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    I'd test a box or two thru any semi-auto to see if the gun likes the ammo before I'd trust my life to it. Round nose bullets feed more reliably then semi wad cutters in my experience.
    I shoot reloads always, but for hunting or self defense cycle all the rounds thru the gun by hand to make that all rounds cycle smoothly, if you get any that don't cycle smoothly use them for plinking.
    In general highly accurate semi's with tight tolerances are not as reliable as a less accurate semi with looser tolerances.
  • iceracerxiceracerx Member Posts: 8,811 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    My advice is to find a Gun Range / Shop that rents firearms.
    Rent a S&W Model 60 - 5 shot .357 revolver with a 3 inch barrel - rent a shorter barreled Snub too. Shoot 38 spls and see for yourself which is easier to hit what you are aiming at.

    I figure that if you need more then 5 rounds to get out of trouble, you are in way over your head (but carry a speed loader as insurance).

    My personal choice for self defense is a squad of Uncle Sam's Misguided Children which includes a Grenader and a SAW gunner - they are just hard to fit into the Minivan when heading for the store.
  • n/an/a Member Posts: 168,427
    edited November -1
    Also consider how many of the guns were new. Most of the people I have seen takeing the classes around here are shooting new semi's. Alot of them (expecially ones with tight tolerences) can take up around 500 rounds to get broke in. And when they do get broke in the jams stop.

    Just a thought.

    All I carry on my person is semi's but I don't experience any jams with mine.
  • ClarentaviousClarentavious Member Posts: 800 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    First, it won't surprise me if the admins close this thread - because it will probably generate alot of controversy. But I'll try to give you a detail explanation before and if they do.

    You know, alot of people advise a semi auto over a revolver - one reason being because they are supposedly more "reliable."

    Let me tell you something about this... I've personally seen first hand, numerous problems with revolvers; especially Taurus models. These would include

    1. Light primer strikes. This means that the firing pin isn't hitting the primer hard enough to cause the cartridge to discharge 100% The Taurus I saw, a .22 mag, had a failure rate of about 66%

    2. Cylinder not locking. In this instance, the cylinder would be somewhat lose while the hammer is falling. It is natural for most revolvers to have a very tiny amount of lack when the hammer is cocked or the trigger is in its most reward position in double action mode - they may rotate about a third of a milimeter or so. However, with this gun, the cylinder was so loose that the bullet was hitting part of the side of the barrel, rather than going directly through the bore - causing it to be wildley inaccurate due to a "shaved" bullet. This again, was a Taurus

    3. I saw another Taurus that when you tried to pull the trigger in double action mode, the hammmer would go about all the way back, but wouldn't release and fly forward, so you had to let the trigger go and the hammer would lower without the gun firing.

    Those are the ones I have seen with my own eyes. I've also heard a few stories which I know to be true - though I am not sure all of these were Taurus guns. One was a problem with an integrated key lock (which I think was the Taurus Security System) on a gun that my local range rents for classes. Another was a problem with one of the chambers on a revolver an employee of my local dealer owned. There is also the potential for cylinder binding, though I don't personally know of any such cases of that happening.

    The thing about most semi auto problems is this... If there's an issue, it can usually be fixed rather quickly. Note that I said usually. If you get a jam, all you may have to do is rack the slide.

    With a revolver however, rather than temporarily malfunctioning, it may break all together - requiring you to send it back to the manufacturer. You think it would be hard trying to clear a jam if someone is trying to stab you. Do you think you'll have time to lay your revolver on the ground and try to disassemble it with a bunch of tools?

    Now I'm not saying that revolvers always screw up more than semi autos do. I'm just saying, don't think a revolver is, by any means, fail safe proof - or perhaps even a better choice than a semi auto, depending on the circumstances. High quality revolvers, such as those made by S&W, rarely have issues. Especially steel revolvers. Some of the newer revolvers with lighter weight metal frames seem less durable.

    But my take on the situation is this. I once had a Ruger P95, and fired more than 2,500 cartridges through it. It did not jam once... and I neglected to clean it as often as I should have. Actually I take that back, it did have feeding issues when I tested a box of sub sonic ammo, but that's only because the ammo didn't have enough charge to push the slide back with sufficient force.

    I would buy a reliable semi auto that is known for functioning well. Test it with 1,000 rounds and see how often it jams. If it doesn't jam once, that should give you alot of confidence. Clean it after 1,000 rounds. You may want to clean it in the middle after 500 too. After you reassemble it over 1,000 rounds, shoot a box of the defensive ammo you intend to carry. If it doesn't jam, you're good to go.

    One more thing about malfunctions. With a semi auto, your first should is almost always going to succeed. Whereas with a revolver, if you have a problem, it may be on your first shot. If you gun doesn't fire at all, you're probably a dead man. But if it fires once, that first shot may save your life.

    There was a case of this with an FBI agent in Michigan. He and a few other agents, along with some SWAT officers (I think they were from Detroit PD), were in pursuit of a van carrying a group of home invaders. The van came to stop, and a few of the invaders got out and feld on foot. The agent confronted one of the invaders who had been shooting at them during the pursuit. He fired a shot at the invader and his gun jammed after the first shot. He had it loaded with armor piercing ammo because the invaders were known to wear bullet proof vests.

    He eventually pursued the invader on foot... When another agent caught up with him about 10 minutes later, they found the man he shot at laying dead. His first shot had pierced the invaders body armor, and he bled to death while fleeing.

    This link doesn't give these precise details, but if you ever catch the episode you can more or less see exactly what happened.

  • 1KYDSTR1KYDSTR Member Posts: 2,357 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Simple reply...get a revolver. Auto's are prone to many mechanical issues, but the big issue is the guy behind the trigger. You are at least trained (good call!)so you have been told that when it comes time, lots of the things you are supposed to remember come down to pure instinct. You might limp wrist the gun...leave the safety engaged...hit the mag release on draw; there are a lot of things to go wrong in a situation where an autoloader is involved. The revolver is a much more simple, robust design. A little 5 shot DA 357 snubby would be great, although I would opt for a Colts or S&W (hell, if I could afford a Korth, I would follow that route!!!)design that has a proven track record. It all boils down to what you trust the most, and it sounds very likely your confidence in an auto loader has been well shaken.

    There is little complicated about using a DA revolver. Point and keep pulling that trigger until it goes "click", "click", "click". Dead men don't sue. Granted their estates might, but at least you'll be alive for the trial.
  • fastcarsgofastfastcarsgofast Member Posts: 7,179
    edited November -1
    I've carried both and still do. Pros and cons with either. Not sure what revolvers Clarentavious has had but mine have never failed me ever. I've only had smiths and rossis. The moral of the story is don't carry anything you don't trust and be ready to trouble shoot (no pun intended) if their is a malfunction. A good revolver should function fine unless it's broken, worn out, or abused. Take care of your guns and they will take care of you.
  • ClarentaviousClarentavious Member Posts: 800 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    It is true that you could hit the mag release during draw... but you could also bump the cylinder latch too.

    You should learn about any gun you handle. Revolvers, in genral, may be more "simple" But someone may not understand an ejector rod any better than they understand a decocking lever. Just like when you go through school as a kid and first learn the alphabet and basic math skills. There's no reason you can't be taught how semi auto's work. Thoroughly learn about the mechnical functions of any gun you plan to carry.

    As for forgetting to disengage a safety. That's possible, but you should practice your draw many times, and always do that as part of the draw. You should be conscious that the safety is on, and disengaging it should become second nature. That is, if your semi auto even has a safey, and further more if you choose to engage it (which is not required if you have a double action gun with the hammer down, or double action only).

    I personally don't like revolvers because most of their grips don't fit my hand well... because the majority of grips are curved (supposedly contoured for a hand, many with finger grooves). Also, unless you choose to cock the hammer on a double action revolver, they basically function as double action only; meaning you are going to get a pretty heavy trigger pull each time. For me, these issues are a matter of preference, they have nothing to do with functionalty or jamming.

    Also, the bare minimum weight you will usually find any revolver (other than an NAA .22 or something similar) is 11 ounces. Most are 13 or more. Whereas you can a Kel Tec 32 weighing only 7 ounces. Revolvers tend to be bigger in size as well, and bulge out more due to the cylinder. Also, your loading capacity will generally be less by comparison.

    Overall I think they are less efficent for concealed carry. Of course, my 2 cents isn't the end all and be all of the world. Other people have different opinions.
  • koolkoinskoolkoins Member Posts: 102 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Wow, Thanks to all of you for your responses.....all of which are good opinions and advice. I'm still a little confused, so I'll study your responses with some more thought in order to make at least a somewhat knowledgable choice. If anyone has some more thoughts on this please continue to advise me as I need all the help I can get.
    Thanks to all of you for your interest and input.
  • RustyNailRustyNail Member Posts: 803 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Revolvers are easy to use. If a bad round occurs its "bang band click bang" If a bad round or jam occurs in an automatic, you have to wrack the slide etc--too much to think about during a shootout.

    Most gun battles are overwith in seconds--less time than it takes to clear a jam.

    Bad rounds do occur in carry pieces because of sweat, body oil, rain, constant humidity changes going in and out of airconditioning etc.

    For a carry piece. Spend some money and get a reliable gun. Get good with it. Shooting this gun should seem second nature/automatic. Select a model small enough that you will actually carry it. First rule in a gun fight is "have a gun." If it weighs more than a bowling ball or is harder to conceal than that * you kept in the seventh through ninth grade--you will not carry it.
    Consider an airwieght revolver from a major-league manufacture such as Smith and Wesson. [:D]
  • goldeneagle76goldeneagle76 Member Posts: 4,359
    edited November -1
    Ok, I like both but chose semi as everyday carry because it was more accurate. I do carry a snubby 357 every now and then but I am not as confident in it and it is a serious pai nto shoot. Not to mention I love the 45ACP for carry and the 45 revolvers are to bulky for carry.
  • ClarentaviousClarentavious Member Posts: 800 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    What Rustynail mentioned is one more reason to go with a pocket size semi auto. Unless you're one of those people who only plans to carry when you go into a "dangerous" situation. If you plan to carry all of the time, you need that is at least light weight. It can be bigger in size if your clothing permits you to hide it adaquately.

    But honestly, even if it is a mid size gun, you may soon find lugging all of the extra weight around is uncomfortable, and not something you wish to do. You may experience back aches, and feel your clothing and body are unbalanced to one side.

    Personally, I say no more than 20 ounces. And less than 6 inches long, 4.5" tall, and 1.2" thick You can probably find a revolver that fits this criteria, but I still prefer a semi auto.

    A cartridge malfunction is a possiblity. But guess what? If you happen to have a hang fire and pull the trigger again very quickly, a revolver can potentially blow up in your hand, causing severe injury, possibly even death. With a semi auto, a hang fire will go off either in the barrel, or outside of the gun completely. Outside of the gun is not good no, but the shell will have more force than the bullet - and while it may cause injury, it is unlikely to cause death.

    Though I will admit, you are more likely to have a misfire or squib than a hang fire. However, cartridge malfunctions among defensive ammo are rare. They are usually nickel shells, and very well primed with good powders. Some people advise shooting all of your defensive ammo annually once a year, and replacing it. Not a bad idea as you want to shoot your carry gun at least occasionally to make sure you are still proficient with it, and it still functions correctly. I don't recommend frequently shooting a carry gun however, you'll have to clean and disassemble it alot, running the risk of wearing down parts.
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