Is The Revolver Viable For Self-Defense?

We have touched on this topic a number of times around here but there is a new blog out there, Revolver Guy,  and this is question they deal with in one of their first posts (link). The author, Justin, is not just a regular guy. He doesn’t call it out on the site but he brings years of military, competition and combat experience to the table. He humbly posts that he is not a champion shooter but he skills the rest of us could only dream of. He is also a regular guy now with a real job, responsibilities and budgets. I will be following his posts closely to see how this project pans out.

Now, for my opinion on this question:

Of course, revolvers are viable for self-defense.

It would be hypocritical to say otherwise when I carry a Ruger LCR for self-defense almost every single day.

Now, with that said there are also plenty of times that I carry a semi-auto as well.

There are two drawbacks that are mentioned in the article that come into play for me. First is the thickness of the revolver. In many cases I find it much easier to conceal the flatter form of a Glock 43 than even my little snub-nosed LCR because of the thickness of the cylinder. This is particularly true when I am dressed for work or church. The second is capacity. Running around the house or my immediate neighborhood the five shot capacity of my revolvers is not a big concern for me. I am never more than a few dozen feet from another firearm or even gun safe when I am home. My neighborhood is pretty safe and fairly well patrolled by police so there are plenty of time I feel fine with just the revolver or the revolver and a speed strip on my person. Other times, depending on where I am headed and how long I will be gone the G43 and a spare magazine or two accompany me.

Another situation where I may chose something other than a revolver is a bedside gun. Since I only have to secure this when the grand kids are over and I don’t have to carry it or conceal it my bedside gun can be just about anything I want it to be. Typically this is a Glock 19 equipped with a weapon mounted light (I also have a standard flashlight next to it as well) loaded with Glock 17 magazines (two extra rounds in each).

There is another aspect of the revolver that some would consider a drawback and others an advantage; the long double action trigger.

On the one hand such a trigger takes some time and practice in order to match the speed and accuracy that comes with the (relatively) light break on the trigger of a modern striker fired semi-auto. On the other hand the longer trigger pull requires a much more determined trigger pull in order to send lead downrange. For those who don’t train a lot in maintaining trigger discipline or who are just a little more “excitable” this can be (literally) a life saver. Some experienced old hands in lots of police departments around the nation still consider this to be an advantage.

Another advantage of the modern revolver for casual shooters is the revolvers ability to withstand neglect. A revolver, properly stored, can go decades with no maintenance and still be counted on to be reliable. I am NOT recommending this but it is reality for many folks. While a similarly stored semi-auto is more likely to develop issues.

So, that is my $0.02 on revolvers for self-defense. What do you think? Would you bet your life on a revolver?

God bless!

18 thoughts on “Is The Revolver Viable For Self-Defense?

  1. Many different points.
    The bulk and weight of the revolver overall, reduces felt recoil.
    Revolvers are less prone to go “click” when they should go “bang”, provided you do not monkey with the trigger weight, as primers require a set poundage to ignite. My service ammo of the 20th century .38 special, was Winchester and the factory stated 8.0# to ignite the primers. The service revolver authorized weight was 8.0#. Federal, uses 7.5# in the same caliber.
    A tuned revolver, is as sweet as they come. Trigger issues you state are a fallacy. Honed actions along with competition cylinder hand for timing improvement, are perfect.
    Years ago, we were taught about hand-to-hand fighting with a revolver. I believe it was Colt, who thought of smoothing the point in front of the trigger guard by the crane, but too much opposition because, in a fight, that point rakes an opponent’s brow and blood blinds the eyes. Same for using the revolver to pistol whip. With a semi-auto pistol, all you do is annoy the opponent if striking on the head, while a revolver strike will put the opponent of the pavement.
    Toys are children’s play. Keep them off of revolvers. Lights, toaster-ovens, etc, have no place on any weapon.
    Number of rounds, the most I put into any gunman was two, all others were one shot stops. Multiple adversaries are a concern, so practice shot placement under stress. Practice, do not go plinking. Big Difference. If a person cannot put anyone down with five or six, or seven in the 1911, you have no business being armed or, you weapon and skill set are deficient for the immediate threat.
    I am, a 1911 advocate, as well as a revolver advocate. Whatever you like, you must be able to run the weapon as a part of you. Having any gun is better than no gun, but you must develop proficiency with anything you own or carry plus, any weapon your partner carries. It’s a Martial Art. Avoid sales hype. Test out guns for their merit and not a advertising ad company’s sales pitch.
    I have no qualm about being armed with a revolver, nor the 1911. Are other pistols nice? Yes. As each child has their own personality, so will various Glocks, SIGS, XDMs, etc, all, have their unique qualities. Anyone lazy or negligent is no different than a person leaving a book of matches around for some mischievous imp to get into trouble with. The weapon is cared for, before you, are cared for. When shooting at targets or gunmen, remember what I learned in the USMC: “ONLY THE HITS COUNT”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I always appreciate any insights you are able and willing to share with us.

      Despite you much greater experience, I don’t know that I agree on the lights and lasers part though. I have a light mounted on my G19. It is not my primary light but it is there in case I need it. Lasers can be a great aid to accuracy especially on something like a J-Frame that has, at best, rudimentary sights. With that said, we should not depend on these devices as anything more than aids/helpers. We should all still train with standard sights as primary.

      That may change as I age and my eyesight continues to deteriorate. At some point it will likely become physically impossible for me to see my front sight AND the target at the same time. I will be able to see either one just fine but not both. At that point a laser or red dot optic will have to replace the sights as primary. Yes there are special glasses that can assist as well but glasses can get knocked off, broken or lost so that helps with another layer of redundancy.

      God bless!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I firmly believe a revolver is viable for self defense! It has a long history of putting bad guys down and with better bullet designs I can only imagine it has improved. I normally carry a semi auto, but on occasion I wear a LCRx in .38 Special and never feel out gunned. I live in a very safe neighborhood and seldom travel to any place really unsafe, so a 5 shot revolver is fine for me.
    What ever firearm anyone carries please train with it and learn how to run it.


    1. Absolutely, training is very important and safety training is even more so. With that said, no I’m not recommending it, but the vast majority instances where an armed citizen uses a firearms to protect their lives or the lives of others are by firearms owners who have never taken any training. Thousands of people with no training whatsoever defend themselves every year. Again, I am not recommending it.
      Just something to keep in mind.
      Thanks for stopping in and commenting!
      God bless


  3. I carried a S&W 642 as my EDC for several years. It has only been in the last year that I have switched back to semi autos, primarily for the capacity more than anything. My XD Mod 2 sub compact 9 holds 13+1 and my Shield 9 holds 8+1. Both are fine guns that I would trust my life on. My 642 is still available in a kitchen cabinet at the ready too.


  4. Armed Christian:
    Thank you for the kind words! I’m not sure if my experience is as impressive as you make it sound, but thank you.
    I found that after just a couple weeks of shooting and dry practicing with revolvers I was pretty well used to the trigger, especially on K- and L-Frames, and have come to appreciate it. I strongly agree with you that there is some added safety in the DA trigger – I neglected to mention that in my post (there are several other issues I have thought of since then, too – I may write a follow-up post soon). I think I appreciate that long/heavy trigger most when appendix carrying. I don’t have a lot of concern about the trigger getting pulled inadvertently.
    Great post – thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A visit from the Revolver Guy! I am truly blessed.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I am following your blog but have to admit I am way behind on my reading list.
      BTW, I found your blog through the interview you did on the In The Rabbit Hole podcast.
      God bless.


    1. All LCRs rattle, as do many other modern revolvers. The LCR has a transfer bar safety system. This ensures that the hammer blow is be transmitted to the firing pin BUT only when the trigger is pulled all the way to the rear. This is a internal safety feature. By design, especially on the Rugers, the transfer bar is allowed some movement within the fire control mechanism so that trigger pull remains light and smooth.Because of this “play” you may hear a “rattle” when the revolver is shaken. I have never heard is over ambient noise while carrying it.

      I carry the LCR on an almost daily basis. It is not my favorite wheelgun to shoot. I really prefer to shoot the Smith & Wesson j-frames like my 442. However…the front sight is replaceable so I can swap out the plain ramp sight for a fiber optic or night sight. Allowing me to be more accurate under more lighting conditions. The trigger is pretty good right out of the box. On the modern J-Frame revolvers I need to swap out the trigger springs with the Apex spring kit to get an equivalent trigger pull. But, with the Apex kit installed the J-frame will result in the occasional light strikes with some ammo. This has never been an issue with the LCR.

      Because of the better sight options, good trigger pull and reliability (with some ammo) I carry it instead of the J-Frame that I actually prefer to shoot.

      Hope that helps

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for explaining it so well. Most of my revolver experience is with my model 10 and that is definitely an older gun. Good to know it’s by design and not flaw. I love Ruger’s so I may have to take another look at them.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I have a love/hate relationship with Rugers. I was not happy with my LCR in 9mm and I am not happy with the LCR in .22 LR but I should know better than to buy the first production run of anything. I have been very happy with the LCR in .38 special and my SP101 in .357 magnum is a great gun. My LCP was good until I ran it past its life expectancy. They are made to be carried often and shot rarely. I ran it about 3-5,000 rounds past what it was probably designed to handle.
        I haven’t owned any of their other guns.
        God bless!


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