Shooting Straight: Face It, Your Gun Sucks

mossberg pistol
Did you know your gun sucks? It probably does. (Photo credit: Kat Stevens)

You’ve probably noticed a serious surge in revolver popularity lately. This is due to a few reasons, but mostly by design courtesy of some manufacturers and their reps. All it really takes is the right person proclaiming a piece of gear is the new hotness, and it’s on.

After years of infighting and outright brawls on social media (think GLOCK vs. 1911 or AR vs. AK), you’d thing we’d just admit that some guns work better for certain people or situations and move on. But no, that’s just not where we are as a society.

So…which is better, revolvers or semi-autos?

magnum revolvers
What is best in life? Sometimes it’s big bore revolvers. (Photo credit: Kat Stevens)

First of all, a word on phrasing. If you want to call revolvers wheel guns or semi-autos autoloaders, more power to you. Just realize that you’re dating yourself. That’s not always bad if you’re someone like Mas Ayoob, who’s awesome and truly brilliant, but it might be a good idea to brush up the vocabulary a bit if you don’t have the clout to back it up.

I admit I cringe the times I’m forced to say “wheel gun” and that there’s no price high enough to get me to call one of my revolvers a six-shooter. As for semi-autos, remember that applies to all of them, not only GLOCKs or 1911s, too. For the love of all that’s holy, don’t call a semi-auto an automatic gun (that’s also a pitfall of using the term “autoloader” because the anti-gunners and the crazies like to claim that means almost everything is a machine gun).

But you do you.

Second, I’ll be blunt: your revolver’s capacity isn’t good. Neither is the also-teensy capacity of many micro-compacts. I will endlessly suggest you carry a speedloader or speed strips for your revolver and hint that it can’t hurt to add a spare mag to your semi-auto setup, but who has time for that? Why don’t you just carry a gun with superior capacity in that first mag? But wait, you’re saying, revolvers don’t have magazines. Exactly.

Taking a quick step back. Let’s stop and consider that the capacity argument has to do with the handgun you use for concealed carry (or open carry, although I sincerely hope you aren’t doing that). Are there instances in which your revolver is better, or your semi-auto is iffy? Sure.

A VP9 used for hunting? The horror! (Photo credit: Kat Stevens)

Handgun hunting has long been thought to be the exclusive realm of revolvers. In fact, there are an inordinate number of people who will actively complain if you suggest semi-autos are good for hunting (believe me, the whining is incessant).

One of my favorite hunting handguns is, in fact, a revolver—because what’s not to love about .44 Magnum? Revolvers are a fantastic for most kinds of hunting and unless you’re an awful shot or after a sounder of feral hogs, the limited capacity isn’t much of a hindrance. Then there’s the fact that a lot of magnums come with long barrels specifically meant to improve ballistics and accuracy, which rocks. However…

Guess what? Your semi-auto is also awesome for hunting. Just because revolvers have enjoyed decades as the end-all, be-all champ of handgun hunting, that doesn’t mean they’re the best. The choice is going to come down to personal preference in most cases. My suggestion is to own a wide variety of handguns so you can rotate your hunting options as your heart desires. There’s never anything wrong with owning more guns.

Now that we’ve been clear that revolvers can be wholly inadequate in some use cases, it’s time to look at semi-autos.

magazine from handgun
Is your magazine really the most likely failure point? That’s a matter of some debate. (Photo credit: Kat Stevens)

The guns that are most likely to fail thanks to a heavy layer of dirt? Semi-autos. That typically applies to hunts, but it can happen pretty much anywhere. After all, I live in Texas, and the red dirt that coats everything builds up faster than you’d believe.

Keeping your guns lubed helps, but I’ve seen more than a few semi-auto failures thanks to inability to handle one hunt’s accumulation of dust and dirt (one was a GLOCK, so don’t come at me with that one).

Generally, semi-autos are, for the most part, more prone to failures or breakage than revolvers. You’re probably going to say that maintenance fixes that issue and it does, to a point. I’m just saying I’ve never had the guide rod and spring from a revolver go flying at the target during live fire practice. I’ve also never had a takedown pin pop out of a revolver like a magic trick.

Wait…revolvers don’t have those parts. Exactly, people. Exactly.

Not to sugarcoat it, but the most bomb-proof guns in my collection are revolvers. Yes, even revolvers can and do malfunction. Sure, there are cheaply made guns out there, but some of the most impressively durable guns are magnum revolvers. Thanks to reinforced top straps and bulky, bludgeon-worthy metallurgy, well-made revolvers will probably survive a nuclear apocalypse right alone with the cockroaches and keep on cycling. Just look at The Walking Dead and how that Python handled all those zombies for all those years.

Again I say, magnums. I love big bores and revolvers excel at them.

colt cobra defensive
Hammer up or hammer down? Fight amongst yourselves. (Photo credit: Kat Stevens)

I love any and every gun that goes bang, and you might be surprised how many revolvers I own. But semi-autos are the natural progression of technology and have a lot to recommend them whether you’re carry or hunting.

While semi-autos might be statistically more likely to experience failures than revolvers, if your revolver fails, it’s probably going to be very dramatic. A broken revolver isn’t any fun at all to deal with, whereas a broken semi-auto can usually be fixed by my toddler (okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration).

You were probably hoping I’d declare a winner here, and likely predicting it’d be semi-autos. I hate to let you down, but there are no winners. To lots of people out there, somewhere, your gun sucks—and a surprising number of them are willing to take a great deal of time to tell you why it sucks in great detail.

Just come to grips with the fact that your gun sucks, and move on. Or is that not how all of this works?

11 Responses

  1. The overall biggest threat to a large precentage of gun owners wallets is the ‘internet influencer’.


  2. I have abandoned semi-autos after 20 years of shooting. Too many failures on the range, which leads me to worry about semi-auto smooth functioning during an actual crisis. I’ve owned many: Colt 1911, Beretta 92, Beretta PX4, Heckler and Koch, and several Glocks of various calibers. 1911s just suck, with constant experimentation with magazines and different rounds to get the thing to work properly. Don’t even get me started on stripping them down and cleaning them. For all of the rest, stovepipes and other malfunctions occurred just often enough to make me question carrying them for self protection. The Beretta 92 I owned failed constantly, despite changing the extractor, disassembling, cleaning and reassembling it several times, and buying several new magazines. I’m glad I was able to sell it and get some money for that awful POS. Then there’s all the hype about how 9mm is so improved over that of 30 years ago, and how shooting magic jello proves this, but when you look at police shootings on the interwebs, you see cops plugging perps with round after round and the perps are still alive after receiving multiple rounds in the chest.

    But muh shot placement!

    Capacity is HIGHLY over-rated. Performance matters. Not all calibers are the same. Shooting jello is not remotely like shooting something made of flesh and bone. I’ve taken 175 pound hogs with a single shot from a 4 inch .357 magnum. If that didn’t work, one additional round always did. That is all the proof I need of the revolver’s effectiveness against any threat, two or four legged. If you can’t carry and shoot a revolver effectively because of poor grip strength or some other physical weakness, or lack of dexterity with a speed loader, that’s fine, but don’t gaslight the rest of us and say a 9mm wonder nine plastic pistol is just as effective.

    It ain’t.

    1. “That is all the proof I need of the revolver’s effectiveness against any threat, two or four legged.”

      Its wonderful you can maintain the illusion that every situation is going to follow your pre-defined script.

  3. A single hit with a .22lr is vaslty more effective than a dozen misses from a .50 BMG.

    Capacity only matters if you miss. Training and shot placement trumps everything else….especially “accuracy by volume”.

    1. Its wonderful you can maintain the illusion that every situation is going to follow your pre-defined script.

      1. No “script”…just reality.

        Training and shot placement ARE the single most important elements in any armed confrontation.

        The simple fact is, if you cant hit what you are shooting at while under duress…caliber and capacity are both completely irrelevant.

        1. That’s not my point…. the assured predictably confidence people express in ability or caliber or training mantras recited like a script… that ‘script’ expectation can vanish real fast and that is reality.

          Like you said..”Capacity only matters if you miss.” Well no, some people can be hit multiple times and still keep moving. So what happens when the bad guy is coming towards you still up and you just fired that shot 6 in a revolver and put all six shots in him and before you can open the cylinder to start your trained super duper fast reload routine the guy is now at arms length swinging that knife around. Are ya gonna think “if I just had one more shot” ?

          Now sure, the revolver guys, or even a semi auto guy, would say ‘shot placement is key’ and I’m not saying it isn’t… but sometimes things simply don’t work out as planned.

          Script expectation vanished.

          1. On the other hand, you could be bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat because you shoved your semi-auto into your attacker’s ribs and pushed the slide out of battery. Maybe your 9mm doesn’t penetrate deep enough to do the job but a .357 mag would. Or your revolver could run out of ammo before the threat is neutralized. Either choice could get you killed or save your life. Odds are you should probably be more worried about your cholesterol, though.

  4. Be influenced and consume. If possible form an emotional attachment and make the thing part of your identity. Do your part to keep the market up. America is counting on you.

    That’s how all of this works.

  5. Odds are you’re more likely to get struck by lightning than to get into a gunfight, so in the unlikely event that you do get involved in one, just remember that the first rule of gunfighting is ‘have a gun’. After that, carry whatever you like and enjoy shooting because you’re probably going to shoot better with a pistol you like to shoot than one you don’t.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *