You can call them obsolete if you like, but mastering the double action revolver imparts more benefits than many shooters realize. In the video below, I’ve shared some of the ways I think working with revolvers has made me a better shooter in general. Or you can scroll down and read the transcript instead.
Hey everybody, Chris here from LuckyGunner.com. I know most of you guys are not really revolver shooters and I totally understand why semi-autos are the dominant firearm type used for self-defense today. But if you consider yourself a serious student of handgun marksmanship, I think you’re really missing out if you don’t set aside some time to become proficient with a revolver.
I want to give Caleb Giddings credit here because this is something I was reminded of when I listened to a recent interview he did on Ballistic Radio. It’s a topic I’ve alluded to briefly in the past, but today I want to go into a little more detail.
There is an advantage I have noticed from training with revolvers that’s not so obvious if you haven’t done it and it has to do with the double action trigger. The revolver trigger can be somewhat challenging to master, but once you do get the hang of it, I think there is something that changes, mentally, about the way you shoot compared to the way most of us think when we’re running a semi-auto.
What it comes down to is that the long double action trigger press forces the shooter to maintain correct technique 100% of the time in order to not completely suck. As a result, someone who is reasonably proficient with both semi-autos and revolvers will often have slightly better accuracy and more consistent performance overall when they’re shooting a revolver. I can’t say this is how it works for everyone, but that’s been the case for me, and that’s how it’s worked out for Caleb and a lot of other shooters that I’ve talked to.
Another contributing factor to that phenomenon could be the lower ammo capacity of revolvers. When you know you’ve got fewer shots in the gun, you might be more careful to make sure those rounds hit. There might be something to that, but I think the bigger issue is the trigger.
That double action trigger is a lot less forgiving than most semi-autos triggers, whether they are striker fired or single action only or DA/SA. If you’re a decent pistol shooter, then you know that, especially with a modern 9mm, you can get away with imperfect technique a lot of the time. When you’re trying to push your speed, (and who doesn’t want to shoot faster?) you can occasionally sacrifice technique and slap the trigger or let your grip slack off a little bit and still hit the target. And sometimes that doesn’t work out and you end up with a flyer that doesn’t go where you wanted it to at all.
But when you’re shooting a revolver, your technique is kind of all or nothing. I’ve got to have a decent grip to counter-act the 10-pounds of pressure I’m applying with my index finger to get the trigger moving. I can’t slap or jerk the trigger — I have to give it a smooth press all the way to the rear every time, or I’m going to miss big. And while I’m working that trigger, I’m getting an extra tenth of a second or so to make sure that my sights are back on target before the trigger breaks again. If I try to cheat on any of that stuff because I want to go fast, my accuracy is going to fall apart right away.
So the way this works to my advantage is if I shoot revolvers exclusively over a period of time, it has a way of recalibrating my approach to shooting. After a few good range sessions, I become a little more careful about my technique, and that transfers over when I pick up a semi-auto again. It trains me to be a more disciplined shooter in general.
If you’re a decent semi-auto shooter — and by “decent” let’s just say you can clean a Bill Drill in 4 seconds or less — if you’re shooting at that level but you’ve hit a plateau skill wise, or you aren’t happy with the consistency of your performance, shoot a revolver for a while. After maybe 3 or 4 months of dedicated live fire and dry practice with a double action revolver, there’s a good chance you will start to see some noticeable improvement when you go back to your semi-auto.
You might be able to get the same advantage from a double action only semi-auto, but except for some pocket pistols, nobody is really making those anymore. And I’d be willing to bet a lot of you guys already have a revolver sitting in the back of your safe that you never shoot, or you know someone who will loan you their revolver.
So even if you’re part of the crowd that’s convinced that revolvers are completely obsolete as a self-defense tool, consider thinking of them as a training tool instead. Learning how to run a revolver really well is going to make you a better shooter in general, and you’re probably going to have a lot of fun in the process.