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Which Is Better - Revolver or Semi-Automatic?

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The Better Concealed Carry Handgun Is...

Another Personal Choice

Both categories of sidearm have their adherents. And then their are those like me, who like 'em both. Stick shift or automatic? Both have their advantages.

Wheelgun (revolver) guys like the dead simple operation. The years of tradition. That palm filling wooden grip.

Automatic people admire the slim, no-nonsense profile. The higher round capacity and ease of reloading.

Let's do a side by side comparision.

Pros and Cons


  • Mechanically Simpler = less to go wrong
  • Safer - hard to make one fire "accidentally"
  • Failure to fire drill is - pull the trigger again
  • No failure to feed
  • Comes in calibers that exceed most, if not all of those available in semis
  • Holds far fewer rounds than most semi-automatics
  • MUCH slower to reload
  • "Fatter" form factor
  • Double Action trigger pull (the default) is typically higher than on a semi
  • Consequently, some women do not have the hand strength to fire well
  • Smaller framed individuals especially, may find they don't "point" or balance as well


  • Generally higher round capacity (For similar size)
  • Easy and fast to reload
  • Slim form factor
  • Magazines are thinner than speed-loaders (Extra Ammo)
  • Quite often, are more natural "pointers"
  • Ergonomics and design may mitigate recoil
  • Malfunctions are harder to fix (But not bad with training)
  • More complex
    • More to malfunction
    • Harder to operate

Well...Revolver or Semi?

It depends. Aren’t you tired of hearing me say that? For concealability, and withstanding multiple threats, the semi-auto is the obvious winner. In a really intense situation, you might go through six shots in a hurry. A reasonable amount of practice will have you comfortable with the semi in a short period of time. On the other hand, a revolver is a simpler piece of work. They just go bang. BUT, for many people the HUGE difference in trigger weight and balance in the hand, still will gain the semi-automatic the nod. Hunting in Illinois limits your choice to a revolver. For any other purpose, you can make an argument for either. Though for most purposes, I lean hard toward the semi-automatic.

Reader: "Well why didn't he just say so up front? All this arguing, and pontificating, and judicious weighing. Why not just a sentence at the top of the page? ¹GET A SEMI-AUTOMATIC.¹ Would that have been so hard? Would have made for a short page, but more honest maybe."

My response: You are probably right. I might have overdone the fairness part. But honestly, each type does have it's advantages. I'm an old wheel gun (revolver) guy myself. Carried one for years and loved it. But after writing this whole section, I just thought of the women especially, that I have observed struggling with a revolver, and decided my prejudices matter. But it really does come down to personal preference. That one that feels best in your hand.

When you've watched Jerry Miculek run a revolver, you will be real careful about proclaiming the revolver finished as a viable self defense weapon.

Hey, Bubba! Watch This!

When you've watched Jerry Miculek run a revolver, you will be real careful about proclaiming the revolver finished as a viable self defense weapon.

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