A Beginners Guide For Self Defense–Part One, Revolvers

Many folks new to firearm ownership are concerned and confused about what kind, which brand, and what caliber of handgun to purchase for self-defense. To the new firearm owner or shopper it can be confusing and with men it is worse than with women.

Why you ask?  Because guys don’t want to be seen by other guys (salesmen in a gun department) as not knowing about guns; it’s an ego/macho thing. So guys don’t ask many questions. Well man up and stop it! Everyone who owns a gun was once a first time gun owner. Yes, many if not most learned from relatives over time and did not get their knowledge from a sales clerk (don’t necessarily count on much there either) but now you know better, do Hip Holster for Ruger ... Buy New $16.80 (as of 04:00 EST - Details) not feel stupid, inadequate or intimidated, ask questions.

Let’s begin here. It is the job of the gun shop or gun department in a sporting goods store to help and sell YOU a gun. It is not their job to look down on you for not knowing what the hell you are talking about. It is not their job to make you feel stupid or bad.  Okay, some guys just naturally can make that happen, but you are different right? And if they do that you can tell the manager or owner the reason you are going to another store to make your purchase is because of the moron who waited on you!

For our purposes here let’s define a self-defense gun as a handgun, not a rifle, carbine or shotgun. This is especially true if you plan to legally carry concealed.

There are two choices from here on; a semi-automatic or a revolver. That was simple, so let’s keep going.

Smith & Wesson Centennial

.38 Special Smith & Wesson Centennial, NOTE this revolver has a fully enclosed hammer making it “slicker” for concealed carry and fires in double action only. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are basically two types of revolver, single action and double action. A single action revolver is a handgun that requires you pull the hammer back for each shot; these are the guns of the old west. While fun to shoot, accurate, etc. these are not the best in today’s world for self-defense simply because you will forget to cock the hammer and they are slow to fire in all but extreme expert’s hands. So now we come to double action revolvers.

A double action revolver means you can pull the trigger and the gun will automatically cock the hammer back and fire every time you pull the trigger. And if it has an exposed hammer, you can also pull that back (cock it) and fire single action–with a much lighter trigger pull than with double action. However, in a self-defense scenario you will not use the single action mode unless you want to lose the fight.

Some concealed carry designed self-defense revolvers have the hammer partially or fully hidden. This is to keep the hammer from snagging on clothing during a draw from under a jacket or shirt or even catching material from firing the gun though the jacket pocket if you are in a real time crunch–you can buy a new jacket, but a new life????

English: Colt and S&W compact revolvers

.38 Special caliber Colt and S&W compact revolvers (above) have been stopping attackers for many decades.There are other good brands available. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Essentially these are double action only revolvers for the most part. In the real world you will only go to single action shooting when target shooting or plinking. Functioning a revolver in single action manner results in a much lighter trigger pull and that results in greater potential shooting accuracy. But in a gun fight, there is no time for that, you will lose.

In the real world if you come under attack the adrenaline will be flowing and regardless of the weight of the trigger pull, you probably LaserMax Centerfire La... Best Price: null Buy New $76.49 (as of 10:00 EST - Details) will not notice it even if it is four times harder to pull than normal and normal is what you will feel in the store while selecting your firearm or practicing at the shooting range. This is a key element that few sales people will relate to.

The great advantages of revolvers for self-defense are they rarely jam up or stop running. Revolvers are “safe” because the safety switch is the grey matter between your ears. They are simple guns; no bells whistles, levers switches or safeties and when loaded–they are really loaded, just aim and pull trigger (the purists who just read that will scream at their computer “press the trigger”…).  But just between us guys who gives a rat’s…

Revolvers can be easily recognized as a firearm and in dim light that may keep you from having to shoot a person to convince them you have a gun and not a cell phone in your hand; it is always better not to have to shoot someone than doing so if you can avoid it and stay unharmed.


Old 1900s style revolver. Make no mistake though, it will kill if necessary–but in today’s world, not preferred. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Revolver cylinders show anyone looking at the wrong end that the chambers in the cylinders are loaded and the bad guy may be further intimidated by seeing bullets waiting to be inserted into him. The sight of five to seven bullets anxious to fly has an effect on a sensible person.

One trick is to put a bit of white paint ( white out) on the nose of the bullet or in the cavity of hollow point rounds so they really show up better especially in low light conditions and communicate forcefully the gun is loaded. If you can intimidate your attacker and cause her (this is a guy blog) to leave-so much the better.

For self-defense it is best to have a high-visibility gun made from stainless steel so that at night or in poor light it is easy for an attacker to see you are really armed and hopefully to go away. Remember, the best gun fight is one that does not happen and unless it is a last resort it is best to avoid having to shoot someone if possible. Concealed Carry Lifestyle Ray H Duncan Best Price: $16.54 Buy New $12.05 (as of 02:30 EST - Details)

Caliber wise now and for decades the .38 Special is the most popular. The.32 H&R Magnum is a effective lower recoiling alternative that can chamber lower cost lessor power ammunition. The .357 Magnum and .327 Federal Magnum are very powerful rounds for the experienced shooter but guns in these calibers can also chamber less powerful rounds for practice or less experienced shooters and some revolvers come chambered in the 9mm round. There are others but you will find that the above are the majority with the .38 Special being the most popular. And for or what it is worth, the humble .38 Special has been killing folks for many decades-it is a very effective caliber.

What about the .22 long rifle round? The .22 is better than nothing and certainly will kill or stop a fight. However, due to its small bullet it is not a great immediate fight stopping caliber. You may get a few bullets into the bad guy and he may die in a bit, but during that time he may be also doing you a lot of harm.REMEMBER your mission in self-defense is to stop the fight–not to shoot, wound  or kill your attacker–you just get “her” to stop doing what ever it is that got you to start shooting “her” in the first place and to leave you alone.

Some of the brands are made by Smith & Wesson, Colt, Ruger, Taurus, and Charter Arms. There are others too but these are the more popular or recognized brands that produce the majority of self-defense revolvers that you will find in a store.