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What Makes a Revolver More Precise Than a Pistol?

Revolver, Weapon, Cartridge, Pistol

To many, the title alone will be contentious. If you spend enough time around gun owners, you’ll hear the debate between pistol lovers and revolver lovers take place in many forms. Here, we’ll be going over why revolvers are more precise, at least to many people.

Mechanically

Revolver, Pistol, Cowboy, Gun, Firearm

For many years, it was considered common wisdom that revolvers were mechanically more precise than semi-auto pistols. The reasoning for this is that revolvers have completely fixed barrels. The barrels on semi-auto pistols are designed to move and be taken apart. The little bit of give in the barrels has an effect on precision. This simple fact allowed revolvers to win the precision debate.

The reason for discussing that fact in the past tense is that the gap has closed to a degree. Modern (high quality) pistols tend to perform well on the range. There is still a slight edge here that will usually go to revolvers. However, it would be unfair to semi-autos to suggest the disparity in mechanical precision is huge. It does exist though, so it is worth considering.

Handling

Revolver, Colt, Pistol, Weapon, Hand Gun

While there may be a slight mechanical advantage to precision with revolvers, the handling of them is where many of the benefits come from. This is a slightly contentious point as well, but we’ll get to that.

For one, revolvers simply tend to be heavier than their semi-auto counterparts. The extra weight makes them feel more stable when firing. This can make recoil feel more controllable as well.

There is also the shape of them. Consider what goes into the process of designing handgun grips. On a semi-auto, the magazine well has to be taken into account. The design of the firing mechanism and inner components can also have an effect on the grip’s design. When engineers are designing these grips, they aren’t able to just consider what grip will make for the most comfortable shooting experience. With revolvers, on the other hand, the shape of the grip is mostly down to what works best when firing it. Many of them have more curvature in the grips which makes them easier to hold and shoot. Now, this is not to say that semi-auto handguns have bad grips, and many people prefer them. To many though, revolvers feel better in their hands and are easier to grip and control. 

Something else to consider is the trigger. A single-action revolver may have the smoothest trigger in the handgun world. However, when it comes to concealed carry, most will be carrying a double-action revolver. For many shooters, the trigger on a double-action revolver takes a bit more time to master than with other handguns. On semi-auto pistols, the triggers tend to be a little easier to get used to. There is a lot of variety with the triggers between different pistols, so a blanket statement on their triggers cannot really be made. In general, though, many new shooters find their trigger pulls a bit shorter and a bit easier to get right. The trigger pull and feel can make a lot of difference when trying to shoot accurately. This is not really a knock on double-action revolvers. The point is that a bit more practice may be needed with them to get the trigger pull and timing down. This also ties into the importance of finding a handgun that suits you. Try out different revolvers. See how they feel in your hands. If possible, shoot a variety of them. There are a lot of guns, but there is a gun out there that will feel best on every hip or be perfect for every pocket.

Another thing that must be considered with concealed carry weapons is drawing them from a holstered position. The grip of a revolver comes in handy here. They can be easier to quickly grab, and drawing them simply feels more natural to many. Natural will be subjective. If someone has grown up shooting a 1911 all their life, that will feel more natural than a revolver. For new shooters or those who get used to revolvers, the grip style lends itself to a smooth drawing experience. 

There will never be a consensus in the firearms world on whether or not revolvers handle better or are more precise. These points simply make up one opinion in favor of revolvers.

At the end of the day, practice will go far when it comes to shooting well. Some guns are more precise than others, but accuracy comes from skill. 

Spend time on the range. Try out various gripping styles. Work on your draw time and skill. If you ever need to use your handgun for self-defense, these skills will go further than anything else. They also give you confidence. When you are comfortable with your weapon, you can rest easy that you will be able to protect you, your family, and whoever else you care about in a time of need.

8 Replies to “What Makes a Revolver More Precise Than a Pistol?”

  1. Janice Pittenger says:

    Would love to own one the pistols.

  2. Edward Ernat says:

    I believe in shooting guns that you enjoy to shoot and also carrying guns you enjoy to shoot. If that happens to be wheel guns, then so be it! I’ll take my revolver to the range more often than any semi auto I own. More practice means more precision and better mechanics.

  3. RD says:

    Really like Revolvers, but semi’s have their place with me.

  4. John Guse says:

    Interesting article. And yes with practice revolvers can be more accurate.

  5. steve underwood says:

    I would be curious as to how many single action revolvers are still sold in the US.

    1. Harrison says:

      There are a lot of Heritage 22s sold but otherwise not that many. I don’t have import numbers for the Cowboy action guns and the ATF doesn’t publish action type but there are still a ton of revolvers sold in the US.

  6. David I Nelson says:

    I have always been a BIG fan of wheel-guns. I like to start training on revolvers to help enforce proper sight alignment all the way trough the double action trigger pull. If you can shoot a revolver well, pistols are easy!!! (IMO)

  7. Jim Wood says:

    I’ve been on the fence about getting a revolver…my next pistol just might be one.

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