Prepper Guns: Firearms, Ammo, Tools, and Techniques You Will Need to Survive the Coming Collapse (2016)

HANDGUNS

Revolver Introduction: Don’t Ignore the Wheel Gun

Revolvers have a place in survival.

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Revolvers are still a viable option for self-defense.

In today’s world of high-capacity, polymer-frame, semiauto pistols we often forget about the original repeating handgun. While the roots of the revolver go back to the revolving arquebus, produced by Hans Stopler of Nuremberg in 1597, it was 1836 before Sam Colt figured out how to make it work best. Once Colt started making revolvers, the world of defensive handguns changed forever. It wasn’t so long ago that almost everybody, law enforcement and civilians alike, carried double-action revolvers for self-defense. A surprising number of gun-savvy people still do.

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Critics argue that most revolvers only hold six shots. But for other than a Hollywood-style fantasy shoot-out or a zombie apocalypse, that has traditionally been more than enough. Don’t be fooled by The Walking Dead; Rick’s choice of a Colt Python would have resulted in his death with the first zombie horde attack. If the zombies show up, a magazine-fed semiauto is the best . . . the only . . . choice for survival. That might also be true for a mob situation such as preppers might expect to encounter, particularly in the early days of a crisis. But for most self-defense situations a revolver is enough gun if you can shoot and actually hit the target. The spray-and-pray crowd will never be fulfilled with a revolver.

Or sights, for that matter.

The same critics also argue that a revolver is slower to reload than a semiauto. They are but, surprisingly, not by much if you train. With a speedloader, or moon clips, the difference is less than you might think. Check out your local ICOR match and watch those guys run their wheel guns. They shoot them very fast and reload them with blinding speed.

How fast can they shoot? Well, Ed McGivern gave up on semiauto pistols because he said they were too slow to cycle and he didn’t like waiting. He is famous for his ability to put five shots on a playing card in 2/5 of a second with a double-action S&W revolver. That 1934 record still stands and, remarkably, McGivern set it at fifty-seven years of age when arthritis was messing with his hands.

My friend Jerry Miculek is currently the fastest man alive with a revolver and he did five shots in 0.57 seconds using modern and more accurate timing equipment than McGivern had available. Jerry also fired six shots, a reload, and six more shots in 2.99 seconds. He can empty an eight-shot S&W revolver in less than one second and hit the target with every shot. So no one can argue that a wheel gun is slow to shoot, or reload for that matter. Slower than a magazine-fed semiauto? Yes. Slow? No.

One big upside of a revolver as a defensive gun is that it is almost totally reliable. A high-quality revolver that is maintained and fed a proper diet simply does not jam. In the event of a misfire, another pull of the trigger lines up a fresh cartridge with the barrel. It is versatile too, because a double-action revolver has the option of a fast, double-action trigger pull for defensive situations; or, for a precision shot, cocking the hammer results in a light, crisp single-action trigger pull.

The longer, heavier, double-action trigger pull is an advantage in some tactical situations where it can help prevent an accidental discharge. For example, while holding the gun on a bad guy and waiting for the police to arrive. If the person with the gun is stressed and nervous, it might not be a good idea to have a light trigger pull. The double-action helps prevent shooting at the wrong time. Remember, the main goal here is to protect yourself and your family. But a secondary goal should be to not shoot anyone unless you absolutely must.

At least for now, we still live in an ordered society with cops, judges, and juries. Unfortunately, even a justified self-defense shooting in today’s America will alter your life dramatically. You will need a lawyer and will almost certainly be charged and brought to trial. Even if you are found not guilty it will drain you financially and emotionally. Then you can expect the victim’s family to sue you in civil court, where there are much different rules and it’s easier for them to win. It’s not fair, it’s not what America should be about, but it is the reality.

While you hope that the system works and you are exonerated, it will be hugely expensive, as in bankruptcy-inducing expensive. That’s if you act within your rights and defend yourself against somebody trying to do you harm. If you shoot some douchebag because you were stressed out during that assault and accidently pulled the trigger on your gun at the wrong time, the prosecutor will hang you out to dry. Even if he needed shooting. It doesn’t matter that none of it would have happened if the bad guy had just left you alone; it will be your fault in the eyes of the law and the court of public opinion.

It’s a fine line that we law-abiding people must walk and it’s very easy to step off. We must know and follow the rules, while the bad guys do not. So, make sure you train hard and bring the right gear. In this case, a double-action revolver can be a good choice.

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Modern revolvers are reliable and powerful.

Learning the basics of how to run a revolver has a shorter learning curve than a semiauto handgun. Say you are in the middle of a firefight and need to give a gun to somebody to help. Which is better?

“Here, take this pistol and get in the fight.

“No, it’s not a Glock, it’s called a 1911.

“What? Yes, it kicks.

“Push down on that lever and then pull back on this thing.

“You didn’t pull it far enough. Pull it until it stops. Yes, I know it’s hard.

“Don’t let it close slowly like that, pull it all the way back and let go so it slams shut.

“Never mind, you need to do it again.

“No, don’t push that button!

“That ‘thingy’ that just fell out is called a magazine. Pick it up and put it in that hole in the grip it fell out of.

“Yes, the ‘handle’ is called a grip.

“Not that way. Turn it around so the pointy end of the bullets are facing to the front.

“Yes, I can see it fell out again. Pick it up and this time push it into the grip harder.

“Good, now, rack the slide again.

“Yes, that’s the ‘thingy’ on top that moves back and forth.

“You already took the safety off, don’t worry about it.

“Okay (sigh) yes, that cute little lever you are pointing at is the safety. Yes down is off. Yes, that means the gun can shoot, if you depress the grip safety.

“That’s right; the ‘little lever’ on the back of the ‘handle’ is the grip safety. You need to hold the gun so that is depressed before it will shoot.

“I don’t know why there are two safeties, just do it! In case you didn’t notice, there are people shooting at us!

“Now, for God’s sake, point the gun at the bad guys and pull the trigger.”

Or: “Here, take this revolver, point it at the bad guys and pull the trigger.”

Clearly, if you have little time to train somebody, a revolver is the best handgun option. Of course, mastering one to the point where you can shoot very fast using the double-action function and can reload very quickly takes a lot of training. But anybody can take a few minutes of instruction and then operate a revolver reasonably well.

Revolvers can be chambered for much more powerful cartridges than a semiauto handgun. Cartridges like the .44 Magnum are a big advantage for foraging situations or if you are in a remote area where you may encounter big game or four-legged predators. They can also be a benefit if you must penetrate barriers when shooting at bad guys hiding behind them.

Yes, the capacity of a revolver and the slower reloading are factors if you are in a firefight with multiple opponents. Even those top shooters are only reloading six shots back into their guns. Nobody is under the illusion that a revolver is even close to a magazine-fed semiauto in firepower. But they still have a place with preppers. I do not advocate a revolver as a primary defensive carry handgun for most survival situations, but there are exceptions and there are plenty of reasons for a prepper to have one or more revolvers.