Who’s fault – and the case for the revolver.

The other day a group of us were out at the range. One individual wound up inserting the magazine into the Ruger 10/22 backwards.  I was not in the area when this incident happened.  Much avail failed to remove the wrongly inserted magazine. Finally, I had to do a quick field dis-assembly of the 10/22 to remove the magazine.

The individual, a novice with guns, clearly felt embarrassed by the incident. But was it really their fault? No, there is not much that lends one to know which way a magazine should be inserted. (Yes, other than noting the direction of the bullets inside the magazine.  But during the actual insertion, such is often not visible to the user.)

This is really the fault of the one guiding the individual. In assuming that the user possesses an element of knowledge they might not in fact possess. While this is merely a comical situation. It is a good reminder to all those acting in the role of instructor, teacher or range master. Never assume the individuals you are working with possess knowledge you’d take for granted.

One of the comments this incident did bring up was the preference for the revolver. I have heard a number of individuals advocate for semi-automatics. Tom Gresham’s GunTalk is a good example. He often advocates for semi-automatics.  But countless times I have seen individuals who rarely utilize firearms have difficulty going through all the processes involved with a semi-auto.  On the other had, they seldom have the same difficulty operating a revolver.

I am not yet sold on the semi-auto being the best choice.  I understand it’s advantages in firepower.  But it also requires greater knowledge and understanding. I am of the opinion, that the semi-auto is the better defense choice for the individual who is going to receive regular training and practice. But the revolver still seems to me, to be the better choice for the non-shooter. The person who may only shoot once a year or maybe once every 5 yrs.

Now, I understand that many here, myself included, are big advocates for training and practice.  Some will say if you are going to own a gun, you better learn how to use it. I agree. But if the individual is really owning a firearm as a last resort, against a possibility that might never happen during their lifetime, (how many of my readers have been mugged, shot at or had to use a firearm for self-defense? how many average Joe’s have?).  Maybe for these individuals the revolver is still the best choice.

Thoughts? Comments? What is your preference/recommendation for the non-shooter? semi-auto or revolver?

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Published in: on August 1, 2010 at 5:12 am  Comments (14)  

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14 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I think you are right for the novice or occasional shooter….not much to think about with a revolver. Also, that long, heavy trigger pull is enough to prevent accidental discharge. My PPW is a revolver, and I have a speed loader in the drawer right next to it. I do love my semi-autos, though!

  2. Hey, I’ve been following your blog for a few weeks and I’ve enjoyed it so far, keep up the good work.

    I just bought my first firearm today (10/22 in stainless) and I was wondering if it’s a bad idea to keep a magazine loaded in case of emergency? I’ve read that it’ll ruin the magazine and I’ve also read that it’s fine. Since you have a post on novices using a 10/22 and you have experience with the gun, I figured I’d ask. Any input is greatly appreciated.

  3. There is some evidence for failure of magazine springs when held tense. However, the keeping of ammo in the magazine for an extended period is not unjustified. And the risk is minimum. In fact, if it’s a 3rd party magazine, the risk of failure is likely higher just from manufacturing than storage.

    But there are some suggestions to improve things.

    1. Label all like magazines. This is important for keeping track of performance. Also in identifying problems caused by magazines to a specific magazine. If you find a troubled magazine….you get rid of it (and try not to pass it on to someone else). [NOTE: You can try to repair a magazine by replacing springs and components.]

    2. Rotate your magazines. Every month or so, remove the cartridges and put them in another magazine. This does a couple of things. a) it keeps the magazines under less stress, b) more importantly if a magazine is failing, you will discover it in a timely fashion with normal use.

    Lastly, let’s define emergency. Are you referring to the need to defend yourself. In which case, remember that a .22 LR is capable of killing a man. It just might not do it quickly unless the shots are placed very accurately. Good thing about the .22 LR is that it is easy to place accurately at close range. But it might not be the best choice for self-defense.

  4. Yep, I meant in case someone breaks in. I’m planning on a nice 12 gauge as soon as I can afford it. It’ll be awhile though so I got the 10/22 to learn the basics (planning on going to an Appleseed soon).

    I figure that while I have it, it’d be much better than waving my arms and yelling at an intruder. 🙂 I hope to God I never have to use it but I guess I’ll have a factory magazine loaded up and rotate them just in case. Thanks for the help.

  5. The problem with revolvers for newbies is that the long heavy trigger pull makes them much harder to shoot. If you don’t have enough training to operate a semi-auto, you’re not going to hit much with a revolver if there’s any kind of distance involved.

    My usual recommendation for newbies who want a self defense gun is a midsized striker fired 9mm, like the Glock 19, M&P9, etc. It’s big enough to be easy to shoot, and small enough to be concealable. A 4″ K-frame is also a decent choice, but it’s going to take more work to learn the trigger.

    If they aren’t worried about gearing up for self defense in a hurry, I recommend getting a Ruger Mk3 to learn and practice the fundamentals. Then try a bunch of guns and form their own opinions. I still go back to a ~4″ barrel semi-auto 9mm though as a place to start looking.

  6. Hi Mark,

    “I figure that while I have it, it’d be much better than waving my arms and yelling at an intruder.”

    Much agreed….

    Regarding the 12 gauge shotgun. You might want to listen to the ProArms Podcast on the topic. And don’t discount the 20 gauge.

    http://proarmspodcast.com/2009/02/01/017a-homing-in-on-the-defensive-shotgun/

    http://proarmspodcast.com/2009/02/22/017b-homing-in-on-the-defensive-shotgun/

    I personally, am not totally convinced on the 12 guage as the best home defense firearm. I think for many individuals it is. However, in a small home or apartment with narrow hallways. A long gun could be a disadvantage. (Coming around sharp corners, may allow someone to grab the barrel and disarm you.) In such environments a decent full size revolver may be a better option.

    ” I’ll have a factory magazine loaded up and rotate them just in case.”

    Just remember to label your magazines (I use a permanent marker or paint marker).

  7. @Jeff

    “The problem with revolvers for newbies is that the long heavy trigger pull makes them much harder to shoot.”

    Many newer revolvers have fairly light triggers, especially those designed from the ground up to be double-action.

    The new Ruger LCR has a fairly light trigger.

    Also, not all semi-auto pistols have a lighter trigger pull. Many semi-autos utilize a double-action/single-action mechanism.

    “If you don’t have enough training to operate a semi-auto, you’re not going to hit much with a revolver if there’s any kind of distance involved.”

    Most self-defense situations do not involve much distance. In fact most confrontations are under 7 yards, and many much much closer.

    “My usual recommendation for newbies who want a self defense gun is a midsized striker fired 9mm, like the Glock 19, M&P9, etc”

    For someone who is going to practice and shoot regularly, I totally agree.

    But for someone to carry a semi-auto, they need to be trained for dealing with the various malfunctions that can occur. And they need to practice those regularly.

    Now for someone who is going to train regularly, the semi-auto does provide many advantages. Namely more firepower (cartridge capacity) and for certain models, lighter trigger pulls.

    Also, while I am very fond of my Ruger MK3. I would probably recommend the Browning Buckmark as I found it much easier to maintain for a beginner.

    https://nugun.wordpress.com/2009/07/25/the-browning-buckmark-versus-the-ruger-mkiii/

    However, for the non-shooter who is simply going to keep the firearm in a dresser drawer. I believer a revolver is a better choice.

    Note, regardless of the trigger. I found that as a new shooter I was much more accurate with my Ruger GP100 full sized 6″ barrelled revolver than I was with semi-autos.

    Also, while we teach and train to fire revolvers as heavy double-action in order to avoid lawyers. Most are in fact capable of very light single action shooting as well.

    But for carry, I definitely agree with you on a 9mm semi-auto pistol. And think this is the best option for most individuals.

  8. I guess part of my opinion is colored by the facct that I encoy shooting and training. I counted last night, and I have done over 200 hours of organized firearms training.

    One thing I’ve learned is that while skill is very important, mindset is equally if not moreso. Having the perfect gun in a drawer isn’t going to do squat for you if you don’t have the mindset to use it. I think generally this mindset will also lead you to get proper training.

    I’m a staunch second amendment supporter and definitely against mandatory training requirements. That said, I think everyone who owns / carries a gun owes it to themselves and those around them to get some good training.

    Re triggers and shootability. Next tiem you take a new shooter to the range, set up a target at 5-7 yards. Have them shoot a cylinderful through the LCR and 5 rounds thorugh a 9mm semi (I forget whicch one you have). See which is the better group, and which they enjoy shooting more and woould be likely to get at least soem practice.

  9. “I guess part of my opinion is colored by the facct that I encoy shooting and training. I counted last night, and I have done over 200 hours of organized firearms training.”

    The whole reason I started this blog was a realization that I was “learning”. And suddenly terms like slide, hammer, etc were no longer “strange”. I realized that an active new shooter quickly passes through that period of “no knowledge” to a modicum of knowledge.

    I wanted to document and share what I learned, as I learned it. In hopes that it would be easier for the new shooter to digest.

    “I’m a staunch second amendment supporter and definitely against mandatory training requirements. That said, I think everyone who owns / carries a gun owes it to themselves and those around them to get some good training.”

    I am very much agreed. My mother had a run in with a convicted felon. But she could not purchase a handgun until she took a training class. Took a few months for the whole process. In states which require training. I believe there should at a minimum be an exception for anyone with a restraining order out.

    Usually I take shooters up to a state range (free) which is about 7-8 yds. Would love a free 5 yd range.

    Honestly, a number of the individuals I have taken have liked my Ruger GP100. For me, that was the gun I was most accurate with. Ironically, I was much more accurate with .357 Magnum than .38 Special.

    My hope with any new shooter is just to make them have fun and enjoy shooting.

    As for the LCR, that’s definitely NOT a pleasure gun. Nor is my LCP. Both are too light for pleasure shooting. LOL

    I still need a few more guns for new shooters to try. 🙂

    And once again, I want to state that for most people I am very much in agreement. But I think whenever we get to a “universal standard” (ie: this is the best choice for all) we tend to err.

    For example. Many recommend NOT getting an older woman an ultralight revolver. Too much recoil. For my mom, the recoil isn’t an issue…she loves it. (That and the smell of gun powder which she just doesn’t understand why it doesn’t come as a deoderant scent.) But a few years back she developer trigger finger (unrelated to firearm use ironically). For her, the very easy trigger of the LCR was more advantageous than the light weight of the LCR was disadvantageous.

    Everyone is different. For 90%, a 9mm semi-auto is the way to go. It’s that 10% that gets interesting.

    😉

  10. “Everyone is different. For 90%, a 9mm semi-auto is the way to go. It’s that 10% that gets interesting.”

    Yeah, the key is to pick the gun you like the most. That way you’ll actually want to practice. Our regional firearms forum (northeastshooters.com) has regular ‘member’s shoots’ where we take over a range and everyone brings guns and ammo to share. It’s a great opportunity to try out pretty much everything on the market.

    I think my perceptions are also colored by living in MA. It’s such an anti-gun state that anyone who jumps through all the hoops is pretty serious. There aren’t people who just walk in to a gun shop and buy something to defend their homes.

  11. I’m glad I subscribed to comments, some great feedback in there. I’m still trying to find time to listen to those podcasts.

    Also trying to find time to convince my wife that we NEED at least 3 more guns (.22 pistol to learn the basics, 12 gauge, and some kind of revolver or 9mm semi as our mayor is trying to get Peoria to be a “pilot city” for Concealed Carry in Illinois) and that I NEED to go to an Appleseed and NRA handgun classes.

    It’s a tough sell so far. I’m hoping she’ll somehow magically fall in love with the idea after I finally drag her to the range.

  12. “Our regional firearms forum (northeastshooters.com) has regular ‘member’s shoots’ where we take over a range and everyone brings guns and ammo to share. It’s a great opportunity to try out pretty much everything on the market.”

    One thing I noticed in starting out is that the firearm community is all about learning and teaching others and making sure people stay interested in the sport.

    Example: My buddy and I went out to the range to try out my 10/22 for the first time and while we were there, a guy who had an arsenal of guns asked if we wanted to try a few. So, in addition to putting 300 rounds through the 10/22, I got to try out a Savage .17 HMR w/ Accutrigger (Awesome) and a Walther in .380 (I felt like James Bond.) He also informed us of the Mayor trying to introduce CCW here and some CCW rallies we should go to. Really nice guy.

    Probably should’ve put that all on the same comment but I was reminded of it while I was scrolling up through the comments. 🙂

  13. @Mark – Definitely agree on needing at least 3 more guns.

    My recommendatons:

    1) Browing Buckmark Pistol in .22LR

    Read why I recommend the Browning over my beloved MKIII in this post.

    https://nugun.wordpress.com/2009/07/25/the-browning-buckmark-versus-the-ruger-mkiii/

    2) Shotgun – If you’re planning to convince your wife to become a shooter. Really consider the 20 gauge. Listen to the ProArms podcast on shotguns. 20 guage offers a bit less recoil. But also tends to be a smaller mechanism. Often more comfortable for youth, small ladies, etc.

    3) Revolver or 9mm – S&W are highly regarded. I love my Ruger GP100 but it’s not a carry gun. The Ruger SP101 is a tad heavy for carry but great compromse for practice over the ultralight revolvers. Right now S&W M&P 9mm seems to be the choice to go to. Though the new Ruger SR9c might be worth considering. Glock 19 is a long stand-in for many.

    @Mark – Regarding the Savage 17 HMR did you see my recent post here. Just finished puttng mine together recently.

    https://nugun.wordpress.com/2010/08/01/new-rifle-savage-17-hmr/

  14. “1) Browing Buckmark Pistol in .22LR”

    That post was actually how I found your blog, I was poring over options for a .22 pistol. It’s boiled down to a Buckmark, a Beretta Neos, or a Ruger MK II/III. The Buckmark and Neos have the lead currently due to ease of care but it’ll probably come down to whatever I can find the best deal on when I make the rounds.

    With the shotgun, I’m primarily looking into one for hunting turkey and deer this fall as we can’t use rifles here so that’s why I lean towards the 12 gauge. If I can get her over her apprehension with guns, I’ll gladly buy her a brand new 20 gauge or .410. I think it’ll take quite awhile just to get her comfortable with a .22 so I’ll have to play that by ear.

    As for 9mm, I really have no idea where I’m going with that. I liked the walther .380 so I’ve looked into a p99 or sw99. (I really like the James Bond feeling.) That’ll probably ultimately come down to what feels good in my big monkey hands. Like someone else said up ^there^, if its not comfortable I won’t want to practice with it.

    And yea, I saw your post on the Savage, thats part of why I was stoked to check it out. It shoots awesome. If I could find an excuse to get one or could afford one and the ammo, I’d def. pick one up.


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