Friday, November 9, 2012

AGP auto v. revolver

My boy just completed boot camp and is now a gen-u-ine Jarhead.  While the Marines have always been my nemesis ( as much as I disliked the Army they are still the best branch ) I recognize the more elite nature and am proud as can be of his accomplishment.
Apocalypse Gun Porn
Auto V. Revolver
The lowly revolver don’t get no respect anymore.  Every time you read about Apocalypse gun recommendations the revolver is accepted, if at all, as a fun novelty “hark back to yesteryear of Cowboys and Injuns”, only to be stocked by fools too rich in dollars to have any cents.  The 45 auto is recognized as having a near universal ownership and following but their owners are sadly admitted to being dinosaurs unable to worship at the one and only alter of Glock ( I don’t disagree necessarily.  While I love the 45 it does have the glaring fault of being single action ).  It is never really explained why the auto is so desired other than they put far more rounds downrange much faster.  I think the authors also have erect nipples and tingling sphincters over the autos just because they are so cool.  Revolvers are SOOOO last century.  But if you’ve paid any attention at all so far, ammunition use is a game of conservation.  It is not one of a drunken sailor vomiting his paycheck as quickly as possible.  And I submit to you that while capacity might be important, reloading in a firefight is overrated.
I make a lot of fun of 9mm.  Nazi limp wristed pussy round, etc.  I also understand the appeal of having eighteen or twenty rounds to protect yourself with.  But I also believe that with the near universal accepted concept of suppressive fire that this many EFFECTIVE rounds is merely another myth.  If you are double or triple tapping each target, firing to keep their heads down and otherwise wasting most of those rounds, you don’t really have all that many more killing shots than you would with a six shooter.  And with the illusion of nearly instantaneous magazine reloading you will have no subconscious desire to conserve ammunition but rather a very happy trigger finger.  All in all, with an auto you will run out of stocked ammunition long before the user of a revolver will.  As far as speed loaders for revolvers, while I have them in limited quantity I don’t trust them nor rely on them.  With a magazine in an auto you can grab and slap.  With a speed loader they are much less forgiving of rough use ( not necessarily breaking but instead spilling rounds ).  As far as reloading any handgun in combat, I think you will be shot at close range if you are in a position where seconds count.  If you are behind cover, surely the reloading time is not as critical.  But all this is almost irrelevant.  The issue of money, ease of use and cartridge reloading is far more important.
Auto’s in general with the higher demand in sales, the number of magazines needed and the amount of practice ( which mostly involves wasting lots of ammo and then clearing jams from subpar ammo ) burning through boxes of ammo, all mean that auto’s cost a lot more money.  Your auto is just like your carbine or your battle rifle.  Outstanding in Industrial Age warfare, sexy and cool, but high priced and a definite hothouse flower ( peak of perfection under very tightly controlled environmental conditions, totally unsuited for real world, less than ideal conditions ).  The revolver is just an ugly brutish workhorse.  In fact, I’ll compare the contrast between weapons platforms to Mongol and Nobile Knight conflicts.  The Mongols swept in from the plains on short stubby ugly ponies and confronted the knights on impressive looking muscular tall steeds.  The ponies ate grass and the steeds required harvested grains.  While one was adapted to battle admirably but required a lot of infrastructure, the other was a semi-wild beast needing about zero maintenance.  Stop trying to impress your damsel in distress with your horse.  A revolver, once oiled and loaded, just patiently sits around waiting to be used.  You can pretty much forget it and only worry about it as needed.  And then anyone, not needing to worry about safeties or levers or worrying if one is in the pipe can pick it up and defend themselves instantly.  And if it ever jams it isn’t because of quality impaired ammunition.
A very important point favoring the revolver is that once the ammunition choice is down to old or improvised ammunition, that bad boy still works flawlessly.  The auto, which performs brilliantly, does so only with near flawless ammunition.  Take away that ammo and the auto dives in effectiveness and reliability.  An auto is what you want for modern warfare, the revolver is what you want for the apocalypse.  Granted, if you are rich you can super-stockpile the best quality ammunition and store the auto ammunition in controlled environments.  But if you are rich you don’t buy a cheap book authored by someone with mere ENLISTED military service.  You pay big consulting bucks to a former military officer since obviously they are oh so better educated and more intelligent ( vomit! Puke!  I’m retching even as I attempt to turn off sarcasm mode ).  For poor boys, that’s you and me ( I can almost guarantee you I won’t get rich off this or any other of my books ), we have to count our pennies and the revolver is the best bang for your buck which also stands the test of time much better.  As far as caliber, although not the ONLY answer, I really favor the 357.  It is widely available, both gun and ammunition, and the smaller family members can substitute 38’s for far less recoil.  And the 38 also uses less powder for stretching out your reloading supplies.  The revolver.  Not sexy, not cool.  Just works.
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  1. Congrads to you and Semper Fi to your son. When I was serving I had little use for Army dog breaths but now I have mellowed and would probably allow one to buy me a beer. -SemperFido

  2. I agree the revolver is underappreciated in many survival gun reviews. A revolver is a bit like a shotgun: lower firepower than some rifle options, but greater versatility. A few points to niggle you on:

    1. Autopistols are now usually less expensive and only match the revolvers in price if one buys a whole bunch of magazines. Since most survivalists are encouraged to do so, your point about cost is probably on target anyway. But... if I was really strapped for cash I could get set up with a reliable autoloader for less than a revolver.

    2. Autoloaders have improved quite a bit over the past 25 years. There are many models out there that currently are more likely to function over the long haul with even relatively low quality ammo. The lifespan of not only Glocks, but less expensive alternatives (e.g., Ruger P95) are measured in tens of thousands of rounds and reliably cycle relatively low quality ammo. Revolvers are more likely to develop timing problems that lead to lifespans measured more in thousands of rounds. Repairing autoloaders usually takes less skill, so functioning autoloaders are more likely to be around deep into your stated apoc future.

    3. Revolvers will fail to fire just as much as an autoloader with crap ammunition (e.g., really hard primer or bad primer). The advantage is that one can cycle a new round with another trigger pull (assuming double action revolver) and try the next chamber to see if it will work. The best the autoloader can do is (in some models) continue to try to fire the same bad round.

    4. The best solution for reloading in a firefight is the New York reload: Have another loaded gun you can pull out. This strategy applies nicely whether you use a revolver or an autoloader. It also worked well for Clint Eastwood in those spaghetti Westerns with the single shot revolvers.

  3. Lord Bison;

    Thank You for stating the importance of the revolver as a combat weapon. For all the .45 ACP fanatics out there, the Smith and Wesson Model 625 (chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge) has the distinction of being the world record holder for 12 rounds (one reload) being fired on target in 2.99 seconds by competition shooter Jerry Miculek. While I disagree with using centerfire cartridges in a revolver (I prefer black powder revolvers) I can certainly agree with the potential of a revolver being an effective combat weapon against human assailants. In regards to Anonymous 14:52, a New York reload is certainly an option, as also spare loaded cylinders (using a Remington 1858 .44 Caliber black powder revolver), where a combat reload is a reality in under 8 seconds. Keep keeping it real James!

    1. "I prefer black powder revolvers"

      So do I. Their biggest drawback is that they get very gritty, very quickly, and need to be cleaned the same day. Other than that, I really like my Ruger Old army, and my Colt 1860 Army. I bought an R&D cartridge conversion cylinder for my Old Army to convert to .45 long colt. I was thinking of getting one for my Colt as well? But they're $300.00 or so bucks, and you can buy a lot of percussion cylinders for that money. The problem with the Colt is that it's not designed to switch cylinders so fast like the Old Army or the 1858, so it would be a good candidate for the Kirst conversion cylinder. But I would recommend that new comers get the 1858 and buy a bunch of spare cylinders, and have them pre-loaded and ready to go(no percussion caps until installed in the gun).

  4. Well, King Coif, I am suprised that you didn't try to persuade your son to find another profession. Although an ex-Jarhead purveyor of long range death myself, that was back once upon a time when we weren't getting maimed left and right as if on purpose to show off all of the latest in prosthetics and medical breakthroughs. All this to only be called a "Hero" instead what they really are used pieces of meat. Everytime I see one of our boys being paraded around it really just drives home the fact that we have already lost.
    Revolvers, wheel guns, six-shooters, archaic arms whatever you choose to call them they are around to stay. Those of us who are not guided by the mass media (whether mainstream or back stream) see the advantage of these primative weapons. Just like stated "you can load it and leave it" until it is needed. Although I would suggest practicing with your weapon as necessary to increase user proficency and also ensure that the weapon is operable, it is for that reason that I have SS .357's in my vehicles and on my person in the bush. The .357 has a huge selection of rounds to choose from and can be loaded with .38's including the CCI shot shells which are great for snake protection or marking a wanna-be carjacker for easy line up IDing. "Yes, that is him Mr. Acne Face". Seriously though, revolvers serve a purpose...a multi-faceted purpose and should be valued as such.

  5. As to prices. New universal service pistol type auto's like Glock's, S&W M&P series and Springfield XD are cheaper than new non junk revolvers. That being said on the used marker .38 and sometimes .357 revolvers from quality makers like Ruger and S&W can often be found for around $300. Sadly the days of $169 Police trade in revolvers is gone.

    Have you priced .38 let alone .357 ammo recently? I paid $50 for a hundred rounds of 125 grain JHP .357 ammo a week ago and was glad to get it. 9mm is much more affordable.

    In terms of stocking up on ammo at today's prices 9mm is the way to go.

    In terms of unsure or primitively reloaded ammo the .38 does have an edge. .38 ammo just needs to fire while auto ammo needs to be able to cycle the gun. Also since (especially L frame .357's) are big pieces of metal they can be more forgiving of

    Mags are an expense that is saved by going with revolvers. For a guy like me who wants 10+ mags per gun at a bit over $20 a piece that cost adds up.

    The saying that when an auto fails the fix is swapping out a part but when a revolver fails the fix is taking it to a gunsmith skilled on that particular model has some truth to it.

    It is quite reasonable that auto's would have a higher real rate of fire than revolvers. However considering the average gunfight is about 3 shots at 5 meters the difference is probably not that significant.

    For a guy on a tight budget a used Ruger security 6 or S&W model 10 for about $325, a holster, cleaning kit, a few speed loaders/ strips and as much ammo as he can afford is a solid option.

  6. Ya, the dependability of a reolver is tough to beat. The wheel gun has more of a natural feel in hand.

  7. This advice falls into a typical category of thought which is flawed right off the bat.
    I ask you, how many firefights are you expecting to get into and [i]survive[/i]. For the cost of the 9mm ammo you'll have plenty on hand and plenty to practice with.
    As for what works in a firefight, ask any cop in a bad neighbourhood that had to carry a wheel gun while the crims were carrying autos. It puts the matter to bed quickly.
    Desperately need a revolver to fire those crappy rounds you banged together after the SHTF? You can get revolvers chambered for your favourite auto calibers so get both if it bothers you that much. That way you can rock out with your glock out and if it jams then you can "new york reload" to the revolver.
    Of course, why you're not within arms reach of your rifle/shotgun is anyone's guess...

  8. James;

    The good news is that an M1911 will operate just fine for at least several magazines worth (all I tried) using black powder as the propellant. Lord knows if other .45ACP autoloaders will work as well, but probably so. That solves the "weird ammo" issue fairly well (lead, lube and powder are backyard productions, still working on reliable primers though...) BP .45ACP also works fine in a Thompson too, BTW. Just an FYI.

    The only shortcoming is that you can only cram about 20 grains of BP into the ACP case under the 230 grain bullet, which while it's more than any of the British BP revolver cartridges of the 19th Century, is still somewhat shy of the .44 Russian (26 grains of BP under a 240 grain bullet, the ballistics of which are duplicated by the .44 Special round)or the .45 Army load (aka .45 Schofield/Smith & Wesson round of 28 grains of powder under a 230 grain bullet, which was duplicated by the .45ACP in smokeless), and way under the redoubtable .45 Colt (40 grains of BP and a 250 grain bullet) or the .44 Winchester (40 grains and a 200 grain bullet.) But although the 45ACP drops a might in velocity with BP, it's still in what should be considered a "major caliber" load, so what the heck.

    I tend to be a revolver man myself (Colt Single Actions and New Services thank you very much), but I admit that in general the autoloader is a better weapon for the most part as long as it's an M1911. So my answer is simple: have one of each. Just make sure they're both .45's of one sort or another.

    Light Dragoon