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Self-Defense Revolvers FAQ

Self-Defense Revolvers FAQ

Recently, we've noticed what appears to be a renewed interest in the double-action revolver as a personal-defense tool. Colt and Kimber have marketed new revolvers, while companies such as Smith & Wesson and Ruger continue to provide quality revolvers to the defensive market. What follows are some of the more common DA revolver questions that we have recently received here at NRA Family.

1. Q:  My granddad carried a revolver, but he always left an empty chamber underneath the firing pin for safety. Is this something that I should be doing with new revolver?

A:  Modern double-action revolvers all incorporate a rebounding firing pin. That means that the nose of the firing pin does not rest on the primer of the cartridge in the chamber just below it. It is perfectly safe to carry modern DA revolvers with all of the chambers fully loaded. If you have any doubts about the safety of your particular revolver, have a qualified gunsmith check it out.

2. Q:  I really like my .38 revolver, but the double-action trigger pull is long and heavy. I have trouble keeping my sights on target when shooting double action.

A:  It has been said that the DA revolver is easy to shoot, but it is difficult to shoot well. That long trigger pull is the usual culprit. I'd advise you to take your revolver to a qualified pistolsmith and have him or her smooth up the action for you. This will help quite a bit. Practicing with your particular gun as often as possible, including Dry Practice with an unloaded gun, will also help quite a bit. 

3. Q:  I've noticed that the trend in pocket revolvers seems to be to lighter and lighter weight guns. I don't shoot these well; they really seem to kick a lot.

A:  I couldn't agree with you more. Felt recoil is increased in these lightweight guns and our ability to hit a target can suffer. My advice would be to carry the heaviest revolver that you shoot well and can properly conceal. My own limit is about 15 ounces, and I prefer a gun that is even heavier. Don't be afraid to experiment, shooting different revolvers to see what you shoot best—and my guess will be that it isn't one of the ultra lightweights.

4. Q:  I shoot my five-shot S&W .38 Special very well, but I am worried about carrying it for defense because of the fact that it only holds five cartridges.

A:  When you study actual defensive shootings by armed citizens, you will quickly see that this whole business of round count has gotten exaggerated. Armed citizens are ill advised to stand and fight pitched battles, nor are there many documented cases of this happening. The defensive handgun becomes your exit ticket to get you out of harm's way. You should know how to reload your revolver in the smoothest, most efficient way possible—but, should you be forced to use deadly force, your ability to deliver those five shots to the vital zone in a quick, accurate fashion is what will win the day.

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