Defensive Handguns: Don't Overlook Double-Action Revolvers

posted on May 19, 2017

When we survey the handguns that are currently available to us for personal defense, we quickly come to the realization that there is quite an assortment and quite a variety. In the course of this study, the new shooter should not overlook the tried and true double-action (DA) revolver.

In fact, the DA revolver is currently experiencing a resurgence of popularity. Colt and Kimber have each recently introduced defensive revolvers. And Nighthawk Custom is importing the fine, German-made Korth revolver. Old standbys, like Ruger and Smith & Wesson, continue to manufacture great revolvers, too.

A few folks will tell you that this is the day of the autoloading pistol and that the DA revolver is horribly old fashioned. Others seem to think that if you like autos then you simply can't like revolvers.

Well, friends, this is not some high-school popularity contest. In the course of selecting a defensive handgun that you may have to bet your life on, it is really important that you find a gun that you like and that works for you. My only advice is that, whatever you pick, you should buy the best quality gun that you can possibly afford. With that in mind, here are a few reasons that the double-action revolver may be just the defensive handgun for you.

DA revolvers are available in just about every handgun caliber that is worthy of consideration for personal defense. From the lowly .22 Long Rifle cartridge right on up to the powerful .44 Magnum, a person can find a revolver caliber that they shoot well and can depend on. The choice is yours to make.

Since people are not all the same size, nor do they dress alike, it is nice to know that revolvers also come in various sizes, essentially: small, medium and large. However, it is important to remember that the smaller the gun, in a given caliber, the more recoil will be felt and the more difficult it will be to shoot quickly and accurately. It is a good idea to choose the largest revolver that fits your hand and meets your concealment needs.

One advantage of the DA revolver is that it can often be modified to fit a person's hand better by the simple selection of a suitable set of stocks. While factory stocks do a pretty good job of fitting most shooters’ hands, there are also after-market wood and synthetic stocks available that may be just the ticket to fit that revolver to a particular hand size.

Some folks will find that they can more easily understand how a revolver operates and remember how to work it quickly and efficiently. There are no safeties to be flipped down with your thumb or squeezed with the palm of your shooting hand. And the process of opening the cylinder and loading or unloading the chambers is easier for many to understand and remember.

One word of caution: The double-action revolver may be easier to understand and shoot, but it is not as easy to shoot well. The long double-action trigger pull takes learning and practice in order to make quick, accurate hits on the target. However, it can be done, as many excellent pistol shots have proven  over the years. Training and practice is important, but that is true with any defensive handgun.

So don't be put off by the “experts” who like to continually debate the old “Revolver vs. Auto” argument. That's pretty much a silly waste of time. What really matters is what works best for you and what you feel the most comfortable with. If that turns out to be a double-action revolver, you should know that you are in good company because the old wheelgun has been protecting the lives of American citizens for many, many years and will continue to do so.

So, in the end, pick what works best for you. And, in your search, don't overlook the DA revolver.


Savage Stance Video Lede
Savage Stance Video Lede

Video Review: Savage Stance Pistol

Our expert reviewers put Savage's first handgun in decades through its paces.

Wild-Game Recipe: Smothered Deer Backstraps

How do you improve on venison backstraps? Here's how!

Henry Guns For Great Causes: $50K to First Responders Children's Foundation

“The primary focus of our Guns for Great Causes program has always been about children, which is why we are extremely proud to help support such an esteemed and worthwhile organization."

3 Things That Will Doom Your Muzzleloader Hunt From Jump

Here's how to make sure your blackpowder gun stays in the game from opening day to season's end.

Throwback Thursday: Hemingway's Guns

He may have written "A Farewell to Arms," but this literary giant was a firearms fanatic.

Forget Freezing Fingers with G-Tech Realtree Heated Hand Warmers

Good trigger control is tough when you can't feel your fingers. Keep them warm with this new piece of must-have gear.


Get the best of NRA Family delivered to your inbox.