(The first in a series: “I’m an old fuddyduddy but I still have a point! Originally published in 2007.)
In choosing a handgun for the home or concealed carry I recommend 120-year-old technology:
The double action revolver.
Advantages vs. the semi-auto pistol:
1) Ease of use–in the gravest extreme, under the most compressed stress you will ever experience, there are no safeties to operate, no adjustments of trigger pull for the second shot (double action auto), just put front sight on center of mass and press trigger.
2) Grips–grips can be customized with ease to a perfect fit, so that when you naturally grasp the piece the front sight goes neither too high or low. Not true of my Glock, or most other semi-autos I’ve handled.
3) Practice–Practice is the most important and most generally neglected part of shooting to save your life. The revolver dry fires in the same way it live fires, so that one can get unlimited free practice in aiming and operation. The semi-auto must be unnaturally cocked during dry fire.
1) Ammunition capacity. The semi-auto generally has from one to 10 more shots available without reloading than the five or six in the revolver. Unless you’re defending Fort Apache or The Alamo, this is a factor less than one percent of the time in civilian defense shootings. See 3) above; if your shots hit their target, reloading will hardly ever be needed. Get a couple of speed loaders and practice with them anyway. They take one or two seconds more to reload, with practice, than a semi-auto magazine.
2) Slightly thicker/bulkier than the slimmest semi-auto. Usually amounts to a fraction of an inch. If you carry concealed, it’s a highly individual factor regarding what feels good to you.
By the way, the above image is of a Smith & Wesson, but there are plenty of other fine choices, especially on the used gun market.
Just make sure a gunsmith inspects your used revolver before trusting it with your life. Shoot straight, and have fun!