What a buzz kill…it was 1993, I had just turned 18, had a job working as a full-service gas station attendant and as a police explorer cadet, and I had JUST enough money to scrape together to be able to start buying guns. And then all of the desirable semiautomatic long guns that any young person would be enamored with, were gone. Literally made unobtainable by some weak legislation in hopes it would curb violent crime (SPOILER ALERT…it didn’t). So what to do? I did what I could with manual action long guns (an 870 and a lever action/bolt action combo). But I was bummed.
A few years later, I got a job working full time at an armored truck company. I carried a pair of revolvers (one in my duty holster and another on my ankle). And when I was off-duty/street clothes I would sometimes carry 3 guns, working side gigs where I could mostly in the field of valuable/cash transport. It wasn’t optimal. It wasn’t ideal. But I pivoted to adapt to the market, the world and what I could afford at the time (a used K or L frame was in the $275 range, a J or N frame was closer to $400 at the LGS). And the x-factor here (that many overlook) is I used what I could afford AND still train with. I could get all of the .357 Magnum and .38 Special I could shoot, as long as I turned in the empties (on a 1:1 trade). Many of my coworkers gave me their ammo, and a few of them did that in return for me riding shotgun for them. Because why practice yourself when someone else can do the hard work for you???
I think that in the next couple years, due to the weirdness of the world, people’s relative apathy to said weirdness and government legislation, we will have an entire new batch of, “Crime Bill Kids,” who will also have limited defensive options. They’ll have to get what they can from the secondary market, feed it with ammunition they can reliably (and affordably) source, and still have the resources necessary to practice or train. The elders of the community can be self-righteous jerks and say, “Well you should’ve been stacking it up!” or, “I prepared for this? Why haven’t YOU?” But that’s not a solution…and the older I get the bigger my Dad her gets and the more I value people that are part of the solution, not accessories to the problem.
So no surprise from me, but the, “most useful,” gun for strange times can be wheelgun. Here’s a few reasons why: 1. Dry-practice with a trigger pull that EXACTLY replicates live fire. “First round hits,” are all the rage currently, but they’ve always been amongst those that know best. How do you get that skill? Dry practice helps TREMENDOUSLY. 2. Ammunition versatility…a .357 Magnum revolver can also fire .38 Special and some can even fire 9mm with a conversion cylinder. Also, you can fire whatever you can source. Light/fast ammunition that may not cycle the action on a semiautomatic pistol reliably, will work fine in a revolver. I’ve noticed a ton of weird, foreign, lightweight/high velocity Ammo in the store when everything else is gone. 3. Ammunition durability. All ammo is relatively fragile. Continually reloading the same cartridge into a self loader can and will decrease the ignition capability of that specific cartridge, or set the bullet back and create pressure issues. So not a big deal to build a zip-lock bag of, “discard,” carry ammo to shoot at the next qualification, or practice session, but in the middle of an ammo shortage, that one round is a valuable commodity. THAT could be the round you need to save your life. With a revolver, the trauma to the individual cartridges is minor or a complete non-issue. And since the state of readiness of a revolver can be ascertained by looking in the cylinder, there’s no need to remove the cartridges from the individual chambers or, “press check,” like many folks do with semi autos. You can open the cylinder, see the primers and close the cylinder. You’re ready. 4. Revolvers are adaptable. You can find OR MAKE (3D printing nerds…looking at you here) revolver grips that will fit any hand or esthetic. Finger grooves are optional, and in many cases, can be removed with patient, cautious abrasive application. And places like VZ grips can make stocks for revolvers that make the BIGGEST revolvers around feel and actually be, volumetrically smaller without compromising comfort or function. 5. Sights. You can DIY many revolver sight options. Some of the greatest revolver pistoleros did this, and with a little hobby paint from Michael’s Treasure House, you can too. Even blacking out the rear notch on a fixed sight stainless revolver can make your sight picture cleaner.
DIY is probably one of the revolver’s greatest adaptability strengths. The guts of the gun largely inhabit the middle of the revolver…the sights and the grips lay at either end. And you can manipulate the ends without affecting the function of the middle. Something to consider.
Concealability, adaptability and availability are just a few of the revolver’s strengths. Is it weird that someone would chose technology from the 19th century to defend themselves in the 21st century? No, but also yes! It isn’t going to be easy, but I don’t think the choice of weapon is the weakest link, nor the most significant in what the cognoscenti like Massad Ayoob, outlined in his, “Survival Priorities,” so many years ago. Utilization requires thought, but any cop who grew up and worked in the, “bridge generation,” between the nationwide switch from revolvers to semiautomatic pistols will tell you, they’d still hit the streets with a revolver and feel fine about it. But all the same, they’d also tell you to bring a spare or two. 😉