Thanks to everyone who commented for a chance to win the giveaway. Reading the comments, it's clear that both veteran and newer gun owners are interested in improving their skills for shooting a handgun. It also looks like there are a few Grant Cunningham fans out there. Thanks to all of you for sharing your comments about Grant's previous book – Gun Digest Book of the Revolver.
Congratulations to the winner of the Gun Digest Shooter's Guide to Handguns, “pcarey002.”
If you didn't win the book this week, you can still order one from the Gun Digest Store. Here's an excerpt to hold you over until your book arrives:
The Perennial Question: Revolver or Autoloader?
Both have their vocal adherents, and both have advantages and disadvantages.
The most commonly cited attribute of the revolver is its inherent reliability. While any mechanical device can malfunction, revolvers have historically had a much longer interval between malfunctions than the autoloader. The revolver also has a simpler manual of arms; there are fewer controls and the gun is more easily reloaded and checked than is the autoloader. The revolver handles ultra-powerful rounds that an autoloader simply can’t, making it far more suitable for hunting and long range competition.
The autoloader typically holds more ammunition than does the revolver, and it’s generally easier to shoot than a double-action revolver.
Given equal practice most people can reload the autoloader faster than any other handgun, and the autoloader is easier to shoot quickly due to the typically shorter trigger travel. Its ammunition supply is carried in flat, easily-exchanged magazines and the gun itself is flatter – making it, in some opinions, easier to conceal.
How to decide between the two? Start with the expected use. There are some areas where the revolver is going to be the choice: handgun hunting and long-range competitions are areas where autoloaders struggle to keep up. For self defense, a majority of people prefer an autoloader, but there is a strong contingent of people who make the revolver their choice in protection. In competitive shooting matches some are revolver neutral, where others clearly favor the auto.
The dedication of the shooter is a big determinant as well. The double action revolver is harder to shoot well than the autoloader and demands a greater practice commitment on the part of the shooter. The autoloader, in contrast, is often easier to shoot but has a more difficult manual of arms; it requires more knowledge and care in handling and doing administrative tasks like loading, unloading, and cleaning.
Sometimes physical needs come into play. The autoloaders will generally have a fatter grip than the revolver, making it harder to handle by shooters with shorter fingers or smaller hands. The revolver can be more easily modified for smaller or larger hand sizes simply by changing the grips. Some autoloaders have interchangeable grip parts, but overall still don’t have the adjustability of the revolver.
The autoloader’s slide can be harder to manipulate for those with muscular issues, while the revolver’s cylinder is easy to open and close. Similarly, the revolver’s heavy double action trigger requires more finger strength than does the typical autoloader. For someone whose hands are a little on the weak side, the revolver presents a greater challenge than the auto.
One deciding factor is that the auto’s slide manipulation is more a matter of technique than strength, but there is no corresponding solution for the person who can’t pull the revolver’s long and heavy trigger. (In the chapter on shooting techniques, we’ll go over the procedure that allows almost anyone to operate almost any autoloader slide, regardless of upper body strength.) In most such cases the autoloader is the better choice.
Of course, for the person who is still having trouble deciding, there is an alternative: buy both!