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 Taking a run at the orthodoxy: Maybe semi-autos are OK 
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 Post subject: Taking a run at the orthodoxy: Maybe semi-autos are OK
PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2008 10:17 pm 
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I used to be a believer in revolvers for defense, for people outside LE, for all the usual reasons. Fewer conditions, concerns about misfeeds, concerns about safety due mainly to failed attempts to unload.

I have changed my mind and gone over to the Glock way of thinking.

There are in actual fact a couple of fairly serious problems with revolvers that rise to a level above the "revolvers are for wusses" straw man. Most of these are not new but since the pro-revolver forces often don't mention them, here's a list:
  • Revolvers are harder to conceal because of the cylinder bulge. The extent to which this is a problem depends upon gender, body shape, and style of dress but it is indeed a real problem, at least for some people in some situations.
  • The small revolvers exemplified by the J-frame snubnose are marginal for stopping power, considering the caliber, the capabilities of readily available ammunition, the loss at the cylinder gap and the effects of the short barrel (While .357 magnum J-frames overcome this to some extent they are not especially practical because small, light revolvers chambered for .357 magnum have punishing recoil and high cost; the larger .357 revolvers like the SP 101 are harder to conceal).
  • Despite the assertion I have heard from one instructor, there have been actual DGU cases where more than five shots have been required. See for example this home invasion where the DGUer emptied a Ruger .22 auto which holds 9+1 when faced with three assailants, and this c-store robbery where five shots were fired from a .38 spl revolver; while the narrative is unclear it appears that the assailant continued to press the attack after the last shot but broke and ran at the last minute.
  • The new K-frame revolvers now being sold do not appear to be as reliable as those that were being sold in the 1970s and 1980s. S&W, traditionally the gold standard, has changed hands and has incorporated an internal keylock mechanism that has increased the incidence of failures. There are no longer large institutional buyers for these weapons who are able to insist upon quality.
  • While revolvers do not suffer misfeeds, they do have their own problems, and when they jam, they generally cannot be unjammed in the time available in a defensive situation. (Though you can get a spent cartridge stuck in the ejector on some revolvers, which takes just as long to clear as a stovepiped casing in a semi) Most designs have not been updated in 50 years (the SP 101 being an exception but again being larger than a true K-frame), and are more reliant on closely fitted parts and things like screws that have the potential to come loose.

Further, many of the common criticisms of semis for non-LEO use are based on semi-autos that are a poor choice for the task:
  • Most concerns based on a larger number of conditions and the presence of safeties and other controls are specific to earlier generations of semi-autos prior to the introduction of weapons like the Glock.
  • High quality, defense-grade ammo in clean, modern, high-quality, defense-grade weapons produces very few jams. There are lower cost weapons that are more prone to jams. There are semi autos that shoot ammunition with rims which, because of the rims, are inherently more prone to feeding problems. Don't hang all semis with the same rope.


What that leaves, with semis, is the vital importance of teaching how to unload and verify that the chamber is empty. This is something that probably ought to be taught more often given the number of accidents. Accidents have resulted from people who have seen too many movies from assuming that the gun is unloaded once the magazine is removed. Accidents have resulted from people racking a round out of the chamber and then removing the magazine instead of the other way around. So you have to teach it. Magazine first, then slide, lock the slide open, verify visually by looking into the ejection port, and feel the empty chamber and absence of a magazine with a finger. They taught this to me when I was 15 years old and took the DNR course for hunting, because they thought everyone should know it. It should, IMO, be covered (even if only briefly) in every carry class, since the steps are pretty much the same for every auto (well, except for details like where the magazine release is and how to lock the slide).

And maybe a somewhat more serious treatment of the tradeoffs between revolvers and semis in carry classes and beginning instruction might be called for. It's not about whether you look like a wuss. It's about real tradeoffs.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2008 11:53 pm 
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I like both... what can I say.

K-frames are bigger than SP101s (6 vs 5 shot). Revolvers are better looking IMHO.

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 Post subject: Re: Taking a run at the orthodoxy: Maybe semi-autos are OK
PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2008 11:58 pm 
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MostlyHarmless wrote:
I have changed my mind and gone over to the Glock way of thinking.


Why not be of both minds? They both serve a purpose. For the record, I carry both. Usually at the same time, because they each have situations they are good for.

Quote:
[*] Revolvers are harder to conceal because of the cylinder bulge. The extent to which this is a problem depends upon gender, body shape, and style of dress but it is indeed a real problem, at least for some people in some situations.


auto-loaders tend to have a large grip making them hard to conceal. OK this one is a trade off.

Quote:
[*] The small revolvers exemplified by the J-frame snubnose are marginal for stopping power, considering the caliber, the capabilities of readily available ammunition, the loss at the cylinder gap and the effects of the short barrel (While .357 magnum J-frames overcome this to some extent they are not especially practical because small, light revolvers chambered for .357 magnum have punishing recoil and high cost; the larger .357 revolvers like the SP 101 are harder to conceal).


Eh? What is wrong with Federal Hydro-shok in .357? If I am in a defensive shooting situation, I am more worried about my life the "punishing" recoil.

Quote:
[*] Despite the assertion I have heard from one instructor, there have been actual DGU cases where more than five shots have been required. See for example this home invasion where the DGUer emptied a Ruger .22 auto which holds 9+1 when faced with three assailants, and this c-store robbery where five shots were fired from a .38 spl revolver; while the narrative is unclear it appears that the assailant continued to press the attack after the last shot but broke and ran at the last minute.


Come on. Someone needed to be shot with a .22 more then 5 times to have the attack stop? Of course they did, it was a .22 and they didn't put one in the eye socket. That is why people use larger calibers, you get significantly more penetration and more energy transferred to vital organs, thus much more likely to stop an attack.

Quote:
[*] The new K-frame revolvers now being sold do not appear to be as reliable as those that were being sold in the 1970s and 1980s. S&W, traditionally the gold standard, has changed hands and has incorporated an internal keylock mechanism that has increased the incidence of failures. There are no longer large institutional buyers for these weapons who are able to insist upon quality.

Don't buy things that don't work. Don't buy a k-frame.

Quote:
[*] While revolvers do not suffer misfeeds, they do have their own problems, and when they jam, they generally cannot be unjammed in the time available in a defensive situation. (Though you can get a spent cartridge stuck in the ejector on some revolvers, which takes just as long to clear as a stovepiped casing in a semi) Most designs have not been updated in 50 years (the SP 101 being an exception but again being larger than a true K-frame), and are more reliant on closely fitted parts and things like screws that have the potential to come loose.

OK it isn't a fair comparison at this point, but I have had a large total number of stopages in my semi-autos. Sure that is because I have put a *lot* of rounds down range. The rate of failure is very low. How many stopages in my revolvers have I had? None. Granted I have probably shot 1/100 the number of rounds from a revolver. The answer is still none.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 8:03 am 
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The 5-shot 44 special revolver answers most "stopping power" concerns. Feed it 200 gr Gold Dots and it is very formidable.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 8:56 am 
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Srigs wrote:
I like both... what can I say.

K-frames are bigger than SP101s (6 vs 5 shot). Revolvers are better looking IMHO.



You're right, of course. I meant J-frames.


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 Post subject: Re: Taking a run at the orthodoxy: Maybe semi-autos are OK
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 9:23 am 
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someone1980 wrote:
MostlyHarmless wrote:
I have changed my mind and gone over to the Glock way of thinking.


Why not be of both minds? They both serve a purpose. For the record, I carry both. Usually at the same time, because they each have situations they are good for.


That's fine if you're a firearms enthusiast and spend enough time at the range. Most people carrying for defense are marginally qualified on their primary or only weapon, and adding a second makes it worse.


Quote:

Quote:
[*] Revolvers are harder to conceal because of the cylinder bulge. The extent to which this is a problem depends upon gender, body shape, and style of dress but it is indeed a real problem, at least for some people in some situations.


auto-loaders tend to have a large grip making them hard to conceal. OK this one is a trade off.


It depends on the auto and the style of carry. Auto grips do have a characteristic square shape that can be difficult to conceal compared to the more rounded grip of a revolver.

Quote:
Quote:
[*] The small revolvers exemplified by the J-frame snubnose are marginal for stopping power, considering the caliber, the capabilities of readily available ammunition, the loss at the cylinder gap and the effects of the short barrel (While .357 magnum J-frames overcome this to some extent they are not especially practical because small, light revolvers chambered for .357 magnum have punishing recoil and high cost; the larger .357 revolvers like the SP 101 are harder to conceal).


Eh? What is wrong with Federal Hydro-shok in .357? If I am in a defensive shooting situation, I am more worried about my life the "punishing" recoil.

The problem is that many people won't carry it. The recoil is bad enough in a lightweight revolver that even a dozen rounds hurts. It depends on your hands and wrists, I guess. Women, for example, have smaller hands and wrists and have a tough time with it. There is also the problem of recovery for a second shot.
Quote:
Quote:
[*] Despite the assertion I have heard from one instructor, there have been actual DGU cases where more than five shots have been required. See for example this home invasion where the DGUer emptied a Ruger .22 auto which holds 9+1 when faced with three assailants, and this c-store robbery where five shots were fired from a .38 spl revolver; while the narrative is unclear it appears that the assailant continued to press the attack after the last shot but broke and ran at the last minute.


Come on. Someone needed to be shot with a .22 more then 5 times to have the attack stop? Of course they did, it was a .22 and they didn't put one in the eye socket. That is why people use larger calibers, you get significantly more penetration and more energy transferred to vital organs, thus much more likely to stop an attack.


True, the nondefense caliber was part of the problem. On the other hand, there were warning shots fired (not that any of us would necessarily recommend this), and from the narrative, it sounds like some of the rounds missed because she was firing at 15' or so (guessing) at a moving target. While there is no way to tell for sure in retrospect how many rounds she would have fired with a .38, a warning plus a miss plus two properly placed on the first assailant would leave one. Whether that would have been enough to end the encounter with the two remaining assailants we can only speculate, but for my definition of "enough" five shots would not have been enough.

Quote:

Quote:
[*] The new K-frame revolvers now being sold do not appear to be as reliable as those that were being sold in the 1970s and 1980s. S&W, traditionally the gold standard, has changed hands and has incorporated an internal keylock mechanism that has increased the incidence of failures. There are no longer large institutional buyers for these weapons who are able to insist upon quality.

Don't buy things that don't work. Don't buy a k-frame.

Quote:
[*] While revolvers do not suffer misfeeds, they do have their own problems, and when they jam, they generally cannot be unjammed in the time available in a defensive situation. (Though you can get a spent cartridge stuck in the ejector on some revolvers, which takes just as long to clear as a stovepiped casing in a semi) Most designs have not been updated in 50 years (the SP 101 being an exception but again being larger than a true K-frame), and are more reliant on closely fitted parts and things like screws that have the potential to come loose.

OK it isn't a fair comparison at this point, but I have had a large total number of stopages in my semi-autos. Sure that is because I have put a *lot* of rounds down range. The rate of failure is very low. How many stopages in my revolvers have I had? None. Granted I have probably shot 1/100 the number of rounds from a revolver. The answer is still none.


I think this is a common pattern. People tend to put more ammunition through semi-autos than revolvers because it's more fun. Then we remember all the jams.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 11:04 am 
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I have friends who want to carry and they don't shoot as often as I think they should, are not strict enough with the safety rules as I think they should be ... et cetera et cetera. Then they come and ask advice ... what am I supposed to say? And what should I recommend?

My first answer is always - if you don't like to practice you probably shouldn't carry. Guns aren't for everyone. They do not come to life and shoot people but on the other hand they are extremely unforgiving of stupidity.

But, we all know cases where incompetent people have successfully used a handgun to save their life. I used to have a link to a convenience store camera 'slide show' showing a woman who had NEVER touched a gun before, pulled the store revo out from under the counter and put down the perp in a single shot, after she gave him the money, but as he was about to assault her. Most of us, myself included, suggest revo's to novice shooters - partly because of the slide issue that you mentioned, but also because of fewer controls.

I'd feel as good carrying a J Frame .38 as I do carrying my 4 inch 1911. The handgun is there for quick recourse. If I need real firepower then I'd need my Moss 500 or my AR, neither which can be carried.

I agree with where you thinking is going - there are semi autos which are probably as 'accessible' to the novice. Excellent discussion.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 1:33 pm 
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There are several small semi-autos in 9mm or .40 S&W that are as well suited for beginners as the S&W 642. I would include:
  • Glock 26 & 27
  • Kahr PM9 & PM40
  • Walther PPS

There are others - any semi auto that is:
  • Chambered in 9mm or larger
  • Double actoin only
  • Small enough for concealed carry
  • Has no controls other than trigger, slide lock, and magazine release
  • Has an enclosed hammer
  • Can be carried safely with a round in the chamber
  • Has good availability of holsters
  • Doesn't require periodic replacement of parts (e.g. Rohrbaugh)


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 4:28 pm 
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You can argue technical details all day long but what really counts is how well you can shoot what you choose to carry.

The old revolvers vs auto will never go away. I like both depending on why I'm carrying. Hiking or hunting, revolver. City at night, parking ramps or dark places, auto for sure, sometimes both.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 5:42 am 
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as far as trigger pulls go,
it seems to me that the sweetest factory DA i have ever strocked was in a 642 hammerless ladysmith, all i remember is that it had a gold trigger and i think some kinda pearl or fake pearl grips, i just remeember it looking like a pimps gun, but man was that action sweet.
i dont like double action at all when i can avoid it, but with that gun it would have been a non issue.
i held off from the glocks for a long time when i made the switch i was really happy, but i would still have carried that 642 with out hesitaion if my dress and situation would have called for it over the semi


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 5:44 am 
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More later, perhaps, but for now: I'm very much enjoying this discussion. FWIW.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 8:57 am 
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I really like my 1911 for carry but am thinking about getting a XD9 for the capacity. I am starting to think having 19 rounds on tap in 1 magazine has some advantages over 15 in two. I have a Colt Trooper with 4" barrel and boot grip and a S&W model 19 with the round butt and 2 3/4" barrel neither is very easy to conceal. Also being a lefty reloads are clumsy. I shoot both revolvers okay and they have never failed to go bang but I don't like them as much as my 1911s and autos in general.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:03 am 
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ScottM wrote:
I really like my 1911 for carry but am thinking about getting a XD9 for the capacity. I am starting to think having 19 rounds on tap in 1 magazine has some advantages over 15 in two. I have a Colt Trooper with 4" barrel and boot grip and a S&W model 19 with the round butt and 2 3/4" barrel neither is very easy to conceal. Also being a lefty reloads are clumsy. I shoot both revolvers okay and they have never failed to go bang but I don't like them as much as my 1911s and autos in general.


Put all those .45 rounds within a couple of inches, and 19 rounds won't make a difference. :twisted:

I'm a lefty as well...you can train yourself to be fast on the revolver reloads. Perhaps not as quick as a fast righty, but fast nonetheless. It takes a good bit of practice and a speedloader that works well for you.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 6:00 pm 
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I can dump rounds into very close to the same hole at up to 25yards with boring regularity and reasonable speed with both of my 1911s but there is the occasional idle thought what if I fall apart under stress and it takes X number of rounds before my brain re engages. It would be embarrassing to run out of ammo before I ran out of target. I don't tend to freeze or tweek under big stress when driving stock cars or motorcycles at stupid speeds but who knows. It's something to consider anyway.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 10:22 pm 
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My opinion on this (if anyone cares) is the same as most situations, find something you're comfortable with and stick to it. I'm not a subscriber to carrying a BUG, because the more elements you add, the more things can go wrong. If I am ever in a situation where I need to use gun-level force, I plan on pulling my G22 and depending on it. If it's not there, or non-functioning, let's face it, hell hath frozen over already for a Glock to fail. ;)

Seriously, K.I.S.S. is my moto, and that comes to carrying a single weapon. That being said, my choice is an auto, Glock specifically. I'm familiar with other weapons, and am comfortable handling them in a hairy situation, but I don't, and won't, carry more than one. 15+1 rounds, plus another 15 on my hip is plenty.

Call me foolish, if you like.


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