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In Praise of the Revolver & the Lever-Action Rifle

March 10, 2021

[Editor: With the retirement of our “From the Hip” column by Dominic Visione, we have another member who has stepped up to share commentary. He wishes to remain anonymous, but you may have seen him around.]

In the ‘Land of the Blind’ the one-eyed man is king!
by Desiderius Erasmus, a GSL member

Sometimes you have everything you need in fighting a war. Overwhelming troop strength; some kind of technological advantage; holding the high ground and a whole bunch of other factors make it a lot easier to defeat your opponent.

Other times, you just have to be a little bit better and you can win. In regione caecorum rex est luscus is an old Latin saying that I’ve adopted for looking at things in a different way, but since I don’t speak Latin, “In the Land of the Blind, The One-Eyed Man Is King” will have to do.

For example, let’s just say that the politicians decide that semi-automatic pistols, rifles, and shotguns should be prohibited from civilian ownership. If those types of guns go away and that’s all you had before the laws took effect, you are now living blind in the self-defense world.

But even though, in our scenario, you do not have a semi-auto anymore, if you have revolvers as handguns, lever-actions as a carbine/rifle, and a pump or double barrel shotgun, you may have a reduced capability (figuratively one eye instead of two), but you can still defend yourself, especially if you are proficient in these older-style weapons. And you aren’t limited to just one firearm!

In fact, you will have some notable advantages with these “less capable” bang sticks, but first let’s dispel a few myths. There aren’t any zombies. If you have to defend against dozens of armed attackers, you should find a new place to live, work or play. Two, few attackers will go kamikaze on you after absorbing multiple hits to his body. Pain is a powerful deterrent, as is blood loss and tissue trauma.

Let’s talk revolvers.

Most hold six rounds; a few small-frame snubbies hold only five; and newer models over the last fifteen years can hold up to seven or even eight center-fire rounds.

The FBI and about every other law enforcement agency successfully used revolvers against bad guys for many decades. They’re still plenty effective today.

If you can’t hit center of mass on a guy’s chest with one of 6-7-8 rounds at typical self-defense distance (under nine feet), then go take a good class.

With revolvers, hits are important because reloading a double-action revolver – except for Jerry Miculek – is painfully slow, especially after an adrenaline dump. And reloading the cowboy-style single-action revolver is lethally slow. Also, revolvers generally have more “felt” recoil because they don’t have a slide eating up part of that.

That’s the sour news; now the good. You can conceal small revolvers. Not only that, but they don’t throw that precious brass all over creation – or leave it for investigators.

You have more load choices in revolvers than you do in semis. .357 Magnum comes to mind, and yes there is a Desert Eagle but those are really expensive and almost nobody has one. And after a ban on semis, you won’t have one either. But you can easily have a .357 revolver, which also will shoot standard .38 Special loads and the hotter .38 plus P (+P), which means you have a greater chance to find ammo in an ammo-shortage era. Ruger, Colt, Smith and Wesson and others make some pretty good models that I would stake my life on as have many millions before me.

Few encounters will take place under optimum conditions. In a self-defense fight, you can’t afford any technical problems. The last thing you want is a failure to extract, failure to feed, or failure to fire – all three of which can happen in a semi-auto.

A failure to fire can happen in a revolver, but if that rare event happens, you just pull the trigger again. No need for the multi-step choreography of malfunction clearing in a semi-auto pistol.

Sure there are a few guys online that assert revolvers are less reliable. Go ahead and believe that if you want. But in this scenario that you can’t have a semi-auto, you basically can have a revolver, or nothing, so make your choice.In regione caecorum rex est luscus.

Oops; I almost forgot. There are Bond Arms derringers that are obviously not revolvers. I have fired Bonds in .410, .45 Long Colt, 9mm, and .38/.357 and all were really well-made and fill a small niche in anyone’s collection. A very small niche that might be counter-car-jacking or something like that, because they have just a two-round capacity and are painfully slow to reload. But since you can buy replacement barrels that all work on the same frame, they may be the most flexible firearm to have during ammo shortages because of that.

Now to long guns.

So if we can’t have a semi-auto, might want to consider a lever-action. They come in a lot of calibers but not 9mm and .45ACP. Why am I singling those two out? Well, if you have your rifle in the same caliber as your revolver it makes it logistically easier on you.

Henry lever guns generally hold about ten rounds give or take. They used to be a pain in the rear to reload in the tubular magazine but maybe the gals and guys at Henry anticipated this situation and now many models also have side loading gates. Also, when you have a 16 to 20-inch barrel, rounds like .357 and .44 pick up a whole lot more velocity and become even more potent. If you don’t care for a Henry, Marlin or Winchester are great also.

And most of the optics you can put on a semi will work on a lever-action, especially newer ones that have Picatinny rails on them.

For shotguns, you go through the same logical process; heck, treat yourself and have a pump, an over-under and a double barrel side by side. Or a really cool German or Austrian combination shotgun/rifle called a “drilling.” You’ll need to get one used, and you’ll need to be REALLY nice to your better half, and when you see the prices you’ll know why!

With guns getting scarcer in stores try GunBroker.com, GunsAmerica.com, or Gunsinternational.com so at least you can see price ranges and determine what’s reasonable.

In an ideal world we wouldn’t have to have this discussion. But we don’t live in an ideal world; in fact, we never did, because life isn’t that way. So make the best of it and be that one-eyed shooter when a lot of folks are going to be “blind” because they haven’t prepared.

2 Responses to In Praise of the Revolver & the Lever-Action Rifle

  1. Dale LOCK on March 26, 2021 at 11:18 pm

    My Rossi 92 in .357 Magnum eats .38 Special just fine, and my Ruger GP100 and S&W 638 shoot better than I can. That’s about 22 rounds of .38 hurt. On the farm here, .38’s will kill skunks and other nasties much better than a .22.

  2. Kid Wales on April 1, 2021 at 7:53 pm

    My SP-101 is very comfortable to carry IWB. And do like the variation of loads available. I’ve got a Winchester 1894 26” barrel that holds 15 rounds of 180g SWC. It’s a powerhouse in my book.