While some people may consider the revolver to be outdated, no one can deny that they’re still popular. Simple, powerful, and reliable, there are many who continue to prefer revolvers over semi-automatics.
Even in the 21st Century, revolvers still have their place, and there’s nothing wrong with having one in your SHTF armory. Let’s go over what the benefits to owning a revolver are, and then point out five of the best specific revolvers for SHTF.
WHY OWN A REVOLVER IN ADDITION TO A SEMI-AUTO?
The question that needs to be asked here is not why to own a revolver instead of a semi-auto, but why to own a revolver in addition to a semi-auto.
A semi-auto would be ideal as an SHTF sidearm due to its higher round count and ease of reloading, but a revolver will still serve you well as a complement to your semi-auto.
There will be certain situations where you may prefer to use a revolver, for instance, and revolvers offer certain advantages over a semi-automatic due to their inherent design:
Revolvers are inherently simple. Swing out the cylinder, thumb the bullets in, shut the cylinder, then aim and pull the trigger. Even those who have never operated a gun before should quickly be able to figure out how to use a revolver.
This means if you’re training someone how to shoot a handgun or need to arm somebody in your family or survival group who is unfamiliar with guns, a revolver may be a smarter option than a semi-auto.
Another issue that a lot of new shooters encounter with semi-auto handguns is loading, or chambering the first round. Some smaller women have trouble racking the slide to the rear if they have small hands, or aren’t very strong.
There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s just how the person is built. Due to this, a lot of women prefer revolvers, because they don’t have to worry about complications with reloading, or a “thumbs forward” grip if they have smaller hands. While there are some women who have no issues with it, a lot of them prefer revolvers.
Revolvers are also inherently reliable thanks to their design. When the trigger is pulled back, the cylinder rotates, and the hammer will be released onto the primer. There’s very little that can go wrong there.
Does this mean that revolvers are impervious to damage or malfunctions? Definitely not, but it does mean the chances of a stoppage are lower in comparison to a semi-automatic pistol.
By default, revolvers are also safer compared to semi-automatic pistols, especially striker operated ones. This is because you can (if you do it right) slowly release the hammer if it’s cocked to reduce the chance that it will be negligently discharged.
It also means that the trigger has to be squeezed with more force because the hammer has to travel all the way back, instead of simply falling down onto the round (or firing pin).
Close Range Defense Capabilities
Another advantage to revolvers is their usefulness as extreme close range defense weapons. If an attacker is literally on top of you and you need to jam your pistol directly into them to fire, the semi-auto’s slide will be pushed out of battery and the gun may jam or not fire at all.
In contrast to this, the barrel of the revolver has no effect on the cylinder, so you can empty your gun while jamming the barrel into a target or opponent.
All of this is not to say that revolvers don’t have their negatives. They do have low round counts, and reloading is slower than semi-automatics. Nonetheless, the advantages can’t be ignored, and they’re enough to justify including a revolver in your SHTF arsenal.
Now that we have gone over the advantages to owning a revolver, here are the top five to own for SHTF:
The Ruger GP100 is simply one of the strongest revolvers ever produced. In fact, Ruger designed it specifically so that it could fire an unlimited amount of .357 Magnum rounds.
To this end, the barrel, frame, and cylinder on the GP100 is beefier than with other revolvers in this class. Not only does this greatly enhance the GP100’s durability, but it also helps to tame recoil thanks to the heavier weight.
On the other hand, this also means that the GP100 will be slightly heavier and less simple to carry or conceal than other similar revolvers. This could also be an issue to smaller-statured shooters who could have difficulty lifting the weapon up and keeping it stable.
The GP100 is currently available in 3-inch, 4-inch, and 6-inch barrel lengths, and in a polished blued or stainless steel finish. As with all Ruger revolvers, the cylinder can be released by pressing a button on the side of the frame.
SMITH & WESSON 60
When you want a revolver that’s light and easier to carry, but that can still shoot .357 Magnum loads, it’s hard to go wrong with the Model 60. Ruger also makes a compact .357 revolver called the SP101, but the Model 60 is lighter and more refined.
The Model 60 was the first stainless steel revolver ever produced. Originally, it was simply a stainless version of the Model 36 .38 Special, but Smith & Wesson has since elongated the cylinder to allow it to accept the .357 Magnum.
A possible disadvantage to the Model 60 is that it holds only five rounds, but this is simply to reduce the overall size and weight of the weapon. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons here and determine if the smaller size is worth one less round.
As with all Smith & Wesson revolvers, simply push the cylinder release on the side for the cylinder to swing free. The Model 60 is currently available in 2-inch, 3-inch, and 4-inch variations.
SMITH & WESSON 686
Available in six and seven shot variations, the 686 is the Smith & Wesson equivalent of the Ruger GP100, because they’re roughly the same size and weight. Comparisons between the 686 and the GP100 are often drawn, with the consensus being that while the GP100 is slightly heavier and more durable, the 686 is smoother and more refined in its finishing.
The 686 has a naturally smoother trigger, and hammer pull in comparison to the GP100, which could equate to an overall more pleasant shooting experience.
While it’s not as heavy or beefy as the GP100, this doesn’t mean that the 686 is fragile by any means. Even if it can’t sustain quite as much abuse as the GP100, it can still last you for your life and the lives of future generations if you take care of it.
The 686 is available in several different barrel lengths including 3-inches, 4-inches, and 6-inches. The price of a new 686 tends to be a little higher than the price of a new GP100. The blued version of the 686 is called the 586 and sells with a wooden grip rather than a rubber one.
SMITH & WESSON GOVERNOR
The Smith & Wesson Governor is a six-shot revolver that is capable of firing three separate calibers: .45 LC, .45 ACP, and .410 Bore.
The Governor is no-doubt Smith & Wesson’s answer to the incredibly popular Taurus Judge, a five-shot revolver chambered in .410 and .45 LC. The reason why we recommend the Governor over the Judge is because the Governor provides you with one additional round and one additional caliber (.45 ACP, though it must be fed with moon clips).
The Governor is best suited as an extremely close range defense weapon. A .410 buckshot self-defense would will each have the equivalent firepower of roughly three 9mms going off at the same time, which can make the Governor devastating at close range. The .45 ACP and .45 LC rounds are powerful self-defense rounds as well.
When loaded with .410 birdshot, it’s also possible to use the Governor for small game or bird hunting, though due to it being a handgun you’ll have to get very close for it to be effective.
If you’re on a budget and can’t afford the premium price of a new Ruger or Smith & Wesson, you’ll naturally have to look at other options. One of those options is Taurus.
While the finish is not as refined and the trigger pull not as smooth as a Smith & Wesson, Taurus revolvers still provide you with an excellent value for the money.
The Taurus 608, in this case, stands out not only because it’s less money than its competitors, but also since it holds eight rounds instead of the traditional 5 or 6.
While this obviously means the cylinder is larger than other similar revolvers, eight rounds of full-powered .357 Magnum rounds definitely sounds more appealing for self-defense. The 608 is currently available in a matte stainless steel finish in 4-inch and 6-inch variations.
All Taurus guns also come with Taurus’ trademark security system. You’ll find a key lock located right behind the hammer on the 608, and when a key that ships with the gun is inserted into that lock, the gun will be incapable of firing.
This could give you some peace of mind when you store the gun and are afraid of a child or a burglar finding it and getting their hands on it. If you lose the key that ships with the gun, you won’t need to worry, because all Taurus Security System keys are identical and you can easily order another one for a low price.
A major downside to the key feature, is it will delay your response time, as well as engagement time if you are faced with a quick life or death situation while you’re at home.
Another major flaw in the key system, is most all keys are the same, so a well-prepared home invader might be already equipped with one if they know that you have a Taurus revolver. While it’s unlikely, you never really know who you can trust.
Ruger, Smith & Wesson, and Taurus are the big three manufacturers of revolvers that you should consider, which is why they are also the only three recommended in this article.
Specifically, the Ruger GP100, Smith & Wesson Governor, 686, and Model 60, and the Taurus 608 offer the most versatility and practicality in a revolver that you could ask for.
Nick Oetken is a prepper, outdoor enthusiast but, most of all, he is our in-house firearms expert. Look out for his articles on guns to find out which ones you need for your survival.