Are Revolvers for Beginners?

So I have a long drawn out couple of paragraphs coming, and I would like to hear your opinions.

I’ll preface this by stating that I don’t think revolvers are good beginner guns for self defense.

Here’s why,

With rounds like .38 special, they travel so slowly out of a snubby that they sometimes don’t open into the pretty flower that 9mm, 10mm, .40, and .45s do. I think a lot of research is needed to make a decision about what .38 defensive round is the best.

The caliber swapping and all the +p and +p+ can be very confusing, and can lead to a very dangerous whoops moment. For instance I have two revolvers, a Taurus 605 in .357 mag that can handle +p. I also have a SAA (single action army) chambered in .357 magnum that will blow apart if a .357 +p round is used. I have to be careful packing rounds for the range.

I’ve seen many women come to the range and shoot revolvers because that’s what the gun counter guy and husband recommended. Some cannot use the revolver as it’s meant to be used with DA because of weaker hands or arthritis. They’ve all loved whatever semi auto I had and let them shoot. Manipulating a semi auto isn’t rocket science.

Finally the myth of revolvers don’t jam is a nasty one. I’ve seen it happen to a big revolver guy at the range. He called me over and said “you ever seen a revolver jam?” I said no, and he showed me that it was jammed, then he got out a rubber mallet and beat the cylinder back out to unload it so he could work on it at home. A jammed revolver is a weapon taken out of the fight.

What do you think? Are revolvers good guns for a beginner? Am I overlooking a virtue of a revolver? Are you guys sick of my opinions yet? Lol. Let me know!


When introducing “new” shooters to centerfire handguns, my go to is a full size .357 mag revolver with at least a 4 inch barrel. I’ll start them with .38’s, then +p loads, and finally on to .357 mag. For some, semiautomatic pistols are harder to operate. My wife has fibromyalgia, and can barely run the slide on a semi. She shoots them fine, but would never be able to quickly clear a jam. She can use a double action revolver without problem. I’ve seen a revolver jam twice. Once was a 686 competitor, and the internal lock mechanism failed and lock the gun up. Hammer back, love round in the chamber. The other time was a small, lightweight revolver shooting magnum loads. After four shots, the cylinder would not advance. When we did finally get the cylinder open, the bullet had jumped crimp, and was sticking out the end of the chamber. Light gun, plus light bullet, and a magnum round caused what would be a fight ending failure. I do believe wheel guns are a good tool to introduce to new shooters. They can fail, but, most are point squeeze, bang, repeat until it goes click. For a carry gun, it takes time and practice to master the snub revolver, but, it can be done, and they are excellent carry weapons in capable hands.


I definitely agree with you that they’re great when mastered. I still have yet to master mine. :joy: Do you have any tips and training ideas for me?

Your response was insightful, and the idea that was reinforced from what you wrote and what I already believe is that a new shooter should be renting a gun from a quality range with quality employees before buying.

Most of the problem I see is that people just buy what’s in the full page ad in the magazine, and expect greatness.


Stand an empty brass casing on top of the top strap, and dry fire the revolver. If your jerking or slapping the trigger, the brass falls off. If you are pulling straight back, it should stay put. Beyond that, as we’ve already discussed, there is no substitute for quality range time with that gun, with the load you will use for SD. All that said, I’m not fond of the small, air weight type revolvers. The lightest revolver I would carry would be either a Smith 642/442, for shooting 38’s, or a Ruger SP101 for .357 magnum(or similar size/weight) for .357 mag.


Yeah my snub nose is kind of light, but I can handle it well for now. That brass trick reminds me of the dime washer drill for AR15s. I’ll be trying that. I gotta remember to take the thing out of the safe and practice it.


That’s a great training hint for anyone who may be slapping or jerking the trigger, @45IPAC.


Just made a thread for trigger control drills.


I just wanna touch base on recoil and new shooters. Alot of beginners may be interested in revolvers for their simplicity, size and the punch they pack. Please don’t scare away a beginner with recoil. If they are so new to shooting they won’t know what to expect. Sometimes it’s easier to build up than start big. Being honest here, the first time I shot @James snub nose we had .357. I HATED it. I previously shot .357 out of a Colt with 5" barrel and loved it. The gun itself was heavy so it was hard for me to hold up after a dozen or so rounds. But still enjoyed every trigger pull. The little snubnose, nope!!! I think I shot it twice, opened the cylinder and James thought something was wrong. Nothing wrong, I was done. To this day, I won’t shoot .357 out of it at the range. Now, I’ve shot a fair amount prior to this and I’m not afraid of recoil. I’ll try anything! My concern is for that new shooter. What if this was their first time? 2 shots and done. Would they want to pick up a firearm again? Same with 12g as example. Maybe 12 isn’t the greatest 1st time gauge. Of course this is completely dependant on the person, physically and mentally. Sticking with the revolver conversation, if the attractiveness of the pocket size is important, maybe the option of 22lr or 9mm would be worth considering. Just throwing out ideas!!!


And people questing why Brand X is available in a certain gun in .22. Training tools, and plinkers. :grin:


I almost always start a first time (handgun) shooter out with a 22. I always bring a variety of hand guns with me when taking someone new to the range and we can always work up. Once they are ready to move past 9mm I shoot a few rounds while they watch so they know what to expect for noise. Every first time shooter I have taken to the range and started out like this has asked if I would take them again (I have never said no to any of them).


That’s great! I was recently working with a customer (alan) who had little to no confidence and his ‘experienced’ friend (mike). Mike was trying to run the show. Alan was looking at a 22 walther. Mike was trying to tell him the 4" kimber .45 is the one he needs to buy. Alan said “.45? Isnt that like yours? That hurt my hand.” :angry: THIS IS YOUR FRIEND! help him!! Support him! Do you not want him enjoying range time? :angry: I’m glad you spend the time with your friends and clearly doing a good job if they ask you to take them again. Good job sir!


The really funny thing is, my oldest daughter that does NOT like to shoot is the one who has asked me if I would take a number of her friends shooting for their first time. One of them ended up going to the range with me about once a month until our work lives got in the way of being able to find days to go together.


Definitely endorsing starting folks on a .22, and then move them up when they’re ready.

I’ve got a little 5 shot Taurus, I have to say I dont particularly like shooting it. The recoil is “snappy”, sharp and a lot of rise and I’ll feel it in my wrist the next day. Grip never feels secure or consistent to me either. I dont feel that in my semi-autos as a rule.

As a starter gun… revolvers are a definite “maybe”. Depends on the shooter.


You know, I am split on this. Revolvers are a very a deliberate weapon. Generally speaking a longer, heavier trigger pull. Smaller frames for some calibers, and yes I guess you could start with a small j frame. But I think the opposite is true to the big calibers. Wont give a beginner a 357 snub or a colt python. Soo…kinda can go both ways.


May I put a slightly different perspective on this thread? We have to remember not every beginner can rack the slide on a 1911. Many couldn’t rack the slide on a Browning Hi-power or even a PPK. My wife can only rack a Ruger Mark IV and a Colt Woodsman. She can’t rack a 380 Bersa. But she can fire a 22 mag snub nose or even a J frame 2 inch 38.

This isn’t to say those guns are an optimum but they beat begging for mercy or spitting at an attacker.

Here is what I have found, a revolver is simpler for the beginner in that they can load it and unload it almost right out of the box. Now for some loading sounds natural but they sell speed loaders on Amazon for every caliber of semi autos I have ever owned. I normally can stuff a full magazine of single stack 380 but I have been reduced to a speed loader on a new Nine with more than six rounds.

Next point is cleaning. Just about anyone can clean and oil a revolver. How long does it take to learn to field strip a 1911? How about a Glock? Sig, S&W, Ruger? If a beginner can’t take it apart and clean it two things will happen, they won’t clean it or they won’t shoot it to practice. At least from the beginners I have taken under my wing. My neighbor has an old French made 25 auto that may never have been apart. He has a box of Ammo his dad got when he came home from France after world war two. But I digress.

If the person knows nothing about guns and are simply looking for protection a revolver will work. 38s were used by our police departments for years before they got 9mm and 40s. And a 38 or even a 22 mag from 10 feet will put a hole in something softer than metal and make it think twice about attacking you. In my opinion.

I am just saying they "could be the perfect gun for a beginner, depending.