Introductory note: I wanted to touch upon this subject for a long, long while, because it is one I care about a lot. However, it is also totally off-topic for this blog. However, since in Russia there is a lull (that is putting it mildly) between New Year and the Orthodox Nativity, I decided to “squeeze” it here in between those dates and while our usual topics are a little less pressing. Also, I friend of mine was recently thinking about getting a firearm for self-defense and a pseudo-expert wrote a lot of nonsense to her about semi-autos and revolvers. I wrote her an email to debunk some of that crap, then another even longer one, and then I felt “okay, let’s tackle this topic once and for all”. The result is the following article. My motivation here is not to engage in a sterile ideological debate about gun rights – there is enough of that 100% ideological and 100% detached from reality pseudo “debates” out there and they bore me to tears (guns are, along with abortion and drugs, a topic which tends to generate the worst, highly emotional and, mostly, a very uninformed debates, not only in the USA, but worldwide). First and foremost, what I wrote below is address to those in our community who are at risk because they are not wealthy, because they live in not too pretty neighborhoods, those who are sick and weak, the elderly, the lonely women and all those who typical are chosen by criminal thugs for abuse and assault (the rich and privileged rarely need guns because they can pay for their security in many different ways; those who most need guns are the weak, poor and otherwise defenseless). I was raised by a single mother, I have seen first hand how hard it is for a single women to survive in our putatively “civilized” society. So while this blog is definitely not a 2nd Amendment advocacy blog, but I cannot remain indifferent to the fact that we do live in a very dangerous world and that the upcoming year carries truly major risks for our planet. Put bluntly, there is a fair chance that the international economic system will collapse as a result of a US attack on North Korea or Iran. Should that happen, there is a fair chance that many western countries, including the USA, will enter one of the 5 stages of collapse defined by my friend Dmitri Orlov. If that happens, law and order could break down very fast and, frankly, in many parts of the word they already have. These are the latest stats this year for Chicago: Shot & Killed: 619 Shot & Wounded: 2911 Total Shot: 3530 Total Homicides: 670 [Typically, that is a city which has a most restrictive policy firearms thus only criminals are armed!]. Here is my bottom line: being able to use a firearm for self-defense already is a crucial skill needed for survival in many parts of the world and in the near future those parts will only increase in size and number. You are, of course, more than welcome to defend yourself with only words, but please understand that others might feel differently. It just so happens that, over the years, I learned a little something about firearms and that I have spent a lot of time researching this topic. I have decided to post this somewhat off-topic article in the hope that at least some of the readers will benefit from it. I would be grateful if we could keep the comments section focused on the issue discussed here and not the usual hatefest against an inanimate object (firearms) or those us of who believe in personal self-defense, including yours truly. Thank you.
We live in a world of quasi-universal deceit. We also live in a world which proactively fosters a gullible, uncritical acceptance of mainstream myths and lies, especially those promoted by the corporate world. This reality permeates our lives everywhere, from what we listen to, to whom we marry, to how we raise our children, to what we eat, whom we trust with our health, whom we trust our children’s education and many, many other realms. Today I want to address a very narrow issue which is only relevant to those who are willing and able to defend themselves until the cops show up. To be clear, I am not addressing the following discussion to those who believe that firearms are the cause of violence, nor am I writing for those who believe that if attacked by criminals they will call the cops and that the cops will show up fast enough to stop the attackers. And I most definitely am not addressing the following discussion to those who live in safe areas (or think that they are). Finally, I am also not writing for law enforcement officers (this is crucial, see below!). My target audience today is a very narrow one. Those who fulfill these conditions:
1) Those who are willing to defend themselves or others until the law enforcement officers show up.
2) Those willing to use a firearm to protect themselves or their loved ones.
3) “Normal” civilians, i.e. *not* people with advanced training in the use of firearms.
4) Those who lived in jurisdictions which allow a person to use a weapon or self-defense.
What I want to do today is to debunk a very dangerous myth which is almost universally accepted and which is repeated with an almost religious fervor day after day and by almost everybody: that semi-automatic pistols are better for the self-defense needs of civilians than revolvers.
First, let’s cover the basics: semi-auto (aka “autoloader”) vs revolvers (aka “wheelguns”).
I think that we can immediately agree that the revolver looks much more antiquated while the semi-auto has a decidedly modern look. Though relatively modern, the revolver elicits images of cowboys at OK Corral while the semi-auto looks like the kind of firearm modern police and military forces would carry. And that it true, cowboys did carry revolvers (though their main weapon was aways rifle) and modern police and military forces almost exclusively carry semi-autos. Why is that?
Semi-autos come with a long list of advantages. Here are the main ones
1) semi-autos have a higher capacity (have more rounds inside)
2) semi-autos are faster and easier to reload
3) semi-autos are much cheaper (at least in most cases)
4) modern 9mm is an ideal caliber for shoot a person
5) semi-autos can easily accommodate accessories such as a flashlight or a laser pointer
6) semi-autos feel more “modern” and less “cowboy and shootout at OK Corral”
7) semi-autos are generally easier to shoot
It’s all true. But that is not the problem. The problem are the assumptions implicitly made when presenting these facts as arguments for the superiority of the semi-auto. In reality, these assumptions fail when applied to civilians. Let me explain.
What is the main difference between a civilian and a law enforcement officer?
It’s not the gun they carry, nor is it the quality of their training (cops are typically pretty bad shots). It is not the legal right to use deadly force, in self-defense civilians can do that (at least in those jurisdictions which allow civilians to carry a firearm to defend themselves). So what is it? It is the following crucial differences:
When cops hear gunshots they have to go and investigate/intervene whereas when civilians hear gunshots they have to take cover or run.
This is absolutely crucial: law enforcement officers have to enforce the law and protect everybody. Civilians only are allowed to protect themselves (or somebody under their protection) and only until the law enforcement forces show up. This is so important that I want to stress this again: civilians do not have the duty to arrest anybody (even in jurisdictions where so-called “citizens arrests” are legal). Civilians have no business chasing and arresting criminals, they don’t have to initiate a confrontation with gangs, thugs, hooligans, or petty criminals. Civilians do not enforce drug laws (neither should the cops, in my opinion, but that is another topic) and civilians do not make traffic stops. If you are a civilian and you see three thugs going down a one-way street while snorting cocaine and brandishing their guns, you should seek cover and get the hell out of there. Cops are duty bound to immediately intervene. That is a *HUGE* difference.
For civilians firearms are a stop-gap personal protection tool of last resort. It is only when everything else fails that you can produce your weapon and, if that also fails, use it.
Law enforcement officers and civilians live in totally different realities. The reality for civilians looks like this:
- The vast majority of cases (about 90%) when civilians need to protect themselves happen during home invasions.
- In the vast majority of cases (about 90%) just showing the firearm (without shooting it!) is enough to stop the attack
- In the vast majority of cases (about 90%) when civilians do have to fire their firearm they shoot 1 to 3 rounds only.
- In the majority of cases such armed confrontations happen at a distance of about 3 yards.
- In the majority of cases, the entire events lasts just a few seconds, then it’s all over
Let me add one more thing: in most jurisdictions as soon as you have stopped a crime by showing your weapon or by using it, you are not allowed to continue firing it. Remember, civilians do not have the right to use deadly force to apprehend a criminal. Which means that as soon as the attack is stopped (whether because the criminal(s) ran in fear or got shot) you have to stop firing. You cannot empty your firearm into the back of a feeling criminal, no matter how egregious his attempted or committed crime was. So even if you catch some pervert trying to rape your 5 year old child, as soon as this crime is stopped, you cannot just shoot the SOB even if he richly deserves it. Let’s repeat that again, firing just ONE SINGLE ROUND more than the strict minimum you needed to stop the crime in progress would expose you to prosecution for any of the following: assault with a deadly weapon, manslaughter, homicide or even 2nd degree murder.
There is another truth which most people who live in crime infested areas and cops know: the vast majority of criminals out there are petty, dumb and cowardly criminals. It is estimated that anywhere between 20-30 percent of them carry weapons that don’t even work (they are too poor or too cheap to buy a good firearm, and too stupid to maintain it properly). Criminals pry on the weak and defenseless. They are not in the business of wining gunfights. I have never had to use a firearm to protect myself (thank God for that), but I know a lot of people who have and they are unanimous: as soon as the petty thugs see your gun, they run, especially if you fire it once or, even more so, hit one of them.
Yes, I know, mobsters and drug-dealers can use very experienced “soldiers” and there have been famous cases when cops, or FBI agents, have been out-gunned in protracted gun battles. But the chances of that ever happening to you are as close to zero as it gets. The most likely threat to you is a home invasion by two or three semi-literate imbeciles who failed to notice all the signs indicating that the house is occupied and who want to steal your TV to get drugs. Just yelling “get out or I will shoot you” will make them run like crazy. Besides, if you are really on the hit list of the Sinaloa Cartel no firearm will save you anyway, not even the biggest and meanest semi-auto.
What if you are in a convenience store and suddenly three armed thugs come in and try to rob the store (and the clients)? How many shots would you need? The correct reply is “none”. This is NOT your business and you are NOT to open fire unless you have reason to suspect that you or others are about to get murdered. And if that happens, your main problem will not be capacity but the fact that, unless they run, three different opponents will open fire on you from different directions. Remember, winning a gunfight is not about shooting the other guy, it’s about not getting hit in the first place. So whether you open up with your 5 shot revolver or 18 shot semi-auto, it will all happen so fast that your capacity will be the least of your worry. But the smart thing to do is to put your hands up, shut up, given them your wallet and wait for the bad guys to leave, not to have a firefight with FOUR (you + the three bad guys) people with innocent civilians standing everywhere.
Okay, all of the above is to make this point: capacity matters a lot for law enforcement officers, hardly at all for civilians. Sure, it is better to have more rounds than less, as the expression goes “I rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it”, but cute as this expression is, in the real world capacity is simply not relevant for civilians.
So what is?
Well, first and foremost reliability.
Here I will debunk another myth: that revolvers are more reliable than semi-autos. Okay, they are. But by such a tiny margin that it makes no significant difference. Modern semi-automatics produced by quality manufacturers are about as reliable as revolvers (which also sometimes fail!). But that is very bad comparison. What we have to compare is not revolvers and semi-autos but revolvers and semi-autos when used by civilians!
There are malfunctions and what is called “shooter caused malfunctions”. The latter depend mostly on the complexity of correctly using the firearm, especially under stress. And while the difference in reliability between modern revolvers and modern semi-autos is tiny, the difference between them becomes huge when shooter caused malfunctions are included. Stuff like not taking off a safety or forgetting to put a round in the chamber. There is also another type of shooter caused malfunction which is failure to properly care for the firearm. Magazines are, for example, a prime cause in failures to feed (they also tend to drop out when the gun is manipulated which, in some models, prevents the semi-auto from firing at all).
One notorious shooter caused malfunction of sorts is when somebody grabs a fully loaded (but not de-cocked) semi-auto and touches the typically light trigger and inadvertently fires. Most (but not all) revolvers have the advantage over most (but not all) semi-automatics in the fact that in double-action their triggers are much heavier (perfect for a self-defense situation) but can be made extremely light in single-action (perfect for target practice). What this means in plain English is that you are far more likely to inadvertently shoot yourself, or somebody else, when holding a semi-auto than a revolver, especially under stress. This is why semi-autos come with safeties (another terrible idea, in my opinion) which do indeed make the gun safer to manipulate, but come at the cost of adding one more critical step to execute and potentially fail when having to defend yourself.
To fire a semi-auto you need to fully engage a magazine, put a round in the chamber, disengage the safety (if you used one in the first place) and hold the gun firmly enough to allow it to fully cycle. If you hold it too lightly, that is called a “limp wrist”, then the semi-auto will fail to cycle and, basically, jam (this most often happens to women, especially those with a lighter/thinner body). If that happens you need to do what is called a “tap rack bang” procedure (see here for a video explaining it).
The “manual of arms” of a revolver is as follows: pull the trigger; if the revolver fails to fire, pull again. That’s it.
Unless you cock the hammer, the trigger will be heavy enough to be safe without the use of an additional “safety” (cocking the hammer is something you would never do in a self-defense situation – only on movies – and this is why a pure self-defense revolver will often have a “shrouded” (hidden) hammer (see photo of Ruger LCR below).
The answer of the propagandists for the semi-auto is “training, training and more training”. I will address this argument further below, but for the time being just ask yourself which you would prefer doing if confronted by a criminal thug: pull the trigger again or try a “tap rack bang” procedure. Please remember that in most cases when civilians need to use a firearm to defend themselves their opponent is 3 yards away or less? So the bad guy is standing within spitting distance, he might be already shooting at you or, a least closing the distance (a fraction of a second at that distance!) and you are going to try a “tap rack bang”? Really? I very very much doubt it, regardless of how much you spent on “tactical training” (more about that below).
Next, we need to step away from the technical firearms issues and look at the bigger picture of weapons procurement.
Here is the official version: all law enforcement and military forces have moved to the semi-auto because semi-autos are better. Really?
How many people would you think are involved in the decision of procuring a firearm for, say, a major police department? Let me tell you about three types which are overlooked: accountants, lawyers and politicians: none of them care very much about the quality of weapons the cops will be carrying. Accountants want to go for the cheap deal. Lawyers will want to avoid a lawsuit. As for politicians, they want to look good. Which would all not be so bad if not for the corporate world.
First, a simple fact: semi-autos are, as a rule, much cheaper than revolvers. Second fact, for law enforcement semi-autos are objectively better. Third fact: what major police departments decide becomes almost accepted dogma. So if, say, the LAPD and NYPD both switch their entire force to semi-autos then it must be that we, civilians, would want to heed their wisdom and to likewise. Except for, as I explained above, we are not cops.
So let me ask you this: in theory, would you agree to pay, say, twice the price for a weapon much better suited to your needs? I think that most of us would say yes. We are not accountants in a major police department, this is about our lives and the lives of our loved ones. You are going to tell me that 300 dollars vs 700 dollars makes such a big difference to you to protect yourself and your family? How much does your TV cost you yearly? How about your hobbies or pastimes?
Next, lawyers and politicians: lawyers and politicians (same thing, really) will want to say that they got the cops the most firepower possible to avoid cases such as the famous 1986 Miami shootout. So not only will the want semi-autos, but also shotguns, body armor, helmets, AR-15s, armored vehicles and, if given the chance, tanks and heavy machine guns. We all know about the ridiculous over-militarization of US police forces which now treat those which they were supposed to “serve and protect” as dangerous terrorists or insurgents. And it’s their choices which you want to emulate?!
Again, I really do think that semi-autos are better for cops (for the military they are mostly useless except to enforce discipline). All I am saying is that the people involved in the decision about what weapons to get for the police (or the military) have very different criteria that a civilian would. We, civilians, should use our heads and not blindly follow what they say or do.
Now let’s look at corporations. All they want is to make as much money as possible. So, if you were the head of a corporation which manufacturers handguns and if you knew with total certitude that all the police departments and the armed forces of your country are all going to order large numbers of semi-autos for you, how interested would be in keeping a production line and inventory for revolvers which people might still want to buy, but in much smaller quantities? The truth is that the entire weapons industry has a huge interest in “pushing” semi-autos and the only reason why revolvers are still built is that people are willing to pay more for them, because some people use them for hunting and because some civilians are smart enough to see the through the corporate propaganda.
Now let’s look at the “experts community”. What do you think they prefer? I can tell you, about 95% of them will dismiss the “six-shooter” as “totally antiquated” and will swear by semi-autos. Now you remember the argument made about the “tap rack bang” procedure: that if you train well, you can learn how to do that in a fraction of second while under huge stress?
Well, think for a second, and keep in mind the manual of arms I mentioned above, if you were a firearms instructor, would you make more money teaching basic, intermediate and advanced “tactical” firearms training or simple “pull the trigger, pull again”?
This entire “tactical training” nonsense really aggravates me. As if we, civilians, all needed to spend all our free time training (not to mention hundreds and thousands of dollars to pay for it all) and try to became a pretend SWAT team civilian?! This is utterly ludicrous, but since ALL “experts” insist on regular training (and making a ton of money by selling these types of courses!) everybody out there parrots the “train, train, train” nonsense. Take a look at this video showing an ‘”expert” demonstrating how to execute a one handed “tactical” reload while in a firefight against two armed robbers. Yes, that’s right, a one handed magazine reload! That is how totally ridiculous all this tacticool nonsense has become. But there are *a lot* of “experts” making a living from it! And all of them will tell you that revolvers our bad. Indeed, they are, for them and their business model!
So do you need training and how much?
Yes, you do. You need be familiar and comfortable manipulating, maintaining and firing your weapon. I would recommend going shooting at least 4-5 times a year. You need to get used to the loud blast and the recoil. For beginners, and I am not jocking here at all, you need to convince yourself that your firearm will not shoot by itself, that unless you pull the trigger it is totally safe. This can take a while for many people (you can spot them easily: they will be afraid to even touch a loaded gun as if the latter could magically bite off a finger or two). Lastly, you need to familiarize yourself with the possible malfunctions of your firearm and what do to if they happen which, in the case of a revolver, is really simple (pull the trigger again). What you do not need is learn how to do a “tactical” reload while doing a “tactical run” while finding in a “tactical” firefight against several armed opponents. Okay, if you are rich and like to play, then by all means, do it. But for those of us who have a hard time paying bills and who have precious little time off, there are better things to do.
Please remember the figures above: in 90% of the cases you won’t shoot at all, and when you do, in about 90% of the cases you will shoot 1-3 rounds, probably missing a lot. That will take care of 99% of the situations you are likely to ever face in your life (unless you are a cop or a drug dealer, of course).
So what *do* you want our gun to do besides going “bang!”?
You do not care about accuracy. First, because your gun is much more accurate than you and, second, because your accuracy will have a negligible impact upon the outcome of your firefight. All that talk of “placement over caliber” is true, but it is also entirely theoretical. In the real world even FBI agents have an about 80% miss rate in real firefights. As long as your gun goes “bang” and you do not get shot yourself, you are doing really well.
However, IF you do hit your opponent, you want your bullet to have a maximal impact. Remember, in the real world you will shoot only 1-3 times before it’s all over: you will be either shot yourself or you will have stopped your attacker.
I am not going to go into a lengthy discussion about calibers here, but I do have two key facts to present:
First, as you all know, a revolver keeps the rounds in its cylinder. A semi-auto keeps its rounds in a magazine inserted into the grip. Now let me ask you this: why can revolvers shoot huge hunting rounds like the S&W500 and not semi-autos? The reason is simple: revolvers were designed around a specific caliber whereas semi-auto calibers were designed to be small enough to fit into a gun’s grip. What that means is that when revolver caliber were designed they were designed to be the best possible for the job, whereas the semi-auto calibers had to make a compromise on amount vs capability to fit into the semi-auto. Now do you start getting a sense why capacity is crucial for semi-autos?
Next, I want to mention a concept which I heard from hunters: the incapacitation curve. That is the time taken by a shot animal to drop. Human are much, much more fragile than animals, but the concept is one which is totally pertinent to self-defense: if you fire, say 3 rounds, and only one hits, how much time will it take to incapacitate the attacker? Let me stress here that the purpose of armed defense is not to kill, but to stop the attack. A small .22LR round can kill you, no problem, but it will kill you slowly and it has very little stopping power (if your attacker(s) dies/die 10 min after you shot them, this does you no good if they have had the time to kill you first).
Now let’s look at the same issue from a legal point of view. We all know about the numerous instances when policemen shoot somebody 5, 10 or 15 times. How do you think you will look in court if the prosecutor asks you why you fired 15 rounds at your attacker? The truth is that what is called “spray and pray” is something which courts only allow cops to do, civilians go to jail for that! So let me ask you this: would you rather explain in court why you shoot somebody in self-defense 1-2 times or 10-15 times (nevermind the reloading nonsense!)?
Again, we, civilians are not law enforcement officers and the courts to not give us the same rights as they do with cops. Unfair, maybe, but true. What this means for your is simple: you want every round to count, really really count.
I did promise not to go into the caliber issues and I won’t. You can get semi-autos which shoot calibers very similar in capability to what revolver shoot: the 10mm is an excellent round (even if too powerful for many (but not all) semi-auto originally designed for 9mm). But the truth is that in the vast majority of cases what most people use, for a variety or reasons, are 9mm, and that is a very good caliber, but most definitely not the best. It is also very ineffective against attacking wild animals which, depending on where you live, is another issue to consider (I will just say here that my personal defense caliber of choice is the .357 magnum which I believe is the best handgun caliber ever designed).
Next, I want to look at a specific subset of civilians: those of us who do not only have a firearm in their house or car, but who actually carry one on their body every day. This is a small subset of those who own firearms, but their numbers are growing very fast.
To them I will say that the size of your firearm is less important as their weight. There are many ways to carry a concealed firearm on you, some are better than other, but there is no way to lighten the weight of your firearm. So lightweight firearms are definitely the way to go for civilians carrying every day.
There are a lot of decent small firearms out there, but the two best ones are, in my opinion, the S&W M&P Bodyguard in .380 and the Ruger LCR in .357 magnum. The Bodyguard, especially if loaded with Lehigh Extreme Penetrator rounds is, a very decent self-defense weapon, and weighs only 408 grams or 14.4 ounces (fully loaded). It will give you 7 shots. But compare that to the Ruger LCR in 357 magnum at a weight of 555 grams or 19.6 ounces (fully loaded) which will give you 5 shots. Now ask yourself this question: in your typical self-defense situation would you rather fire 3 .380 rounds and have 4 extra left or 3 .357 magnum and have 2 extra shots left? Not sure? Then look at this photo comparing the rounds:
Let me also say this: a .357 round can handle any animal on the continental United States with the exception of the Grizzly bear. The .380 can handle most humans. Please don’t get me wrong: the S&W Bodyguard M&P is a very good carry weapon: ultra-light with 7 decent rounds. But the Ruger LCR, while a little heavier, packs a much bigger “punch” with 5 rounds which can handle anything short of a Grizzly bear. Which one makes most sense to you? What if you need to shoot through a door say a car door during a carjacking? Would you rather trust the tiny .380 or the powerful .357 magnum which was specifically designed to overcome the limitation of the .38 special rounds which cops could not shoot at criminal fleeing in their cars?
Not convinced? Did you notice that you cannot see the hammer on the Ruger LCR? It is hidden inside the frame so you could not only retrieve it without the hammer snagging on something, but also so you could fire the weapon from inside a pocket or a purse. Try that with a semi-automatic whose slide must fully cycle each time you fire!
[Sidebar: one way to compare the power of calibers/cartriges is to use the Taylor Knock Out Factor or “TKO”. The formula to measure this goes as follows: (weight of the bullet X velocity X bullet diameter) / 7000. Here is what we would see in our comparison:
Ammo: Lehigh XTP .380: (approximate figures)
90gr * 850fps * .380in
=======> Tayor Knock Out Factor (TKO): 4.15 per round
Number of shots 7 therefore total TKO: 4.15*7 = 29.05
Ammo: Lehigh XTP .357: (approximate figures)
140gr * 1100fps * .357in
=======> Tayor Knock Out Factor (TKO): 7.85 per round
Number of shots 5 therefore total TKO: 7.85*5 = 39.25
What this very roughly shows is that you have about 25% more firepower with the Ruger LCR in .357 magnum than you would get with the S&W M&P Bodyguard in .380. That difference becomes even bigger (almost 50%) if we compare the typical amount of bullet shot in a self-defense situation (1-3). Again this is by no means a scientific proof of anything, but still yet another criteria for comparison, especially if you want to make darn sure each fired bullet really counts.]
One fair objection to the Ruger LCR in .357 magnum is that the recoil from such a powerful round in such a light gun is brutal. It is true – it is. And for those who are recoil sensitive, Ruger also makes the LCR in a variety of calibers including 9mm and even 22LR. But I think that if you are recoil sensitive no light gun will be pleasant to shoot unless you are willing to go down to calibers which, while quite capable of killing, are known for not stopping an attacker fast enough. Recoil sensitive people have to accept that the laws of physics apply to guns too and if stopping power is mass times velocity, then recoil will be proportional to the energy needed to propel a decent sized bullet at decent enough speeds.
Still, if you really want the best of all options, there is an option, albeit not a cheap one:
The Chiappa Rhino 200DS in .357 Magnum.
This guns weighs only 795 grams 28.1 ounces (fully loaded). But if offers you 6 rounds in .357 magnum. But its most amazing characteristics is its revolutionary design: This gun fires from the bottom of the cylinder rather than the top. This dramatically reduces muzzle rise and recoil felt by lowering the axis of the bore almost to the palm of the shooters hand. In practical terms, this means that when you are shooting .357 magnum it feels like a .38. The blast, however, remains deafening, which is good outdoors (it scares the attacker(s)), but not so good indoors (it could rupture your eardrum). It is *amazingly* easy to shoot and very accurate (much more so than, say, the Ruger LCR or the Bodyguard even though all have short barrels). The most amazing thing is how easy it is to correctly place follow-up shots on the same target. The recoil is still there, but it is horizontal, not vertical. Simply put – the ergonomics of this gun are superior to any revolver or semi-auto out there. It is hard to convey it in words, one has to try it to really believe it. I personally seen twice somebody who had no intention of buying a new firearm firing the Chiappa Rhino only two or three times and immediately deciding to purchase one.
Bottom line, with the Chiappa Rhino you get a small gun, not too heavy, very easy to shoot and with unparalleled firepower for a such a small weapon.
It’s main drawback? The price, about 800 dollars. But considering that it is machined from a solid block of high tensile aluminum (all internal parts are machined from steel), that it comes with a fiber-optic sight and moonclips, you definitely get your money’s worth. However, if you do not feel the need to carry a firearm on you all day, then you can find much cheaper, albeit heavier, options which are great (including the excellent S&W 686P shown in the first photo).
I don’t want to go into recommending specific models. In fact, I don’t even want to convince you that revolvers are a better choice for civilians. I will even readily admit that some semi-autos, such as the new, ported, S&W M&P Shield, can be very good everyday carry weapons. My sole purpose is to debunk the nonsense spewed by corporations and “tactical experts” about revolvers being outdated or semi-autos being superior. There are even situations when elite police forces prefer a revolver: a good example of that is the Smith & Wesson R8 (see bottom below) which was designed following the request from a US SWAT team which wanted to equip the leader of a SWAT team entering a building with a powerful handgun which would not jam or malfunction and which, when fired, would not hit the shield the carried by the “lead penetrator” during an assault (like the cycling slide of a semi-auto would do). Smith and Wesson responded by creating an 8 shot (!) yet very light revolver (1150 grams or 40.6 ounces fully loaded) with a frame built from a scandium alloy. This is arguably the most advanced revolver every built. I think of it as a “space-age 686”.
My personal conclusion is that revolvers remain ideally suited for civilian self-defense needs, be it in a home, car or even for everyday carry. None of the reasons why semi-automatic guns are, indeed, better for law enforcement or military forces apply to civilians. The real reason for the current almost total focus on semi-automatic guns for civilians is corporate interests, the self-serving lies of the many “tactical shooting” “experts” out there and the herd mentality of most people. I encourage everybody to think for themselves and in their own interest. I hope that the above will contribute to this reflexion.