The best survival revolvers and what you need to know about them
When talking about survival and prepping, self-defense often comes up. That’s understandable as a lot of survival situations force us to have to defend ourselves. Whether it’s from wildlife or, regrettably, from other people, having good self-defense options is crucial for any survivalist. Such options can include martial arts, knives, pepper sprays, stun guns, and being in a generally good physical condition.
There is another tool for self-defense, however, that a lot of people don’t like talking about – handguns. Admittedly, they are somewhat of a sore topic in the U.S. Do keep In mind, however, that here we’ll be talking exclusively about life or death self-defense.
Besides, that doesn’t even include self-defense against people only. If you find yourself lost in the wilderness and attacked by wild animals, you’ll wish you had a revolver instead of a stun gun in your jacket.
So, why should you choose a revolver for your survival prepping over other handguns? And, as a follow-up – which are the best survival revolvers you should go for and what do you need to know about them?
Why do you need a survival revolver or handgun?
We won’t bother comparing revolvers and handguns to every other self-defense option. We all know the difference between a revolver and a gun, there are even common sayings about bringing a knife to a gunfight.
However, it is important to note just how important a revolver can be for your survival. Be it in the wilderness or an urban setting, a powerful and quality revolver can keep you safe from any attacker.
Revolvers and handguns offer:
- A powerful deterrence from any would-be-attacker in a time of social unrest. Let’s not forget, the most powerful weapon is the one that doesn’t need to be used. Survival knives, pepper sprays, and stun guns are useful but attackers are often brave enough to lunge at you despite them. A loaded gun tends to remove such notions from people’s heads very quickly.
- In the unfortunate event that you do have to use a weapon for self-defense, few can be better than a trusty revolver. Powerful, yet easy to handle and quick to draw, revolvers can finish most fights within seconds.
- Revolvers are also a good option against predators. For the wilderness, we’d usually recommend a nice, powerful rifle, of course. There are many predators with which you really want to finish the job with one shot. Unfortunately, rifles aren’t exactly “compact” or “lightweight” and that disqualifies them from standard survival kits. A revolver, however, is lightweight and still packs enough of a punch to finish most predators in North America with one shot. That is, as long as you know what you’re doing but we’re taking that as a given. If not – it’s time to visit the gun range.
- Revolvers and handguns are easy to carry, easy to conceal, easy to fix, and easy to find ammo for. Keep in mind that we are talking about SHTF (shit hits the fan) situations here. In those or in TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) situations, reliability and reusability are crucial. So, you may like a more obscure gun and it may be effective, sure. But will the ammo for it to be readily available wherever you go? Most revolvers and handguns in the U.S. use ammunitions that can be found in any gun store. Plus, the ammo is typically compact enough and easy to carry.
- Revolvers and pistols can also make effective hunting weapons when push comes to shove. From wild animals to innercity prey, a mid-range handgun can get the job done.
Why choose a revolver over other handguns?
So, you do want a handgun, great. Why do we seem to single out revolvers from other handguns, however? Aren’t they generally outclassed in most aspects by more modern handgun models?
Semi-automatic handguns do offer a lot of benefits revolvers lack, yes. For a standard self-defense urban handgun, we would generally recommend a semi-auto pistol. However, when talking about survival situations, there are reasons why revolvers are still used.
Revolver vs semi-auto pistols
People often confuse pistols and handguns and use the two terms interchangeably. That’s an understandable mistake to make unless it’s time to actually get a gun. So, revolvers, pistols, and handguns, what’s the difference?
In essence, both revolvers and semi-automatic pistols are types of handguns. And the difference between these two is that pistols have what’s called “an integral chamber-barrel assembly”. Simply put, pistols have stationary integral chambers while revolvers have multiple chambers within a rotating cylinder. Or even simpler – pistols have “mags” and revolvers – cylinders.
This main difference does drive most other practical differences between the two types of handguns. So, let’s break them into pros and cons.
The pros and cons of revolvers and pistols
Spoiler alert – both types of handguns are very effective at what they do and have manageable drawbacks. In other words, which of the two you’ll choose will mostly fall on personal preferences. Hopefully, however, you’ll see why we generally recommend revolvers for survival prepping.
- As a weapon developed a long time ago, revolvers are not exactly complicated in their construction. This can be a great benefit as the simpler something is to use, the less room there is for mistakes. Most modern revolvers tend to be “double-action” which means that both cocking the hammer and firing the gun are done by pulling the trigger. First, you pull it to cock the weapon, and then you pull it to fire – simple.
- Revolvers tend to fall on the higher end of the handgun caliber ladder. Revolvers such as the .357 Magnum or the .44 Magnum pack a hell of a punch. Plus, there are even heavier options. This has its drawbacks but is great for survival situations as those tend to be “life or death”. So, whether you’re up against a desperate attacker or a bear, a powerful revolver can be exactly what you need.
- As with any other part of your survival gear, you want your self-defense tool to be resilient. In floods and fires, when running or climbing, your handgun must always work, despite the harsh conditions. Good revolvers fit that description better than most other handguns. That’s once again thanks to their simple design. Where semi-autos have a lot of small and intricate parts that can be jammed, revolvers don’t really have that problem.
- A safer trigger. One unintended positive of revolvers that’s nevertheless significant is that they have a heavier trigger. That can be listed as a con as well, and we’ll mention it there as well, but it’s a pro too. What’s great about the heavier pull of revolvers is that it reduces the amount of “accidental” triggers. Most shootouts or stand-offs are stressful affairs after all. That’s why it’s common for people to accidentally when they were just thinking of lowering their gun.
- Easy maintenance. One of the key pros of any good survival gear is that it has to be easy to troubleshoot, maintain, and repair. And the easiest tools to do that with are the simplest ones. While most people will have difficulties fixing a pistol jammed with sand, revolvers are another thing. They are often so intuitive that even novices can often work with them easily.
- Many revolvers have internal hammers. This isn’t a pro for every revolver as it’s specific for one with internal hammers. Nevertheless, we’d definitely recommend those for survival situations. The reason here is that external hammers on both pistols and revolvers can easily get caught on your clothes or gear. Needless to say, that’d be a disaster in a survival scenario.
- Large, heavy, and cumbersome. Many revolver users like these aspects of the revolver, they like the “feel” of it. From a practical standpoint, however, these are drawbacks when it comes to survival. Still, a good survivalist is a fit survivalist, so handling a heavier handgun shouldn’t be that much of a problem.
- Lower capacity. Because of their rotating cylinder, revolvers can usually only have 5, 6, or 7 rounds at a time. If you know what you’re doing, that’s plenty. Nonetheless, having to reload in a tricky situation can be problematic.
- Slow reload. To make matters worse, revolvers are generally slower to reload than semi-auto pistols. Yes, we know, we know – many revolver lovers disagree. And they have a point – in the hands of an expert, revolvers can be reloaded very quickly. But, on average, pistols have the upper hand here.
- Smaller, lighter, faster. The pistol’s pros can be easily discerned even just by looking at the revolver’s cons. Pistols are lightweight and have a smaller, flatter design. This makes them easier to carry around, be it in a handbag or a backpack. This also makes them faster to handle and faster to shoot.
- Ease of use. While revolvers’ simplicity can be viewed as “making them easier”, the pistols are nevertheless more “user friendly” so to speak. Pistols tend to have more ergonomic designs, lighter triggers, and usually come in smaller calibers. All this makes them much easier to handle effectively, even by novices.
- More bullets. Don’t want to have to reload in tight situations? The pistol is the better option here as mot pistols will fit more ammo at a time.
- More options. A revolver is a revolver, generally speaking. Semi-auto pistols can come in all shapes and sizes, however. In other words, there’s a great deal of choice when looking for a pistol. This allows the consumer to almost always get exactly what they want.
- Complicated design. If you know how your pistol works this may not seem like a problem. However, even then, a complicated design presents possible problems and complications you wouldn’t want in SHTF situations.
- Lower calibers. There are pistols available in higher calibers as well as revolvers – in the lower digits. On average, however, pistols come at a lower caliber. This means less stopping power and a lower chance of incapacitating your opponent.
So, on average, both types of handguns have their pros and cons. To sum it all up, our general recommendation would be – pistols for everyday self-defense and revolvers for SHTF survival situations.
What are the best survival revolvers
When choosing the right revolver or handgun for your needs, a lot of the choice will fall on personal preferences. Do you want something that’s easy to conceal? Do you prefer a heavier option with more stopping power? Do you want an easy to fire and user friendly gun? Or, would you opt for the simpler design of the revolver?
Those choices are largely subjective and depend on both your personal preferences and the circumstances you fear you may get in. To give you some options, however, here are our suggestions for the best survival revolvers based on their caliber:
The choice of .22 revolvers is quite bountiful as is the case with pistols too. For .22 revolvers You virtually can’t go wrong with a .22 Magnum so that gets our vote but there are also great .22 Ruger and S&W revolvers alike.
The .32 H&R Magnum is an excellent choice and has been for decades. It’s a distinct improvement over the older .32 S&W models but it too has been surpassed recently. In this caliber, we’d recommend the .327 Federal as it offers even greater stopping power.
This is generally a toss-up between the .38 Special and the .357 Magnum and it has been that way for decades. Our personal choice is the Magnum but both weapons are worth considering.
The .41 is the default choice here with its good accuracy and mild recoil but you’ll find few people opting for it. The reason being that if you’ve gotten into the forties, you may as well go for a .44.
In one of the most preferred calibers, we have the .44-40 Winchester/Largo, the .44 Special, and everyone’s favorite – the .44 Magnum. The Special and the Winchester are old and classic revolvers that do their job well but we all know that the .44 Magnum would get the price here. Ever since it was introduced in 1955 and made famous Dirty Harry himself, the .44 Magnum has been the king of the hill. Deservedly so as well, it is an outstanding revolver. And, as an added bonus, it can be found virtually anywhere in the U.S., that’s how popular that gun is.
So, in conclusion, our recommendation for a survival revolver, depending on your caliber preferences would be the .44 Magnum, the .327 Federal, or the .22 Magnum. If you do want something smaller and lighter, however, it’s also worth looking at some semi-auto pistols like the .22 Ruger semi-auto.