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5-shot revolver. If not dead, on life support? Login/Join 
The Whack-Job
Picture of 18DAI
I've noticed something over the last year of working part time in a high end gun shop. The wave of single stack 9mm and to an extent, 380 sub compact pistols, outsell the 5 shot revolvers we have for sale at about an 18 to 1 ratio.

The Walther 9mm PPS, G43, Ruger LC9, shield 9mm and Ruger LCP fly off the shelves in the order I listed them. We can't keep the PPS 9MM in stock as a matter of fact. Glock fans buy G43s at a steady rate. About 2 G43s sold per week.

New shooters buy the Ruger LC9. The reasons given that they like it are the manual safety and magazine safety. Which would seem to fly in the face of those who despise those particular features. Females often state that the LC9s slide is easier to rack than the other choices. Although the PPS 9MM gets high marks there as well.

The J-frames seem to require a hard push to sell these days. And the only one we sold in the last two months was purchased at a time we were out of LCRs. If there is an LCR in the case, it is nearly always chosen over the J-frame. The reason given being a "better trigger". The pricing on the two is a wash, generally.

I see threads on the various gunboards by those proponents of the 5 shot revolvers being adamant that they are still relevant. I do notice that the proponents are often older folks who came up on revolvers.

When I worked as an instructor at the local indoor range, only 4 or 5 of every 100 new shooters showed up with a 5 shot J-frame or LCR. The vast majority having purchased single stack 9mm or 380 pistols. A full 10% chose compact double stack 9mms like the G26 or m&p9c.

So, IMO, if the single stack compact 9mm has not killed the 5-shot revolver, it has - atvthe very least, put it on life support. Regards 18DAI

Blue lives matter.
Posts: 3328 | Registered: August 13, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Giftedly Outspoken
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I wouldn't say they are dead, possibly on life support as you described, but not dead.

Yes the single stack 9's or 380s offer an extra round or two and easier reloading but the little revolvers are considered by many to be "more reliable" as they typically don't malfunction.

My daily carry is a Kahr PM9 but I have a sweet Smith Model 60 J-Frame that I still carry from time to time.

Sometimes, you gotta roll the hard six
Posts: 3387 | Location: SouthCentral PA | Registered: December 05, 1999Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of MBOYD
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I'd argue that the J-frame (et al) is still a very popular platform. I carry a 649 with 110 +P+ or magnums many times a week. from a practical standpoint, it is 100% reliable and packs more power per shot than a compact semi-auto.

As an instructor, I see a lot of the sub compacts malf in the hands of small frail-types who were talked into them at their LGS. My experience has been that a lot of the compacts get replaced with revolvers after the "cool factor" wears off. The compacts either go to the larger spouse or get sold/traded off.

For shooters willing to spend the time to learn the platform, small semi-autos are excellent. For a lot of real life CC folks, ease of use and reliability are the big draws to small revolvers. I hear a lot more range related complaints about small autos than I do about small revolvers (YRMV)

I do agree with the OP that the autos are the current hot ticket, but the small revolver will always have an important role. I read a statistic several years ago that the average number of shots fired by a civilian in an incident is two, so a 5-shot gun is not a bad choice when it comes to capacity.
Posts: 684 | Registered: December 20, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Get Off My Lawn
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In today's world, IMO the revolver is a niche market item now.

"Did IQ's just drop sharply while I was away?"- Ellen Ripley, Aliens, 1986
Posts: 10700 | Location: Texas | Registered: May 13, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Peace through
superior firepower
Picture of parabellum
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I own and love a Smith&Wesson Model 638 Bodyguard pre-lock and I carried it in my right front pants pocket from the time I bought it in the Spring of 2000 until a few months ago.

Earlier this year I purchased a Glock G42. After making some changes to make it more shootable and after doing thorough research on the current crop of .380 ACP ammunition, the G42 replaced my 638.

I found that over time, I liked shooting my Bodyguard less and less. For me, shooting the little J frame well took time and practice and I guess I got tired of having my palm slapped and dealing with basketball-sized rapid fire groups at 20 feet.
The G42 is a locked breech pistol and I think this is the primary reason that it's so pleasant to shoot.

When I carried my 638, it was loaded with Speer Gold Dot 135 grain +P and I carried a Bianchi Speed Strip with five additional rounds.
For my G42, it's 7 rounds of Hornady XTP in the pistol and a spare magazine with a Pearce extension, loaded with 7 more rounds of XTP.

The decision to make this change is not one I made lightly. The S&W J frames are superbly reliable handguns, very well made, and the Bodyguards and Chief Special variants give you a very nice single action trigger pull, should you have the need to try a difficult shot.


In a free society, one does not have to deal with those who are irrational. One is free to avoid them. - Ayn Rand
Posts: 83491 | Registered: January 20, 2000Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The Lc9s that I bought was used and came with 2 extra mags. Now, I don't know the reason it was for sale with virtually no indications of wear but I can speculate that someone sold it back in place of something else. It's a snappy gun. I've had the lc9 since 2011 and I've become proficient with it but if folks want something easy to shoot without a lot of practice but still proficient, the heavier 5 shot revolvers are still a relevant option. But yes, the last 10 years have been hard on the 5 shot snubby.
Posts: 2159 | Registered: May 30, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I carry my S&W Model 60 Pro daily.

Compact firepower in 357 Magnum.
Posts: 600 | Location: Gatesville, TX | Registered: January 07, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
addicted to trailing-throttle oversteer
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Life support. It's been this way for all of the time that I've worked in a gun shop this past six or so years, and throughout the time prior when I decided that I would become more interested in building up a collection, which is about the last 1/3 of my adult life.

There are the dedicated few who are passionate about revolvers, which around here is a clear minority. Then there are the rest, who recognize that when it comes to firepower, numbers matter and that's where they ultimately want to be. We will sell an occasional LCR or J-frame, but most everyone is more inclined to eschew that genotype for a Shield, G43 or similar type alternative when thinking a convenient CC weapon. Even those who are inexperienced with guns and want "simple" end up walking out with a semi-auto more than 9 times out of 10. If that's not an indicator of being on life support then I don't know what is.
Posts: 8313 | Location: Drippin' wet | Registered: April 18, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
The Whack-Job
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Personally, I went from a 640-1 used as a BUG and sometimes off duty carry (more often a Colt Cobra off duty) to a S&W CS9. The CS9 having proven itself bet your life reliable and as easy......or even easier to carry, by virtue of its flatness, than the Cobra.

I switched away from revolver carry several years back. The threat has changed and I am personally more comfortable with 8 rounds of 147 grain 9mm than I am with 5 rounds of 38+P. And of course a fast reload of 8 more from the spare mag on my belt. Regards 18DAI

Blue lives matter.
Posts: 3328 | Registered: August 13, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Go ahead punk, make my day
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I think it still has merit as an ankle BUG, or pocket gun BUG. But not as a primary with the smaller 9MMs out there. IMO.
Posts: 38641 | Registered: July 12, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Well I'm an old guy who came up on revolvers, so a S&W 342 rides in my right front pocket at all times. When outerwear is the order of the day, I may carry a S&W 6904 or a 3913.
Posts: 183 | Location: PA | Registered: January 09, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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In addition to the sentiments in this thread, I feel the subcompact singlestack gives one key advantage over the small revolver. It has a manual of arms similar to their larger cousins, reinforced by similar design and branding. Glock 17/19 to the 43. Smith and Wesson M&P full size to the M&P Shield. Those backstabbers at Springfield Armory have the XD family and the XD-s.

The current metagame in firearms self defense training is “your fine motor and finger no do the worky worky when adrenaline flowing,” so having a carry gun and HD gun have the same manual of arms is appealing in the current training mindset.

Such things push people to the single stack self-loader over the snub nose revolver.

Edit: Also, a small single stack comes with its own easy to use speedloader. A revolver needs quite a bit more training to effectively use a speedloader, and they still aren’t as easy to carry or use as a magazine. Yeah, I get it, “most cases [reputable citation needed] of defensive gun use are ended in one shot...” I also think that is hilariously wrong. Most cases of successful self defense don’t involve a gun or firing a bullet at all, but we still carry.
Posts: 121 | Location: California | Registered: July 09, 2015Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Not a 5 shot but let me know if you can make me a deal on a 2” Black Rhino. I still love the damn things and need to replace the one I sold. Big Grin

Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?
Posts: 8614 | Registered: January 16, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I frequently carry a S&W 642. I just purchased a new j-frame size short barrel revolver a few weeks ago. And another just prior to that.

Neither dead nor dying.

The Ruger SP-101 continues to be popular, as do various s&w offerings. Charter Arms does the bulk of their sales around short barrel revolvers, and the Charter Arms 85, as a less expensive clone of the s&w j-frames.

While not a 5 shot, Kimber's K6 offering is the same size, with an extra round, and I see that their line is growing.
Posts: 2161 | Registered: September 13, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of HayesGreener
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The airweight J frames are easy to carry but brutal to shoot a lot. Men often told women they needed a revolver but not so much any more. On the other hand some folks cannot operate a semi auto

CMSGT USAF (Retired)
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Posts: 2201 | Location: Florida Panhandle | Registered: September 27, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I have a 37 and a 642. Both without the idiot lock. The 642 goes with me everywhere it legally can. Sometimes even when I'm carrying something bigger. They aren't going away.
Posts: 4345 | Location: Middletown, PA | Registered: January 09, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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IMHO - I have always liked 5-shot revolvers.
Apparently Ruger thinks that there is still some demand for them too.
Ruger this past week re-introduced their SP101 9mm version, these revolvers "were" very rare - having been only manufactured for a couple of years in the 1990s.
Posts: 93 | Location: NoVA | Registered: August 27, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Speling Champ
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Barring some future form of legislation that bans or severely restricts semi-auto firearms the revolver will eventually go the way of black powder/ cap and ball firearms. It wont happen tomorrow, or next week or even next year, but it is going to happen, and sooner rather than later.

Hell, it's already happened for the most part.

Para's example above is becoming more and more common among older shooters. Newer shooters coming out of the military, or entering law enforcement will never use a revolver for duty purposes except for, maybe...possibly, very specific and/or very limited circumstances.

When was the last time anybody attended a training event where a revolver was the primary sidearm used by anybody? I haven't seen one in at least fifteen years or more. When was the last time someone strapped on a black powder Hogleg for everyday carry?

Even the big bore, guide gun market will see the elimination of the revolver in the next few decades or so. Improvements and innovations in metallurgy and composite materials, improvement in design and ergonomics, improvements in propellant and bullet construction will eventually equal (and surpass)anything that is, for now, only found in the big bore revolver market.

I would be willing to bet revolvers will become collectors items and novelties within the next twenty-to-fifty years. They will be seen and used in the same manner as cap and ball percussion guns-range toys, collectors items, SCA/re-enactors, and maybe limited competition events.
Posts: 1273 | Location: Utah | Registered: July 06, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by OcCurt:
When was the last time someone strapped on a black powder Hogleg for everyday carry?

How is that relevant? When was the last time you saw a five shot snub nose black powder revolver?

Manufacturers continue to make and sell five shot short barrel revolvers for what reason?
Posts: 2161 | Registered: September 13, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Gracie Allen is my
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Maybe the 5-round revolver market is simply changing, even if only at Ruger. I just got one of the GP100s in .44 Special, and its a bit lighter and handier than just about any comparable .44 Magnum I've seen. The LCRx 9mm revolvers are light and affordable just as the SP101 is a known quantity, but I (and apparently more than a few others) am waiting for 3" barrels. IOW, the 5-shot may or may not be the king of concealed carry for much longer but the idea may have a lot of merit when it comes to kit guns, trail guns and just plain fun guns.
Posts: 21677 | Location: Deep in the heart of the brush country, and closing on that #&*%!?! roadrunner. Really. | Registered: February 05, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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