Semi Auto Handgun vs Revolvers & Other Energy Wasting Arguments

By Tom McHale

Semi Auto Handgun vs Revolver
Semi Auto Handgun vs Revolvers and other energy wasting arguments.
Tom McHale headshot low-res square
Tom McHale

USA -( It’s easy to understand why we fight like cats and dogs during election season. It’s because you’re right, and so many other people are wrong!

It’s a crazy statistical anomaly, isn’t it?

The odds of 59 million people being on the opposite of your position, and therefore the dumbest humans to ever walk the face of the earth have to be astronomical, right? Yet it happens! Just kidding… Well, maybe I’m not, but that’s beside the point.

But seriously, what I can’t understand is why we fight to the death amongst ourselves over the most ridiculous things. When I say “we” I’m referring to the shooting and gun-owning community. And when I say ridiculous, I’m talking about time and energy wasting arguments like whether forward cocking serrations will get you killed on the street. Is that an exaggerated example? I don’t think so. Here are some of the ones I’ve spotted on the interwebz recently. The fact that people spend valuable time that could be directed towards productive activity like trying to change others’ deep-rooted political beliefs with Tweets and memes makes me wonder where their priorities really are.

Your Gun Is Derpy!

I’m really getting to hate the word “derp.” Lots of highbrow gun snobs use it to describe anyone with less knowledge than they have, at least in their opinion. If you use a technique that’s different than theirs or carry a different piece of gear, you’re derpy, and your equipment is derp. Or maybe you’re a derp, and your gear is derpy. I can never keep the correct usage of derp and derpy straight, so bear with me. It’s not easy being condescending while using cool kids lingo, is it? On the plus side, derp is a multipurpose word that seems to be equally at home as a noun, verb, adjective, or adverb, so no matter how you use it, you’ll probably be OK.

So, I want to make sure that I understand the logic of this argument. If Gun Snob A shoots me with their Colonel Jeff Cooper hand-water-colored 1911 with Titanium Origami grips that Audie Murphy used to massage his pecs, I’ll be way more dead than they will be if I shoot them with a budget DeathTube Arms Splatter Blaster?

I mean, the physics makes sense, I just want to make sure I understand the complex logic. Getting the scientific facts straight is important in serious business like this.

Instead of arguing incessantly about how Gun A will cause all the children of the earth to hold hands and sing, while Gun B will cause Miley Cyrus to be nominated to the Supreme Court, how about taking your gun, whether it be A, B, or even C to the range. Shoot it a few hundred times. Did it keep working and firing forward? If it did, then that’s excellent news! The odds are pretty darn good that it’ll work again should you ever need to use it in self-defense.

Just because the Norwegian Forsvarets Spesialkommando Unit doesn’t use this particular gun doesn’t mean it’s incapable of saving your life. So go ahead, buy the one you like, provided it’s reliable, and damn the internet derp hurlers.

Front Cocking Serrations Will Get You Killed!

Yes, people really argue for hours on end over those lines on the front of pistol slides. Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand why it’s a life and death issue. After 84,000 or so draws, the inside of your holster might wear a little faster from those rough edges, and that would be epically tragic indeed.

But seriously, some gun makers add those for the convenience of press checks – pulling back the slide just a hair to make sure there is, in fact, a round chambered. If you’re keen on doing press checks, you may like having forward cocking serrations on your gun. If you think press checks are stupid and dangerous because you might shoot your fingers off in the process, then buy a gun without them. See? Isn’t that easy?

OMG! This Honor Guard pistol has forward cocking serrations! Is that good or bad?
OMG! This Honor Guard pistol has forward cocking serrations! Wait. Is that good or bad?

Whatever your personal preference, save all that time trying to convince someone else of your preference and use it to practice on the range. We’ll all be better off for it.

Semi-Automatics Versus Revolvers

If you listen to the internet, only one of these is capable of saving your life! Which is it???
If you listen to the internet, only one of these is capable of saving your life! Which is it???

Since gun people have been arguing for 100 years over whether a revolver or semi-automatic pistol is the “best-est” for self-defense, I took it upon myself to do some quantitative research on the matter. Looking at reams of data, compiled over decades, I found;

…that a revolver has never, ever saved anyone’s life in a self-defense encounter. In fact, people who chose revolvers nearly always died, Yanni songs were played at their funeral, and housing prices in a 17-mile radius declined by over 33 percent.

Actually, that didn’t really happen. As it turns out, revolvers work too. Folks have successfully used wheel guns since 1836 after Samuel Colt’s model was placed into production. Looking to more modern times, I suppose Jerry Miculek does OK with them as well. Anyone want to challenge him to a dueling tree match with the semi-automatic pistol of their choice?

As with almost all ridiculous arguments over shooting technique and choice of gear, the right answer lies between your ears. Not just the “smarts” but in the dedication, determination, and tactics in which you choose to invest your time and training effort.

How about we all stop the nonsensical arguments and go the range and shoot?


Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon. You can also find him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Curious 1

Stefan, If you are not willing to carry a round in a semi-auto chamber, you should only carry a revolver.


What?! Stop arguing about gun related minutia? But, but… it’s so much FUN! And since everyone is an expert, you can never LOSE the argument! At least, I always think I won, don’t you?

Wild Bill

@old, Yes, minutia is too much fun to much fun arguing over to let go. Now, take paper patch bullet shooting for example…!


Whether it’s a Glock, Sig, CZ, Colt, Remington, Hi Point, or Jimenez, if it is reliable and shoots well, then I’m all for it. After all, the point is to put rounds down range accurately.


What, wait.. are you saying we shouldn’t any long argue 9mm vs .45 ACP vs .357 Magnum? Really? Wont’ the interwebz just stop if we can no longer generate 200-page threads on gun forums debating this issue? It would also be bad for ammo & gelatin company sales when people stop doing ballistic gelatin tests to prove others wrong. Judging from the photos and videos on the net it looks like one in seven gun owners is shooting gelatin blocks to death to show, yes indeed, the .45 ACP expands 0.04″ more than its 9mm counterpart does. I hope that… Read more »

Stefan Marceron

In a One handed gun,whendefending physical contact,
1) you Don’t have to Chamber a round in your revolver
2) no safety
3) almost Never jams


Great writing.
Concealed hammer dbbl action 5 shot is the all around safest thing I can have for me.


Ironically, my concealed hammer 5-shot seized up on me last time at the range. Turned out the trigger return spring had somehow broken into pieces. My gunsmith said he has seen this happen before. Despite that, my repaired 442 will probably resume its normal duty as weak hand jacket front pocket BUG. I generally prefer an auto as primary (with a spare mag, because magazines are the most common problem issue for autos) and the 442 as BUG… and I like BUGs because sometimes guns break. Or squib rounds jam a gun that is otherwise working just fine. That happened… Read more »


“Go to the range and shoot.”

Easier said than done when you are infringed by recent laws such as California’s ammunition restrictions.
Oppose all such Draconian legislation before it comes to your state!

“You can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition.”
Rudyard Kipling

Ken Benesh

If the business end is pointed in your direction, I don’t think you’ll concern yourself with, wheel-gun, semi-auto, lever action, bolt action or shotgun.

Bill Kitsch

I think the common desire is ‘point and shoot’, yep.


“Go to the range and shoot.” sounds like a good suggestion for almost any argument, gun-related or not. Ginger or Mary Ann?, shoot lets just go to the range and shoot. We can agree to disagree about something and find something else we both agree on instead. And unlike most petty arguments, going to the range isn’t POINTless, or AIMless, whichever you prefer.


Ha! I see what you did there Master ‘O Puns!


Ricochet, you are confused and missed the winner.
Mrs. Howell is the original hottie.
Wealthy as well.

Jim Church

I wore a badge and carried guns for 20 years. Concealed, a S & W Model 36 revolver, Open carry, a model 1911. In Vietnam, an M-16. I trusted my life to all of them. I also like Sports cars and SUV’s, but for different reasons. As far as handguns go, if you haven’t stopped your opposition in 5 shots, chances are you won’t with 16 or 17. I practiced regularly, including various positions, barriers, etc. I believe it’s the shooter that makes the difference, and practice makes the shooter. I expect that there are a variety of other takes… Read more »

David G McMahan

Darned if you an’t got it rite.73 year old vet.