February 01, 2023

Whether you should carry a revolver or semiautomatic pistol depends on the purpose of your concealed carry and personal taste. When choosing between a revolver or semiauto pistol for a CCW, consider the trigger performance of single-action and double-action revolvers and pistols, the size and weight of each firearm, and ammo capacity.

Single-Action vs. Double-Action Revolvers

When you pull the trigger on a revolver, the cylinder rotates to move the round. Single-action revolvers perform one action when you pull the trigger. The shooter must pull back the hammer before firing each round, then the gun will release it. This makes the trigger pull light and short so you don’t have to exert much force through your hand, which can help your accuracy.

However, since you’ll have to cock the hammer before every shot, many people find the single-action revolver less than ideal for self-defense. In contrast, when you pull the trigger on a double-action revolver, it releases the hammer and cocks it in one pull, but pulling the trigger requires more exertion.

Single-Action vs. Double-Action Pistols

In a semiautomatic, a magazine holds the ammunition. When you pull the trigger, the gun ejects the expended ammo casing and moves a new cartridge to the gun chamber so it’s ready for firing.

Semiautomatics can hold more rounds than revolvers. You can shoot at speed until the rounds run out, and it’s easier to pull the trigger on a semiauto pistol.

With a single-action semiauto pistol, you need to manually pull back the hammer before the first shot. After the first shot, the recoil from the fired round cocks the hammer for following shots. Because of this, the shooter doesn’t have to manually pull the hammer back before each shot.

Most double-action semiautos are double-action to single-action (DA/SA). This design means the first trigger pull will be double-action—cocking the hammer and releasing it with one pull. Subsequent shots will be single-action, which require shorter, lighter trigger pulls.

Size and Weight

The firearm’s dimensions and weight are another important consideration when choosing between revolvers and semiauto pistols for concealed carry. You can purchase revolvers and semiautos in a range of sizes, but revolvers are wider than semiauto pistols.

Revolvers also tend to be heavier than semiautos, which can make them more difficult to aim and fire, depending on your arm and hand strength. The right size and weight for you depends on personal preference.

Ammo Capacity

Pistols have greater ammo capacity. Most revolvers have a cartridge capacity between 5 and 7 rounds. Subcompact semiautos hold 6 rounds, and large-framed semiautos can hold more than 20 rounds. If you primarily want to carry a small, lightweight firearm and maximize ammo capacity, a semiauto pistol is your best choice.

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