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Revolver vs. Pistol

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Jacob Paulsen 2 years, 2 months ago.

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    I recently started shooting at the range and have confined my training to the gun I own, a S&W .38 Spl.. It's an inherited gun.

    However, I am considering going to a pistol (S&W or Glock) as I am having trouble acquiring the sites. I've just turned 50 and wear progressive (tri-focal) lenses. Even painting the iron sites white hasn't helped. The pistols have all sorts of after-market sites (I really like the orange dot/night site on a Glock.) So, do I continue to train with the .38 for the muscle memory (I don't do badly out to 25 ft. although I pull a little low, especially on head shots)? Or bite the bullet and go for a pistol. If that is the consensus, does anyone have a preference for S&W or a Glock? .40 or 9mm?


    Jacob Paulsen

    Thomas, I'll chime in with my opinion…

    I would recommend the 9mm over the .40. I personally prefer Glock but I love my M&P Shield as well. I like the simplicity and reliability of the Glock above all else.

    I would also recommend training at a shorter distance. 25ft is a very long distance for self-defense training.




    Thanks Jacob,

    I start at 20 ft. and then go to 15 ft. and finish at 10 ft. The 25 foot shot is based on the length of my upstairs hallway to the back set of stairs. (Victorian house.) Should I come in even closer than 10 ft.?

    Thanks for the advice. My range allows me a free gun rental during my birthday month (this month) and while I was planning on trying an AR-15, I think I'll use it to sort out the pistol debate.


    Jacob Paulsen

    Thomas, the fact that you picked that distance based on an actual potential situation in your own home is awesome. It may be worth training at 15-20 feet on occasion but I honestly would do something more like:
    80% at 3-7 feet
    16% at 7-15 feet
    4% at 15-21 feet

    Glocks and S&W handguns are very common. You might ask friends who own either if they would let you test drive them? That is my first step when I identify a gun I want to try out.



    I test drove a Glock 17 with and without a mini red dot optical and either way shredded targets out to 25 feet, easily acquiring the front site.

    Next up the S&W. Then the Ruger, which felt good at the counter. I'm partial to aggressive stippling and checkering, it turns out.


    Riley Bowman

    Hi thomasc!

    I completely understand what you mean about having a hard time picking up the sights on your revolver. Most defensive-oriented revolvers typically don't have that great of sights in my opinion.

    I have personally carried a Springfield XDm-45 Compact for years. Before that I carried the Springfield XD-45 Compact, so in all I've carried one of those two guns for about 10 years. I like them both very much and with nice aftermarket tritium night sights they are easy to sight in in the day or night.

    Recently I have been moving towards Glock. This has less to do with anything other than my training regimen. I do a lot of dry-practice with my Next Level Training SIRT pistols. If you're not familiar with this product, check it out on this website, I think the link is:

    Because the SIRT pistol is oriented and catered to the Glock platform, it has been a natural transition to make my live-fire practice and shooting consistent with my dry-practice.

    The S&W M&P series of pistols are also very nice guns, and I've shot them many times, so I would have no problem with recommending them either.

    So it comes down to this: I think you are wise to move to a semi-auto pistol. The benefits far outweigh the cons. Greater ammo capacity, faster reloads, more aftermarket options for customization including more variety of and more readily available sight options, and frankly more options as far as gun designs and fitment to hand go. Amongst the big names in semi-autos (Glock, S&W, Springfield Armory, Sig-Sauer, Ruger, HK, etc.) there is not really one that is above another as far as quality functioning guns. They all do a great job. The most important thing is for you to find the gun that fits YOU the best!

    About training?

    Most (like 90-95%) deadly force encounters occur within 7 yards (21 ft). A huge majority of those occur within 3 yards (9-10 ft). So it is not really critical to train much beyond 7 yards with defensive pistols. HOWEVER, I do think it is a good idea to stretch yourself, and I still regularly train at distances of 15 to even 25 yards (35-75 ft). I figure if I can do the same drills at those longer distances really well, then it will surely help me at closer ranges, too.

    I frequently start out my practice sessions at 1-3 yards. I then move back to 5 yards. Then 7 yards. Then 10. Then 15, 20 and 25. I spend the bulk of my time in the 5-15 yard range. But my skills are such that I know I can shoot at 1-5 yards very quickly and effectively. Someone who is newer or less skilled should spend more time at the closer distances until they are completely comfortable.

    Remember the “why” or the reason we practice…it is to make these skills become second nature. It is to develop muscle memory and eye/hand coordination (which is really muscle memory as well). Anyone can learn the simple skill of shooting a gun, but to make it a PART of you is the hard part.

    This is also why I am such a huge advocate for dry-practice. I personally CANNOT get enough time at the range to sufficiently develop my skills and muscle memory, so I supplement that with regular (almost daily) dry-practice at home with the SIRT pistol.

    Hope this helps!



    Thanks Riley!

    I'll look into the SIRT. Good idea.

    Today I tried out the Ruger SR-9 C, S&W M&P 9, and the H& K VP9. I find very little difference among the guns. The Glock 17 is the one that felt most natural to me, but the S&W wasn't customized to my grip and had the smaller backstrap, etc. . The H&K was easy and as much as I wanted to like the Ruger, (it felt great, until I pulled the trigger), I couldn't get comfortable with it. This may also have been the sights. They were night sights, but really small. Walther PPQ left to try.




    Hi Riley and Jacob,

    Well, I am now the proud owner of a Glock 19 with a Surefire light. The front sight has been replaced by a night sight, orange beach ball that I can see very easily. Eventually, I might have it milled for the MRDS.

    Most importantly, I have really enjoyed my SIRT pistol. I've been able to practice drawing from concealment and working around my house. GREAT training device, even without night sights…

    Thanks for all the guidance. I feel a lot more confident now and enjoy shooting with the snubnosed revolver, too. Building that muscle memory!

    — Chris



    I use a Ruger SR9c but a revolver is simple and has little to go wrong. I love my SR9C and had any problems shooting 1,000 + rounds .



    Well, I've gone whole hog. Yesterday I bought a .380 Glock 42, since the manual of arms is the same. I plan on using it as a pocket pistol, and/or back up. Bit nervous about that as the 9th Federal ruling looks to be a death knell for ccw. I'm hoping that is not the case, as I don't really want to open carry. However…


    Jacob Paulsen

    Excited for you. Glad you have some firearms that are working for you and I'm glad you have enjoyed the SIRT!

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