What Exactly Is A Revolver?

Men know how to change a tire, build a campfire, and of course BBQ. But some men cannot tell you the difference between a revolver and a semi-automatic pistol. This article should help some with their “Man Knowledge” when it comes to the basics of firearms.

Our first subject will be an old standard: the revolver. A revolver can be recognized from any western-style movie. Its defining feature is the cylinder in the center that rotates when the trigger or hammer is pulled back and usually holds between 5-7 shots. Revolvers can be “single action”, “double action”, or both.

The simplest way to explain and remember the terms is to relate them to the trigger. When the trigger of a “single action” revolver is pulled it releases the hammer which makes the gun fire. The trigger only does ONE thing, hence the name “single action”. This means the hammer must be cocked back manually each time for the gun to fire a round. If the trigger is pulled without doing this, nothing will happen.

“Double action” revolvers do two things when the trigger is pulled; again, hence the name “double action”. Pulling the trigger of this kind of revolver pulls the hammer back AND releases it, firing a round. In contrast to a “single action” revolver, one cannot be manually pulling the hammer back because this can only be done with a pull of the trigger.

“Single action” and “double action” revolvers have their advantages and disadvantages depending on the expected use of the actual gun. Revolvers can also come as both “single” and “double” so one can enjoy the best of both worlds.

Hopefully this has increased your “man knowledge” of firearms; but to really understand the differences I recommend going to your nearest shooting range and trying them out yourself!

Frank Ha


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