I Won’t Give Up My Single-Action Revolvers. Do You Feel The Same Way?
I’m going through that mood again. It’s the one where the compass needle on my firearm cravings points directly at single-action revolvers no matter which way I turn. This happens at least once a year where I have an impulse to rid myself of all things plastic.
Few Negatives With Single-Action Revolvers
Yes, I’m well-aware of the criticism of single-actions. They’re obsolete, old-fashioned and only good for grown children who want to play cowboy. And yes, I’m aware of some of their limitations: You have to load them and unload them one cartridge at a time. You’re limited to six rounds, five if you have one of the old-style actions where you should keep the hammer lowered over an empty chamber.
Still Plenty Of Reasons To Like Single-Actions
Ok, the single-action revolver is not anyone’s choice for modern military service. And I had to carry what was issued as a police officer, although how cool would it have been to carry single-action?
And I have to admit, while some folks choose a single-action revolvers as their EDC guns, one usually isn’t my choice unless part of my day involves a stroll in the woods. But they are still useful for a number of reasons:
First, nothing compares to a good single-action trigger. The squishy triggers on striker-fired semi-autos can’t come close. Shooting a single-action revolver involves a more basic, methodical process.
You cock the hammer, take aim and pull the trigger. I’m believe I’m more focused in the process, which I think helps my accuracy. For that reason, I think a single-action revolver is a good choice for a new shooter too.
Great Single-Action Options For Hunters
Single-action revolvers are available in a wider range of chamberings useful to hunters and because I’m a hunter, I like that. You can get them chambered for the rimfire cartridges, on up to some very powerful cartridges such as the .454 Casull, .480 Ruger, 475 Linebaugh and .500 Wyoming Express. And most everything in between.
Lots of Variety From Which To Choose
Currently my favorite single-action revolver cartridge is also the oldest: the .45 Colt.
It provides sufficient power without being unpleasant to shoot. Many modern single-actions have good adjustable sights.
My Ruger Super Blackhawk Hunter allows for easy scope mounting too.
Reliable And Easy To Shoot
Single-actions, like most revolvers, aren’t finicky about ammo. As long as the appropriate cartridge isn’t longer than the cylinder, you’re good. A single-action doesn’t care about bullet shape. It won’t malfunction if you load the first two light and the rest hot.
A single-action revolver tends to point naturally, more so than other handguns I’ve used.
And the grips are configured to handle recoil better.
Usually those grips are smaller too, so you don’t need huge mitts to hold on to one.
There’s no complicated disassembly required for normal cleaning. You can remove the cylinder easily on most models.
Classy And Just Plain Fun To Shoot
You don’t get extra points for the way your gun looks when you have to shoot something. But, as Doug Turnbull once told me, life is too short to carry an ugly gun.
There are many great grip options to dress up your single-action. Exotic wood or naturally textured bone makes for an easy, attractive upgrade. Pair nice grips with a color case-hardened receiver and you have a true, classy piece of functional art.
Beyond any of the things I’ve already mentioned, you can’t overlook the appeal of tradition and history. And most of all, single-action revolvers are just plain fun to shoot.
A Single-Action Can Save Your Hide Too
As I said, I carry a single-action revolver most often when hunting or wandering the woods. But if I stop in town either on the way out or way back, I can switch holsters to something more concealable and I still have pretty good defensive capability.
I never feel vulnerable because all I have with me is a single-action revolver. And I feel better prepared with one than if I was carrying a .380 pocket pistol with the same number of rounds.
Steven Paul Barlow is a retired sergeant/station commander and former firearms instructor with the New York State Police. He is an avid hunter, fisherman, and enthusiast with all things related to firearms, knives, and survival. He has been writing on outdoor topics for more than 35 years. His collections of outdoor humor stories are available at www.BriarHillBooks.com.