Is the Duty-Carry Revolver Done?


( — I was meeting up with a law enforcement friend of mine for a day of shooting. I pulled up to the range, and my comrade had his guns out while he organized his ammo. He already put some holes in a paper target, which sat in the middle of the three-sided berm. His Colt Python had some steam coming off the barrel. As beautiful and well built as that handgun was, I noticed that he usually carried a Glock 19 when he was on duty, not his fancy Colt six shooter. A .357 magnum revolver was still on the approved duty pistol list carry, so I was curious about his choice. When I asked about why he carried a little 9mm instead of that intimidating Colt, he said he felt that it was simply obsolete, CTD Rob, a writer at the Cheaper Than Dirt blog, says.

CTD Rob continues:

Obsolete? I wasn’t sure what to think about that. With the modern semi-automatic pistols being so affordable and reliable, was he right in saying that his beloved Python was too old of a platform to be a viable duty weapon? I dove into the matter and came to a few conclusions, but no definite answers.


This is the largest strike against revolvers. Six rounds of ammunition just doesn’t seem to cut the mustard when you can just as easily carry 16. Semi-automatics have a clear edge in this category.


A quality revolver is just about the most reliable handgun you can own. There really isn’t a lot to go wrong. For the most part, every time you pull the trigger, it will go bang. If by chance, you pull the trigger and it fails to fire, simply pull it again. There is no need for failure to feed drills. In the past, the edge in this category would squarely belong to the revolver, however, with proper duty ammunition, a modern quality semi-automatic is every bit as reliable as the best wheelgun.

Killing Power

Another tie. Recent advancements in ammunition make the old revolver rounds just as deadly as the latest in .45 or 9mm. You can find mile long threads on every gun forum about .38 versus 9mm and .44 versus .45. The bottom line is a well-placed shot from any of these rounds does the trick, body armor not withstanding.


So are revolvers a still a viable option for duty carry? I would say yes. However, the allure of carrying more ammunition at the ready is too tempting an offer for most military or police officers.

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