Wheelguns are realguns

The recent Steel Challenge Match at Atlanta CC got me thinking a little bit about revolvers.  I’m still editing the video, so I won’t have that up on Youtube until later in the day, but I wanted to talk a little bit about revolvers.  It’s no secret that I like wheelguns, and in fact in the past I shot them pretty much exclusively.  Then I started shooting competitively on a regular basis, and I shifted my focus to semi-automatic pistols, because being a guy with a relatively short attention span, I like to go FAST.  I can go much faster with an auto in general than I can with a revolver, so I set aside (and sold off) my DA wheelguns.

Saturday, watching the Steel Challenge match, I started thinking about revolvers again, but this time as a serious competitive pistol.  My squad had the usual assortment of semi-auto blasters, my CDP gun included, but it was unusual in that we had three or four wheelgun shooters as well.

From Steel April 18th

Both the shooter and the RO in that picture are running wheelguns, and I was fascinated by the way they had to “manage” their guns during the competition.  With five targets to hit, and only six rounds in the gun, accuracy was at a premium over speed for the wheelgun shooters.  Even my 1911 had a distinct advantage – loaded with 8+1 in the first magazine, I’ve got room for four misses/make up shots before I’d have to reload.  The thing with shooting Steel Challenge is that if you have to reload, you’re probably hosed anyway, and the revolver guys know that just the same as the auto guys.  But unlike the guys with the Limited Guns, or even the production guns, a revolver shooter doesn’t have the luxury of hammering make up shots downrange.

So how do the wheelgun guys manage it?  Well in short, they don’t miss.  By far, the most accurate shooters on the range that day were the guys running the revolvers – without the luxury of all those rounds in the magazine, they made sure that the rounds went where they needed to go.

That was ultimately what got me thinking about revolvers – in that if a shooter can learn to properly manage a revolver in competition, be it Steel Challenge, USPSA, IDPA, etc; then that shooter is (in theory) going to be able to transition very easily to an auto from a strategy and round management point of view.  The skill that Master Class revolver shooters demonstrate is one of those things that will never cease to impress me – truly “a more elegant weapon, from a more civilized age.”


  1. Yeah, the classifiers I shoot with my revo were, up until recently, better than my semi-auto classifiers…

    I guess it boils down to: You should always be shooting accurately enough to hit your A’s anyway, right?

  2. Back in the day, before there was an IDPA, we set up little pistol matches that were designed to be shootable with CCW guns. You had to use your CCW gun and holster, and stages were set up so that you could generally do them with a five shot revolver (if you didn’t miss).

    I shot my first one with my P228 and choked a couple times on more challenging targets, like a small 25yd popper that didn’t want to go down when dinged by a 9mm round. Going cyclic on it just resulted in a cloud of dust, a slide locked back on an empty mag, and a popper standing there mocking me. I was so rattled I just crumpled and blew the rest of the match.

    I shot the next one with my Charter Arms Bulldog Pug. I was a lot more careful to hit when I only had five rounds in the gun. And that 25yd popper went right on down, too…

  3. Always been a revolver junky; about 3 years ago I went from the Blastomatic (Para P-14) to a 625, and it’s made a huge difference in my shooting. I didn’t miss much with the P-14, but knowing I had lotsa shots on tap I’d accept C-ring hits because a little sloppy meant more speed.

    With the 625 I know my times will suck, so I better think through the stage as I’m shooting it and put the holes where they belong. Took a while, but now I own the 25-yard plates – six in the plate rack, six in the gun. Miss one and you’re toast. Front sight, smooth stroke.

    First couple of matches after the switch were interesting; it took some time to get a mental rhythm going for a 6-shot cycle instead of a 14-shot one, and LOTS of practice on reloads.

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