Shotguns and wheelguns: two peas in a pod

Two of my favorite guns are pump shotguns and revolvers. This isn’t a surprise to anyone who knows me really well, because I like things that are completely obsolete. I also like muscle cars with big, inefficient V8s, and bolt action rifles with fixed magazines. I like all of these things more than the things that make more sense, like semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines, modern turbocharged engines, and magazine fed pistols. Even though all of those things are generally better, I like the less efficient stuff more.


The one thing I don’t do though is recommend my personal preferences to another person. I carry a wheelgun because I like them, and I’m more likely to actually get to the range and train with my wheelguns than with another ho-hum semi-auto pistol. But I’m not going to sit here and pretend that my 6 shot, 2.2 pound revolver is better than a 17 shot 2 pound semi-automatic pistol that has a lighter trigger pull and is easier to conceal. Because it’s not. Similarly, the Winchester 1300 next to my bed really isn’t better than an AR15, and if you want a long gun for home defense you really want a rifle, not a pump gun.

Wheelguns and shotguns really are two peas in a pod though. They take forever to reload, don’t hold a lot of ammo, and are capable of delivering absolutely devastating terminal ballistics. You can kill most things that walk on four legs with a .357 Magnum depending on the bullet choice, and a shotgun with 12 gauge buckshot has actual stopping power. But that power comes at a cost, and most people would be better off with a rifle in 5.56 or a 9mm pistol. Just because I want to saddle up and carry 158 grain .357 Magnum loads in my revolver doesn’t mean that actually makes sense for everyone else.

Shotguns and revolvers are still awesome. And for some special applications, they’re impossible to beat. I’d much rather take a wheelgun into the woods than a 9mm pistol, and I’d rather have a shotgun as a general purpose survival gun than a rifle. But for general home and self defense, there are better choices. Just like a turbocharged WRX-STI is going to be an all-around better car than a Dodge Charger. But for some people, an STI will never have the appeal of a big V8.


  1. What a pump gun and revolver share most in my opinion is versatility. You can fire almost every imaginable type of round through a .357 magnum revolver. Shotshell, blanks, light target loads, defensive loads, and heavy hunting loads. You don’t worry about the round not cycling your gun, because it is not recoil operated. For this reason, I’ve always been a huge fan of the 4″ .357 magnum revolver. Learned to shoot on one in fact. And I’m one of those 90’s whipper snappers who have no respect for some long dead gunmaker at whose altar everybody prays.

    A pump gun has similar advantage. You can load birdshot for pheasant hunting, switch to buckshot for home defense, or slugs for any animal that walks the most continents (excluding some african game).

    The versatility of the pump gun and revolver seem mostly geared towards the hunting crowd. They are mostly hunting guns that can be used for self defense, but not as effectively as a Glock or AR, both of which have a capacity and reload advantage

    Similarly a Glock or an AR-15 are not going to be as adaptable to hunting without a significant cost (like a new upper in .30 caliber for an AR) as a revolver or a 12 gauge, either of which can be used for hunting with just a quick change in ammo selection.

    I’d probably never carry a revolver, mostly because I don’t hunt with a handgun. To me, my handgun is a defensive gun/gun for playing silly games that get you killed on the street. Meanwhile, I’d absolutely get a shotgun (Saving for one now in fact), because if I ever decide to take up any kind of hunting, whether birds or deer or boar, or bear or moose or elk or whatever…I can grab a Mossberg 500 or Remington 870. And meanwhile, it sits loaded with 00 buckshot, completely capable of stopping a bad guy with one shot.

  2. I like my Revolvers too. A Colt Python, A S & W Model 1955 Target, a Colt Diamondback in .22 cal. I reload for, naturally 2 of those three. I used to make bullet jackets out of .22 casings.

  3. Thanks for recognizing that your tastes and the ‘right answer’ aren’t always congruent. So many people try to rationalize the two together.

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