Ergonomics, Power, Recoil

Most semi-autos have shorter trigger pulls — and shorter trigger re-sets for subsequent shots — than double-action revolvers. As early as the 1970s, my friend and colleague John Farnam determined the average person could get off four close-range shots in one second (counting from the first round), with a revolver, but five in a second with a typical semi-auto.

A .357 Magnum revolver can send a 125-gr. bullet out of a 4 barrel at 1,450 fps. We’re talking legendary “stopping power” with equally legendary recoil. The .357 SIG cartridge, in Speer Gold Dot and Remington Golden Saber loadings, launches a 125-gr. bullet at 1,430 fps from the 4.5 barrel of my GLOCK 31 with much less “kick.” Power level for power level, the semi-auto’s slide and recoil spring mechanism soak up a lot of the recoil.

Though today’s KISS principle in firearms training (“keep it simple, stupid”) de-emphasizes auto pistols with manual safeties, those so equipped have saved countless cops and armed citizens when a bad guy got hold of their gun, tried to shoot the good guy, and couldn’t because they were unable to find the “turn-on switch.” A semi-auto with a manual safety is also one more layer of protection if something gets caught in the triggerguard when holstering a loaded handgun.

Though the revolver still has compelling features for certain applications, in many of the classes I teach or attend every single student shows up with a semi-auto. Cartridge capacity is only one of the reasons.

Subscribe To GUNS Magazine