Handguns are basically divided into two types – pistols and revolvers. In this text you will read about the differences between them, their internals and the way they work. We will also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both solutions.
Apart from the general assumption of being a weapon of small dimensions, which is supposed to be handy and easy to hide, pistols and revolvers are two completely different machines. Revolvers have a very long history dating back to the American Civil War and even earlier.
Semi-automatic pistols began to gain popularity only at the beginning of the 20th century, but since then they have been displacing revolvers from use at a steady pace. Currently, revolvers are no longer used by practically any army or police force, and their buyers are basically only on the civilian market. So, the question “Is a revolver better than a pistol?” practically does not exist anymore. It’s basically a matter of ammo capacity and ease of reloading. You can reload a pistol faster than a revolver, and you don’t have to do it as often, because pistols generally hold more rounds. The only upside of the revolver is the ease of use when it’s already loaded, and its less prone to jamming due to user error. Let’s start with the question how does a gun work on the inside.
How does a pistol work?
The vast majority of semi-automatic pistols operate on the principle invented by John Browning, i.e. based on the so-called short-recoil. It is about using the energy of the gunpowder gases to cycle the mechanisms of the weapon, where during the cycle the barrel travels with the slide for a short distance and then tilts down to position itself to load the next round. Moments earlier, the cartridge case fired before is ejected from the cartridge chamber.
The barrel travels connected with the slide in the first moments of cycling to allow time for the pressure in the barrel to drop to a safe level. Only then the mentioned unlocking occurs. Due to the popularity of this solution, the construction of a semi-automatic pistol and the answer to the question of how the gun works almost regardless of the model is very similar. Of course, with some exceptions.
How does a revolver work?
What’s the difference between a pistol and a revolver? Virtually everything, the construction of the revolver is completely different. Revolvers are based on an ammunition cylinder, usually holding 5 to 8 rounds. During shooting, it rotates, placing the consecutive rounds in front of the barrel. When they run out, empty shells can be thrown away and new ones can be loaded manually or with a special loader. However, it is slower than changing the magazine in the pistol.
Today, the most popular type of revolver is SA/DA (Single-Action/Double-Action). We are talking about the type of trigger mechanism, which can work in two ways. The first way to operate it is to simply press the trigger, which cocks and then releases the hammer. Then the gun fires. The second way is to pull the hammer manually and then release it with the trigger. The first way is faster, but accuracy suffers, the second one is slower, but you don’t have to fight with the resistance of the hammer spring, so accuracy increases.
There are also SA only and DA only revolvers. The former are usually replicas of early models such as the Colt Single Action Army or Nagant. The latter are usually produced for self-defense at close range where accuracy is not the most important thing. They are also mostly small in size and capacity.
As you can see, pistols and revolvers are a completely different type of mechanism, their construction is completely different. Revolvers played a huge role in the development of small arms, but their time has passed and their practical use is limited. Pistols took over their role in the military, police and civilian hands a long time ago. Revolvers nowadays are mainly used for recreational and sports purposes, and pistols are used for basically everything due to the huge number of models. If you want Cracow Shooting Academy offers a variety of pistols and revolvers, so you can do your own pistol vs revolver comparison on our range.