20 Sept 12
A student recently pointed-out to me an important truth that had not previously jelled in my mind, until he articulated it. Once again, I may just be late to the party, but I’ve not heard this issue discussed among Operators, at least lately.
Many in our industry are currently advocating for revolvers and lever-action rifles, because they think those weapons will be less likely heavily regulated, and less likely to be banned from private ownership altogether, than are modern weapons. That is indeed a valid point, and can be argued endlessly.
However, there is another legitimate reason for owning, and training with, revolvers and lever-action rifles:
Modern, autoloading rifles and pistols, that we all own, use, and carry for serious purposes, are magazine-dependant. Even when we have ammunition, absent their detachable magazines, our pistols and rifles are instantly converted to single-shot weapons, and slow, awkward ones at that! Worse yet, when you’re unfortunate enough to have a pistol equipped with a “magazine safety/disconnect,” without magazines, you’ll be holding a non-shooter, the equivalent of a bar of soap, no matter how much ammunition you have! This is why I consider “magazine-safeties” on serious pistols, a death-trap. I don’t own one!
Conversely, revolvers and lever-action rifles are, and continue to be, multiple-shot weapons, even when all you have is loose ammunition! Reloading is slow, to be sure, but detachable magazines are not required, nor are they even part of the picture. Revolver speed-loaders and speed-strips definitely accelerate the loading/reloading process, but neither is required to make the revolver run normally.
Another positive aspect is that your can possess a revolver, and a lever-action rifle, and have both in the same caliber, and thus both able to use the same ammunition. 44Spl, 44mg, 38Spl, 357mg, and 45Colt are all eligible choices. And, unlike autoloaders, revolvers and lever-guns function just fine with under-powered ammunition.
When I use the term, “revolver,” I’m referring, of course, to modern, double-action revolvers, by S&W, Ruger, and some others. Single-action revolvers, while “dangerous” to be sure, still have little to recommend them outside of recreation. None are recommended for serious purposes.
The M1 Garand was that last individual rifle issued to American troops, where ammunition was delivered to the soldier in an immediately-useable form, the famous eight-round “clip.” The whole clip goes into the rifle, the bolt is closed (all in one motion), and the user is straightaway good-to-go. Since then, all military rifles have come with detachable magazines. Magazines (in most cases separate from the rifle) have to be (1) charged first, then (2) inserted into the rifle, and (3) a round subsequently chambered, all before the rifle is fully useable. To be sure, we love our ARs, AKs, FALs, M1As, XCRs, PTRs, et al, but, almost without noticing it, we’ve left behind this important, sometimes critical, advantage!
In conclusion, it might be a good idea for all of us take a second look at revolvers and lever-action rifles, and even train with them occasionally.
“Old technology” often has concealed joys, when we keep an open mind!