Before choosing a pistol, handle both revolvers and semiautomatics. Attend a FREE Basic Handgun Safety and Maintenance Course one Saturday a month at 1:30pm, hosted by our resident gunsmith, Jamie Zern. See our Event Schedule for upcoming class dates. Ask your sales associate to demonstrate how to safely dry fire a pistol to try the trigger. Ability to pull as opposed to weight of pull should be considered first. Weightlifting records aren’t set the first time they are attempted, so allow yourself to train the muscles in your gripping hand and trigger finger before casting off certain models. Consider a heavy trigger pull an extra assurance that the firearm will not accidentally discharge. If you can learn to control a heavy trigger, you will only surprise yourself with how deadly accurate your precision trigger game will be. Invest in a set of snap caps or dummy rounds to practice the outlined actions in this article at home. Only your own knowledge and comfort can decide which is the best handgun for you, revolver vs semiauto.


The two most commonly identified parts of a revolver are the cylinder and hammer. These parts can be observed as visibly functioning mechanisms when firing the pistol. When the trigger is pulled, the cylinder holding the ammunition rotates to align a fresh cartridge with the barrel as the hammer draws to the rear before falling to discharge the newly positioned round.

Manually cocking the hammer back will rotate and align the cylinder. When the trigger is pulled the hammer falls and a round is discharged.

The most common type of revolver would be considered a DA/SA revolver. The easiest way to tell this revolver’s type of action is to count how many parts are moving when you pull the trigger. Hammerless (internal hammer) revolvers are double action only,

and revolvers that must be cocked in order to fire are single action only.

The cylinders in most popular revolvers are attached to a crane that swings out to one side. This allows the user to load ammunition and eject spent casings. The revolver’s straight forward and simplistic design makes it ideal for anyone with hand strength ailments like arthritis or tissue damage. It offers a comfortable introduction to firearms for those who are unfamiliar with handling them. Never point a firearm at any person (including your sales associate!). Always check the cylinder before pulling the trigger. Open the cylinder as a courtesy before handing a revolver to another person.

Shooting a revolver repeatedly is limited to how many rounds the cylinder will hold. They are available in nearly all pistol calibers, and some will chamber multiple calibers or gauges. It takes a considerable amount of time and effort to reload a revolver, even with the aid of speed loaders. Revolvers are wider than most subcompact pistols and may require particular holster needs. Revolvers offer no relief in terms of recoil; the energy from each dispersed round will escape the muzzle first causing ‘flip’, and Newton’s Law directly affects your supporting grip. Regardless, revolvers have stood the test of time with reliability and functionality. Choose a revolver for ultimate dependability, inside and outside of your home.


Semiautomatic pistols require dedicated attention towards functionality. One’s ability to properly and confidently operate these types of firearms should be foremost. This usually requires the user to draw back an attached slide under recoil spring pressure in order to chamber a round. Unlike loading the cylinder of a revolver, loading a semiautomatic handgun requires multiple components and preparation. One defining feature of semiautomatic pistols is their ability to accept magazines. Let’s base our research around this feature.

To fire a semiautomatic pistol, you must first load the ammunition into the magazine, then load the magazine into the pistol, and chamber a round. You pull the trigger, a round is discharged and the slide cycles back. Meanwhile, a spent casing is extracted and ejected. The recoil spring brings the slide forward again, stripping another round from the top of the magazine and chambering it. Basically the magazine feeds the pistol, and all the user must do is pull the trigger until all rounds have been fired. The semiautomatic handgun would be as useful as a single shot handgun without this feature.

Most models have a slide stop feature that locks the slide to the rear when the last round has been fired.

When handling an unloaded firearm, the slide will lock back automatically with an empty magazine inserted. Without the follower in play (the base atop the spring in the magazine, that pushes or follows the rounds ‘up’ the automatic slide stop is not engaged. Eject the empty magazine, or insert a loaded magazine to easily release the slide by pressing down on the slide stop lever or by drawing the slide to the rear a touch. Let the slide snap forward with full force from the recoil spring to properly chamber a round.

When not chambering a round or snapcap, ‘ride the slide’ or gently lower the slide into place.

This automatic slide stop feature alerts the user of the need to reload. It is a useful training tool when discovering the strength required to compress a recoil spring enough to effectively operate a semiautomatic handgun. It presents the time saving advantage of not having to draw the slide all the way to the rear again to chamber the top round of a fresh magazine when reloading.  NOT all semiautomatics have this feature, but it is useful in maintenance and operation for the novice. In the debate between revolver vs semiauto the main appeal of semiautomatic pistols is that the magazine feature allows for higher capacities, quicker follow-up shots and faster reloading times. Just like revolvers, semiautomatic firearms are available in multiple types of actions and calibers.

All of our associates at the Florida Gun Exchange are ready to speak with you regarding our many options for revolvers and semi-automatic pistols!

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