I have never so much as fired a revolver. But now I really want to.
Grant Cunningham is a revolver guy. He explains how that came to be in the introduction of his book, Gun Digest Book of the Revolver, so I won’t ruin it for you here. The point is that he knows his stuff. As a gunsmith he specializes in revolvers. He spends (apparently) a great deal of time thinking about revolvers. He takes some really good photos of revolvers. This is not to say that he’s down on all other forms of firepower, but he is a thoughtful booster for his wheelguns on his blog, and he makes a pretty compelling case.
That, combined with the pictures on his sight–which are just flat-out gun porn–convinced me to buy his book and see what this was all about.
Chapter 1, Why the Revolver?, attempts to answer the question of why one would buy anything new that didn’t start with Gl- and end with -ock. [Setting aside their (to me) mediocre ergonomics.] Aren’t revolvers, like, Cowboys ‘n Indians stuff? While noting the reasoning behind the change in the market toward the auto-pistol, Cunningham points out a number of scenarios and conditions under which a wheelgun is still a valid, and perhaps better, choice. (For a taste of some of the issues involved, see also this blog post from May 2012.) I appreciated, too, that he was perfectly willing to concede that there were people for whom a revolver simply wasn’t likely to be the best option.
Chapter 2 covers the many sizes and shapes of a revolver and how to pick one that will fit your hand. He leads off with exactly this point:
It’s really pretty simple: your gun must fit your hand if you want to be efficient in shooting. The circumference of the grip, the distance from the back to the trigger, and even the shape of the grip’s cross section make huge contributions to comfort and performance.
How novel. Discussion of the various major manufacturers and their completely insane nomenclature systems ensues. Great fun.
After a discussion of calibers and ammunition in 3, Chapters 4 through 6 take us from sight to shoot and everything in between–including the double action trigger. Even if I never actually get around to purchasing a revolver, this last topic was worth the price of admission to me. I love my Sig Sauer P229, but I have met with only moderate success in mastering the double action trigger on it. I’m not sure how much of the advice contained herein will directly apply, but I intend to find out at my next range visit.
Several chapters devoted to reloading (the weapon, not the shells themselves), malfunction clearing, and maintenance. A chapter each on customization and on specific concerns related to concealed carry. A chapter devoted to special issues revolving (ha) around snubnose models.
And suddenly it’s over, except for a few appendices. Wait, I want more…
The paperback is well constructed with a nice, clean font. If there were any egregious typos, I was too enthralled with the content to notice (and I edit for a living). Nice glossy cover. Typeface is a little on the small side. Spine is fully intact after lots of paging back and forth. This should survive a few readings and perhaps (if I’m feeling generous) a lending or two.
- The pictures. Black and white, but clear, focused, and beautiful. If I knew anything about photography, I would use bigger words here.
- Form and fit: How to pick a revolver (in Ch. 1), and how to hold and fire it once you have done so (in Ch. 5).
- Small sub-sections (in Ch. 2) devoted to guys buying guns for their significant female and females trying to shop for a revolver on their own. Both endeavors are apparently fraught with peril.
- The tactical reload. Great series of photos here; every step is clearly described and illustrated.
Shot group could be tighter
- Almost none of the captions actually tell you what sort of revolver is being pictured. Most are clear enough to make out the imprint, but sometimes the angle is bad (for that purpose, at least). Please, what am I looking at? She’s gorgeous, but I want a name. (And maybe a phone number.)
- A chapter with photos on common wear and how to inspect revolvers (e.g. when considering a used purchase, etc.) would be a lovely addendum after the maintenance chapter. Knowing how to describe some potential issues isn’t quite the same as seeing examples.
- It just ended really abruptly. Some sort of afterword? A plug for the blog? More photos? Something.
Nothing. There is nothing ugly about this book, unless you count the Smith & Wesson J frame on page 21.
If you are considering becoming a revolver owner (I was and am), think you might lean that way, or maybe are just curious, I think this is a pretty good introduction. It’s a quick read, it explains things clearly, and it makes some effective points without being dogmatic. Revolvers aren’t for everyone, but they might be for you. For less than the cost of a box of ammo, you can learn a lot about how to find out. (The proof, as always, is at the range.) The very few deficiencies I found are minor nitpicky things. Perhaps a 2nd edition? Here’s hoping.
I give it six shots out of seven.
- Revolver Liberation Alliance blog at GrantCunningham.com
- One of the better discussions about the relative virtues of revolvers and auto-pistols
- Grant Cunningham on Twitter (@RevolverFan)
- GunDigest.com 20 Revolver Six-Gun Salute
- The book at Amazon.com (there’s a Kindle preview available, too)