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View Full Version : Semi-Auto or Revolver - Most Accurate


Phil3
02-22-2009, 6:39 PM
My handgun use will be strictly at the range, and am wondering if there is an inherent advantage in accuracy between the revolver and semi-auto. How about 1911 design vs other semi-auto designs? For target shooting, is there a preferred cartridge and barrel length that is optimal?

- Phil

aklon
02-22-2009, 6:45 PM
I shoot both semiautos and revolvers and I don't see any inherent difference in accuracy. How good anyone does with either is mostly what works best for that person shooting it. Some folks are good with semis, others with wheel guns.

Buy both; you won't regret it. Think .45 ACP in the automatic, and something in .357 out of the Smith & Wesson line for the revolver. Both calibers can deliver astonishing accuracy.

paul0660
02-22-2009, 6:56 PM
"Astonishing" is relative. You can find revolvers with foot long barrels, and they will probably be the best. Personally, I like revolvers for their reliability, but aklon is absolutely right..........................BUY BOTH.

Phil3
02-22-2009, 7:02 PM
I intend to buy both. Right now, I have a CZ 75B (single action) 9mm, and a Dan Wesson 1911 Pointman 7 in 45 ACP. I have yet to shoot the latter, and may sell (due to varied reasons - another story). For the revolver, I was considering the Ruger GP100 in 357 Mag with a 6" barrel, or if I go 44 Mag, use the S&W Model 29 or 629, or, Ruger Super Redhawk with 7-1/2" barrel.

I can't shoot the CZ very well (probably me), and I did not do so well with a Ruger GP 100 4" in 357 Mag either. But, liked both. Seems for the time, it is me, who is the limiting factor.

- Phil

Cato
02-22-2009, 7:05 PM
I asked this questions a few years ago on the Sig forum and everyone claimed revolvers are more accurate.

Spyder
02-22-2009, 7:09 PM
It would make sense that revolvers are more accurate...no movement in the action to throw anything off... But for most of us, it doesn't matter, at all, for handgun ranges. Buy both and shoot both until you're good.

TheBundo
02-22-2009, 7:09 PM
I have the 6" GP100 in black, and love it. I've had the Ruger & S&W 44 mag's years ago too, and a 454. All great guns. I've shot semi's a lot, but never owned one, and may not bother at this this point in my life. I have too many revolvers on my "to buy" list already

Phil3
02-22-2009, 7:16 PM
I found a blued GP100 in 6" and really liked it. It just seems "right" in every way. I recently bought the Dan Wesson semi-auto, but already am feeling some remorse. Excellent gun, but I find myself more drawn to the simplicity, reliability, and accuracy of the revolver. What did you prefer, the 357, 44, or 454, and why?

- Phil

Jonathan Doe
02-22-2009, 7:40 PM
I have been shooting Smith & Wesson model 52 38 Special wad cutters for international centerfire matches and it held its place well. I also have a 1911 bullseye pistol which is very accurate also. Never shot revolvers for competition except once I had a Davis Custom PPC revolver which was very accurate. Either way, revolvers or semauto can be accurate depends on how it is built.

kyoung05
02-22-2009, 7:54 PM
I found a blued GP100 in 6" and really liked it. It just seems "right" in every way. I recently bought the Dan Wesson semi-auto, but already am feeling some remorse. Excellent gun, but I find myself more drawn to the simplicity, reliability, and accuracy of the revolver. What did you prefer, the 357, 44, or 454, and why?

- Phil

See if you can compare the GP100 6" in both the full underlug and half-underlug barrels. Many claim the 6" half-lug is the way to go....

TheBundo
02-22-2009, 8:28 PM
I found a blued GP100 in 6" and really liked it. It just seems "right" in every way. I recently bought the Dan Wesson semi-auto, but already am feeling some remorse. Excellent gun, but I find myself more drawn to the simplicity, reliability, and accuracy of the revolver. What did you prefer, the 357, 44, or 454, and why?

- Phil

Probably the 357, but at the time, I liked each of the others. Nevertheless, age and wisdom (I hope) has told me that the 357 is adequete, cheaper to buy & shoot, and the desire to spend my money to impress others has worn off (the 454 Raging Bull was fun to let others shoot :D). However, in the 454's defense, it could shoot 45 Long Colts, which were cheap and the recoil easy to handle. I still have that part of me that now wants a 460 (shoots 460, 454, & 45LC), but I think my practical side will win out and I'll skip it.

Every time I shoot a semi-auto that either a friend has or I rent, I have my buyer's remorse AHEAD of time, and in 30+ years of handgun ownership, I've managed to never buy one. Frankly, my next gun may be the Heritage revolver with 2 cylinders, one for regular 22's and the other for 22 magnums. Or I may get a more carry-able 357. Or a Marlin 1894c, which is a 357 magnum lever action carbine. I do like having multiple guns chambered the same. I once had a 44 magnum lever action when I had one of the 44 revolvers.

Phil3
02-22-2009, 9:00 PM
See if you can compare the GP100 6" in both the full underlug and half-underlug barrels. Many claim the 6" half-lug is the way to go....

According to Ruger's site, all GP100s are now full underlug. I have seen the half-lugs, and they must be older models.

- Phil

Phil3
02-22-2009, 9:01 PM
You can get going on the target shooting with a .22LR it is very affordable to shoot. I don't think the bullseye shooters are using a revolver, I know they are using the very affordable Ruger MKII and Browning Buckmarks in competition until you get *extremely* good no need to spend 1k on a target .22LR google bullseye pistol competition. Back to the .22LR it is cheap to shoot and a blast I am paying $5.00 for 100 CCI standard velocity which is a meduim quality practice ammo I can shoot quarters at 20' with my Browning BuckMark, you can buy bulk even cheaper. Check out rimfirecentral.com for epic .22LR info. Most entry level .22LR target shooters are shooting the Ruger or BuckMark tuned a little with quality target ammo and a 5" to 7" bbl.
The nice thing about the BuckMarks is all you need to spend is about $15.00 to tune them real sweet with an overtravel trigger, they come out of box scary accurate this is my BuckMark w/ stock Practical grips a tactical solutions bbl a free spring flip trigger job.<br><br>http://www.geocities.com/thedraftsman_mw/bm.jpg

A Browning Buckmark is actually on my list. The exact model, I am not sure about, but yes, I love shooting the 22s, and since I tend to shoot many rounds, it is excellent for a long afternoon of fun and inexpensive shooting.

Thanks for the reminder!

- Phil

Phil3
02-22-2009, 9:10 PM
Probably the 357, but at the time, I liked each of the others. Nevertheless, age and wisdom (I hope) has told me that the 357 is adequete, cheaper to buy & shoot, and the desire to spend my money to impress others has worn off (the 454 Raging Bull was fun to let others shoot :D). However, in the 454's defense, it could shoot 45 Long Colts, which were cheap and the recoil easy to handle. I still have that part of me that now wants a 460 (shoots 460, 454, & 45LC), but I think my practical side will win out and I'll skip it.

Every time I shoot a semi-auto that either a friend has or I rent, I have my buyer's remorse AHEAD of time, and in 30+ years of handgun ownership, I've managed to never buy one. Frankly, my next gun may be the Heritage revolver with 2 cylinders, one for regular 22's and the other for 22 magnums. Or I may get a more carry-able 357. Or a Marlin 1894c, which is a 357 magnum lever action carbine. I do like having multiple guns chambered the same. I once had a 44 magnum lever action when I had one of the 44 revolvers.

Like you, part of me wants to fire off some big boomer, but I am more inclined to do that with a rifle. I figure something like a 338 Lapua will do that. I can't imagine I will shoot well with a heavy hitting revolver. I have yet to try a 44 Mag, but would like to and see if this a flinch causing weapon, or something I can shoot 100 rounds out of in one sitting. I can easily do that with the 357.

- Phil

TheBundo
02-22-2009, 9:24 PM
Like you, part of me wants to fire off some big boomer, but I am more inclined to do that with a rifle. I figure something like a 338 Lapua will do that. I can't imagine I will shoot well with a heavy hitting revolver. I have yet to try a 44 Mag, but would like to and see if this a flinch causing weapon, or something I can shoot 100 rounds out of in one sitting. I can easily do that with the 357.

- Phil

I haven't shot a 44 mag for 10 years or so, but on the 454 Casull, which is WAY more powerful, I had to get special gloves with gel inside. The first time I shot it, without gloves, I just shot it 3 times, and my hand hurt for a day (it was easy to picture an elephant going down with it). The gloves made a difference, but I ultimately shot way more 45 LC through it, and cost wasn't the only reason ;).

I've fallen in love with the 357. It doesn't hurt, relatively cheap (a little cheaper using 38's too), and yet is more than adequete for any realistic threat. I'm not one who believes I will face an entire mob and need to reload, etc., so I don't feel the need for speed-loader, semi-auto's with multiple magazines ready to go, etc. If I lived in that bad of an area, I'd move instead of buying more guns. In any mob/gang situation, getting away is the best defense.

JTROKS
02-22-2009, 9:39 PM
I see this question being asked over and over again, not just in CGN. If you are planning to buy an out of the box gun in the range of $500 to $700 the revolver will be the hands down more accurate. If you spend the money on a full blown target custom 1911 or get a PC 952 then the semi-auto will give a $600 revolver a run for its' money in the accuracy department. The reason for the revolver being more accurate is because the barrel does not move in relation to the sights. The semi-auto that is mass produced in a factory production line will not have the required fit to shoot to the same point where the sights are aimed. Now there are exceptions, I've seen some CZ and Sigs that will print 1.5" group at 25 yards and that's about what a box stock quality revolver will do.

Phil3
02-22-2009, 9:43 PM
The Dan Wesson Pointman 7 in 45 I just got should also do very well. But, I am not so comfy with the cost, and like the idea of the $600 revolver that can shoot reasonably well.

eaglemike
02-22-2009, 9:43 PM
It's waaay more about the skill of the shooter, than whether it's a revo or semi.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet- I've never seen or heard of a semi used in a silhouette match. Part of it is the cartridges availble. I'd think if there was an advantage with a semi, someone would come up with one. Very few semi's shoot a cartridge stout enough for the long range steel game.

all the best,
Mike

Josh
02-22-2009, 9:56 PM
a revolver has multiple chambers to try and line up each time its fired not even counting offset due to manufacturing tolerances, bullet jump from the cylinder to the forcing cone then finally to the rifling and then timing/lockup that can change from chamber to chamber depending on how the hand and star interface.

A semi has a slide that moves back and forth and a barrel that locks into the same lugs each time.

dgey
02-22-2009, 10:55 PM
difference in accuracy between revolvers and semi autos...? most guns are more accurate then the people that shoot them... in the real world they are the same. people can not exactly duplicate their movements when shooting... you can get close... but...

saki302
02-23-2009, 2:56 AM
The high end semis will outshoot many revolvers- like the S&W 952, Sig P210, X-five L1, etc- these autos are capable of sub 2" groups at 50 yards.

There are high end revolvers though which shoot like nice rifles. The key to revolver accuracy is the chambers must all be straight relative to the bore, and the forcing cone must be perfect. Freedom arms bores the cylinders through the barrel/frame area, ensuring consistency for maximum accuracy.

Either type will outshoot most shooters unless you're shooting off a bench :)

-Dave

12voltguy
02-23-2009, 7:11 AM
either will outshott 99.0% of shooters
with todays prices for punching paper, go get a nice .22 rimefire or even a .17 hmr, taurus has 1 .17 on the list revolver about $400

JTROKS
02-23-2009, 7:25 AM
A semi has a slide that moves back and forth and a barrel that locks into the same lugs each time.

At least that's what we hope it does every time it goes into battery.

Phil3
02-23-2009, 6:01 PM
a revolver has multiple chambers to try and line up each time its fired not even counting offset due to manufacturing tolerances, bullet jump from the cylinder to the forcing cone then finally to the rifling and then timing/lockup that can change from chamber to chamber depending on how the hand and star interface.

A semi has a slide that moves back and forth and a barrel that locks into the same lugs each time.

I am pretty new to firearms, and respect your seniority here, but seems to me that the semi has more issues that could contribute to lack of accuracy than indicated. The case is not fully supported, the slide can move side to side a bit, depending on fit, the barrel does not appear to be locked down tight at the barrel bushing end, and the rifled section of the barrel is notably shorter than say a 6" revolver barrel. The barrel can move in relation to the sights, which can't happen on a revolver. I agree the bullet can be wandering around on its way to the barrel in a revolver, but at least once there, it is lined up with the sights every time. Unless I am missing something, the semi can't really claim that.

Again, I am new, so if I am mistaken here, I'd like to get it right.:D

- Phil

Phil3
02-23-2009, 6:07 PM
gotta wonder why the bullseye shooters use semi auto?

Don't know, maybe one will answer. I'd like to know their experiences. I know revolvers are the only game in town at longer ranges, but expect that is only due to their power, not accuracy.

tankerman
02-23-2009, 6:46 PM
You bring your most accurate pistol to the range and I'll bring my most accurate revolver. We'll shoot them off the bench and find out.
a revolver has multiple chambers to try and line up each time its fired not even counting offset due to manufacturing tolerances, bullet jump from the cylinder to the forcing cone then finally to the rifling and then timing/lockup that can change from chamber to chamber depending on how the hand and star interface.

A semi has a slide that moves back and forth and a barrel that locks into the same lugs each time.

Jonathan Doe
02-23-2009, 7:03 PM
gotta wonder why the bullseye shooters use semi auto?

I don't know about other people, but I shot semiauto mainly because it balances in my hand better and the grip options are better. A well tuned semiauto can hold all shots in 10 or X rings. Revolvers, for the most part 6 inch barrel, in my opinion are muzzle heavy and when shot with one hand as in most bullseye shooting, is not very ergonomic for me. Also, bullseye shooting is timed. Cocking the hammer everytime for each shot, at least for rapid fire stage, is not very economical in shooing timed event.

Trakker
02-23-2009, 7:55 PM
Don't under estimate your gun. Long over travel is a key reason for poor accurracy.

JTROKS
02-23-2009, 8:17 PM
I think Tankerman is going to bring a Freedom Arms. I've shot one in 357 magnum scoped and that revolver was printing 1.5" at 50 yards. I've seen highly accurized 1911s that will do the same. Looks like Tankerman has thrown a challenge, come on semi pistol guys time to put your rounds in the chamber. If we can do this at Richmond Rod and Gun Club I'll video it.

22popnsplat
02-23-2009, 8:59 PM
If you are going to throw out a challange if should be in comparable rounds , Cant show up with a 22 to shoot against a 357 but I have seen something very important left out , There has been no mention of the single shot break action or bolt action pistols . I shoot very often with a Thompson contender specially setup for long range, I doubt that many would belive just how accurate it can shoot.
When I shot IHMSA I never saw a Semi on the line , The xp100 did very well as did the contender . The Freedom arms and the older Dan wesson were the revolvers to shoot , I do shoot a FA in 454 and its a handfull of bigbore and more accurate than any of my rugers. I do own a kimber 45 atuo and i shoot it about as well as my rugers that cost half as much .
Your Milage may vary .

tankerman
02-23-2009, 9:12 PM
My Fa is a 454. Closest thing accuracy wise that I own in an auto is a Colt Match Target Bullseye .22If you are going to throw out a challange if should be in comparable rounds , Cant show up with a 22 to shoot against a 357 but I have seen something very important left out , There has been no mention of the single shot break action or bolt action pistols . I shoot very often with a Thompson contender specially setup for long range, I doubt that many would belive just how accurate it can shoot.
When I shot IHMSA I never saw a Semi on the line , The xp100 did very well as did the contender . The Freedom arms and the older Dan wesson were the revolvers to shoot , I do shoot a FA in 454 and its a handfull of bigbore and more accurate than any of my rugers. I do own a kimber 45 atuo and i shoot it about as well as my rugers that cost half as much .
Your Milage may vary .

12voltguy
02-23-2009, 9:29 PM
If you are going to throw out a challange if should be in comparable rounds , Cant show up with a 22 to shoot against a 357 but I have seen something very important left out , There has been no mention of the single shot break action or bolt action pistols . I shoot very often with a Thompson contender specially setup for long range, I doubt that many would belive just how accurate it can shoot.
When I shot IHMSA I never saw a Semi on the line , The xp100 did very well as did the contender . The Freedom arms and the older Dan wesson were the revolvers to shoot , I do shoot a FA in 454 and its a handfull of bigbore and more accurate than any of my rugers. I do own a kimber 45 atuo and i shoot it about as well as my rugers that cost half as much .
Your Milage may vary .


not left out, it was not in the question at all;)

Josh
02-23-2009, 10:43 PM
You bring your most accurate pistol to the range and I'll bring my most accurate revolver. We'll shoot them off the bench and find out.

only if its a production gun. As in the motorsports world, throw enough money at it and anything is possible and i dont own anything that i would consider true match level in a pistol format.

Josh
02-23-2009, 10:51 PM
I am pretty new to firearms, and respect your seniority here, but seems to me that the semi has more issues that could contribute to lack of accuracy than indicated. The case is not fully supported, the slide can move side to side a bit, depending on fit, the barrel does not appear to be locked down tight at the barrel bushing end, and the rifled section of the barrel is notably shorter than say a 6" revolver barrel. The barrel can move in relation to the sights, which can't happen on a revolver. I agree the bullet can be wandering around on its way to the barrel in a revolver, but at least once there, it is lined up with the sights every time. Unless I am missing something, the semi can't really claim that.

Again, I am new, so if I am mistaken here, I'd like to get it right.:D

- Phil

Case support is dependent on the barrel and handgun.

Slides can be tightened up and lapped in and bushings along with barrels are fit for tight lockup and once properly setup they pretty much go into the same place each time as its the same parts that are interfacing.

Shorter barrels by themselves do not degrade accuracy but the sight radius or distance between the front and rear sights do. The longer the sight radius the smaller the deviation between the sights can be noticed.

Im not saying a revolver is better or worse. I just put out some differences for what affects the accuracy between the two. Both with proper work will in my opinion shoot on par with each other mechanically. But a revolver will require much more work and the accuracy will not last as long. I personally enjoy shooting revolvers a little more as i think they have more character but understand the practicality of a semi.

and dont pay too much attention to seniority or post counts. I know a few people that never post and they could write a few books with what they know.

Fjold
02-24-2009, 6:20 AM
There are no Olympic quality target revolvers.

tankerman
02-24-2009, 6:32 AM
My FA is a production gun. They are all made the same way.
only if its a production gun. As in the motorsports world, throw enough money at it and anything is possible and i dont own anything that i would consider true match level in a pistol format.

tankerman
02-24-2009, 6:33 AM
There are no Olympic quality target revolvers.Yep, they don't have they capacity.

sargenv
02-24-2009, 6:34 AM
With Olympic anything these days, it's all air driven... so that doesn't really apply.

If you are talking about 22 caliber Olympic style shooting, I think the main reason for no revolvers is not so much that the accuracy isn't there, just that with a semi auto you can have a very low trigger weight since you are only releasing the sear. In a revolver you need work against the spring that will set off the round in addition to releasing the hammer. To reliably set off a 22 lr, you need a considerable amount of spring weight, so you can't have such a light trigger comparitively.

As for capacity.. S&W makes a 10 shot 22 lr Revolver.

22popnsplat
02-24-2009, 9:38 AM
You are correct !! As the original poster did not ask about all possibilitys . He may not have been aware of them , I know i was shooting handguns for a good while before I learned about them . But then that was also before the interenet was around .

not left out, it was not in the question at all;)

JTROKS
02-24-2009, 10:19 AM
I'm not trying to be the devil's advocate, but once in for all we can test this out. If someone has a very accurate 1911 pistol or a S&W 52/952 and a revolver guy with a custom Bianchi Cup type revolver. I may just have to test my IPSC open gun to see if it still has the cutting edge accuracy it used to have.