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THE most "reliable" handgun design?


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I've been reading some pages and posts on handgun reliability and thought I'd post something about it.  There is a "common" yet erroneous belief that modern DA revolvers are "reliable certain" compared to say, semiauto pistols.  People mistakenly believe they have "six sure shots" with a revolver but only one "sure shot" with the semiauto - if that.  Of course NEITHER of those two styles is more reliable than the Single action, and believe it or not the Single action is superior to the Single SHOT except for the Single shot design ability to handle monster cartridges that place it outside the normal discussion.

A modern Semiauto - chambered and appropriately "cocked" is HIGHLY reliable and will over a number of shots, prove to be MORE reliable than the modern double-action revolver!  The Glock line is probably the most recognized and easily exampled semiauto...it has very few internal parts (33), ample dimensional allowance, and has been demonstrated by actual tests to handle copious amounts of external fouling yet still go back into service with a few "shakes."  Even the 1911 cannot boast to equal this level of reliability...and remember, the 1911 BEAT OUT the double-action revolvers of its day to be adopted by the Army.

All Double-action revolvers share the same engineered IN malfunction points.  A  trigger short-stroke can result in the cylinder rotating while the hammer does not cock...this is INHERENT in a "trigger cocking" mechanism such as is found on ALL double-action revolvers.  There is NOTHING the user can do to fix this...under stress fire people tend to lose fine motor skill to the enhancement of gross motor strength.  Another mechanical issue with revolver is that a slightly lesser short-stroke can cause the gun to BIND and become completely locked up or damaged to the point of needing repair!  IF...and this condition is SO easy to demonstrate, the operator short-strokes at just the right point, the trigger and hammer will BIND and the hammer will not cock, nor will the cylinder rotate....please note these are OPERATOR induced malfunctions that are impossible to eliminate and impossible to "train around."  IF one gets the first six shots out, opening the DA revolver's cylinder opens the door to massive mechanical failure.  A tiny grain of unburned powder or powder debris can become trapped between crane and frame causing the gun to fail to lockup...useless.  Even with scrupulous training, the revolver has innate mechanical "booby-traps."  IF the operator ejects the spent cartridges with the muzzle down, powder residue can find itself into operating points, and the ejector star itself becomes a point of malfunction because the empty cases can push up, then drop back down UNDER the ejector star! 

NONE of the above related issues can impact the semiautomatic pistol.  However, the semiauto does require that its engineered geometry and manufacturing tolerances result in efficient chambering.  The semiauto also demands the fired case be efficiently ejected - or the gun binds up.

ON THE OTHER HAND...the "old timey" Single-action revolver has SIX - as close to guaranteed shots as humanly possible!!!  The cylinder rotates off the HAMMER which is thumb-cocked....meaning it will rotate.  The trigger is "secondary" because IF it breaks it harms nothing other than the operator fires by hammer-cocking.  As with the DA revolver, a failed primer means the operator recocks and brings up a fresh round, with the exception being, the DA revolver can JAM during this process....the single action cannot.  The single action has no internal potential to jam....since the cylinder does not swing out, it cannot be "bound up" by firing debris getting between parts....it's SIX, damn near (as close to humanly possible) guaranteed shots!

The single-shot on the other hand, loses to the single action because the SA can pump out 5 or 6 shots without HUMAN intervention.  The single shot must be reloaded shot for shot....reliable, but LESS reliable under stress-fire than a pre-loaded cylinder mounted in a mechanical system that minimizes mechanical potential for error....the SINGLE ACTION.

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