Recently, I read an article by The Drive, which went into detail as to why the Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale, aka the GIGN, still holds a preference towards a revolver for a sidearm. Their revolver is a Manurhin MR73, a French firearm. Their particular model is 6 shot, .357 chambered. From reading the article, the Manurhin MR73 seems to have deep roots in the GIGN, both symbolic and functional. It’s clear that they have been in situations where a revolver’s capabilities trump those of auto-loader pistols. Now do I know if every single GIGN member carries a revolver religiously? No, and I would guess that many have an ability to carry whatever sidearm they desire based on the mission. Say what you will about the French, but one thing I do know is that their units (particularly those involved in Counter Terror and other Special Operations) are very experienced and very active globally.
The reason I decided to write this article is that it aligns with an awakening I had a few years ago. I was deployed at the time, and my wife was home alone for the meantime. I would go over basic security measures, keep doors locked, keep outside lights on at night etc. One thing I would also do is make sure she had access to a firearm within the house that was ready to rock. A Glock 23, one in the pipe, with a 13-round mag, holstered in a nightstand. My wife is definitely not an experienced shooter in any sense of the word, but I had taken her to the range once or twice and had confidence that she could “point and shoot” if the stars aligned and if that night (or day) ever came. The problem with this is the obvious, GUNS MALFUNCTION. Yes, even Glocks have issues on occasion. I had taught her how to load and clear the weapon, and how to clear a malfunction if need be. The issue with this is that one trip to the range doesn’t satisfy the requirement to be able to clear a malfunction under duress. This rings especially true if your student is not very interested in firearms and isn’t the type of person to train on them in their free time. So, I would leave it loaded, hope she didn’t need it, and pray that if she did need it, it would run smoothly with no issue.
I obviously wanted my wife to carry a gun for her own safety, and she agreed. The issue is that she is not really the type of woman to go to the range frequently. She also is not very strong physically, so being able to rack slides had proved difficult with some of my firearms. I knew that when I got back, I was going to help her obtain her concealed carry permit and had been researching firearms that were good for women. There are a ton out there in the auto-loader variety and being that my experience mainly revolved around auto-loader pistols, that’s where I leaned. (Ironically, the first gun I ever fired was a .38 revolver.) One day I was speaking with 2 contractors I had the pleasure of working with. One was a career Ranger, and the other was from an SF background, with some time spent in an SMU. Eventually, the topic of guns came up and I learned that they both were firearms trainers in their local area in between deployments. I brought up my situation and one of them said, “Why not get her a revolver?” It was so foreign to me the idea of someone conceal carrying a revolver. Due to my own ignorance, I immediately conjured up images in my head of Miami Vice and sort of brushed off the recommendation. That was until they brought up the benefits, and it immediately made sense to me.
Many people, (myself included,) seem to forget that revolvers chambered in .38 were pretty common to see as duty guns on U.S. Law Enforcement professionals up until about the early 90’s. Proof enough that they work, but I’ll go into what I think their application is for my situation and why I chose one for my wife.
Like I said earlier, my wife isn’t the one to come to the range with me that often, and that’s fine. She’s her own person, and I’m not some prepper freak who has her throw on tourniquets or do mag changes in our limited free time. That being said, we both wanted something for her to be able to defend herself within a situation that might arise. (Statistically, it is very low, but of the adverse situations involving firearms, it is high on the list.) Most of you have probably heard about the 3,3,3 rule. Long story short, years ago, the Gov compiled a ton of data on L.E. defensive shootings, and found that most occurred at 3 yards, involved 3 rounds, and lasted 3 seconds. Is this uber reliable? No, but it’s a decent place to start. I train my wife on 5,5,5. 5 yards, 5 rounds, 5 seconds. If she can get 5 rounds on paper at 5 yards in 5 seconds, I consider that a win. Keep in mind, she does not train with the frequency I do, nor would I want her taking shots past that in an urban setting. If she’s past 5 yards, I’m hoping she can just break contact altogether, should the situation arise. She doesn’t have to shoot tons, it’s easy for her to grasp, and she doesn’t have to process all the finer points in order to hit an average sized human.
The biggest 2 factors that lead me to get her a revolver is reliability and simplicity. There isn’t much that can go wrong with a revolver, at least from what I’ve seen. Load 5 rounds close it up and pull the trigger 5 times. No malfunctions to worry about, and if you do have a misfire or light strike, your malfunction procedure is just to pull the trigger again. So easy a monkey could do it. Revolvers are also extremely accurate and require little to no maintenance. I don’t need to train her on malfunctions, or how to rack a slide properly, or loading a mag. I can keep the gun hot, and if worse comes to worse, she can unload 5 rounds of .38 Special +P into whoever crossed the threshold. There’s a lot of energy transferring into a target with these rounds at close range, and one is probably enough to knock someone on their ass, let alone 5.
The gun I chose for her was the Ruger LCR .38 Special. I know some guys would rather have .357 and then you can chamber either caliber, but being that it’s already a hand cannon with the .38, I don’t ever think I would run .357. This particular gun also comes in 9mm and .22 variants, and you can find revolvers in almost any handgun caliber. As with all guns, I changed out the front site to a night sight (not that it really matters on a snub nose,) and that’s it. It was between this and the S&W Airweight, but the Ruger LCR ended up being a bit lighter and had a much better trigger. I have her carry a 5 round speed loader, so if she really was in a situation where she needed to, she could at least reload the gun.
On occasion, I’ll carry the Ruger LCR in my pocket, usually a jacket pocket. I like this as I already usually have my hands in my pockets, so I can have an edge by already having a light grip on the gun. I especially like the idea that I could shoot through clothing if need be, and not having to worry about a slide getting knocked out of battery by catching on clothing.
Most of the time, I carry a Glock variant. That being said, revolvers clearly have their place. The top French CT unit clearly values them, and I value them as they fill a gap that I saw within my household. At the end of the day, I don’t need my wife to be at a SOF level of pistol shooting and she clearly doesn’t have the desire to be. I just need her to be able to dump rounds into an attacker when it’s a last resort situation and she feels that her life is on the line. The revolver takes out the “what if” that comes with the average autoloader pistol. (Keep in mind I’m speaking of a hammerless revolver.) She doesn’t need to worry about trigger reset, or having an excellent sight picture, or the gun going out of battery, etc. etc. The most likely scenario would be very close range and require very little skill. Draw, and shoot until it’s empty.
Author – Tim M.