Pistol vs Revolver – Techniques & Conditions




Fast rate of fire

Revolver fires single or double action and the cylinder rotation takes more time

Faster to reload (spare magazine)

Speed loaders help but cannot beat magazine change on pistol

Easy to hold (frame of the pistol is more user friendly)


Carries more ammunition than the revolver. No limit on spare magazine


Has less recoil


Stoppages occur (more working parts that can become faulty)

The revolver is a simple design – less malfunctions and stoppages

Difficult to operate under some circumstances

Simple to operate and maintain


There might come a time when a handgun owner must defend himself/herself against a person trying to take the handgun away.   This is a very dangerous situation that can lead to the death or serious injury of the gun owner or other people.   This is one of the reasons why the new firearm legislation specifies that a handgun must be fully covered and concealed.  This prevents the firearm from being seen, wanted and the owner from being attacked for the firearm. However, it might happen that criminals who want to take the firearm away accost the gun owner.  This is happening on a daily basis in South Africa presently.   Firearms are used in a variety of operational roles and as such the circumstances are mostly dangerous.  In such circumstances losing a weapon to an adversary will certainly lead to fatal or serious injury.

E.g. Contractors and other workers are attacked while busy doing a job and concentrating on the job at hand.   This distracts them and makes easy targets of them. Firearm retention starts with the correct mindset, awareness and pre-emption.   When using firearms in an operational or self-defence role one should always expect that the attacker or his assistants want to take your firearm away from you.  In the South African context, this has become the norm.  Criminals always try to obtain more firearms to use or to sell.

Firearm retention for the normal person in the street can be divided in 2 categories namely: Prevention and defence actions


  • Always expect that criminals would want to take away your firearm
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and the people around or near you
  • Always be prepared for an attack
  • Never carry or wear your firearm in such a way that it is easy to get to your firearm or that you become an easy target
  • Remember that firearms must be concealed in terms of legislation
  • Always keep physical contact with the firearm by keeping your elbow or a hand close or against it
  • Carry rifles, hand machine carbines and shotguns in a proper carry bag or on a sling in such a way that you will be able to resist any attempt at taking the firearm away from you
  • Never take your firearm to places where it is likely to be in your way or where you will not have proper and legal storage space
  • Do not boast about your firearm or your abilities with a firearm – it will attract the wrong kind of attention

Defence actions

When you are attacked by someone trying to take your firearm from you there are some actions that can be taken to prevent it from being taken away from you.  Remember! If the person succeeds your life and those of others will be in grave danger!

Try the following under certain conditions:

  • When a person grabs for your firearm – use your strong hand to hold onto your firearm and turn into the attacker with your side or back while using the other hand or elbow to strike the attacker in the eyes, throat, solar plexus or vital parts. In cases like these the elbow becomes a very effective weapon.
  • When your attacker reaches for your firearm hit him or her in the face using the palm of the hand. Your aim is to stop only at the back of his head. This way you ensure that the blow is powerful. You want to drop your opponent with the first blow.
  • When a person grabbed hold of your firearm – to gain possession of the firearm the person will pull up, down or sideways. Retain a grip on your weapon with your strong hand and use your other hand to attack the strong hand of the attacker (claw, scratch,) or even the eyes and throat
  • In the case of a HMC, rifle or shotgun – use the firearm as a weapon to hit the attacker in the face, solar plexus, vitals or knees. When the attacker pulls the firearm towards himself you could resist the urge to pull the firearm back but instead go with the pull using his own power to jab him in the solar plexus with the barrel of your firearm.   The butt of your rifle etc. can become a powerful weapon to hit, jab or hurt the attacker 





Magazine empty and out of pistol, no round in chamber

Safety catch on “safe”


Full magazine in pistol, no round in chamber, safety catch on “safe”


Full magazine in pistol, round in chamber, hammer not cocked, safety catch on “fire”


Full magazine in pistol, round in chamber, hammer cocked, safety catch on “safe”





Empty cylinder, cylinder open


Empty cylinder, cylinder closed


Loaded cylinder and closed


Loaded cylinder hammer cocked

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