The amount of revolvers sold each year pales in comparison to the amount of auto loaders sold, and this has been the case for decades. However, the revolver still remains a mainstay in concealed carry, especially the small-frame light weight variants as they prove ideal for certain roles. The reality is, the love for the revolver remains, and will probably not wane any time soon, as the tool remains perfectly functional, and even ideal, for certain carry needs.
However, it seems apparent that expertise in shooting and handling the revolver is waning. The vast majority of shooters that use revolvers these days cut their teeth on autoloaders, then adopted a revolver at some point as a useful deep concealment option. These shooters typically remain frustrated with their abilities with the wheel gun as it proves a different animal than what they are used to.
Even though I carry a small revolver quite often, and I have written about small revolvers quite extensively, it is a secondary gun for myself; the vast majority of my training each year goes to the auto loading pistol. With that said, I am quite competent with my small revolver and can shoot it quite well. One reason for this is that, despite my general lack of training with it now, I grew up shooting revolvers as my first handgun experience. My father was in law enforcement and at that time the revolver reigned supreme. My dad was actually the firearms instructor for his department, so I learned to shoot a revolver from a father that taught people how to shoot revolvers as part of his job. Therefore, I have a bit of an advantage compared to most that grew up shooting striker-fired guns exclusively.
Despite my habit of espousing the small-frame revolver as the best deep-concealment/NPE carry option, I am not a revolver enthusiast. If given the choice I would never carry a revolver instead of an auto. However, to accommodate certain times where I am restricted by dress or environment, I use the revolver to fill that role.
Seeing the decline of expertise in using the revolver, I often entertain the notion of doing more with it myself, so as to be a better resource to others. At this point, however, that is a far off priority. Despite using a revolver under good instruction in my youth, the gun is now so far removed from my priorities as a shooter that I simply don’t have revolver expertise.
As an example, even though I can shoot a revolver quite well, I use a thumbs-forward, auto loader grip on the gun because I refuse to dedicate the effort to adopt a different grip to accommodate a seldom-used, though useful, weapon. This grip does not hurt anything for myself, as my hands are fairly small and my thumb does not get near the cylinder gap or interfere with the cylinder rotation. But, this is a perfect example of how even a shooter like me, who shot revolvers long ago, does not prioritize expertise on the platform.
I would never suggest or teach others to use that grip on a wheel gun as it can cause significant issues. I don’t think people who are entirely focused on the auto pistol, then shoehorn the revolver into a secondary role for themselves, are worthy of truly teaching the platform; but, this is the state of affairs for most shooters and instructors today, myself included. The use of this gun needs to be taught by dedicated revolver enthusiasts who truly use and shoot it the way it is supposed to be handled.
While the revolver is certainly in the shadows of the auto in competition, it is still alive and well; there are younger shooters who have pursued the wheel gun to a high level. In the “tactical” world, however, there are very few younger folks who have stepped up to the plate with revolver expertise. The current leaders of wheel gun knowledge typically come from an era when revolvers still dominated law enforcement, and those guys were able to catch the end of that era in a professional capacity. When that generation retires from the training world, who will carry on that knowledge?
With wheel guns long since removed from police holsters, there does not appear to be a new crop of revolver teachers and that is a sad reality. We need folks to carry the torch, because the tool remains as useful as it ever was, but our abilities with it as a community have diminished. I love the revolver but I don’t have the expertise to teach it right, and most other current shooters, even those who do a lot of teaching, have even less experience with it than I do. It is sad to think that we might eventually lose the expertise in this long-enduring platform.