Single Action...a Viable Survival Weapon???

Discussion in 'Guns, Knives, Tools, Etc.' started by TexDanm, May 22, 2019.

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  1. TexDanm

    TexDanm Shadow Dancer
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    This is something that hasn't been discussed lately. What do y'all think about a single action revolver for survival carry? I know it isn't a great spray and pray weapon even though it would surprise you in that area. I know it isn't modern and an exciting weapon. What it IS though is a very simple and massively tough and dependable weapon that tames high power loads better than other handguns.

    Because of the plow handle grip and the distance above the hand that the barrel is, it tends to turn the recoil into more of a rotation and upward motion than straight back motion. When shooting lighter rounds this isn't as beneficial but it is the reason that truly powerful automatics have never been a success. It seems that the 45ACP is near the max that most people are comfortable with. The 10mm Auto, the early more powerful 40mm rounds and the 41 mags all were not successful because of the recoil and gun wear issues.

    Honestly, a single action makes the recoil not much of an issue once you get used to the muzzle jump. For me, the muzzle jump didn't slow down my shots much versus a double action revolver. By the time I came down and back on target, I had the hammer cocked. You could indeed get off two or three shots faster with a double action but I proved many times that all that meant was that you rushed and only put the first bullet on target and then two flyers that might be anywhere while my slightly slower fire put all three rounds in the target area.

    Basically, most automatics shoot lighted slower rounds really fast while the single action offers you heavier more powerful shots that are more likely to be on target. Part of the reason for this is that 4" is about the max barrel length for most automatics. The shorter barrels makes for a shorter less accurate sight picture for precision shooting. Single action revolvers are often made with 6" or longer barrels and have much better long distance accuracy.

    For purely up close defensive use that longer barrel is no advantage and that is why even in a single action the shorter barrels were usually more of a gunfighters choice than a practical use choice. A single action with a 6" to 8" barrel is a bit of a compromise between a pistol and a rifle. The longer barrel helps with the revolving recoil and makes that handgun a realistic hunting weapon. I could hit the ram at 300 yards with my Ruger Blackhawk with a 7 1/2" barrel. With hot loads and heavy bullets, a 357 in good for whitetail deer and the bigger magnums are good for most anything other than the African big game.

    I never felt under gunned when I carried a single action. I think that in some ways it is like learning to hunt with single shot guns. When you know that you only have one shot you tend to aim and make that shot count. If you KNOW that you can quickly hit a playing card with one shot every time out to 25 yards it does a lot for your confidence.

    The Ruger single action guns are TOUGH. If you occasionally wipe them off and clean and oil them they will never fail you. The LIKE hot loads that would quickly wear out most revolvers. their mechanism is simple, straight forward and rather simple to work on. A little pill bottle with a couple of pats will keep it going for generations.

    They don't jam, don't care what sort of ammo you are shooting, if you hit a dud round, you cock and get a new round under the hammer. The longer barrels make much better use of the powder charge and give you better bullet velosity.

    What they don't offer is a very fast reload. I can reload fairly fast and it is still slow as the itch compared to slapping in a magazine or even a speed loader into a double action. If you expect to be in extensive long gunfights and want to do it with a handgun it probably isn't the best choice. If on the other hand, you want something that will let you hunt some and will take down a target or two with single shots to the body and keep their heads down until you can bring your long gun into play it works ok. Where it will shine is in that it is conservative of your ammo, less likely to fail you and wear out fast and is a simple easily repaired tool.
     
  2. Sourdough

    Sourdough "ALASKAN"
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    I like single action revolvers. The picture to the left is my 3 3/4" bbl. RUGER .44 MAG. Super Blackhawk Bisley.

    Also have a 200 to 250 yard Freedom Arms .454 Casull 10" Ported Barrel, Carbide forcing cone, with 2.5-8X EER Leupold. I think this several hundred yard hand cannon could be a useful tool in a post SHTF environment. Very easy to conceal with a light jacket. For covert hunting or covert pretty much anything.

    Had some custom hand cannons by: John Linebaugh.......Super monster cannons. One was a .475 Long/Maximum. Made the cartridges from .348 Winchester Rifle cases. It has three times the recoil of a .44 magnum, and people have fractured their forearm firing these cannons. Guy offered me $3,000.00 cash for mine after he fired mine one shot. He was one happy buyer........and I was one happy seller.
     
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  3. Sonofliberty

    Sonofliberty Master Survivalist
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    I love revolvers especially my SRH. That being said, I chose the redhawk over the blackhawk specifically because it was DA instead of SA. Personally, for me, SA takes longer to shoot that second round. When that pig is rushing at you and he zigged when you thought he would zag, you want that second round slowing his ass down lol.
     
  4. randyt

    randyt Master Survivalist
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    I have a ruger in 357 mag, had it since I was a kid. Also have a ruger in 45 colt and a ruger in 22 lr. They fill my needs.
     
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  5. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    I love single action, I used to strap one on with my pants every day when living in the Territory.
    Keith.
    e7824d4365175b8e7180ef7a0afd7186.jpeg :D
     
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  6. Bishop

    Bishop Master Survivalist
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    Single shot 20 ga always works for me.
     
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  7. TexDanm

    TexDanm Shadow Dancer
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    The 453 Cassull is about the max to me for realistic use in a single action revolver. They had some issues with even the 454 pullings the bullets out of the cases with the recoil and advised you to only load three cartridges if you were hunting dangerous game. There were a few reports of a bullet binding the cylinder. I did fire a 45-70 SAR once and it wasn't too bad but the gun itself was truly massive. If I want more power I would have gone with a Thompson Center and maybe a Super 14 in a rifle caliber.

    Sonofliberty, I think that it has to do with what you start with. I started with Ruger single actions and then went later with Ruger double actions in 357 mags. I sold a lot of model 29 S&Ws and shot most of them and later the Redhawks and preferred them over the 29. With the 357 mags, the double action is a big advantage in the speed but since I started with the single action there is little difference in my speed of ACCURATE fire between the 44 mag single and double action. If I can't keep both shots on a poker playing card the second shot might not count.

    When the single action recoils back my thumb falls back and as I lower the front sight back to the target it is cocked. I fire as soon as my sight picture is there so for me there is little difference between the two. It is a useless trick but I used to chase cans around on the ground fanning the hammer and was pretty good at it.

    By the time autos, other than 1911, were trustworthy and lasted well under regular use I had a problem. I lost the end of my right-hand trigger finger in an industrial accident and the big thick grips on the double stack high capacity autos just weren't comfortable. Only in recent years have I started with the newer 9mm and found a couple of winners that fit my hand. As you might expect they are both Ruger 9mms. I like the LCR9s pro and the Security 9. Both are a bit slimmer in the grip and fit me well. The little LCR9 pro is my EDC. I like it especially because it will fire without having a magazine in place. I like to drop and reload before I'm out so I'm never without a usable weapon.
     
  8. TexDanm

    TexDanm Shadow Dancer
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    I like my little single shot 20 ga but I LOVE my little English Style 20 gauge double. For anything other than pass shooting ducks and geese or serious defense purposes I much prefer the 20 over the 12.
     
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  9. Morgan101

    Morgan101 Master Survivalist
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    IMHO a single action is a perfectly acceptable survival weapon. I have both Ruger and Smith and Wesson in 357 magnum and 44 magnum. I love them all, but I would admit that 44 magnum is my limit. I will shoot it enough to stay proficient, but for me, it really isn't any fun to shoot. The 357's I could shoot all day. The 44's not so much. 44 Special is O.K. but the 44 magnum just flat knocks my hat in the creek. I really have no desire to even try the heavier stuff.

    If Grizzly bears or Polar bears invade Missouri I may have to change my thinking. Until then I think I am good with what I have.
     
  10. TexDanm

    TexDanm Shadow Dancer
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    Packmayr grips helped the recoil of the big calibers and make a 357 mag a pussy cat to shoot for me. I also liked a good leather shooting glove for the bigger magnums.
     
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  11. watcherchris

    watcherchris Master Survivalist
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    You are correct about the gloves. When I shoot my Thompson Contender in .35 Remington..in a 14 inch barrel length I need to wear a glove...otherwise it jams the grip into my wrist and numbs my wrist momentarily....the recoil is that stout. This calibration is quite a mule on both ends...in a handgun.
    And I have changed the grips on this single shot to Packmayrs on the pistol grip and on the forend...the barrel. The original Thompson Contender wood is quite beautiful and I removed and it replaced with Packmayrs so as not to ruin such beautiful woodwork.

    If I am not in a hurry with my revolvers...I like to use them in single action...though they be capable of double action. Better accuracy to me. I like accuracy in such tools.

    Thanks,
    Watcherchris
    Not an Ishmaelite
     
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  12. pacmantacman

    pacmantacman Expert Member
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    If it bleeds we can kill it.
     
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  13. Snyper

    Snyper Expert Member
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    It all depends on the context of the "survival" situation.
    Overall they can be quite useful, but it wouldn't be my first choice for self defense.

     
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  14. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer Legendary Survivalist
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    Here's the thing Tex, you and I and a whole lot of other people love single action revolvers. You listed a stack of reasons to fall in love with them. Me, I want to have a short rifle in the guise of a handgun, big barrel & adjustable sights, power, all that.

    However in a survival situation -- especially in the case of having to deal with multiple assailants -- the single action can fall short in the need for repeated fire. Even if one has multiple replacement cylinders, this friend of ours is slow in the realm of sending out lots of projectiles.

    My love for the single action blinds me. When faced with a shortcoming of the single action, my mind immediately comes up with some work-around, some solution that is, quite frankly, a moment's phantasm of my now hard-wired brain.

    In the realm of surviving an "Oh sh##!" situation and only having a handgun, give me an automatic, or at the very least, gimme a double-action revolver with a bunch of speed-loaders in waiting.

    As to an old-fashion solution, one would not be utterly undergunned were he provided a lever-action rifle in .357 or above, plus a double action revolver chambered in the same caliber, plus speed loaders full and read to go.

    As to the 20 gauge, it is MASSIVELY underrated. It is sufficient for home defense. As to hunting, the 20ga 3" mag is the equivalent of the tried-and-true 16ga. For small game, the 20ga low brass loads do NOT destroy the animal -- you have something left to eat. The 20ga does NOT cut it for brown bears nor for swarms of looters. The Federal 3" mag 20ga loaded with #2 buckshot is a close-in killer. And, these Hornady sabot slugs for rifled 20ga shotguns are deadly performers and shockingly accurate in my Remington 870 pump w/rifled barrel. Close up in brush or woods, this "tiny" terror has the ability to drop a moose. At 100 yards this 250 grain slug is still traveling at 1470 ft/sec giving you 1200 ft-lbs worth of killing energy; plus, that thing will drive deep breaking any bones needing to be broken along the way.

    https://www.hornady.com/ammunition/shotgun/20-ga-sst-slug-250-gr-sst#!/

    https://www.ammoman.com/20-gauge-ho...flex-sabot-slug-ammo-250-grain-2-3-4-5-rounds
     
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  15. watcherchris

    watcherchris Master Survivalist
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    Olde Geezer,

    I own one 3 inch 20 gauge and it is a combination gun with a straight out bore..and a .22 long rifle barrel on the top of the 20 gauge.

    I also own one 20 gauge with a .357 magnum barrel over the top of this 20 gauge.

    I have been thinking the same thing...that the 20 gauge is greatly underrated.

    Starting to think down the road about a 20 gauge pump. This is also a shotgun more suited to people of smaller stature.

    My non Ishmaelite .02,

    Watcherchris
     
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  16. watcherchris

    watcherchris Master Survivalist
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    Wow...single action...yes....I think in the right calibration it is a viable survival tool...

    Particularly if it is all one has.


    But as far as being under assault..or multiple assaults..I am not sure I would want even a double action...but if it or a single action was all you have....you are committed.

    Multiple assaults my preference is for my Ithaca Model 37 .... 12 gauge pump or my Mossberg pump...12 gauge..not a handgun. And I have a .40 caliber S&W with a fourteen round magazine....and three spare mags. I would take a 12 gauge over that .40 caliber any day.

    But it is difficult to carry a 12 gauge ..even a shortened police special barrel .....concealed.



    Mostly I carry my Ruger GP 100 in .357 Mag. with four speed loaders and a wallet case with 18 rounds.

    On occasion I will switch this out with a S&W model 57 in .41 Magnum...with speed loaders.

    I reckon I just like wheel guns...though I have semi auto pistols. It is the olde school in me.

    Watcherchris
    Not an Ishmaelite
     
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  17. TexDanm

    TexDanm Shadow Dancer
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    The reality about handguns is that most of the things that people think about handguns are based on what is seen on TV. I laugh all the time when the TV heroes are going up against bad guys that are armed with full auto assault weapons with their pistols and are not only always victorious but while hiding behind empty barrels and garbage cans the come away unscathed. Over and over in my life from Martial Dillon through the current TV cops, you see this or something equally silly played out. To some extent, it is programmed into your mind that a pistol is a go-to weapon for combat in urban battle. Notice the good guys never have the GOOD weapons like the bad guys with their machine guns.

    There is a reason that in the military infantry only officers, MPs and some special forces are issued handguns. If you are assaulted by multiple attackers and all that you have is a handgun you are in DEEP POO-POO!!! While I agree that a single action isn't the best handgun for combat I guess it is what you expect in the way of combat. Soldiers are determined and acting on orders to take a particular objective. In general, criminals are not nearly as dedicated and when the shooting starts they LEAVE.

    In a world where getting shot has a very good chance of killing you even if it isn't an immediate killing shot or really a very bad injury people that don't leave and limit their exposure not going to live long at all. If you are defending your home you are going to be persistent. If you are smart even when you are in the garden you will have a long gun nearby. If you are caught by surprise up close it probably won't matter what you have.

    The advantage of the single action is in its simplicity and durability. The action is very simple and very strong with very few small parts to go wrong. they are seldom stopped by bothered by dirt or filth getting in the action. The problem with so many of the modern automatics is in that they won't fire without the magazine in place. When you start dropping them out of the gun in practice you will find that they get dinged up and don't like being stepped on. This isn't a very big problem when you live in a world where a quick run to Academy (A sporting goods store) or a guns store makes getting a replacement no problem but for the long haul, It can make that high capacity handgun into a single shot or unusable.

    The longer barrel makes them bigger guns to carry but that length also makes the weapon good for more than just shooting at people. To some extent, this is just a repeat of the debate over the assault rifles versus the other rifle actions. Military weapons require a lot of attention and repairs where a sporting rifle may go generations without much work. I have a Savage 99F that I am the third generation to own, It has never been to a gunsmith or needed any work. I have worked on Winchesters that were nearly a hundred years old and had been carried through hell and only needed cleaning and maybe an extractor replaced. Firing a lot of rounds through a gun really fast is hard on them. You have metal fatigue issues in autos that just don't happen in slower firing weapons.

    The single action isn't the best gun in really any single sort of situation but it is the one that if it were going to be the only handgun that I was ever going to have I have faith that it will be there when I need it even if it hasn't been treated right or carried for decades. Even the really good double action revolvers have their issues with timing or in the case of colt revolvers they seem to have a lot of crane issues. If you drop on with the cylinder out it may be permanently screwed up without good gunsmith services and parts availability. If I was going into the bush with a double action it would either be a Ruger or a model 28 N frame S&W with a 586 K framed S&W as a second place choice.
     
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