A well-made revolver is ultra-reliable. Load the firearm, throw it in a gun safe. Even if you never touch the gun for years at a time, you can pull it out and it will fire. A semi-auto pistol has springs in the magazine, which will lose strength as time passes. And if the springs are too light, the gun will malfunction. A revolver has no springs that are under constant tension.
Now suppose, for some reason, one of the rounds in your revolver is bad. You pull the trigger: click, no bang. Just pull the trigger again, the revolver cylinder turns to offer the next round: bang. If the same situation occurs in a semi-auto pistol, the bad round stays in the chamber until it is cleared. That’s not as good.
A revolver has fewer moving parts than a semi-auto pistol. And simple usually equals reliable.
You can buy a very expensive, very accurate “race gun” semi-auto pistol. But you lose reliability as you gain accuracy. Somewhere in that trade-off, there is a sweet spot, where the pistol is relatively accurate and generally reliable. But a decent revolver with at least a 4″ barrel is highly accurate. The barrel doesn’t move when the gun fires. A fixed barrel eliminates one of the causes of inaccuracy (barrel movement).
A double-action revolver is point and shoot. No external safety. No magazine release or take-down lever. No cycling the action to chamber or remove a round. When you are using a gun under duress, simpler is better.
4. Multiple Calibers
Some revolvers will shoot two different calibers of ammunition. The most useful example of this is the .357 magnum revolver, which will also shoot .38 special ammo. The former gives you plenty of bad guy stopping power, but also a large amount of recoil, noise, and muzzle blast. The .357 is not for every shooter. The .38 special round is somewhat less powerful than a 9mm, and a lot less powerful than the .357. Yet is has enough stopping power for self-defense. Can’t decide between the two? No problem. Buy one gun and both types of ammo. You can change your mind along the way.
Be advised that some revolvers that shoot .38 special ammo will NOT also shoot .357 magnum ammo. The revolver needs to be designed for the .357, in order to also shoot the .38 round.
My suggestion: get a .357 magnum revolver with at least a 4″ barrel. Snub-nose revolvers are less accurate, have lower muzzle velocity, and greater muzzle flash. And the .357 revolver will also shoot .38 special. Get both types of ammo.
Now, if you don’t mind spending a little extra money, you can also get a crimson trace red laser sight for your revolver. It goes on the grip of the gun, and gives you an easy way to aim the gun at an assailant. Put the red laser dot on the bad guy’s chest. That alone may be enough intimidation to cause him to think better of his plan and run away.