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Thread: Pistols V Revolvers

  1. #21
    Boolit Master
    dtknowles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Southeast Louisiana
    I am sad for those who have to choose one or the other. Me, I can clean a plate rack faster with a semi-auto than a revolver but maybe others shoot DA revolvers better than I. I don't own and probably would not put out the money for a semi-auto that can outrange my Dan Wesson 357 Mag. I guess there are .22 lr revolvers that shoot better than my Ruger MKII hunter but again not for the money and they won't hold 10 rounds. I think you can carry more firepower concealed with a semi-auto and for true combat the semi-auto is the choice of all the major militaries. For fun revolvers are the best.

    Words are weapons sharper than knives - INXS

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    The tongue is mightier than the blade - Euripides

  2. #22
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    New Yorkistan
    I use a 1911 for EDC (New Yorkistan limits to a 10 round mag.) in late fall, winter, and early spring when it is easier to conceal. Carry a J frame .357 the rest of the year. Use revolvers for hunting because of longer barrels and reliable semi- autos don't come in .41 or .44 mag.

  3. #23
    Boolit Master

    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Northern Michigan
    Aren’t we lucky to have choices?

    Hope it stays that way.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  4. #24
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013
    over the hill, out in the woods and far away
    The thread below began as a dialogue between career police firearms instructors reacting to an Internet article on a popular blog, entitled "Why Semi-Autos Are More Reliable than Revolvers"

    Comment from Outpost75:

    What he says is correct only as far as it goes. Proper handling, using quality ammunition, routine care and maintenance addresses ALL of those issues, as does buying a quality gun to start with and having a factory-trained armorer “touch it” as needed during annual requals. The civilian who carries a revolver must either learn to maintain it himself; or have it LTI’ed annually by a competent (factory-trained) gunsmith. All training issues are aided by application of good basic common sense.

    People think that Glocks and AKs will function for eternity being dragged through the desert with no cleaning or attention, but while more forgiving, when used by idiots no firearm is 100% reliable and you neglect maintaining it properly at your peril.

    Comment from a retired LE instructor, and well known trainer in FL:

    My experience as a small arms instructor in the Marines was no help. I have seen a little when helping out at local ranges. Generally new guns function quite reliably. The few that do not are usually cheap autos. Inexpensive revolvers usually go bang bang...Things change when the gun is dragged out of the sock drawer and brought to the range. Many neglected autos if left loaded go bang once and quit. Most owners do not then know what to do. These problems seem inversely related to caliber but even 45’s are not immune Revolvers continue to go bang even when covered with sock lint. Most of the discussion is about the gun owner. However the spouse and major children are just as likely to be the emergency users. The revolver’s simple “point gun-pull trigger” works every time. This is why my father kept a loaded revolver as the house gun. Yet, he always carried an automatic.

    Reply from Mike Wood of Police One Staff:

    Context is important! What environment and what kind of user? If we’re talking about a soldier in combat, the expectations are very different than for a police officer, or for an armed citizen.

    Let’s assume we’re talking about the “average” armed citizen for a moment. Your average guy is pretty lax about maintenance (which is a kind way of saying he doesn’t do any) and doesn’t have a very high level of competence or skill, because he hardly shoots his gun. We used to joke about the little old lady with the .32 caliber Iver Johnson top break in the sock drawer, but the modern equivalent is some urbanite with an unfired/mostly-unfired autopistol in the closet. All those people who have been standing in long lines the past 2 or 3 months, to buy their first gun? Yeah, we’re talking about them. Is that guy any better off with an auto than a revolver from a reliability standpoint? I doubt it.


    1. It’s likely the auto hasn’t been fired enough to “break it in”—particularly in the current environment, where a new owner might be lucky to come home from the store with a single 20 or 50 round box of ammo for his new blaster. Some designs are more inherently reliable “from the box” than others of course, but a good number of autos being sold still need to make it through those first few hundred rounds before they get the kinks worked out, and the “average” gun probably never gets there;

    2. The shooter’s lack of training and skill is an issue. The shooter will probably induce stoppages when he tries to shoot it, because he doesn’t know how to operate it properly—thumbs interfering with slides, weak platforms, failure to properly cycle the slide on initial loading, inadvertent magazine release due to poor grip, etc. We don’t see those kinds of problems with a revolver, by virtue of the design;

    3. Improper maintenance. The lack of proper cleaning and lubrication could cause a stoppage as well. This will be a bigger problem for some designs than others, but all of the autos will eventually balk if they’re not properly lubricated and cleaned—especially during that early “break in” period.

    So, Joe Average might actually be better off with a new revolver than a new auto, because it stands a greater chance of going bang in the hands of a poorly-skilled shooter who has neglected it. If you can pull the trigger, it will discharge (absent an ammunition problem, or a mechanical breakage—factors which effect autos equally, as well).

    Note that almost all of the pitfalls the author addressed in the article are connected to relatively high round counts. Yes, revolvers go out of time, parts can wear, fouling can build up inside the action, ejector rods can unscrew, strain screws can back out, etc . . . but it takes a fair amount of shooting before these become an issue—probably more rounds than the average gun is ever likely to see. One would hope that by the time our shooter reaches the 500 or 1000 round mark, they would have also learned a little something about basic maintenance—how to clean, lubricate, and inspect the gun, how to tighten a screw . . . at what point does this switch from being a problem with the gun, to a problem with the shooter, hmm?

    By the time all the revolver boogeymen listed by the author start to raise their head, our owner has sent hundreds or thousands of rounds down range and is well on their way to becoming a “shooter.” They need to accept the responsibilities that come with that, like taking care of their equipment.

    As it turns out, even some people who carry a gun for a living do a pretty poor job of accepting those responsibilities, as I wrote about recently: ... CdvtDm5UZ/ I daresay that even the most neglected revolver would probably go bang more reliably than some autos with their striker channels and extractors full of goo. They all burp, they all break. Some are better at certain things than others, and are better suited for certain types of owners.

    Related: Recently tested a version of Kimber’s K6s for RevolverGuy, I ran it without any maintenance to see how long it would go. I got to 464 rounds before the gun was just too dirty to keep running. I had a bunch of crud built up under the extractor, and it was interfering with operation.

    I have to note that the gun was delivered from Kimber with a sloppy excess of white grease under the extractor. Someone had over-lubricated the ejector rod, where it passed through the cylinder. I decided to leave it in place, and I have no doubt that it rapidly accelerated the collection of other debris under the extractor. I’ve got a feeling that if I had simply wiped away the excess before I started shooting, we could have pushed the gun past 750 rounds without a cleaning. Meaningful? No. Nobody should go that long without cleaning their gun, but it betrays the belief that a revolver will be hopelessly fouled before you finish a box of ammo.

    And since we’re talking maintenance, this poll I conducted at P1 might be of interest to the group...

    Keep in mind that our P1 audience is not representative of the “average cop,” so the poll numbers will be skewed. The types of officers who read a police magazine like PoliceOne are usually much more motivated than the average officer, so we can assume they have a higher level of training, skill and enthusiasm, and perhaps their agency culture is partly responsible for that. Now, of that group, the kinds who will answer a series of poll questions are even more selective, so when we look at poll results like these, we have to keep in mind that we’re only looking at the responses from a small cross-section of cops, and that cross-section is probably stacked more towards the higher end of ability and performance—more professional officers, from more professional agencies.

    That said, it’s telling when you see things like this:

    -More than a third of officers never received any formal instruction from their agency on how to clean and maintain their firearm;

    -Only 40% work for an agency that provides refresher training on how to maintain a firearm;

    -Almost half (48%) of the officers work at an agency that does NOT conduct mandatory firearm inspections.

    If this is what the “sharp” agencies are doing, just think what the “bad” ones look like!

    - Mike Wood

    A SoCalRangemaster from a large municipal department chimes in:

    This article reminds me of discussions I’ve had with friend Tim (a cop and shooter). People have a habit of coming to a conclusion about something by applying their habits, experiences (range drills), behavior instead of applying the majority or “most likely persons” behavior and how they would do something.

    It also reminds me of experts saying “a newbie should never get a snubbie for home defense…” i.e. Most can’t hit with a snubbie past 10 feet, but a vast majority of SD problems (especially in the home) are closer than 10 feet. A lot of times (from my experience) at the front door.

    ‘Expert’ – “the gun does not need to be concealed so you don’t need a gun that small get a 6”, which only works until until the front door bell rings and you need to answer it at the same time concealing a gun (probably with no holster for most) just in case. Maybe a gas or electric Co. employee that needs access to the home. Wouldn’t it be nice to scoop up a 5 shot revolver that is very safe and slip it into your back pocket (nice and discreet) in case the “employee” turns out not to be an employee? My wife just had to do this and walked around behind the electric co employee that needed access to the backyard and the side of the house (she needed to let him into the locked backyard) with a J frame in her back pocket.

    Do we think if this guy attacked she would have difficulty pushing the gun into this guy and pulling the trigger 5 times ?
    Would she have been better off with a 15 shot G19 and a Trijicon RMR ??? I mean seriously, on the range doing range “drills” she will shoot MUCH better at farther distances with the G19. That means the G19 is the best tool for the job...right?

    Or the day (after dark) my doorbell rang and a guy I’d never seen before said he was a new neighbor that had locked himself out. I helped him out (gave him an old jacket to wear since it was cold while he waited for his sister to get home and let him in) and since I carry while home not a real problem if things went sideways. Again, another solved “problem“ with a small easily and safely concealed revolver stuffed in a pocket or waistband without a holster. But Roscoe, what if the 5th dismounted Hell’s Angels conducted a home invasion...?...sigh...

    There I was on surveillance in a residential area when the resident of the house I was parked in front of walked out to find out what I was doing. After the initial difficulties (the usual sniffing each others *** until we felt comfortable as to who we both were) he tells me he is retired from an OGA and shows me the butt of his 2” Det. Special in his pocket since he thought I might be a burglar. I didn’t want ruin his day and show him my snubbie (that I had palmed out of my ankle rig as he approached) pointed towards him I had been concealing under the magazine I had been reading. Both discreet use that worked well.

    I can’t begin to tell you how many times I answered my front door with a snubbie concealed by a magazine (that I keep by the front door. I had a favorite Newsweek with Obama/Biden on the cover until my wife tossed it!) that allowed me to have the muzzle directed forward discreetly. So many times I don’t even think about it. One of my guys needed to ask me a question when I was off (no camera and he was to the side of my peephole, good for him) and knew of my habit. While I’m answering some question he had he stops me and says, can you point that “magazine” somewhere else !
    Ha! Sorry...

    For a reasonably well trained individual you can cant a SA weapon and keep it clear of clothing and the targets body for an ECQB (almost) contact shot (although I’ve seen more than one fail this range drill and foul the gun). Would the average shooter that only has occasional access to a public indoor range (No drawing, no close range targets, 1 round a second...) be better off with the G19 (+2 floor plate of course) and an RMR and back up suppressor night sights OR a 2-3” revolver...?? - SoCalRangeMaster

    Suggestions from a retired LE instructor and factory-trained S&W armorer from a large city in Texas:

    One of the things that has always stood out in my from my training at S&W is that under most circumstances their revolvers should be run dry or nearly so. Only a drop of lube on the crane and another on the cylinder yoke is all that was needed. Lube attracts dust and other contaminants which can lead to a failure to function. Even in the gulf coast, high humidity weather of the Houston area this was adequate. As a matter of fact running completely dry on a service revolver is a good thing. Lubrication is really only needed when firing many rounds in between cleaning, such as on a day at the range firing hundreds of rounds.

    The Bottom Line Summary from yet another retired SoCal police firearms instructor:

    My experiences after 22 years in LE instruction is that the skill set required to capably manipulate autopistols is far more perishable than that required to capably run a D/A wheelgun. Running a S&W Model 64 x 4" (our old issued sidearm) is like riding a bicycle--once you "know" the system, it stays with you. GOOD autopistol skills are not as intuitive or as well-retained without refreshment… The weak link in the chain of reliability is “The Nut Behind The Backstrap.” You gotta put in the hours and keep putting the hours in to keep the edges sharp. I survived being shot in August, 1981 largely because EVEN IN THE REVOLVER ERA--using a mediocre caliber--I practiced firing under less-than-ideal conditions and returned fire to good effect.
    Last edited by Outpost75; 10-13-2020 at 12:26 AM.
    The ENEMY is listening.
    HE wants to know what YOU know.
    Keep it to yourself.

  5. #25
    Boolit Man
    Join Date
    May 2020
    I can make do with either but if I had to choose only one kind, it would be a DA revolver.

    Every day the ground is getting farther away and I don't like looking for or bending over to pick up brass.

  6. #26
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    I started shooting with a handgun when I moved to Louisiana. When I lived in NYC Shot a gold cup 45 acp so had experience with the semi auto and none with a revolver. Sold the gold cup for more than what I paid for it. My other 45 is/was a 1943 Ithaca 1911A1 ans shot steel plate matches with it. Had to go back to NYC and bummed a copy of my dealers FFL. Went straight to an old friends gun shop and asked if he had any model 10's for sale. At that time you couldn't handle a handgun without a permit. So showed him my Louisiana Concealed handgun permit. The guy working the counter pulls out a cardboard box full of model 10's and says take your pick. Half hour later down to two. So picked the best one that felt good it me. Cost was $100 and shipped to my buddy's shop. the gun made it to his shop before I got home. Shot the heck out of it for about 6 weeks and got pretty fair with it. My assortment of handguns is more semi autos than revolvers. But every so often will drag out the model 10 or 14 or 15 and see what if anything will show up on the target. Course the 44 magnum Redhawk sees little use since I have 3 44 specials nesting in the safe. Only one 357 and that is an old Colt Trooper III. That old Colt has taught me a thing or two about shooting a revolver. Wouldn't win any beauty prizes but neither will I. Frank

  7. #27
    Boolit Buddy Rodfac's Avatar
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    Nov 2008
    Oldham Co., KY
    Good comments by Outpost 75...whose post above, brings out several good points by experts in the field. I'd point out that virtually all of us reading this thread are shooters of the experienced kind...and are often asked by those inexperienced in firearms to comment on guns suitable for home/personal defense...revolver simplicity of operation should be a vital component of any such discussion with neophytes. Ed's comments are well worth reviewing in that regard.

    In my case (a civilian but with extensive military & combat experience), I've recommended a revolver 95% of the time to new gun owners. Personally, I've been involved in several front door encounters while armed, with unknown individuals, two of which knew I was carrying. Thankfully, none of these resulted in a shooting incident. My wife, DIL, two nieces, and a friend's wife have all been confronted by sketchy characters at the front door, and fortunately, thus far, have not been accosted. All of the preceding women, have since changed their opinions on gun availability in the home, albeit reluctantly.

    We live on a semi-secluded farm, 25 minutes from police help in the best of circumstances. And I'll opine that these types of encounters are far too common, even more so in the last six months. They deserve careful thought & discussion as well as some considered preparation. Best regards, Rod
    Last edited by Rodfac; 10-15-2020 at 08:27 PM.

  8. #28
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Outside Rolla, Missouri
    Matter of taste and as some have posted, proficiency. IF I had to choose I'd take a DA revolver. Fortunately I don't. I have semi-auto's and they are purely tools. I've been shooting them enough over more than 50 years that I'm comfortable....and proficient....with any of the 3-4 I might carry. I carry a couple revolvers just as much, dividing the time between semi's and revolvers, depending on situation.

    Of them all I prefer SA revolvers. But they are no more suitable for every situation than any of the above are. Make you choice and be happy with it....and don't look down your nose at someone who chose differently.
    "In general, the art of government is to take as much money as possible from one class of citizens and give it to another class of citizens" Voltaire'

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  9. #29
    Boolit Master Drm50's Avatar
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    Jun 2016
    SE Ohio
    I can’t remember the last time I fired a revolver DA. I know I have, the 22s at least. When I was a kid I had a Ruger Single -6. Compared to my buddies H&Rs, IJs and imports it was target grade. About this time I got into a trade and got a S&W K22 NIB. Having no interest in “police type DA” I didn’t want to shoot it and make a used gun out of it. A buddy harassed me into shooting it. I was amazed. That was 1964, and most people didn’t have $100 to spend on a 22. That same K22 is still my main serious 22 in the woods. I have target autos that I can shoot better on the range but in the woods all targets aren’t stationary.

  10. #30
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    New Market, Iowa
    Quote Originally Posted by elmacgyver0 View Post
    First of all, they are all pistols, only some are revolvers.
    Correct. Pistols, handguns, whatever you want to call them. Some are revolvers, and some are semi-autos.

  11. #31
    Boolit Master Baltimoreed's Avatar
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    Dec 2012
    As long as the grips fit my long fingers I can shoot it fine, revolver or auto. N frames, .455 Webleys and New Services along with full sized 1911s work for me. I have a few more cf revolvers than cf autos. But have a lot more rf autos than rf wheelguns. They’re all good.

  12. #32
    Boolit Master
    bigted's Avatar
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    Mar 2009
    Sweet Home Oregon
    Thanks to ALMOST all who have given opinion and thoughts on this subject. I have lived 64 years and own many of both REVOLVERS AS WELL AS AUTO'S and am proficient with either. Am pleased with the various comments as well as the reasoning attached to each.

    I really do not think the "EDUCATION" is needed nor solicited as to the proper nomenclature of pistol versus auto. Thanks just the same. Please stay with the subject at hand ... and that is stands and opinions as well as choice between what I call a revolver versus an autoloader. Many opology's concerning auto's versus pistols. Please consider me EDUCATED.

  13. #33
    Boolit Buddy Win94ae's Avatar
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    Mar 2013
    I like revolvers more, mainly because I don't lose my brass. :/

  14. #34
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    Jan 2014
    west central Illinois
    I enjoy shooting my revolvers and my semi-autos both. It took me a while to adjust, but now I can shoot my semi-autos just as accurately as my revolvers.
    By getting better with my semi-autos, I also got better with my revolvers. Win win as it were.
    For whatever reason, I have never been able to shoot a single action revolver as well as I can my other handguns. They just don't work for me.

  15. #35
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Las Cruces, NM
    I 'grew up' with the 1911. Dad never said where he got it but it was a civilian 1911 (not a1). Then went in the Army and used them a LOT. Funny thing was I never had a malfunction with one while in the military. Most of those pistols rattled a lot and some had a hard time hitting a man target at 50yd.

    Father-in-law had a Colt National Match. It was the first time I had malfunction problems as it did not like the cast SWC bullets that the old 1911 swallowed easily. Got a RN mold and it was fine.

    Then I got my own and it was 'fixed up' by a decent gunsmith. I had a heavy spring put in it for the hotter loads I was shooting at the time. Anything less than full factory loads and it would hang up. With proper ammo it never burped.

    Revolvers. Had a few. They are my number one recommendation to new shooters. Brother and his wife both have them. My wife started shooting with one. Kids both started with them. The only one I have left is my father-in-law's Python (yes he had good taste in guns).

    I kinda chuckle when people say a revolver can be fired easily after a dud round. The only 'dud' rounds I have had in revolvers were squibs. That is the nastiest thing I have had to deal with in gun malfunctions. Several loaded chambers and a bullet lodged in the throat locking up the cylinder. At least with a semi-auto I can remove the magazine and safely disassemble to remove the bullet.

    Another story was a government security force had revolvers. I knew their training supervisor. No maintenance? He said more than a few would show up for quals with revolvers that would not shoot. Some rusted. One had the cylinder fall off the crane (the guard didn't know how to put it back together after cleaning). One had enough dirt in it it would not rotate the cylinder. A couple were bound up by frequent 'cleaning' with WD40.

    FWIW, my wife 'converted' to semi-autos many years ago. She still likes shooting the Python but loves her Colt Commander.

    Forgot, one time just for grins I didn't clean the 1911 after firing. It had over 400 rounds through it before I finally decided it was too filthy for me to pick up and shoot. No malfunctions at all. The match 1911 needed to be cleaned more often (as does the Python).
    Last edited by charlie b; 10-13-2020 at 11:10 PM.

  16. #36
    Boolit Man
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Fallon, Nevada
    I get more use out of a revolver. I still carry an auto because of red dot and light. I plan to fix that in revolver terms shortly.

    I butcher livestock, take snakes, coyotes, skunk, jacks and cottontails (in season) with revolvers. Definitely more utility. For me.

    But I do like a light at night, and a red dot is getting more useful these days. Guess i'll have to fix that up on a revolver soon.
    Shoot more!

  17. #37

    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    The Pacific NorthWet
    One nice thing about revolvers is that you can run most any round from mouse fart to truck stopper, wadcutter to RN, in successive cylinders, it's easier in some revolvers to run 2 shotshells then the rest full bore for example, if in snake country. (I can get 1911s to do that too, in 45ACP, haven't managed it in other calibers - yet.) And some semis don't like SWCs until worked over to feed them; Not everyone will spend "tonsabucks"on their handguns.

    Semi autos are faster for most users to reload than revolvers, a 12 round course of fire like the "El Presidente" tends to run 7 sec for autos and 11 sec for revolvers. This may or may not be an issue, depends on what you're doing.

    I enjoy both; I use revolvers more for hunting and semis for EDC, and both for fun plinking.

    Also some people have a lot easier time with one platform or the other, due to hand size,experience in only one platform, etc.; Friend couldn't hit much with my Commander but was shooting very small groups with their revolver - We are all a bit different.

  18. #38
    Boolit Bub monkey wrangler's Avatar
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    Aug 2020
    Land of tall cactus central AZ
    I enjoy the semi auto pistol's more than the revolvers mostly because my revolver's have a very heavy trigger pull. I don't plan on doing a trigger job on them to lighten the pull any time soon. I also have trained almost exclusively with semi auto on loading and clearing jams. The semi auto is a little smaller to conceal for me as well. I do enjoy shooting the revolvers at the range some times and the brass is definitely easier to roundup.
    Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid. John Wayne

  19. #39
    Boolit Master RU shooter's Avatar
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    Nov 2006
    SW Pa.
    Just like any other tool there are proper ones for each job that needs done . A crescent wrench can be a hammer and a screwdriver can be a prybar if needed in a pinch same with the wheel gun and the semi auto . All depends on the job at hand . I like them both if I'm just target shooting I'll take the much more accurate smith 686 if I'm carrying I'll take the lighter and slimmer semi auto .
    If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck!

  20. #40
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Las Cruces, NM
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr_Sheesh View Post
    ..... And some semis don't like SWCs until worked over to feed them; Not everyone will spend "tonsabucks"on their handguns.....
    I only had experience with one semi-auto (out of about 20) that would not feed SWC's when seated properly. That was the 1911 National Match (an early model). All it needed was the ramp widened up a tad. Gunsmith charged a couple beers.

    I do agree to the idea that revolvers will feed everything from light plinkers to full bore stuff.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check