You may want to buy a revolver for many reasons, from protection to target shooting. Revolvers are a good choice for people at all experience levels because they’re easy to use and maintain, yet reliable and require less training than other gun models.
1. Examine your reasons for buying a revolver. If you want a revolver for self-defense, you need to look at different characteristics of the gun than if you’re interested in target shooting. In general, no matter what the purpose, most people should stick to revolvers with a barrel no longer than 2 1/2 inches, unless a person has a large frame, where a 3 inch barrel may be appropriate.
2. Decide on a single or double action revolver. A single action revolver requires you to manually pull the hammer back and then squeeze the trigger–two single acts. Double action revolvers require only that you pull back the trigger. Double action is more suitable for self defense because you can fire your revolver quickly, and in most self-defense situations, your attacker would be in close range. A single action revolver gives your shots more accuracy, and would be better for target shooting.
3. Pick a caliber size. The .38 Special caliber is mid-sized and easy for most people to shoot while still having enough force to be effective. Stay away from a smaller caliber size as your revolver may not have enough power. The .357 magnum caliber is similar to the .38 Special, but it’s a more powerful version.
4. Consider buying a used revolver. Learn operate the models you’re shopping for so that you can easily inspect the revolver while in the gun shop.
5. Inspect the gun for defects. Look over the frame, barrel and hammer for rust or pitting and to see if the blue is worn through in patches. You can use these faults to negotiate the price. Check the edge of the slots in the cylinder–they should be straight and sharp. Any curvature indicates a serious problem. Look at the yoke of the gun to make sure it isn’t bent.
6. Scan the revolver for any lettering. Letters and numbers should appear clear and defined. If a gun is polished and has a nice finish, but the lettering is blurry, this is a sign of refinishing.
7. Fill out the form 4473 so your gun seller can perform an NCIC federal background check. You must fill out this form to have the gun transferred through a FFL (federal firearms license) dealer.
8. Wait for one of three responses: proceed, denied or delayed. If you end up having to wait you should take this time to decide where you’re going to keep your revolver in your home. Keep it high on a shelf or lock it in a safe if you have young children.
9. Buy appropriate ammunition. Use cheaper bullets for target shooting, but for self-defense, invest the extra money to get jacketed hollow point bullets. These bullets have a cavity at the tip and expand once they hit a living target. They have the benefit of creating more damage and being less likely to pass through the target or attacker. Some good brands to look for are Winchester Silvertip and Remington Gold Saber.