What about accuracy? Many people will say that, because of the grip shape of the typical semi-automatic, and in some cases the grip angle (the Luger, the Glock, etc.), semi-autos are more natural feeling in the hand and, because of this, point more naturally at the intended target than do revolvers. More to the point, though, is the fact that pinpoint accuracy – the sort of thing high-end target semi-auto pistols can produce with low-recoil-impulse target ammunition – is not important in the context of concealed carry. Certainly, it’s always good to strive for accuracy, but any quality handgun in proper working order, whether revolver or semi-automatic, is capable of better accuracy than the typical human being can achieve with it.
Defensive shooting from concealment can take place at contact distance and, despite those who claim one must always – ALWAYS – look across the sights when shooting, in self-defense scenarios there just sometimes isn’t the time or the distance. The wise concealed weapons carrier will learn the skills needed for hip level point shooting at seriously close range.
I am no terrific marksman and have never claimed otherwise. That said, what has always seemed practical to me has been this: Be prepared to shoot from the instant the weapon has cleared the holster and all the while you are raising the gun to eye level and firmly seating it with the support hand.
The typical semi-auto is more of an enclosed system than the revolver. Because of that, it is more forgiving of the dirt and debris associated with everyday use. But, again, we’re not debating the merits of revolvers versus semi-autos under prolonged battle conditions in a harsh climate. If we were, there would be no contest; the revolver would lose because it has more moving parts and is, typically, less robust. We are, instead, considering what to carry under our clothes for use in an emergency.
The real concern with a semi-automatic is reliability. In years gone by, there was great worry over magazine spring failure. Then, as now, if the spring is properly heat treated, the magazine could well be loaded for years without the spring taking a set (i.e., failing to spring back) and no longer functioning. This assumes, however, quality magazines.
If you fit your weapon with cheap magazines of questionable construction, you should not be surprised when the magazine fails. Some of the things that can happen, besides the spring taking a set, include the follower getting jammed on a rough spot in the body or on the follower itself, the magazine becoming compressed on the sides and jamming the follower, the follower nose diving because the magazine spring has the wrong tension, etc. With original equipment magazines or aftermarket magazines from purveyors of high quality components, encountering such difficulties should be rare, indeed.
When you first get a magazine, take a dowel rod or unsharpened pencil and depress the follower fully, letting it rise, then repeating the procedure several times. If the follower doesn’t stick, you’re probably okay. But, of course, the ultimate test is to shoot your weapon and observe how the magazine performs. If all goes smoothly and you take decent care of your magazines, even cleaning them periodically, you shouldn’t experience any difficulties.
Indeed, the ultimate reliability issue with a semi-automatic pistol concerns ammunition. Revolvers will generally function with any ammunition of the appropriate caliber. It is difficult to make them jam. Assuming no harsh field conditions, either an extremely heavy amount of powder residue is needed on the cylinder base pin – heavier than I’ve ever seen – or the primers were not seated deeply enough and they block cylinder rotation. This I have seen, but with hand loaded ammunition.