Why Revolver?

In USPSA, I shoot an elegant weapon from a more civilized age: the revolver. The most common question I get, in one form or another, is, “Why?”

Here are some of my answers.

It’s Cool

Coolness is, of course, subjective, so your mileage may vary, but I think revolvers are cool. For one, there’s the cowboy cachet. If you’ve seen my match videos, at least after I started leaning into the spaghetti western theme, I’m sure you can tell I find that compelling.

For another, a revolver is a mechanical marvel: delicate clockwork nevertheless tough enough to survive a cylinder hammering back and forth. Bunches of tiny metal parts, all interlocking perfectly, cooperating to bring the cylinder into line and the hammer down at just the right moment.

And that’s saying nothing of the internal ballistics, which rely on the notion that standard-pressure air is more or less solid to a jet of gas at 20,000 PSI, at least on the timescale needed for a bullet to cross the barrel-cylinder gap and make it out the business end of the gun.

It’s a mechanically and historically fascinating tool. If your ‘why’ was intended to mean ‘why did you get into Revolver over, say, Open or CO?’, that’s why.

It’s Esoteric

Come, reader, I have nothing to hide from you: you know I like weird hipster things. The fact that revolver is an esoteric corner of the USPSA game is a draw to me. Getting to1 work out a lot of how the wheelgun interacts with modern USPSA is an engaging mental exercise for me.

I don’t want to spoil my revolver techniques series too much2, but USPSA Revolver is a layer cake of similarity sponges and difference fillings. There are parts of the game that are the same as in semi-auto divisions, but then you look deeper and there are differences, and then you zoom in to the techniques that underpin those parts of the game and they’re the same, and then you get better at those parts of the game, and they turn different again.

It keeps the gears turning in my head, and the Revolver game has not yet fully revealed itself to me. If you want to know why I keep at it, that’s one reason why.

It Invites—And Rewards—Perfection

USPSA, fundamentally, ends up being more about speed than accuracy. There are only so many points available on a stage, but you can always go faster. Just about anyone can shoot 90% points at a USPSA match. The measure of a shooter is how fast he can do it. There are some wrinkles in that clean formulation. Maybe you shoot 85% points a little faster, or 95% points a little slower. Ultimately, though, your speed improves a whole lot more than your accuracy as you get better at the game.

Inevitably, and not incorrectly, that leads people to shoot as fast as they think they can go to get good hits. Shooters in almost every division except Revolver3 have enough ammunition in the gun to turn the dial a bit more toward speed. Even in Production, if you throw a shot off target and take a fast makeup shot, you’re still in decent shape.

The dial has to go a bit more toward accuracy in Revolver. Shooting a wheelgun, I don’t frequently find myself pulling into a position with extra bullets in the gun. Usually, my stage plan calls for eight shots, and all eight of those shots have to hit, or else there’s going to be a standing reload somewhere. Revolver is a deadeye’s game. If you want to win against solid competition, you have to be able to shoot any given USPSA position with perfect accuracy, and you have to know exactly how fast you can go while doing it.

What do I find compelling about the actual shooting in Revolver division? That.

I’m Good At It

Toward the end of 2021, after a year and a half of shooting almost exclusively revolvers4, I took a few detours into semi-automatic divisions: one day in Carry Optics, one in Open. I shot those guns, and those matches, pretty well. I’m clearly a better shooter now than I was the last time I ran my Carry Optics gun, and that was plain to see in the results.

That said, at the end of the match in Open, I donned the Revolver belt for a run at the classifier. In the aftermath of a 100% run, I remarked to a friend, “I shoot that gun like it’s an extension of my arm.” Revolver clicks for me. For the amount of practice I’ve put in, I run the revolver better compared to some hypothetical baseline skill than I would with the semi-autos. I’m shooting classifiers on a pace that should put me into Grandmaster soon, and in contention to win stages that don’t excessively handicap the wheelgun at the smaller of the two local matches I frequent.

Why revolver? Because I’m good at it, and still getting better.


  1. An uncharitable soul might phrase this ‘having to’, instead. 
  2. A series, I might add, that doesn’t take quite as much hedging now that I’ve shot my way into Master class. 
  3. Single Stack shooters running major power factor have the same concerns as Revolver here. 
  4. There are 25 matches on my record since the start of 2020, of which three, all in 2021, were semi-auto matches. 

The Sunday Papers (Nov. 21, 2021)

Defense

Grab Bag

The Sunday Papers (Nov. 7, 2021)

Defense

Grab Bag


  1. I mean, a lot of what I post here is unsourced, in the formal sense, but this is ‘retweeted by natsec people I follow on Twitter’ territory. 

The Sunday Papers (Oct. 31, 2021)

Well, readers, it’s been more than a month since the last one of these, for which you have my apologies.

October was a busy month for me: three USPSA matches, one of which yielded a trophy, and my birthday toward the end. Now that the summer’s winding down, I should be more able to do these regularly.

Defense

Defense-Adjacent

Science and Technology

Finance and Economics

Guns

Grab Bag

The Sunday Papers (Sep. 19, 2021)

I swear I’m not trying to turn this into a monthly feature—there’s been a lot going on, and news items (that we read and share in our links channel) have been following a drought or flood pattern.

Projects

  • The Glockblaster 3D, which I mentioned way back in… wow, February… is almost done. Expect a series of posts following the build later in the year.

Defense

Science and Technology

Guns

The Rona

The Economy, Stupid

Grab Bag

The Sunday Papers (Aug. 22, 2021)

It looks like The Sunday Papers are here to stay.

Defense

Science and Technology

COVID

  • Prepper, libertarian-ish guy, and Ars Technica founder (since departed) Jon Stokes is starting to get worried about COVID again, which is maybe a canary. He’s a fairly clear-eyed dude. We’ll keep you updated.
  • Plastic barriers probably don’t help – Ventilation is the COVID-killer, which is why airplanes are quite safe despite what you’d think. Plastic barriers can interfere with ventilation.

History

Grab Bag

The Sunday Papers (Aug. 1, 2021)

Oh dear, it’s been quite a while, hasn’t it?

With the increasing business and attendant busy-ness at work, I’m considering making this week’s tongue-in-cheek change a permanent one. We picked Wednesday for the What We’re Reading back when we had a post from me on some Saturdays and a post from parvusimperator most Tuesdays and Thursdays. It made a lot more sense when Tuesday through Thursday was a solid block of content. Now that that condition no longer holds, I don’t know if I have much reason to carry on trying to carve 45 minutes out of my Wednesdays to whip this up, when Sunday is a whole lot more open.

Projects

  • I did buy a new reloading press. It’s a Dillon XL750, and I quite like it.
  • The revolver technique content I promised is delayed, because we had a pipe leak and the attendant plumbing and remediation work to contract out and do, respectively.

Defense

Science and Technology

  • A Chemical Hunger: why are people so fat these days? – A review of the evidence in favor of chemical contaminants being the cause. Particularly compelling: county-level maps of obesity are very similar to maps of watershed catchment area. A long read: it has at least eight parts at the time of writing.
  • Should social media platforms be regulated like common carriers? – Eugene Volokh argues that some kind of common carrier-like regime may be correct. We have a fair bit of editorial independence here, because we’re not beholden to Big Tech, but there are plenty of ways we could still get shut down given a substantial enough pressure campaign.
  • China seizes UK’s largest microchip manufacturer – Barely even hyperbole, that headline.
  • China also cracks down on its equivalent to US big tech – Content warning: a pundit who is, in my experience, frequently wrong. That said, I think he’s right on this one: China isn’t hitting companies that make tangible things, just its domestic software industry. Which is dumb, given that a domestic software industry helps encourage the development of the software engineers you need to make tangible tech, but central planners never got high marks for making good decisions.
  • Big earthquake in Alaska – Right next door to the Cascadia fault, where we should be expecting the next Big One.

Grab Bag

The ‘Rona

Competition Revolver Technique: An Introduction

Shooting competition revolver, I have noticed that there’s a lot of wisdom floating around the Internet about how to do so, and very little of it written down in one place. While revolver and semi-auto in a run-and-gun sport like USPSA are more similar than you might expect, there are still substantial differences in the finer, shot-to-shot techniques. One of the obstacles to coming to Revolver division as a newcomer is that you are largely left to your own devices in finding those differences, understanding them, and developing the skills to address them. I aim to fill that gap in the world of written shooting instruction.

This is a project I’ve kicked around for almost a year now. The first question I expect is, “Aren’t you a C-class scrub?” To which the answer is yes1, but bear in mind that I’m not presenting much in the way of original work here. Information on competition revolver techniques exists—it just hasn’t been compiled yet. Look at me as your librarian more than your instructor, and expect me to say if something I’m doing is something I figured out myself, or something I’m recording from more experienced wheelgunners.

That’s all I have for this first post. Keep an eye on the ‘revolver technique’ tag worn by this post for future entries. I’m hoping to have one out this week on stage planning and finding places for reloads, using a real stage and a local Single Stack shooter for comparison. It is, however, a match week, and one I’m running to boot, so we’ll see if I have the time.


  1. At the time of writing, which may not be the time of publication, I am in fact the #1 C-class revolver shooter nationwide. King of the Scrubs2
  2. At the time of continued writing, I’m now a B-class scrub, so I’m doing something right, or at least not as wrong as I was before. 

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Jul. 7, 2021)

Reloading press update: I’m looking now at a Dillon XL750, which seems to hit the right balance between price, size, and capability.

Projects

  • Lots of stuff around the house.
  • Parvusimperator remarks that he’s been engaged in planning the plan for a committee to lay out the vision for the forthcoming plan for architecting a future project. $GOVERNMENT_CONTRACTOR life!
  • The Glockblaster 3D project I wrote about earlier in the year is nearly done. I need to write a progress update. I’ve been sharing more frequent, less formal updates at a semi-private forum for a collection of centrist and right-leaning tech enthusiasts. It’s a pleasant place, and if you find the tenor of the less politically neutral grab bag pieces agreeable rather than aggravating, you might like it there too.

Defense

Science and Technology

Guns

Grab Bag

Wednesday What We’re Reading (Jun. 16, 2021)

I’m thinking about getting a progressive press to make my USPSA reloading go a bit faster. Any recommendations? I’m thinking about waiting for that Frankford Arsenal FX-10 jobber to go on sale before I make a final decision.

Fishbreath’s Story of the Week

Defense

The ‘Rona

Guns

Grab Bag