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Spray and Pray, Revolvers and the Mighty M1 Garand

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 Robert Kirk said…

I try to have on-hand weapons without magazines like SKS or M1 and revolvers instead of semi-autos. The volume of fire is lessened, but the trained quality should be better (vs “spray & pray”). Using weapons without magazines cuts down on “overhead” cost for mags, meaning you can spend more for ammo. It also means no mag issues like the ARs incompatibility or mag use damage. You might eventually, possibly, have a weapon that is only good for a doorstop in TEOTWAWKI. Not good.

Rucksack Rob said…

You do have a valid point…almost. I like revolvers a lot! They are dependable, spit out any ammo fed to them and are great for both novice and expert.

My disagreement with your statement is the M1 (Garand I’m assuming). The Garand was and still is one of the best rifles ever designed but let me ask you, how many enbloc clips do you have? When that rifle was standard issue, the military had unlimited clips pre-loaded as issued to the “Joe’s” who carried it. Now again I ask you… how many do you have stashed away to reload w/ 8 rounds of 30-06 after said firefight? Did you stop to pick up the clips that were thrown 3-6 feet away in the tall grass in the dark?

Yes 20-30 round magazines may be a slight logistical problem for some preppers / soldiers but it’s much easier to stock up now on brand new mags (vs. surplus clips) which, during the heat of any type of battle would be easier to pick up off the ground at your feet or to perform a tactical reload and stuff the mag in a pouch or down your shirt than a clip that was thrown out to ‘tim-buk-tu’

After 24 years in the Army, all in combat arms, I do have some working knowledge of combat rifles, both foreign and domestic and as stated earlier, the Garand is a fine rifle but because of the clips, is one that is slightly outdated for that one reason only. I do own one and love to shoot it but it would not be my first choice for a MBR in a SHTF scenario unless of course, it was the only one I had with me at the time…lol

I forget who said “Be cautious of the man with one gun, for he probably knows how to use it.” and for all I know, that could fit you to a ‘T’.

Ryan here. This sort of statement about mag fed weapons and ‘spray and pray’ has been thrown out enough over time that I feel like addressing it. I also plan to touch on the M1 Garand and revolvers.

I try to have on-hand weapons without magazines like SKS or M1 and revolvers instead of semi-autos. The volume of fire is lessened, but the trained quality should be better (vs “spray & pray”).”

This kind of thinking conflates skill, tactics and technology. In simple language people mix stuff together and come to an overall flawed conclusion. Lets look at them in order then bring it all together.

Skill – The ability to accurately engage a target comes from your ability to apply the fundamentals of marksmanship. Presuming a weapon is mechanically accurate, which most of them are, a person who can shoot will be able to hit with whatever gun. If we look at most civilian defensive shooting problems they are not particularly difficult.

Tactics – Moving, shooting, use of cover, etc. One could say “spray and pray” is a tactic though I would say it is a bad tactic. At best it is a fundamental misunderstanding of small unit tactics (fire and maneuver, etc.) but at worst it is utter stupidity.

Equipment drives tactics in the big picture though for an individual with a rifle or handgun not much has changed really in a while.

Technology – The AR and AK are 50′s technology and semi automatic pistols have been standard across the vast majority of the worlds militarizes since WWII. Cops in the US used revolvers for longer than that, till say the early 90′s.

Where the conflation occurs in this thinking is that people think by limiting their technology they will somehow magically get better results. At best this thinking is ignorant. People who think this almost universally lack training or experience.

Put it like this, Would an older less capable race car improve the performance of the driver in a race? Obviously not. The idea is laughable. The answer to improving discipline, taking good shots and getting hits is about training. A shitty shot who is scared can empty a wheel gun or SKS into thin air just the same as they could a tricked out race gun or high end AR-15.

So aside from being fundamentally flawed limiting capacity and reload time via technology are problematic. The issue is that even if somehow a 6 shot revolver made you into a steely eyed killer, which it doesn’t, you would still be a steely eyed killer with a 6 shooter. If you get into a situation where that’s not enough you have a problem.

There is also a layer of economic resentment or jealousy in any of these discussions. The economic classism in American society does not vanish in gun/ preparedness culture. Some folks feel compelled to say their choice, made mostly for economic reasons, is better to feel good about it. Instead of saying “I know its not ideal but its what I can afford” guys have to somehow try to justify it being a better choice.

So in closing using a different gun to try to fix (lack of) training issues is not a useful idea.

Now to revolvers and the good ole M1 Garand.


1-  Reliability/ durability. We have a tendency to look back at revolvers with rose colored glasses.

As someone much more experienced than I (who was also a LEO in the wheel gun era) said “Revolvers handle neglect better while semi automatics handle abuse better.” If a gun is going to sit indefinitely in a drawer somewhere a revolver is more likely to work a couple years down the road. On the other hand if it might get carried through a mud puddle or dropped in sand a modern universal service pistol is far more likely to function.

They had issues with getting dirty, timing and failing. A local agency used to stop partway through their 60 round qualification to use a brush to wipe out under the star extractors because otherwise the guns (S&W model 66′s) wouldn’t extract properly.

Also revolvers are considerably more fragile than one might think. People think about the big heavy metal frame with a fixed barrel but forget about the little parts like the cylinder stop that are pretty fragile and when broken stop the gun cold.

A lot of revolver owners these days have selective memory in part because they tend (there are exceptions but they are rare) not to shoot much. Any halfway decent gun will be pretty reliable if you shoot 200 rounds a year through it.

2- Revolvers excel at the ends of the size spectrum. The difference between a little 5 shot J frame and a 6-7 shot single stack .308/9mm are minimal. For larger magnum type guns revolvers are stronger and much more affordable. In the middle with compact/ duty sized guns revolvers really lose out. A S&W k frame, probably the epitome of a duty revolver holds 6 shots. A Glock 17 is about the same size, lighter and holds 2.5x the ammo. Multiply that by a couple reloads and a double stack auto is a whole different ballgame than a wheel gun.

3- From a preparedness angle (vs general defensive use) revolvers have a couple of unique pros and cons. Pro- Ability to handle a variety of ammunition. Since a round doesn’t have to cycle the action revolvers are more tolerant of weaker loads than an automatic. Con- Fitting parts. Modern universal service pistols have drop in parts. That means any chuckle head with basic tools can swap out parts. Good luck trying that with a wheel gun. The saying that fixing a Glock involves a tool box and fixing a revolver involves a gunsmith has more than a little validity.

M1 Garand:
I honestly can’t believe we are discussing this. The Garand was the peak of fighting rifles from its adoption in 1936 when everyone was shooting bolt guns we had a semi auto. Then in about ’43 the STV-40 and STG-44 came to be. Certainly by the late 40′s to mid 1950′s when reliable mag fed rifles such as the AK-47 and FN-FAL were fielded the Garand was obsolete.

They feed from an 8 round en bloc clip and are pretty picky about ammunition. Modern 30’06 ammo (the one exception being specially loaded ammo from Prvi Partisan) is too powerful and will potentially bend op rods. To cap that all off the Garand’s in existence are usually 70 some odd years old. Even if they were properly stored and cared for metal fatigues over time.  Also to make matters worse these guns aren’t cheap anymore. A moot point if you own a couple already but at the price these days you could get a new quality AR or AK.

If you are a salty old WWII or Korea vet who is intimately familiar with a Garand that has one and a bunch of spam cans of ammo in the basement then stick with it. For anyone else having a Garand as a fighting weapon is silly.

If you want to own a Garand as a history piece for your collection then rock on. By all means do it, they are a neat piece of history. In the unlikely event you are in some crazy siege thing and have more shooters than guns by all means toss someone the Garand. However planning to use a gun that has serious limitations in a primary defensive role is foolish.

As a final thought despite spending however many words and an hour or so of my time guns really don’t matter that much. If you look at realistic defensive shootings guns don’t matter that much. It matters that a person has a loaded gun, can get that gun into play and shoot it accurately in a timely manner. Somewhere after that it matters what kind of gun the person has.

Put it like this. People tend to be way too focused on the gun itself and in that focus miss the real point that it is about themselves and their capability. A person with the right skills and frame of mind can win a fight with a shitty old .38 wheel gun. A guy who lacks the right skills and frame of mind could be carrying a $3,000 high end pistol and it doesn’t matter. To get it out of the gun discussion I could show up to the course with $20 Goodwill golf clubs and if I swapped clubs then played with Tiger Woods he would still kick my ass.

Edited to include:

I did not touch on the cost of magazines as a benefit to go with something not mag fed.

We have to look at the cost of magazines vs the utility a mag fed gun brings. For fighting weapons it is silly to go with something that isn’t mag fed. Honestly for the guns I am talking about magazines aren’t all that expensive. Say AR/ AK mags are $12-14 and Glock 9mm mags $14-15, at least those prices are fairly close. So lets split the difference and say a full load out of mags for your AR/ AK costs $260 and your Glock is $145. To have the capability of a modern firearm those prices are worthwhile.

Where I would say going old school makes sense is with non fighting weapons. So hunting rifles and .22′s. Tube fed Marlin model 60′s and .22 revolvers will serve their roles and you don’t need to spend money on mags. Well those are my thoughts on that.


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    • raburgeson

      Not worried about the price of clips. I have scopes on my guns including the pistol. Everyone has priorities, instead of spending 20 at the theater I would rather buy a clip. If you have less for ammo quit wasting it. Know your trigger pull. Get a 22 for your plinking and adjust the trigger pull to match. Some 22s come with this feature. Well OK, got a 22 mag for this. You don’t need much practice, keep the crosshairs on the target and pull smooth.

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