RPGChat – Modern Firearms Guide (Part 2: Revolvers)

“God made man but Samuel Colt made them equal.”

This Guide is a continuation of RPGChat’s Ammunition and Firearm Guide

It is continued from this Blog Post

A history of the Revolver

The first revolver used the flintlock mechanism (basically a hammer strikes a piece of flint held by a pair of jaws) and was created by a man named Elisha Collier (Click HERE for a picture) in the 18th century (1814). The flintlock revolver, however, became obsolete when Samuel Colt invented the Colt Paterson Revolver utilizing Rev. Alexander John Forsyth’s Percussion Cap mechanism in 1836. The first cartridge revolver was created by Smith & Wesson in 1856.

Revolvers, since their creation, have become commonplace amongst military and law enforcement as well as personal defense and continued to be standard until the twentieth century when semi-automatic pistols were developed. The Semi-Automatic pistol could could more rounds and had less of a reload time when compared to the revolver plus their flat shape made them ideal for concealed carry.

Automatic pistols, since, have been replacing revolvers in military and law enforcement usage.

Revolvers, despite the invention of Semi-Automatic Pistols, are still quite commonly seen as back-up weapons and personal defense due to their reliability, accuracy, and simplicity.

The Revolver and it’s parts

I will now explain the components of the Revolver.

Front Sight Post/Rear Sight Post:

These two, upraised, metal devices are used in conjuction with one another to level the weapon with it’s target. One places the Front Sight on the target and tilts the weapon up, down, left, and right until the Front Sight is aligned inbetween the gap on the Rear Sight. When it is perfectly aligned, the weapon is aimed and the round will go towards the target if the sight posts are zeroed correctly.

Extractor Rod:

While not present on all Revolvers, those that are equiped with it may use the extractor rod to “push” brass (expended ammo cartridge) out of the cylinder. Revolvers without this component usually have small grooves on the cylinder itself that make withdrawing the brass manually easier.


The cylinder, in firearms, refers to the cylindrical and rotating compondent of a revolver that houses multiple chambers of which rounds can be inserted into. The Cylinder revolves around an axis in the revolver and brings each chamber (regardless of whether or not it contains a round) into alignment between the barrel for firing and the hammer behind it that ignites the primer. The Cylinder rotates one chamber each time the hammer is ‘cocked’ or 60 degrees , with six shooters.

There is a gap between the cylinder and the barrel as well as between the cylinder and the hammer. Because of this gap, the Revolver is generally incompadible with Sound Suppressors. Work has been done on Suppressor compadible versions of the Revolver (such as the Nagant M1895) but are rarely seen or used.

Cylinder Stop:

The cylinder stop locks the cylinder in place. When someone begins to pull the trigger, the cylinder lock the trigger assembly pushes the Cylinder Stop down. The Trigger assembly then begins rotating the cylinder and released the hammer when the chamber is aligned and throws the cylinder stop back into position to keep the cylinder from spinning again.


The Hammer is a piece of metal that uses a system of springs and locks that connect with the Trigger and Cylinder. When Cocked, the Hammer rotates the Cylinder and locks in the back position.

The Hammer is the backbone of the revolver, without it you have a hunk of metal. When the lock on the Hammer is released, it snaps forward and contacts the primer on the back of the round aligned in the cylinder. This impact ignites the primer which ignites the gunpowder inside the round’s cartridge and ejects the round forward at high velocity down the barrel.


The trigger (and trigger assembly) is a mechanism that, when squeezed, releases the lock on the Hammer and allows the springs to snap the Hammer forward and against the Primer of the Cartridge in the Cylinder’s Chamber.


The latch is a lock that keeps the cylinder in place. When the latch is pressed, the cylinder is freed from the revolver and allows it to be pushed to the side and removed (In some models it remains connected to the revolver) or allows the barrel and cylinder to be pushed down and the cylinder chambers revealed for loading/unloading.


The Grip is one of the most important aspects of the revolver. It controls the comfort of holding the weapon as well as dealing and directing recoil. A good grip can improve aim and reduce recoil (by directing it in a different fashion) while a bad grip can decreased accuracy by making the weapon uncomfortable to hold and doing little to control recoil. Some Grips are padded, others are plain wood. They literally come in all shapes and sizes and handle comfort and recoil in a multitude of ways. Experiment and find out which is best for you.

Types of Cylinders Load/Unload Designs

Top Break Cylinder Design
The Top Break design, in which the cylinder and the barrel are hinged and allowed to move forward when the Latch is pressed.

Front Loading Design

The Front Loading Design is similar to that of a musket. The Chamber is aligned with the barrel and powder is placed into the chamber followed by an oversized round. Then the cylinder is rotated and the process repeats for each chamber.

Also known as the Cap and Ball design.

Fixed Cylinder Designs

One of the first generations of the percussion cap revolver. The Latch that allows the cylinder to be removed wasn’t present. Instead, the hammer would have to be at ‘half-cock’ which freed the cylinder to be rotated by hand. There would be a small loading gate at the rear of the cylinder to allow for the user to insert one cartridge at a time. After a round is inserted, the user must turn the cylinder to align it with the loading gate to put the next round in the next chamber.

Swing-Out Design

The most modern method for loading and unloading. The Swing Out Cylinder Design. The Cylinder, mounted on a pivot that is coaxial with the chambers, swings out and down (to the left for right handed firers, swing out to the right version are available but often have to be custom made and are fairly rare). An Extractor is present, operated by a rod at the front of the cylinder, that ejects all fired rounds simultaneously. It doesn’t fire unused rounds because they are slightly longer than the spent rounds and thus don’t get pushed out entirely.

This style of cylinder loading design allows for a ‘Speed Reloader’ to be used. A Speed Reloader is a device that holds six rounds in the shape of the cylinder. It’s pushed against the chambers and a latch is pressed that releases the rounds in the speedreloader and allows for it to come free without the rounds. A Revolver with a side cylinder design and a speed reloader is the pinacle of Revolver design.


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RPGChat – Modern Firearms Guide (Part 1: QA)

“You can get more of what you want with a kind word and a gun than you can with just a kind word.”

Table of Contents

1. Q/A
2. Revolvers
3. Pistols (Semi-Automatic) [to come]
4. Rifles (Bolt action, Single-Action, High-Velocity) [to come]
5. Scopes and Equipment [to come]
6. Ammunition types [to come]

Firearms, since their creation, have changed the lives of humanity. War, security, and crime will never be as they were. Whether moral or corrupt, a gun is commonplace in the household of man. A gun is often coined as The Great Equalizer and has secured itself a spot in Roleplay, especially in the Modern/Futuristic Genre. Whether the user is strong or weak, big or small, a gun gives the character control over life and death to a degree never seen before.

I’ll start this off with a few questions and answers.

1. Q/A

Q: What exactly is a firearm?

A: The dictionary defines a firearm as being, “a small arms weapon, as a rifle or pistol, from which a projectile is fired by gunpowder.” Many people, however, would consider a crossbow as falling into the category of firearms despite it lacking gunpowder. The projectile that a firearm fires is known as ammunition and comes in the form of a bullet or round.

Q: What is the difference between a Rifle and a Pistol?

A: A rifle is defined as, “a shoulder firearm with spiral grooves cut in the inner surface of the gun barrel to give the bullet a rotatory motion and thus a more precise trajectory” while a pistol is defined as, “a short firearm intended to be held and fired with one hand.” Generally, a rifle is capable of firing a much larger caliper of round than a pistol (although this isn’t always true in the case of such things as a .22LR round for a rifle and .45 magnum for a revolver). The general rule of thumb when deciding whether your character is using a rifle or a pistol is this: “If it’s braced against the shoulder and fired with two hands, it’s generally a rifle. If it’s held with one hand it’s generally a pistol.” Do know that there are exceptions to these rules (I.E. A Shotgun and a machined pistol).

Q: You mentioned Revolver, isn’t it a pistol?

A: Yes and no. A Revolver falls into the pistol category, yes, but it is an entirely different animal. It’s defined as, “a handgun having a revolving chambered cylinder for holding a number of cartridges, which may be discharged in succession without reloading.” Essentially, instead of using a magazine (the device that holds and feeds the rounds into a pistol) a revolver uses a rotating cylinder that is attached between the hammer and the barrel. Revolver’s generally hold 6 rounds and are less prone to misfires compared to semi-automatic pistols and tend to have a higher accuracy and ease of cleaning, however it suffers in round capacity (6 round maximum compared to the 5-10 rounds that a semi-auto pistol can carry).

Q: Single shot? Semi-Automatic? Fully Automatic?

A: Simply speaking, a Single Shot weapon must have the hammer pulled back after each shot before another shot can be made. A semi automatic requires that you pull the trigger for each shot fired but doesn’t require ‘cocking’ the weapon and a Fully Automatic Weapon simply requires that you hold the trigger down and it will continue to fire until it overheats, warps the barrel, or runs out of ammunition. Most fully automatic weapons come in the form of Machine Guns such as the M2 Browning .50 Caliber or the M240, Sub-machine Guns (such as the MP40) are often Fully Auto as well and Machine Pistols (the Uzi being one of the most famous and recognizable) are often thrown in and confused with SMGs. Most Fully Automatic weapons have a Semi-Automatic function that can be switched to for accuracy and ammo conservation.