Revolvers aren’t impractical because life isn’t a video game. If you need the greater ammunition capacity of a semiautomatic pistol, most of the time you actually need a rifle or shotgun. The primary role of most pistols is to get you out of bad situations so you can flee or find a better weapon; pistols aren’t intended to fight off armies with. There are a very limited number of situations where a semiautomatic pistol is adequate but a revolver is inadequate.
While revolvers are no longer state of the art in pistol design, they aren’t obsolete either. People still use revolvers for several reasons:
Revolvers are simple to use.
Nearly all double action revolvers have a maximum of four controls.
Actuating the cylinder release allows the cylinder to swing open. To load the revolver, insert cartridges into the cylinder’s empty chambers.
Then close the cylinder. If you want to fire, pull the trigger with the revolver pointed at your target. If you want to make the trigger easier to pull, you have the option of pulling the hammer back manually on revolvers which have a hammer spur. Doing so makes the trigger pull required to fire the revolver much shorter and lighter.
To unload the revolver, release the cylinder again.
Then proceed to slap the exposed ejector rod.
Revolvers are easy to use.
As long as you have the finger strength to pull the trigger on a revolver, you can easily operate a revolver. You can do every step seen above one handed if you need to. By contrast, semiautomatic pistols usually have a reciprocating slide which needs to be pulled back to chamber ammunition before the pistol can fire. This is difficult to do one handed. For some people, it can be quite difficult to manipulate a semiautomatic pistol’s slide even using both hands. I didn’t believe this was a significant issue until I had a little trouble racking the slide on a 1911 pistol chambered in 10mm Auto. The pistol had a 22 pound (9.97 kilogram) recoil spring; if the pistol had been wet, I wouldn’t have been able to rack the slide at all. If my ham sized hands can have trouble with a gigantic semiautomatic handgun, I can see where others might have trouble with normal handguns.
Revolvers can use varied and powerful ammunition.
You see that revolver up above? It can produce around 750 foot pounds (949 joules) of energy with the ammunition in that picture. .357 Magnum was designed in 1934 so law enforcement officers could use a revolver to kill bootleggers and gangsters who were hiding behind heavy steel car doors by shooting through the car doors. Smith & Wesson also advertised its early .357 Magnum revolvers as suitable for hunting large animals like bears and moose. While it was surpassed in power long ago by other magnum revolver cartridges, .357 Magnum has become the standard for revolvers over the past 80 years. It is easily found in most places which sell ammunition. The three most common semiautomatic pistol cartridges, 9×19mm Parabellum, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP, are all significantly less powerful than .357 Magnum. I’m not implying that semiautomatic pistol cartridges are inadequate for defense; all common cartridges are adequate for defense. I’m simply saying that the ability to shoot through barriers is valuable to some people.
That said, you can also practice cheaply with a .357 Magnum revolver using .38 Special ammunition. Since revolvers aren’t dependent upon recoil for their successful operation, revolvers can shoot a much wider variety of ammunition than semiautomatic pistols.
Revolvers can fire fast.
Let’s isolate firing speed from everything else.
Double action revolvers can fire as fast as you can pull the trigger; semiautomatic pistols are no different. That video was the first time I ever shot that revolver and I was able to keep all my shots on target while firing as fast as I could acquire a sight picture… in the dark.
I’m not a super fast shooter with pistols of any type, I’m a rifleman, but being able to shoot as fast as I can realign my sights with my target is fast enough for me. There’s no reason to shoot any faster than that.
The reload speed of a revolver is largely irrelevant.
Going back to the purpose of pistols, if you need to fire more than five or six shots out of any pistol to get yourself out of a bad situation, you need a rifle or shotgun. Revolvers have adequate capacity for personal defense. Most people understand this.
Small revolvers are easy to conceal and worry free.
The carry of concealed pistols has become increasingly popular in recent years. While compact and sub-compact semiautomatic pistols have undergone substantial development in that time, for newer shooters who just want a small pistol that works, revolvers are a safe choice.