A revolver is a handgun that has a revolving cylinder with multiple chambers and a barrel. Each chamber holds a single cartridge. Standard revolvers’ cylinders are designed to accommodate 5 or 6 rounds depending on the model. Revolvers are of three different actions, i.e., Single-Action, Double-Action, and Double-Action Only. 

How does revolver work? Generally, to fire a revolver, each chamber in the revolving cylinder has to align with the barrel and firing mechanism for each shot to be fired. It means that the sequential cycling of a loaded cylinder facilitates follow up shots. Below is a comprehensive explanation of how the three actions work. 

Before we go into detail, it’s vital for you to note some essential parts of a revolver. They include the trigger, barrel, cylinder bullet, and hammer. 

An Overview Of How A Revolver Works

How A Revolver Works

How A Revolver Works

Here is step by step on how a revolver works.

  1. The first step when you want to fire a loaded revolver is to cock back the hammer. It causes a compression of a metal spring in the revolver’s handle/stock. 
  2. The round in the next chamber is then aligned in the middle of the barrel and the hammer. Also, a pawl attached to the trigger creates a depression that prevents the cylinder from further rotation. 
  3. You should then proceed and pull the trigger to release the hammer. 
  4. The hammer is then pushed forward to apply force on the chambered round’s primer, thus initiating propellant combustion. The gas pressures produced pushes forward the bullet. 
  5. As a result, the bullet travels through and out of the barrel towards the aimed direction. The spiral grooves lined in the barrel enables the bullet to spin out of the barrel effectively. 
  6. Repeat the above procedure if you want to take more shots. 
  7. After you have used all rounds, you should smack out the cylinder and push the ejector rod while the extractor gets rid of the spent shells from the cylinder.
  8. You can reload your revolver’s chambers one at a time or use a speed loader. 

How Does A Single-Action Revolver Work?

A Single Action revolver requires you to manually cock the hammer using your secondary hand or the firing hand’s thumb. As a result, the next round in the cylinder’s chamber is locked and aligned with the barrel. When ready to fire, pull the trigger to release the hammer as the chambered round get out through the barrel. 

To fire again, you have to repeat the same process of cocking the hammer. It’s why such revolvers are referred to as Single-Action revolvers, a name adopted from the single action of the trigger. 

Single Action revolvers are perceived to have better safety since you cannot fire without cocking the hammer.

How Does A Double-Action Revolver Work?

What is unique about a Double-Action revolver is that it applies two firing mechanisms, i.e., that of a single-action revolver and double-action. When the trigger is pulled in a Double-Action revolver, the hammer is forced back to position while the next round is aligned in the cylinder. A second action involves releasing the hammer to strike a firing pin.

The above explanation translates that each time you pull the trigger, it makes a complete cycle. Unlike a Single-Action revolver, you can comfortably draw your Double-Action revolver and fire using the trigger and without cocking. How is that even possible? The first action will entail the trigger cocking the hammer and the cylinder, followed by a firing of the chambered round. 

The two-action mechanism that takes place before a round is fired is what makes such a revolver be called a Double-Action revolver. In case of a stressful situation that requires quick and instant firing, a Double-Action revolver would be an effective gun compared to a Single-Action revolver. On the other hand, achieving accuracy with the Double-Action revolver is not as easy as in a Single-Action revolver. 

How Does A Double-Action-Only Revolver Work?

These kinds of revolvers do not have much difference from the Double-Action revolvers, only that they utilize a self-cocking mechanism. As a result, the only way to fire these revolvers is through a double-action-only. 

 Another distinguishing feature is noted in the bobbed hammers, or the frame entirely covers the crown. In most instances, revolvers using the Double-Action-Only are better options for concealed.


Revolvers are good guns, and there is a lot of fun shooting using these “wheels.” Also, they use a straightforward mechanism that is easy to apply and shoot. With the right skills in handling revolvers, you can comfortably use them for hunting, self-defense, and, at times, target shooting. 

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