Over the weekend, I had a chance to take two of my girlfriends shooting—one a beginner and one intermediate. Neither have a strong affinity for guns, but both own a gun for self-defense. The problem is their male partners, without their input, purchased these firearms. The males in question are gun guys—one is a collector and avid shooter, the other an IDPA shooter. In the guy’s mind, both these gun purchases were thoughtful. They bought them for shooting ease and stopping power. The beginner’s husband bought her an Armscor M200 .38 Special revolver, while the intermediate shooter’s boyfriend gave her the sub-compact Glock 27 .40 S&W semi-automatic pistol. This weekend gave me the perfect opportunity to compare a semi-automatic pistol to a revolver in calibers suitable for self-defense with three different women’s opinions on the pros and cons of each gun.
Armscor M200 .38 Special Revolver
In my opinion, there is too much encouragement for women to buy a revolver over a semi-automatic handgun. For some women, the revolver is the correct choice. Revolvers don’t jam, you don’t have to worry about racking a slide—especially if you have weak upper body strength or joint or arthritis issues. They have fewer mechanical parts, making them easier to operate and overall less intimidating to a women.
On the other hand, revolvers do not hold as many rounds as a semi-automatic handgun and generally come from the factory with rudimentary sights. If you aren’t a regular target shooter or train with your revolver, it may take more than six rounds to stop a threat. There are speedloaders for revolvers, however reloading like that takes practice.
The Armscor M200 has a full-sized, wide polymer grip with finger grooves. All three of us quickly found a natural, comfortable and firm grip on the revolver. With its 4.02-inch barrel and 1.76-pound weight loaded, the recoil of the .38 Special was more than manageable. Follow-up shots were quick and accurate. The beginner who owns the gun and the first time shooting the gun was pleasantly surprised, as well as was the intermediate shooter.
We shot the gun in double-action instead of single-action. It has a traditionally long pull, as does any revolver at 11.5 to 13 pounds in double-action. However, for me, the perceived trigger pull was less than what I’ve experienced on some semi-autos—I’m looking at you S&W .380 Bodyguard. We had no problems staying on target while waiting for the shot to break.
I’ve read on the Internet that some people who have purchased the Armscor M200 find the revolver’s finish and parts to be mediocre. Our pre-owned revolver’s parkerized finish was still in pristine condition and all parts ran smoothly without any hiccups.
The sights on the Armscor are rudimentary, both front and rear sights are fixed, but at the 50 feet we were shooting from, the sights were adequate to hit our target.
In my opinion, the size of the M200 is too big for comfortable conceal carry. It is 8.75 inches long overall and 5.44 inches from the bottom of the grip to the top of the hammer. All three of us agreed that the Armscor was pleasant to shoot, reliable and comfortable.
Specifications and Features
- Caliber: .38 Special
- Capacity: 6 rounds
- Barrel length: 4.02”
- Sights: Fixed
- Grip: Polymer
- Finish: Parkerized
- Overall length: 8.78”
- Height: 5.44”
- Weight: 1.98 pounds loaded
Glock 27 .40 S&W Semi-Automatic Pistol
The Glock 27 semi-automatic pistol holds nine rounds of .40 S&W ammunition. Despite having to rack the slide to chamber the first round, a semi-automatic handgun typically holds more rounds than a revolver and reloads more quickly.
Glock’s “safe action” safety system means there are no external safeties and besides pulling back the slide, the Glock is ready to fire when you chamber the first round. In my opinion, it is easier to operate than semi-autos with external safeties. The controls are minimal making the gun is easy to manipulate. With the right technique and practice, racking the slide for me has become natural and quick.
Even though the Glock is an incredibly reliable and tough gun, unlike revolvers, semi-autos have the reputation for malfunctioning. If you are an inexperienced shooter, a jam can cost you your life. However, with practice and training, clearing malfunctions can become second nature.
The Glock 27’s grip was a typical old-school Glock grip. We were not shooting the Gen 4 Rough Textured Gen Frame—which I do not like. The magazine did not have a finger extension, but for me, gripping a Glock is comfortable either way. The beginner shooter had no issues finding a comfortable and firm grip, however the intermediate shooter couldn’t get a comfortable grip or stance. She was also afraid of the recoil and was finished shooting after only two rounds.
The beginner shooter, despite her good grip on the gun took awhile to recover from the .40’s punch before she could realign her sights. As a target shooter, this would be fine, but for self-defense, quick and on-target follow-up shots are crucial. Neither the beginner nor the intermediate shooter wanted to continue firing the Glock, as the recoil was too much for them. I, on the other hand, who is used to and enjoy shooting larger calibers had no issues with the Glock 27.
The Glock’s barrel is slightly shorter than the revolver’s at 3.46 inches. The combined power of the .40 S&W round with the shorter barrel makes the felt recoil worse on the Glock.
Some people complain about the Glock’s trigger pull. It has a much shorter pull at 5.5 pounds than the Armscor revolver; however no complaints here. The pull is smooth with a quick reset.
Glock quality is top-notch. They last forever and retain their resell value. There is no question on the Glock 27’s reliability for the duration of your owning the gun.
The fixed sights on the Glock are like the M200, but Glock steps it up a notch with high-visibility white bar and dot. I find the white dot front sight quicker to obtain my target than fixed, plain iron sights.
For concealed carry, the Glock fairs better than the Armscor. It has a flatter profile and is slightly smaller at 6.29 inches long, 4.17 inches tall and 1.18 inches wide. It weighs just a few ounces less than the Armscor at 1.686 pounds loaded.
Specifications and Features
- Caliber: .40 S&W
- Capacity: 9 rounds
- Barrel: 3.46”
- Sights: Fixed, high-visibility white
- Grip: Polymer
- Finish: Tenifer
- Length: 6.29”
- Height: 4.17”
- Weight: 26.98 ounces loaded
Which is Better?
As far as pricing goes, these two guns are not in the same league. A Glock’s price is a Glock’s price and there is no arguing that. Glock does not sell any of their models for under $500. On the other hand, Armscor has a solid reputation for building a reliable sharp shooter for an extremely affordable price. The M200 costs less than $250.
As far as which gun is better, the answer all depends on you. Both the Glock 27 and Armscor M200 have valid pros and cons. Be it either a revolver or a semi-automatic, which ever is most comfortable for you is the best.
What do you prefer? A revolver or a semi-auto? Tell me what your favorite gun is and why in the comment section.
A Note About Calibers:
Ballistically, the .40 S&W is a faster and heavier round than the .38 Special, but the .38 Special has proven itself a round that will stop a threat without over penetrating. In a report written by Greg Ellifritz and published by Buckeye Firearms, a comparison of the two rounds in a self-defense situation did not find much difference. Both rounds scored a 76% accuracy rate in shots hit to the head and torso. The .40 S&W scored just a tad better at 45% one-shot-stop to the .38 Special’s 38%. Personally, I find the .38 Special round to be a successful self-defense round. When in doubt, always go with the bigger caliber. However, since this article’s aim is to help women pick out a self-defense handgun, and I know plenty of women are concerned about recoil, pick the caliber you are most comfortable with. Your self-defense gun is useless if you’re afraid of shooting