The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

Bullet points – 5 Revolver Rounds Available in Semi-Autos

At RECOIL, we review every product fairly and without bias. Making a purchase through one of our links may earn us a small commission, and helps support independent gun reviews. Learn More

There's a funny thing about revolver shooters; sooner or later they want to see semi-auto rounds in their revolvers, so they hoard moon clips and other contraptions to make their wheel guns take rounds like 40 S&W, 9mm or 45 ACP. Sometimes, though, it goes the other way around. Sometimes those rimmed cartridges make their way into semiautomatic pistols. If it sounds unusual, read on. It is probably a bit more common than you think.

Nighthawk Custom Korth Arms Revolvers

To be sure, there are rounds available as semi-auto rounds that eclipse many of these calibers in terms of cost and performance. In fact, revolver rounds like the 500 S&W and 460 S&W sounded the death knell for most of the long range pistols designed for hunting in 308 or 7mm BR.

And yet…

Bullet points – 5 Revolver Rounds Available in Semi-Autos

1. 22 Short (Beretta 950 “Minx”)

It may be the oldest commercial cartridge still in production and tends to make one think of the S&W Model 1 Tip-up revolver, pump action rifles from the late 19th Century or suicide specials built in Germany prior to 1968.  However one of our first pistols was (and still is) chambered in 22 Short.

Beretta's Model 950 was offered in 25 ACP and 22 Short in two barrel lengths and a variety of finishes. It cycles surprisingly well and ours has a bit of Beretta history involved behind it.


Apparently these little pistols were so popular that they could not keep up with production in Italy, so Beretta started making them in Brazil. This stopped about 1968 because new laws meant the little Minx was too small to be legally imported into the United States. Production for the US market resumed about a decade later in 1978 and continued until 2003.


They excel as a hideout gun or GOM (Get Off Me) gun due to their small size. The marginal performance of 22 Short against anything other than mice is probably a factor to rule it out of your preferred daily carry rotation, however.

2. 32 S&W Long (Benelli MP95 Atlanta)

We are such fans of the Benelli MP95 Atlanta that we own two of them, one in 22 lr and the other in 32 S&W Long. The latter may seem like an unusual cartridge for a pistol and it is. It also turns out to be a highly accurate one, though, and the round must be configured as a flush sitting full wadcutter bullet.


Not only is it accurate, but the wadcutter makes some of the crispest holes you will ever see in a paper target.


It looks like a futuristic assassin's weapon, and because the magazine is outside the pistol grip, they were briefly considered “assault pistols” in California. Despite those two counts, we're talking marginal ballistics with this paper puncher.

3. 38 Special (Smith & Wesson Model 52-2)

Whenever we take a new shooter to the range there are four handguns we let them try, and the Smith & Wesson Model 52-2 is one of them.

Chambered in 38 Special, it uses a full wadcutter type of round like the previous pistol. You pretty much have to handload these rounds any more. We use 3 grains of Red Dot or Winchester 231 with a 148 Grain semi wadcutter. These are guaranteed to hit the 10 ring at 50 feet all day long.

Unfortunately when the machinery used to build these amazingly accurate pistols broke down in the 1990s, Smith & Wesson scrapped it. It marked the end of an era. Smith & Wesson did build a similar pistol in 9mm dubbed the 952, but it never came close to the legend that was the Model 52.

4. 357 Magnum (Coonan Classic 357)

When it first debuted in 1934, the 357 Magnum cartridge was touted as one of the most powerful handgun cartridges on earth. That claim may be dated now, as we have seen the development of cartridges over the past 82 years that frankly make the 357 Magnum round look marginal at best, but when taking into consideration its inherent accuracy and shootability; the 357 is still highly relevant.


Dan Coonan designed a 1911 style handgun to chamber the 357 Magnum round while he was still a college student in the 1970s. The Coonan 357 enjoyed an almost two decade run, until the company producing it went out of business in 1998. He reintroduced the pistol with a new company in 2009 and the models we have seen thus far have been nothing less than stellar!

This is definitely not a polymer framed striker fired handgun meant for the masses. The Coonan is more like a classic hot rod, where the owner has to have a bit more knowledge about cars than just changing the oil every few months. With the right set of springs it can be an extremely versatile pistol and handle a wide range of ammunition types.

This would be a suitable sidearm for hunting, home defense and slicing up watermelon for a family barbecue.

OK, maybe not so much on that last one, but it is still pretty damn cool to load 357 Magnums into a 1911 and even more cool to blow up melons and jugs!


5. 44 Magnum (Magnum Research Desert Eagle)

What would 80's action flicks or Counterstrike be like without a Desert Eagle? Before you laugh this off as a range toy or something totally useless, you have to consider the reason for which it was designed — hunting and metallic silhouette shooting.
Magnum Research Desert Eagle 1

For those not familiar with Metallic Silhouette shooting, your handgun has to be powerful enough to knock down a steel target the size of a German Shepherd (the dog, not a Bavarian guy herding sheep) at 50 meters. Most competitors used Thompson Center Contenders or Remington XP-100s in rifle calibers (that may be an article for another time), but some folks wanted to shoot a semi auto and the Desert Eagle fit the bill nicely.

These tank sized pistols are a handful and in addition to 44 Magnum, they are chambered in the smaller 357 and 41 Magnum calibers, as well as the larger 50 AE. These are not meant for home defense or concealed carry, but they are far more than “safe queens” or “range toys”.

Current models are a bit busy for us and it seems that everyone wants the 50 AE, but do not overlook the 44 or the 41 Magnum versions. The 357 version is nice, but we prefer the Coonan in that caliber as a semiautomatic.

Are there any revolver cartridge semi-autos you prefer?

Enter Your E-Mail to Receieve a Free 50-Target Pack from RECOIL!

NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOIL

For years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. Now we've compiled over 50 of our most popular targets into this one digital PDF download. From handgun drills to AR-15 practice, these 50+ targets have you covered. Print off as many as you like (ammo not included).

Get your pack of 50 Print-at-Home targets when you subscribe to the RECOIL email newsletter. We'll send you weekly updates on guns, gear, industry news, and special offers from leading manufacturers - your guide to the firearms lifestyle.

You want this. Trust Us.

Add a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to the Free