Citizens Defense Research Contextual Revolver: Fundamental Revolver Skills AAR Caleb Giddings, Instructor

Citizens Defense Research Contextual Revolver: Fundamental Revolver Skills AAR
Caleb Giddings, Instructor
By Pat Tarrant
16-17 September 2023
Hosted by Green Ops, Culpeper, VA
Photos by author, Green Ops, and Citizens Defense Research

Instructor discussing multiple aspects of grip and trigger manipulation during lecture portion
Photo by Joshua Shaw, Green Ops

Class description (from
Fundamental Revolver Skills is a 2-day course designed for shooters new to, or somewhat familiar with the lost art of performance revolver shooting.  This course is for anyone looking to carry a revolver as a primary CCW, a backup, or just someone interested in revolvers looking to improve their shooting skills.

Class prep/gear list
This was my first revolver-specific class, and I decided to bring a range of revolvers and gear in order to test a variety of equipment under various circumstances. 

Guns: There was a wide range of revolvers brought by students that ranged from snub nose .22LR Smith & Wessons (S&W) to 6” .357 Magnum Ruger GP100s, to eight-shot N-frame S&Ws with red dot optics.  I personally brought five guns of different sizes.  I primarily shot a 2” barreled S&W K-frame 15-4 in .38 Special and a very small 2” I-Frame Regulation Police in .32 S&W Long during the class.

Gear: Students brought a wide variety of support gear.  Some ran primarily competition-oriented holsters and reload pouches while others ran from concealed holsters including appendix inside the waistband (AIWB).  There were a couple students using pocket holsters, myself included.  Just about every type of speed loader was used in the class; moon clips, twist and direct load speedloaders, speed strips, loose ammo pouches, and even some fanny packs. 

With very few exceptions, all the guns and gear ran well.  The students attending were all experienced shooters with military, law enforcement, and open enrollment training and competition experience. 

Training Day 1 (TD1)
The class gathered at an easel at the start of the class where Caleb took various notes and illustrated several points.  He went over his background as a US Air Force instructor and competition shooter, and his journey to his specialization in revolvers.  He was also very up front about his position as a marketing executive with Taurus USA.  The students introduced themselves and Caleb noted what everyone was planning to shoot during the class.  The most common guns were S&Ws in 38 Special. 

Caleb then reviewed with the class the Revolver Utility Curve.  You can watch his video on Youtube (@MrRevolver) for all the details.  The gist is that there is a U-curve of revolver utility, or perceived utility, compared to the experience level of a shooter.  For new and inexperienced shooters, a revolver is very advantageous for several reasons.  Primarily, they are far simpler to verify whether or not they are loaded, very simple to operate, and more difficult to negligently fire than semiautomatic handguns.  As a shooter gains experience and ability, the easier to shoot semiauto with higher capacity begins to show real advantages in speed, accuracy, and practicality.  Thus, the utility of a revolver appears to dip at the bottom of the U.  However, as one gains even more experience or starts to tailor their gun selection to special needs, he or she may see an increase in their utility.  Personally, I have found that after years of carrying various sizes of semiauto pistols, I began to find myself leaving my gun at home more and more often.  The realities of getting older, having kids, and living in a relatively low-crime area made carrying a semiauto more of a burden that I often just did without.  However, after opening my mind to some very experienced people like Darryl Bolke, Chuck Haggard, Caleb, and others, I decided to purchase an Airweight J-Frame S&W and found that with a good pocket holster (or selection of pocket holster, to be honest) I could very easily and comfortably put a gun in my pocket in the morning and carry it all day long with no real interference like I’d have from a couple pounds of polymer and steel behind my belt buckle. 

Instructor reviewing the (Perceived) Revolver Curve with students
Photo by Melody Lauer, Citizens Defense Research

Caleb continued the lecture portion with a discussion of various sizes and calibers of revolvers along with what niches they support.  We also discussed the myriad of support gear for revolvers to include holster selections, the types and advantages of different speedloaders, ammunition selection, a couple different brands of gear makers, and choices of how to wear support gear. 

Next, he discussed various administrative topics.  We reviewed the nomenclature of revolver parts and their differences between various brands.  Caleb discussed and demonstrated various loading techniques, grip techniques, and different methods of trigger manipulation.  He stressed the advantage of a rolling trigger break, smooth and steady pressure throughout the trigger press, versus either a staging trigger press or single action trigger press. 

The lecture portion took up the morning portion of the class, which may seem long compared to other classes.  However, the realities of revolver shooting and manipulation required a lot of up-front discussion.  We came back after a quick lunch, conducted a range safety and medical brief, and set up at the firing line in two relays.  We began by dry firing, then a single live round with five dry fire manipulations, and worked our way up to a full cylinder, all the time working on a smooth rolling trigger press.  We quickly progressed through a couple different drills.  Caleb had us shoot a lot of Mozambique (or Failure) Drills, firing two to the center mass of the target with a quick follow up shot to the head box. 

We then shot a modified version of the Hardwired Tactical Shooting (HiTS) Revolver Super Test on an IDPA target (the normal Super Test is shot on a B8 target).  This drill has three stages; six rounds in 12 seconds from 15 yards, six rounds in eight seconds from ten yards, and finally six rounds in four seconds from five yards.  This drill was a great chance to work the balance of a smooth and more precise trigger press at longer distance with a faster, but still smooth, press with a firm grip at close range with fast follow up shots. 

Towards the end of the day, we worked on various transitions, both vertical transitions (body to head, head to body) and lateral (target to target).  We ended the day with a modified Air Force qualification, a 45-round course of fire from the 7-, 15-, and 25-yard lines.  Our particular class further modified this qualification course by unintentionally moving the 25-yard line back to about 33 yards.  We must have just been that good!  Concluding the day, we briefly reviewed what we learned, went over what to expect the next day, and joined up at a local restaurant for a class dinner. 

Training Day 2 (TD2):

Relay 2 showcasing some of the varied guns and equipment used by students
Photo by Melody Lauer, Citizens Defense Research

TD2 started out cool and wet.  Luckily, several students brought out canopies and most brought rain gear.  Caleb brought us to the seven-yard line for warmup drills.  After a few drills, we moved to a practice modified Air Force Qualification course.  I decided to switch from my Model 15-4 to my 586 L-Comp, thinking of the advantages it had with a fiber optic front sight and fast-reloading moon clips.  However, I found that while it had some advantages, my ammunition did not shoot to the point of aim, especially back at the 33-yard line.  After a very unsatisfying tally of my score, I made the decision to switch up again, but this time to my venerable 1949 vintage I-frame 32 revolver that I’d shoot out of a Mika pocket holster. 

This class being “Contextual Revolver,” a bit of context was highlighted by Caleb as we lined up to shoot.  He said that while people carrying in belt holsters can’t walk around all day with their hand on their gun in polite society, someone carrying a pocket revolver can in fact walk around all day with their hand on their gun in polite society, and no one would ever know.  Thus, students carrying in their pocket were allowed to start each string with their hand on the gun inside their pocket.  In addition to a faster draw, the little 32 was very soft shooting and shot much closer to the point of aim compared to the big 586.  On the real qualification shoot, I was able to achieve a passing score with 43 out of 45.  The top score went to another very experienced shooter using a big N-frame, eight-shot S&W TRR8 with an Aimpoint ACRO red dot sight in a mount custom made for him by Chambers Customs.  In addition to bragging rights, the student also was awarded with a very cool prize from Taurus. 

The biggest revolver in the class, a TRR8, and probably the smallest, an I-Frame 32
Photos by Melody Lauer, Citizens Defense Research

After shooting the qualification course we broke for a working lunch and discussed why Caleb chose a modified Air Force Qual.  We also got ready to go over intermediate range shooting at 25 yards and the advantages and disadvantages of large versus small revolvers.

As the sky cleared up in the early afternoon, we got to the really fun part of the class, head-to-head competitions.  Using C-zone steel targets set up at 50 and 100 ft firing lines, students were split into two lines.  As each pair of students came up to the line to shoot head-to-head on steel, Caleb threw in the contextual twist again: based on the type of gun the student had and how it was being carried, the student started with their hands in different positions.  Students with large competition suitable guns with red dots might have had to start with their hands above their heads.  Conversely, someone carrying AIWB may have started with their hands at their midsection.  Once again though, pocket carriers got their unfair advantage (greatly offset by their tiny sights and nonexistent sight radius) of starting with their hand on the gun in their pocket.  Several runs were made by each student and pairings were switched up in order to demonstrate how various guns and carry methods compared head-to-head at various distances.

The last shooting section of the class was a head-to-head elimination competition from the 50ft line on steel.  Caleb again chose the starting positions of hands based on gun and carry method, but for the most part hands were much closer to guns than in the previous runs.  Like the qualification shoot, the winner of the elimination match walked away with another very cool prize from Taurus.  However, unlike the qualification shoot, a pocket snub shooter won the elimination.

We concluded the day by reviewing all that we had learned over the weekend.  Each student had the opportunity to highlight things they thought were good or not so good, and were able to offer up their thoughts on making the class better.  Caleb was very open to these ideas and planned to evolve his revolver class (this was only his second Contextual Revolver class).  Overall, I found the class to be exactly what I wanted and needed.  I have been pocket carrying a snub nose revolver as my primary method of carry for at least a year, but had never taken any formal revolver training.  For my needs, small revolvers work really well, and I always have the option to “gun up” to a semiauto if I feel the need.  I also benefited greatly from moving away from shooting my midsize guns and concentrating on the snubs on TD2.

A bit of levity in a very fun class during the elimination competition.  Note hand positions for AIWB and pocket carry (author is conveniently wearing pants with very shallow pockets)
Photo by Melody Lauer, Citizens Defense Research  

For anyone considering carrying a revolver of any kind, I highly recommend Caleb’s class.  For a taste of what you can expect, he recently released a video with Panteao Productions available at  Shooters on the more experienced side of the utility curve would probably benefit the most from this class.  However, even new shooters would find a lot to learn, and Caleb’s personality and teaching style is very welcoming to people of all background and skill levels.  Special thanks to Caleb for taking the time away from his jobs with Taurus USA and the US Air Force, as well as his family, to come teach us.  Special thanks also to Citizens Defense Research and to Green Ops for hosting the class.

Contact Info:
Citizens Defense Research:
Caleb Giddings:
Green Ops:,
Taurus USA:

Instructor giving a congratulatory high-five to the Modified Air Force Qual and Class Height Champion
Photo by Melody Lauer, Citizens Defense Research


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