By saying there will be a time in our lives for the revolver in the pocket I meant "a time when arthritis might will be part of our routine" and the simple fact of having a "just pull the trigger gun" would do the trick. No slides, no mags, no patience needed to wait for the reliability test of semi-autos. When the semi-auto shotguns came on the scene some said "this the end of the pump version." That did not happened. With a pump you have to manually do the action at every shot. Just like a SA revolver. Pump actions shotguns are alive and well. I rather see revolvers as an viable option and not just as novelty items. A j-frame with uncle Mike's boot grip it is in fact very concealable. A revolver is a time proven self-defense device. Just like the good old 1911 there for more than 100 years.
Actually, I do have some arthritis and deal with the legacy of old repetitive stress injuries in both wrists and perhaps some ongoing issues from the wrong kind of physical training in the past as well. When I went back to carrying a few years back, I in fact wasn't sure what I could tolerate by way of caliber and felt recoil.
You've raised a very interesting question, Lawrence. Even for the old or inexperienced or weak or small framed or arthritic, is the revolver, the 'just pull the trigger gun', the best answer? I'm going to try and list some points here. I will likely miss something, feel free to add or subtract:
Revolver is simple, as in point gun, pull trigger. So is a semi-auto, though. Modern semi-autos are out-of-the-box reliable like revolvers are. I wouldn't trust a revolver for carry or defense before I'd shot it some either.
Revolvers will transfer all the recoil to the shooter's hand, whereas semis will absorb some of that recoil by virtue of their use of recoil force in cycling the weapon. (This will be mitigated in both cases, or increased, by the weight of the gun involved.) For some people, this would make revolvers very tough to fire quickly and repeatedly, and uncomfortable to use in practice (which even a little of would help and so we like to encourage it). It's one reason I hate light J-frames and won't carry one. Semis, though, may fail from limp-wristing. (This will be mitigated or the chances of it happening altered by the kind and design of gun and things like overall weight and frame construction and recoil mechanism.)
I'm not sure about differences in sights that might apply. Most J-frames have sights on them I'm definitely not happy with, but so do several sub-compact semis. There's also the issue of whether you expect to be using them on average as well. For a dedicated home-defense gun, I'd be putting a bigger revolver or semi in that role anyway and they would both have good-enough sights, so this one seems like a wash.
Revolvers are still weak on ammunition capacity and ease/speed of reload. For some, it will still not matter--those who don't want to learn even a simple procedure like that or some who lack physical ability for any reason to do it or do it quickly even with a semi--but especially with a home defense gun and especially with someone who's not going to go beyond what's in the gun regardless, I think the semi with largest-capacity magazine you can find for it is the way to go IF there is no issue with the shooter limp-wristing themselves into a jam. Otherwise, I think I'd look for one of the 8-shot wheelguns for them.
Some shooters have to go to smaller calibers for various reasons--I'm talking lower than .380/.38spl standard-pressure rounds here. When we get to the .32, .22mag, .22LR range, I really, really would prefer lots of rounds in the gun for them. That points me more toward something like a PMR-30 semi or perhaps even an FN FiveSeven, but those are big guns. For the house, yes, for carry, not so much, and certainly not pocket-sized. Revolvers like the .327 Federal or various .22mag/.22LR offerings that hold six or more look better for that kind of role. If you can handle recoil in a light J-frame, though, I think your chances of not limp-wristing a sub-compact 9mm are good enough to opt for the extra round or more.
Triggers. DA/DAO revolver triggers maybe wouldn't be so good with some with certain physical problems. SA/Safe-Action triggers on semis look better in this case.
That's top-of-the-head points either way, and I don't know how good some of them are. It's going to get down to what that person can or can not handle in the end, and sometimes it's hard to know that quickly or easily.
What I will take a stand against is an automatic
assumption that someone old/beat up/small/weak/female/whatever can or should only be given revolvers. I've seen enough text between the covers of those books to know it doesn't always match up to the jacket art.