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5 Best 9mm & .45 ACP Revolvers of 2023

Who needs .357 Mag anyways? We cover the pros and cons and then dive into a few of our favorite 9mm and .45 ACP revolver options.

Wait, you are telling me my revolver doesn’t have to be in .357 Magnum!?

To be fair, most revolvers are chambered in rimmed cartridge calibers like .38 Special/.357 Magnum, .44 Special/.44 Mag, and even .22 LR.

Check revolvers to be sure the cylinder fits well and is not loose. Also check to see I the cylinder lines up correctly with the barrel.
Revolvers Come in All Shapes and Sizes

That doesn’t mean a revolver must use a rimmed cartridge; however, some of the most popular modern revolvers are chambered in rimless cartridges like the 9mm and .45.

9mm and .45 ACP are two of the most popular handgun cartridges in the world, and just about every major manufacturer offers at least one pistol chambered in each caliber. 

9mm vs .45 ACP
9mm vs. .45 ACP

But what about 9mm and .45 ACP revolvers?

We’ve collected and tested the best of these revolvers, and we have some thoughts we’d like to share about them.

Let’s talk about why you might want a revolver in the 21st century, why these rimless cartridges are such a great (if unorthodox and unintuitive) choice, and then we’ll look at the best .45 ACP and 9mm revolvers on the market.

Keep reading!

Summary of Our Top Picks

  1. Best for Concealed Carry

    Ruger LCR 9mm

    The LCR is light, slim and easy to tuck away.

  2. Best for Competition

    Smith & Wesson Performance Center Pro 986

    This revolver is performance tuned and ready to compete right out of the box.

  3. Editor's Pick

    Ruger SP101 9mm

    The Ruger SP101 is a true workhorse gun that is built to last.

  4. Best .45 ACP Revolver

    Ruger Redhawk .45 ACP/.45 LC

    The ability for this revolver to chamber both .45 ACP and .45 Colt makes this a great choice for those who want a bit of flexibility.

  5. Best Classic Revolver

    Smith & Wesson Model 25 Classic

    The Model 25 Classic embodies all of the design elements and feel of the older Smith & Wesson revolvers.

Table of Contents


Benefits of a Revolver

Some of you more tactical types that stumbled on this article are about to smash the back button and find something else to read, but if you do, you’re missing out.

Not every gun is or needs to be a high-speed, low-drag, defensive gun ready to take on all comers. Some guns are just fun at the range or for more casual use, like keeping in a glovebox as a backup. 

Many people also overlook revolvers, especially for defensive use, and the logic at least would appear to be on their side.

After all, in a world where micro compacts like the Sig P365 and other guns can reload in just a few seconds, why would you want a bulky, slow-to-reload wheelgun that holds fewer rounds?

john wayne cowboy poster
Feeling like John Wayne is obviously one of those reasons.

First and foremost, some people are just more comfortable with a revolver. The gun you’re most comfortable carrying is the one you’ll be able to rely on the most when you’re in a difficult situation.

Beyond that, there are some practical advantages to a revolver over a semi-auto.

An ankle holster can make sense for a backup gun, but when it comes to a gun full of dirt and lint from a day of walking, a revolver may function better than a semi-auto.

AlienGear Shapeshift Holster
The Alien Gear Shapeshift Holster Ankle

Beyond that, a revolver without a hammer spur can sometimes draw quicker and cleaner from a pocket thanks to its shape and rounded grip.

Finally, a revolver doesn’t need any extra space to cycle properly, unlike a semi-auto, which needs room for the slide to reciprocate if you want to fire more than one shot.

This can make a revolver a better “get off me” gun in cases where you’re firing at an assailant from contact distance. 

Call the Ambulance
See? Easy to surprise attackers with a revolver.

This kind of contact shooting capability also means that a revolver can be reliably fired from within a purse, bag, or jacket pocket in an emergency, which allows you to grip the firearm covertly and have it ready without drawing it. 

9mm & .45 ACP Revolvers: Why These Calibers?

First of all, both of these cartridges are extremely popular all over the planet, so you’ll never be too far from a store selling a wide variety of ammo.

Frankly, if you can’t get 9mm or .45 ACP ammo where you live, you need to move.

Magtech 9mm 115gr
Magtech 9mm 115gr

Because of that popularity, you have a vast number of both defensive and range/training ammo choices.

The fact that these are two of the most popular carry gun calibers means that if you choose a 9mm or .45 ACP revolver, you can retain ammo compatibility across multiple guns. This means fewer calibers to stockpile in the back of the gun safe.

Wonder how many lists John was on...
I mean, we won’t stop you if you want to stockpile ammo…

With all that out of the way, let’s look at some of our recommendations.

Best 9mm Revolvers

There are a host of solid 9mm revolvers out there, but we can’t include all of them on this list.

These are the ones that are the ones that are the most reliable, perform the best, and represent the best value.

1. Ruger LCR

Ruger has made a name for itself in the budget-friendly carry market, and its LCR revolver exemplifies its commitment to quality at an affordable price. 

Ruger LCR
Ruger LCR in 9mm

The LCR is one of our favorite backup guns, and its 1.87-inch barrel makes it an easy choice for ankle or pocket carry.

It has a 5-shot cylinder and weighs in at just a hair over a pound — you can easily slip it in a pocket and forget it is there.

You can choose between the hammerless models (LCR) or single-action-capable versions with a hammer (LCRx).

Best for Concealed Carry
at Kygunco

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Check out our full review of the Ruger LCR!

2. Smith & Wesson Performance Center Pro 986

If you’re looking for the best revolvers, you are probably looking at one of two options: Colt and S&W. In this case, Smith and Wesson take the crown with their Performance Center Pro Model 986

With this gun, you not only get the legendary Smith and Wesson reliability and performance that we’ve all come to know and love over the years, but you also get some custom-level tuning and refinement.

Smith & Wesson Performance Center Pro 986. (Photo: GunNuts.net)

This 7-shot revolver has a 5-inch barrel and is ready to go out of the box for revolver shooting competitions.

The 35-ounce weight puts it in line with other steel-framed competition pistols and soaks up recoil nicely. The gun is cut for moon clips, and the trigger is as buttery smooth as you’d expect from the Smith Pro shop. 

Overall, if you’re looking to compete with a 9mm revolver or just want the best 9mm range toy revolver money can buy, accept no substitutes. 

Best for Competition
at GrabAGun

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

What do you think of the S&W? Rate it below!

Readers' Ratings

5.00/5 (45)

Your Rating?

3. Ruger SP101

Ruger makes the list again with the SP101. This is the best option for anyone looking for an affordable, reliable revolver chambered in 9mm. 

A Ruger SP101 in 9mm with Hogue finger groove grips. (Photo: Glock Talk)

This 5-shot wheel gun isn’t as svelte as some of the other guns on this list, but it is still very robust and reliable — It’s the ultimate blue-collar revolver.

It’s relatively lightweight at 25 ounces and uses and has a milled rear sight instead of adjustable sights.

While it may be a simple, no-frills option, this is a prime choice if you’re looking for a true workhorse.

A tiny package that delivers a titanic hit!

It also has a very soft rubber grip that is…grippy. This is great for even a heavily-recoiling caliber like .357 Magnum, but it practically eliminates recoil in the 9mm version.

Finally, the trigger isn’t the best you’ll find, but it’s plenty good enough for range work and self-defense. A competition target gun this ain’t, but that’s what our next option is for.

at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Want to know more? We got you covered with a full review of the Ruger SP101!

Best .45 ACP Revolvers

Just like with the 9mm options, there are a few good .45 ACP revolver options out there, but here are a few that are a cut above the competition.

4. Ruger Redhawk 

While the Redhawk has long been a staple for magnum-caliber revolver enthusiasts, Ruger graced customers with a convertible .45 ACP/.45 Colt model in 2015.

A Ruger Redhawk in .45 ACP/.45 Colt. (Photo: American Handgunner)

At 44 ounces, it is clear that the Redhawk was meant for heavy magnum loads. This means those shooting .45 ACP will enjoy the benefits of an exceedingly low-recoil and easy-to-shoot revolver.

This revolver features a 4.2-inch cold hammer-forged barrel, a 6-shot cylinder, checkered wood grips, an adjustable rear target sight, and comes with three moon clips.

As mentioned above, this model can also chamber .45 Colt for those looking for a bit more spice in their life.

The Redhawk is a durable, flexible, soft shooting gun that warrants serious consideration from anyone looking for a .45 ACP revolver.

Best .45 ACP Revolver
at Kygunco

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

5. Smith & Wesson Model 25 Classic

Looking for something a little less utilitarian and a bit more throwback? The S&W Model 25 Classic has you covered. 

Yes, she is spendy at around $1,100, but she is definitely worth it.

At a quick glance, it is hard to tell if the 25 Classic is a new gun or grandpa’s old revolver he pulled out of his safe. (Photo: SASSnet)

Built on the S&W’s large 6-shot N-Frame, the Model 25 exudes that classic Dirty Harry look without the wallet-breaking .44 Magnum cartridge.

A 6-inch barrel, pinned partridge sights, gorgeous bluing, and checkered walnut grips hearken back to the Smith revolvers of the ’60-’80s that are so beloved. Oh, and don’t forget that just about every S&W revolver has a great trigger out of the box.

If you are looking for a fun, good-looking shooter and you want to keep your ammo types consolidated, the Model 25 might be the ticket.

Best Classic Revolver
at Kygunco

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Final Thoughts

They may be decidedly old school, but revolvers still have a place in the firearms world — even when it comes to defensive options.

With 9mm and .45 ACP being so popular, you’ll always be able to find ammo, and if you’re looking for a new revolver to add to your collection, grabbing one in one of those calibers might be a good idea.

Python, double
Twin Colt Pythons

There are some great defensive picks on this list and some that are just plain fun.

Which one of these revolvers did you like the best? Is there one that I left off the list that surprised you? Let us know in the comments! Need more wheelgun action? Check out our list of the Best Concealed Carry Revolvers.

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50 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Papa Rulz

    I wish I could afford the Ruger LCR in 9mm.

    But if I could afford it, I wish it were not so dam* ugly.

    I "settled" for a Taurus 905.

    April 19, 2023 8:41 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    A problem with using 9mm in a revolver that is rarely discussed is bullet creep, that is, the bullet creeping forward and out of the shell as you fire the gun. That last round or two might not be fire-able by the time you get to them. The reason for this is that semi-auto ammunition, such as 9mm, isn't crimped as tightly as revolver ammunition.

    While I would love to have a 9mm revolver (especially a Ruger), I'm not going to take the chance that the bullets aren't crimped tightly enough.

    April 17, 2023 1:47 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Ammo compatibility across multiple guns figures prominently for those carrying a semi-auto as their primary, with a revolver in the same caliber for backup. While moon clips provide quickest reloading method for the latter they can be conspicuous on the belt, lumpy and difficult to grap in their proper orientation when stored in the pocket. Beyond having the revolver as a (Jim Cirillo) “NY reload” should your primary gun go down with a malfunction, should you exhaust the rounds in your backup wheelgun its relatively easy to reload the revolver from your semi-auto magazine. Just open and hold the cylinder out with your trigger finger while maintaining a shooting grip, draw your spare mag with the support-hand, rotate it longitudinally and push the rounds out of the mag into the cylinder with support-hand thumb. Should you shoot all five or six of those, extracting the spent cases is not as fast prying them out with your finger nails since the extractor star has no moon clip to push against, but hey … by that point you are already having a very bad day! Being able to load either gun from your spare magazine beats having to beat your assailant/s over the head with an empty wheel gun.

    April 17, 2023 9:13 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    David Shuford

    The Smith and Wesson website lists the Modrl 25 Classic as chambered in 45 Colt, not 45 ACP. It doesn’t list a 45 ACP revolver at all. Which is a shame because my Model 625 5” is my most accurate revolver.

    April 16, 2023 6:51 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Joe Sherrill

      There are some models such as the 25-2 that shoot the 45 ACP. There is also the S&W Governor that shoots 45 ACP, 45 Colt and 410. And then there is the Model of 1917 that was used in WWI.

      I have a 25-5 and a 25-9 that both shoot 45 Colt.

      April 16, 2023 7:40 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        David Shuford

        True, but in the context of the article listing a Model 25 Classic is wrong. I also have a Model 25-5 and it shoots very well. They stopped making the Model 25-2 in the late 1979’s it appears, based on my reading of the Standard Catalog.

        April 16, 2023 9:13 pm
        • Commenter Avatar
          Joe Sherrill

          You are correct. I see that we read the same book. As a S&W collector, I tend to look at the past.

          April 16, 2023 9:22 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Joe Sherrill

      I have a Ruger Vaquero with 45 Colt and 45 ACP cylinders. The 45 ACP cylinder has a total of 6 rounds fired with it. I prefer the 45 Colt in a revolver.

      April 16, 2023 7:45 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    The fact you left off the Taurus line of revolvers speaks volumes. I read theses articles to see what biased view point will be spread as opposed to useful information.

    April 16, 2023 6:48 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I agree with Charles. I'm sorry, this article is next to useless in both topic and substance.

      April 16, 2023 8:11 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    The fact you left out the Taurus family shows incredible myopia or at least brand bias. I read these articles more to see what bias there is rather than factual information.

    April 16, 2023 6:45 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      They typically review only firearms that work consistently vs ones that are hit or miss ... ;)

      April 17, 2023 10:15 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Kenneth Baker

    Best 9mm and .45acp revolvers:
    You left off the 8 shot S&W 929 9mm from the Performance Center.
    Also the 625 .45acp
    I have both, both well-tuned, and they are both superb competition revolvers.

    April 16, 2023 6:43 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    You left out the S&W 625 JM and 625 PC. Both are 4" .45's.

    April 16, 2023 6:07 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    SP101 all the way.

    April 16, 2023 5:59 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I have a Blackhawk that shoots both 45 ACP and 45 LC. The ACP rounds are more fun to shoot and a lot cheaper than the LC rounds.

    April 16, 2023 5:52 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      In addition, the .45 ACP cylinder can be trimmed to allow the use of .45 AR. I find things are a bit more uniform with .45 AR, and I can load .45 ACP and .45 AR with the same die setup on my Dillon 550 by switching the shell plate.

      April 16, 2023 6:09 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    You cannot shoot 45acp in 45 LC as indicted, so the Redhawk needs to be removed. Agreed the Pitbull should be added.

    June 24, 2021 10:58 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      There is a Redhawk you can shoot 45 acp out of, as well as 45 colt, but the picture is of Super Redhawk, it is 454 Casull and 45 colt. Someone put wrong picture in.

      July 22, 2021 9:28 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        “There is a Redhawk…”

        Yes, search Ruger’s website for model #5050.

        July 31, 2021 7:54 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      My Redhawk shoots both .45 Colt and .45 ACP, the latter of which uses moon clips.

      April 16, 2023 10:24 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Vincent Dorsey

    Just read this today and was wondering how, in your review of 9mm and .45 acp revolvers you managed to miss the Charter Arms Pitbull series. They are snub guns for concealed carry and dont require moon clips. Just askin.

    April 12, 2021 6:33 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Bill, (and others), no offense, but if you’re already set up to reload, and shoot Steel Plate Challenge Matches, or USPSA, (or the afore mentioned JM) a nine is the only way to go. If your just plinking around at the range or collecting, then whatever...

    April 6, 2021 6:32 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Sorry, meant Brian.

      April 6, 2021 7:27 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    John Suffel

    My wife and I are interested in purchasing concealed carry handguns. Both of us are in our 70's. I have been an avid hunter all my life but have never owned a handgun. My wife has only ever fired a gun several times in her life. I am thinking about revolvers rather than rail guns in either .38 caliber or 9mm.
    Your thoughts please. Suggestions would be appreciated.

    September 8, 2020 1:04 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      Hello! I would strongly recommend you take a look at our recent review of the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ line of auto-loaders. They are designed for people with weaker hand strength and are absolutely amazing for that goal. They also have larger sights that can really help with weaker vision. I would highly recommend them over a revolver since they are easier to use, carry more ammo, have much better sights, and are generally a lot easier to carry also.

      The S&W M&P Ez380 is the pistol that I recommend to my 66-year-old mother for her CCW.

      September 8, 2020 1:24 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Chuck Cochran

      The S&W EZ line is a good option, as is the Walther CCP, which uses a similar soft operation system as the EZ. The CCP is what I chose for my 85 year old father, as it doesn't have the Grip Safety (a redundancy IMO).
      My better half still prefers her old S&W model 60 "Ladysmith." It was my 2nd anniversary present to her as she turned 21 nearly 40 years ago. With her moderate RA, she still finds it easier to use than any of the Semi's I've tried to talk her into.
      I installed some Crimson Trace Laser Grips on her gun a few years back (as she's resistive to practicing as often as I'd like her too). As J Frame guns aren't easy to accurately shoot without significant practice, the laser let's her keep all 5 shots in a 4" circle at 25 feet.
      There are a few other guns on the market for those of us having hand strength/arthritis issues, but the S&W and Walther are the two I've had experience with.
      If there's a Range in your area that rents guns for customers to try, I'd highly recommend you both try that option first, as it gives you the opportunity to try a specific gun before you buy one. If nothing else, you'll have the peace of mind knowing you and your bride can operate your choices.
      Good Luck and Best Wishes in your search.
      Feel free to ask questions. Most of us on this site are Gung ho to help out anyway we can.

      April 16, 2023 5:49 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      As a professional, I would recommend a Smith & Wesson model 10 (blue steel) or the model 64 stainless steel in .38 special. Both in a 4” barrel. Pete.

      April 19, 2023 6:31 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Kevin McCoy


    August 16, 2020 8:41 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Sorry, but we cannot agree on any reason why the 9mm and .45 acp should be preferred over .357/38 in a revolver. The .357 has more power than either...plus the same revolver can accept .38 Special. While the author touts the widespread availability of 9 mm and .45 acp, these are often the first calibers to disappear from the shelves in an emergency as we found out a few months back during the "pandemic guns & ammo panic." The .38 Specia has been around every bit as long as 9mm and .45...and the .357 is over 80 years old now. There is plenty of .357 and .38 floating around. The author sees the necessity of moon clips for 9mm and .45 revolvers as an advantage since you can load 6 at once. While I agree, I should point out that my revolver holds 8 rounds of .357 and can use either moonclips or speedloaders, or bare hand loading. In fact the only way I would even recommend a revolver in either 9mm or .45 is if a person didn't own any revolvers but already had semi-autos in that same caliber. That would be the one and only advantage over the .357

    July 25, 2020 9:30 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      the only advantage? What about the fact that the .357 is a high pressure cartridge that will most certainly damage your and your loved one's hearing if fired indoors with no hearing protectio whereas you can get much lower pressure / nearly as effective .45acp rounds.

      June 5, 2021 1:06 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Another reason for a revolver, my wife has arthritis and has trouble pulling the slide back on a semi auto

    July 20, 2020 9:21 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    My favorite revolver is my Ruger Blackhawk with a 7 1/2" barrel, chambered in .30 Carbine. She truly is a hoot to shoot! (And loud, haha!)

    March 16, 2020 6:19 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Shann Hogue

    Thanks for the article! I learned a few things and definitely got a new perspective on wheel guns. One more reason for women to carry a wheel gun is some don't have the hand strength to cock a semi-automatic, so a wheel gun is the perfect solution!

    March 9, 2020 9:51 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I have a Taurus Tracker 692 which is a very shootable revolver for home defense, I would appreciate to know why it was not on your list.

    March 8, 2020 4:53 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      Because Taurus has a horrible track record with quality control. There are almost zero Taurus products that we recommend for any reason.

      March 8, 2020 4:57 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        ok thanks, but so far so good for me and my friend.

        March 8, 2020 5:38 pm
        • Commenter Avatar

          U mad bro?

          March 11, 2020 12:47 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    no mention of charter arms pitbull?

    March 7, 2020 9:26 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I appreciated your well written article on a subject which already interests me. Would like to have seen photos of the Ruger Redhawk instead of the Super Redhawk.

    I need my hardware to be as flexible as possible. The Redhawk with the 4.125’ barrel able to fire both 45 Colt and ACP would suit me. It makes me think of a modern revival of the Bulldog revolvers of the late 1800s. Further, a mention down the line of the 8 shot redhawk in 357 mag would help those still exploring. I realize it isn’t 9mm so it makes sense not being included here.

    Keep up the good work

    March 7, 2020 4:10 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Phil Culver

    Why is "Old School" trademarked? Typo?

    March 6, 2020 9:41 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      Comedic Value®.

      March 6, 2020 10:03 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    James Sanders

    Been a Ruger guy for a long time, so the LCR and SP-101 get my vote. Although the LCR in a .357 Mag can be a "tad bit" brutal, .38's are more manageable.

    March 6, 2020 6:22 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      I realize the article is about 9mm and .45 ACP but, I’m partial to my LCR, LCRx, and SP 101 in .327 Federal Magnum. Bad ass round AND each piece chambers 6 rounds as opposed to 5.

      March 6, 2020 12:22 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Ollen Burnette

    The best 9mm revolver is the Manurhin MR73, in my humble opinion. The MR73 is (usually) a .357 / .38, but there are additional cylinders available in 9mm. It is not cheap - but they are a dream to shoot!

    March 5, 2020 8:21 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      You are correct, they are not cheap. In fact, they are flat out expensive.

      March 6, 2020 12:24 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Harv M

    Great, interesting article! It makes sense, especially for semi-auto pistol owners, to get a revolver that shoots what your other pistols shoot.
    With that being said, what about revolvers that shoot both rimmed cartridges AND your preferred rim-less ones like the Ruger Redhawk in .45 Colt/.45 ACP, or interchangeable cylinder revolvers like the Ruger Blackhawk Convertible in .38 Spl/.357 Mag/9mm and the Taurus Tracker 692 also in .38 Spl/.357 Mag/9mm? This way you also get the option to shoot a caliber with more power.

    March 5, 2020 6:25 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Happy Sanders

      I agree 100%

      March 5, 2020 7:48 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Douglas Andrew Gracey

    I had a smith and wesson 1917 army issue .45acp. the brits got it on the lend lease program and of course proof marked it extensively. It shot accurate with ball ammo. Currently I have a blackhawk .45 colt/.45acp , I really enjoy shooting apc's .I would not hesitate to purchase any of the revolvers in the article, I do need a 9mm revolver.

    March 5, 2020 4:14 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    All revolvers mentioned are great firearms. I like to wear a Ruger model 5032 in a Simply Rugged cross draw around the ranch. The Toklat with a Ultra Dot comes out to play during deer season.

    March 5, 2020 11:40 am
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