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5 Best 9mm & .45 ACP Revolvers

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.

.357 Magnum…who cares!

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. 

Nighthawk Custom, Revolver
Nighthawk Custom, Revolver

But what about 9mm and .45 ACP revolvers?

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

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

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

Wondering about what options there are for 9mm and .45 ACP revolvers? Looking for a defensive gun chambered in a familiar caliber that you may already have lying around?

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

Must Be Shared

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 very best .45 ACP and 9mm revolvers on the market.

Sound good? Then let’s do it!

Summary of Our Top Picks


    Ruger LCR

    This is very compact so great for CCW specifically pocket carry. It's lightweight and has a shorter barrel.


    Smith and Wesson Performance Center Pro 986

    On the pricey side but this 7-shot revolver is reliable and shoots very smoothly.

  3. 9MM - ALSO GOOD

    Ruger Model SP-101

    Soft grip which is great for reducing recoil. This 5-shot revolver is versatile with different barrel length options. Trigger could be better.


    Ruger Super Redhawk

    This revolver is large and packs a punch. It's versatile because you can switch to .45 Long Colt for bigger targets.


    Smith & Wesson 625 JM

    Designed by Jerry Miculek, this .45 ACP revolver is competition ready.

Table of Contents


Why A Revolver?

Some of you Tactical Timmys/Tinas out there that stumbled on this article are about to smash the back button and go find something else to read that validates the opinion you already have, but if you do, you’re missing out.

And not just because hearing new opinions and confronting your personal biases leads to personal growth.

You know you wanna!

Here’s why you shouldn’t count out the humble revolver just yet.

Above all, 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. 

But what if we’re looking for something to be a primary defensive option?

Various Revolvers
Revolvers Come in All Shapes and Sizes

A lot of people overlook revolvers, especially for serious defensive use, and the logic at least would appear to be on their side.

After all, in a world where options like the SIG P365, Glock 43x, and other slim, compact guns that can reload in just a few seconds, why would you want a bulky, slow-to-reload, wheelgun that holds far 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. If that’s what you’re familiar with, adding a revolver to your roster just makes sense. The gun you’re most comfortable carrying is the one you’re going to 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 as well.

While modern semi-autos are often just as reliable as revolvers in almost all cases, there are a few places where a revolver could have an edge. 

Ankle holsters, for example, are notorious for collecting dust, dirt, plant fibers and other debris and then helpfully funneling all of that crap right into your firearm.

AlienGear Shapeshift Holster
One of our preferred ankle holsters–the AlienGear Shapeshift Holster Ankle

As a backup option, an ankle holster often makes sense, but when it comes to a gun that’s full of dirt, a revolver may well function better than even the most reliable of semi-autos. 

This is an especially good idea if you’re already carrying a 9mm or .45 ACP handgun because you now have ammo compatibility across both your carry guns. 

Beyond that, a revolver without a hammer spur can sometimes draw quicker and cleaner from a pocket thanks to its shape and rounded grip, so if you typically wear loose enough pants that the thicker cylinder of the revolver isn’t an issue vs a semi-auto, a revolver can be an excellent choice for pocket carry.

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

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 the cases where you’re firing at an assailant from contact distance. 

Pushing a semi-auto into something, say, an attacker’s torso, can easily cause the gun to go out of battery and be unable to fire. Not a problem with a revolver.

Many women in particular like a revolver for this purpose as they are, generally speaking, more at risk of bodily assault from a physically stronger attacker.

Revolver in glove box
Revolvers make great truck guns–as long as it’s legal where you are!

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. 

This isn’t the ideal usage of any handgun, but the ability to safely grip a revolver inside a pocket can allow you to keep the gun ready without drawing it and revealing that you’re carrying, which also keeps you out of a legal pickle when it comes to potentially drawing a gun in a situation where it wasn’t necessary.

CrossBreed Purse Defender in bag
Purse guns FTW

But, if you’re worried about that suspicious or aggressive individual walking just a little to close or coming towards you just a bit too fast at night, the ability to have the gun ready to fire without actually drawing it can offer some peace of mind and prevents you from obviously looking like you have a hand on a gun. 

Want to see some pistols specifically for women? Check out our Women’s Guide here!)

But Why A 9mm Or .45 ACP Revolver?

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 9×19 or .45 ACP ammo where you live, you need to move.

CA Ammo Meme
That’s rough.

Also, because of that popularity, you have a huge number of both defensive ammo choices and range/training ammo choices.

Grabbing a revolver in 9mm or .45 ACP also helps fix a revolver’s two main weaknesses: low capacity and slow reload.

Since these are rimless cartridges, they require moon clips to function in most revolvers.  That means you’re loading six rounds at a time, instead of just one at a time, which will greatly speed up reloads. 

You still won’t be able to put rounds downrange as quickly as someone with a semi-auto (unless you’re Jerry Miculek), but you’ll at least be back in the fight much faster if you have to stop and reload.

The man, the myth, the legend — Jerry Miculek hitting a 1,000 yard shot with a 9mm revolver

Finally, like I mentioned earlier, the fact that these are two of the most popular carry gun calibers means that if you choose a 9mm or .45 ACP revolver as a backup gun (one of their best uses) you’ll have that ammo compatibility across both your carry weapons, and you’ll have 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…

Alright, with all that out of the way, let’s look at some recommendations based on our testing and carry experience with 9mm and .45 ACP revolvers.

Best 9mm Revolvers List

There are lots of great 9mm revolvers out there, and not all of them could make this list. These are the ones that are the ones that are the most reliable, the ones that perform the best, and the ones that represent the best value for their price

1. Ruger LCR

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

Ruger LCR
Ruger LCR

The LCR is one of our favorite backup guns and it has a 1.87” barrel making it an easy choice for ankle or pocket carry. It holds five in the cylinder and weighs in at just a hair over a pound, so you can easily slip it in a pocket and barely notice it.

You also have the option of the internal hammer on the LCR, or the single-action-capable version with a hammer, the LCRx. Either will do just fine, so it’s mostly a matter of preference. For pocket carry, we generally recommend the one without the hammer spur though.

at GrabAGun

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 And 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

Smith and Wesson Performance Center Pro 986
Smith and Wesson Performance Center Pro 986 (via Guns Magazine)

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 not found in other S&W offerings.

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

If you aren’t looking for a certain power factor for your competition, this soft-shooting 9mm option should be the first one you try.

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

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

at Kentucky Gun Co

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

3. Ruger SP-101

Ruger makes the list again with the SP-101. This is the best option for anyone looking for an affordable, reliable revolver chambered in 9mm. 

ruger sp101
Ruger SP-101

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

It’s relatively lightweight (25 oz or 1.56 lbs), comes in three different barrel lengths (2.25in, 3.06in, 4.2in), and has a milled rear sight. It’s fairly simple, and no-frills, but if you’re looking for something to keep in a toolbox or glove box, this is a prime choice.

A tiny package that delivers a titanic hit!
A tiny package that delivers a titanic hit!

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

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

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Best .45 ACP Revolvers List

Just like with the 9mm options, there are several good .45 ACP revolver options out there, but only a few that can really be considered among the best of the best. These are the ones that performed the best in our testing.

4. Ruger Redhawk 

I know what you’re thinking, “Isn’t the Redhawk a big ass revolver? How is this a carry gun?”

Super Redhawk Toklat
Super Redhawk Toklat

Let’s talk about bears. Bears and other dangerous game. 

For a little over a grand, you get a revolver that not only will handle the .45 ACP, an excellent option for two-legged threats, but you also have the opportunity to switch to .45 Long Colt for a little extra oomph against bears, boars, and other things that start with “B”.

Ruger Super Redhawk in 45 Colt/454 Casull Set Up to Hunt
Ruger Super Redhawk in 45 Colt/454 Casull Set Up to Hunt

This flexibility gives you a little more versatility when it comes to carrying the Redhawk in this caliber as you can cover more potential situations than most other handguns are capable of thanks to the two calibers you have access to.

Finally, this is a big girl. She weighs in at 40oz, so you can forget about recoil, even with the .45 LC rounds. It’s a soft-shooting choice, and it’s reliable enough to work as a carry gun or a competition model on a budget.

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

5. Smith & Wesson 625

The S&W 625 is a competition-focused .45 ACP revolver. 

Smith & Wesson 625
Smith & Wesson 625

For your ticket price of around $850, you get a 4” barrel, and a gun that weighs in at about 40oz to soak up the relatively light recoil of the .45 ACP (in a gun this heavy, anyway). 

The 625 comes in two flavors, the JM model, and the performance center model. If you’re wondering, yes the JM is that JM… Jerry Miculek.

He worked with S&W to design this tank of a revolver and uses one in competition.

As he is perhaps the greatest living revolver shooter, and definitely one of the top 5 shooters currently walking the Earth period, I’m going to let that recommendation stand on its own.

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Parting Shots

They may be decidedly Old School™, but revolvers still have a place in the firearms world.

Python, double
Twin Colt Pythons

Especially when it comes to defensive options. And with 9mm and .45 ACP being so popular, you’ll always be able to find ammo, and you probably already have a few other firearms that are chambered in these ever-present calibers.

If you’re looking for a new revolver to add to your collection, these 9mm and .45 ACP options are all great choices.

There are some great defensive picks on this list, as well as some that are just plain fun… and all are an excellent value for anyone looking for a revolver in these awesome calibers.

Which one of these great 9mm and .45 ACP revolvers did you like the best? Which caliber is your favorite? Is there one that I left off the list that surprised you, or one you didn’t think would make the cut? Let me hear from you in the comments! Check out the best self-defense ammo to feed your new beast–in 9mm and .45 ACP!

HD overpen test 9mm 80 percent glock

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30 Leave a Reply

  • 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
    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
    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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