What makes for a good beginner revolver?
This is the big question. Honestly, it’s a tough call to make because revolvers are just so freakin’ awesome.
But, like any other type of gun, some designs are simply better than others…and there’s also plenty of designs that are not exactly beginner-friendly.
But I’m here to help! If you’re new to revolvers and looking for the best ones to start with, stick with me. I think I’ve nailed down some gun models that are easy to handle and use.
So, learn from my mistakes and triumphs!
First, I want to talk about the difference in revolver types. Then we’ll cover what criteria often make for a good, easy beginner revolver.
After that, I’ll send you off with some recommendations of my favorites.
Let’s dive in!
Summary of Our Top Picks
Table of Contents
Revolver Types: Single Action, Double Action, and DAO
In short, we have three types of revolvers to consider; so, let’s break down those styles.
Single Action Revolver
A single action revolver has to be manually cocked before each shot.
When you pull the hammer back the cylinder rotates and brings a live round in line with the barrel and the hammer.
After rounds have fired, a gate, usually on the right side of the frame at the rear of the cylinder, can be opened. This allows the cylinder to rotate to line up with the ejector rod.
From here, you can use the ejector rod to remove empty casings, then reload the cylinder and begin again!
A double-action revolver fires by cocking the hammer and then pulling the trigger. In this fashion, you have a very short and often crisp trigger pull.
You can also fire the handgun by pulling the trigger which will begin to rotate the cylinder, cock the hammer, release the hammer and fire the gun. But, the trigger pull feels much longer and heavier when fired in double-action mode.
To load and unload the double-action, the cylinder usually swings out of the gun on the left side after you depress the cylinder release latch.
Tip the gun up, with the rear of the cylinder facing down, press the ejector rod and watch the cases fall free.
In a revolver, this most often means there’s no visible or accessible hammer spur with which to cock the revolver.
These guns are built for concealed carry and self-defense purposes and usually sport a fairly compact design.
What to Look for When Choosing a Revolver
Now that we’ve looked at three types of revolvers, let’s go over what features to look for when shopping.
Size and Weight
One of the cool things about revolvers is that you can chamber massive and powerful cartridges in them.
The most powerful production handgun is a revolver. However, these guns are often way too big for a newbie to safely shoot.
When a gun is too big and heavy, it’s tough to shoot, grip, and safely handle.
You want a moderately sized revolver heavy enough to absorb recoil, but not so heavy you tremble trying to hold it up!
Something too heavy is simply not fun to shoot — especially when the shooter is on the younger side.
Recoil and Caliber
Am I going to suggest a .357 Magnum on this list? Of course!
But am I going to suggest an airweight .357 Magnum J-frame?
Nah dawg, not me. That’s too much gun for a newbie to handle. It’s loud, bright, and slaps your hand.
My choices put an appropriate caliber in an appropriate platform with safe handling in mind. The caliber needs to be proportional to the size of the gun.
Too much recoil and muzzle flip can be dangerous so you won’t see any of the big magnums on this list either.
Ease Of Use
By their nature, revolvers are easy to shoot and handle.
There isn’t much to them in terms of form and function. That said, some prove easier to use than others.
I love the Chiappa Rhino, but it wouldn’t be my first choice for a new revolver owner.
It defies normal revolver handling, requiring a little bit more experience to handle with ease.
My choices are all very simple guns that could be explained in mere minutes to a novice shooter.
After all, we do want them to have fun and, most importantly, be safe.
The Colt Python is a sweet revolver. It’s one of my favorites, and honestly, it’s one of everyone’s favorites. Why?
Because look at it…
But it didn’t make this list because it notoriously comes out of time. Do the new models do this?
I’m not sure, but they’ve had problems too.
Guns with issues, even good guns, are frustrating. Beginners shouldn’t be frustrated about the reliability of their firearm.
Plus, newbies might struggle to diagnose and fix a problem.
Best Revolvers for Beginners
1. Ruger Wrangler
The Ruger Wrangler might be the best handgun for beginners out there.
It’s small, affordable, very light, and chambered in the teeny tiny, fun-to-shoot .22 LR. As such, it barely moves between shots and honestly hardly recoils at all.
Ruger imitated Colt’s old single-action army revolver in its design. A single-action hammer delivers a very crisp and light trigger pull for accurate shots.
Plus, the thin SAA grips allow for shooters of all sizes to embrace and handle the Wrangler safely.
One of the best parts of the SAA design is the simplicity. New shooters do not need a complicated revolver by any means. Loading, cocking, and firing the weapon is far from difficult.
Admittedly, loading and ejecting one round at a time takes a little time on the reload, but you aren’t gunfighting with the Ruger Wrangler.
It’s a plinker, and maybe a pest removal gun. Ruger’s little Wrangler delivers a ton of fun from a very cheap platform.
It’s tough to beat as a beginner’s revolver, or as a beginner’s gun in general. I think any new shooter would be well-armed with a Ruger Wrangler and 10/22 to start their journey into the world of firearms.
2. Ruger LCR 9mm
Snub noses are not good beginner guns, but the Ruger LCR 9mm is the best snub nose for beginners.
First and foremost, it’s affordable. The Ruger LCR series in general are quite budget-friendly and deliver a lot of gun for very little money.
On top of that, the delightful trigger has to be the best stock double-action revolver trigger on the market. It rolls back smoothly with just a little fight and doesn’t give you much resistance.
Shooting a snub nose accurately isn’t easy, but the Ruger LCR eliminates some of the skill required.
Rarely will someone shout, “9mm!” when it comes to choosing a revolver caliber, but it makes sense.
The 9mm round provides plenty of oomph and capability for self-defense purposes but is cheap to plink and train with as well. Well…cheaper.
Blasting away with a 9mm revolver isn’t as uncomfortable as a .357 Magnum, but hits harder than a .38 Special.
The little LCR utilizes cheap moon clips for quick reloads, and provides you a good snub nose for the range and concealed carry.
Have you tried the Ruger LCR? If so, rate it below!
3. Smith & Wesson Model 317 Kit Gun
Kit gun is a forgotten term regarding guns and gear. We all remember scout rifles but forget kit guns.
A kit gun is a small, handy pistol, often a rimfire weapon, designed for small game hunting, pest control, plinking, and even outdoor defense from critters like snakes.
The S&W Model 317 Kit gun fits the bill perfectly.
This modern double-action revolver with an exposed hammer mimics the controls and design of most modern revolvers. It’s built on the S&W J-frame to be handy and useful.
It packs right rounds of .22 LR and utilizes a 3-inch barrel topped with an adjustable rear sight and a high-visibility fiber optic front sight.
It’s stainless for weather resistance, so perfect as a backpack companion.
For beginners, the S&W 317 Kit Gun provides a modern double-action revolver that’s perfect for a wide variety of tasks — shooting, hunting, and more.
What’s not to love?
4. Taylor’s and Company 1873 .357 Magnum
If you want to step up from the Wrangler and into a cowboy gun with a little more oomph than the .22 LR, then Taylor’s and Company has you covered.
Italians seem to love the American West almost as much as Americans do. From spaghetti westerns to replica revolvers the Italians provide us with plenty of awesome Old West stuff.
The Taylor’s and Company 1873 brings an affordable, centerfire Single Action Army design. I’ve had a few Taylor’s and Co revolvers and found them very well made, especially at their price point.
What seems like sacrilege to some is the reason I think the 1873 is a great beginner’s revolver.
The sacrilege is the .357 Magnum chambering over the .45 Colt. Yes. You read that right.
.45 Colt is the round of tradition with the cowboy guns, but .357 Magnum is better for beginners. .357 Magnum can also fire .38 Special, and that’s important.
.38 Special is rather soft shooting, and, heck, even the .357 Magnum is rather soft from this big revolver.
Both .38 Special and .357 Magnum rounds are cheaper and easier to find than .45 Colt, and provide you with more than enough oomph for practical purposes.
It’s a fun plinker, a solid woods gun, and even a half decent hunting pistol.
Plus, it retains the easy ergonomics of the SAA designs and makes magnums an easier entry point.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
5. Used Smith & Wesson Model 10
There is nothing wrong with purchasing one of the new Model 10s from S&W’s classic series.
However, I don’t find their price point that friendly when you can find a ton of cheap Model 10s on the market.
Sure they might be a little beat up, but they are true shooters.
The Model 10 revolver traces its origin all the way back to the 1899 hand ejector, which became the Police and Military model, and later the Victory model.
From there we got the S&W Model 10, one of the finest .38 Special revolvers ever produced.
The S&W Model 10 is a medium frame, 6-shot, double-action revolver that occupied the hands of soldiers, police officers, and many more over its long life span.
For beginners, it’s a simple, but modern revolver that’s well-tuned and proven, durable, and extremely strong.
These guns shoot extremely well and can take some serious abuse.
The Model 10 with a 4-inch barrel, loaded with .38 special, is so pleasant to shoot. Take one out and you’ll see just why the Model 10 served for so dang long.
Plus, it’s insanely easy to find holsters, speed loads, and more for the gun. Accessorization is important and we can’t deny it’s not a fun part of owning a gun.
6. Ruger GP-100
The GP-100 is a Ruger workhorse with an all-stainless design. Featuring a 4.2-inch barrel and a full underlug, it comes with a fiber-optic front sight and adjustable rear sight.
This model uses a 6-shot cylinder and tackles .38 Special/.357 Mag with no problem.
Because of its all stainless construction, the gun is heavy — weighing in at 40ounces. So, if you’re on the small side, this might not be the best gun for you.
But if you like a little heft to your firearms, then it works.
The grips on this model feature a cushioned rubber with a handsome hardwood insert.
The grip frame does accommodate aftermarket and custom grips of many styles. Yay for accessories!
7. Ruger SP101
Have we mentioned Ruger really has the whole revolver thing on lock?
Ruger’s SP101 is another solid choice for an all-stainless double-action revolver.
Sights are fiber optic up front with an adjustable rear, while the grips are rubber with a hardwood insert. These are easily changed if you want to try something different.
The SP101 also comes in a very handsome and compact carry version with Novak sights. Again, it’s a .38/.357, but with a 2.25-inch barrel and weighing only 26-ounces.
Revolvers can be a heck of a lot of fun with that old-school charm! But there are plenty of models that perform on par with semi-autos on the market.
Not to mention, you just feel like a badass cowboy or an ‘80s vice detective with one of these in your hands.
As always, choosing the best gun for you is a pretty personal decision, but I hope now you have an idea of what to consider, and a few guns to start your search!
What’s your favorite revolver for beginner shooters? Any to avoid? Share with us all in the comments! And if you’re looking for some .357 Magnum goodness…check out our 9 Best .357 Magnum Revolvers.