4 Best Concealed Carry Revolvers [2019]

If you’re anything like me, you grew up watching cop & cowboy movies…

And if you’re anything like me…these films gave you an appreciation for revolvers.

Single Action Revolver, Fistful of Dollars
Single Action Revolver, Fistful of Dollars

The classic lines and reliability have kept revolvers a solid option for self-defense, and modern wheelguns still remain an excellent option for anyone looking for a reliable self-defense weapon.

If you’re interested in carrying a revolver for self-defense, read on to find out the pros and cons of carrying a revolver as your CCW weapon.  We’re also going to go over a few great modern revolvers that make for excellent carry guns.

If you’re just here for the recommendations, we’ll go ahead and spoil it for you so you can go ahead and check those out.

  1. Rock Island Armory M206 Spurless ($260)
  2. Ruger LCR ($530)
  3. Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 38 Crimson Trace ($470)
  4. Taurus Judge ($499)

Now we’re going to get into just what makes these revolvers so great.

Revolver Reliability

Let’s start off as to why it is a little more reliable than a semi-automatic pistol.

The main reason a revolver is more reliable than an automatic pistol is feeding and magazines.

Magazines are hands down the most comment source of malfunctions in a semi-auto anything. A revolver doesn’t have that problem, ever.

The second major issue, especially with personal defense handguns, is feeding a round into the chamber.Almost any semi-auto handles FMJ rounds without much issue, but hollow point rounds (what most people use in their defensive guns) can often cause issues.

Again, feeding isn’t something that a revolver has to worry about.

ccw revolvers
CCW Revolvers make a great choice for anyone who wants to put reliability first.

You have just a basic trigger, a hammer, and cylinder.  Pull the trigger, the hammer cocks back, the cylinder turns, the hammer goes forward, and bang.  Pull the trigger again and the same thing happens.  Pretty simple execution.

The Downsides of a Revolver for Concealed Carry

Revolvers are not the end-all-be-all gun for concealed carry.  They only accounted for a small percentage of the total handguns purchased in 2011.  Revolvers do have their downside too.  

A revolver holds fewer rounds overall; most CCW guns are a 5 shot cylinder.  Most of your semi-auto pistols, even the subcompact guns, hold 6+1 (6 rounds in the magazine and 1 round chambered) minimum.  You can also get extended magazines so you can carry more rounds.

ruger lc9 size
The Ruger LC9s holds more rounds and is a lot quicker to reload than any revolver.

The width of most revolvers is also something to take into consideration.  They are thicker than most similar caliber semi-auto pistols, even the double stacked mags like the Glocks have.

As an example, a Glock 33 Gen 4, which is chambered in .357 SIG, has a width of 1.18 inches and holds 9 rounds.  The LCR .357 Revolver is 1.283 inches and holds 5 rounds…that extra width can be the difference 

The weight of the LCR is less than the Glock 33 though, which might make the trade-off worth it. 

A Couple Types of Revolvers to Know About

For the most part, revolvers are very similar.  They have all the same basic parts, but they might have a feature or two that sets them apart. Aside from barrel length, there is something to consider when you’re using a revolver for your concealed carry gun.

Do you want the hammer accessible or do you want it covered so you won’t snag it on something when you draw your gun from the holster?

spurless vs spurred hammer
Hammerless (bottom) or exposed hammer (top)? It mostly comes down to personal preference.

A lot of the manufacturers make a revolver with an internal hammer.  These “hammerless” revolvers are a double action only where you pull the trigger and the gun goes bang…you can’t cock the hammer for a shorter, lighter trigger pull.

Best CCW Revolvers

If you’re interested in a CCW revolver…there’s about a million out there.  We’ve rounded up a few that will serve you well for a CCW.

1. Rock Island Armory M206 Spurless

For those of you who haven’t heard of Rock Island Armory, they are a sneaky little secret of a lot of gun guys.  They offer solid guns at a reasonable price.

 I was first turned onto them when I was looking at a classic 1911 style pistol, but that’s another story for a different post.  They make a host of other excellent guns though. 

260
at Armsor

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

In this case, the M206 Spurless ($260), which means it has an internal hammer.  This particular model has a wood handle and a black finish, but you can also get ones with black polymer grips and a stainless finish. 

The Rock Island Armory M206 Spurless is an inexpensive way to get into an internal hammer wheel gun and its plenty reliable for CCW.

2. Ruger LCR

The Ruger LCR ($499.00)  is on most concealed carry gun lists and looky here, it’s on this list too. Some guns are just popular because they don’t cost that much.  Others have rock solid performance.  

The Ruger LCR is the latter.

499
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

While it’s not outrageously priced, it is in the $500+ range MSRP.

What you get when you buy the LCR is a lightweight aerospace aluminum frame wheel gun.  Pair this with the internal hammer design and you have the makings of a great CCW revolver. The LCR has, what they call, a Grip Peg.

What the Grip Peg allows you to do is remove the grip and add a different style. People buy and carry a gun more because they like the way they “feel”.

The Grip Peg give you the option to get the feel you want and take a lot of the hassle out of swapping grips.

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3. Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 38 Crimson Trace

The S&W Bodyguard 38 ($470.00) is a hammerless offering made for concealed carrying.  It’s a small frame, and lightweight revolver that comes with a built-in Crimson Trace laser.

470
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Chambered in .38 special +P, this little guy can do some damage if you need to use it.

Like most of the guns in this list, the barrels are pretty short meaning you won’t be shooting at things terribly accurately over 20-25 feet.

These guns are usually used at closer range, maybe 5-10 feet, and for that this thing is perfect.

To help with the weight of this CCW revolver, Smith & Wesson used a one-piece aluminum frame. The short overall length and the light weight make this revolver a solid choice to protect your life. 

4. Taurus Judge

This gun is a little bit different, but I had to include it because it’s just plain awesome.

500
at Cabela's

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The Taurus Judge caught my eye because it’s a beast.  Also, its namesake says it all.  It got its name because of the number of judges who carry it into the courtroom just in case they need to lay down the final verdict on someone, or so the legend goes.

This choice is a bit bigger than the others on the list.  It’s longer and heavier…but it can shoot .410 3” shotgun shells or .45 Long Colt rounds if you want a little more distance between you and your target. Both rounds have some serious stopping power.

You won’t carry this thing in an ankle holster, but it can be carried in a shoulder holster. Some people in the forums have said they have used a pancake IWB holster to conceal this beast. 

It makes a great gun for walking through the woods, or the urban jungle if you want something that’s a little bit different.  The plethora of self-defense ammo that’s been released for the .410…primarily because of this gun…makes it an excellent choice.

What Works Best for a CCW Revolver?

Weight and width are always a concern with any CCW gun, whether it’s a wheel gun like the ones in this list or a semi-auto pistol.  Caliber is the next decision to make.

The .38 Special +P is pretty popular, but you have a wide variety of choices.  You can find revolvers that fire .410 shells and some that shoot 17 HMR.  If you want something a bit more standard, you can get 9mm or 45 ACP or .22LR.

Now that you’re protected…have you taken a look at CCW Insurance?  I review the largest provider, USCCA, vs the NRA’s Carry Guard program.

What do you think about carrying a revolver for your CCW? See something on this list that’s caught your eye? Let us know in the comments!

33 Leave a Reply

  • mark bitters

    just the smallest chance that a semi-auto will jam is enough reason NOT to buy one.

    1 second ago
  • Dee Dee Sommers

    I second William W. for the SP101 357mag 2.25in. Except mine has external hammer. I'm a smallish olderish woman. So I cannot carry my favorite handheld wireless personal protection device ;-) as frequently as it would please me. I usually conceal it just below my knee when I'm wearing a long skirt. But yeah. My SP101 is absolutely my preferred handgun.

    4 days ago
  • William W.

    You left off one of the best carry Revolvers made today, the Ruger SP-101 357mag 2.25in spurless. My daily carry with two speed loaders. Never feel under gunned.

    4 days ago
  • S. Diprima

    I carry a Taurus revolver model 817 ultralite 7 shot .38+ p. It weighs only 21 oz & It’s carried in a Bianchi pancake style leather holster. Very comfortable, easily concealed & very accurate.

    2 months ago
    • Narq

      21 oz... a brick! The Kel-Tec P3AT (380) less than 9 oz with 6+1 for next to nothing. Simply nothing better for pocket carry.

      1 month ago
  • James Hoffman

    Just purchased a Ruger LCR. Love it. Especially with an extended grip for the pinky finger.

    3 months ago
  • Steve Justin

    Love my judge

    4 months ago
    • S. Diprima

      Do you carry it concealed??

      2 months ago
  • Craig Giddens

    LOL! The Judge as a conceal carry? You forgot to mention Smith & Wesson's other J-Frames (642, 442, and 637) and how in the world did you miss the Kimber K6?

    6 months ago
    • James Hoffman

      Price. Kimber is way too expensive.

      3 months ago
  • Mark

    I don't even know where to start. This "article" is extremely misleading and wrong. You are going to caust some one a lot of money at the least. Semi automatics are reliable they have bin evolving since at least 1911. A modern pistol will fire jhw just fine . as for malfunctioning you should have one in the chamber then if something happens after firing that one you will be able to fix the malfunction easily with a little training. However to train people to clear malfunctions we usually have to cause one as they are extremely reliable in the hands of someone competent. And last point if a revolver ever does jam you will be out of the fight as it usually requires tools to fix. In short anyone reading this who is looking to buy a first gun for self defense or carry go to a instructor any good instructor will offer to show you some options for a first gun and have you shoot some for cheep and you will save the money you would have pissed away buying a gun that is useless to you. In the end you may go revolver or not.

    11 months ago
    • Average joe

      Yep correctly. I used to think that revolvers are more reliable than semi-auto pistols, but I only thought that when I didn’t know anything about guns!! If a pistol jams most of the time you just pull back the slide and solve the problem. But is a revolver jams, no way you fix that by hand in seconds. Everybody who thinks revolvers are more simple than pistols judge that only by external features, look inside the mechanics to see how revolvers looks so like complex o’clocks with some many tine parts. And another thing to remember is that blast and debris that fly from the gap between cylinder and barrel and goes on your face. You probably are gonna lose one eye or both if shoot without safety glasses. But I like revolvers and bought couple of for collection, but for conceal carry only if I also carry a pistol.

      5 months ago
    • Some guy

      I would disagree. Semi automatic pistols are great and all but they have more moving parts. Imagine you are up close and personal. In the heat of the moment you press the pistol into someone's body and shoot. The gun will go bang... But it won't chamber another round. If you have a malfunction you would have to tap and rack and hope that was the problem.. with a revolver you can push that bad boy into someone and when it goes bang, you simply pull the trigger again. If it goes click (worst sound ever) you simply pull the trigger again non of that tap rack stuff. Buying a ccw revolver isn't a waste of money. I suggest anybperson who carries to have a back up ccw revolver that fits in a person's pocket. The revolver is the backup plan. It's not a waste of money because when the wolf walks through the doors and the first weapon goes "click" you'll thank yourself for gaving a revolver waiting for you in your pocket.

      11 months ago
  • Jerry

    Jerry here. I have been carrying my ..38 colt detective special for years. Bianchi pancake or ankle holster. Also carry my Springfield XD. 45 on my hip. Both great guns.

    11 months ago
  • SGT Roy E.Payne

    My conceal carry is a Ruger LCR 327 Magnum (yes, 327), 6 shots,, with laser sights. Love this revolver, great trigger action..

    1 year ago
    • Mattie

      I'm looking for personal protection,concealed carry handgun and leaning towards the Ruger SP101 LCR Double-Action .327 Federal Magnum. Do you think a 50 y/o, 90 lb woman could easily handle it (kickback?)? Also are you able to shut off, the laser-sight-light on yours? Thanks!

      7 months ago
      • Dee Dee

        Hi Mattie, I am a 60+ y/o woman who would love to be 90 lbs. again. (5'1"). My first handgun was the LCRx with 3" barrel. It was a beautiful gun and very accurate. But it did NOT fit my small hands and with the 3" barrel, was not exactly very concealable. So I moved up to the SP101 .357mag 2.25". It fit's my hands so wonderfully! I do not carry .357mag rounds in it though. Those are too hot for me. I carry .38spl rounds and am going to try +P. But the solid stainless steel gun offers very little recoil. It is more comfortable at the range than my little .380 semi-auto. One thing I appreciate most about my SP101 is the external hammer. When I am at the range when my weakening hands get fatigued, I fire the weapon in single action. DA very heavy trigger. SA very light trigger. I wouldn't trade my SP101 for anything!

        4 days ago
      • Chris

        The SP101 and LCR are both great weapons but I would lean more towards a bodyguard, they are great little guns. If you have a local range that has them for rent I would suggest giving each one a try and see what one best suits you. I've owned a SP101 and bodyguard, I absolutely loved the SP but the bodyguard was more practical for carry.

        7 months ago
      • GaShooter

        You mention 2 very different firearms in your question. The SP101 is a SA/DA revolver; the LCR is DAO revolver. Both available in 327 Mag. To answer your question, yes, a 50 YO 90 lb person should be able to handle either of these model firearms. With a 327 Fed Mag revolver you can shoot 32 S&W, 32 S&W long, 32 H&R Magnum, 32 ACP as well as 327 Fed Mag cartridges. Very versatile firearm! I keep an SP101 327 Mag revolver loaded with 32 H&R Mag around the house for the wife.

        7 months ago
        • LazrBeam

          I've got a stainless SP101 w/ 3in barrel, an LCR and LCRx (exposed hammer), and a Taurus w/ 3 in ported barrel (an absolute tack driver) all in . 327 Fed Mag and all hold 6 rounds. Also, have Henry Big Boy in .327. It is a great round and, as you mention, great versatility capable of firing the lesser powered .32's. I highly recommend the .327 Fed Mag. If you have any questions about its power look up .327 Federal Magnum on your favorite search engine. You may be surprised. Betcha so.

          5 months ago
        • GaShooter

          I forgot to mention that, yes, there is an on/off switch for the CTC LaserGrips - usually on the left grip panel. When in the “on” position, the laser is automatically activated when you take your shooting grip on the gun.

          7 months ago
  • John Wesley

    I'm 65 a former Naval Aviator and have had a CCW since I was 21. I went thru a lot of pistols trying to find something I could carry all day. I was predisposed to the Colt 1911 being convinced of its effectiveness. But over the years the most convenient has been a S&W Bodyguard. It's light and will easily fit in most pockets and does not need to be drawn to be fired. Because it has a shrouded hammer it can be manually cocked and fired single-action. For pocket carry I do recommend using a Garrison Grip Micro Trigger Stop For Smith & Wesson Revolver J Frame to avoid accidental discharges from snagging a trigger. It's old tech and there are newer models that will fire 357 magnum but for most situations where it's self-defense a belly gun with modern 38+P is adequate . One other thing to consider with concealed carry in states like Virginia displaying that you have a weapon holstered is considered brandishing a weapon. With this model you just put your hand in your pocket if you are feeling threatened and no one will ever know how close they came to being shot.

    1 year ago
    • brian

      Displaying a holstered firearm in Virginia is considered brandishing a weapon? Please explain, I don't understand.

      1 year ago
  • John L

    Perhaps it's not a "classic", but you've got to get the Chiappa Rhino on this list. It's a perfect concealed carry choice, and arguably makes other carry revolvers obsolete as far as features and practically go. To be fair, neither the LCRx or Judge are really "classics" either, but they made this list. So I'd say the Chiappa Rhino deserves an honorable mention at the very least!

    1 year ago
    • David

      The Rhino is one of many guns on my list of "MUST TRY", I've been craving to get my hands on one for YEARS.

      1 year ago
    • Matthew Collins

      I will formally give the rhino honorable mention status on cool factor alone. They're also pretty much built like a tank from what I've heard.

      1 year ago
  • J Lu

    Great advice without hidden motives. I just attended a small gun show and this information was right on point. Thanks for the helpful input!!!!

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      So glad we could help out!

      1 year ago
      • Overdriver999

        This is a good list for sure...and maybe I missed it but if not,how bout doing a list in the future for a good first time buyer revolver list... I'm gonna be in the market within the next 6 months or so for my first "starter" revolver.

        1 year ago
        • Overdriver999

          Nevermind I found it.

          1 year ago
  • HUJU

    The Judge is a terrible recommendation for concealed carry.

    1 year ago
    • Mike

      I disagree. For several reasons, I have concealed carried a Judge on numerous occasions. Because of my surroundings and the dangers posed from both human and natural predators, it was the only weapon I felt comfortable carrying.. It is comfortable with the correct holster and easy to conceal with the correct attire.

      1 year ago
  • Josh woodin

    Your articles are great- not too wordy or technical you go right to the point! I appreciate your style. I. Would like to point out couple of things not mentioned: Taurus judge is a beast as said. Both in weight & size. Even as shoulder bolstered I would not recommend except on camping trip maybe but I wouldn't take on much more than pocupine with it!2) the light 1st river has huge recoil. I would recommend shoting 38 's in heavier weight or from .357 to balance recoil especially for a woman. Thanks again for your writings!

    2 years ago
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