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.
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.
- Rock Island Armory M206 Spurless ($260)
- Ruger LCR ($530)
- Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 38 Crimson Trace ($470)
- Taurus Judge ($499)
Now we’re going to get into just what makes these revolvers so great.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Check out our full review.
4. Taurus Judge
This gun is a little bit different, but I had to include it because it’s just plain awesome.
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!