A much as semi-automatics are popular, old-school revolvers, especially snub-nose revolvers, are proven defense tools that have lasted the test of time. Shortening the barrel of full-sized revolvers to make them more compact and carry friendly has been happening in gunsmith shops since revolvers were first produced. By the 1950s, Colt and Smith & Wesson were specifically designing revolvers for law enforcement and civilian self-defense. These revolvers, which featured barrels as short 1.5 and 2 inches, smaller grips and fixed sights, soon became known as “snub-nose” revolvers.
While many misinformed shooters out there would have us believe that the revolver is an antiquated weapon, today revolver manufacturers are pushing the limits on snub-nose revolver designs, components and mechanisms to make them lighter, more accurate, safer and more user friendly. Here are 21 snub-nose revolvers currently on the market to consider for everyday carry.
21. Charter Arms Boomer
Chambered in powerful .44 Special, the aptly named Boomer has been stripped down to the basics for deep concealed carry. The 2-inch barrel has been ported to reduce felt recoil. When fired, the ports are designed to limit muzzle flip. The gun also comes without sights, just a simple grooved topstrap. With no sights or hammer spur to snag on clothing, the Boomer can be drawn from under clothing without fear of snagging.
20. Charter Arms Chic Lady
The Chic Lady is built on the Charter Arms Undercover Lite platform, and it sport a distinctive pink anodized finish on the frame and a high-polish on its barrel and cylinder. It weighs only 12 ounces and has a five-round capacity in .38 Special. This revolver may look glammed up, but it is a serious self-defense tool with real stopping power.
19. Charter Arms Off Duty
At 12 ounces unloaded, the Off Duty is one of the lightest five-shot revolvers available. It features a compact rubber boot grip that provides better control when unleashing .38 Special +P loads. The frame is constructed of aluminum while the barrel and cylinder are stainless steel. The matte black frame and high-polish stainless steel barrel and cylinder make this Off Duty model a handsome EDC snubbie.
18. Charter Arms Bulldog
The Charter Arms Bulldog is known for its compact size and powerful .44 Special chambering. The five-shot Bulldog weighs 21 ounces and uses a one-piece frame for strength. Even though the .44 Special is a potent cartridge, the felt recoil it generates is tolerable, especially with the gun’s rubber grips, and it is accurate for defense work. The front ramp sight and notched groove in the topstrap offer a good sight picture.
17. Charter Arms Pitbull
Charter Arms chambers the Pitbull in .45 ACP. The design uses a dual coil spring assembly located in the extractor, which allows for the insertion and retention of a .45 ACP rimless cartridge in each chamber without the use of moon clips. This patented retention system allows the shooter to eject spent cartridges and immediately reload.
16. Chiappa Rhino 200DS
The Rhino 200DS offers great concealability because of its unusual profile. The flat cylinder allows for maximum concealed comfort since the revolver is so thin. The Rhino is also unique due to the position of its barrel, which is lower than on a traditional revolver design. The repositioned barrel allows the Rhino to produce less felt recoil because its bore axis is closer to the shooter’s grip.
15. Weihrauch Windicator
Made in Germany, the Windicator is a rugged and dependable revolver chambered in .357 Magnum. Offering a six-round capacity, it is built on an alloy steel frame and features a 2-inch, vent-rib barrel. The full rubber grip helps take the bite out of shooting hot .357 Magnum loads, enhancing user comfort during long range sessions.
14. Kimber K6
The K6s is a six-shot, double-action-only snubbie chambered in .357 Magnum. According to Kimber, the K6s has the smallest-diameter cylinder of any six-shot revolver. This means the revolver is thin and more easily carried in an IWB holster. It is also the lightest six-shot .357 Magnum revolver according to Kimber. Constructed of stainless steel with a smooth satin finish, the K6s revolver features a replaceable front sight, an ergonomic rubber grip and 9.5- to 10.5-pound trigger pull.
13. Rossi Model R46202
Rossi builds its medium-frame .357 Magnum revolvers with a forged steel frame for enhanced strength and durability. With a 2-inch barrel, this snub nose is very concealable and offers a six-round capacity of .357 Magnum. The full rubber grips have finger grooves and a pebbled finish for a positive grip in any environment.
12. Ruger SP101
The SP101 is Ruger’s traditional snub nose built on a one-piece stainless frame. It is a no-nonsense revolver with a bobbed hammer and a DAO trigger. The bobbed hammer better ensures a snag-free draw. Cushioned rubber grips cover the entire grip frame so felt recoil—even with hot .357 Magnum loads—is less, making the revolver comfortable to shoot over long periods of time on the range for training.
11. Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan
Personal protection takes on a different meaning when you live deep in the backcountry. Rural living can mean bears, and a small-caliber revolver might be nothing more than an irritant to 800 pounds of claws, teeth and fur. The Super Redhawk Alaskan is a massive snub nose made to be easily carried and used when a big gun is called for. The powerful .454 Casull model has enough juice to tackle a bear, and during target practice it can be loaded with milder .45 Long Colt cartridges.
10. Ruger LCR
The LCR completely changed what shooters thought they knew about snub-nose revolvers. Constructed from polymers, alloys and steel, the LCR is lightweight yet chambered in cartridges ranging from the .22 LR to .357 Magnum. The latest LCR is chambered in .327 Federal Magnum, a round that bested the old-school H&R Magnum and approaches energy that rivals the .357 Magnum. And the .327 Federal Magnum LCR holds six shots, while a .357 Magnum variant of the same size only holds five.
9. Smith & Wesson Model 36 Chief’s Special
The Model 36 Chief’s Special is Smith & Wesson’s classic snub-nose revolver design. The original was introduced in 1950, and S&W has brought it back as part of its Classics series. The Model 36 features a deep blued finish on the carbon steel frame and cylinder as well as checkered wooden grips. These revolvers are still in use with many law enforcement officers due to their reliability and concealability.
8. Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 38
S&W seamlessly combined a grip-activated laser and a J-Frame revolver in the M&P Bodyguard 38. Built with a one-piece aluminum alloy frame, the Bodyguard features a Crimson Trace laser as well as iron sights. This revolver is well suited for left- or right-handed shooters since the cylinder release is ambidextrous. The barrel and cylinder are made of stainless steel. The revolver’s ergonomic grip and smooth trigger pull make for more positive control.
7. Smith & Wesson M&P340 CT
At 13.3 ounces, the M&P340 CT is lightweight due to its scandium alloy frame, but it packs a fierce .357 Magnum punch. The M&P340 CT also features a Crimson Trace Lasergrip, which allows users to aim the weapon using the laser or via the revolver’s fixed sights. Either way, this tiny beast packs concealable stopping power.
6. Smith & Wesson Model 638 Airweight
Built on S&W’s classic J-Frame, the 638 Airweight offers the snag-free concealability of a hammerless design while still allowing the user to cock the gun for single-action use. A small burr allows a shooter to cock the revolver. This element adds versatility to a compact revolver that weighs less than a pound and offers a five-round capacity of .38 Special +P ammo.
5. Smith & Wesson Model 686 Plus
This S&W snub nose offers a seven-round capacity in a medium-frame revolver. The 686 Plus is built on S&W’s L-frame, which is renowned for its strength and durability when used in conjunction with magnum ammunition. The fully adjustable sights offer an excellent sight picture, especially the red ramp front sight blade.
4. Taurus Model 905
Taurus’ Model 905 revolver chambers 9mm ammunition in a small, lightweight frame that offers a five-round capacity. Offering DA/SA operation, the Model 905 gives the user the ability to pair the revolver up with a pistol and only have to purchase one type of ammo. While you’ll need moon clips to load the revolver’s 9mm ammo, the ability to cross carry using the same ammunition for your semi-auto offers great convenience.
3. Taurus Model 850 CIA
In Taurus’ vernacular, “CIA” stands for “Carry It Anywhere,” as this was designed for simplicity, ease of use and reliable concealed carry or backup. The 850 CIA is a hammerless revolver, meaning the hammer is fully enclosed in the frame. This means there’s no hammer spur to snag on clothing. This revolver is DAO with an average trigger pull weight of about 9 pounds.
2. Taurus Model 85C
For this design, Taurus took its legendary Model 85 revolver and added a convertible hammer, allowing users to switch from an exposed hammer to a hammerless revolver with a simple twist and no tools. This five-shot snub nose comes chambered in .38 Special +P and features a 2-inch barrel, a matte stainless finish and a textured rubber grip.
1. Taurus Model 605 PLY
The Model 605 PLY features a polymer frame, a steel barrel and a steel cylinder. It pushes the envelope of revolver design by using material normally used in semi-automatic pistols. Chambered in .357 Magnum, the 605 PLY has plenty of firepower but is comfortable to carry. At 20 ounces unloaded, it is lightweight. This snub nose also features a fiber-optic front sight for fast target acquisition. The hammer is partially exposed, offering a good tradeoff on concealability and the ability to fire the weapon in DA and SA modes.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Charter Arms Boomer
Charter Arms Chic Lady
Charter Arms Off Duty
Charter Arms Bulldog
Charter Arms Pitbull
Chiappa Rhino 200DS
Rossi Model R46202
Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan
Smith & Wesson Model 36 Chief’s Special
Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 38
Smith & Wesson M&P340 CT
Smith & Wesson Model 638
Smith & Wesson Model 686 Plus
Taurus Model 905
Taurus Model 850 CIA
Taurus Model 605 PLY