The sustained rise in violent crime has brought with it a rise in new gun owners. For many, starting with a revolver is a logical first step. They are a dependable interface and typically have fewer malfunctions than semi-automatic pistols. Overall, the wheel gun is a simple and stable platform, making it a good choice for a first concealed carry gun. For this reason, we’ve put together a list of concealed carry revolvers, giving you a head start in your search.
Best Concealed Carry RevolversRevolvers as we know them have been around since the early 1800s, with precursors to the design dating back even further. With that said, there are countless models throughout the world. And like any firearm, selecting a revolver is very subjective; everyone has their favorites. However, for the purpose of this list, we are going to keep it to a small number of current models that we like. Something to consider when picking a revolver for concealed carry is the difference between double action and single action. A single-action revolver is great for recreational shooting but has limitations for concealed carry. In order to fire a single-action revolver, you have to cock the hammer before you pull the trigger. And you have to repeat that step for each shot. This loss of time in a self-defense situation can result in catastrophe. However, with a double action revolver, pulling the trigger both cocks the hammer and then releases it. As a result, this eliminates a step, making it faster for self-defense. But it is worth noting that there is a tradeoff. Double-action revolvers have a longer and harder trigger stroke, which can affect accuracy. So, it is important to practice it regularly. As I mentioned, picking the right revolver for you is subjective, and you may not see what you like here. So, I encourage you to visit the Facebook post for this story with any questions you may have. In addition, you will probably see other suggestions that you may like. We have a great community that is happy to help new gun owners.
Colt King Cobra Carry DAO (.357 Mag)No list of revolvers would be complete without at least one Colt. Let’s face it, Colt is the reason we have the revolver as we know it today. The King Cobra DAO (Double Action Only) provides the power of a .357 Magnum in a small, easily concealed stainless-steel frame. Sporting a 3-inch barrel length, the King Cobra DAO offers a 6-round capacity in the cylinder, while the heavy-duty construction helps reduce felt recoil. Likewise, the rubberized grips feature finger notches for a secure grip while firing. MSRP: $899.00 For more information, please visit Colt.com.
Kimber K6S Stainless (.357 Mag)Chambered in .357 Mag, the Kimber K6S Stainless is the world’s lightest production 6-shot, according to the company. The pistol boasts a combination of superior ergonomics and a smooth match-grade trigger. This is ideal due to the DAO configuration of the K6S, as it will help aid in accuracy. The rubber grips coupled with the serrated backstrap help ensure a secure grip. It’s worth noting that the light weight of the K6S offers little to absorb the recoil of the .357 Mag round. So, it could be a bit much for people with smaller hands. I would recommend asking your local gun store if you can test-fire one before making the purchase. MSRP: $985.00 For more information, please visit KimberAmerica.com.
Smith & Wesson 642 Airweight (.38 Special +P)As the name implies, the 642 Airweight from Smith & Wesson is a lightweight revolver. The light weight of the alloy frame makes the 642 easy to conceal on your hip or in your pocket. The J-Frame has been around since the 50s and is as reliable as the Smith & Wesson name itself. Featuring a 5-round capacity, the 642 has an enclosed hammer, preventing snagging on the draw—whether pocket or hip carry. As with the Kimber K6S, the lighter frame of the 642 does little to absorb the recoil of the .38 Special +P. However, the recoil will not be quite as bad as .357 Mag. Although the difference is slight, you can also run regular .38 Special for slightly reduced recoil as well. MSRP: $532.00 For more information, please visit Smith-Wesson.com.
Smith & Wesson AirLite 340PD (.357 Mag)Another entry from the reliable J-Frame class is the AirLite 340PD from Smith & Wesson. Like the 642 Airweight, the AirLite 340PD is a lightweight option that easily conceals anywhere. Also, the enclosed hammer reduces the potential for snagging on the draw. The 340PD includes a HI-VIZ fiber optic green front sight for excellent target acquisition in daylight or low-light conditions. But, once again, the light weight of the AirLite coupled with the power of .357 Mag can be a lot for smaller hands. However, you can also shoot .38 Special +P from the 340PD, so you are not without options. But I would still recommend test-firing the 340PD before you purchase to make sure you can handle the recoil. MSRP: $1,095.00 For more information, please visit Smith-Wesson.com.
Charter Arms Pink Lady (.38 Special)Since many recent new gun owners are women, we thought you might appreciate something geared specifically for you. The Pink Lady from Charter Arms is a variation of the company’s popular .38 Special Undercover Lite. As such, the light-framed, aircraft-grade aluminum pistol will be easy to conceal and carry. Chambered in .38 Special, the 5-round revolver is manageable by even small hands. Unlike most of the others on this list, the Pink Lady features a spurred hammer so that you can operate it in single or double action. However, this also increases the possibility of snagging on the draw. So, make sure to practice with it—both drawing and shooting—and take that into account. MSRP: $429.80 For more information, please visit CharterFirearms.com.
Ruger LCR (.38 Special +P)Ruger has a reputation for dependability when it comes to revolvers, and the LCR is no different. Featuring an aerospace-grade, 7000-series aluminum construction, the LCR is lightweight and durable. As a result, the light weight coupled with the enclosed hammer makes it easy to conceal. Additionally, the Hogue Tamer Monogrip provides secure retention while firing the LCR. A patented polymer fire control housing helps to reduce the recoil of the .38 Special +P round. However, a regular .38 Special round will further reduce the recoil. I recommend practicing with .38 Special and carrying .38 Special +P in the five-round cylinder. But make sure to shoot some +P rounds first, so you know what to expect. MSRP: $719.00 For more information, please visit Ruger.com.
Rock Island Armory M206 Spurless (.38 Special)For those looking for an economical choice, the M206 Spurless from Rock Island Armory is a solid option. Chambered in .38 Special, the heavy construction of the M206 helps to greatly reduce the felt recoil. In addition, a checkered wood grip gives the M206 a classic style that pairs nicely with the black parkerized finish. Finally, the 6-round capacity ensures you have enough rounds to get the job done in an emergency. MSRP: $279.00 For more information, please visit RockIslandArmoryUSA.com.
North American Arms NAA-22MS-VL (.22 Mag)For those looking for serious concealment, North American Arms takes it to the pocket level. I am a fan of NAA and personally carry a .22 Mag, which virtually disappears in my pocket. However, I would call this more of a backup revolver than a primary due to its diminutive size. With its 1 1/8-inch barrel length, the NAA-22MS-VL is a last-ditch belly gun meant for close-quarters defense. However, the Viridian laser grip will help with your aim at any range. Just keep in mind that the shorter barrel length has the potential for rounds to keyhole with certain ammunition, affecting accuracy and effectiveness at a distance. Another advantage of the Viridian laser grip is that the rubberized oversize grip helps keep a good hold on the small pistol. MSRP: $375.00 For more information, please visit NorthAmericanArms.com.
SimplicityThe biggest advantage of a revolver is probably its simple operation. Place rounds in the cylinder, close it, aim and fire. Remove the spent cases from the cylinder and repeat. Of course, there are both single-action and double-action revolvers. Single-action revolvers must be cocked before each shot. Double-action revolvers can be fired repeatedly with the pull of the trigger alone. Both types are still made today, but double actions are more popular. Shooting a revolver also eliminates the argument about carrying a handgun with a round in the chamber. For newer shooters who are just starting to carry, revolvers sometimes seem a more comfortable path to take. Many people in the semi-auto realm argue that carrying a gun without a round in the chamber is like trying to put on your seatbelt seconds before you crash. In the heat of the moment, you may forget to rack your slide to chamber that first round. That’s not necessary with a revolver, which gives some people a certain level of comfort.
ConcealmentSimply stated, revolvers are quite easy to conceal. These are the original subcompact guns. Typically smooth with rounded edges, revolvers are perfect for deep concealment while being comfortable to carry. But this is where the timeless “round count” argument creeps in. Many people say you don’t need more than five or six rounds should a deadly threat appear. Realistically, you just never know, and I believe it is always better to be prepared than to be out of luck. If you choose to carry a revolver, you need to become skilled and able to reload quickly. And just like a semi-auto, you should carry additional ammunition for your revolver. Revolvers typically have shorter barrels, and therefore they aren’t exactly great for shooting long distances. A short-barreled revolver shines at 5 yards and in. With practice, 10 yards is possible, but realistically, 5 yards or closer is the norm. This isn’t exactly a disadvantage. If you actually need to pull your gun in an emergency, you’re typically going to be at what’s considered “bad-breath distance.” At greater distances, it’s time to get away and do whatever it takes to not have to pull your gun at all. Of course, while some people may think a gun is a gun in terms of operation and handling, there are a few things we need to keep in mind when running a revolver. First up is your grip. The grips on most revolvers are small compared to those of standard semi-auto handguns. With your strong-side hand, grip the revolver firmly, making sure your trigger finger can rest squarely on the trigger, then make any adjustments to try to align the pistol with the bones in your forearm. This will help manage recoil. Try to keep your strong hand as high on the backstrap as possible. For the most part, concealed carry revolvers will not have the advantages of a longer barrel. In fact, most are what is called a snub nose. In other words, it has a barrel typically shorter than 4 inches. This means that it will have a shorter sight radius (the distance between the front sight and rear sight). The shorter sight radius affects accuracy as a result. So, it is important to practice with your new revolver regularly. Likewise, it is important to understand the basic rules of gun safety before handling any firearm. In addition, I encourage you to download our free Gun Primer for New Gun Owners to learn about firearms and safety. Stay safe and happy shooting.
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