The requirements for this list are simple. The gun must be a revolver action handgun; it must be small enough, light-weight enough, and thin enough to reasonably conceal without a parka; it must be chambered in a round worthy of personal protection; it must not be junk, and actually be a gun that I like. While I have not personally fired all of these on the list, I can say that I know or have known people who swore by each of these guns, and I have handled each of them at some point or other (with one exception).
In no particular order:
For Big Bore Fans
Prefer your bullets to move slow and make huge holes? You’ll love the Charter Arms Bulldog. Five shots of .44 special in a double action, concealable package with a variety of options from blued or stainless, with or without hammer, and more. I prefer the stainless DAO model for rugged concealment. Wonder why I didn’t pick the Judge or Governor instead? See below.*
For the Techno-Minded
Yes, there can be such a thing as a high-tech revolver, and this is it. The Smith & Wesson M&P340 CT. Five shots of .357mag, ultra-light scandium alloy frame, Crimson Trace laser grips. ‘Nuff said.
For the K.I.S.S. Crowd
Simple is as simple does, and that usually means it works. Keep it simple with either of these basic carry pieces. The Smith & Wesson Model 60 (also see my Favorite Firearms article here) and the Ruger SP101, both being low maintenance stainless steel, five-shot, two-inch barrel .357mag stand-outs with three-finger grips and comfortable handling, tie for the lead of this category.
For Old-School Cowboy Types
When it comes to old school, nothing says, “I’m yer huckleberry” like a single action revolver. If you’re practiced enough, you can be effective with one. Just look at the “wild west.” I don’t think they had Glocks and Sigs in Tombstone, do you? If this is your thing, have a look at the Heritage Mfg. .32H&R Magnum. Birds head grip and 3.5″ barrel for easier concealability. (See what Jason has to say about his Heritage 22 convertible here.)
Another tie, in this category I love Cimarron Firearms‘ attractive birds-head gripped, short barreled single actions in the Lightning line, and specifically the small framed .38 special with 3.5″ barrel. These are fine weapons, and small enough to conceal. The tie is due only to the Lightning’s higher price, and lack of the modern safety system of the Heritage Rough Rider, which, if you’re going to cowboy-action events you don’t want probably, but for everyday carry it seems a good thing to have with a hammer-fired single action.
For the Budget Minded
For years now, Taurus has given us many good handguns to choose from, at attractive price points. They continue the tradition with the venerable Model 85. .38special, +P rated, no frills, blued, five-shot snubby.
For the Recoil Sensitive
Smaller is better sometimes. If you have a physical disability, or if you’re simply recoil shy, there are still some good options out there that will serve a damn sight better than calling 911. Consider the Ruger LCR in .22mag! As we know from Dave’s article “22’s and Monster Stew,” a .22 WMR will decapitate squirrels and dispatch coyotes. It’ll also serve better than a .22LR for defending yourself against two legged critters.
For Pockets Full of Fun
Nothing is tinier than the North American Arms Revolver. The PUG D model particularly catches my attention with its one inch barrel and five rounds of .22WMR. If you like Derringers, but want more than two shots, this could be your puppy, or, Pug, as it were.
From the Craziest Thing I’ve Seen Lately File
Is it a revolver or a wild animal? I’m not sure, but it’s kind of funky cool. The Chiappa Firearms Rhino with it’s 2″ low slung barrel, flat sided cylinder (figure that one out), and odd grip requirements intrigue me. But, only in .357mag. If I wanted to shoot .40S&W with moon clips I’d get something with a slide, right? This is the one I haven’t touched before. But it’s so weird that I think I like it.
*I don’t like the Judge or Governor. They’re ugly, and they drove up the price of .45 Colt ammo for no good reason, making it expensive to shoot my 1873 Cattleman.
Don’t agree with my list? Have better ideas? Comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts and discuss it!