The Five Best Concealed Carry Revolvers

By Tred Law

Ruger SP101 357 Mag, 2.25" w/Compact Lasergrips
Ruger SP101 357 Mag, 2.25″ w/Compact Lasergrips
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

Manasquan, NJ --(Ammoland.com)- I love revolvers as they are a tried and true design, simple to use and easy to maintain, with just enough capacity and caliber to get the job done.

I am asked all the time by my students, “What is the best Revolver for daily concealed carry?”

So I came up with my top five picks on the Best Concealed Carry Revolvers for reliable self defense.

My Top Five Revolver Short List Goes Like this:

Ruger SP101 357 Mag, 2.25″ Revolver:
The Ruger SP101 revolvers fitted with the Crimson Trace LG-111 Defender Series Lasergrips are designed to put the shooter on target quickly and accurately. The Ruger SP101 model KSP-321CT has a spurless hammer for snag free carry and draw, features 2.25 inch barrel and fixed sights. These 5-shot stainless steel revolvers are chambered for .357 Magnum and can also fire .38 Special ammunition, including .38+P cartridges.

The Crimson Trace LG-111 Defender Series Lasergrips are constructed of hard durable polymer. The red beam laser is activated by a pressure switch located on the front of the grip, making it instinctively usable for right- or left-handed shooters. The laser is adjustable for windage and elevation using an Allen wrench (provided).

You Can Never Be Too Prepared. The SP101 revolver boasts the strength to handle the powerful .357 Magnum and .327 Federal Magnum cartridges in a controllable, small-framed double-action revolver. Among the most powerful small-frame revolvers on the market, they are engineered for solid performance. Featuring a recoil-reducing grip, the SP101 is comfortable to shoot and perfect for personal defense or field use.

Strong and reliable shot after shot, all SP101 revolvers boast solid steel sidewalls (no side-plates), making them rugged, reliable, and dependable. Available in .327 Federal Magnum, .38 Special and .357 Magnum (which also accepts the less expensive .38 Special cartridges), you can count on the SP101 when you need it.

Smith & Wesson 642 PowerPort Revolver
Smith & Wesson 642 PowerPort Revolver

Smith & Wesson 642 PowerPort Revolver:
The S&W 642 PowerPort gun is an aluminum framed revolver with a steel cylinder. Smith and Wesson calls this an Airweight revolver. It comes in at 15 ounces unloaded. It is a 5 shot revolver and rated for .38 Special +P ammunition. The standard 642 comes with a 1 7/8 inch barrel and the Pro comes in at 2 1/8 inch barrel. The “Power Port” name comes from a port in the barrel just in beyond the front site. Another distinguishing characteristic over the regular 642 is the front site is not an integral front blade like many revolvers, but a white dot insert similar to what you would find on a semiauto pistol such as a GLOCK.

As a frame of reference, I am a large caliber bigot. I make no apologies for it. Before this gun, I only thought there were 4 common calibers worth buying a handgun in: .40 S&W, .45 ACP, .357 Magnum, and .44 Magnum. I still think that way, but with one caviot. A .38 Special in +P can be had in ballistics close to a slow .357 Magnum. Make that two caviots, I don’t know who said it, but a [insert small caliber here] in the pocket is better than a [insert large caliber here] in the dresser. I think there are limits to the second caviot, but for 40 years the majority of police in this country carried .38 Specials and like I mentioned above, there are +P’s that push the .38 Special over 1000 f/s.

Ruger LCR-LG 38 Spl+P Revolver with Crimson Trace Lasergrips
Ruger LCR-LG 38 Spl+P Revolver with Crimson Trace Lasergrips

Ruger LCR-LG 38 Spl+P Revolver with Crimson Trace Lasergrips
When Ruger designed the groundbreaking polymer-framed LCR revolver, it did so with the intention of Crimson Trace Lasergrips compatibility and availability right out of the gates. The LG-411 greatly enhances the defensive capability of the lightweight LCR with a seamless fit and quality engineering. It will hold zero continuously without fail. Ruger’s commitment to endorsing Crimson Trace laser sights is further validation that after the weapon itself, a laser is the best firearms investment you can make.

S&W M&P 340 Revolver
S&W M&P 340 Revolver

S&W M&P 340 Revolver:
This lightweight, five-shot, double-action-only revolver is perfect for concealment and comes with an internal hammer that’ll keep it from catching on the draw. It’s chambered in .38 Special +P and the heavier .357 Mag., providing shooters with some options when planning their personal defense.

Taurus Judge Public Defender Polymer Revolver
Taurus Judge Public Defender Polymer Revolver

Taurus Judge Public Defender Polymer Revolver:
Check out the revolutionary new Public Defender Polymer. This scaled-down model of everyone’s favorite combo gun, the Taurus Judge, still gives you the ability to fire your choice of ammunition —now in a size that fits in most pockets— also in a lighter, polymer body frame with new updates for improved handling and accuracy. Truly amazing! Just like its big brother, this little gun delivers amazing versatility and devastating firepower for self-protection. .45/.410 (2.5″ chamber)

Short and sweet huh? These are my top five Go-to-Guns if your looking for ultra reliable, easily concealable revolvers with enough stopping power for that peace of mind. Others will always disagree so let me know in the comments below what your favorite self-defense revolver is and why you think it is the best?

Thinking you want a Semi-Auto for your concealed carry weapon? Read our article of the Top 5 Concealed Carry Handguns .

  • 36 thoughts on “The Five Best Concealed Carry Revolvers

    1. Smith and Wesson 442 revolver with ported barrel.Light,reliable double action only.Easily concealed,no hammer to snag on anything.Can fire 38+ ammo. A proven design like the 642.

      Smith and Wesson 442 revolver

    2. I carried a revolver for something like ten years. And it meets all your requirements easily and then some. The S&W M296 Airweight Centennial.

      Centennial design so you have nothing to snag on anything. DAO. Airweight, 18.5 ounces empty. That’s quite light but at least there is a _little_ weight to damp a bit of recoil.

      It’s an L frame so S&W put these tiny little rubber boot grips on it. I replaced those with some larger wood grips which made it far easier to shoot while still being concealable. And the wood is slippery on clothing. The smaller rubber grips always want to stick to clothing and cause printing issues. I’ll take the larger wood grips anytime.

      Finally there is the issue of chambering. Five rounds of .44 Special. For years I carried it with CorBon’s high speed loading but then they came out with the 200 grain DPX full copper HP. Five of those in the gun and six more in a speed strip in the pocket and I feel far better armed than any .38 Special.

      I know, I know. S&W discontinued them years ago. And they never sold well in the first place. Doesn’t mean they weren’t great guns!

      Gregg

      S&W M296 Airlight Centennial Revolver

    3. The list is to be expected – lighweight and midbore.

      I train a lot of shooters on the revolver, and the drive for the J-frame sze is strong UNTIL I make them shoot these super lightweight guns.

      They are unpleasant to shoot, and are challenging to sight. It is absolutly true that they can be excellent defensive tools, but you must PRACTICE with a snub gun, and the recoil and generally uncomfortable handling characteristics mean most people do not.

      This means that most snub gun shooters miss. A lot.

      Case in point – Several years ago I was instructng a 70 plus grandmother. She had a CHL and had been carrying a 642 for a year or so. On the range, she missed a B-27 at 5 yards with a cylinder-full of range ammo.

      Why? She closed her eyes.

      She later confessed the gun “hurt” to shoot. She had the Airweight because her husband and son both told her that was the gun to carry.

      I had her try a round butt, STEEL-frame, 3″ barreled Model 10. What a surprise, she killed the B-27, had an additional round and was surprised at the reduced recoil. Such a gun isnt tiny, but it still fits in a purse.

      Of the recommended wheelguns, the SP101 is the way to go. Most shooters would be better served by something like that, or even a Colt Detective Special ( steel frame and no longer produced but readiy available ), than the tiny Un-Obtainium guns chosen for light weight. This is simple physics.

      With a gun that is not so unpleasant to shoot, the less experienced shooter might practice with it enough to be able to defend herself wih it.

      I think instructors commit malpractice when they push super lightweight guns on the un-suspecting novice.

      Regards

      GKT

    4. They are all good pistols however some people cant afford a good pistol . I myself was once there , in a pinch a pistol with a frame made out of pot metal well get the deed done . I own a few high end semi auto,s now you all may laugh at me but the gun i carry 90% of the time is a Russian Makarov 9X18 that i got at a gun show for $110.00 new around 18 wears ago , i put the barrel in the watch pocket of my jeans and the grip under my belt and can wear a tee shirt and ride my motorcycle and no one can see it . I live it Texas and it is to hot to wear all the holsters and clothing to cover the gun . FYI i have run over 500 rounds through it with no jam up’s but it well jam on the 2nd or 3rd shot with hollow points it works best with cheap Russian ammo FMJ

      Russian Makarov 9X18

    5. I carried my Colt Detective Special .38 as a back up for 25 years as a Deputy Sheriff in the SF Bay area, Now retired I carry it as my concealed carry,loaded with.38+p.

      I have total confidence in the little guy and dont leave home without it.

      Colt Detective Special .38

    6. I wish you guys would start mentioning the 10mm Auto round. It is superior to the. 40 & .45 and if more demand was placed on the market the rounds would be cheaper.

      My G29 Clock is a 10mm and also handles .40 rounds flawlessly. I wouldn’t trade it for anything and I would put it up against any intruder or animal in time of need.

      G29 Clock

    7. WELL, the title of the article is best concealed carry REVOLVERS. While I suppose the autoloaders listed by the non-readers/non-comprehenders are decent enough weapons, they just don’t belong in a write up about REVOLVERS.

    8. The Judge? Really? That gun is a gimmick, plain and simple. 410 is a crappy self defense round, and you can get a more concealable gun that shoots 45colt. Unless you are hunting snakes, it’s all gimmick.

    9. I have a 357 mag, .38sp+p but only as backup.

      A crook once told me about HK’s. He’s a thief and a little nutcase but I got myself an HK45C anyhow.
      That’s my carry. Mostly. You gotta shoot the others too or they get lonely! :)

    10. Pingback: Ruger SP101 Good Choice for Concealed Carry Revolver | Freedom and Guns
    11. Good article – except I agree more with the poster who says those guns are TOO LIGHT for most people (i.e., people who do not practice every week). The 4″ bbl S&W Model 10 is an EXCELLENT choice, as is the Ruger GP100 or Security Six.

    12. The Ruger SP-101 is the strongest revolver on the list, but if you get the 3.06″ barrel, instead of the 2.25″ barrel, that extra inch can increase velocity up to 300f.p.s. on some factory loads, and you can even shoot the 180 and 200gr. rounds through it and use it for “woods carry”, along with the fact that you can always shoot the more mild .38 special rounds.

    13. I just recently got my carry permit. At the time I applied for it My only gun I owned was Colt Trooper MKIII with 4 inch barrel it is basically a family heirloom start as my papaws gun in 1976 then before he passed away he gave it to my father. Then about year ago he passed it on to me. So We would go to shooting ranges alot. I new the Colt was built like a tank. I have no Idea how many rounds has been shot with it but it still shoots as if it was brand new has never had single problem. When I got my permit I thought long and hard but decided to keep the Colt at home in safe not in fear it would let me down I just thought I would like to give it to my kid one day. Since I was used to 357 Magnums & Colt doesnt make them anymore which is a real shame. I did some research & decided to go with Ruger GP100 357 with the 3inch barrel. I didn’t want to go with snubnose & thought 3 inch would be easier to conceal than 4 inch Ruger. In my opinion I think I made right choice. It great shooting gun & is very easily concealable. It can be worn in many different ways & no one can tell its there. Even the people who knows I carry always ask do you have it on you now cause you can’t tell. That’s just my 2 cents on the subject and people just have to find what’s best for them cause everyone is different. Opinions are like but holes everyone has one.

    14. I HAVE THE RUGER LCR .38+p. It’s. Something I had to get use to taking it to the range on a weekly basis. It’s. A light weight gun and as others said its not as easy to hit the mark. It can be a bit snappy on the recoil for the beginner like myself when I first got it about a year ago. Now I’m so use to it. It’s my everyday carry. It’s. Easy to carry and has just enough pounch to do the job. And around $600 new it’s not going to brake the bank. The ammo is not to bad price at around $1.75 to $2.00 a round for some mid self-defense hollow points. Another thing to think about when buying a gun is the ammo. How hard is it going to be to find it? And how much is it going to cost per round? Unlike the 9mm rounds that is like finding free oil and at $3 + a round. I Can find the 38+p about anywhere!

    15. I totally agree with Doug, who mentioned the Glock 29 in 10mm. It is an extremely underrated pistol and round. I also have an after market drop in barrel so the Glock 29 can also fire the .40 cal. One gun but two different cartridges is a big plus. Much like the .357 that can fire the .38 special.

    16. My favorite wheelgun for all-season carry is a S&W Model 649 stainless Bodyguard. The “humpback” profile is not as popular as the 640/642 Centennial but it does allow single-action shooting if you ever need it. At 23 oz it’s not a lightweight and that steel mass helps considerably when using .357 ammo.

      I’ll join others in saying “The Judge” — or any 410/.45 combo — is not a good choice. Even with the .45 round, with the size of those guns you’d be better off carrying a 6-shot K-frame S&W or Ruger.

    17. I have to agree that the Ruger SP101 is a very good gun, especially for those who cannot rack the slides on an auto. I prefer to carry a 9mm, because I have a bad shoulder injury. I had to move away from larger calibers. Right now I carry a Taurus PT111 Millennium Pro Gen 2, the newest version of that series, for everyday use. The 12 + 1 capacity is not too bad to have with you. It has eaten every round I have fed it without a problem and has shown itself to be accurate enough for its intended role. Because of my shoulder injuries, I have to use a belt holster. I cannot reach as far back as I use to be able to do. I had to adjust because of it. I wear my shirt untucked to cover it.
      Sometimes I have to tuck my shirt in. If I do, I either carry my S&W Shield, an excellent pistol, or my Ruger LC9 in my front pocket.

    18. I have a pair of S&W Model 13 3″ HB round butt .357s, a S&W Model 66 2 1/2″ .357, and a Model 60 .38 Special. All serve their purpose, and if I’m not carrying my Colt 1911A1 Compact, I’ll carry one (or more) of the above wheel guns. All are great shooters, and pack enough punch for any reasonably anticipated threat. Throw in a couple of HKS speedloaders, and you’re good to go.

    19. Somewhere in my head I’ve always had a little more confidence in a revolver than a semi-auto. I still enjoy shooting my S&W .357,but I carry my Colt New Agent .45ACP everyday !

    20. Love my 8-3/8 Raging bull for carry in Alaska . Good thing no permit concealed , open carry and we don’t have stoopid unconstitutional imprint laws. 250 grain HP at 1500fps normally I shoot at 40 yards open sights . Shoulder holster for the grab. Colt Anaconda 8 inch would be 2nd choice.
      Alaska being what it is , we woods carry, fishing gun , city carry , backup when main firearm fails.
      So one can say to the wife but I require big firearm for woods , a water resistant finish one , plus one small but packing a punch . Of course you blame her for having to buy the 357 LCR to your friends and are breaking it in.
      $3k later got all the pistols you wanted , all the ammo and reloading equipment because its cheaper to reload and both are happy because you bought her a little .357 she loves to shoot.

    21. For ccw/up close and personal, I’ll take a Charter Arms Bulldog .44 over all of ‘em every day of the week. Why? .44 caliber holes with less blast and flash. Light weight, compact revolver.

    22. Charter 44Spl 3″ ! I had one of those for a long time. Sold it to a relative for what a good holster costs today.But, I had a S&W M60 .38 for waking hours. I Like autos, and a reliable .45 ACP with Lots of mags is what I’d want at hand if I knew trouble was coming, (still have such) but, I retired it when I did, I picked an SP101 .357 to replace it. No regrets. I’ve read many opinions that such pieces are only for those willing to put in time practicing with it. No argument. Keep your eyes open, and be ready to shift focus to your sights.

    23. The Ruger LCR 38 +P has the best DAO trigger I’ve ever pulled, and I shoot the COR-BON POW’R Ball 100gr. or COR-BON JHP 125gr.

      One day, I’d like to it with Buffalo Bore 158gr .38 Semi-WadCutters +P in a soft nose hollow-point. I heard they are like low-power .357’s.

      Ruger LCR-LG 38 Spl+P Revolver with Crimson Trace Lasergrips

    24. I carried a 1911 for many years and switched over to a .41 mag. Best move I ever made. For a back-up piece, I carried an AMT “Back-up” semi-auto in .45 acp cal.
      I live and breath by the saying, “You can never have too much gun when your life is at stake.”

    25. I carry for 44 years now. We all started with revolvers back in the 70’s because that’s all there were, unless you wanted to lug around a 2 1/2 lb gun, like a Govt model 45.
      Now they are a poor choice, a single stack 9mm is the only way to go for any defensive carry. Unless you can shoot a 45 well, then pick up an XDS. The 357 is an amazing penetration round, but not for new shooters, or the unskilled. It will go through 3 people and the wall, if you miss your target.
      You also won’t get a follow up shot, unless you are a revolver person, the kick will knock you so far off target, it will get you killed.

    26. I alternate between my Ruger SP101 (.357mag) and my S&W Bodyguard (.38 Spec)for my carry piece but sometimes I use my SigSaur 938 (9mm)
      but all three are good concealed carry firearms.

    27. N frame S&W model 24 in 44 spec. 3″ barrel with Hornady Critical Defense. Live in Minnesota, people are not the only threat.

    28. No matter WHAT you carry, you must practice with it regularly! A great shot with a 22 WMR is much better than a poor shot with a .357,9mm,10mm,.44 or a hand grenade. IMHO only. Try this; put a 6 inch “shoot n see” Birchwood -Casey target on a regular sheet target, place it at 20 feet, and practice until you keep your rounds within the 6 inch bulls eye. If you can do that firing 1 to 2 rounds per second, you’ll have a good start.

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