Five Best Concealed Carry Revolvers

Author Tred Law
Gun writer, Tred Law lists his picks of the five best concealed carry revolvers for everyday carry & self defense.

Five Best Concealed Carry Revolvers
When drawing a Concealed Carry Revolver you likely want one of theses five best CCW Revolvers.
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

Manasquan, NJ –-( 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.

As a firearms instructor I am asked all the time by my students, “What is the best concealed carry revolvers?”

My top five picks for the best concealed carry revolvers for reliable self defense include the five following wheelguns:

  • Ruger SP101 357 Mag, 2.25″ Revolver
  • Smith & Wesson 642 Handgun 38 Special Revolver
  • Ruger LCR-LG 38 Spl+P Revolver with Crimson Trace Lasergrips
  • S&W M&P 340 Revolver
  • Taurus Judge Public Defender Polymer Revolver

Ruger SP101 357 Mag, 2.25″ Revolver:

Ruger SP101 357 Mag, 2.25" Revolver
Ruger SP101 357 Mag, 2.25″ Revolver

The Ruger SP101 357 Mag, 2.25″ Revolver fitted with the Crimson Trace LG-111 Defender Series Lasergrips are designed to put the shooter on target quickly and accurately. The Ruger SP101 has a spurless hammer for a 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 Handgun 38 Special Revolver:

Smith & Wesson 642 Handgun 38 Special Revolver
Smith & Wesson 642 Handgun 38 Special Revolver

The Smith & Wesson 642 Handgun 38 Special Revolver is a lightweight alloy 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.

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 caveat. A .38 Special in +P can be had in ballistics close to a slow .357 Magnum. Make that two caveats, 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 caveat, 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 Revolver .357 with Crimson Trace Lasergrips:

Ruger LCR Revolver .357 with Crimson Trace Lasergrips
Ruger LCR Revolver .357 with Crimson Trace Lasergrips

When Ruger designed the groundbreaking polymer-framed Ruger LCR Revolver in .357, it did so with the intention of Crimson Trace Lasergrips compatibility and availability right out of the gates. The addition of the Lasergrips greatly enhances the defensive capability of the lightweight LCR revolver 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 self defense investment you can make.

S&W M&P 340 Revolver:

Best Concealed Carry Revolvers
S&W M&P 340 Revolver

The S&W M&P 340 Revolver is a 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 a good carry choice
Taurus Judge Public Defender Polymer Revolver

Last but not least, on our list of the best concealed carry revolvers, check out the revolutionary new Taurus Judge Public Defender Polymer Revolver. 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)


Concealed Carry Revolvers Capacity / Price Comparison Chart:

Ruger SP101 357 Mag 2.25″ Revolver5 ShotMSRP $719.00
Smith & Wesson 642 Handgun 38 Special Revolver5 ShotMSRP $469.00
Ruger LCR Revolver .357 with Crimson Trace Lasergrips5 ShotMSRP $649.99
S&W M&P 340 Revolver5 ShotMSRP $869.00
Taurus Judge Public Defender Polymer Revolver5 ShotMSRP $514.47

Short and sweet huh? These are my top five Go-to-Guns for concealed carry revolvers if you're looking for ultra reliable, easily concealable wheelsguns 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 related article of the Best Handgun For Concealed Carry .

AmmoLand Editor Comments:  This article was updated to reflect changes in product improvements / availability on 07/12/2017.

  • 312 thoughts on “Five Best Concealed Carry Revolvers

    1. If you want over 1,000 ft./sec in your 38 Special with less recoil than your + P load AND a GREAT round for Home Defense, I would suggest the PolyCase ARX round. Once you hit the “Perp”, in even an upper body shot, he/she most likely will be taken to the Morgue, instead of the Hospital !

    2. The recoil of a semi-auto pistol is increased by the slide. A Revolver recoils only from the bullet and powder impulse. An aluminum light weight revolver is easier to carry but will recoil a greater amount with the same ammo.
      38 Special 125 grain JHP short barrel loads do not have excessive recoil but are effective.
      A 357 Magnum will be all steel and thus recoil less when used with 38 Special.
      A proper rubber grip such as Pachmayr or Houge will reduce strain on your joints.

    3. I have a healed rotator cuff, but when I put pressure it does hurt so I need a concealed gun that doesn’t have too much of a kick what do you recommend?

      1. They do make a .9mm in a Revolver now days. I always refrain from suggesting a revolver to people unless you have a lot of Control of keeping your shooting finger completely away from the Trigger. They have no safety’s and I know a lot of people think that it is not necessary to have a Safety but it is until you have absolute finger control. I have been shooting for over 50 years now and still love a safety.. Be Careful in what ever you choose. Safety is always of the utmost.

        1. Trigger finger control is equally important on a revolver or semi-auto rifle or pistol. A double action only revolver will have an 8-12 pound long trigger pull. If you have a conventional single-double action revolver thumb cocking the hammer should be limited to hunting small game. For self-defense learn how to shoot double action. It can be mastered, it is faster and a double action only revolver will keep some ambitious DA from claiming you shot somebody accidentally because you had it cocked “on a hair trigger.”
          You can justify deliberately shooting someone under the Use of Force Laws. But an accident is always legally open for a lawsuit and maybe a charge of recklessness.

      2. Patti, I recommend more research. For example: If you knew someone with lots of different pistols, maybe you could start out by shooting a revolver and a semi auto in .22. Then shoot something in .380. Then shoot something in 9mm or .38 Special.
        But there are lots of other consideration, too. Are you wanting a concealable revolver or concealable semiautomatic? Revolvers seldom jam, and are simple to use, but have few rounds. Semi-autos have lots of rounds, and fast reloads, but if they do jam, you better know what to do.
        Is concealment the most important factor? What is your concealment plan?
        Are you wanting five rounds, six rounds or more than that? Is price important? Is the price of ammunition important?
        If you don’t shoot much, you should go shoot a few different things because people will try to sell you on things that THEY think would be good for you. Gun store clerks will want to sell you the high profit margin stuff. Don’t let them.

          1. @James and Mr Charles, Thank you, thank you very much. Oddly enough, over the years, and contrary to my own advice, I just buy something of everything because they are all fun in their own way! I wonder how things turned out for Patti?

      3. database will sort handguns by recoil ft-lb
        after you rent a few loaners at the gun range to see what feels good
        then find those guns on the recoil list and see what “kicks’ same or less
        keeping an eye out for the largest caliber possible (makes biggest holes)
        you might manage … then make this short list annotated with weight of it to carry.
        Lastly, ref. Lucky Gunner Labs to sort what ammo
        a) makes the biggest hole in “gel” +
        b) penetrates “gel” within FBI standards penetration consistently

        I’m betting you will not select something with ideal power & conceal ability ideal like LCR357 nor Mod.2 45acp
        am betting you will select something like a petite 100# gal might that doesn’t make her “flinch” & miss her targets.
        What such a gal & I found best & most friendly to her one day was Sig380 = P238 ON SALE

      4. Patti if you are open to a Semi Auto look at the Sig P238. It is a .380 Caliber I know some people claim .380 isn’t enough. But I have never seen anyone volunteer to stand in front of one and test their Theory’s. I bought one for my wife in the Rain Bow edition and she loves it. She could not rack the slide on anything else.. She is 77 years old and has Arthritis in her hands. I carry a Kimber Micro .380 as a back up. We have ourselves done extensive testing on the .380 caliber our selves and Winter clothing or not. The Bad Guy will find His self in Big Trouble. Shop placement to the most important thing in self defense you can get shot by a .45 Caliber and still live many have. Shot Placement is key. Practice… Practice…. Practice… and you’ll do fine with what ever you decide.

      5. Patti I have had three shoulder surgeries as a result of several years of powerlifting injuries and I can fire just about any handgun including a 460 S&W revolver ( 18 rounds is my limit as have no problem with that number) but my usual carry is a S&W MP 40 and I have no problem with a hot carry load. While this may be the answer you dislike I would suggest you see a good physical therapist (my daughter is one but that is neither here nor there) and after following their instructions to get increased flexibility start a strength program for your upper body and conditioning programs for your lower body if the strength training for your legs is not to your liking ( your only as good as your weakest link). You don’t need extremely heavy weights but you will probably find yourself challenging yourself if you get a good program and after you see results.
        After 3-4 months start with shooting about 25 of 22 rimfire rounds and work up to about 100 rounds a session in a few weeks. After that do the same with either a 380 or low recoil 9mm.
        I don’t mean to preach but a good exercise routine will probably help more than anything. I don’t know if you take any medication but obviously a good physician would help you there.
        I think you will be surprised how fast you make progress. I am a retired LEO and know three male and two female officers that did this after shoulder surgeries including rotator surgeries and it helped them to get back in the game’
        Best of luck and enjoy the ride.

    4. Like the author, I like the .357 Magnum round. I carry one of three revolvers. I have a Dan Wesson .357 Magnum with a 6.5 inch heavy barrel. That gun is an accurate tack driver. And it is so well balanced it is like shooting a .22, with very little kick. I also have a Smith & Wesson 686 Plus with a 6.5 inch barrel. That gun is also a joy to shoot. Finally I have a Taurus model 66, which is almost identical to the Smith & Wesson. It also is fun to shoot, and very accurate. My son has a Smith & Wesson 686 with a 4-inch Barrel. He loves shooting that as well.

    5. I like the .38 cal. S&W 638. You can see the hammer but it won’t snag coming out of concealment. It can be fired single or double action.

    6. MR. DEF………. Perhaps you should consider some type of MENTAL HEALTH assistance… POWDER BURNS on a perp, YOU NEED HELP and soon because you will L O S E if this is your way of defending yourself……….

    7. You should carry what you can shoot well. When in a dire situation there is seldom enough time to look around and see that the area is clear. If you don’t take the shot, you will die for sure. That’s just part of the risk you assume when you carry a gun for decades years, You do the best you can, usually that means hit what you are aiming at. Having had these things happen, it all goes down so fast that it takes a few days to even recall what happened, Let alone if there was someone a half a street away inline with the shot you needed to take or be killed for sure. You can’t see through walls either, when in a house or apartment, it’s best to bring it outside if possible where you don’t have family roaming around the house while bullets are going off.
      The caliber matters a lot les that where the thing goes. When someone pops out with a gun to shoot you, there isn’t too much recon you can do without getting shot in the process

    8. Why not begin a new defense carry gun shopping research with the ammo?
      Then why take opinions, even those from pros when solid testing can be had?

      Then go looking for a handgun that shoots what you prefer … that fits and is friendly to how you do things? … on Genitron where recoil, capacity, prices, weight and ranking as to conceal ability, power, self-defense, etc. are ranked … all except trigger-pull weight.

      More likely to hit bullseye & carry just in case, less likely to screw up under fire & less likely to keep on shopping, trading and searching for IT while piling money time & ammo into something that has depreciated 50% upon purchase.

      1. Good response for the question Bo. These folks did a lot of testing and they give pictures and numbers to back up their research. The .380 caliber has been maligned by a lot of folks but there are three rounds in their tests that give good results. The next thing for her to consider is a gun that is easy for her to use and be comfortable with in her hand. I personally carry a M and P Bodyguard by Smith and Wesson but it has a little bit of a stiff trigger. It has a factory laser on it and that is something else that she might consider on her carry weapon. All she would have to do is place the dot on her target and pull the trigger. It is very good in low light conditions. She could go with the one that is manually turned on or the trigger pressured model. I don’t think that the recoil would bother her too much in a .380. I have arthritis and it doesn’t bother me. The other consideration is could she physically rack the slide on a semi auto. A lot of women have difficulty with that. My wife has had carpal tunnel surgery and she has a problem with it. There are a couple of breech load semiautos made and I think one of them comes in .32 caliber, which is still very iffy for a stopper. I would like to see some company make on of these in .380 or 9mm. It is very easy to work this type of gun.

        1. The petite that was shopping for something less than her 38spl giving her the flinches ended up with a more friendly to use, fire, rack P238 Sig (NEVER the LCP was a consideration due to operation for her tiny weak hands, and gun store already frowning on 380 as a real PD, so no help moving her to even smaller powered guns w/less recoil)

    9. Try carrying a North American single action, 5 shot 22 Mag.. It fits safely in your pocket and can be hidden In the palm of your hand. The 22 Mag. will drop a 500 lb. Hog like a ton of bricks! It will stop a man easier! All this fluff and flourish about powerful bullets just obfuscates the issue. Carry what is sufficient to easily conceal and get the job done. Stop blithering about ballistics and theories!

      1. This North America SA, 22 Mag is great for concealability, lousy for speedy follow up shots, and inferior gun in a moving scenario beyond hugging distance. This gun is great for close up surprises. For defense against knife attacks, multiple fighters, accurate & quick fire beyond 3 feet…I’ll stick with .38+P or better. Innocent life is too precious to rely on some cheap single action mess when there are better options. Even if one loves 22mag, Ruger has a 9 shot snubby! I would hate for Mr. Lovell to need to reload during a fight. While he was mentioning the potential of .22 mag, he didn’t mention the NA reloads like a cheap Saturday night special from 100 years ago…by pulling a pin out from the cylinder, dropping & reloading cases, then reassembling the gun. LOL!

        1. Mr. Gunn, you must not be to versed in the north American arms mini pistols. The one you speak of is only one model of several that the company produces. Look up the sidewinder on their web site. That one is a five shot revolver of .22lr, and comes with a second cylinder in .22mag. When empty, open cylinder, push star ejector, empty. If you want faster, you can opt for the ranger model that breaks down, and drop your empties in a hurry, and use your speed loader to get back loaded fast. Accurate to 3ft, or a hugs distance you say? At my range I use, I can put all five rounds of my sidewinder in the black at ten yards on a basic NRA qualifying target, and still keep it in the chest area at 40-45ft. Saturday night special you say, far from it, but like anything else, do your research before you parrot things from others that don’t have a clue.

    10. Once again not one word about pass through. I concealed carry is a Smith & Wesson model 360 357 Magnum / 38 Special. I loaded with 38 Special 125 grain jacketed hollow point. For the hundreds of articles on how to shoot and aim and favored guns a fraction if that mention bullet passing through the Target and hitting an unintended Target on the other side. I do like the option of the 357 Magnum I do believe however it is too much bullet for self-defense in a populated area. No one discusses selecting an angle of attack with a firearm to assure bystander safety. The 38 Special plus p can pass through a perpetrator seriously if not mortally injury an innocent bystander. The video and still pictures show defending person drawing against a perpetrator at distance. In fact the one in your article shows a perpetrator with it knife. In many jurisdictions there is a duty to retreat before using deadly force. fortunately I live in Colorado and have protection of make my day. Defending yourself should be taught in a way that you do not expose your concealed carry weapon until the last moment assuring powder Burns on the perpetrators dead body at tactical angles.

      1. This is what I recommend to all my friends. Also, a conceal carry course, enough range time yo correct major fighting mistakes snd a quick draw class.

    11. EAA Windicator, 2″ snub-nose 6rd. $279.00. Handles all .38 loads, plus the .357mag. Works for me.
      Got the 6.5″ barreled Taurus 5 rd which can use the incerts to fire the .9mm rounds, along with .410/.45lc. It’s all preference, carry whatever revolver you like to use, YOUR CHOICE!!!

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