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Why Does Anyone Still Carry Revolvers?



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“If you want a pistol that works every time, get a revolver…they just work!”

That statement is as loaded as my moon clip. Yes, revolvers are reliable, but so is a whole list of semi-auto pistols. And a bunch of those semi-auto pistols have advantages over a classic old-school revolver. So why would anyone even want a small carry revolver?


It can’t get any more simple to use. You point the pistol at the target and pull the trigger and it goes bang. Compared to say a semi-auto, you will need to learn how to load the magazine, load the pistol, work a slide stop, and safety. With a revolver you release the cylinder and drop rounds into the empty spots and move on.


It’s true that very little training is needed to use a revolver. But training is needed to shoot them well. It’s easy to show someone how to pull the trigger, but it takes expertise to show the best methods of gripping a revolver. Furthermore, the trigger pull of the average revolver is measured in the double digits, compared to a 5-8 pound trigger pull of a semi-auto. I have personally witnessed a user with a J-frame sized Smith & Wesson revolver completely miss a human-sized target that was within arm’s reach of the shooter. The shooter just jerked as fast as he could at the 12-pound trigger and did not hit a damn thing. It takes practice to get good with a revolver.

Another con is that even very small revolvers are heavy, and the lighter the weight, the more it costs. Any of the Scandium framed J-frames capable of handling .357 Mag loads are in the ballpark of $1200or more! The alternative is a heavy steel revolver that is like having to tote a boat anchor around all day. The middle road is an aluminum framed revolver that’s not too expensive, and not too heavy to carry.

Super lightweight revolvers are also rather painful to shoot in defensive calibers. A nice semi-auto has a spring to absorb some of the recoil, revolvers do not. The full force of that round going off is being dumped into your hand.

Capacity is usually 5-6 rounds, which seems dismal when compared to a modern sub compact semi auto like a 13-round Hellcat. On the flip side, usually a CCW revolver is not meant to lay down suppressive fire. It’s meant to be a last-ditch option deployed at 7 yards or fewer.

At the gun counter

In the store setting, when customers are looking for a small concealable revolver several names come to mind.

Smith & Wesson is usually first and foremost, since they have the biggest selection. Looking through the catalog can almost be overwhelming, but usually with one question I could narrow the search down. The great thing about S&W is the aftermarket support—almost everything about a S&W revolver can be changed. If the trigger is just a little bit too heavy, there are kits for that. Want fancy wood or rubber grips, or a laser—yep they make them.

Ruger: In my personal opinion the LCR series is fantastic, with some of the better factory trigger pulls. All of their small concealment revolvers are light weight and use fancy manufacturing materials to shave as much weight as possible. My main drawback is with the factory rubber grip, which is chunky when compared to some of the sleeker S&W options. When it comes to personality, they are not very exciting … they only come in black.

For excitement, try Charter Arms; they have a great selection of revolvers that will match any personality, from cheetah to American flag prints. Charter also has some of the best prices and usually beat the other Big, 5 so if budget is your biggest concern they have that make covered. Out of the box, if I am being a gun snob the triggers are on the heavier end, but once used they can become quite nice and the parts wear into each other.

Taurus revolvers have come a long way in the last decade. The funny thing is that Taurus revolvers are based on older S&W designs on which the patents have expired. If you have ever looked inside of a S&W revolver to work on one, you will be right at home digging in the guts of a Taurus. The cool thing about Taurus is that just like S&W they offer some interesting options, if you think 38spl is not your thing. Taurus has versions available in .327 Fed., 9mm, .380 ACP and even .357 Mag.

I am going to lump Colt and Kimber in the same section since I could say the same thing about either. Their current offerings are sophisticated pieces of fine craftsmanship. If you are the type of person who has a collection of fine art or Rolex watches, you will love Colt and Kimber. I sort of joke about it, but there is a part that IS true. Unlike the other companies that have lightweight options for their revolvers, Colt and Kimber took a different approach. They are stainless steel revolvers that are small and heavy. If you want something substantial in your hand then they are your go-to revolvers. I do find that both companies have some of the best factory triggers over the competition.

Personally, I feel that revolvers are a great choice for a concealed-carry weapon.

Having worked on firearms professionally for over 23 years, I have seen some pretty ragged revolvers that had zero maintenance performed on them and they still worked. (Check out a video I posted on You-tube of a rusted and crusty revolver that still worked: while you are there think about subscribing.)

That said, to get the most out of a CCW wheelgun, you’ll need some patience and practice. If that’s not your thing, you can still use a revolver with the most basic of instruction. That’s the best thing about revolvers in general, they are dirt simple to use when compared to a semi-auto pistol. Load it and forget about it. In my opinion a good revolver will still be a fantastic option even in another hundred years.


James the “XDMAN” Mr UnpewFessional Himself.



  1. Randy

    September 25, 2023 at 11:47 am

    An important point for me is ammo selection. I carry a Smith and Wesson Governor in .410/45 Long Colt. My first round is a .410 birdshot followed by 5 rounds of COR-BON 45 LC which will emulate a 44 magnum in performance. I live in the mountains of NW Montana and if I need to deal with a rattlesnake or a bear, I’m covered. Mouse in the shed? Covered. Need to stop a truck? Covered. I call it, “Toolkit in a holster” Now one could use a semi auto in 10mm or 45 ACP and carry one of those Freedom Arms .22’s that fit into a belt buckle, but that’s getting sort of complicated. The revolver fits nicely in a sticky holster in my back pocket as it’s not that heavy and I have a new cross-draw holster coming for an alternative while riding or driving. It’s a hammer. Does the job. Weight is 30 oz. Cost was about $750. Works for me. Tritium sights included.

  2. Jim

    September 25, 2023 at 12:35 pm

    What about us older folks, or weaker Individuals? Finding a pistol that is easy to rack, and comfortable to shoot is very difficult. What are suggestions for that category?

    • GomeznSA

      September 25, 2023 at 7:12 pm

      JIM – I don’t usually make any recommendations – especially sight unseen – but since the second on the list is there I’ll offer a suggestion for you to check out – the Ruger LCRx in .327 Federal magnum. It allows you to use full .327 ammo (think more potent than .38+P loads, .32 H&R Magnum and .32 S&W Long. The x model has an exposed hammer so it can be cocked to allow more precise shot vice the double action trigger pull.
      Full disclosure – I carry one and have no issues with it. Oh and they even make speed loaders for it so reloads are almost as fast as magazine changes. BTW I’m in the older/weaker category 😉

  3. Paul Strickland

    September 25, 2023 at 12:56 pm

    I’ve been carrying a S&W 642 Performance Center Airweight for the last eight years. Why? … no magazines, no safety, no jams, no failures to feed or eject. Lots of great ammo choices in .38 spec. Oh … did I mention it’s an AIRWEIGHT. Nothing against auto, I have several … but my little revolver just works for me and works every time.

    I keep another J-frame, a 638 Airweight Bodyguard as a back-up when I think I might need it. And they’re light enough that I can carry both .. one on my belt and one in my pocket.

  4. vince

    September 25, 2023 at 5:14 pm

    “Scandium framed J-frames capable of handling .357 Mag loads are in the ballpark of $1200or more”
    I own and operate a range here in Texas, the S&W Scandium all all well under $1000 and never more than $1050.

    • Mr. UnPewFessional himself

      September 26, 2023 at 1:04 am

      @vince just for giggles, I looked up at one of the largest Distributors in the US with their warehouse based in TX. And the SW 340pd & 360pd all have map prices of 1099.00 seems like thats “in the ballpark” especially considering prices during the pandemic.

    • Bruce Yacuk

      September 27, 2023 at 5:39 pm

      I carry a S&W PD 340. I did change he grips to ERGO, and they are great! When I bought the revolver at Shoot Straight about 12 years ago, S&W was offering a free trigger job with each purchase, so my wife has an Airweight. Kind of fierce with >357’s, so I went to 38+p. much more controllable. Anyway, they were about $ 700 then.

  5. Bruce Stanton

    September 30, 2023 at 9:42 am

    I started carrying a S&W N frame with a 4″ barrel in .45 ACP. I had surgery on my left hand that took almost ten weeks to heal. I figured I could handle a revolver with one hand and reload it with one hand.

    After ten weeks of carrying the Model 625 I have grown accustomed to the weight. I especially like the reloading with full moon clip reloads.

  6. Jim

    October 6, 2023 at 10:41 pm

    I occasionally carry a Taurus 5 round in .38 special. It is easily concealed and as an up close and personal firearm it is ever bit as good as a S&W Jframe. Yes,the recoil is unpleasant, but if it gets to where I have to use that gun, recoil is the last thing I am going to be concerned about. And yes, I do own an XD 9mm compact, which I also carry. Less recoil, more rounds, but itcomsdowntowhat Feel like carrying at the time.

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