If you’re a handgun lover, you probably fall into one of two camps: you’re either for pistols or for revolvers. Obviously, we’re dealing with apples and oranges when comparing the two, but both gun types share one thing in common: they’re available in concealed carry sizes.
Ever heard the saying “what a pistol can do a wheel gun can do better”? Probably not, as I just invented it! However, the above fake quote aptly summarizes the focus of this article, i.e, the hunt for the best concealed carry revolver on the market. If you ask me, that distinction goes to the Ruger LCR, a lightweight revolver with so much going for it it’s my top pick.
However, there are many other fantastic concealed carry revolvers to choose from, so keep reading for the rundown.
Characteristics of Concealed Carry Revolvers
How do you know you’re looking at a concealed carry revolver when you see one? The first quality you can use to identify one of these firearms is its barrel length, which is typically shorter (roughly four inches or so).
Another revolver characteristic that categorizes it as a concealed carry firearm is its grip. Usually, these weapons have an abbreviated grip and round butt. Also, you can use the gun’s frame to distinguish it from a full-sized revolver, as concealed carry revolvers tend to have smaller frames meant for deep concealment.
Finally, the revolver’s chambering is an excellent indicator of what it’s meant for (i.e. concealed carry). The most common chamber sizes you’ll find on these revolver types are 9mm, .44, and .357 Magnum. Additionally, their chambers hold between five and six rounds as standard.
The 6 Best Concealed Carry Revolvers in 2022
The revolvers below are among the best options available for anyone looking for a concealed carry gun.
1. Ruger LCR 357 Magnum – Best Overall
If you’re looking for a concealed carry revolver that offers excellent concealment, high-quality build, and unrivaled stopping ower in a lightweight frame, you should check out the Ruger LCR .357 Magnum. It’s by far the best concealed carry revolver on this list by a large margin.
This revolver has an overall length of 6.5 inches and weighs 13.5 ounces (unloaded) with the capacity to hold five rounds. It’s one of the tiniest and most lightweight revolvers available. Also, Ruger’s LCP is chambered in .357 Magnum, and features a 1.87-inch stainless steel barrel that offers all the durability you’d expect from a manufacturer of its calibre.
Additionally, LCR revolvers come with factory grips that not only provide a comfortable hold on the weapon but are also upgradable (being peg grips). Thanks to this revolver’s weight, recoil is manageable when you fire it. Moreover, if you use 38 special rounds, you get minimal recoil. As for the firearm’s trigger, you can describe the pull weight as “light”.
I must confess, I’m not a fan of the sights on this revolver. The ramp-styled front sight is too bland, lacking any color or highlighting to provide an accurate sight picture. As such, it relegates this revolver to the close range shooting only, as it’s pretty much impossible to accurately hit anything a considerable distance away.
2. Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard .38 – Runner-Up
The Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard .38 clinches the runner-up spot on this list, thanks to its modern approach to revolver design. Smith Wesson gave its concealed carry revolver an aluminum alloy frame, a polymer grip, and stainless steel cylinder and barrel. The combination of high-quality materials feels amazing to the touch and is literal eye-candy.
If you’re a left-handed shooter, you’ll be pleased to know that the M&P Bodyguard has an ambidextrous cylinder release that makes reloading much easier. Incidentally, the M&P Bodyguard holds five rounds, and shoots +P ammo. On that last point, you don’t have to worry about recoil, as the gun’s grip absorbs the shock very well.
Despite being one of the more compact models on this list, the M&P Bodyguard aims well, thanks to its front and rear sight. They won’t help you hit targets accurately in the distance, but you’re golden for any close-quarters targets. Also, this gun doesn’t have an external hammer, so you don’t have to worry about it snagging on your clothing.
Additionally, the Bodyguard has a nice trigger. This double-action trigger has a long pull, but feels smooth. With constant use, you’ll get used to how it feels. The dimensions on this small gun include a 1.875-inch barrel length, 6.6-inch length, and 14.2 oz empty weight. It’s one of the most portable small frame revolvers and a lightweight gun to boot.
3. Kimber K6S – Lightest .357 Revolver
Kimber is more recognizable for its 1911 pistols than concealed carry revolvers, but the Kimber K6s, which makes my list for being the lightest .357 revolver, seems set to change that perception.
With a light weight of 23 ounces, and dimensions that include a 2-inch long barrel, 6.62 length overall, and 4.46-inch height, Kimber’s revolver is made for concealed carry. This stainless steel frame revolver holds 5 rounds, and has one of the slimmest cylinder widths of any gun in its category (1.93 inches in diameter).
Additionally, the revolver’s rubber grips are comfortable, and, despite having a 10-pound pull weight, its trigger helps to make shooting a breeze. And it can shoot .38 special rounds without issues.
The K6S comes with three-dot sights (all black) that do a decent job of providing a clear sight picture to your target. Of course, as is customary with most concealed carry, it’sbest to manage expectations regarding how far you can accurately hit a target. This revolver is a strictly close quarters shooter, and doesn’t try to be anything else.
4. Colt King Cobra Carry – Best Aesthetics
The Colt King Cobra Carry is a 7-inch long (overall length) double-action revolver that weighs 26 oz and fires .357 Magnum rounds from its 2-inch barrel. Its cylinder (which holds six rounds) features a matte stainless steel finish. It makes my list as the concealed carry revolver with the best build quality.
What makes this gun’s build quality stand out? The gun has a Hogue molded grip with finger grips that make it a joy to hold no matter your hand size. Moreover, the grip has some stipling that gives you a firmer hold, and also helps to tame recoil when you fire the gun.
Additionally, Colt’s firearm has a durable stainless steel frame that can withstand weathering from environmental factors. And the trigger on this single-action revolver has a smooth pull, despite being somewhat thin.
The Cobra Carry has an external hammer, so, unlike the other guns on this list, there may be a danger of it snagging on your clothes when drawn from its holster. Also, its sights aren’t anything to write home about. Given the gun’s size, abysmal sights can be forgiven. But this isn’t a gun you take to the range for target practice.
5. Taurus 85 – Best Budget Revolver
The Taurus 85 makes my list of best concealed carry revolve for being the most budget-friendly firearm in its category. This stainless-steel-framed revolver has a 2-inch long barrel, 6.5-inch overall length, and a 22.2 ounce unloaded weight, making it a highly-concealable weapon that caters to modest budgets.
Taurus manufactured the 85 with a +P designation, which means it can fire hotter rounds like the .38 special without significant wear and tear over time. Moreover, its all stainless steel build gives it durability and a nice expensive-looking sheen. You can almost forget you got this revolver for a steal when looking at it.
I found handling the Taurus to be comfortable. I attribute the comfort to its rubber grips (polymer), which help stabilize recoil and muzzle flip when firing rounds. On a related note, the Taursus 85 holds 5 rounds, which is the kind of capacity you can expect from a revolver in its weight class and at its price point.
Small guns, whether semi-automatic or revolver, tend to leave much to be desired in the sights department. Unfortunately, the Taurus 85 continues that trend, as its front sights are pretty underwhelming. Also, while this revolver has a smooth trigger pull, it can feel a bit long, and you can expect some stacking.
6. Smith & Wesson 642 – Most Comfortable Grip
Smith and Wesson puts in another appearance on my list with the Smith and Wesson 642, a J-Frame revolver with the most comfortable grip on this list. But first, let’s talk specs: the 642 has an overall length of 6.31 inches and a 1.875-inch barrel that’s among the shortest on revolvers its size. Additionally, it offers a 5-round cylinder capacity.
This Smith Wesson revolver features an enclosed hammer that restricts shooters to double-action shooting, which, I think, is appropriate for concealed carry revolvers. Moreover, the lack of hammer spur provides a snag-free draw, an essential feature every concealed carry revolver should have if marketed as useful for daily carry.
The shrouded hammer aside, shooting this small frame revolver feels very nice, thanks to the grip comfort, which makes the revolver fit snugly in hands big and small. Also, it has a heavy trigger that feels nice when pulled. And felt recoil and muzzle flip aren’t too oppressive when you fire this revolver.
As with almost every revolver on this list, the 642 doesn’t have good sights for distance shooting. They’re just too small to give anything resembling a clear sight picture. But given its purpose (concealed carry), this con is a minor gripe on my part.
Why Get a Concealed Carry Revolver?
There are several reasons why a revolver may be excellent for your concealed carry needs, and make a better choice than its semi-automatic counterpart. They include:
Revolvers don’t have all the bells and whistles you’ll find on semi-automatic weapons, making them an excellent choice for anyone who wants to get to the good stuff as soon as possible (i.e. shooting). You don’t have to deal with pistol components like safeties, magazines, slides, and the issues that come with them. Just draw, aim, and shoot.
Also, revolvers are far more technically sound than semi-automatic pistols. Once again, their simplicity comes into play in that they don’t have as many components that can fail.
On the other hand, semi-automatic handguns are set up in such a way that they’re more susceptible to issues. For example, since semi-automatics rely on magazines for holding and feeding ammo to the guns’ chambers, said components can fail.
Easier to Take Down
Finally, revolvers are easier to take apart for maintenance. The main theme of this section seems to be “less is more”, and since revolvers aren’t as component heavy, you don’t have as many moving parts to deal with when maintaining the gun.
Nicer and Sturdier Aesthetics
Unlike modern pistols that usually sport a polymer frame, most revolvers have either aluminum or stainless steel frames. Not only do they look nicer from an aesthetics stand point, but they’re also much more sturdy. For example, you won’t have to worry about damaged components if you drop it, nor will you replace parts as frequently.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Concealed Carry Revolver
When choosing a concealed carry revolver, there are several factors you’ll need to consider to make an informed purchase. They are as follows:
Size and Weight
If you’re going to use the phrase “concealed carry” when describing a revolver, it goes without saying that the gun should be appropriately-sized and weighted. It’s non-negotiable that the gun should be small enough to carry on your person without printing and giving away the goose (that you’re armed).
Also, lightweight concealed carry revolvers shouldn’t make you feel like you’re walking around with extra weight, the way full-sized revolvers and semi-automatic pistols tend. So it should offer portability, even if the gun’s frame and components are predominantly metal.
A revolver’s barrel length can determine whether it’ll be a good choice to carry for self-defense purposes. Barrel lengths are important because they help with sighting and aiming at targets, and can affect accuracy. So if a revolver has a long barrel, the likelihood of you hitting your target increases. The trade off for a longer barrel is it makes the gun harder to conceal.
On the other hand, a shorter barrel length makes the revolver less accurate but easier to conceal. Therefore, these revolvers are best used for short-range shooting, as they lose accuracy the further away they are from their target. To make the best choice, I’d say aim for a concealed carry revolver that’s somewhere in the middle.
Caliber determines how much stopping power your concealed carry weapon will have. After all, it refers to the size of the revolver’s bullets. Usually, revolver calibers range between 9 and 44, though there are other calibers like .38 special and .357 Magnum.
I highly recommend .357 Magnum revolvers, as they offer many advantages like higher power and a manageable felt recoil and muzzle flip.
Semi-automatic weapons and wheel guns don’t have too much in common, and one distinction that stands out among their many opposite characteristics is their reliability. With the former gun type, jamming and feeding issues are a common occurrence, whereas the latter type rarely face such issues.
Therefore, the real test of a revolver’s reliability lies in its manufacturer’s reputation. You can always expect high-quality products from certain revolver makers, so it’s a good idea to prioritize their products when shopping for a concealed carry revolver.
Lastly, you should consider getting a concealed carry revolver only after determining it’s a good fit, and experiencing the gun firsthand is the only way to arrive at this conclusion. Ensure you hold the revolver to learn how it feels in your hand, how much of a good grip it offers for your hand size, etc.
Also, if possible, it’s a good idea to fire the weapon to get a sense for its trigger pull weight, felt recoil, and how long it takes to reload an empty chamber. Once you’ve gathered all this information, it should be easier to decide whether a revolver is the right fit for your lifestyle and concealed carry needs.
Finally, when choosing a concealed carry revolver, ensure you get something reasonbably-priced. There are a lot of quality firearms that don’t cost an arm and a leg. Also, given these guns are better as a backup firearm and not great at hitting long distance targets, paying huge amounts should be reserved for only the most avid firearm enthusiasts.
With the round up above, you should be able to choose the best revolver for your concealed carry needs. Once again, I highly recommend checking out the Ruger LCR 357 Magnum. That revolver ticks all the relevant boxes in terms of fit, reliability, caliber, size, and weight, offering the best in concealment among guns in its category.