Top 5 Revolvers to Own in 2022: Revolvers, wheel guns, old-timer’s guns, call them what you will. But the fact that the market is proliferated with semi-automatic pistols that carry a lot more ammunition than the traditional revolver, the question is often asked,” is the old-fashioned six-gun obsolete”? The answer is yes…and no.
Revolvers still remain popular as backup weapons and off-duty handguns among American law enforcement officers as well as security professionals and are still common in the American private sector as concealed carry defensive, sporting, and hunting weapons.
Ever since Sam Colt patented his first revolver in 1836, his designs have continued to be very popular “God created man, Sam Colt made them equal.” While as a first-line defense weapon for law enforcement and security officials, a revolver puts them at a disadvantage, the revolver still has a place at the table as a concealed carry weapon (CCW), and as a backup.
Their thin profile, ease of use, and reliability make them attractive as well as the ability to carry larger loads makes them a bit more potent than their semi-automatic brethren. They are great for home defense, hunting, as well as concealed carry.
We will take a look at the five best revolvers to own for concealed carry, home defense, and a double dipper for target shooting.
Top 5 Revolvers to Own, Best Overall – Smith & Wesson 686, .357 Magnum:
The S&W 686 is an outstanding overall revolver. It is built around S&W’s beefy L-frame and has been around for more than 40 years. It is a tried and true pistol, however, it is a bit on the heavy side at 39.7 ounces, but with that weight comes less recoil when firing the pistol. It comes standard with a 5-inch barrel and measures 10.25 inches long overall. The company does make it available with a 3-inch or 7-inch barrel.
I’ve never been a fan of S&W’s automatics, but when it comes to revolvers, the company is outstanding and I’ve owned a couple and loved them.
The 686 comes with a 7-round cylinder, so the old Dirty Harry line, “did he fire six shots or only five…I can’t remember in all this excitement…” doesn’t hold here. If an assailant believes you fired six shots (and he isn’t already down), the #7 could be the kicker.
The overall length is 10.25 inches, with a 5-inch barrel, the black and silver grips are nice, but can easily by changed out. The nice thing about this pistol is that for practice you can shoot .38 Special which has less recoil and is cheaper.
Top 5 Revolvers to Own, Best Concealed Carry:
Ruger LCR .38 Special –
The Ruger LCR is a lightweight concealed carry piece in various calibers but for this piece, we’ll list the .38 Special which I’ve fired. The LCR weighs in at just 13.8 ounces. The LCR comes with the hammer encased and is double action only. The LCRx comes with the hammer exposed and is either single or double action.
The weapon comes with a 1.87-inch barrel but a 3-inch barrel is available. The standard grip comes with finger grooves which weren’t comfortable for my hand but were a perfect fit for the owner. The bottom of the frame is polymer while the upper half with the barrel and cylinder is made out of aluminum. The Magnum variant is made from steel.
It is a very nice shooting pistol, albeit at close range. Beyond 7 meters (21 feet) my accuracy dropped off quite a bit. The only drawback is the capacity, as it only carries five rounds.
It was hard to cut out the S&W 642, as it is an IMO a very close second, so we list it here as a definite possibility for a well-concealed carry weapon.
Top 5 Revolvers to Own, Best Home Defense Weapons:
Smith & Wesson 629 .44 Magnum –
The S&W 629 is just the stainless steel version of the iconic S&W model 29, (the Dirty Harry gun). That is basically the only difference. The stainless doesn’t take away from the home defense aspect of the weapon. The .44 Magnum is a big, heavy cartridge that would take down a bear so, taking down an assailant with a .44 is not going to be a problem.
I owned the Model 29 in blued steel and it was a joy to shoot once you got used to the recoil. I took it hunting as a backup weapon and target shooting and shooting at old galvanized fence posts, it would peel them back like Ram’s horns. In a sand pit there was an old Chevy pickup that was stolen and burned. The .44 went through both doors and three sand bags that were piled on the other side.
The 629 I handled had a satin finish which was nice and had a bit of a stiff trigger when using double-action. But the trigger pull on single action was sweet. The first few rounds I put down range were .44 Specials and it was like shooting a .38 Special out of a .357 Magnum.
It comes with a 6.5 inch barrel, and is heavy weighing in at a hefty 51 ounces, which is welcome when you put a couple of hundred rounds on target. The recoil is very manageable, much more so than one would imagine. The overall length is 11.6 inches, which doesn’t lend itself easily to carrying it concealed, but it is a great pistol and a load of fun to shoot.
Colt Python .357 Magnum –
The Colt Python remains one of the most iconic pistols ever made. It was first introduced in the mid-50s and was stout, strong, and made from steel by hand, which was a great feature of a tremendous pistol. But a pistol made of steel and wood is heavy but came in handy when it came to recoil.
The Python came with a man-stopping .357 Magnum cylinder that held six rounds and came standard with a 6-inch barrel which was perfect, although consumers could order a two, three, four, and eight-inch barrel if they so chose. The balance of the 6-inch barrel model was the best, the smaller ones were harder to control and I thought the 8-inch was a bit too long.
But the barrel was the most defining and beautiful feature. A full-length ventilated rib ran the length of the barrel, all the way to the muzzle, along with a full cylindrical under plug which led to the front iron sights. It was and still is a gorgeous revolver. And it shoots incredibly well which is why so many law enforcement departments adopted it for use.
Top 5 Revolvers to Own, Best Target Shooting Revolver:
Colt Python .357 Magnum –
The Python double dips here as a great target pistol as well. Why? Because you can burn up a lot of more inexpensive .38 Special ammunition. And firing .38 Special out of the stainless Python is sweet when plinking away. And all eyes will be locked on that pistol when you are at the range.
Colt stopped production of the iconic Python in 2005. Probably because producing hand-made weapons has to be time-consuming and expensive. But at Shot Show in 2020, Colt announced that they were bringing back the Python, and reports on how well the new machine-made Pythons shoot was very positive.
Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for more than 10 years and his work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.