Revolvers have a special appeal to them. They are a tried-and-true design that has proven itself time and again. Shooting them improves your accuracy, makes you part of history, and you often get a lot more firepower than you would get with a semi-automatic. Why is that? Because some of the revolver calibers are just way more powerful.
Also, you get a wider range of ammo. While it is the round and its power that cycles the action in a semi-auto, it is you who does it in a revolver. That means, in an autoloader, you have to stay within the limits of the system, while in a revolver, you can go from super powerful to super low recoil without influencing the reliability of the gun at all.
Then there is the fact that a good revolver is much more accurate to begin with as there are much fewer moving parts and the barrel is fixed. Finally, handling them is intuitive so that even the most inexperienced shooter can easily take care of them.
When you see all of these advantages, you might want to get into the revolver game if you have not been convinced already. However, there is a small problem. Revolvers can be pricey. Not everyone can afford to cash out that much money. For that reason, we have a list here with revolvers that are affordable, reliable, accurate, and of good build quality.
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The Taurus 605 comes chambered in .357 Magnum, and it gives you a ton of options. You can have it in matte black, stainless steel, with a 2-inch or 3-inch barrel, with wooden or rubber grips, with an external hammer or with a shrouded hammer. Yeah, there is even an optics ready variant available.
In matte black with the 2-inch barrel and with rubber grips as well as with the external hammer, the MSRP is $419. In this configuration or with the shrouded hammer, it is the ideal concealed carry piece. While the .357 Magnum allows for a capacity of only 5 rounds, it still offers you a lot of firepower. That is owed to the fact that the .357 Magnum is a powerful round. In fact, as testing has shown time and again that it easily can hold its own compared to a 9mm shot from a pistol caliber carbine with a 16-inch barrel while the .357 Magnum was fired from a 2-inch concealed carry revolver. In short, from the point of power, you get a carbine that you can fit into your pocket.
The Taurus 605 is extremely durable and easy to grip. That makes it still controllable when shooting such a powerful round. With its swing out cylinder using a speed loader, it is fast to reload, and it can be fired relatively fast. This is especially true when shooting .38 Special rounds through it that can be used thanks to its .357 chambering.
9. Rock Island Armory Model 200
If you are looking for a revolver that does not have to be super concealable but should rather be super affordable, the Rock Island Armory Model 200 is a great option. For an MSRP of $249, you get a wheelgun with a barrel length of 4 inches that is chambered in .38 Special. You can still carry it concealed with some effort, and the longer barrel gives the .38 Special round some extra performance.
The cylinder has a capacity of 6 rounds. The overall length is 8.75 inches and the weight is 28.16 ounces. The external hammer allows for single action shooting if you wish, and aiming is easy thanks to the fixed ramp front and the wide fixed rear notch sight.
The Heritage Rough Rider can be had for an MSRP of $169.99 for the .22LR only version. If you want a little bit more punch, you can choose the .22LR and .22WMR combo with an extra cylinder. In both versions, you get a revolver with the true look of a cowboy gun. It is a single-action design, meaning that you have to cock the hammer manually in order to shoot, and that you have no swing-out cylinder. Instead, you load it through a loading gate one round at a time, like you have seen it in the cowboy movies.
The capacity is 6 rounds. If you stay with .22LR, ammo is cheap, easy to come by, and plenty. So, you have a super range toy. If you go for the .22WMR combo, you might have to pay more for the stronger ammo, but you also have something for some serious work.
The revolver sports a good-looking blue finish and a cocobolo wood grip. The single-action trigger is just great and makes this light revolver easy to shoot. You aim with blade and notch sight, and being a true single action, it is a really durable gun.
The Smith & Wesson 642 is an upgrade of the Model 42 Centennial Airweight with new time tested features. For that, it comes with a lightweight alloy frame for easy carry with an empty weight of 14.6 ounces. It features a stainless-steel barrel and a stainless-steel cylinder. To ensure a snag-free draw, the hammer is enclosed.
The cylinder holds 5 rounds. The barrel length is 1.88 inches with an overall length of 6.31 inches. You get a lot of aftermarket support for this gun, and it is a great choice for concealed carry or as a backup gun even today.
6. Rock Island Armory Model 206
The Rock Island Armory Model 206 combines affordability with concealability and firepower. Let`s get to it step by step. The affordability is owed to the MSRP of just $259. The concealability comes from its 2-inch barrel and the overall compact design. The firepower is owed to the capacity. Albeit being chambered for .38 Special, it does come with 6 rounds in the cylinder giving you an extra round compared to other snub-nose revolvers.
The overall length is just 6.75 inches, and the weight is 25.4 ounces. Being an all-steel design, it sports a parkerized finish as well as checkered wood grips. Aiming is done with a fixed blade front sight and a fixed rear notch sight.
The .327 Federal Magnum is a nifty little cartridge that was developed to mimic the performance of the mighty .357 Magnum while at the same time being a smaller round that allows for an increase in capacity. While not as popular as the good old .357 Magnum, the .327 Federal Magnum has accomplished its goal for the most part. With lighter and medium .357 loads, the .327 Federal Magnum can easily compete. Only hot loads in .357 Magnum are able to outshine it.
The .327 Federal Magnum itself is actually the magnum of a magnum, in this case the .32 H&R Magnum. That does not only make it stronger, it also means that the Taurus 327 can chamber it as well and more. It can shoot .327 Federal Magnum, .32 H&R Magnum, and .32 S&W. That helps finding ammo during a shortage.
As the .327 Federal Magnum is a round with a smaller diameter, the Taurus 327 chambers 6 of them in the cylinder where you normally can pack only 5 rounds of .357 Magnum. That gets you an increase of 20%, and all of that for an MSRP of just $389.99.
The revolver is available with a 2- or 3-inch barrel. The shorter barrel makes it a great carry gun as it is very compact while the longer barrel makes it a good allrounder. You can still carry it concealed while it is also great for home defense. Capacity wise, you stand on the same level as many micro-compact guns with 6 rounds in the magazine, but firepower wise, you easily outdo their .380 ACP or 9mm rounds.
The Taurus 327 can be had in matte black or in stainless steel. Aiming is done with a front serrated ramp sight and a no snag rear sight channel which allows for a quick and clear target acquisition. The front sight is removable so you can swap it out for something more to your liking if necessary. The overall length is 6.55 inches for the short-barrel version, and the unloaded weight is 22 ounces.
The Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard is chambered in .38 Special +P. It is known for its excellent reliability and is easy to carry concealed thanks to its compact and ergonomic design. The trigger pull is very light making it an ideal self-defense revolver. Thanks to its popularity, there is a ton of aftermarket support available for it.
The downside is that it has a capacity of only 5 rounds. However, this helps keeping the size and weight down. With a barrel length of 1.875 inches, the overall length is just 6.6 inches with a weight of 14.2 ounces.
Sporting a black ramp front sight and integral rear sight, it gets you great accuracy. If you want, you can use aftermarket Truglo Tritium Pro sights or similar options. Without an external hammer, the draw is snag free. The grip is made from polymer, and especially interesting is the ambidextrous cylinder release that sits on top behind the cylinder where you normally would expect the hammer spur.
Being a Colt revolver, you might expect the Cobra in .38 Special to be anything but affordable, however, its MSRP is $699. It comes with a 2-inch barrel that makes it great for concealed carry. It has a double action trigger, and it features rubber wrapped grip that allows for a better recoil management.
Its special selling point is capacity. While typically snub nose revolvers have only 5 rounds in the cylinder when chambered in .38 Special, the Colt Cobra comes with 6. While the cartridge is not a .357 Magnum or .327 Federal Magnum, it is still a great self-defense tool that has proven itself repeatedly in history. On the upside, it also makes for a softer recoil when shooting.
You aim with a fiber optic front sight and a frame trench rear sight. The overall length is 7.25 inches with a weight of 25 ounces.
Chambered in .38 Special +P, the Smith & Wesson 637 comes with a capacity of 5 rounds. It is a very compact revolver with an overall length of 6.31 inches and a barrel length of 1.88 inches. It features an external hammer allowing for more accurate single action shots. With a weight of 14.5 ounces, it is very light and comfortable to carry.
The frame is made from a lightweight aluminum alloy, and the barrel and cylinder are made from stainless steel. The integral sights allow for a quick acquisition of a clear sight picture and good accuracy at self-defense distances. This beauty can be had for an MSRP of $539.
The Ruger LCR in .38 Special +P might be seen as not technically an affordable gun as its MSRP begins at $739. However, do not forget that the MSRP is not the retail price that you are going to pay. Those prices are often 10% or more below the MSRP, so we are still staying in the range of less than $700.
The Ruger LCR has a lot going for it. First and foremost, it is an excellent value for the money as it is a super reliable gun that is easy to shoot, and once bought, it can stay with you as your self-defense tool for the rest of your life. You can even get quite some aftermarket customizations for it which is not that common in the revolver world.
To make this gun even better, it comes without an external hammer to make it more suitable for concealed carry. Without that hammer spur, you get a snag-free draw. The grip is comfortable to hold and allows for a very good control during shooting which is also owed to the .38 Special which is even in +P not too much to handle.
Finally, this revolver is super light. This is actually its main selling point. With its low weight and its small size, it is easy to conceal and comfortably to carry all day long. The barrel length is just 1.87 inches what cost you some performance, but nowadays, .38 Special is made for such short barrels.
To be honest, so many upsides also come with a downside. This revolver has a capacity of only 5 rounds in .38 Special. However, there is something you can do about it. In fact, the Ruger LCR is available in many variants. Those include different chamberings, like .357 Magnum, .327 Federal Magnum, .22LR and even in 9mm. Prices differ for all of them, but when it comes to capacity, in .22LR, you get 8 rounds, but be careful. This cartridge is not recommended for self-defense. In .327 Federal Magnum, itself a quite powerful round with a very good terminal performance, the capacity is 6 rounds in the cylinder. For .357 Magnum and 9mm, you get again just 5 rounds.
Speaking of different variants, there are also versions with an external hammer as the LCRx. Those include models with a 3-inch barrel, and a further caliber, namely the .22WMR.
There you have it guys, some great and affordable revolvers that are ideal for self-defense. If you own one of them or have just shot one, let us know in the comments and tell about your experience with it.