Today, we are gonna talk about revolvers. As this is a fairly wide topic, we need to limit its scope and just discuss law enforcement revolvers, and not just all but the best of them.
It is possible to go at it from different perspectives. You can focus on trend setters, revolvers with the highest production numbers or longest production runs, but this would leave us with an unsatisfactory impression. It is better to look at the guns themselves, their durability, longevity, and how well they were received by the officers who had to trust their lives with them.
The Colt Python is the true Cadillac of guns. It shines with a smooth action and superb accuracy, and many suspect that this is no coincidence as it is thought that Colt designed the Python for bullseye pistol matches. In those days, they were ruled by revolvers.
Compared to the Smith & Wesson Model 19, the Python comes with a frame that is a little bit larger. That made it possible to use the .357 Magnum round with great accuracy. This made it also a little bit pricier. Then, a Model 19 could be had for $80, while a Python would cost $125. Nevertheless, anyone knowing anything about quality handgun, would invest the difference and go home with a really smooth shooter.
The Colt SAA (Single Action Army) has been around since 1873 and is still popular today, even if it is neither carried by law enforcement anymore no generally considered are go to gun. However, it served law enforcement for around 75 years, and that is no coincidence. It is robust, easy to handle and deadly accurate.
The Colt SAA came in more than 30 different calibers, so that you get plenty of choices if you decide today to get one. Its simple single action makes it absolutely reliable, and it is an iconic handgun of the Wild West. When you watch an old western movie, even if it is set long before the Colt SAA was developed, you can see this gun. This gun so far that many people believe that this was the only handgun to be found in these days. In reality, it might not have been the only one, but the best one could get.
3. The Smith & Wesson Triple Lock
What began as the .44 Hand Ejector New Century is known today as the Triple Lock. It was manufactured only from 1908 to 1915 with as much as 15,000 guns made, however, it was a quality handgun that in time would be the basis for many of the guns and calibers we know today. Among them is the .357 Magnum, .41 Magnum, and the .44 Magnum. More than that, it proved to the world that Smith & Wesson was not only a capable weapons manufacturer, but could also build a large frame sixgun.
The only downside of the Triple Lock was the need for large hands to manage it. This made it suitable for only a small group of law enforcement officers. However, if they hands were big enough, they got a mighty strong gun for its time. But then and today, there are not many officers rushing for something in the .44 or .44 Magnum range.
4. Smith & Wesson Model 19
The Smith & Wesson Model 19 was the result of a suggestion made by Bill Jordan, a Border Patrol officer and fast-draw expert. He wanted a medium frame revolver that is chambered for the .357 Magnum. Also, it should have adjustable sights, a shrouded ejector rod, and a heavy barrel. Also called the Combat Magnum, this gun was carried by the officers of many law enforcement agencies for many years.
While made for the strong .357 Magnum, this revolver was still comfortable to carry. It had a smooth action and is extremely accurate. That made it the dream of every law enforcement officer. However, it had one downside. Usually, during training, .38 target loads would be used. The .357 Magnum was saved for real confrontations in the line of duty. That created problems through different recoil and ballistics. Some agencies tried to counter this by having their officers also using the stronger .357 Magnum rounds during training. This was simply to much for the Model 19 to take so that it would be replaced by the L-frame series.
5. Smith & Wesson Model 10
The Model 10 started its career as the .38 Hand Ejector Model of 1899. Smith & Wesson won some military contracts and subsequently changed its name to the Military & Police model before officially making it the Model 10.
About 6 millions of these little revolvers have been produced making it a widely used law enforcement revolver. It came as a stainless steel or magnum version. Coming with a medium frame, one can easily understand what made it so popular. While law enforcement officers are trained with their guns and sometimes use them for real, most of the time, they just carry them around. The size and weight made the Model 10 ideal for this, as even after hours and hours of having it on the belt, it never became too heavy or too uncomfortable.
Also, it came chambered in .38 Special. While nowadays find this round rather weak, with the standard ammo of its time, it could do some decent damage. This is owed to the rather heavy rounds hitting at low speeds making them tumble.
A further reason to depend on it was its smooth action allowing for great accuracy for such a small gun. While there are a lot of guns out there that draw a lot more attention, like this super heavy magnum revolvers, it is the small Model 10 that more often than not won the day.
6. The Colt Detective Special
Introduced in 1927, the Cold Detective Special became very fast and very popular with detectives in plain clothes and as a weapon to carry off duty. It is in fact the oldest of the modern snub nosed revolvers. It even predates the good old Smith & Wesson Model 36 by about 25 years.
It all started with J.H. FitzGerald cut down the 4-inch Colt Police Positive to make it into a custom belly gun. This led to a trend that created the snubbies of today that are still in use.
7. The Ruger Security-Six
Ruger brought his own excellent revolver into the law enforcement community with the Security Six in 1972. Using manufacturing innovations of its time, the cost could be kept to a minimum what was appreciated by law enforcement officers and agencies alike.
The family of the Ruger Double Action revolvers expanded rapidly, including the original blue finish, stainless guns, and several spin off models. While the Security-Six offered a lot for a little money, it was found a little bit to light when shot with magnum ammo. As a result, Ruger beefed it up and the GP100 was born.