When you think about a 9mm self-defense gun, you automatically think of a subcompact polymer-frame striker-fired pistol like those from Glock. But that is not your only option when it comes to self-defense. Some revolvers are chambered in 9 mm that can do the job just as well. So, why should you consider getting a revolver instead of a semi-auto?

People usually think that revolvers are meant to be big and bulky, meant for cowboys and bear defense, not urban self-defense is partially true. There are massive revolvers that can drop bears and elephants alike, but there are also revolvers that are designed for concealed carry. Today, we will look at the latter pack of revolvers and give you my recommendations.

1. The Ruger SP101

The Ruger SP101 features a 2.25-inch barrel with a 1:16 rate of twist. You get five rounds in the cylinder, an integral rear sight, and a black ramp front. The frame is, of course, a satin stainless steel finish and the grip is black rubber. If the rubber is not to your liking, Ruger made it possible to change it out to something more your style. You also get three moon clips to help with reloading. The SP101 is a bit on the heavy side, weighing 25 ounces. It is not too heavy to be impractical for concealed carry, but it will not be as comfortable as your typical Glock 19. Though it has a bit of heft, it is pretty compact. However, everybody who has owned it loves it. The only downside I can think of is the trigger pull. Yes, that is to be expected from a double-action, but it feels quite long.


2. The Ruger LCR

Although Ruger had the SP101 series of revolvers, there is a gap in their offering. They did not really have any lightweight and affordable concealed carry options. This is where the Ruger LCR comes in. They managed to keep manufacturing costs low thanks to their manufacturing process.

Fun fact, some law enforcement officers carry the Ruger LCR as a backup piece should their main one be compromised in any way. Evidently, the Ruger LCR 9 mm is a good option for self-defense. It weighs just 17.2 ounces and the 1.87-inch barrel makes the gun very compact. Without the exposed hammer, you can whip the gun out without snagging onto anything. The crisp trigger pull and ease of operation make the LCR a versatile platform for new shooters. The stainless steel cylinder has a PVD finish and the Hogue Tamer Monogrips complete the build. You get three full moon clips with your purchase as well. All of that for only $600 MSRP.


3. The Ruger LCRx

As the name implies, the LCRx is basically the LCR. You get the same stainless steel cylinder, the Hogue grip, and 1.87-inch barrel with a 1:16 rate of twist. The LCRx features a ramp front sight and an integral U-notch of the rear. One major difference between the LCR and LCRx is the external hammer on the latter, which means you can operate the gun single-action. This little addition pushes the weight up to 17.4 ounces, although I doubt you would notice the 0.2 ounces increase in heft. In terms of price, both LCR and LCRx are identical. Ruger also throws in three moon clips as well. So, which to pick between the two? If you are new, I suggest you pick up the LCR. If you have some time behind the gun, the LCRx might be a better option.


4. The Taurus 905 Series

This snub-nose revolver is an affordable option if your budget is tight. There are two options to choose from. You can get it in a matte black oxide finish or matte stainless steel. The only difference is the look and price tag, which is about $50 difference. You get 5 rounds in the cylinder and rubber grips. The 905 also features a transfer bar mechanism to ensure safety and its 21 ounces of heft makes it a very easy carry. Speaking of carrying, there are many holsters for the 905 as well.

5. The Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 986

The Model 986 is on the pricier side of the list, but it has some features that every other gun on the list does not have. Smith & Wesson is one of the few manufacturers that goes above and beyond and produces beautiful guns that run exceptionally well.

You get 2.5 inches of barrel to work with and a titanium cylinder that holds seven rounds. Already, the gun has enough capacity to compete with some semi-autos that use single-stack magazines. This revolver is a double/single-action gun that features a frame and barrel of stainless steel. That means, the gun is also on the heavier side at 31 ounces. You get an adjustable rear sight and a red ramp front sight. The custom wood grip completes the classic look.

Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 986

6. The Rock Island AL9.0 Revolver

Rock Island’s AL9.0 revolver is relatively new to the whole 9 mm self-defense revolver. The manufacturer itself has made many fantastic firearms over the years and a lot of people really love their products. What makes it stand out is its ergonomic grip and light weight.

The AL9.0 comes in at just 1.5 pounds heavy, making it a great transitional piece from a polymer-framed semi-autos from the likes of Walther and Sig Sauer. It is also a solid piece for those who want a gun that is a little easier on the hands. That means, those with small hands or medical issues like carpal tunnel will find this gun very comfortable to use. Its classical look resembles a Colt Python. You get 6 rounds in the cylinder, a 4-inch barrel, blued finish, and a single/double-action trigger. The trigger is the only downside here as the double-action is smooth with no stacking, but on the long side, which may affect accuracy.


7. The Charter Arms Pitbull

The Pitbull is a snub-nose revolver, chambered in 9 mm that goes for under $500. You get 2.2 inches of barrel to work with and the cylinder holds 5 rounds. Fully loaded, the Pitbull weighs in at 23 ounces. The Pitbull can be had in single or double-action, both in a black nitride and stainless steel finish. If you go for the stainless steel variant, you get a neoprene grip. If black nitride is more your style, you get a rubber grip. If you happen to live in California, then your only legal option would be the stainless steel model. The Pitbull also features a dual coil spring assembly inside the extractor, so rimless loading and unloading are easier if you do not use moon clips.



While the 9 mm cartridge is not thought of as a revolver cartridge, revolvers offer some benefits that semi-autos just cannot match. the 9 mm Luger is the most popular chambering for self-defense thanks to its balance between velocity and recoil. You get 1,100 feet per second, more than that of the .380 ACP, and less recoil than the .45 ACP, .40 S&W, and .357 Magnum. It is a well-rounded and versatile cartridge. Not to mention, it is easier to find and cheaper to acquire.

What makes loading 9 mm into a revolver interesting is the fact that revolvers are often rated for +P rounds. That extra pressure helps you squeeze out a bit more power from the cartridge. Not to mention, revolvers are inherently more reliable than semi-autos. Revolvers have fewer moving parts, so they are a lot less likely to jam. If a revolver jams, just pull the trigger again and you are good to go. No practice is needed. For semi-autos, you need to put in the time to clear the jam quickly, and you might not have enough time for that. In a tussle, a revolver will never fail you.

You see, when you get into a grappling match with your attacker, you usually do not have much time to aim and fire. Your instinct would tell you to push the gun right up against your attacker’s torso and pull the trigger because you literally cannot miss at that range. Unfortunately, if you are using a semi-auto pistol, the gun may not fire. Provided sufficient pressure, the slide and barrel will be pushed out of battery and the gun would not fire. And that might be all the chance you got to pull the trigger. For a revolver, you can do the same and the gun would go bang.

And there you have it, folks. This is my top 7 pick for 9 mm revolvers for self-defense. This is just my opinion, so you do not have to agree with everything I said. Of course, I hope that this list has been helpful if you are looking to pick up a 9 mm revolver. If you happen to own any of these, tell us about your experience in the comment section below.

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