In this episode, we will be taking a look at revolvers. One of the major leaps in firearm advancement was repeating firearms. We went from taking two minutes to load a shot into delivering half a dozen in 30 seconds. Lever-action repeater rifles became the staple of the Wild West. But another firearm was also iconic in that era- the revolver.

The Revolver was the first successful repeating handgun. The fundamental design is mostly the same between models. Did you know that the first revolver ever made was in 1597? It was an 8-shooter although the cylinder had to be manually rotated and it was still using flintlock technology. It belonged to one Georg von Reichwein from Hessen, Germany. It was a unique design but it failed to gain traction.

The one that did was designed in 1830 by Sam Colt. He came up with the design when he was crossing the ocean. The boat was slow and with nothing else to do, he carved a revolver out of a block of wood. Six years later, he was making Colt Patterson and it was a success.

One day, Rollin White, a gunsmith working at Colt, suggested a different design. A bored-through revolver cylinder that enables compatibility with metallic cartridges in a handgun. But Colt fired White for making this suggestion, perhaps believing that the revolver was perfect as it was. White went to Smith & Wesson, pitched the idea, and they patented it, which effectively blocked Colt from making cartridge firearms for about 20 years.

Suffice to say, Colt made a bad call. The S&W Model 1 was the first-ever revolver to use self-contained cartridges. But Colt bounced back after the patent expired in 1873 and brought the Single Action Army into the market, and it was an instant success.

But that is enough history lessons. If you are in the market for a revolver, there are countless variations for different kinds of tasks. For your convenience, I have here a list of revolvers suited for different use cases.

1. S&W J-Frame – Everyday Carry

If you want small revolvers, the J-Frame is probably as small as it gets. It falls under the “snub-nose” category, although you can find many different configurations and cartridges. It is not as powerful as other revolvers here, but it handles small game animals just fine. It weighs almost nothing, and the recoil is in the neighborhood of the .454 Casull.

Why do you need it? Personal protection, of course. It might not be your first option when it comes to self-defense, but there might be situations where you cannot access the big rifle. Maybe it is out of reach, taken away, or maybe you get jumped while you are on a jog. The gun is compact and it is powerful enough to stop attackers, be it critters or criminals. The latter will give up when they see you have a gun and the former will drop at a pull of the trigger.

I recommend getting a hammerless model and mounting a laser on it for the best experience. At close enough range, it is strong enough to drop a deer and work well enough against wolves, cougars, and coyotes. Bears might be a problem, but it is better than nothing.

The compact size, lightweight, and stopping power are the selling points for me, and it is perhaps the best everyday carry revolver.

2. Freedom Arms Model 83 – Single-Action King

Back then, the .44 Magnum was dubbed as the most powerful handgun in the world. However, that title fell to the .454 Casull. For this, I would like to introduce you to the Freedom Arms Model 83. It comes with the standard 7.5-inch barrel and it packs a wallop.

Since it is single-action, you want to make every shot count. For that, you might need to shell out extra cash for a scope and its mount. Trust me, it is worth it. With this hand cannon, you can blow your way through deer, hogs, and even bears. It will leave a nasty blood trail so finding your way to your prize is easier than ever.

It is rugged, reliable, and the aesthetic philosophy is simple: classic sensibilities. If you want a revolver that can put down a T-Rex and one that will outlive you and generations of your descendants with minimal maintenance, you cannot really go wrong with the Freedom Arms Model 83.

3. The Ruger Super Blackhawk – .44 Magnum Champion

In 1955, Smith & Wesson and Remington were working on the Model 29 revolver and .44 Magnum cartridge. It was supposed to be all hush-hush until someone found spent cases in the bin and it got onto Bill Ruger’s desk. Ruger rang his buddies at Remington and asked what it was all about, but he did not get any useful information.

As expected from old Bill Ruger, he decided to make a new .44 Magnum Blackhawk by reverse-engineering the cases.

Even though Smith & Wesson and Remington got the headstart in development, Ruger still managed to get the Blackhawk to the market before both of them in 1956. In 1959, the Blackhawk became the Super Blackhawk.

Although the Model 29 S&W was associated with the .44 Magnum, the gun itself had a few flaws. S&W did not admit that their Model 29 had problems, which was a big mistake. This essentially allowed Ruger to dominate the market.

The Super Blackhawk is like a brick in the sense that it takes a lot of effort to actually break it. Even after many shots, it would still work as well as the first time you fire it. If you are in the market for a .44 Magnum revolver for protection while you are trekking through the wilderness or for hunting, take the Ruger Super Blackhawk.

4. The S&W Model 19 – .357 Go-To

In 1935, there was a groundbreaking entry into the revolver market: .357 Magnum. S&W dropped manufacturing it for a while, but they picked it back up again after seeing how popular it is. Of course, there were other contenders such as the .45 Colt as well as the .44 Special, but none came close to the .357 Magnum. Some models use N frames, which puts the revolver on the heavy side. But in 1957, S&W introduced the Model 19 with the K frame, which is lighter. Things started to change.

The Model 19 was initially designed for cops, but it proved itself on the hunting grounds. Some experts say that the gun would shoot itself apart with a lot of magnum use, but no cops nor hunters would shoot that much anyway.

I can say with certainty that the Model 19 and the .357 Magnum are a match made in heaven, just like the .30-30 and Model 93 Winchester. They are never complete until you have both of them. I recommend grabbing the Model 19 when you can. You will not regret it.

5. Ruger Single-Six – Best .22 Revolver 

Bill Ruger was known for two things: the guns he made and his complete disregard for naysayers. The Great War was over, Colt stopped making single-actions, and the market was nothing but double-actions and automatics. Then, Bill Ruger decided to make single-action revolvers. Everybody, even the experts, said that he had lost his marbles.

However, Bill Ruger was a man with a plan. Alongside his introduction of the single-action Single-Six, he also brought to the gun-making world investment casting technology. Again, everybody thought that it would not work.

It did not explode in popularity until it was briefly mentioned in Argosy magazine, but it was enough to break the Southport Post Office. Turns out, everybody still wanted single-actions.

The Single-Six was scaled down so it would be compatible with the .22 LR (22 Long Rifle) and the .22 WMR (22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire). It was big enough to feel like a powerful gun and fit snugly in your hand. But it keeps its weight down so you can carry it comfortably on your belt. It soon became the sidearm for pretty much everyone, from hunters to fishermen, for good reasons.

It was a beautiful handgun. It is light but also deadly accurate. It handled all small game animals just fine and helps you finish off larger ones. They say that switching to your sidearms is faster than reloading, and if you want something on the lighter side to accompany your big gun, look no further than the Single-Six.

6. The Python – Honorary Mention

Python was considered to be the best in this class. This double-action .357 Magnum revolver exploded in popularity when people saw Rick using one in the Walking Dead. The price soared but it returned to an acceptable level of cost eventually.

To be fair, Python is not cheap. It will blow through your wallet just as hard as it would to a bear that wants to snack on your legs. The double-action feature is a handy feature for bear protection as well. If you have a deep enough pocket, pick up the Python. It will serve you well for hunting and backcountry uses. If not, you can also fall back to the Anaconda chambered in .44 Magnum.

And there you have it, folks. I am sure that one of these will suit your exact needs perfectly. To be fair, any of these will outlive you with minimal maintenance and you can pass this down to your children with some good tales to share. They will age like fine wine.

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