My Top 5 Carry Revolvers

I’m a new hand at revolvers. Starting early this year, I dived headfirst and quickly discovered that revolvers are a bit like shotguns. They are misunderstood and unappreciated, but they are a blast to learn. I’m far from any kind of master of the dark arts of the wheel gun, but I’m learning. I’m shooting, and I’m spending a lot of money on revolver cartridges. I’m even carrying a revolver these days, and while I’ve settled on one revolver for now, I have a few I’m fans of. I’m not a revolver expert, but that doesn’t stop me from having five favorite carry revolvers. 

My Five Favorite Carry Revolvers 

1. – S&W 432 UC 

My current go-to carry revolver, and top pick is the S&W 432 UC, a new Lipsey exclusive. This revolver checks all the boxes for me. It’s chambered in the 32 H&R Magnum, a round that packs a punch without excessive recoil. It’s a reliable stopper with deep penetration and expansion capabilities. And the best part? It offers six rounds, one more than the standard five. 

The S&W 432 UC features a real rear sight which is great because I suck with the trench and front sight setup of most compact revolvers. On top of the sights, this carry revolver comes with high hand grips, which allow you to choke up high on the gun and control it. Those grips are recessed for speed loaders as well. The gun has super pleasant recoil and is super accurate. This is the only snub nose I can use to hit targets at 25 yards consistently. 

2. – Taurus 856 Defender TORO

My second favorite of my five carry revolvers is the Taurus 856 Defender TORO. Again, this gun doesn’t use the traditional trench rear sight. Well, it does, but it also has the option to mount a red dot. I can use a red dot a lot better than I can use a trench sight. The Taurus 856 Defender TORO makes shooting a revolver super easy. The red dot is a cheat code, as far as I’m concerned. I can make 50-yard shots with the red dot most of the time. 

The 856 Defender TORO isn’t a snub nose but packs a 3-inch barrel. Outside of the three-inch barrel, it’s still a compact frame revolver. It’s a stretched-out snubby. It’s easy to carry in an IWB configuration but won’t drop in your pocket. Taurus did add a full-length ejector rod instead of using a snubby design, and the cylinder holds six rounds of .38 Special. 

3 – Ruger LCR in 9mm 

One of first carry revolvers I purchased was the Ruger LCR in 9mm. This was before I knew a single thing about carry revolvers, but I wanted one. I also didn’t want to spend money on revolver cartridges, so I went with a 9mm revolver. The LCR in 9mm uses the .357 Magnum frame, so it’s a bit heavier, but the weight works well when working with spicy 9mm loads. 

The 9mm cartridge offers the gun a huge advantage because it’s super popular and affordable; plus, various cartridges are available in various weights and projectile types. The moon clips act like speed loaders for quick reloads. The LCR is the Glock for revolvers. It’s boring, but reliable. The double action trigger rules and the gun are popular enough for tons of holster compatibility. The downside for me is the trench sight because I suck with it.

4 – S&W 351 PD 

Snubbies aren’t known for being soft in the recoil department and can be downright exhausting when training hard, especially with Airweight handguns. The S&W 351 PD turns the tables by ditching high recoil calibers and settling on the .22 Magnum. This rimfire revolver has hardly any recoil and weighs only 11.4 ounces. The little .22 Mangum will reach deep enough to matter, and the 351 PD gives you seven rounds on tap. 

The S&W 351 PD is a great pocket gun. The exposed hammer might be a bit of a snag, but it allows you to eke out a little more accuracy with single-action shots. The big high-vis front sight is nice, but you are left without a proper rear sight. This micro-sized J frame is a ton of fun to shoot and never gets tiring. It’s a great series of carry revolvers.

5 – Ruger GP-100 

The Ruger GP-100 isn’t your typical compact frame revolver; most would be famously terrible for concealed carry. They do make a few 3 and 2.5-inch options, and that’s about the only option they offer for CCW. I have the seven-shot Ruger GP-100 Talo exclusive and lvoe it. It’s big, but with the right holster, it’s manageable. The big grips and 36-ounce weight help eat up .357 Magnum recoil. It’s heavy and big, so it lands last on the list. 

However, we get great sights and seven rounds. This was the revolver I more or less learned to shoot on. This thing eats .38 Specials up, and I love shooting due to the light recoil and accuracy. It strokes my ego and makes me think I might be okay at shooting revolvers. As far as carry revolvers go this is my last pick to actually carry, it would be my first pick if I knew I was heading to a gunfight. 

More Than A Carry Revolver 

Carrying a revolver isn’t for everyone. If you’re like me and were raised on an autoloader, it’s an entirely new experience. It takes training and lots of practice. Guess what? You’ll have to experiment with revolvers and holsters to find what works for you. I’m no expert, but these five work for me, so maybe they’ll work for you. 

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.