In an age where compact semi-automatic pistols have become the preferred sidearm for many, the revolver is often ignored by those seeking a gun for concealed carry. Gone are the days of cowboys meeting at high noon to sling their six shooters from their hips. Among today’s pistol packing public, it seems everyone wants something made of lightweight molded plastic that can be easily hidden in their waistband, and something that holds a magazine with a decent capacity.
Honestly, those demands are pretty reasonable. After all, everyone should feel comfortable with his or her sidearm, but there is still a lot to be said for the classic look and feel of a revolver. In fact, with modern engineering and design, many revolvers look better and function more efficiently than they ever had before. With all the choices out there, it is a real possibility that revolvers could begin to take a larger share of the concealed carry market.
Sure most people will never look as cool as John Wayne holding the Colt Peacemaker, or Clint Eastwood staring down the barrel of a Smith & Wesson Model 29, regardless of what they are carrying. However, some manufacturers are trying their best to deliver guns that will make folks want to carry a revolver. Here are a few examples of what we mean. These guns have sold fairly well and could perhaps be worthy of your consideration the next time you are shopping for a sidearm.
First let's talk for a moment about the Ruger SP101. It’s a small revolver for the modern gunslinger. Its durability exceeds even those iconic models of the Old West. With all steel construction the SP101 eliminated the traditional side-plate design and built this tough little revolver with solid steel sidewalls.
In addition to its durable construction, this revolver can be found chambered in a variety of calibers. Beginning with the small .22LR, all the way up to the .357 Magnum.
Possibly its most versatile chambering is the Sturm Ruger and Federal Cartridges patented .327 Federal Magnum. This chambering allows the use of .32 S&W, .32 S&W Long, .32 H&R Mag, and even the .32 ACP that is typically used in semi-auto pistols, but chambers perfectly in this .327 Fed Mag revolver.
It seems in recent years, more and more revolver manufacturers have been chambering the powerful .357 Magnum. This is not a new concept by any means, but the revolvers do seem to be getting much smaller. However, few of them have received favorable reviews when it comes to firing the hot round, especially in 2 to 4 inch models that are geared to the conceal carry consumer.
Ruger’s SP101 is one of those models that has gained some fans, and has received quite a bit of positive feedback. Its one-piece rubber grip and rounded edges make it a comfortable revolver to shoot. It also features a push-in cylinder release button. It has variations such as the bobbed spur or hammerless versions, which make it appealing to those who wish to carry it for everyday use. Capacity has also been improved upon with the SP101. Ruger offers a 5-round cylinder for most calibers, but made the .327 Federal Magnum version available in 6-rounds. The manufacturer took this a step further in 2018 when it introduced the 7-round cylinder for the .357 magnum. That is an unprecedented improvement for a small-framed revolver - providing a capacity that is comparable to many semi-auto pistols. So that feature alone could persuade some concealed carry folks to consider this durable wheel gun.
Another little revolver that has been grabbing its share of attention of late, is the Chiappa Rhino. When looking this revolver over, we thought that this unique gun may have just found the best solution for recoil sensitive shooters. Especially if they like revolvers and the powerful .357 Magnum caliber, but haven’t found one yet that they were comfortable shooting.
Chiappa has designed this futuristic looking revolver to fire from the bottom cylinder. Their logic here was to drastically reduce the felt recoil by lowering the axis of the bore and redirecting the recoil energy straight back into the shooter’s palm. Did it work? Well sort of. The muzzle no longer lifts with each blast making it easier to remain on target for repeat shots, but the recoil energy is still there. It is just pushing straight back instead of up, so although it is a neat idea, it still may present an issue for a sensitive shooter. There may also be an issue with the cylinder gap. With the firing chamber being located so low, the shooters could inadvertently scorch their fingers if they don’t pay careful attention to their hand placement.
Though the Rhino appears to have an external hammer, it doesn’t. The external lever is just the means to cock the internal hammer mechanism deep inside the frame. A red plastic indicator is exposed when it’s ready to fire, and the external lever returns to the rested position. On the smaller 2-inch barrel version this part is notched and doubles as the rear sight. Another unique feature is the flat sided cylinder, which makes the gun smoother to holster and provides a unique appearance. Many reviews that we have watched and read reveal that the look of the Rhino has not been well received. It is different, that’s for sure. But in our humble opinion it really isn’t that ugly, it actually has the shape of a Rhino and that is just kind of cool. Perhaps if you don’t lay it side by side with an old Smith & Wesson or Colt the way that many reviewers do, then you won’t need to dwell so much on its awkward appearance.
Anyone that has read our articles already knows that we always enjoy referencing the on-screen appearances of the guns that we discuss. And despite the Rhino only being designed in 2009, it has already made its film debut in the hands of the fictional character Harley Quinn in the 2016 Suicide Squad movie. The gun in the film featured fancy gold engravings and white grips with Joker medallions. The words Love and Hate rotated on the flat-sided cylinder with each pull of the trigger and the initials HQ marked the rear of the frame. As if the revolver wasn’t unique enough on its own, this theatrical specimen showed just how far one could go to add their own personal touch and style.
Lastly, a revolver that was introduced with the sole purpose of enticing the conceal carry consumer is the Colt Night Cobra. Colt brought back their Cobra line in 2017, 36 years after ending its original production run.
The Night Cobra is chambered in .38 Special, and is available in double action only. Colt has smoothed the edges of the original Cobra and installed a snag free bobbed hammer in an effort to make this 6-shot revolver suitable for concealed carry. It is equipped with Colt G10 grips and has a black appearance with a DLC (Diamond Like Coating) finish over stainless. Though Colt didn’t opt to offer its lightweight revolver in the larger magnum calibers, it does handle the hotter +P rounds.
Many reviews of this latest Colt offering have seemed to be turned off by its suggested retail price of $899. The main grievance being that there is just not enough difference between the Night Cobra and the new run of the standard Cobra that was introduced in 2017 and retailed for about $200 less. We won’t argue that point because everyone’s take on monetary value is their own. Although this nice little revolver has a lot to offer, there could be better choices out there for the price conscious consumer.
These few models just scratch the surface of the efforts being made by manufacturers to regain some of the concealed carry market with their revolvers. There are many others out there suited for the task and some in a more affordable price range than the ones discussed here. With 2019 upon us, we now look forward to seeing the new revolvers that the industry has to offer. Many of which will likely make their debut this month at the annual SHOT Show in Las Vegas. This means that in the coming months we will be able to see the reactions and reviews from all those that have sampled them, and possibly see the trend of revolvers being geared towards the concealed carry market continue.