Best 22LR Revolvers: Rimfire and Wheelguns!

by Travis Pike

March 27, 2023

1 comments

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The world of .22 Revolvers is vast. It’s easy to see why. A good .22 revolver can serve multiple roles. You can play cowboy with one or use it for hunting small game or even for self-defense. These affordable rimfire firearms are easy to shoot, cheap to shoot, and overall tend to be a lot of bang for your buck. Today we are going to go to look at the best .22LR revolvers on the market and cover a very diverse group of firearms. 

Why .22 Revolvers ?

What exactly does a .22 revolver offer your average shooter? First, anything that shoots.22LR offers you a cheap source of ammunition. Ammo for these guns, when purchased in bulk, often costs a good bit less than 10 cents a round. Cheap ammo makes it easy to shoot these guns from sun up to sun down. 

The guns also offer almost no recoil. .22LR won’t jump and fight your hand even when chambered in a teeny tiny gun. It’s just a bit of a poof, and anyone can handle it. .22LR is often the round of choice for new shooters looking to start their journey with firearms. They tend to be a lot of fun to shoot. 

Speaking of fun, the little rimfire rounds aren’t perfect. They use an older priming system known as rimfire. This tends to be less reliable than centerfire, which seemingly results in more duds than a centerfire ammunition source. In a revolver, this causes a lot less stress than in an automatic pistol. 

Automatic pistols tend to be ammo picky with rimfire loads. Some often fail to allow the gun to cycle, which creates an entirely new issue for shooters. With a revolver, if the round fails to fire, you can cock the hammer or just pull the trigger again. There are no jams to clear, and you don’t have to be near as ammo picky with a .22 Revolver as you do a .22 Automatic. This makes the weapon more reliable and frustration-free at the range. 

Our Best 22LR Wheelguns

The table below shows you the list, in order, of what we think are the best revolvers chambered in 22 long rifle.

The Best 22LR Revolvers

Heritage Rough Rider
  • Single Action Design
  • Can Swap in a .22 Magnum Cylinder
  • Comes In Numerous Sizes
Check Price
Taurus 942 3-Inch
  • DA/SA Revolver
  • 8-Shot Cylinder
  • Adjustable Sights
Check Price
Diamondback Sidekick
  • Cowboy Style
  • Modern DA/SA Design
  • Swing Out Cylinder
Check Price
Colt King Cobra
  • Ventilated Rib Barrel
  • 10 Round cylinder
  • DA/SA Design
Check Price
Smith and Wesson 317 Kit Gun
  • DA/SA Design
  • Adjustable Sights
  • 8-Round Cylinder
Check Price
Ruger LCR
  • DAO Trigger
  • Snub Nose Design
  • 8-Round Cylinder
Check Price
North American Arms Mini Revolver
  • Micro-Sized
  • Single Action Only
  • 5-Shot Cylinder
Check Price

Best 22LR Revolver Specs

HandgunCapactiyActionWeightBarrel LengthOverall Length
Heritage Manufacturing Rough Rider8Single Action Only30.1 oz4.75 in10.03 in
Taurus 942 3-Inch8DA/SA25 oz3 in7.6 in
Diamondback Sidekick9DA/SA32.5 oz4.5 in9.88 in
Colt King Cobra10DA/SA33.6 oz4.25 in8.6 in
S&W 317 Kit Gun8SA/DA11.8 oz3 in7.19 in
Ruger LCR8Double Action Only14.9 oz1.87 in6.5 in
North American Arms Mini Revolver5Single Action Only4.6 oz1.13 in4 in

What Are The Best 22LR Revolvers?

These are the best revolvers chambers in 22 long rifle

  1. Heritage Manufacturing Rough Rider
  2. Taurus 942 3-Inch
  3. Diamondback Sidekick
  4. Colt King Cobra
  5. Smith and Wesson 317 Kit Gun
  6. Ruger LCR
  7. NAA Mini Revolver

Reviews For The Best 22LR Revolvers

In many cases the 22LR is a fun gun, or one used for training new shooters. However, there are practical applications for the 22LR and carrying handgun chambered in it. So if you are going to carry a 22LR, why not carry a revolver?

In our review section we will tell you what we like and dislike about each of these wheelguns and that might help you determine if one of these is right for you and your needs, even if it is just for fun!

#1 Heritage Arms Rough Rider

Heritage Arms Rough Rider

Heritage Arms Rough Rider

An affordable single action revolver chambered in 22LR

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  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A+
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy A
  • Value A+

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A

Reader’s Grade

A

Based on 11 Reviews

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Heritage Manufacturing Rough Rider Review

Heritage Manufacturing Rough Rider

  • Capacity 6
  • Action Single Action Only
  • Weight 30.1 oz
  • Barrel Length 4.75 in
  • Overall Length 10.03 in

Whenever someone wants a fun gun, I instinctively point them to the Heritage Manufacturing Rough Rider models. The Rough Rider, in particular, is their base model, with options including the Rancher rifle, the Barkeep, and the Tactical Cowboy to round it all off. These guns are all very similar, and the only major difference is barrel length. These are .22LR revolvers that do allow you to swap the cylinder for 22 Magnum cartridges. 

The Rough Rider is a single-action revolver in the same vein and styling as the classic Colt Single-Action Army revolvers. The hammer must be manually cocked between shots, and the gun is loaded via a side gate.  It is a one-round-at-a-time affair. The gun is super reliable and a ton of fun to shoot. Pull back the hammer, and you’re greeted with a sweet short, single-action trigger. The sights are rudimentary but functional. 

Obviously, as a cheap revolver, they tend to lack any fancy features. They don’t offer many aftermarket options and are just fun guns and not much else. They are slow to load and reload, short on capacity, and limited in scope. 

They are a ton of fun to shoot and are some of the most affordable firearms on the market. The base models sell for less than two hundred dollars, and the fancier models don’t sell for much more than that. They represent a solid, reliable, simple, and affordable rimfire revolver. It’s tough to beat if you just want a simple gun for rimfire shooting. 

Heritage Rough Rider Pros and Cons

  • Affordable
  • Easy to Find
  • Made in various Sizes
  • Simple, Limited in use

Heritage Rough Rider Gun Deals

#2 Taurus 942 3 Inch

Taurus 942 3in Feature Image

Taurus 942 3 Inch

A light weight low recoiling revolver in 22lr

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  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy A
  • Value A

Our Grade

A

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Taurus 942 3-Inch Review

Taurus 942 3-Inch

  • Capacity 8
  • Action DA/SA
  • Weight 25 oz
  • Barrel Length 3 in
  • Overall Length 7.6 in

The Taurus 942 comes in various sizes and designs with different barrel lengths and weight profiles. The 3-inch model, to me, is just perfect as a good working gun for various tasks. The three-inch model offers a decent sight radius, and adjustable sights, without being overly large or difficult to carry. It could be used for concealed carry if necessary but isn’t out of pocket for pest control and woods use either. 

The 942 holds eight rounds of .22 Long Rifle, and that’s a good bit for a small-frame revolver. It features a double action mechanism and a swing-out cylinder to perfectly replicate your most modern revolver. The exposed hammer makes single-action shots possible, and the shrouded ejector rod gives it that final modern touch. 

The adjustable sights are a very nice touch and useful for long-range shooting. While the double action trigger won’t win any awards, the single action is quite crisp and satisfying. Pair a decent trigger with good sights and a decent sight radius, and you got the makings of an accurate revolver. 

At 25 ounces, its no air weight, but it reduces the recoil of a .22LR to a poof. The 942 doesn’t exceed in any particular genre. It would be easy to use for plinking, killing pests, and even for self-defense if nothing else is available. It’s at home in the tackle box and the nightstand. 

Taurus 942 3-Inch Pros and Cons

  • Easy to Shoot
  • Versatile
  • Modern
  • Crummy DA trigger

Taurus 942 3-Inch Gun Deals

#3 Diamondback Sidekick

Diamondback Sidekick Feature Image

Diamondback Sidekick

A small light weight wheelgun with 9 shot capacity.

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  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics B
  • Accuracy A
  • Value A

Our Grade

A-

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TBD

Based on 0 Reviews

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Diamondback Sidekick Review

Diamondback Sidekick

  • Capacity 9
  • Action DA/SA
  • Weight 32.5 oz
  • Barrel Length 4.5 in
  • Overall Length 9.88 in

The Diamondback Sidekick is a truly odd little gun. It’s almost as if it can’t decide what it wants to be. At first glance, it gives off serious cowboy vibes. However, upon further inspection, you will find a much more modern revolver. Don’t be deceived into thinking this is another SAA clone like the Heritage Rough Rider.

In fact, it’s not even a single action. Under the cowboy, guise sits a more modern double-action design. Although, nothing stops you from playing cowboy and thumbing the hammer back with every shot. The double action trigger is deceptively nice and admittedly surprised me. The sights are a trench and normal front sight, but it’s workable for accurate shooting. 

Beyond the double-action trigger sits a swing-out cylinder that makes it easy to unload and reload the gun. It’s a might bit faster than a side-loading gate. The cylinder pops out easily and can be replaced with a .22 Magnum variant for upping your gun’s potential. This makes it not only a fun shooter but a practical choice for small-game hunting and pest removal. Not to mention that it’s also quite affordable with a sub-300 dollar price tag. My main complaint is that it’s just kind of ugly. 

Diamondback Sidekick Pros and Cons

  • Affordable
  • Accurate
  • Modern Features and Classic Styling
  • Rudimentary Sights

Diamondback Sidekick Gun Deals

#4 Colt King Cobra

Colt King Cobra Feature Image

Colt King Cobra

Colt’s high end stainless steel 22lr revolver

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  • Shootability A+
  • Reliability A+
  • Ergonomics A+
  • Accuracy A+
  • Value C

Our Grade

A

Reader’s Grade

B

Based on 3 Reviews

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Colt King Cobra Pro Review

Colt King Cobra

  • Capacity 10
  • Action DA/SA
  • Weight 33.6 oz
  • Barrel Length 4.25 in
  • Overall Length 8.6 in

I can’t exactly tell you why Colt named their new rimfire the King Cobra instead of Diamondback, but I can tell you it’s the Mercedes Benz of .22LR revolvers. This big, beefy Snake gun might shoot the little .22LR, buts it’s not afraid to be a big gun. The new King Cobra features a four-inch barrel complete with the ventilated rib that makes Colt snake guns so eye-catching. It’s a medium-sized revolver shooting micro-sized rounds.

All that extra space is put to good use, and the gun holds ten rounds in its cylinder. It’s just barely legal in ban states! Not really, but the King Cobra is all manner of cool and is probably the only true premium grade .22LR revolver on the market. A premium gun commands a premium price, and Colt is proud of this gun. At a thousand bucks, it’s only for hardcore collectors. 

The gun wears a set of nice adjustable rear sights and a high-visibility front sight. The finish is a beautiful chrome, and it’s made from stainless steel. You don’t get many fancy .22LR revolvers, and this has to be the nicest out there. The trigger is a dream in both double and single action. It’s light but smooth and breaks consistently over and over. A gun this size is aimed more at the plinking world, but with its killer accuracy, you could find a home in the competition world as well. 

Colt King Cobra Pros and Cons

  • Super Accurate
  • Excellent Trigger
  • Beautifully Constructed
  • Expensive

#5 S&W 317 Kit Gun

S_W 317 Kit Gun

S&W 317 Kit Gun

These small revolvers were designed to fire a full power round and are as simple and easy to use as they are reliable.

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  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A+
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy A
  • Value C

Our Grade

A-

Reader’s Grade

B

Based on 3 Reviews

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S&W 317 Kit Gun Review

S&W 317 Kit Gun

  • Capacity 8
  • Action SA/DA
  • Weight 11.8 oz
  • Barrel Length 3 in
  • Overall Length 7.19 in

The Smith and Wesson 317 Kit Gun is a working gun in .22LR. It’s built on the famed S&W J frame, and it’s a compact revolver, but it’s not necessarily designed for concealed carry. The gun wears a 3-inch barrel as well as adjustable rear sights. The front sight is this great big green high visibility sight. This comes together to make the gun quite easy to shoot. 

The exposed hammer allows you to manually cock the weapon for a lighter, shorter trigger pull. The double action isn’t bad, but not particularly impressive. At a Taurus price point, I wouldn’t mind, but at an S&W price point, this concerns me. I do like the full-sized grip that makes getting your hands around the gun plenty easy and makes controlled, accurate shots simple. 

The little cylinder holds eight rounds of .22LR and gives you a little extra gas than most J-frames. The stainless finish provides protection against the elements that this gun will surely face. As a kit gun, it’s designed to do a bit of everything. It can kill pests and even be a survival pistol for small game hunting. It’s small and light enough for all ages to enjoy, and it wouldn’t be totally off-keel for concealed carry. 

Honestly, it’s got a great combination of the right features. A three-inch barrel provides velocity and a good sight radius. Eight rounds is a good amount for a revolver, and the ability to simply pull the trigger should you hit a fail to ignite is a nice touch. 

S&W 317 Kit Gun Pros and Cons

  • Easy to Use
  • Accurate
  • Great Reliability
  • Expensive

S&W 317 Kit Gun Gun Deals

#6 Ruger LCR 22LR

Ruger LCR 22LR

Ruger LCR 22LR

High-strength stainless steel cylinder, featuring a PVD finish for excellent durability, is extensively fluted, reducing weight.

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  • Shootability B
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy B
  • Value A

Our Grade

A-

Reader’s Grade

C-

Based on 7 Reviews

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Ruger LCR Review

Ruger LCR

  • Capacity 8
  • Action Double Action Only
  • Weight 14.9 oz
  • Barrel Length 1.87 in
  • Overall Length 6.5 in

Ruger brought polymer to the revolver world and created one of the first affordable, lightweight weapons in the revolver market. Previous incarnations, like the Air Weight models, used fancy and expensive metals. The LCR uses polymer and keeps a fair price point. Ruger designed the LCR in a variety of calibers, including the classic .22 Long Rifle. These tiny j-frame-sized guns are pocket-carry-ready. 

Since the .22LR is a lot smaller than the .38 Special, the LCR can hold eight of the little rounds. That is not too bad for such a small gun. The barrel is a scant .187 inches, and the trigger is a long DAO design. The centerfire DAO LCRs have a trigger that’s to die for. On the rimfire version, you lose a bit of that trigger charm, likely to ensure hard hits on the rimfire primers. This ensures reliability at the cost of a very nice trigger. 

The sluggish, heavy trigger combined with the short barrel and very simple sights make the gun tough to shoot straight at ranges beyond ten yards. Good luck making two-inch groups at 25 yards with this thing. You can still put lead on a human-sized threat, and ultimately, that’s where this gun shines. With almost zero recoil and the simplicity of the design, it’s a great pocket carry piece for someone who is recoil shy. 

This is a great training revolver as well if you carry a J-frame but want to train cheaply. It’s not the best hunting, or plinking option. It’s mighty reliable and very easy to carry, which puts it into that CCW category. 

Ruger LCR Pros and Cons

  • Eight Round Capacity
  • Short and Light
  • Easy to Shoot
  • Accuracy Suffers At Range

#7 North American Arms Mini Revolver

North American Arms Mini Revolver Feature Image

North American Arms Mini Revolver

A mini revolver with a 1-1/8in barrel.

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  • Shootability B
  • Reliability A+
  • Ergonomics B
  • Accuracy C
  • Value B

Our Grade

B

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 2 Reviews

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North American Arms Mini Revolver Review

North American Arms Mini Revolver

  • Capacity 5
  • Action Single Action Only
  • Weight 4.6 oz
  • Barrel Length 1.13 in
  • Overall Length 4 in

The North American Arms Mini Revolvers are impressive feats of engineering. They are about as small as a repeating firearm can get. These five-shot, single-action-only revolvers are so small they could be keychains! They certainly define pocket carry and make the task of packing a piece quite easy. 

The NAA Mini Revolvers come in numerous configurations these days, and any could be in this slot. With that in mind, my favorite is still the base model that’s affordable but made to last. These stainless steel guns are attractive and functional. The guns have sights for what they are worth, but this is more of a point-shooting type of firearm made for extremely close ranges. 

A single-action trigger is nice, but the ultra-small grip and short sight radius make it tough to shoot straight. Within ten yards, it’s going to be a challenge to shoot accurately. You can hit a target, but good luck with tight groups. Surprisingly the little gun is easy to shoot. It might be loud, but the recoil is still low, and it’s fun to shoot. The little guns are nearly undetectable and will be easily hidden in a pocket. 

North American Arms Mini Revolver Pros and Cons

  • Ultra Small
  • Well Made
  • Easy to Shoot
  • Not Very Accurate

North American Arms Mini Revolver Gun Deals

The World of .22 Revolvers: Buyers Guide

Before you leave, let’s get the lowdown on the benefits and advantages of the .22 revolver. These guns are quite popular, and the rimfire cartridge in a revolver has some unique qualities that make it an easy draw. 

The Advantage of a .22LR Revolver 

The main advantage comes from the disadvantage of rimfire ammo. Rimfire ammunition tends to be less reliable than centerfire ammunition. Anyone who has purchased a bucket of bullets from Remington knows exactly what I mean. You get more duds with rimfires than any centerfire cartridge. 

With an automatic, a dud means manually manipulating the slide to extract a bad round. With a revolver, it just means pulling the trigger again. This makes it easy to skip past duds and eventually give them a second chance at ignition. 

The small size of these rimfire rounds often opens up plenty of room inside a standard cylinder. Your average revolver can hold five or six rounds. It’s not unusual for a rimfire revolver to hold eight to ten rounds. Most rimfire automatics hold ten rounds anyway, so there isn’t a large capacity tradeoff. 

Beyond Plinking – The Purposes of a .22LR Revolver 

Most people purchase .22LR handguns with the purpose of plinking. Plinking is the casual enjoyment of firearms and shooting. It’s not competitive, often involves soda cans as targets, and allows for the enjoyment of shooting. You can certainly do that with a .22LR revolver, but they can be used for more than that. 

Hunting

The right revolver can be used for hunting small game. If you want a challenge, then hunting with a .22LR revolver provides it. What you’re hunting is an important choice. These guns should only be used to hunt small game. Don’t try to deer hunt with a .22LR. Make sure you choose high-quality ammunition that offers consistent accuracy and good penetration. 

Self-Defense

Self-defense with a .22LR is always tricky. With the right ammo, the round can penetrate deep enough to strike something vital. However, you can’t expect any expansion. You’re just poking tiny holes. With that in mind, it might be the only choice you have. If you are not strong or capable enough to handle anything larger, then the .22LR could be a good choice. Revolvers that use .22LR tend to be small, lightweight, and easy to shoot. Plus, the ammo is cheap enough to allow for lots of practice. 

All the Many .22S

.22LR is the most popular rimfire round ever, but what about the other .22 rounds out there? In your journey with a .22 revolver, you might find more than one type of rimfire .22, so with that in mind, let’s examine the four common types of .22. 

.22 Short 

.22 Short was the first rimfire .22 round to gain popularity. It’s a tiny round, best described as adorable. It’s still fairly common and can function fine in revolvers designed for .22LR rounds. It lacks any sense of punch but is super quiet and very easy to shoot. If you have an NAA Mini Revolver, it can be a blast to shoot these little shorts through it. 

.22 Long

.22 Long was created to give .22 Short a little extra punch. It’s much less popular these days, and finding .22 Long ammo can be difficult. It can function in .22LR guns, but it’s really not worth the price. It’s mainly for collectors with old rifles these days. 

.22 Long Rifle 

The most common is .22 Long Rifle. This old round gained massive popularity and unseated the .22 Long and .22 Extra Long. This round is the standard .22 and is what most .22s will chamber. It’s the right combination of projectile and power to be versatile but also light recoiling and easy to shoot. 

What About .22 Magnum 

.22 Magnum or .22 WMR is a much more powerful round that stays inside the rimfire realm. It takes .22 to a different level and opens up your ability to shoot and hunt small to moderate-sized game, as well as predators like coyotes at close range. For self-defense, it packs a heavier punch and often penetrates much deeper than .22LR. Plus, there are some dedicated .22 Magnum self-defense loads out there these days as well. 

A number of .22 revolvers allow you to switch from Magnum to LR cylinders. This opens up your weapon’s ability to shoot a variety of rounds. However, never attempt to shoot .22LR through a  magnum cylinder. The .22LR round will fit in the cylinder, and it seems to make sense. However, the case diameter of then .22LR is thinner, and when fired, it can explode, lodging itself in your cylinder. 

This could harm you or those near you. It can also break your weapon, so it’s just a bad idea all around. 

Keep It .22 

Everyone needs a good .22LR pistol. It’s just tough to beat a classic. These guns tend to be solid and fun shooters. With some exceptions, they also tend to be affordable as well. A good .22 revolver can be a multipurpose tool. Plus, they are an absolute ton of fun. 

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About Travis Pike

Travis is a former United States Marine Corps Infantryman and currently a firearms writer, instructor, and works in Emergency Management.

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1 COMMENTS

  1. Bought one during 22 Christmas sales , it is a 6.5 ” polymer grip . Bought a holster and 22 mag cylinder from Heritage at reasonable prices . Very accurate and a pleasure to shoot with Lr or mag .

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