7 Best CCW Revolvers: The Best for Daily Carry

by Travis Pike

November 2, 2023

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The micro compact 9mms currently dominate the world of concealed carry guns. Guns like the P365 dominate. Before the P365, we had the single stack 9mm craze with guns like the S&W Shield. Prior to that, we had pocket .380s like the Ruger LCP. Alongside these popular genres of automatic pistols for concealed carry, the revolver has remained steady in its popularity. While they might not rule the roost, it’s maintained its position. Lets jump into the best CCW revolvers.

Why A Concealed Carry Revolver 

Concealed carry revolvers are a popular option for concealed carry due to their inherent design. They can be produced to be very compact but maintain the use of full-sized handgun calibers. Calibers like .357 Magnum can be used in pocket-sized revolvers. Revolvers are very easy to conceal due to their size and shape. They disappear on a waistband, strapped to an ankle, or even in a pocket. 

The concealed carry revolver comes in many sizes and calibers. Several companies make them, and there is almost always something for everyone. This includes shooters with weak hands or shooters who need a gun for self-defense against everything from snakes to bear. There is a revolver option that’s concealable for that goal. 

Revolvers are easy to understand. By looking at the gun, you can tell if the cylinders are loaded. Unloading is simple, and it’s very clear when a revolver is properly unloaded versus an automatic. Revolvers are great for folks who want to load it and forget until it’s needed. 

With so many revolvers and calibers out there, what are the best options for you? Let’s dig into what’s a versatile and varied group of handguns designed for concealed carry. If you are not concerned about concealed carry, but just want the best revolver, we have an article on our favorite revolvers.

Gun University’s Choices of the Best CCW Revolvers

Best CCW Revolvers

Taurus 856 Defender TORO
  • Optics Ready
  • Six Shot Capacity
  • 3-inch Barrel
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Ruger LCR
  • Polymer Infused Frame
  • Comes in Numerous Calibers
  • Friction Reducing Cam Trigger
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S&W 642
  • Airweight Revolver
  • Classic Snub Nose Layout
  • Easily Concealed
Check Price
Kimber K6S
  • Compact Revolver With Real Sights
  • Lightest 6-shot .357 Magnum
  • Available in Numerous Configurations
Check Price
Colt Night Cobra
  • Classic Colt Design
  • Excellent Trigger
  • Full-length Grips
Check Price
S&W 43C
  • Ultra Lightweight
  • 8-shot 22LR Cylinder
  • Designed for Concealed Carry
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Rossi RP63
  • Mid Size Revolver
  • Six Shot .357 Magnum
  • Stainless Finish
Check Price

Spec Comparison of the Best CCW Revolvers

Below is a table of the specifications for the best concealed carry revolver.

RevolverBarrel Length (in)Overall Length (in)Weight (oz)CaliberCapacity

Taurus 856 Defender TORO

37.523.538 Special6

Ruger LCR

1.876.513.5Various5-8

S&W 642

1.886.3114.638 Special5

Kimber K6S

26.6223357 Magnum6

Colt Night Cobra

2.17.252538 Special6

S&W 43C

1.876.311.522LR8

Rossi RP63

37.9527.3357 Magnum6

Best CCW Revolvers

Here is our list for the best concealed carry revolvers:

  1. Taurus 856 Defender TORO
  2. Ruger LCR
  3. S&W 642
  4. Kimber K6S
  5. Colt Night Cobra
  6. S&W 43C
  7. Rossi RP63 

Best CCW Revolvers – Reviews 

1 Taurus Defender 856 T.O.R.O.

Taurus Defender 856 T.O.R.O. Featured Image

Taurus Defender 856 T.O.R.O.

A red dot ready wheel gun chambered in 38 Special with a 6 round capacity.

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

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Taurus 856 Defender TORO specs

  • Barrel Length 3 in
  • Overall Length 7.5 in
  • Weight 23.5 oz
  • Caliber 38 Special
  • Capacity 6

Taurus 856 Defender TORO Review

Taurus has made huge strides to improve their firearms, their designs, and their quality control. I used to have a chip on my shoulder due to experiences with Taurus, but after sending 500 rounds of .38 Special downrange, I became a believer in the new Taurus 856 Defender Toro. The 856 model replaced the classic Taurus Model 85, and the biggest change is increasing the capacity from five to six rounds. 

The Taurus 856 Defender model extends the barrel to three inches. That’s no snub nose, but it is plenty concealable. The Defender’s three-inch barrel does a few things. First, it lessens concussion and flash when using hotter self-defense loads. It improves sight radius and velocity as well. I love 3-inch barrels on my carry revolvers for the added benefit they offer. 

The TORO is Taurus’ way of adding red dots to handguns. Red dots on revolvers is an interesting way to mix old-school revolvers with new-school technology. Taurus went with the Shield RMSc footprint that allows you to use all micro-sized red dot optics. 

The 856 Defender TORO mixes a six-shot revolver, a three-inch barrel, a red dot optic, and a compact frame to create a very modern and controllable concealed carry revolver. This results in a very easy-to-shoot revolver that’s quite accurate. I am not a good revolver shooter, but at 25 yards, I could put all six shots into the head of a target. 

It’s fairly controllable, and while it’s not a pocket-carry pistol, it is a very capable revolver that’s easy to conceal carry. If only we had more optics-ready holsters for it! 

Taurus 856 Defender TORO Pros and Cons

  • Red dot capable
  • Easy to control
  • Accurate
  • Smallish grips

Taurus 856 Defender TORO Deals

2 Ruger LCR

Editor's Choice
Ruger LCR

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

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Ruger LCR Specs

  • Barrel Length 1.87 in
  • Overall Length 6.5 in
  • Weight 13.5 oz
  • Caliber Various
  • Capacity 5-8

Ruger LCR Review

The Ruger LCR wasn’t the first revolver to implement polymer to cut weight and cost, but it was the first massively successful model to do so. The standard Ruger LCR in .38 Special is one of the most affordable concealed carry revolvers. Other calibers cost a bit more, but it’s never too expensive. Polymer helps cut weight, and while a scandium frame is slightly lighter, polymer is considerably more price-efficient. 

The Ruger LCR comes in a surprising number of categories. This includes the aforementioned .38 Special, but the LCR also comes in .357 Magnum, 9mm, .22LR, .22 Magnum, and even the .327 Federal Magnum. This split of calibers allows the user to get anywhere from five to eight rounds in the chamber. The classic LCR features an enclosed hammer for a smooth draw and a 1.87-inch barrel. It’s the classic snub-nose revolver. 

The LCR series features an amazing trigger. It’s absolutely fantastic, and Ruger nailed it. It’s the best stock trigger on a revolver that costs less than a thousand dollars by far. In fact, it outperforms some of those thousand-dollar triggers. The LCR features a pinned sight, which makes it possible to swap out if you so choose. 

The LCR series is quite reliable. They are very well made and tend to last forever. Revolvers aren’t fragile, but they can lose timing, ejection rods can loosen, and other small issues tend to show up. The LCR seems to resist and outlast most other guns. The best way to compare them is to say that the LCR is the Glock of revolvers. 

Ruger LCR Pros and Cons

  • Excellent triggers
  • Fantastic reliability
  • Available in a variety of calibers
  • Price varies by caliber

Ruger LCR Deals

3 Smith and Wesson 642 : S&W 642

Smith and Wesson 642 Featured Image

Smith and Wesson 642

An airweight J-frame revolver in 38 Special

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

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S&W 642 Specs

  • Barrel Length 1.88 in
  • Overall Length 6.31 in
  • Weight 14.6 oz
  • Caliber 38 Special
  • Capacity 5

S&W 642 Review

The S&W 642 inhabits the realm of the modern double-action snub-nose revolver. If I say concealed carry revolver, then the S&W 642 is likely what you picture. It’s a stainless steel gun with a snub nose, a short ejection rod, an enclosed hammer, and a shot hammer. This is the standard for a deep concealment revolver that’s perfectly primed for pocket, ankle, or IWB carry. 

The S&W 642’s stainless finish makes it nearly rustproof, which for deep concealment is important. If you carry it in the pocket, on the ankle, or even on the belt, your gun is exposed to sweat. It’s the nature of the beast. The stainless finish helps the S&W 642 resist rust and improve performance. 

At 14.5 ounces, the S&W 642 is an Airweight weapon that makes carrying extremely comfortable. If you’ve ever wanted to forget about the revolver in your pocket, then the S&W 642 is the revolver to take. It’s ultra-thin and reduces bulk like no other. It’s smoothed over with melted corners for a quick and easy draw from deep concealment. 

The S&W 642 features a decent trigger and a ramping sight. I wish they color-filled the sight, but I can do that with a paint pen. The little .38 Special does buck a bit, especially with the small grips. The S&W 642 doesn’t do anything revolutionary, but it checks the box of being a very capable snub-nose revolver from one of the most trusted companies out there. 

S&W 642 Pros and Cons

  • Ultra lightweight
  • Snag-free
  • Ultra-reliable
  • Plain sight

S&W 642 Deals

4 Kimber K6S : Kimber K6S

Kimber K6S Featured Image

Kimber K6S

A super lightweight 5 shot revolver in 357 Magnum.

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

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Kimber K6S Specs

  • Barrel Length 2 in
  • Overall Length 6.62 in
  • Weight 23 oz
  • Caliber 357 Magnum
  • Capacity 6

Kimber K6S Review

We mostly know Kimber for their 1911, for better or worse. Over time, the company evolved into rifles and finally into revolvers. The Kimber K6S was their first jump into the world of revolvers. They didn’t just copy every other revolver on the market, but attempted to modernize the concealed carry revolver. The K6S comes in a few different sizes, but the classic 2-inch barrel option is the model most oriented for carry. 

The Kimber K6S lives up to the six in its name by packing six rounds. It’s a .357 Magnum revolver and wears the crown of being the lightest six-shot .357 Magnum revolver on the market. Although at 23 ounces, it does weigh nearly twice as much as the 13.3 ounce M&P 340, which is a five-shot .357 Magnum. 

The K6S gives you that one extra round, which can be quite beneficial in a small revolver. Firing .357 through the gun can be quite exciting, and the recoil, noise, and concussion can be quite rough. Firing .38 Special results in a much softer and easier-to-control recoil impulse. 

The K6S is a double-action-only design with an enclosed hammer. This makes a snag-free draw possible. It’s also stainless to resist rust and features some basic rubber grips. Kimber makes some much nicer grips, but the simple polymer grips work just fine. 

What impresses me about the K6S is the sights. It has an actual rear sight instead of just a trench. This makes it much easier to shoot and much easier land shots where you need them. The K6S also comes with a nice ejection rod. It’s not full-length, but it’s as long as one can get on a two-inch barrel. 

Kimber K6S Pros and Cons

  • Excellent sights
  • Efficient ejection rod
  • Great trigger
  • Rough recoil with .357 Magnum

Kimber K6S Deals

5 Colt Night Cobra 

Colt Night Cobra Featured Image

Colt Night Cobra 

Colts upgraded and purpose built Cobra for carry with a matte black DLC coating and DAO with bobbed trigger.

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

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Colt Night Cobra Specs

  • Barrel Length 2.1 in
  • Overall Length 7.25 in
  • Weight 25 oz
  • Caliber 38 Special
  • Capacity 6

Colt Night Cobra Review

Colt bringing back the Snake guns was such a brilliant move. They started with the Cobra series but have evolved into the Python and Anaconda. Neither the Anaconda nor the Python are great concealed carry revolvers, but the Colt Cobra can be quite small. The Night Cobra, in particular, is aimed at concealed carry. While the Night Cobra is an oddball configuration, it is but a functional one. 

The Colt Night Cobra has a trimmed hammer for a DAO action, but it’s not enclosed. It maintains the six-shot .38 Special design but drops the stainless steel for a dark black finish. The barrel is 2.1 inches, making it longer than most by just a hair. It’s also somewhat long as a concealed carry revolver at 7.25 inches. It’s nearly an inch longer than the LCR, but it’s still quite compact. 

The extra length comes from the grips. Longer grips fill my big hands and make the weapon very easy to shoot. In 38 Special chambering and large grips, the Night Cobra is a real joy to shoot at the cost of being a bit longer than most. I could empty the Night Cobra crazy fast without ever losing a good sight picture on my target at 15 yards. Six shots resulted in six dings against a mini IPSC. 

The excellent trigger also helped me stay on target. It’s a very smooth and surprisingly light DAO design. It’s quite solid and worth the Colt moniker. The Night Cobra’s big front sight is also nice, but you are still stuck with a rear trench sight. The Colt Night Cobra is a modern take on the classic cut-down Colts that really created the concealed carry revolver. 

Colt Night Cobra Pros and Cons

  • Easy to control
  • Excellent trigger
  • Great front sight
  • Quite long

Colt Night Cobra Deals

6 Smith & Wesson 43C

Smith & Wesson 43C Featured Image

Smith & Wesson 43C

A lightweight J-frame revolver with chambered in 22LR with an 8 round capacity.

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

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S&W 43C Specs

  • Barrel Length 1.87 in
  • Overall Length 6.3 in
  • Weight 11.5 oz
  • Caliber 22LR
  • Capacity 8

S&W 43C Review

Small revolvers are often tough to shoot. The race to make the lightest, smallest revolver often results in handguns that hammer your hand. For many, that’s not a great solution. If you have strength issues with your hands, arthritis, and similar issues, then an air weight .38 Special isn’t for you. What about a .22LR? 

The pint-sized .22LR can penetrate deep enough to stop a threat and has near-zero recoil. It’s not perfect, but it will work. The S&W 43C is a dedicated defensive revolver with a little .22LR cartridge. It’s a game-changing gun. When I picked up the 34C, it felt and handled like a standard defensive revolver. Until you pull the trigger. The pipsqueak recoil and lack of concussion resulted in a very easy-to-control revolver. 

I could drop multiple rounds into a target quickly and efficiently. Even with a single hand, the gun was easy to shoot and control. This makes it perfect for shooters who can’t handle the recoil of a .38 Special or even a 9mm. The tiny nature of the 34C makes it easy to pocket carry. It’s got melted corners, and an enclosed hammer to keep the little gun snag-free as it comes out of the pocket. This results in a convenient and easy-carrying gun. At 11.5 ounces, it’s one of the lightest revolvers on the market. 

The trigger pull is very smooth but heavy. Rimfire rounds like the .22LR need a heavy hit to ensure reliable ignition. This requires a heavier trigger pull. This ensures that the rounds ignite and fire without any issues to maximize reliability. 

S&W 43C Pros and Cons

  • Lightweight
  • Low recoil
  • 8 round capacity
  • Heavy trigger

S&W 43C Deals

7 Rossi RP63

Rossi RP63 Featured Image

Rossi RP63

A double action revolver in 357 Magnum optimized for concealed carry.

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

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Rossi RP63 Specs

  • Barrel Length 3 in
  • Overall Length 7.95 in
  • Weight 27.3 oz
  • Caliber 357 Magnum
  • Capacity 6

Rossi RP63 Review

The Rossi RP63 is the largest revolver on this list. It’s not a service-size revolver, but it’s no snub nose, either. It’s a .357 Magnum with a six-round cylinder and a three-inch barrel. It’s rather new but has already swept the market and provided a mid-size, affordable revolver for the concealed carry market. The Rossi brand of revolvers is striving to find a spot in the market that’s occupied by most mid-priced revolvers. 

The RP63 provides a gun for revolver shooters who like the Glock 19-sized firearm. A larger firearm is tougher to conceal, but is much easier to control if you’re shooting a .357 Magnum. The RP63 won’t beat your hand up and allows you to control the magnum-powered rounds with relative ease. The RP63’s longer barrel reduced concussion and flash, and the full-sized grips kept my hands from getting sore. 

While bigger than most, the RP63 is trimmed and slim where possible for concealed carry. The sights are ramped, and the grips are reduced, but it is still easy to get a full grip. The RP63 features a very nice trigger for an affordable revolver. It ranks right behind the LCR. It’s smooth, and there is no noticeable stacking. 

Rossi RP63 eats through full-powered .357 Magnum like a hungry bear eats honey. The gun is incredibly reliable, and even after the stainless cylinders are blackened from shots fired, the gun is still running. 

Rossi RP63 Pros and Cons

  • Easy to shoot magnum rounds
  • Excellent grip
  • Great trigger
  • Somewhat large for carry

Rossi RP63 Deals

The World of Concealed Carry Revolvers 

We know why concealed carry revolvers rule and we know that there are some awesome options out there as well. We’ve given you some basics, but now let’s dive deeper into the world of revolvers and examine a few questions you may have about the classic wheel gun. 

What Caliber? 

Revolvers come in a wide variety of calibers. From the meager .22LR up to the .500 S&W Magnum. For self-defense, the rounds typically top out at .357 Magnum, so we’ll cover some of the more popular rounds for self-defense. It’s not exhaustive, but it is the most common choice you’ll come across. If you like something with a lot of power, we have an article dedicated to best 44 Magnum revolvers, although we dont necessarily suggest them for small framed concealed carry guns.

.22 LR and .22 Magnum 

.22 Long Rifle and .22 Magnum are very different calibers but are also very similar. In a  self-defense revolver, they both tend to be on the small, low-recoiling side of the revolver market. Both fire a very small projectile and should be used with FMJs rather than hollow points to ensure adequate penetration. 

As rimfire rounds, the ignition system tends to be less reliable, so they are often paired with heavy hammer springs to help improve reliability. They also tend to fit anywhere from six to eight rounds in what’s typically a five-shot cylinder. Check out our favorite revolvers in 22LR.

.327 Federal Magnum 

The .327 Federal Magnum is a great round, but it didn’t take off as much as many revolver shooters would have liked. The .32 caliber projectile is pumped up to magnum velocities to ensure there is adequate penetration and expansion. The projectile size is smaller and allows for a five-shot cylinder to hold six rounds. 

The .327 Federal Magnum is a great round, but finding revolvers that chamber it and ammunition can be tricky. The ammo is also expensive, which sucks. 

.38 Special 

The classic revolver round for self-defense and concealed carry is the .38 Special round. The .38 Special is over a century old and still kicking. It’s a light recoiling round with a heavy enough projectile to penetrate and even expand with some revolvers. This old round is often the just-right choice for most shooters with a snub-nose revolver. 

From a super short barrel, the .38 Special is best used with a wadcutter and not a hollow point. These tend to penetrate deeply and reach the necessary vitals. With barrels longer than two inches, a JHP is likely the better choice. This ammo is very common and not very expensive. 

9mm 

The 9mm cartridge is designed for automatic pistols but has seen success in revolvers. This cartridge will probably require a moon clip for ejection, but these moon clips also act as quick reloaders. The 9mm cartridge works well in revolvers and, much like the .38 Special, offers limited recoil and muzzle rise. 

The popularity of 9mm makes it affordable and widely available. There are many defensive loads available for the cartridge in several weights as well. The only downside is that there aren’t a ton of 9mm revolvers on the market. 

.357 Magnum 

The .357 Magnum is a classic revolver fighting cartridge. It was produced for police use and has become a revolver favorite. A .357 Magnum digs deep and can penetrate extremely well. The rounds can expand and continue to penetrate even from smaller revolvers. 

Revolvers firing the .357 Magnum can be quite small and light, which does create some excess recoil and muzzle flash. In mid-size revolvers, the .357 Magnum tends to be an excellent defensive round for threats on two and four legs. Shooters going with a .357 Magnum won’t have a problem finding ammo, but it tends to be a little costly. Here is our list of best 357 Magnum revolvers

The Hammer Conundrum

The concealed carry revolver comes in many configurations, and you’ll notice one of the most popular choices is the hammerless revolver. It’s not really hammerless, but the hammer spur has been trimmed and likely even enclosed. This creates a double-action-only revolver. Revolvers with exposed hammers can be manually cocked for single-action use. 

Double action-only revolvers and their hammerless designs are in place so they can be drawn easily from deep concealment. They are snag-free, so to speak. This also typically exists because most folks don’t see a real benefit of a single-action option for a defensive revolver with a two-inch long barrel. 

A manually cocked single-action trigger provides a lighter and shorter trigger pull, which often helps with accurate shooting. There is certainly some benefit to mid-size revolvers rather than your pocket-carried snub nose. 

It ultimately comes down to personal preference and what you prefer on your carry gun. 

Grips 

Concealed carry revolvers are fairly small, and they often have small and thin grips. These grips can often feel uncomfortable and provide less of a grip on the gun. They tend to be easier to conceal. Larger grips offer a trade-off of more control and comfort but less concealment. If you’re carrying IWB, then this isn’t a huge issue, but for pocket or ankle carry, it might be a real concern. 

Another issue might occur when it comes time to utilize a speed loader. If the grips are too big, the speed loader may not fit into the cylinder. This is common with small-frame revolvers. You’ll need to find the right balance for your needs, and this can be tricky. Sometimes, more practice can eliminate those grip issues, so make sure you get your dry and live fire training in. 

Conclusion

Revolvers have remained a popular concealed carry choice for well over a century. Their shape, small size, and excellent firepower make them a natural choice for both experienced and new shooters. A good wheel gun can be an excellent self-defense tool, and hopefully, we’ve helped you narrow down the right revolver for you. 

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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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