Best Revolvers for Women | Range365

Best Revolvers for Women

Whether you call them revolvers, six-shooters or wheel guns, these classic firearms are making a comeback. Semi-automatic pistols have been very popular for years, but both men and women are realizing anew the benefits of revolvers.

Revolvers are simple to operate, with fewer moving parts and controls than a semi-automatic pistol. They’re easy and fun to shoot. While cylinder capacity is limited to 5 to 8 rounds, depending on size and caliber, they’re often a great choice for someone with limited mobility or hand weakness, because there’s no slide to rack, as on a semi-automatic. They allow you to shoot comfortably and confidently.

To get a good idea of what revolvers ladies are currently carrying and shooting, I reached out on numerous social media sites to find women who owned revolvers. I asked them which model was their favorite, and why. I also spoke with several friends who are revolver fans. These revolver-toting ladies ranged from relative new shooters to certified instructors, plus every level in between. The same revolvers kept coming up in the answers from the scores of women who participated. Below are their favorites and a couple of my own, as an avid shooter and handgun instructor, in alphabetical order.

All of the revolvers here are double action, which presents another advantage of revolvers: They require a deliberate and forceful trigger pull, which brings the hammer back and then releases it, firing the gun. Such a trigger pull reduces the chance of an accidental discharge. (Learn more about how revolvers work here.)

Two of the revolvers here are “double-action only.” This means the revolvers have an internal hammer. (Double-action revolvers with an exposed hammer can be fired single-action–that is, pulling the hammer back with your thumb and then pulling the trigger, which requires a shorter trigger pull and thus can increase accuracy—but single-action mode is not typically relied on in self-defense situations.) The advantage of double-action-only revolvers is that with no exposed hammer, the revolver will be less likely to snag on your clothing if you draw it from a concealed carry location. It also will be less likely to “print,” meaning present a bulge or outline underneath your clothing that is obvious to others.

A note on weight: You’ll see below that many of the revolvers are purposely designed to be lightweight, and thus easier to tote around. But be aware that a large handgun is typically easier to shoot and has less recoil than a small handgun of the same caliber. The way that the gun fits your hand will affect how you feel recoil as well.

Also, while a short barrel makes a revolver lighter and easier to carry concealed, the short sight radius—the distance between the front and rear sights—makes it more difficult to shoot accurately.

A revolver that fits your hand in the store may feel differently at the range, so remember that you should always try shooting a gun that you’re interested in before laying down your money.

You may notice that some of the Smith & Wesson revolvers below are classified as a “J-frame” style. Essentially, J-frame refers to size of the gun. A J-frame is smaller in size than a K-frame, and the size increases as the letters progress alphabetically. Right or wrong, I’ve heard the term used when discussing the size and style of other manufacturer’s designs as well.

My Range365 colleague Julie Golob recently went over revolver basics, and how to decide if one is right for you—watch her video here.

Not surprisingly, Smith & Wesson and Ruger both ended up having multiple revolvers in this roundup. Not only are they very popular brands, but they also offer many revolvers of different size. Because manufacturers offer variations, it won’t be hard for you to find the perfect revolver to fit your needs as well as your body.

There are many other revolver manufacturers, and it would be impossible to list each revolver that was suggested to me. But these eight were repeatedly recommended. Read on for some great choices!

Charter Arms Chic Lady

Chambering: .38 Special or .38 Special +P

Action: Double action or double-action only

Capacity: 5

Barrel Length: 2 inches

Weight: 12 ounces unloaded

MSRP: $425 - $483

Best features: If you’re a fan of color, check out the Chic Lady. This ultra-lightweight aluminum-and-steel revolver—the lightest one on the list—is as cute as it is concealable, and you’ll barely know you’re wearing it. The Chic Lady is based on Charter Arms’ popular “Undercover Lite” model, which has a reputation for accuracy. I was surprised at how many ladies said they loved their Chic Lady…the availability of so many different color options may be a contributing factor.

Ruger GP100

Best Revolvers for Women

mfg. photo

Chambering: .357 Magnum

Action: Double

Capacity: 6

Barrel length: 3, 4.2 or 6 inches

Weight: 40 ounces unloaded (4.2 inch barrel)

MSRP: $769-$829

Best features: This revolver boasts a triple-locking cylinder that is locked into the frame in three places, ensuring proper alignment and dependable shot placement. It doesn’t’ require special tools for takedown and cleaning. The frame will accommodate a variety of custom grips, should you feel the need to customize your revolver, though it does come with a recoil-reducing rubber Hogue Monogrip. Ruger claims that the GP100 revolvers are among the most comfortable shooting revolvers. The .357 chambering means it will fire lighter-recoiling (and more affordable) .38 Special rounds as well. The 4.2-inch-barrel versions are best for open carry, though concealing one may be possible depending on your holster and body type.

Ruger LCR

Best Revolvers for Women

mfg. photo

Chambering: .22 LR, .22 WMR (.22 Magnum), .38 Special +P, .357 Magnum, .327 Federal Magnum, 9mm

Action: Double-action only

Capacity: 5 to 6

Barrel length: 1.87 inches

Weight: 13.5-17.1 ounces unloaded

MSRP: $579 - $669

Best features: The LCR is available in multiple calibers, so you can get one in a chambering that suits you. Grips can be the standard Hogue Tamer Monogrip or Crimson Trace Laser Grips with integrated laser sight for easy aiming. This is a lightweight, comfortable and popular carry gun that many women recommended to me. I’m a 9mm fan and the LCR in 9mm (which uses moon clips to load those rounds, since they have no rims) may be my next handgun purchase.

Chambering: .38 Special +P

Action: Double-action only

Capacity: 5

Barrel length: 1.9 inches

Weight: 14.4 ounces unloaded

MSRP: $539

Best features: The appropriately named Bodyguard features an ambidextrous cylinder release button, which is a plus for left-handed shooters. It comes with an integrated Crimson Trace laser, and includes extra batteries. Many ladies say they love it because recoil is light and manageable for a short-barreled-revolver.

Smith & Wesson Model 638

Chambering: .38 Special +P

Action: Double

Capacity: 5

Barrel length: 1.875 inches

Weight: 15.1 ounces unloaded

MSRP: $469

Best Features: The 638 features a small, shrouded hammer, which reduces the chance of it snagging on your clothing, thus making it a great choice for concealed carry. Built on the very popular J-Frame, the 638 is easy to conceal and very comfortable in your hand. Its short barrel contributes to its ease of concealment as well. This model was the most popular among the ladies I queried, and not surprisingly it’s very popular with men, too.

Smith & Wesson Model 642

Chambered in: .38 Special +P

Action: Double-action only

Capacity: 5

Barrel length: 1.875 inches

Weight: 15 ounces unloaded

MSRP: $499-$699

Best Features: The Model 642 has a short barrel, J-frame grip and overall small size, making it very concealable. The synthetic stock grips are also available in pink, and you can choose a version with integrated Crimson Trace laser grips. The cylinder is designed to accept moon clips for easy re-loading. It’s easily concealable and has a comparatively light trigger pull.

Chambering: .38 Special +P

Action: Double-action only

Capacity: 5

Barrel length: 1.875 inches

Weight: 14.5 ounces unloaded

MSRP: $499

Best Features: This small revolver is very similar to the Airweight. Also built on the J-frame, the Lady Smith was designed with a woman’s hand in mind. With its smaller grip and great ergonomics, the Lady Smith fits an average woman’s hand perfectly. It features beautiful wood grips. The aluminum alloy frame contributes to its light weight. This revolver is not only popular, it’s beautiful and affordable too.

Smith & Wesson Model 686

Best Revolvers for Women

Smith & Wesson Model 686.

mfg. photo

Chambering: .357 Magnum and .38 Special +P

Action: Double

Capacity: 6

Barrel length: 2.5 inches

Weight: 34.7 ounces unloaded

MSRP: $829

Best Features: First, a caveat. The 686 with a 2.5-inch barrel shown here was very popular with the ladies I spoke with, but that model is not currently in production. While the 4-inch-barrel version may not be as easily concealable, it’s still an awesome revolver. Weighing in at more than two pounds, this revolver is the second heaviest on the list, and is double that of some here. Despite this, ladies seem to love the feel of it in their hand, and shoot it well. If you can find a model with a 2.5-inch barrel, definitely check it out.

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