Given their ease of use and potent ammunition selection, revolvers are still shooting strong after all these years. Here are nine great wheelguns, both single- and double-action, that cover nearly every conceivable budget and task. These babies are perfect for everything from self-defense to hanging your next trophy on the wall and plain old target shooting.
What does the world of revolvers have in store for you?
- Ruger LCRx (.357 Magnum)
- Ruger GP100 (.44 Special)
- Ruger Redhawk (.357 Magnum)
- Ruger SP101 Match Campion (.357 Magnum)
- Nighthawk Custom/Korth Sky Hawk (9mm Luger)
- Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 500 3.5 (.500 S&W Magnum)
- Smith & Wesson Model 360 (.357 Magnum)
- Gary Reeder Custom Outlaw (.44 Special)
- Gary Reeder Custom Hellcat (.32 H&R Magnum)
Ruger LCRx (.357 Magnum)
Ruger’s LCRx is a 17-ounce .357 Magnum with a 1.87-inch barrel. It has a monolithic frame made of 400-series stainless-steel and a polymer fire control housing. The stainless-steel cylinder has been fluted to reduce weight, and it has a PVD coating to enhance durability. The revolver will accept modular grips, has a pinned, white-striped front sight and an external hammer for single-action operation. $579-$669
Ruger GP100 (.44 Special)
Ruger’s new 3-inch, stainless-steel, GP100 in .44 Special weighs in at 36 ounces. It comes with a fully adjustable rear sight and a fiber-optic front sight. Unless you were born before 1970, you might not have any appreciation of the .44 Special, but it is fully capable as a self-defense cartridge for use against a murderous fiend or a furry ball of fur and claws. $829
Ruger Redhawk (.357 Magnum)
Bad guys are not the only things you might need protection from. Outdoorsmen who frequent bear country would do well to arm up with a firearm capable of putting the smackdown on a toothy attacker. With its 2.75-inch barrel, Ruger’s new .357 Magnum Redhawk is a big gun capable of helping tame the rock and roll of the hottest .357 Magnum loads. And, like all .357 Magnum revolvers, it will also fire .38 Special ammunition. $1,079
Ruger SP101 Match Campion (.357 Magnum)
This revolver has a 4.2-inch, full-lugged barrel and is quite light and handy. It will still handle .357 Magnum or .38 Special ammunition, but its five-shot cylinder reduces overall weight. It would be an ideal sidearm for a backpacker or camper, and don’t forget revolvers are well suited for use with shot shells, making them perfect for poisonous snakes or other vermin around home or camp. $859
Nighthawk Custom/Korth Sky Hawk (9mm Luger)
Nighthawk Custom Firearms partnered with German-built Korth revolvers to produce some truly excellent wheelguns. I’ve pulled a lot of triggers on a lot of guns, but I’ve never pulled a trigger on any gun as impressive as those on the Korth revolvers. The Sky Hawk — the revolver serious self-defense practitioners should consider — is a compact, 20-ounce, six-shot revolver chambered for 9mm Luger. Every part is machined from billet steel or aluminum, and it’s available with a 2- or 3-inch barrel. A gold bead front sight, Houge grips, hard-coated frame, TSA-approved travel case, cleaning rod, grip removal tool, lubricating oil, lanyard and a proprietary speed loader are standard. There’s nothing else like it on the planet. $1,699
Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 500 3.5 (.500 S&W Magnum)
The new Model 500 Smith & Wesson from the Performance Center holds five rounds of .500 Smith & Wesson. This beast of a cartridge is contained in a compact package only weighing 56 ounces. With its stubby 3-inch barrel, the 500 3.5 might be the ultimate bear defense handgun. $1,609
Smith & Wesson Model 360 (.357 Magnum)
Smith & Wesson’s J-Frame revolver has long been a staple in the pockets, glove boxes and night stands of those who take responsibility for their personal safety. The new 360 J-Frame features a corrosion-resistant, unfluted, stainless-steel cylinder with a PVD finish. This revolver is built on a lightweight but strong scandium alloy frame, with flat dark earth synthetic grips. But most importantly, this compact five-shot revolver is chambered for the potent .357 Magnum. $770
Gary Reeder Custom Outlaw (.44 Special)
Reeder’s new Outlaw is based on the Ruger Vaquero, is one of his top sellers and it’s chambered for the .44 Special. It has a full color-cased frame with a black Chromex finish on the rest of the gun. The unique Sorrel-stocked Bisley Gunfighter grip and red fiber-optic sight set this pistol apart. $1,995/plus price of Ruger Vaquero
Gary Reeder Custom Hellcat (.32 H&R Magnum)
One of my Reeder favorites is the Hellcat. Over the past year, Reeder has specialized on small-caliber conversions. For the Hellcat, he took the rimfire Ruger Bearcat and converted it to handle the .32 H&R. This is a very versatile cartridge that’s often overlooked, and with the right ammo it’s proven itself deer capable. $1,595/plus price of Ruger Bearcat
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.
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The only one’s that interest me (at the moment) are the .44 specials and of those I’d want the Reeder Outlaw (and don’t currently have the money for one anyway)
To me the GP100, while nice, is over priced,. May pick up a Charter Arms Bulldog (would lean towards the On Duty version) as the examples I’ve seen have been pretty nice (no, not as refined as the Ruger) and priced well.
The article says “Any taste or budget”, yet the average cost of the listed guns is over $1,200, so I guess the author has a much bigger budget than most. And the article, notably, omits any inexpensive .22LR or .22WMR revolvers from the list too. That’s a shame as many people put in serious trigger time with a .22LR to fine tune their shooting skills at low cost. And one-third (33%) of the author’s selections are custom or semi-custom guns with hefty price tags above $1,500. I hadn’t realized gun writers were so well paid so they could afford such items. I guess we should just be thankful he didn’t include either the abominable Taurus Judge or the equally silly Governor in this list.