A revolver is a firearm that can be fired multiple times without reloading. This is one of the reasons why revolvers are also called six-shooters. The history of the revolver can be traced back to the 16th century when early versions of the weapon were developed in Europe. Early prototypes were often hand-cranked and had limited practicality. The early revolvers were also complicated and expensive, hence were not very popular.
In the early 19th century, American inventor Samuel Colt developed a more practical and affordable revolver design. Colt’s revolver was patented in 1836, and it quickly became popular with lawmen, soldiers, and civilians. Colt’s revolver was a single-action weapon that had to be cocked manually before each shot. However, in the late 19th century, double-action revolvers were developed. Double-action revolvers allowed the shooter to fire the weapon with a single pull of the trigger.
Revolvers played a major role in the American Civil War and other conflicts around the world. Revolvers remained popular firearms throughout the 20th century, and they are still used today by law enforcement agencies, militaries, and civilians for self-defence and target shooting.
Here is a list of the top 10 best revolvers – ever made – based on their quality, design, and performance:
Colt Single Action Army (Colt Peacemaker)
The Colt Single Action Army (SAA) — a single-action handgun known for its accuracy and durability. The Colt SAA is a six-shot revolver that fires a .45 Long Colt cartridge. It was the standard-issue sidearm of the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps for over 20 years from 1873 to 1892. It was also widely used by lawmen, cowboys, and civilians throughout the American Old West.
The Colt SAA played an important role in American history and culture. The Colt SAA is a true American icon and has been featured in countless movies, TV shows, and books. It is still one of the most popular revolvers in the world today.
Also known as the Colt Peacemaker or “Frontier Six-Shooter” because of its role in settling disputes this iconic revolver introduced in 1873, is also known as the “gun that won the West.”
Smith & Wesson Model 29
The Smith & Wesson Model 29 – a double-action revolver introduced in 1955 is one of the most popular and powerful revolvers ever made. The Model 29 is a six-shot, double-action revolver manufactured by Smith & Wesson American firearm manufacturer headquartered in Maryville, Tennessee, United States. The Model 29 is chambered in .44 Magnum, a high-powered cartridge known for its significant recoil and stopping power. It can also be found in other calibres like .44 Special and .45 Colt. The Model 29 is built on a large N-frame, which is one of Smith & Wesson’s larger frame sizes. It features a double-action/single-action design, which means it can be fired by simply pulling the trigger (double-action) or by manually cocking the hammer for a lighter, single-action trigger pull. The Model 29 is available with various barrel lengths, typically ranging from 4 inches to 8 3/8 inches. The longer barrels are preferred for hunting and target shooting, while shorter barrels offer more portability for concealed carry.
The history of the revolver can be traced back to the 16th century when early versions of the weapon were developed in Europe. Early prototypes were often hand-cranked and had limited practicality. The early revolvers were also complicated and expensive, hence were not very popular
Smith & Wesson’s revolvers were quite popular during the American Civil War when soldiers on both sides of the conflict privately purchased the revolvers for self-defence. The demand for Smith & Wesson shot up even further in 1971 when Clint Eastwood used to handgun in the movie Dirty Harry. In the movie Clint Eastwood’s character carries a Model 29 with a 6.5-inch barrel and utters the famous line, “This is the .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world.” After the release of the movie and its sequels, retailers faced a lot of difficulty in keeping the Model 29 in stock.
The Ruger Blackhawk is a versatile single-action revolver produced by Sturm, Ruger & Co. It is known for its durability, accuracy, and the ability to handle a wide range of calibres. It can be found chambered in various calibres, including .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .45 Colt, and .30 Carbine, for target shooting, hunting, or cowboy action shooting.
It is available in a range of barrel lengths, from 4.62 inches to 7.5 inches. The barrel length influences the revolver’s balance, accuracy, and suitability for different purposes. Many models of the Ruger Blackhawk feature adjustable rear sights, allowing the shooter to fine-tune the point of impact. This makes the Blackhawk a good choice for those interested in precision shooting. Some Blackhawk models come with interchangeable cylinders, which can allow you to shoot both .357 Magnum and 9mm Parabellum (or other compatible calibres) in the same revolver. This adds to the versatility of the firearm.
The Ruger Blackhawk is often considered a more budget-friendly alternative to some other single-action revolvers while still delivering reliable performance. It is popular among handgun enthusiasts, for target shooting, hunting or recreational shooting sports like cowboy action shooting.
Smith & Wesson Model 686
The Smith & Wesson Model 686 is a classic double-action revolver known for its quality, accuracy, and durability. The Blackhawk is chambered for a variety of calibres, including .357 Magnum, .38 Special ammunition, .44 Magnum, and .45 Colt. It was introduced in 1955 and is still in production today.
The Model 686 is built on Smith & Wesson’s medium to large L-frame, which offers a balance between size and strength. It can be fired by either pulling the trigger through a full double-action stroke or by manually cocking the hammer for a lighter single-action pull. Model 686 is available with various barrel lengths, commonly ranging from 2.5 inches to 6 inches which affects the revolver’s handling suitability for different purposes, such as concealed carry, target shooting, or competition. Model 686 is known for its adjustable rear sight and elevation making it ideal for target shooting and competition.
One of the finest double-action revolvers ever produced the Colt Python is known for its exceptional craftsmanship, accuracy, and smooth action. The Colt Python is primarily chambered in .357 Magnum, a powerful cartridge that provides excellent accuracy and stopping power. It can also fire the lighter .38 Special ammunition.
It is available in barrel lengths, ranging from 2.5 inches to 8 inches. While the longer barrels are useful for target shooting and hunting, shorter barrels are ideal for concealed carry.
One of the standout features of the Colt Python is its incredibly smooth trigger pull leading to accuracy, both in double-action and single-action modes. Colt Pythons come with adjustable rear sights, allowing the shooter to fine-tune the point of impact. This is particularly useful for target shooting and precise aiming.
The Colt Python is often seen in movies, television shows, and literature and has a reputation for being a symbol of precision and luxury in the world of firearms. Its limited availability and reputation have contributed to its status as a collector’s item and a symbol of craftsmanship in the world of revolvers.
Smith & Wesson Model 686 Plus
The Smith & Wesson Model 686 Plus is a versatile double-action revolver produced by Smith & Wesson. It is chambered in a .357 Magnum, a powerful cartridge. It can also fire .38 Special ammunition, providing flexibility for various shooting applications. The Model 686 Plus is known for quality, accuracy, and reliability
It is built on the medium to large L-frame, offering a balance between size and strength. The Model 686 Plus is available with various barrel lengths, ranging from 2.5 inches to 6 inches, which affects the revolver’s handling and suitability for different purposes.
One of the distinguishing feature of the Model 686 Plus is its seven-round cylinder, which offers two additional rounds compared to the standard Model 686’s six-round cylinder. The extra capacity can be appealing to those who want more rounds on hand in self-defence or carry a revolver.
Smith & Wesson revolvers, including the Model 686 Plus, are known for their robust and durable construction, making them reliable and capable of withstanding regular use.
Renowned for its durability, accuracy, power and robust design, the Ruger GP100 is a double-action revolver manufactured by Sturm, Ruger & Co. Chambered for a variety of calibres, including .357 Magnum, .38 Special, .44 Magnum, .41 Magnum, .10mm Auto, and .22 Long Rifle, the GP100 is a popular weapon for hunting, self-defence, and target shooting. It was introduced in 1985 and is still in production today.
The GP100 is built on a sturdy and rugged frame, known as the “medium” or “K-frame.” The GP100 features a stainless steel frame, barrel, and cylinder. The GP100 is available with varying barrel lengths ranging from 3 inches to 6 inches which affect the revolver’s balance, accuracy, and suitability for different purposes. Many GP100 models come equipped with adjustable rear sights, allowing for wind speed and elevation adjustments, which is beneficial for precision shooting.
Known for its reliability, accuracy, and affordability the Ruger GP100 is a popular choice for both law enforcement officers and civilian shooters. On the whole, the GP100 is ideal for various shooting applications, including self-defence, target shooting, and hunting and is truly a gun that is built to last.
Colt Detective Special
Known for its small size, reliability, and effectiveness, the Colt Detective Special is a compact double-action revolver that has a long history of use in law enforcement as a concealed firearm. It was introduced in 1927 and was the first revolver designed specifically for concealed carry by plainclothes police detectives.
The Detective Special was an immediate success, and it quickly became one of the most popular revolvers in the world. It was used by police detectives, private investigators, and civilians alike. The Detective Special was also featured in numerous movies and television shows, including the Dirty Harry films.
Revolvers played a major role in the American Civil War and other conflicts around the world. Revolvers remained popular firearms throughout the 20th century, and they are still used today by law enforcement agencies, militaries, and civilians for self-defence and target shooting
The Detective Special is no longer in production, but it is still a popular revolver among collectors and shooters. It is prized for its accuracy, reliability, and concealability. The Colt Detective Special is traditionally chambered in .38 Special a popular and widely available revolver cartridge. The Detective Special is designed for concealed carry and close-quarters self-defence. It typically features a compact frame and a snub-nose barrel, often around 2 inches in length. It is a double-action revolver, allowing for rapid firing by simply pulling the trigger. Some models also offer a single-action option by manually cocking the hammer.
The Colt Detective Special is an iconic and historically significant revolver known for its compact design and reliability. While the original model is no longer in production, it holds a special place in the history of firearms and remains an enduring symbol of concealed carry and self-defence handguns.
Taurus Model 605
Taurus Model 605 is a compact, budget-friendly, double-action revolver produced by Taurus International. Known for its affordability and simplicity, it is a preferred weapon for those seeking a reliable and cost-effective concealed firearm. The Taurus Model 605 is chambered in a .357 Magnum cartridge. It can also fire the lighter .38 Special ammunition, providing flexibility for various shooting needs.
The Model 605 is a double-action revolver with a compact frame and snub-nose barrel, typically around 2 inches in length. The standard capacity of the Model 605 is 5 rounds, although some variants with a longer barrel may have a 6-round cylinder.
The Model 605 is ideal for concealed carry because of its compact size and lightweight design, making it easy to carry discretely. This makes them an attractive choice for those who want a reliable self-defence revolver.
Taurus revolvers, including the Model 605, often include safety features like the Taurus Security System (TSS), which allows you to secure the firearm with a key lock.
Dan Wesson Model 15
The Dan Wesson Model 15 is a double-action revolver produced by Dan Wesson Firearms, a subsidiary of CZ-USA. It’s known for its quality, accuracy, and the ability to switch out barrels for added versatility. The Dan Wesson Model 15 is typically chambered in .357 Magnum cartridge and can also fire.38 Special ammunition.
What sets the Dan Wesson revolvers apart is their interchangeable barrel system. The barrels are held in place by a unique tension nut, allowing the user to switch barrels easily, which can change the revolver’s role from concealed carry to target shooting or hunting.
The ability to switch out barrels makes the Dan Wesson Model 15 highly versatile. Different barrel lengths are available, ranging from 2 inches to 15 inches. This makes it suitable for a wide range of shooting disciplines.
The standard capacity of the Model 15 is 6 rounds, although the barrel length can affect the cylinder’s capacity. Dan Wesson revolvers, including the Model 15, are known for their build quality, accuracy, and versatility.
The Dan Wesson Model 15’s interchangeable barrel system makes it a versatile and adaptable firearm which allows shooters to have one revolver that can serve multiple purposes, from concealed carry to precision target shooting. Its reputation for quality and customization makes it a popular choice among firearm enthusiasts.
–The writer is a seasoned media professional with over three decades of experience in print, electronic, and web media. He is presently Editor of Taazakhabar News. The views expressed are of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Raksha Anirveda