Pros and Cons To Carrying a Concealed Revolver

S&W 8-shot revolver

A gun review I'm currently working on, sponsored by G2 Research Telos.

I love revolvers. I've got a couple of them, and carry one a few times per week. I like my semi-autos, too, and believe they have their place within my concealed carry regimen, but there's just something about the simplicity of a wheel gun that I love. In anticipation of a gun review I'm doing on a Model 627 S&W 8-shot revolver, I figured I'd list out some of the reasons why I believe it's a good idea to carry a wheel gun for self-defense, as well as a few issues we face as revolver carriers.

Revolver Pros:

There are quite a few positives to carrying a revolver, and why I do carry one on a weekly basis. Here they are–

Caliber Choices:

Believe it or not, you can have your cake, with a wheel gun, and eat it too. What I mean, is that there are revolvers available in the classic cartridges like .38 special, .357 magnum, .44 special, etc., but also 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP. etc. This is a good thing because, if you're cheap like me, and you own a few 9mm pistols but want a revolver, as well, you won't have to stock another type of ammunition.

Just pull the trigger:

I'm not going in the direction you think I am with this one. Nope, instead, let me tell you that if for some reason you have a light primer strike, or a dud round, there is no malfunction you have to clear. With your double-action revolver, simply pulling the trigger again will cycle the next round in front of the hammer, and unless there is a problem with your gun, which isn't likely, it'll go bang when you need it to.


For the reasons stated above, and the fact that there just isn't much that goes into a revolver, makes them less likely to break. Any well made firearm will perform for decades, but there are revolvers from over 100 years ago that function just as they did when they were first made.


I drop a snub-nose revolver into my pocket a few times per week, and I know others who carry one as a backup to their M&P on their ankle. Either way small guns are easy to conceal. Granted, there are a lot of small semi-autos as well, but most people who carry a revolver for a backup gun, actually do so for reliability purposes.


Literally, just make sure it's loaded up with the proper ammo, aim, and shoot. If you do your part, the gun will do its part, and it can be a match made in heaven. Then again, there are issues as well …

Revolver Issues:

Performance center revolver

8-shot cylinder

I'm not sure I'd call them issues, but there are some things that you need to be aware of if you're new to this game. First, some of the worst advice I've ever heard given at the gun store, is this:

Oh, you're looking for a gun for your lady, she'll never be able to pull the slide back on a semi-auto, just buy her a revolver instead. Anyone can shoot one of those accurately.

Let me just state right here, that if you or your lady has a hard time pulling the slide back on a semi-automatic pistol, neither one of you will be able to manipulate the trigger properly on a double-action revolver, either. The best bet here, is to bring whoever you're buying a gun for to a range that rents guns and find the perfect one that way.

Many double action revolvers have a trigger pull in the area of 12 pounds, which is atrocious for someone without finger strength. Then again, we can work this into a positive, as well, because such a long, hard trigger pull usually equates into a safe firearm because a deliberate pull of the trigger needs to happen in order to fire.

Round capacity:

Most revolvers come standard with 5 or 6 shots these days, with the rarity coming with 7 or 8. The one I'm testing from S&W is an 8-shot Model 627, chambered in .357 magnum. I'm carrying it concealed, and have been for a bit. On those days when I drop my snubby revolver into my pocket, it's a 5-shot gun. That could be an issue if I need more ammo than I actually have.

What about you?

What would you add to this list? Any pros or cons to carrying a revolver for your EDC? Let me know what I missed in the comments below. Then, make sure you like our Facebook page, if you're ever on that social media platform.


About Joshua Gillem

Josh is a lifelong practitioner and student of the gun. He grew up shooting/hunting with his dad, and was given his first gun, a 12 gauge shotgun, when just a small boy. After high school, he joined the Marines where his love for firearms blossomed as he qualified with an M16A2, an M9, and a 240G. Josh has been writing about firearms and tactics for several years, owns the blog Gunners Den, is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, and believes that each individual person has the right to self-defense by any means necessary. Currently residing in gun-friendly NC, he carries a concealed gun on a daily basis, even in his own house.


  1. Darkwing on December 5, 2017 at 7:07 am

    Revolvers: 99% chance that they will not jam,

  2. Dale on December 5, 2017 at 7:55 am

    Why only 5 shots in a revolver designed to fire 8 rounds. I could see loading 7 and leaving 1 chamber empty for extra safety. Please explain?

    • Joshua Gillem on December 5, 2017 at 10:06 am

      Dale, I’d never carry less than what the firearm called for. I was talking about the 5-shot snub-nosed revolver that I carry a few times per week, not the 8-shot revolver I’m testing. Thanks.

    • Dennis on July 16, 2018 at 9:14 am

      Why carry with an empty cylinder? Modern revolvers have a hammer block that prevents the hammer from contacting the firing pin.

    • Joe on February 3, 2020 at 10:32 am

      Read again, talking about two different gun. The 8 shot 357 and the snubby he mentioned earlier that he drops in his pocket is the 5 shoot one.

  3. Eric on December 5, 2017 at 8:17 am

    Carrying a revolver gives one confidence of performance, that is “it will shoot”. I have a Kimber Raptor Ultra II 45 acp, 7+1, that I do not carry. Why? I had too many Jams at the range with various ammo. One jam when I need it to perform can be life ending. So I carry a S&W 686 Performance Center 7 Shot with no worries. And it is deadly accurate!

    Do have other Sig semi auto that I rotate for CCH, they have proven not to jam thus far. Will continue to rotate as long as no Jams, but the Beautiful Kimber is for the range only for now.

    • J Allen Kaiser on April 8, 2018 at 12:14 am

      In fairness, your Kimber’s design is over 107 years old, and while nearly all modern semi-auto pistols are based on that original, John Browning, delayed-unlocking, tilting-barrel design of the 1911, they have all had marked improvements in the reliability department. Most notably: the feed ramp being integrated into the barrel, rather than the frame, and the addition of an external “claw style” extractor.
      Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my 1911. But I do not rely on it for daily carry because there are lighter, more compact, more reliable, higher capacity, less expensive semi-autos that fill that roll extremely well.

      …and now that the Ruger 8-shot .357 redhawks are available in a 4.2” barrel…i’m really tempted to explore carrying a revolver for the first time, too. Ahhhh, so many great gun options, so little time!

    • Ted Hawthorne p on October 4, 2019 at 10:29 pm

      I prefer the .357 revolver ,I use .38 special for practice range. With the 4″in.barrel after firing a round I can realign my aim faster.. Less moving parts than the semi auto. But I’m a firm believer that any confrontation is going to be very few shots fired, So each to his own ,any gun is better than none.

  4. Larry on December 5, 2017 at 8:53 am

    If you are speaking of the amount of ammo in the gun, why would anyone leave a empty chamber. Forensic firearm guys I knew would do drop tests all day, without any gun firing. Put the round in so you don’t have an ” oh heck moment”.

    • Glazi on December 5, 2017 at 11:42 am

      According to an instructor I had back when the .38 was the standard Air Force sidearm, this arose from an unconscious habit bored police sometimes had when on guard of resting their hand on the weapon. I guess it only took one instance of pulling one’s thumb across the hammer just enough to fire it off for the reg to come down to keep an empty chamber under the hammer.

      • Doug on July 15, 2018 at 10:00 am

        That doesn’t make sense. If the hammer is pulled back the cylinder turns and your empty chamber (the one under the hammer) isn’t there anymore and neither is round if you have have one. The empty chamber rule, if you will, came from old single action revolvers in the 1800’s where a gunfighter would leave a chamber unloaded and put a $5 or some note rolled up to pay the undertaker. Also because the hammer/firing pin were one and could actually strike the primer if dropped. In the late 1980’s S&W, I think, started making hammers that strike a transfer bar that moves the firing pin to strike the primer. So, the empty chamber thing became obsolete but try changing minds of governments and griseled gunfighters and you’ll know why the AF still taught the empty chamber rule.

  5. Kitty on December 5, 2017 at 9:34 am

    I have revolvers and semi-autos. Unless I am restricted as to what size gun I can conceal carry without imprinting (usually based on my wardrobe), in which case I will carry one of my small semi-autos – otherwise I always prefer to carry a revolver.

  6. Gene on December 5, 2017 at 9:56 am

    I also carry at home, church, everywhere. Mostly carry a small 380 Sig or J frame 38 Sp because weight of my larger 9mm, 45 auto & Colt Python is to much for 16 hours of carry each day. For dependability, I like the revolver, have never had a jam with them as with the autos.
    Semper Fi

  7. Max on December 5, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    Sorry guys but I am a Glock fan. Have three.2 17s and a 19 and they never miss a round but I do understand what people say when they want a revolver . Better safe that sorry.

  8. Bruce Savage on December 5, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    I carried a .38 revolver between 1962 and 1980 (dept issue. From that date, I carried a 1911 in .45 ACP until six years ago when I went back to revolver. Your home defense gun, comp gun and your carry gun should be the same one (less competition to shoot against in IDPA). At age 79, I’m taking my advice that I’ve given to my new students for years. I light weight 2″ wheel gun in a pocket is not the way to go. Too many people choose a gun to complement the way they dress – you carry gun should determine what you wear. Try to practice your draw, reloads and a few speed shooting rounds every day if possible. The best carry revolver: A S&W 4″ 686 plus with bobbed hammer, XS big dot sights, a 4 1/2 pound trigger job, extended hammer nose. With practice, you load a 7 round moon clip as fast as you can load a 7 round mag into a 1911. Carried in a Bianchi #111 cross draw holster with one or two extra Calif. Comp. clip holders. Moon clips will put in a class requiring a higher PF and many ranges require a different firing stance with a cross craw, but it’s the way to go.

    • J Allen Kaiser on April 8, 2018 at 12:26 am

      This is some solid advice right here. I definitely agree with everything you said in terms of barrel length, consistency of carry gun, practice, etc…but I’m curious about the cross-draw. I’ve never found that one to be as effective (for me, personally) as drawing from the dominant side…and I would think there are practical issues with cross-draw if you were ever to find yourself fending off an attacker in close-quarters while trying to draw. You have to get your dominant arm around yourself, then pivot the muzzle 180°…but you admittedly have more experience than I…is there a reason other than grip concealment for the cross-draw recommendation?

  9. Tom Vasti on December 5, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    With a revolver, it is a lot easier to justify a kill shot : I have only six shots so I have to make them count…

  10. Gary on December 25, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    I carry a .38 SPL and have two speed loaders on my belt. I can reload almost as fast as I can a 9mm. That said as soon as I can I will get a smaller 9mm for carrying (need to save up, my wife got one first …).

  11. TOM on January 1, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    Dress should not delegate your choice of weapon. because it is so warm in Florida in the summer, I found a suitable holster to carry that has not brought concern to any one. two brands come to mind, P D A holsters, and Sneaky Pete holsters. I have PDA, and it raises no concern at all from the average person, only mention of it is from those who are familiar with there existence, and they’re not worried about it.You can get them for either type(revolver or semi auto,) in whatever size you choose to wear. My wife has a 38 hammer less in her style, and I carry mid sized semi regularly. easy access right on my hip, outside of clothing.

  12. Ron on March 3, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    I’ve been a revolver man for over forty years.
    You can ad checks in the Pro column for power and accuracy also.
    .9mm vs. .357, .40/10mm vs. .41, or .45acp vs. .45 Colt, there’s no comparison.
    For me, handguns that don’t group under an inch at 25yds off the bench aren’t interesting, and very few semi-autos can do that.
    I own one semi-auto capable of that, but numerous revolvers that can do that all day long.
    I carry a pair of .45 Colt revolvers every day, a New York Reload is faster than any mag change, and a few speed strips give me plenty of extra ammo in the unlikely event I need more than twelve rounds.

  13. Shirley on April 30, 2018 at 10:50 pm

    I have a 38 hammerless. No worries with it catching in my cc purse. It is a little heavy but I prefer the “must pull trigger to shoot” safety. I do wish someone would come up with a decent holster that does not have to be worn with a regular belt and would be secure. Don’t carry a purse at all times. I will be 69 in less than 2 weeks. GraMa needs to carry comfortably. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  14. Nemo Curat on September 26, 2018 at 10:58 am

    While it’s true revolvers seldom jam, when they do have a malfunction they’re out of the fight and may require a gunsmith to get going again. I’ve seen a squib round lodge its bullet between the cylinder and forcing cone. It took half an hour of hammering on the cylinder with a 2×4 to shear the bullet and open the cylinder, after which the gun ran fine for the rest of the day. (Good thing Ruger makes _tough_ guns and, yes, we tried driving the bullet back into the cylinder with a cleaning rod. Didn’t work.)

    The idea that their design is less complex than a semiauto’s comes from most of the working parts being hidden inside the frame. There’s actually quite a lot going on to rotate the cylinder, lock it in place, operate the transfer bar or firing pin block, etc. “Hidden” is not the same as “simple.”

    Other negatives:

    They are slow to reload. In most gun fight situations, for practical purposes, you’ve only got what’s in the cylinder to resolve the problem. Even with a speed loader, reloading takes time you probably won’t have.

    They’re bulky. The cylinder can’t lie flat. Neither can speed loaders.

    I have a friend who carries a revolver in a coat pocket and fancies she will fire through coat rather than taking time to draw. That might be a viable strategy if she had a hammerless/concealed hammer revolver. She doesn’t, so there’s a good chance the hammer will snag on the pocket liner, preventing the gun from firing.

  15. Stephen Kohnle on March 2, 2019 at 10:04 am

    While I mostly conceal carry a Glock 19 and can conceal it very well, there are times when it’s not practical to carry the Glock and I need something that I can deep conceal, then I choose my S&W 442 in .38 Special +P five rounds with a pocket holster that slips well into my pants pocket. I usually carry a Speed Strip in my left pocket for additional rounds. This J-frame conceals very well in a pocket and no one knows its there.

  16. Allan McKenney on March 2, 2019 at 10:29 am

    Hello, to all. I choose to carry S+W .44 Spl. If the price were not so high I’d have a Ruger SP100 in that caliber. And yes, the ‘nose’ of the firing pin can be damaged so no matter how many times it is rotated it won’t go off. And also if the extractor rod is bent this also makes it inoperable.

  17. Bobby Lee stepp on March 2, 2019 at 10:39 am

    The only think I’ll say about your info on a wheel gun is,if you have a “Miss fire” and you go ahead and pull the trigger again there is a good chance the miss fire is just slow to go off and will do so while still in the weapon and could blow up in you hand and could be very dangerous!! I’d never sudjest to ignor a miss fire but to handle it “IMMEDIATELY”!!

  18. Ronald on March 5, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    Tired of reading if it doesn’t go bang just pull the trigger again. What happens if you have a hangfire and you rotate the cylinder? No one addresses this issue and I have had a hangfire with factory ammo in both a revolver AND semi-auto.

  19. Dennis on December 7, 2019 at 11:07 am

    Just a few thoughts
    1. Which firearm (revolver/pistol) will you become proficient with?
    2. Will you be willing to carry same firearm all day?
    3. Will it conceal well so you will carry?
    4. Are you prepared to potentially take a life?
    5. Are you prepared for post-shooting legal issues?

    Other issues have been covered well. I have dealt with the gunshot individual and talked to the shooter. Multiple issues arise after the event. More on these issues need to be raised.
    It is fact that society has changed to the point of needing self protection. How you protect yourself ultimately rests between your ears and behind your eyes. In other words think it though from purchase to post encounter

    My thoughts. Thank you for the opportunity

  20. Jerry H. on September 6, 2021 at 9:13 am

    Despite appearances, revolvers are not simple. Their cylinders don’t rotate and lock in place for every shot by magic. The complex mechanics that handle that and all the other monkey motion of operating one are mostly hidden inside the frame, but they’re there.

    Revolvers very rarely jam, but when they do they’re out of the fight and may need a gunsmith to get going again. Most semi-auto stoppages can be cleared in a few seconds with practice.

    Revolvers are relatively slow to reload, even with speed loaders. In a gun fight, however many rounds you have in the cylinder is likely all you’ve got to Solve The Problem.

    IMHO a flat gun conceals more easily than one with a cylinder bulge in the middle.

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