The Problem With Revolvers For Concealed Carry

This is a 627 PC revolver I did a review on, here.

I'm actually quite a fan of the concealed carry revolver. There have been several times when I'd just drop my small snub nose 38 special into the Sticky Holster in my pocket. In fact, when I need a deeper concealment option, like at church, that's how I tend to roll.

I like to believe that I've mastered that DAO trigger on my Charter Arms snub, but there is another issue with revolvers that many people don't like to talk about.


In the world of ever increasing capacity in the micro-compact semi-autos, it's hard to justify carrying a revolver except for a small handful of reasons, like preference in the trigger or something similar.

Reliability should not necessarily be one of those reasons, as discussed here. Revolvers fail less often, but when they do go down, you can't get them back into the fight as fast, or at all.

I'm not saying you shouldn't carry your revolver. Lord knows I won't stop carrying mine. My main goal with every article I write is to help you out in some way. If you carry a revolver, you should carry as much ammo on your person as you can.

With a revolver, though, that may only be 15 rounds. Five in the gun, and two reloads.

Remember that the primary reason why you carry a gun is to equalize the force an attack may bring.

I have to admit that I sometimes break this advice I'm giving you out of ease and comfort. I don't always carry extra ammo for my revolver, which can be a problem because that means I've only got five shots to defend myself or family with.

I don't always carry that ammo, but I should.

For anyone with the mindset of, well, if I need more than 5 shots I'm screwed anyway, or, I'm a good shot and don't need more than that, I can tell you that you're wrong.

There are plenty of documented gun fights where having dozens of rounds of ammo saved the life of the good guy, like this one. As a side note, here is Riley's Podcast episode with this guy:

By the way, he now carries 145 rounds of ammunition on his person while on the job because of a shootout he had with a gang member who just wanted to kill him.

You're likely not a police officer, but as a concealed carrier you likely carry your gun because there is a chance you'd need it to defend yourself. Better to have it and not need it, right? Isn't there also the possibility that you'd need more than 5 rounds of ammo?

Isn't it best to prepare for that, too?

There are options for carrying more ammo, some of them are better than others depending on your chosen revolver. I plan to discuss these options in a future article. All that matters right now is that you're stacking the deck in your favor, should the need to defend yourself arise.

Another thing that you need to do to stack the odds forever in your favor is to train your reloads. You don't want to need more ammunition and not have the physical ability to reload. And, while you can get good at reloading your revolver quickly, it isn't as easy as a semi-auto.

Going to the range and shooting your revolver and practicing quick reloads under stress and time is a good idea to help you define the fine motor skills required to reload.

In summary, just in case I'm not clear, you should want to carry as much ammunition on your body as you can. And, you should also practice your reloading under the stress of time to help you know how to do it if that time ever comes.

Am I totally off base here? Do you carry reloads for your revolver? Let me know in the comments below.

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. sirlancelot on November 19, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    My hesitation for caring a small 5 shot revolver is it’s just too bulky as opposed to a slim little 380 semi-auto. That being said a little Scandium 340 hammerless it’s still on my shopping list.

    If I ever get a chance to do the Appalachian Trail would like the reliability of a revolver tucked in the front of my pack and forget about it for the day in / day out duties of hiking the trail.

    Guess that’s the toss up with these two platforms. For day-to-day carry as long as you keep the lint balls out of the action and properly lubricated small pistol is the way to go. If you just going to throw something in your purse or the bottom of your pack nothing beats the reliability of a revolver

  2. Jess christensen on November 19, 2019 at 5:48 pm

    Had this conversation 100 times over the years!

    This with some of the biggest names in the gun industry and enviorement.

    The buttom line is most non law enforcement, or other high risk persons, would be best served with an aluminum J-frame.
    Minimum maintenance, no safeties under stress and no malfunction issues, when the heath is on.

    Just my oppinion.

  3. Tom RKBA on November 19, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    Not carrying at least one reload is a mindset problem. Get serious and stop fooling around!

  4. Silence Dogood on November 19, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    New York reload.

  5. Joe on November 29, 2019 at 9:50 am

    As Mr. Dogood suggests, carry a second revolver. No less authorities than Jim Cirillo and Delf Bryce pointed out that reloading a revolver under stress is not a good idea. Some agencies are resistant to second guns, and most civilians don’t want to go to the trouble. Add to that accusations of paranoia or it being a “throw down”.

  6. Former LEO Former FORD Driver on November 29, 2019 at 11:43 pm

    Why carry a revolver?
    Well , I’m not going to be placing anyone in handcuffs or going forth and seeking out felons. At most I will be using a firearm to stop felonious action against me and mine and will be disengaging as fast as I can.
    For that I find the revolver sufficient. You may not.

    • Jim H on October 11, 2020 at 4:24 pm

      I tend to agree. I won’t fault anyone for carrying as much ammo as they can. But I will not criticize anyone for carrying a low capacity revolver either. I carry semi autos and revolvers and do not fee under gunned with either. If I do perceive an unusual high risk threat scenario that cannot be avoided, I keep a rifle easily accessible with me. I’m not a LEO or a military operator (anymore), but should our country erupt into a civil war, I will adjust as necessary.

  7. Jack C on November 30, 2019 at 7:12 am

    Depending on circumstances and conditions I’m always carrying a SIG or J Frame and always carry at least one reload for either.

  8. Andrew o on November 30, 2019 at 4:01 pm

    I do carry a five shot snub and my New York Reload is a Kel-Tec p32. That gives me 12 rounds total.

  9. Jeff S on July 4, 2020 at 10:09 am

    I love my Ruger LCR .357 snub for its remarkable pocket fit; yes only 5 rounds,
    but great stopping power.

    In summer, concealing is much more challenging, much less a speed loader.
    Along with wallet with CC license, cell phone to beat the calls to 911 etc.
    But I am considering adding some rounds to another pocket.

    Thanks, Joshua, for this and all of your great articles.

    • Joshua Gillem on July 5, 2020 at 2:38 pm

      My pleasure, Jeff. Thank you for the kind words and thank you for being here.


    • Steve Bishop on November 26, 2020 at 6:12 pm

      No longer a LEO, J-frame Smith will cover my new mission statement.
      Hopefully society will hold together and realignment of mission statement will not have to change.

      Thank you for the article…….

  10. Lonnie Rush on July 5, 2020 at 12:22 am

    I don’t see any of us getting into a firefight. Capacity is secondary to reliability and marksmanship. A revolver is simple to operate. it will fire even when a bad guy is right on top of you. A semi-auto can be pushed out of battery and will not fire. Now with the world being what it is right now, a firefight may be in the future for some of us. That will not happen without defunding the police. In that case, all crimes will carry the death penalty. We will also be able to carry whatever we want. No police to stop us either. When the bad guys figure that out they will want to keep the police around.

  11. Scott on July 7, 2020 at 9:54 pm

    I do plenty of day hikes in the Cascades near Seattle. I carry a Colf MK 3 .357 revolver loaded with a 180gr. solid core ammo, specifically for bears and cougars. I’m not worried about reload for a shootout unless the bears learn to shoot.. I can’t concealed carry on my belt due to size and friction and although WA is an open carry state, it’s filled with lefties that don’t know that and would freak out if I wore it on an open holster. So, I carry it in my backpack. I’ve considered a chest pack, but I hike hard and sweat like crazy and it would make it way worse. The downside is that it makes my pack very heavy.

  12. mike on February 26, 2022 at 1:59 pm

    I carry an 8rd S&W 627 for EDC. I wear 2 of the Desantis Second Six Moon Clip Holders. These work.great to keep your reloads hidden close to your body. I love revolvers, always have, to the point that I have taken one through 2 different CQB courses in leiu of a semi auto. The only problem is, of course, reload time. It generally takes me 4-5 seconds to reload, Im a lefty which makes it a little trickier.

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