When talking about firearms for women’s self-defense, it’s always the same idea: smaller, more compact handguns that can easily fit into a purse. But, that’s not always the best option.
How the handgun feels in your palm is more important; everyone has various preferences and different hand sizes. The main idea is to stop an attacker as quickly as possible—going for the smallest revolver you can find doesn’t always necessarily do that.
Semi-automatic pistols are the more popular choice, but there’s something about revolvers that just makes them an interesting pick when self-defense is in question.
Revolvers are undoubtedly a strong, no-nonsense choice for women’s concealed carry. They are reliable, fast, and easier to operate and maintain than regular semi-automatic handguns.
With so many great wheel guns on the market today, I decided to round up 10 of the best revolvers for women and help you ascertain foolproof criteria for your best self-defense gun that may also double as a fun one for the ranges.
In this guide, we’ll talk about revolver characteristics and features, what makes them a superior CCW choice, how they differ from standard semi-autos, and hopefully this will help you gain more insight on which revolver is the most suitable one for you.
Here are some of our favorite revolvers for women that we will review below.
- Our Top Pick – Ruger GP100 Revolver
- Smith & Wesson 642 Airweight Revolver
- Rock Island Armory M206 Revolver
- Ruger LCR .22LR Revolver
- Kimber K6S Revolver
Things to Consider Before You Choose
First off, it’s illogical to think that a woman has to start off with a lightweight revolver or a .22LR caliber and work her way toward a compact semi-automatic handgun. Most people just go with this chauvinistic rule of thumb and they miss some very important issues and factors.
Not that there’s something wrong with choosing a revolver as your first gun, but I simply can’t stress the aspect of a good fit enough. I strongly believe that anyone—a beginner or a seasoned handgun master—should just try out and go with whatever feels comfortable.
Why Revolvers Instead of Semi-Auto Handguns?
My personal opinion is that a revolver is more reliable than a semi-automatic pistol. It’s the best option if you’re looking for a compact handgun that’s easy to operate and shoot.
Revolvers rarely have feeding issues and are easy to holster and pull from a purse, all thanks to the snag-free features. They’re definitely not for long-range accurate shooting because of the short barrel and the fact that they hold much fewer rounds, but their reliability is unmatched.
While the recoil, reliability, round capacity, trigger action, caliber, and other details should be considered, the overall feel of the gun is an absolute priority.
Semi-automatic pistols can fire in rapid succession, hold more rounds of ammunition, and are easier to reload. If you feel that they suit you better, then go for it, but I suggest you try out multiple options before you decide on one.
Even though semi-autos are “superior” in certain scenarios, the point stands that they’re not something that women necessarily have to graduate to.
You can check out our best handgun for women article for more info.
Revolvers Are Easy to Conceal
You should feel safe and comfortable walking around the street at night. At the same time, your CCW should feel like second nature and not weigh you down or cause discomfort.
That’s why compact revolvers with a short barrel and small stature are the top pick. They’re lightweight, easy to pull, and—depending on the trigger and outer parts—shouldn’t snag to your clothing.
Ever heard of “the snubby”? If you want some ultra-compact, snag-free revolvers, you can check out our list of best snub-nosed revolvers.
Revolvers Are Easy to Operate
Revolvers are the epitome of simplicity. They are definitely easier to handle than semi-autos, have fewer “buttons”, safeties, moving parts, and controls, and—above all—they’re pretty fun to shoot.
The revolver takes longer to reload because you’ll need to manually unrack the wheel and load the 5 to 8 rounds, but they have better mobility and no difficult slide-racking.
Besides that, with fewer parts to take care of, they’re very easy to take apart and clean. Check out our best gun cleaning kits and CLPs, oils, and solvents guides for more info on how to choose the best gun cleaning products.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at our top pick for the best revolver for women.
Best Revolvers for Women
Our Top Pick – Ruger GP100 Revolver
- Well-balanced revolver
- Overall great quality
- Smooth trigger pull
- Easy to reload
- Comfortable, ergonomic grip
- Moderately heavy
- Scarce holster options
- Cylinder may be difficult to pull out at first
Here’s the Ruger GP100 stainless steel revolver as the top, middle-of-the-road pick that most people would find suitable, strong, and easy to shoot.
The double-action Ruger GP100 in the .357 Magnum caliber with a 3-inch barrel and 6 rounds is the ultimate ‘Goldilocks’ revolver. It’s not too big nor too small. I’ve seen lots of happy customers with this one and there’s a good reason it’s popular.
Unloaded, the Ruger GP100 weighs around 36 ounces. If it’s too big or too small for you, there are 2.5, 3, 4.2, and 6-inch barrel variants you can choose, but I think that the 3-inch barrel is just right for a purse handgun. Besides, you’ll have a hard time finding a holster for the other barrel sizes.
It’s a great concealed carry revolver with excellent reliability and ergonomic Hogue grips that are perfect for both big and small hands. Thanks to its stature, I think many would find it a great EDC option for home and self-defense purposes.
The 6-round double-action wheelgun is easy to reload if you get used to the tricky triple-locking cylinder, but you can find it in 5-shot, 6-shot, and 7-shot variants. I think that the .357 Magnum rounds are decent enough for anyone if you get used to the light-to-moderate recoil.
What’s best about the triple-locking cylinder is that you can adjust it into three different places, offering proper alignment and precise shot placement.
It’s pretty easy to disassemble and you won’t need any fancy tools.
- Easy to load and pull the cylinder
- Exceptionally accurate
- Compact and lightweight
- Smooth hammer and trigger pull
- Comfortable grip with lesser hand fatigue
- Lots of holster options
- DAO (double-action-only) trigger pull might be annoying for some
- Only 5 rounds
- Front sight isn’t changeable
Looking for a more lightweight option? Here’s a good Smith & Wesson revolver.
The Smith & Wesson Model 642 in the .38 Special +P caliber, also called the ‘Airweight’ model, stands out as one of the lightest models, and it’s pretty popular for both men and women for this exact reason.
It’s very simple to use and even though it’s a DAO revolver, it’s surprisingly easy to shoot. You’d have fun shooting it at 25 to 50 yards out with bigger targets even at the ranges.
You can find lots of OWB holsters for the S&W 642 and it won’t bulge if you want an EDC that won’t be noticed in public. This J-frame revolver with an enclosed hammer is a standard among expert and rookie shooters.
With an unloaded weight of 14.6 ounces, measly 1.8-inch barrel length, and synthetic grips, this revolver will make sure you won’t have any concealment and carrying problems.
Although you only get 5 rounds, the .38 Special +P caliber will provide you with enough stopping power, while the synthetic grips offer excellent ergonomics, a low muzzle flip, and ease of operation. You can also find the 642 in other calibers.
The problem with this concealed carry revolver is its integral front sight. You can’t change it out with better aftermarket options, and you never know when you’ll need a better sight in low-light situations.
You can also check out the Smith & Wesson Model 642LS (Lady Smith) J-frame revolver which is a slightly smaller option, or the Smith & Wesson 442 J-frame revolver with an aluminum alloy frame, but with a different cylinder and barrel material. The S&W 442 is lightweight carbon steel, while the S&W 642 is stainless steel.
- Excellent SA/DA trigger pull
- Great reliability
- Quality parkerized finish
- Comes with two grip sets
- Cylinder opens smoothly for faster reloading
- Fixed front sight
- Not very pleasant grips
Rock Island is well-known for its superb line of single-action semi-automatic 1911 pistols—one of the most reliable handgun models with a reasonable price. They managed to build a solid reputation with this concealed carry handgun and the designs were meant to be simple, sturdy, and reliable.
The Rock Island M206 revolver is no exception; a 25-ounce six-shooter with an excellent SA/DA trigger, a 2.15-inch barrel, and a reputation among CCW enthusiasts. I really love the trigger pull and how smooth the cylinder opens.
Having reliability and ease of operation in mind, the manufacturer went for their very own blend of compact ingenuity and straightforward design that competes well with Taurus, Smith & Wesson, and Ruger revolvers.
The added weight is because of the 6-round capability, so don’t fret. With your purchase, you get two grip sets if you don’t like the wood-grained panel grips. I personally really like the look of the revolver.
It feels like a no-nonsense snub-nosed revolver with a solidly felt recoil and controllable muzzle jump, but I think you can ease your palm pressure if you switch to polymer or rubber grips.
The 2.15-inch barrel might be problematic for some. It’s definitely made to be easily concealed, but it’s not very accurate at long ranges. Though, I wouldn’t call this a weakness; it’s a snubby, after all.
What I absolutely love about this revolver it’s its smooth cylinder and how opening and reloading it feels. I’m pretty sure it’s one of the best and most reliable reloading revolvers you can find. It’s foolproof and feels great.
If it wasn’t for its scarcity on the market, I’d place this revolver as the top option.
- 8-round capacity
- Highly durable, Ruger-quality construction
- Affordable and available
- Excellent grip and ergonomics
- Despite short barrel, accurate from 25 to 45 yards
- Available in lots of calibers and round capacity
- Reloading may be difficult for some
- Tricky cylinder for opening and removal
- Loud blasts
There’s no escaping the Ruger LCR, is it? I’ll explain why.
This subcompact revolver is literally everywhere. A lot of folks are praising its reliability, compact feel, and accuracy, and you can find it in .22LR, .38 Special +P, .357 Magnum, 9mm Luger, and .327 Federal Magnum.
But, what I like specifically about the Ruger LCR-22 is that it has a round capacity of 8 shots, which is more than enough to stop any robber(s) or assailant(s) in their tracks.
LCR stands for “Lightweight Compact Revolver”, and boy howdy, the polymer construction may be one of the lightest you can find. It strictly operates in double-action-only, but the trigger pull is light in contrast to the other DAO revolvers on this list.
It comes in Hogue Tamer Monogrip or Crimson Trace Laser Grips with an integrated laser sight.
As one of the most lightweight and compact options with a 1.87-inch barrel, it’s crazy accurate, and it’s simply fascinating. Though the recoil can be difficult to control, I think anyone can approve of the 8-round, compact feel with a solid trigger pull.
It’s perfect for female shooters who like lighter options but with more bullets; the .22LR caliber fits this profile perfectly. The only drawback is its stopping power, but I’m sure you won’t need much stopping power when you have 8 whole bullets to spend and follow up with.
- Great reliability and accuracy
- Versatile model available in various calibers
- Easy to reload
- Ergonomic grip
- Visible sights
- Firing pin is prone to breakage
What I like about the Kimber K6S revolver is its various models, calibers, and barrel lengths. There’s a little something for everyone, whether you’re going for a self-defense option, EDC, or just looking for something for the ranges.
I specifically like the .357 Magnum 2-inch stainless steel revolver for women because the .357 Magnum offers recoil that anyone can handle, but you can also pick the .38 Special if you feel like it.
This six-shooter is available everywhere. It’s heavier than the LCR, and the trigger is a no-stack double-action trigger that some may find rather tricky, but it’s pretty easy to shoot and carry.
What’s bad is that it’s definitely not on the cheap end, and you won’t be able to find many aftermarket options besides grips.
Additionally, there have been some customers reporting that the firing pin breaks, so be mindful of this.
Still, the Kimber K6S is a versatile model with a good trigger, very convenient sights, and feels great in your palms.
I would recommend this one if you have the bucks to spare. It’s definitely a looker.
Here are some interesting revolvers that didn’t quite make the cut but are still a viable option for self-defense.
- Aesthetic design
- Durable, shock-absorbing grip
- Comes in a pink faux alligator case
- Accurate from 25 to 30 yards
- 5-round capacity
- Fixed sights
Here’s a pink one for all you fancy gun owners. The Charter Arms Chic Lady revolver chambered in .38 Special has impeccable durability and a comfortable grip that absorbs shock and offers controllable recoil.
It’s made of lightweight, aircraft-grade aluminum and steel that weighs around 12 ounces and it’s pretty easy to clean. It has a 5-round capacity, a 2-inch barrel, and is available in DA and DAO triggers. You can also find it in .38 Special +P caliber.
Additionally, you can choose either the black synthetic or the Crimson Trace Laser grips, but I strongly recommend you go for the black synthetic for added cushioning. The Crimson Trace grips are great as well, but I guess it’s a matter of preference.
Although the fixed sights could use a little more work, I’m sure it won’t be a problem since it’s for self-defense, therefore, you won’t need much coverage for long ranges.
The Charter Arms Chic Lady revolver is pink, but it packs a mean punch, and although it’s one of the most lightweight options on this list, the recoil is pretty manageable.
- 7-round capacity
- Low recoil
- Smooth hammer
- Durable construction
- California compliant
- Gritty trigger pull
- Exposed hammer
- 34.7-ounce weight, one of the heaviest on the list
For those of you who can handle a behemoth like this one, here’s the Smith & Wesson Model 686 .357 Magnum 7-rounder.
This 3-inch barrel, stainless-steel revolver is for both self-defense and sporting.
It has grown popular among law enforcement agencies and hunters, and you also have the 2.5-inch and 4-inch barrel models if you want a shorter revolver. It’s equipped with a custom wood grip and it can reach up to 50 yards.
However, I placed this as an honorable mention because of its sheer weight of 34 ounces. On top of that, it has an exposed hammer and a gritty trigger pull which really pushes “the concealed carry for women” category.
Besides that, if you’re willing to look past the caveat of its heavy weight, I’m sure the Smith & Wesson 686 will serve you well.
If you’re looking for a more affordable, snag-free, hammerless option, you can also check out the Smith & Wesson Model 638 Revolver with a 1.875-inch barrel length, and 15-ounce weight.
There are so many different models of revolvers with various characteristics on the market and anyone can have a hard time deciding. Before you consider purchasing a revolver, there are a couple of important points to go over.
If you want to ignite a heated debate at your local gun shop, just ask a couple of gun enthusiasts about the best revolver caliber for self-defense, and run.
There’s a reason why some calibers are not good for self-defense or home defense.
The one that’s most valid is the fact that you can shoot through the assailant, through the wall, through the dog, drop the engine of your car, and pierce two of your neighbors’ walls in the process if you’re using a Smith & Wesson 629 .44 Magnum revolver.
Okay, it’d probably stop at the car, but you get the point.
The .357 Magnum caliber, on the other hand, has the right amount of energy and the recoil is just right. Anything larger than the .357 is difficult to conceal and is pretty uncomfortable for shooting. Proper shot placement is more important than stopping power, in my honest opinion. I recommend the Taurus 605 Protector, as a very affordable revolver of this caliber.
The .38 Special caliber also feels good when you shoot. You can see that a lot of .38 Special revolvers dominate the market. On the other hand, the .38 Special +P delivers more stopping power, but still, you really can’t go wrong with either of these.
Beyond that, you have the 9mm Parabellum for those of you who have trouble finding ammo during these harsh times.
Finally, the .380 ACP—also known as the 9mm Short—is becoming ever more popular. It has moderate recoil and solid stopping power, but I strongly suggest you stick to the popular options so you won’t have to deal with the hassle of ammo scarcity.
You’re always free to experiment with different calibers like the .40, or the .45 ACP, and I’d recommend the Taurus 454 Raging Bull in the .45 caliber if you’re feeling cocky. Besides, having a couple of revolvers for self-defense and some semi-automatic pistols for fun at the ranges isn’t out of the ordinary.
Having trouble finding ammo? Check out our guide here for more info on where to find the best ammo.
Go for Double Action Revolvers
A lot of revolvers that I’ll be highlighting below have a double-action trigger.
Double-action means that when you pull the trigger, you pull the hammer back with your thumb, which strikes the firing pin, and the revolver fires a shot.
For a shorter trigger pull, you manually pull back the hammer back with your thumb, and then you pull the trigger, firing a round. This is also called a “single action”, and the lighter trigger pull gives you better handling and more accurate shots.
The hefty trigger pull has its safety advantages. It prevents any accidental discharges that are quite possible within a carry purse or a handbag.
Some revolvers are DAO or “double-action-only” and they are usually hammerless (they have an internal hammer). They are snag-free and won’t get tangled in your clothing.
I suggest you either go for the double-action triggers, with which you get to choose how you shoot, or the DAO, which has a tricky pull but won’t snag to your clothing. I’d personally go for the double-action revolvers because, nowadays, it’s easier to find holsters that are easy to conceal rather than carry revolvers in purses, but that’s just me.
Ergonomics and Concealment
One should definitely look for compact, lightweight revolvers with 3-inch barrels or less. You’re free to go for bigger guns, but this entirely depends on how you want to carry.
Some gun stores allow you to try out a gun beforehand. A certain revolver that’s comfortable at the gun store may feel differently at target practice, so be sure to try it before you buy it.
Weight of the Revolver
Lightweight revolvers are easier to conceal and carry, but they usually kick like a mule with added recoil, so this ultimately affects follow-up shots, accuracy, and handling.
Heavier revolvers are bulky, more difficult to carry, and are usually uncomfortable as an EDC, but you can get used to them.
Unless it personally bothers you, don’t mind the weight as much as you should pay attention to the grips, ergonomics, and how it feels in your hands. Heavier, larger revolvers are also an option, and, once again, it entirely depends on your preference.
As for construction, you won’t go wrong with stainless steel or polymer. Once you get your concealed carry permit and CCW insurance, pick the stainless steel Ruger GP100 revolver or the lighter Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 38 with a polymer construction.
Like I said before; if you’re going for the best revolver that women can use, there’s no need to always go for the smallest or the most lightweight option. The key is to practice and get used to the feel of the gun.
A compact, hammerless option is usually the most favored one, but the grips, design, and caliber should certainly be up to you.
DAO trigger pulls are heavy, so you can also go for double-action revolvers if you feel that you’re confident enough that it won’t snag and tangle.
If you’re still in doubt about whether a revolver is the right concealed carry gun for you, just remember the old saying about Col. Samuel Colt, “Abe Lincoln may have freed all men, but Sam Colt made them equal.”