If you’re anything like I was just a few short years ago, you have no idea what to look for when figuring out what single-action revolver is right for you. So, I have put together a quick guide to help you out.
Below you will find tons of info on what to look for, what single-action revolvers are suitable for, and an in-depth look at four of the following best single action revolvers on the market today.
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What is a Single Action Revolver?
First off, what the heck is a single action revolver? There are many different types of guns, and even within the revolver category, you can find both single and double actions.
If you haven’t been around guns a lot, or if you have, like me, the difference may still escape you. In a single action revolver, you have to cock a hammer back to engage the firing system. Typically, this is done with your thumb (or if you’re fancy like the cowboys in some of those old school western films, then you can do it with the palm of your hand).
The hammer is then released by squeezing the trigger, which then fires the bullet. It is called single action because the hammer only does one job.
How to Choose the Best Single Action Revolver
Now that you have an idea of what you are looking at, trust me − I didn’t know anything either − you can start getting down to the details of each option.
When I was looking for the best choices for a single-action revolver for this guide, there were some features that I used to narrow the field down. Here are those features:
The first place to start is always with the type of product you want and with a single action revolver that starts with the caliber. There are many different options.
- .22 – This is the smallest caliber you can have and is great for new shooters. They tend to have a tight shooting pattern and are perfect for concealed carrying as well as target shooting
- .38 – This option is close to the 9mm, and if you have a little experience with this caliber, then opting for a .38 caliber single action is a good idea. These types of revolvers are used a lot by security and law enforcement and are well suited for concealed carrying as well as home defense
- .357 – This was the largest caliber available for quite a while. This caliber gives the biggest bang for your buck and can be used effectively for home defense
- .44 – This caliber has made a comeback with a revival of cowboy action shooting. It is also a great choice for target shooting
As with everything else in this world, price tends to cling with quality, which may lead to a hefty price tag. So, understanding the budget you are working with, is also an important factor to consider.
Some single action revolvers can get a little pricey, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from investing in one. I would suggest picking the feature that you absolutely need and those you can live without and then find the best option for you and your budgetary restrictions.
If you are going to spend a little more on your firearm, you will need to consider the material it is constructed and finished with. High-quality materials when it comes to revolvers are steel, aluminum, and even polymer.
Most of the options we will look at below are crafted in some sort of steel. This means that if taken care of properly, you will be able to have this revolver to use for much longer.
Obviously, you want your revolver to be on point and ready to be used at the drop of a hat. That means the last major factor to consider is the reliability of the firearm.
Reliability in regards to guns comes down to the cycling. When firing, this process should be smooth. This will ensure that there is no chance of jamming. (One tip: In order to keep your cycling smooth, make sure to clean and maintain your revolver religiously.)
What’s the Best Way to Use a Single Action Revolver?
Are you looking for a gun for home defense? Target shooting? Or are you considering getting into competitive cowboy trick shooting? These are all viable choices dependent on the single-action revolver you choose.
Single action revolvers are a great choice for you to take out to the range. Most models have a good accuracy level and medium to long-distance capability.
Protecting those that you love, and your priceless possessions is another great use of the single-action revolver. They are easy to load and quick to shoot, which makes them very effective.
There are several states where gun owners can get a concealed carry license. Dependent on the state and the qualification, this is one option that a single action revolver is perfect for. Most of this revolver is small and can be easily hidden.
Best Single Action Revolvers
With all of that in mind, I sifted through hundreds of options, and here are the four models that I think are the best available today.
The Colt Single Action Army Peacemaker is one of those guns that stands the test of time. Consecutively made for a better part of the late 19th and early 20th century, it disappeared for a few years. This caused an uproar, and eventually, Colt reintroduced it, and it has been in production ever since.
Looking like something John Wayne would have drawn to chase away those bank robbers, it has a beautiful aesthetic. But beauty is definitely more than skin deep. The action quality, along with its easy to pull trigger and accuracy, made it easy for me to include on this run down.
The gun is easy to repair and maintain. Its quick firing and accuracy make this perhaps the perfect model for target shooting or even trick shooting. On top of all that, it is comfortable to shoot because of how the grip is built. It lines up perfectly with the wrist, which helps with accuracy as well.
There are, of course, a few issues that I didn’t really like. Most of the negative aspects were surrounding the hammer. Not only me, but several other users felt that the hammer was a little less attractive than the rest of the gun, and many of them have sharp edges.
Features and Specs
- Caliber − .357 Magnum
- Barrel length – 4.75”
- Case hardened and blue finish
- Composite grips
- Fixed sights
- Weight – 40 oz.
- Spur hammer
- 2nd generation cylinder bushing
- Great balance
- Classic design
- Fast draw
- Hammer doesn’t fit guns aesthetic
- Edges of the hammer are a bit sharp
I knew I wanted to make sure to include a more budget-friendly option that still delivered all the accuracy and performance of the other three single-action revolvers. Enter the Uberti 1973 Cattleman II.
This gun is crafted with durable bits and pieces and packs quite the punch. For me, this is one of those selections that deliver a lot of value. Not only is it built to last, but it is accurate at a wide range of distances. The revolver is powerful enough to deal with any animal pests that may be giving you trouble.
The Cattleman II has a lot of power and sturdiness and all for a very reasonable price tag. This makes it great for new gun owners or those working with little money who want to make sure they can protect what is theirs.
Don’t let the affordability fool you! This gun from Uberti is a classic-looking revolver that offers power and accuracy, and that is what you should be looking for. The fact that there was nothing I could find wrong with the gun was shocking.
However, this is why it was included on this list.
Features and Specs
- Caliber − .375 Magnum
- Barrel length – 4.75”
- Walnut grip
- Hardened case frame
- Weight – 2.5 lbs.
- Nice fit and finish
- Quick and easy to load
- Reliable accuracy
Ruger is one of those names that is synonymous with quality guns. With the Blackhawk, it has lived up to its reputation. The Blackhawk loads quickly and has a tight cluster when shooting. For me, the thing that really makes this revolver shine is the design.
Crafted with materials that are high grade means that it can withstand a lot of firepower. Even with superior materials, it still manages to be lightweight, which is why this is a great choice for target shooting or even concealed carry.
In my opinion, the gun owner that will get the most from this choice is the individual looking for a reliable and user-friendly way to protect them and their most precious possessions.
There are a few issues that I would be remiss without mentioning, though. It may be a little loud for some and has a bit of a recoil, which can be a problem for some. There is also a significant muzzle flash. This may make it a poor choice for new shooters or slighter framed individuals.
Features and Specs
- Crafted with a solid frame
- Sights are adjustable
- Designed with molded rubber grips
- Caliber − .44 Magnum
- Barrel length – 7.5”
- Total length – 13.38” (stainless steel) or 13.63” (satin stainless steel)
- Weight – 48 oz. or 52 oz.
- Good quality build
- Compatible with OWB holsters
- Great for target shooting and concealed carry
- Nice accuracy right from the box
- Significant muzzle flash
- Strong recoil
Like I said above, Ruger is one of those names, even if you are a novice gun owner, I am sure you are familiar with. The Vaquero is a classic looking gun that brings with it a high level of accuracy.
Straight from the box, this gun can shoot tight grouping up to 30 or 40 yards. Plus, cycling is smooth, which is quite the bonus. To me, this revolver impressed me in several ways.
Not only does it look like an Old West replica, but it is made with premium-grade materials for improved durability. On top of that, it is simple to use and accurate. For me, all of these features add up to create a revolver that is best used for either target shooting or home defense.
Most of the things that I didn’t like about this gun are really all preference. The grips are a little less grippy than I would like. If you want a grip with a good tactile feel, you may want to look into replacing the stock grips. The cylinder is also difficult to remove, which may make maintenance and cleaning a little more challenging.
Features and Specs
- Available in multiple calibers (.45 Colt and .357 Magnum)
- Three models – Stainless 5104, stainless 5109, and blued 5101)
- Barrel length – 4.62” or 5.5”
- Total length – 10.25” or 11.12”
- Weight – 40 – 43 oz.
- Crafted with a hardwood grip
- Nice Design
- Finish and fit is amazing
- Great concealed carry option
- Reliable accuracy
- Cylinder is difficult to remove
- Hammer’s stiff at first
- May need to replace grips
Alright, so all that being said, there is one of those four single-action revolvers that I feel offers the most. The Uberti 1873 Cattleman II is a versatile gun that is affordable and reliable. It is crafted with a high-quality hard case frame and walnut grip, which give it a stylish and almost antique-like look.
Performance-wise it has a lot of power, and its design offers an easy to load, quick-firing revolver.
When you put it up against any of the others, the fact that it is relatively quiet, lightweight, easy to maintain, and has a ridiculously low price tag (compared to the other models) makes it a perfect choice for the best single-action revolver.
I certainly hope that all the information above, and the rundown of some of the best single action revolvers on the market, will help you narrow down your options.