First-time gun owners looking for an affordable, practical piece can try revolvers. You can use a reliable beginner revolver for everyday concealed carry, emergency home defense, and even casual varmint hunting.
Top 10 Best Beginner Revolver for First-Time Gun Buyers
1. Ruger Wrangler
The Ruger Wrangler takes inspiration from Colt’s single-action army (SAA), an iconic revolver introduced in the late 19th century. It features the exact Black Cerakote finish, 4.625” barrel, and .22LR cartridge.
While the classic design evokes nostalgia in many gun enthusiasts, several modern plinkers do not approve of it. However, shooters should know that its outdated style does not compromise functionality.
On the contrary, Ruger Wrangler stands among the most reliable handguns for first-time gun owners. It has excellent accuracy, manageable recoil, and high-quality components. Plus, it has a competitive price tag of around $200—one of the most affordable pieces on the market.
2. Smith & Wesson Model 317 Kit Gun
Back in the day, every boy scout troop leader would always have a kit gun on hand—and for a good reason. Kit guns like the Model 317 from Smith & Wesson are the perfect trail gun. You can use them for pest control, hunting, self-defense, and plinking.
Plus, the Model 317 has a stainless frame resistant against harsh weather conditions. Shooters don’t have to worry about it rusting or malfunctioning.
3. Ruger LCR 9mm
The market offers a diverse range of featherweight snubbies, but Ruger sets the LCR 9mm apart with high-quality components.
For example, small revolvers are notorious for their stiff triggers. Conversely, the LCR 9mm has a crisp trigger with a pull weight of nine pounds. Also, first-timers can feel at ease since the LCR 9mm is not as challenging to shoot as other snub nose revolvers.
The LCR 9mm has decent stopping power. You can even take down burly, towering enemies by targeting their vital points. However, do not expect the LCR 9mm to have the same staggering firepower of a .357 Magnum.
4. Smith & Wesson Model 10
Smith & Wesson’s Model 10 ranks among the best, most widely used .38 Special revolvers on the market. The model caters to a wide range of shooters, from plinkers to military personnel.
This well-tuned six-shot, double-action revolver offers excellent shootbility. Even first-time gun owners can land accurate shots from a 20- to 30-yard shooting point.
Plus, S&W Model 10 has a medium frame weighing 34 oz. Average-sized shooters can tuck these in their pants over a baggy shirt without worrying about printing or open carry violations.
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5. Taylor’s and Company 1873 .357 Magnum
Shooters who fancy cowboy guns but find them difficult to use can try the 1873 .357 Magnum from Taylor’s & Company. It has a barrel length of 5.5” and weighs 2.50 lbs. Gun enthusiasts will notice that it has several design similarities to an SAA.
Cowboy guns do not usually classify as beginner revolvers because they have terrible recoil control, limited ammunition, and challenging shootability.
These issues stem from the standard .45 Colt chamber. To make the SAA-inspired Colt cowboy gun more beginner-friendly, Taylor’s & Company chambered over the .45 Colt with a .357 Magnum.
6. Taurus 942 .22LR
Admittedly, the Taurus 942 .22LR does not showcase new, exciting features. However, it does meet the standard criteria for suitable beginner revolvers: accurate, lightweight, and affordable.
The Taurus 942 .22LR features an eight-round capacity and double-action mechanism. These features combined make it ideal for lengthy shooting practices, varmint hunting, or casual weekend plinking.
7. Ruger GP100
If you want a powerful workhorse to use on several occasions, try the Ruger GP100. The piece costs almost $800, but its features justify the steep price tag.
This practical double-action revolver showcases a six-shot cylinder, full underlug, and .357 chamber. For accuracy, sharpshooters can utilize its adjustable rear sight and fiber-optic front sight.
However, first-time shooters might find the GP100 inconvenient on long shooting sessions because of its heavy frame. The gun weighs 40 oz. unloaded.
If you’re set on using the GP100, customize its grip to compensate for the extra weight. Ruger is a widely used brand with dozens of quality aftermarket pieces; customization won’t be an issue.
8. Heritage Rough Rider .22.LR
The Rough Rider stands as Heritage’s .22LR version of the Colt SAA. New gun owners would appreciate that the piece offers excellent shootability for a fraction of what other tactical and collectible revolvers cost—less than $200.
What sets the Rough Rider apart is its streamlined, practical mechanism. Unlike higher-caliber alternatives, this .22LR has diminished recoil, weaker report, and lighter frame.
Rookies can effortlessly shoot for hours on end. On the other hand, stronger revolvers will leave your hands shaking and ears ringing after a few minutes of plinking.
9. Ruger SP101
The Ruger SP101 comes with a double-action revolver, fiber-optic sight, and adjustable rear. Its features are nothing to write home about, but shooters will find the piece’s overall durability outstanding. In fact, your SP101 would last years before malfunctioning.
Perhaps the most distinguishable feature of the Ruger SP101 is its unique design. Every piece has a beautiful swirl mark engraved on its sides.
10. Smith & Wesson 686
The Smith & Wesson 686 is an excellent everyday beginner revolver for general shooting purposes. It showcases the iconic S&W L-Frame design and chambers .357 and .38 Special rounds.
If you want a lighter piece for concealed carry application, try the M 686 Deluxe and M 686 .357 variants. They’re easier to conceal than the standard 686. However, the shorter barrel will hamper your accuracy and shootability.
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Check out this video by Green Light Shooting where they share their thoughts on the best beginner revolver on the market:
Several factors contribute to a good beginner revolver, but first-timer gun owners should generally focus on reliability. We encourage shoppers to explore all the options mentioned on this list. If possible, take your prospective revolvers out for a few rounds.
Also, try dry firing to get a good feel of your new revolver. Simulate the shooting process without live ammunition so you can safely grow accustomed to using firearms. Remember: misfires often occur to ill-prepared first-time gun owners.
Which of these would you most recommend as a beginner revolver? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!
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