10 Best Revolvers of All Time
October 09, 2014
Choosing the 10 best revolvers of all time wasn'teasy. For the most part, revolvers - even the best revolvers ever designed -are no longer the handgun flavor of the day. Nowadays, you'll find semiautoseverywhere from country sheriffs' belts to the hands of serious competitionshooters and the bedsidegun safes of homeowners and more.
The point is, semiautos areseen far more often than revolvers these days. Butthat's just a recent trend. You might say unproven, even. For almost twocenturies, six shooters were the sidearm of choice .
A good revolver can handle just about anything natureand abusive gun owners can throw at it. Powered by human muscle rather thanenergy harnessed from the exploding cartridge itself, revolvers tend to be morereliable than semiautos. They're not finicky about case length, powder charge,bullet-nose profile and whatnot, as many semiautos are. If you can shove anappropriate-caliber cartridge into the cylinder, a revolver will dutifully firethat cartridge. And your revolver will never turn into a one-shooter becauseyou've accidentally misplaced the magazine.
Here's a look at 10 of the best revolvers of alltime, ranging from the greatest wheelgun from the Civil War to thelatest cutting-edge models.
Colt 1860 Army
Arguably the single most aesthetic revolver of alltime, the 1860 Army also holds the distinction of being the first ergonomic,practical-weight repeating handgun. Of course, others came before - theslender, fragile .36-caliber Patterson; the overbuilt, goliath-sized.44-caliber Walker - but the 1860 was the first of the really greatbelt-carriable revolvers. The 1860 also served with admirable distinctionduring the Civil war. Today, quality reproductions are readily available fromA.Uberti and others. How can any revolver enthusiast not own one?
Colt Single Action Army(SAA)
The advent of the self-contained metallic cartridgeforever changed the face of firearms, including revolvers. Col. Colt's Single Action Army (SAA) became thefirst truly successful design, and it went on to serve with distinction on thebelts of various soldiers and lawmen for almost a century. Anyone who hasreveled in the magic of the silver screen watched the likes of Roy Rodgers (anextremely talented handgunner), John Wayne and others with their six shooters,and wanted one. With darn good reason, too: The Colt Single Action Army is therevolver that won the West.
Smith & Wesson Model19
While the Model 19 wasn't Smith & Wesson's first revolver- not nearly - it was the first lean, capable six-gun in .357 Magnum caliberthat didn't pull lawmen's pants to their knees because of its weight. Designedin collaboration with legendary lawman and trick shooter Bill Jordan during the'50s, the Model 19 was built on S&W's "K" frame, which madeit lighter and more ergonomic than any other duty-type revolver at the time.Eventually discontinued (to the dismay of wheelgunners everywhere), it'srecently been revived by S&W in stainless steel guise as the Model 66, and it's just as good asever.
Cited as the finest production revolver ever made byvarious notable shooters, including Col. Jeff Cooper, the Python was originallydesigned as a premium-grade revolver and marketed as such. Known foroutstanding ergonomics and accuracy and an exceptionally smooth, tight action,the Python remains to this day an icon among fine double-action revolvers.Discontinued in the late 1990's, Pythons soon became scarce on the marketplace,and today heavy sums must be laid out to purchase one. But if you're the kindof fellow that drives a classic sports car and orders your dry Martinis shakenand not stirred, nothing will do but a Python.
Favored by expert practical handgunners such asSkeeter Skelton and his son, Bart Skelton, as well as John Wooters and JimWilson, Ruger's Blackhawk is arguably the best workingman's single-action revolver available. Its action is distinctly stronger thanthat of Colt's SAA, making it more suitable for stout magnum loads. It's morerobust, too, and it is easily tuned and customized. It comes standard withadjustable sights and is very reasonably priced. Mounting a scope on one, whileconsidered a travesty by traditional wheelgunners, is painless and helps milkthe inherent fine accuracy. The quintessential classic Blackhawk is typified bythe early "flat top" models, but despair not: Ruger has made limited runs of flat topsrecently, and with diligent search, they can be found and purchased.
Smith & Wesson Model29
Although it was introduced in the mid-1950s, theModel 29 didn't achieve its worldwidelegendary status until Clint Eastwood used one (actually several) in theDirty Harry films. Perhaps the epitome of a great .44Magnum revolver, the Model 29 is built on S&W's N-frame, making itcontrollable but not outlandishly large, and entirely aside from it's lore-basedpopularity, it's an imminently practical six shooter. Commonly very accurate,Model 29s may be fired fast in double-action mode or precisely insingle-action. Add superlative good looks, and it's easy to see why it remainsone of the most popular big-bore revolvers of all time.
While it doesn't enjoy quite the popularity of Smith& Wesson's big-bore revolvers or even of it's own single-actionsiblings - the Blackhawk and Super Blackhawk - Ruger's Super Redhawk is an excellent heavy,double-action wheelgun. Overbuilt for durability and strength against thebattering of high-pressure heavy cartridges, it's ideal for big-bore roundssuch as the .454 Casull, .480 Ruger and, of course, the .44 Magnum. Integratedscope mounts for Ruger's proprietary rings allow for easymounting of a scope, thus making it an optimal choice for handgun hunters. Allthings considered, the Super Redhawk is the dark horse of those included inthis list, and it is arguably one of the most practical for heavy handgunning.
Freedom Arms Model83
If you're a fan of Swiss pocket watches and vintageJaguars, the Model 83 is your poison. Absolutely the equal of a very finecustom rifle (in terms of precision manufacturing and quality of finish), Model83s are available in a variety of calibers and finishes, with one constant:Every one of them is superbly accurate and tuned - yes - like a Swiss watch.The only downside is the cost of FreedomArms revolvers. You can purchase a whole handful of Ruger Blackhawkrevolvers for the same cost, but if owning one best-quality six-shooter isimportant to you, look no farther than Freedom Arms.
Introduced in the late '20s, the Detective Specialwas one of the first modern-type double-actions that employed a swing-outcylinder for fast emptying and reloading. Chambered in .38 Special, it isreally the compact revolver that started the "snubby" trend, and itserved ably in the pockets of lawmen - and more than a few gangsters -nationwide. Today, Detective Specials are something of a classic and are, forthe most part, more valuable for their place in history than as a practicalfirearm. That being said, if you had to pull one out of the glass cabinet anddefend hearth and home with it, the little .38 would rise ably to theoccasion.
Smith & WessonJ-Frame