Best Black Powder Revolvers – 2021 Complete Review

| Last Updated: August 25, 2021

When most hunters and shooters hear about black powder firearms, they immediately think of muzzleloading rifles.

However, that is not the only class of black powder firearms that are worth thinking about. Black powder revolvers are also worthy of consideration. Modern-day versions of these iconic weapons from history are fun to shoot and are a great addition to any arsenal.

Keep reading to learn more about them and to see some of the best black powder revolvers available today.

Comparison of the Best Black Powder Revolvers

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Fires .36 caliber shots
  • Made from high-quality materials
  • Best overall black powder revolver
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  • Walnut Grip
  • Weighs 2.65 pounds
  • Runner-up for best overall black powder revolver
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  • Chambered to fire .36 caliber shots
  • Best black powder revolver for the money
  • Includes a brass backstrap and trigger guard
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  • Two-piece walnut grip
  • Best .44 caliber black powder revolver
  • Barrel made from forged steel with an added stainless finish
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What to Watch For When Buying a Black Powder Revolver

When shopping for a black powder revolver instead of a modern revolver, there are a few different things that are worth keeping in mind. Check out the information below and you will feel well equipped while choosing which black powder revolver is right for you.

Brian Belko: Gunmann Author

This Section Written By:

Brian Belko

Expert Author

Brian is an experienced freelance writer and technical writer who has previously written for publications such as Wide Open Spaces, Bigfoot Gun Belts, Alien Gear Holsters, and Kampgrounds of America. He brings both a passion for writing and a love of the outdoors to his published content.

Aside from writing and the outdoors, Brian enjoys gardening, being a co-host on The Nostalgia Blast Podcast, and learning to code.

A Different Beast

Black powder revolvers had a huge impact on history during their heyday. From cowboys to soldiers, black powder revolvers were ubiquitous from the battlefields to the Western frontier. Shooting one in modern times is a great way to pay respect to that history and to really get a taste of what the firearms world was like before the onset of modern firearms technology and design.

That being said, expect to take some time to learn how to properly load, fire, and maintain a black powder revolver. While they certainly are not complicated weapons, there is more involved than simply loading in some cartridges, pulling back the hammer, and squeezing the trigger. Despite the bit of a learning curve, taking the time to understand the process is extremely rewarding. Especially after you fire off that first round and the cloud of smoke is the only thing masking your smile.

Down the Rabbit Hole

This section could act as a warning for some or an incentive for others. It isn’t uncommon for shooters to get sucked into a new realm of weapons and have them become their new obsession. If that sounds like you, tread carefully here. Buying, shooting, and maintaining black powder revolvers is a world unto itself and all it usually takes is that first satisfying shot and the smell of black powder. Luckily, they don’t tend to be prohibitively expensive (at least not on the entry-level side), but we all know things can add up fast.

Photo credit: tactical-life.com

To Brass or Not to Brass

When shopping for a black powder revolver, you’ll mostly see either brass framed models or steel framed models. Brass-framed revolvers tend to be on the cheaper side, but they can’t handle as heavy of loads as their steel-framed counterparts. It is recommended to go with a steel-framed black powder revolver, especially for your first purchase. Safely tinkering with different powered loads is part of the fun and a steel-framed revolver is better equipped at making that safe to do.

Right to Repair

One of the best parts of owning and shooting black powder revolvers is that they are simple and easy to fix if something goes wrong. Properly maintained firearms don’t tend to break, but it’s nice to know potential repairs won’t cause big problems.

Review of the Best Black Powder Revolvers

The following is a list of the five best black powder revolvers currently on the market. As you go through each one, it is important to note the characteristics and features. This way, you can find one that will match the description of your ideal revolver.

Once you find one that’s close enough, you'll have a winner in your eyes. Let’s take a look at the first revolver on our list - our best overall choice:

Best Overall:
Colt 1851 Navy

Pros

  • Easy to load
  • Fit and finish are great
  • Super-durable construction
  • Hammer and trigger pull is decent
  • It can be effective against targets situated from 75 yards out

Cons

  • May be stubborn for some rounds
  • May rust over time if not taken care of
  • The cylinder may be tough to pull out at times

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of new buyers were quite happy with this revolver. They used this mostly for outdoor target shooting and managed to hit their shots from about 60 to 70 yards out. Operationally, the hammer cocking and the trigger pull were easy for them and had no issues at all.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This revolver is chambered to fire .36 caliber caps. They are pretty effective when used in target shooting applications. Not to mention, it’s the kind of caliber that tends to go the distance when it comes to target shooting. Also, .36 rounds are easy to load. By the sounds of all this, it might be the easiest revolver you’ve used.

Who Will Use This Most

This would be perfect for those who frequent the outdoor ranges. Plus, it’s the best revolver on the market that can fire black powder rounds. So if you want an old school replica of a revolver that will do some serious damage at impressive distances, this might be the revolver for you.

Bottom Line

The Colt 1851 Navy might be one of the best black powder revolvers on the market for a few good reasons. It’s easy to load, travels far and fast, and can do quite a bit of damage. If those are the things you look for in a revolver, this could be exactly what you’re looking for.

Runner-up: 
Colt 1860 Navy

Pros

  • Very little recoil
  • Well-built and durable
  • Consistently accurate at 50 yards or more
  • Shoots fine, no reliability issues to speak of
  • No mechanical issues after 50 or more rounds

Cons

  • Screw heads may wear over time
  • Some were disappointed in the fit and finish
  • A few complained about their revolvers being poorly assembled

What Recent Buyers Report

New buyers were quite happy with the revolver overall. They were mostly target shooters who managed to hit bullseyes from around 50 yards. A few of them used this to successfully hunt smaller animals like varmints.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This revolver is a replica of the 1860 version used by the US Navy well over 150 years ago. The revolver itself has a classic look that makes it look like it’s frozen in time. Firing it feels like you’re shooting an old school revolver that can go the distance. So if you want something that will work just as perfect as if were the real deal back in the 1860s, you’d be hard-pressed to find something like this anywhere else on the market.

Who Will Use This Most

This will likely stand out as a revolver that can be used for outdoor range shooting and possibly varmint shooting, as well. No matter what the application is, this revolver will make it easy to load and fire whenever you are fully loaded. So if you want something that is simple for outdoor applications that warrant the use of a revolver, this might be right up your alley.

Bottom Line

The Colt 1860 Navy is a model that you can enjoy for the purpose of most outdoor applications. Once you give this a whirl, you probably won’t want to try out another black powder revolver. This will give you reliable firing power and a whole lot of accuracy each time you use it.

Best for the Money: 
Uberti Reproduction Colt 1860 Army

Pros

  • Well-made construction
  • Affordable for most budgets
  • Cylinder saves a good bit of weight
  • Easy to load, takes a few minutes
  • Fun to shoot and perfect for many applications

Cons

  • The cylinder may not easily come off
  • Hammer may hang between full-down and half-cock
  • Some adjustments may be needed before use (by hand)

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of new buyers were happy with this revolver being quite affordable for their budget. They managed to load this with little to no issues and fired off shots without any jamming or other reliability issues. Accuracy-wise, they said the shooting was effective at ranges between 40 to 60 yards. They also added that the revolver is pretty easy to clean once it’s disassembled.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This revolver is a replica of an old model used by the U.S. Army (Union) in the Civil War era. The trigger guard is made from brass and is one of the small details that make this revolver stand out like something that’s been preserved for many decades. Though it is considered a reproduction, the model looks like an authentic model straight out of the 1860s. If you want something that is accurate, reliable, and aesthetically sharp, this revolver could be what you need.

Who Will Use This Most

This would be a great black powder revolver for newbie users. If you have never used one before, this is the perfect revolver to start out with. It’s easy to load and pretty straightforward when it comes to cocking back the hammer and firing. If simplicity is what you look for in a revolver, this might be exactly what you’re looking for.

Bottom Line

The Uberti Reproduction Colt 1860 Army Revolver will probably be the best newbie-friendly model if you have never fired a revolver before. It’s great for so many applications, so you won’t have to worry about whether it is effective because it will be.

Best .44 Caliber Black Powder Revolver:
Uberti Reproduction Remington 1858 New Army Stainless Steel .44

Pros

  • Easy to load and reload
  • Fit and finish are excellent
  • Excellent build and durability
  • Cylinder pops out easily for reloading
  • Simple to disassemble for cleaning and maintenance

Cons

  • Some misfirings have been reported
  • The cylinder may tend to bind up sometimes
  • May not work with some brands of capped rounds

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of new buyers liked using this revolver for the purpose of target shooting and hunting small game. One user said he uses it for both purposes since they travel at pretty good distances. He was able to hit a small varmint target situated some 75 yards away. With larger paper targets, he was able to hit the bullseye from about the same distance.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The revolver is a reproduction of yet another model that was preferred by the United States Army. This was considered a favorite sidearm of many infantrymen back in the pre-Civil War era. The fit and finish are amazing and keep the classic revolver look alive. One of the main parts that makes it pop is the walnut grip. Not only does it retain the classic look, but it also does a good job providing superior gripping ability and control while you’re firing it.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be an excellent revolver for those that not only target shoot but also would like to spend some time firing off shots at small varmint targets. You might have some issues with animals damaging your property. So take care of the problem any way you can. You can start off with this revolver as a good solution.

Bottom Line

The Uberti Reproduction Remington 1858 New Army Stainless Steel .44 might be the kind of revolver that will come in handy if you have a bit of a varmint problem. It can shoot straight and fast. Once you’ve used this a few times, it just might become your most trusted black powder revolver for almost any application.

Best .36-Caliber Black Powder Revolver:
Pietta Model 1851 Navy Yank .36-Caliber Black Powder Revolver

Pros

  • Smooth, reliable firing
  • Easy to load and reload
  • Durable and well-constructed
  • Great across many applications
  • Accurate at 50 yards with small targets, 100 yards with larger targets

Cons

  • Some have complained about the overall quality
  • It may be difficult to disassemble for cleaning purposes
  • A few have complained about fitting issues with the barrel wedge

What Recent Buyers Report

Most new buyers said this revolver was perfect for those who are casual or competitive target shooters. Some say they prefer shooting larger targets with this revolver since they managed to go no lower than 60 yards and no higher than 100 yards when it comes to effective accuracy.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The revolver is nicely constructed and the most useful model on the market. Not to mention, it has the ability to travel quite far. Furthermore, the firing ability is pretty simple. Loading it will be a breeze (despite it being a little stiff at first). But rest assured, once you get the hang of this revolver, operating it will become second nature.

Who Will Use This Most

This would be excellent for target shooters. If you’re going to spend a lot of time in outdoor shooting ranges, you’d be quite happy with this revolver being part of your arsenal. Don’t be surprised if it ends up being the last revolver you ever have to purchase for a while, due to its durability and overall construction.

Bottom Line

The Pietta Model 1851 Navy Yank might be your favorite .36 caliber revolver of all five on the list so far. And it might just be the only one you want for the purpose of target shooting. Whether you are a competitive shooter or a casual shooter, this bad boy will definitely take you places when it comes to shooting at targets.

What is a Black Powder Revolver and What is it Used For?

Modern black powder revolvers that use ammo loaded with black gun powder. These are common with some revolver calibers. They are also known as percussion revolvers. A few of its top uses include but are not limited to big or small game hunting and target shooting (casual and competitive shooting).

How Does a Black Powder Revolver Work?

Black powder revolvers use small casings you manually load with your choice of black powder. The caps are smaller than your usual handgun bullets. Before loading your cylinder, be sure to clean each space before placing the cap inside. Once fully loaded, the use is simple and straightforward. Just cock the hammer back, pull the trigger, and fire your shots until your gun is empty.

Characteristics of Our Favorite Models

We didn’t choose these revolvers on our list randomly. We came across these and chose them to be part of our review based on characteristics and features that stood out to as interesting. Here are some of those characteristics to look out for while finding a revolver of your own:

Price

If you are on a budget, there are some revolvers that are affordable for you. The important thing to note is that you should invest in the best possible quality and performance rather than saving a few dollars and going for cheap. We made sure to provide budget options while selecting these models for our review.

Photo credit: gunbelts.com

Capacity

These revolvers come in various capacities. So you can choose one with the number of shots you desire. If you want five, done. Not enough? Choose a six or eight-shot. Either way, there is no such thing as having enough rounds to fire off.

Intents and Purposes

As mentioned, these black powder revolvers are ideally used for a few purposes. However, there may be one that stands out as a revolver that will excel at one application. For example, one black powder revolver can be useful for general purposes. However, it may go above and beyond in a competitive shooting application.

Cautious Considerations to Keep in Mind

While you are choosing a revolver for your own use, it is important to keep some safety considerations in mind. These should not be ignored, as doing so may cause some potentially dangerous issues. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

Choose the Right Powder

Choosing the right gunpowder for your revolver rounds is important. There are a handful that will be compatible with your rounds of choice, while others won’t be. Some powders may be too combustible to the point where you may be dealing with misfirings and other potentially dangerous situations.

Do Not Mix Caliber Rounds

As a simple rule of thumb, don’t attempt to load any rounds into a revolver if they don’t seem to fit. Not only will this be a recipe for disaster, but it will also lead to reliability issues and other potentially dangerous consequences. If you are using a .36 caliber revolver, then only use .36 caliber caps to use. 

Photo credit: ammoland.com

How to Load a Black Powder Revolver 

Loading a black powder revolver can be tough. But if you follow the instructions below, you’ll know how to load a revolver without any kind of issue. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. What you’ll need are the following: pellets, lube, lubricated bore buttons, lead balls, and caps (Number 11s preferred since Number 10s are a little difficult to work with).

  2. If desired, load your rounds outdoors in a well-ventilated area.

  3. Half-cock your revolver and extract the cylinder. 

  4. Add the powdered pellet in the cylinder. It should drop in easily.

  5. Add your lubed wads (bore buttons) into the cylinder where you loaded your pellets. Be sure that they push all the way in, but lightly, so you don’t crush the pellets.

  6. Insert your lead balls individually into each chamber. Push down with a little bit of force. Don’t overforce it. Once it’s in, it’s in.

  7. Add your lubed wonder seals on top. Keep in mind that they may fall out when you attempt to place them in the cylinder. Double-check your cylinders before you load your caps.

  8. With your muzzle pointed in a safe direction, add your caps into the cylinder individually. If you have large hands, you may want to use a tool. Be sure to squeeze the caps in while you’re loading it. Don’t squeeze too hard.

If you still need a little help or prefer a visual explanation, check out the video below. 

Conclusion

Finding the best black powder revolver will take time and effort. You should find one that will fit your needs and preferences so you can use it for the long term. Don’t be surprised if it’s a revolver that will last you years or decades. That’s bound to happen if you take really good care of it. 

People Also Ask

The following are frequently asked questions that will guide you in finding the best revolver for your own personal use. It’s important to note the answers so you have a better understanding of these black powder revolvers. Here are the following questions:

Can You Conceal Carry a Black Powder Revolver?

This will depend on the laws in your state. Some don’t consider a black powder revolver as a firearm. To ensure that you’ll save yourself potential legal issues and headaches, be sure to research your state and federal laws (and even local laws) that may pertain to black powder revolvers.

How Much Powder is in a .44 Black Powder Pistol? 

A recommended amount of powder that you can use for .44 caliber black powder pistols is roughly around 22 to 28 FFFG grain. .44 rounds should not have more than 35 grains of powder in their caps.

Photo credit: imgur.com

Are Black Powder Pistols Considered a Firearm?

Once again, this will depend on the laws of various states. They are not considered firearms at the federal level. Once again, consider your local and state laws to ensure whether or not black powder revolvers are considered firearms or not.

Do You Need a License for Black Powder Guns?

Once again, it will vary from state to state. Some states will require a license, while some will not. 

What Maintenance Do I Need to Do on My Black Powder Revolver?

One thing you need to be aware of is that you should not use water to clean your black powder revolver. Most revolvers are made from metals that might be susceptible to corrosion. Use cleaning oils and solutions that are safe for these metals. 

Josh Lewis the managing editor at Gun Mann and when he isn't writing about guns he is more than likely tinkering with them. He also enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time outdoors. As a lifelong gun owner he knows his stuff!

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