Best Single Action Revolvers – 2022 Ultimate Review

| Last Updated: August 18, 2022

Remember those old wild west action movies where the protagonist smoked the hostile cowboys with multiple quick taps on the revolver hammer? Looked nothing shorter than a semi-auto in modern times, eh! Those were the single action revolvers that took some time to reload but also delivered the fastest rate of fire.

With the introduction of double action revolvers, and then semi-auto handguns, single actions became obsolete. However, they are a part of our legendary history, and many gun lovers still like to buy and use them. 

This guide will talk about the best single action revolvers on the market today, along with educating you in detail about the different concepts and considerations of this topic.

Comparison of the Best Single Action Revolvers

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Six-round capacity cylinder
  • Best overall single action revolver
  • Available in stainless steel or blued steel
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  • Six-round capacity
  • Adjustable sights included
  • Runner-up for best single action revolver
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  • Includes a brass trigger guard
  • Chambered to fire .357 magnum shots
  • Best single action revolver for the money
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  • Six-round capacity
  • Hard wood grip included
  • Best single action .22 revolver
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What to Watch For When Buying a Single Action Revolver

Here are a few aspects you should consider seriously before buying a single action revolver (SAA). Remember that this is not your common Glock or M&P to be used very often, so make sure your purchase is worth it. 

This Section Written By: Brian Belko

Expert Author

Brian Belko: Gunmann 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.

Caliber

The first thing to look for is the caliber of your single action revolver. While the design of revolver guns dates back to 1836, the first successful revolver came out in 1872 as the Colt Single Action Army. The most common caliber for these revolvers (as of today) are .22 kr, .38 Special, .357 Magnum, and .44 Magnum, .45 ACP, and .45 LC. 

Each of these calibers is different according to its recoil, power, range, cartridge size, and application. The .22lr is the smallest caliber and easiest to shoot, allowing good control of the gun. Additionally, revolvers chambered for this small round are compact and lightweight as well. 

On the other hand, powerful calibers like the .44 Magnum and .45 ACP can have a significant recoil, and the revolver can be quite long. 

Intended Use

Like I said, single action revolvers became obsolete a long time ago, especially for police and defense personnel. Today these revolvers are mostly used for cowboy action shooting events, reenactments, and leisure shooting at the range. You will be surprised to know that some people are courageous enough to carry single action revolvers for concealed carry in today’s time. 

Photo credit: imgur.com

With that said, you must be careful about choosing the revolver depending upon what you will be using it for. 

Fluted or Unfluted Barrel

A single action revolver can either have a normal plain barrel, or it may have a fluted barrel to reduce weight and improve the aesthetics of the gun. A fluted barrel shreds some weight from the revolver, but the manufacturing process is a bit expensive which increases the overall cost of the weapon. 

On the other hand, unfluted barrels do not require any extra machining and are also more economical than their fluted counterparts. 

Expensive or Budget

SAA’s can be very expensive if you choose the classic old models of value, or they can be quite inexpensive if you choose modern models or replicas. Since these guns have limited use in today’s scenario, you should consider a budget option that is also appropriate for your intended use. On the contrary, if you want to buy a classic and expensive piece, it’s your choice. 

Size and Weight

SAA revolvers can weigh as heavy as 72 ounces and have an overall length of 15 inches for some models. Obviously, there are lighter and more compact alternatives, but if you choose the bigger ones, make sure you have an appropriate holster to carry them. Additionally, if you plan on carrying these revolvers outside in public with a CCW license, you should be heedful of concealability. 

Review of the Best Single Action Revolvers

The following is a list of the five best single action revolvers that are popular on the market. It’s important for you to note the characteristics and features of each one. This way, you’ll want to find one that will match your ideal description of your “perfect revolver”. If you find one that’s close enough, then it may be a winner in your eyes.

Let’s take a look at the first choice on our list — the “best overall”:

Best Overall

Ruger Vaquero

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What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of new buyers were very happy with the Ruger Vaquero. Not only did they like the classic look of it, but they were also even more impressed when they found out how insanely accurate it is. One user said that he was able to take this out to the range and managed to fire off about 50 rounds. Not only were the shooting groups tight at 30 to 40 yards out, but he was also able to cycle through the cylinder rather quickly.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This revolver impressed us in a few ways. One, the model itself looks like an homage to the lawmen of the Old West, particularly that classic six-shooter that you’d see in a John Wayne movie. But as it stands, it’s made from high-quality durable materials that will make it last longer while retaining a look that could be considered a timeless classic. This revolver might just be the best when it comes to home defense or even target shooting.

Who Will Use This Most

This would be perfect for you if you need a revolver for the sake of target shooting or even home defense. You can probably get away with using it for EDC purposes (assuming you have the right holster). Either way, it’s a revolver that will work hard and deliver accurate shots every time you shoot. So if you want a revolver that is pretty good in many ways, this is it.

Bottom Line

The Ruger Vaquero is our top overall selection for good reason. It’s simple to use, accurate, and downright reliable in any given application. This classic-looking revolver will definitely be a force to be reckoned with at High Noon at the OK Corral or at the shooting range. 

Pros

Aesthetically sharp

Durable construction

Fit and finish is excellent

Great for concealed carry

Accurate across various distances

Cons

Pulling out the cylinder may be a challenge

Hammer cocking might be a little stiff at first

Grips may not be the best and may need to be replaced

Runner-up

Ruger Blackhawk

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What Recent Buyers Report

As expected, a lot of new users were quite impressed with this revolver. The loading was easy and shooting was accurate and tight right out of the box. Most users intended on using the revolver for the purpose of target shooting. However, a good number of users have also used this for the purpose of home defense. Either way, this revolver stood out as a perfect example of how a revolver should work.

Why it Stands Out to Us

For a revolver that is designed to fire powerful shots (and made with high-quality materials), it’s stunningly low in the weight department. This means you won’t feel like you’re carrying a heavy dumbbell while you’re using it for whatever purpose. Aside from that, this includes sights that you can adjust. So if your shots appear a little off, you can change the sight’s position on the fly.

Who Will Use This Most

This would be an excellent revolver for people who would like to keep one at home for the purpose of self-defense. But don’t discount that as a revolver that you can’t take with you anywhere you go. You can take this to the range to tune it up or just shoot at a few targets. It’s your call either way. If you want a revolver that is solid, reliable, and can do some pretty good damage, you’d be hard-pressed to find a revolver like this anywhere else.

Bottom Line

The Ruger Blackhawk Model proves itself to be a worthy contender when it comes to the best revolvers. It’s solid, accurate, and so lightweight you can carry it around in a holster. In short, it’s a revolver that is easy to use despite some of its shortcomings (like the loud noise). But make no mistake, this puppy is a cannon that is ready for battle.

Pros

Overall excellent quality

Ridiculously lightweight

Fits on most OWB holsters

Tight groups right out of the box

Great for EDC carry and target shooting

Cons

Lots of muzzle flash

May be a little too loud for users

Recoil may be a little much for some users

Best for the Money

Uberti 1873 Cattleman II

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What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of new users loved this revolver for a few good reasons (other than it being affordable for most budgets). The quality was sturdy and was enough for them to say that it can last them years or even decades. On top of that, they managed to knock down small game targets like varmints. One user said he nailed a raccoon that was causing problems on his property from about 40 yards out, going a bit further by saying that he’d found his new best friend for varmint hunting.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is one of the most affordable when it comes to high-quality, so you’re getting quite a steal here if you choose to purchase this. It’s bound to last long and it’s also designed to get the job done at various ranges. So if you are at the range or getting rid of some problem critters on your property, this revolver has a good amount of power that you can take advantage of with each shot.

Who Will Use This Most

This will certainly be put to good use by the following users: target shooters, home defense shooters, and yes, even some of those who want to get rid of varmints or small predators like foxes. It’s got some serious knockdown power and can do some serious damage. After all, it’s a .357 caliber revolver.

Bottom Line

The Uberti 1873 Cattleman II Brass 357 Revolver is perhaps the best possible choice for you if you need something that will fit your budget. The quality is excellent, the shooting is accurate, it packs a punch, and it’s all around reliable. You’d be insane to pass up the opportunity to give this puppy a closer look.

Pros

Durability is superb

Excellent fit and finish

Affordable for most budgets

Easy to load; takes just a minute

Tight shooting groups with targets at 50 yards out

Cons

None available

Best Single Action .22 Revolver

Ruger Rimfire Single-Six

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What Recent Buyers Report

New buyers were quick to give this revolver a lot of great remarks. They had no complaints about the revolver’s performance and were able to knock down a lot of bullseyes at about 25 to 35 yards out with smaller targets. Larger targets were hit successfully when situated at about 50 yards. Either way, one user says he just can’t get enough of it when he’s shooting at the range. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

One of the things that makes this revolver stand out the most is the classic look. After all, it’s got the stainless steel mixed with the wooden grip. So, it looks as good as new while maintaining that old school Wild West look. If you want something that will be like the fastest gun in the West (without having to fool around with it and risk getting hurt), this should be a good revolver to have with you. 

Who Will Use This Most

This would be more suited to being more of a home defense revolver or even a revolver you can take to the range. It’s powerful and can pack quite a knockdown with a shot or two. But if you wish to concealed carry, there is no problem with that either. This is the revolver that will get the job done, no matter what the application.

Bottom Line

If you are a fan of the .22 caliber, the Ruger Rimfire will certainly be a favorite of yours. By the time you fire the first few shots, you’ll know that you’ve made the right decision. It can hit your targets accurately and will be reliable for a long time, so long as you take the best care of it.

Pros

Affordable for most budgets

Accurate across many distances

Super durable, both inside and out

Great for concealed carry and target shooting

Has the potential to last you years or even decades

Cons

None available

Best Single Action .357 Revolver

Cimarron Model P .357 Magnum 4.75″

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What Recent Buyers Report

Most new users were happy with this Cimarron, which delivered a good amount of damage to their targets. While a lot of them were able to hit their bullseyes from distances ranging from 30 to 50 yards out, some of them managed to hit varmint targets from about 40 yards. One user said that he never thought a revolver would come in handy to knock down a small critter or two.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This revolver is made from a blued finish steel. It’s perhaps one of the more durable types of steel on the market. On top of that, the grip is made from dark-colored walnut. So, it retains that classic revolver look that stands out to those who appreciate an old school look. If you want something that will look like it’s been frozen in time, this revolver might be what you need. 

Who Will Use This Most

This is a really good revolver that would be used for target shooting and self-defense. Regardless, this is for those who want something that is considered to be a heavy hitter. If you fancy yourself a fan of the .357, you’re going to love this revolver and won’t get enough of shooting it. Don’t say we never warned you.

Bottom Line

The Cimarron Model P .357 Magnum is a revolver built to do some serious damage. It’s a sharp-looking unit that will probably turn some heads wherever you go. If you want a revolver that will be trusty, reliable, and accurate across many applications, this might be the best possible option for you.

Pros

Very durable

Firing power is excellent

Really sturdy construction

Hammer is easy to cock back

Trigger pull is nice and smooth

Cons

None available

What Purpose Does a Single Action Revolver Serve?

A revolver will stand out in so many ways. So it’s important to know which applications will be best for a single action revolver. Here are some of the top uses for this type:

Target Shooting

Indeed, there are a lot of users that will simply use a revolver for the purpose of target shooting. It will be a casual thing or tuning up for the real deal (like competition shooting or even self-defense). Either way, this revolver would be perfect for a day of shooting at the range. A lot of these single action revolvers have a decent amount of accuracy, so you’d be surprised how far they can go. 

Concealed Carry/EDC

Concealed carry or EDC carry is perhaps one of the best purposes to carry a revolver, or any handgun for that matter. Danger can lurk just about anywhere. And it’s important for you to be prepared to deal with it when such situations arise. Most single action revolvers are small enough for you to carry in a holster, glove box, or anywhere that is suitable.

Home Defense

Tying into the previous subsection, defending yourself in a life and death situation is important. But you don’t have to conceal carry a revolver if you don’t want to. You can simply keep it at home and utilize it for the purpose of home defense. So when there are things that go bump in the night, you can use it just in case things take a suddenly dangerous turn.

Why Are These The Best?

We didn’t choose these single action revolvers out of complete randomness, nor did we just blindy go with one revolver because of hearing one good thing. We chose these based on their characteristics and features, along with what people have been saying about them. Here are a few reasons why the revolvers we chose are the best:

Affordable For Most Budgets

The thing with the price tag is that it might be enough to turn off the choosiest of buyers. But the price shouldn’t be the primary reason why you chose a revolver. If you are on a budget, you should find the best one you can afford in terms of quality and performance. Don’t mistake this as your greenlight to “go for cheap.” There’s a good chance that cheap will equal unreliable and disappointing. 

Photo credit: youtube.com

Excellent Quality

If there is one thing that you should hold to a higher standard, it’s quality. You need to make sure that the revolver you are considering is made from high-quality materials. Steel, aluminum, and polymer are just a few of the major examples of which materials will be great for durability. The better the quality, the better the chance that these revolvers will last you a long time.

Highly Reliable

Other than quality, reliability should be something that is considered important. You want your revolver to work when you need it most. This means that the cycling should be smooth. It means that there should be no jamming or any other reliability issues at all. Be sure to clean your revolver and maintain it once in a while to ensure that it will stay in consistently functional order.

Perks of Getting a Single Action Revolver

When you invest in a single action revolver, it’s important to know what you’re going to get out of it. Not investing in one will mean missing out. Here are the following perks you’ll get to experience:

Quicker Shooting

A single action revolver will take less time to operate. This means you’ll be able to fire off your shots a lot quicker compared to double-action revolvers, which will take a little more time to get a shot off. 

Excellent For Concealed Carry

Most single action revolvers will certainly stand out as the best for concealed carry, especially if it’s chambered to fire .22 caliber shots or .38 Special shots, to name a few. Since you are allowed to shoot quickly with them, it will give you the advantage in a self-defense situation.

Affordable

Compared to double action revolvers, a single action revolver is more affordable. So, if you are adamant in getting a revolver and want something that is better for your budget, you should probably consider getting a single action and try it out for yourself. 

Photo credit: ruger.com

Types of Single Action Revolvers

If you think there is one kind of single action revolver, you’re wrong. In fact, there are other types that are available on the market. Here are the following types:

.22 Caliber

This is the smaller of the types. And they are perfect for beginners starting out with revolvers. They are known for having tight shooting groups and are among the most popular for concealed carry purposes. Plus, you can still achieve some serious knockdown power with a .22 revolver. It’s also perfect for target shooting (casual or competition). 

.38 Special

The .38 Special caliber is almost identical to 9mm shots. If you have owned a 9mm handgun before, you should probably consider a .38 Special revolver. These are designed mostly for law enforcement and security. But make no mistake, a 38 Special will definitely come in handy if you conceal carry and intend to use it for defense purposes.

.357

.357 rounds are the largest of the bunch. And believe it or not, they are the most powerful. If you want a revolver that is jam-packed with some serious knockdown power for varmints, don’t be surprised if this caliber ends up being what you’ll need to rid your property of annoying critters that are looking to cause trouble.  

How to Fan a Single Action Revolver

Fanning a single action revolver is somewhat of an advanced technique for experienced revolver users. It’s not recommended for those who are beginner-level users. But once you have some experience under your belt, you can give this a try. With that said, here’s how you do it:

In order to pull this off yourself, first, draw your revolver. Make sure it is positioned above your waist but on the side of your stomach. Hold the rifle in your trigger hand. Using your free hand, pull the hammer back (not cock it). Then immediately release. You can repeat this until you are out of rounds.

To get a good idea of what “fanning” is, check out the video below (instead of tracking down an old John Wayne movie).

Conclusion

A single action revolver is a force to be reckoned with if you use it properly. All you have to do is find the caliber that fits you best and you’ll be able to use it for your particular intended purpose. Find one that is reliable and built to last and you’ll have a sidekick that will be ready and raring to go if and when you need it most.

People Also Ask

Below is a list of frequently asked questions that you can use to help you better understand how single action revolvers operate. Please use this as a guide so you can make an informed decision on which revolver you choose.

Are Single Action Revolvers Good For Self Defense?

Yes, they are. In fact, they are best used for this purpose because they will allow you to cock the hammer back and pull the trigger much quicker than other revolvers. When it comes to self-defense, timing is everything.

Can You Fan a Single Action Revolver?

You can. But it’s important to get some experience first (and probably some fast hands) in order to pull it off successfully. It is a move that beginners should not perform at first.

Are Single Action Revolvers More Reliable?

Single action revolvers are more reliable depending on the application. They can be the most reliable if used in an application where timing is important. For example, you can utilize a single action revolver in self-defense or even a competition application. 

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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