Best Smith and Wesson Revolvers – 2023 Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

| Last Updated:
September 13, 2023

The Smith and Wesson name is iconic within the firearms world. Founded in 1856, Smith and Wesson has become synonymous with quality, reliability, and longevity. In other words, Smith and Wesson know how to build an excellent revolver.

Whether you are in the market for a self-defense firearm, hunting sidearm, or target shooting revolver, S&W has you covered. In fact, there are so many options that it can be a challenge to wade through all of them.

Keep reading to learn more about the best Smith and Wesson revolvers on the market today.

Comparison of the Best Smith And Wesson Revolvers

  • Made from high-quality steel
  • Best overall Smith and Wesson revolver
  • Grip made from rubber for maximum shock absorption
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  • Five-shot capacity
  • Single and double action
  • Runner-up for best overall Smith and Wesson revolvers
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  • Five-shot capacity
  • Grip made from high-quality polymer
  • Best Smith and Wesson revolver for the money
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  • Grip made from synthetic materials
  • Barrel measured at 6.5 inches in length
  • Best Smith and Wesson Revolver for home defense
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  • Best S&W .357 Magnum revolver
  • Grip made from synthetic material
  • Available in six or seven-shot capacities
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  • Available in various models
  • Best S&W revolver for concealed carry
  • Grip made from high-quality rubber for shock protection
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What to Watch For When Buying a S&W Revolver

The sheer amount of options and variations among Smith and Wesson revolvers can be both a good thing and a bad thing. It can be a good thing because you can find an option perfect for your needs, but it can be a bad thing because too many options can get overwhelming and make a decision nearly impossible to make.

Having some knowledge beforehand goes a long way towards keeping the number of options a good thing instead of a bad one. The following tips and information should help you get your bearings as you zero in on your final choice.

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.

Ponder Your Preferences

This might sound pretty obvious, but it is also something that many people tend to overlook due to the excitement of buying a new firearm. One of the most important things you can do is to take some time and think about what you want out of your new Smith and Wesson revolver and what tasks you want it to be able to accomplish. This will really help you as you begin to look through all of the available options.

Your needs or preferences might call for a certain caliber, barrel length, frame size, finish, or other feature. It won’t be tough to find a Smith and Wesson revolver option that fits one or more of your requirements. The best thing about having so many options from a single brand is that you can be really picky and settle on an option that almost seems custom-made for your specific requirements.

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Hold Your Holsters

Unless you plan to carry your holster in a purse, bag, or large coat pocket, you will likely need to invest in a holster to securely carry, access, and protect your revolver. Don’t make the rookie mistake of forgetting all about a holster until the last minute and settling for a subpar option until you can find a good holster option. Yes, this is an additional expense, but the value of a good holster that fits your revolver can’t be understated.

Getting Framed

Smith and Wesson revolvers can be categorized according to their frame size. Smith and Wesson use a letter system when it comes to naming their various frames. The current frames being manufactured are the J-Frame, L-Frame, N-Frame, X-Frame, and Z-Frame. This helps to quickly understand the general size of the revolver. The further along in the alphabet the frame number is, the larger the frame size will be.

Review of the Best Smith and Wesson Revolvers

The following is a list of the six best Smith and Wesson revolvers currently on the market. As you go through each one, it is important to note the features and characteristics so you can make an informed decision on which one stands out the most. If you find one that is close enough to the ideal description of your dream revolver, then you know you have found a winner.

Let’s take a look at the first S&W revolver on our list — the best overall choice:

Best Overall

Smith & Wesson 586 .357 Magnum

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What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of new buyers were quite happy with the revolver. Among the laundry list of things they liked were the following: easy loading, fast and smooth shooting, and concealable for EDC carry. One user said it just might be the perfect revolver for his personal needs and preferences. Furthermore, he added that he had so much fun firing it at the range while landing accurate shots from about 30 to 40 yards out.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This revolver might just be the epitome of perfection. It’s at the perfect size and might just be made with the right kind of high-quality materials to ensure that it lasts you a long time and can handle high-stress situations like a self-defense application. In short, it’s a revolver that is built like a tank and is at a size where you can carry it in almost any holster. Plus, it’s got some serious firing power. After all, it is a .357 caliber revolver.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be an excellent concealed carry revolver. And it may be great for target shooting, as well. No matter the intended application, you’ll have a revolver that will be built for the long-term and will be reliable in a moment’s notice. If you need a .357 that can do some serious damage, while being able to stand out as the go-to revolver for almost any application, this could be yours to own.

Bottom Line

The Smith and Wesson Centerfire .357 Revolver has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that it belongs on top. It’s a concealed carry user’s dream come true with great reliability, accuracy, and quality to boot. You’d be insane to pass up the opportunity to give this a closer look.


Solid, durable construction

Easy to load, takes a few minutes

Reliable, even through 150 rounds

Handles the heavy .357 loads quite well

Excellent for concealed carry and target shooting




Smith & Wesson 460V

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What Recent Buyers Report

Most new users were looking for a revolver that could stand out as one of the best for multiple applications (and even small varmint hunting). They were not disappointed when they found this revolver to be quite effective. Not only were they able to hit their targets accurately from about 30 yards out, but they also were able to carry this revolver in their respective holsters, making it easy to conceal carry. One user was even speechless when he found out he could maintain his property and get rid of the varmint problem with a revolver, of all things (which of course, he ended up doing).

Why it Stands Out to Us

This revolver might just have enough power to make a strong case on why it belongs on the list. Its shooting power is tremendous and can deliver all kinds of knockdown power. So, if you are in a life and death situation or are looking to get rid of some small critters causing problems, you have a revolver that will give you a new level of confidence. You will be confident in knowing you have a revolver you can trust if push comes to shove.

Who Will Use This Most

While great for many applications, it can excel as a concealed carry revolver. Not to mention, it would be handy to keep at home in case you need to deal with a pest problem. If you live out in the country where you won’t have to worry about endangering your neighbors, you can safely get rid of the varmint problem this way. What better revolver can you find on the market that can do all that?

Bottom Line

The X-Frame Centerfire Revolver might be a worthy contender of the best overall spot in the not-so-distant future. So don’t be shocked if you see this making an ascension to the top anytime soon. But for now, you can use it to enjoy its excellent firing power and overall reliability.


Easy to maintain and clean

Superior quality, really durable

Simple to load by either hand or speedloader

Can be used for concealed carry and even varmint hunting

The grip provides superior control, even in bad weather conditions


Hammer may be a little tough to cock back

May be a little difficult to pull the cylinder out at first

Trigger pull may be a little too heavy for some users

Best for the Money

Smith & Wesson 642 Airweight w/ Internal Lock

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What Recent Buyers Report

Most new buyers were looking for an affordable Smith and Wesson revolver that would be reliable and able to fire off accurate shots, regardless of application. Needless to say, they were quite happy with the overall performance of this revolver, in general. They were able to hit smaller targets accurately from as far as 25 yards out. However, the larger targets allowed shooters to hit bullseyes set to about 40 yards.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Right off the bat, you know the measurements are perfect for concealed carry. It’s compact in size and therefore, super-easy to conceal. If you hate the idea of conceal carrying a firearm that may create some kind of bulging, you know for a fact that a smaller firearm like this revolver is the answer. If you need a replacement concealed carry firearm, this revolver might be right up your alley.

Who Will Use This Most

Simply put, it’s a great revolver for those looking for a concealed carry revolver on a budget. Even if you have enough money to play around, this revolver proves itself to be quite effective at the range (or in a life-threatening situation). So no matter the application, this revolver will be your best friend.

Bottom Line

The J-Frame Centerfire Revolver is the one revolver that won’t break the bank, nor will it disappoint you. Believe us when we tell you that this isn’t some flimsy, cheap revolver that won’t matter much in a few months. It’s built for the long-haul and will be ready for a lengthy period of reliable service when you need it most.


Ridiculously lightweight

Super-solid construction

Accurate and precise shooting

Great firing power, can do some serious damage

Easy to carry, can fit in many OWB and IWB holsters


Recoil might be stinging in some hands

Some of the small parts may be susceptible to corrosion

A few users have questioned the potential longevity of the revolver

Best S&W .357 Magnum Revolver

Smith & Wesson 686

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What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of new users say that this revolver is seriously dangerous. That is if you happen to be involved in either of the following: an attacker threatening a homeowner or a small critter causing a good deal of damage to your property. They were quite amazed by the damage they did to the targets while testing this out at the range. One user said it can be quite powerful and you can feel it with every shot.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The .357 magnum is, without question, known for its ability to turn an apple into applesauce. A soft target will be seriously damaged when it comes in contact with a .357 round. But don’t expect it to be extremely messy when you shoot at a target. If you want a revolver with have a good amount of power in every shot, you’ll know this is the one you’ll want to go with.

Who Will Use This Most

This is a revolver that, once again, will be more useful to the seasoned concealed carry vets. Newbie friendly may not be the best way to describe it considering its powerful shooting. So the recoil can be a bit much. But if you have used revolvers in the past and know that you can control something like this for extended shooting periods, this revolver might just be what you’re looking for.

Bottom Line

The Smith & Wesson 686 Centerfire Revolver is a force to be reckoned with, regardless of the application. No attacker or small varmint will stand in the way of something this powerful. But if they so dare to do so, this revolver can deliver a stopping power like no other. If you need a revolver that will stand up to the challenge, this product will take the ball and run with it.


Durability is quite solid

Fit and finish are excellent

Seriously powerful shooting

Stays reliable and jam-free through 150 rounds or more

Ergonomically-friendly. Won’t strain your hands in an extended shooting session


Very loud

Front sight can be better overall

Sights may need to be adjusted to ensure better accuracy

Best S&W Revolver for Concealed Carry

Smith & Wesson 442

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What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of new users say this revolver is at the right size for concealed carry. They managed to keep this nice and safe in OWB and IWB holsters without any snagging issues whatsoever. Furthermore, they were pretty happy with the accuracy. The revolver managed to hit targets ranging from 25 to 35 yards out. One user said for a revolver like this, that was good enough for him.

Why it Stands Out to Us

There really isn’t much to be said, other than the fact that it’s seriously durable. So it’s built to take on high-stress situations like a self-defense application. It’s probably the best EDC carry pistol you can take with you just about anywhere. And when you’re carrying something like this all day, every day, you are well-prepared for the dangerous situations that may be threatening your life or property. Preparation matters most when it comes to danger. The question is, will you be ready?

Who Will Use This Most

This will be the perfect newbie-friendly revolver. If you have never used a revolver before or are starting out with concealed carry, this just might be the kind you need. It can do some damage, but is at the right size to conceal it discreetly and not attract any undue attention. If you need a revolver that will be at the right size for the perfect concealed carry moments, this might be your cup of coffee.

Bottom Line

The 442 J-Frame Centerfire is a great conceal carry revolver that will get you through the day and allow you to prepare for dangerous situations that may lie ahead. It’s concealable and ready when you need it most. For a revolver that can be hard-hitting and save your life in any given situation, this Smith and Wesson revolver might just go above and beyond the call of duty.


Super-solid construction

Excellent for concealed carry

Easy to load, takes a few minutes

Accurate and precise across many distances

Doesn’t bulge in many OWB and IWB holsters


Sights may need adjusting

May be tight to load at first

Best Smith and Wesson Revolver for Home Defense

Smith & Wesson 629

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What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of new buyers were satisfied with the revolver as a whole. Not only did they get this for home defense, but they were able to test it out at the target range to find out how well it can perform. Sure enough, it was able to hit targets accurately from about 30 yards out. One user said he used this in a “run and gun” practice range and managed to hit each shot with precision and accuracy. He says he is confident that he is prepared to take on the real deal, if and when the situation were to arise.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This revolver is one of the larger models. As expected, it’s got a bit more “oomph” in the firing side of things. And it can fire off .44 caliber shots. They are, by far, the best caliber for when you absolutely have to do some serious damage to an attacker that dares to invade your home and threaten your life. If you think this is the revolver for you, then get it for your own use. Be warned though, it’s quite loud and a bit powerful so it may not be newbie-friendly.

Who Will Use This Most

As mentioned, this may not be a newbie-friendly revolver, considering that it can be loud and a little bit heavy. So if you have had some experience with revolvers, you might be able to handle this one a bit better. If not, don’t be discouraged. But if you need a revolver that can literally stop an attacker right in their tracks, you’d be hard-pressed to find a revolver quite like this anywhere on the market.

Bottom Line

While there are a lot of S&W revolvers out there that will be great for self-defense, the 629 is perhaps one of the best for home defense. It’s quite powerful and nice to have around at home. Keep it somewhere safe so you’ll know where to go if you hear any suspicious noises. Home invaders or prowlers will think twice before doing anything that may result in you using this.


Great for home defense

Reliable and powerful shooting

Easy to load, takes a few minutes

Accurate and precise from various distances

Excellent gripping ability and very ergonomic


May be heavy for some

A little loud for some users

Not suitable for concealed carry

Are All Smith and Wesson Revolvers The Same?

This question gets asked a lot. And there are similar questions asked regarding other firearms and accessories. Nine times out of ten, the answer is no. The reasons being, for S&W revolvers are the following: First, some revolvers will differ in shot counts. Some will have six shots, while others will have seven or eight. Some will have wood grips, while others will be made from synthetic materials. It all comes down to these little details to prove that not every S&W revolver is the same thing.

How Do I Choose a Smith and Wesson Revolver? 

There are a lot of characteristics and features you can choose from in terms of finding the right Smith and Wesson revolver for yourself. Knowing how to make the distinction between a great revolver and one that isn’t as good is key. It comes down to the following things you need to look for:


While the price tag is something that may be a factor in your final purchasing decision, it shouldn’t be the only reason. If you must find a revolver on a budget, you should consider investing in the best quality and performance you can afford. This way, you can invest in value rather than throwing money away on something that ends up being flimsy and unreliable. 

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Choose the Best Quality Possible

The best quality comes from the best materials. For example, steel and polymer are two proven materials on the market that have been linked to better grip, less damage, and overall durability. While they are high-quality materials, they should be maintained and cleaned on a regular basis so they can last a long time rather than rust and end up being ineffective.

How Many Rounds Do You Need?

As mentioned, not every revolver is going to have the same amount of shots in the cylinder. You can choose five, six, or even eight shots, if you so choose. This might be a personal preference for you, but it can also depend on the application you intend to use your revolver for. A higher count can be ideal for those who intend to use their revolver for target shooting (casual or competition). 

Benefits of Investing in a Quality Smith and Wesson Revolver

If you invest in a quality Smith and Wesson revolver, odds are, you’ll likely enjoy the following benefits that we’ll be listing below. The last thing you’d want to do is miss out by not purchasing one. Here’s what you get out of a revolver from S&W:

Diversified Calibers

Smith and Wesson have revolvers of all kinds of calibers. So you can choose which one is best for you in terms of your intended application. If you want something that can do serious damage, there’s a caliber for that. If you want something that can hit hard and still give you tight shooting groups, a .22 caliber revolver could do you some good. 

Superior Reliability

If there is one thing that Smith and Wesson is known for, its reliability. Meaning these revolvers can come through in the clutch in the moments that matter. If you want something that will give you a leg up against your attackers in a home defense situation, a revolver will certainly rise above the call of duty, especially from a reliable brand like S&W. 

Built to Last

If you are the kind of shooter that wants a revolver that is solid and durable, you’ll be able to give Smith and Wesson revolvers the attention it deserves. That’s because every revolver they make is constructed from high-quality materials known for lasting users years or even decades. 

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Knowing which Smith and Wesson revolver you need will come down to some time and research. Be sure to figure out why you need an S&W revolver and then find a specific model to fit your needs and preferences. Once you manage to lock one down, you’ll be amazed by what it can do, so long as you use it regularly and take the best care of it. 

People Also Ask

The following is a list of frequently asked questions regarding Smith and Wesson revolvers. You should use this guide to help you better understand how these revolvers work so you can make a more informed decision. Here are the following questions:

What is the Smallest Smith and Wesson Revolver?

The smallest revolver of the Smith and Wesson brand is the 442 J-Frame Centerfire. The barrel itself is measured at around two inches in length and is considered to be one of the best revolvers around in terms of concealability.

Where are Smith and Wesson Revolvers Made?

Smith and Wesson revolvers are made at the global headquarters of Springfield, Massachusetts. However, they are also made in some other parts of the United States, as well.

What is the Most Popular Smith and Wesson Revolver?

The answer depends on the exact need and preference of the user. In terms of overall popularity, the 586 .357 magnum is considered to be one of the best. However, more concealed carry users have preferred smaller models like the 442 due to its light weight and measurements.

Michael Lutes

Michael Lutes is the managing editor and owner at Gun Mann. He is a veteran, gun enthusiast, 3 gun competitor, and 2a advocate. Mike has a passion for innovation and education across the industry to create great content, training, and insights from the best and brightest.

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