Best Snub Nose Revolvers – 2022 Ultimate Round-up

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The image of a snub nose revolver tends to call to mind the private eyes and detectives of yesteryear. However, this humble firearm still holds an important place in the world of self and home defense. Easy to use, reliable, and comfortable to shoot, snub nose revolvers are a great choice for many different people.

While they aren’t cut out for competitive shooting or rapid fire training sessions, they do fill their niche well. There is a reason why the design has gone largely unchanged for decades and decades. This kind of revolver is compact, lightweight, and easy to conceal.

Keep reading to learn more and to see the best snub nose revolvers on the market today!

Comparison of the Best Snub-Nose Revolvers

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • 5-round capacity
  • Best overall snub nose revolver
  • Chambered to fire .38 caliber rounds
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  • 6-round capacity
  • Barrel measured at two inches in length
  • Runner up for best overall snub nose revolver
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  • Can hold up to 6 rounds
  • Barrel measured at 2.5 inches
  • Best snub nose revolver for the money
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  • Best 357 snub revolver
  • Can contain up to 6 rounds
  • The barrel is measured at 2 inches in length
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  • Best snub nose 38 revolver
  • Chambered to fire 38 Special caliber shots
  • Made from stainless steel and other synthetic materials
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What to Watch For When Buying a Snub Nose Revolver

Although they are simple in design and function, not all snub nose revolvers are made equally. There are a few important factors and features to consider before pulling the proverbial trigger on a final decision. The decision on a firearm that you plan to use to defend yourself or carry everyday is not one to be taken lightly.

Choosing a snub nose revolver that you are entirely comfortable using, operating, and maintaining safely is of paramount importance. Check out the following tips and information for a good place to start your snub nose revolver shopping journey.

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.

Considering Caliber

Choosing a caliber for a snub nose revolver is one of the biggest decisions you will have to make. Don’t pick a specific caliber just because it sounds familiar to you. Almost everyone has at least heard of a .38 Special or .357 Magnum.

However, that doesn’t mean they are an ideal caliber for your own snub nose revolver. Take some time to think about what you expect the firearm to be capable of doing as well as your level of comfort when it comes to handling recoil. If possible, fire a few different snub nose revolvers in different calibers. That is the best way to make sure that you settle on the best caliber for your needs.

Holsterin’ Up

Whether you plan to everyday carry your snub nose revolver or keep it in a vehicle or home for defense purposes, it will pay off to have a secure and high-quality holster to keep the firearm in when being carried or stored. Look for something that is as close to a custom fit for your specific revolver as possible instead of grabbing the cheapest nylon option off the shelf. Yes, it will cost a little more upfront but will pay off in the long run.

Capacity Concerns

Snub nose revolvers are available in 5-round and 6-round configurations. The main deciding factor on which one to go with is a simple question of what you value more between a lighter and smaller frame revolver and an extra shot. This comes down to personal preference, but it is a decision that can have ramifications to your overall decision and other factors such as which caliber to choose.

Review of the Best Snub-Nose Revolvers

Below is a list of the five best snub-nose revolvers currently available on the market. As you look through each one, it is imperative that you make a note of the characteristics and features that stand out. This way, you’ll be able to get a good idea of which model is close enough to your ideal snub-nose revolver.

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

Best Overall

Smith & Wesson 642 .38

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What Recent Buyers Report

Most new users were pretty happy with this revolver for a few good reasons. They were able to hit their targets effectively from about 15 yards out in a target shooting situation. One user even reported hitting bullseye shots with a single magazine. He added that he was prepared to use it if and when he found himself in a self-defense situation, as well.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This snub-nose revolver is accurate and quite reliable through well over 100 rounds. This means you won’t have to deal with any jamming or reliability issues. So if you want a revolver that won’t jam on you at a time when it’s needed most, this just might be the one that you’ll want down the road.

Who Will Use This Most

This revolver might be your go-to choice if you want something reliable and impressive at close ranges. Furthermore, it’s a good choice if you are looking for a really good revolver that will be ideal for concealed carry purposes.

Bottom Line

The Smith and Wesson 642 comes from one of the most trusted names in firearms. Known for their reliability and superior performance, it comes as no surprise that a Smith and Wesson revolver tops the list.

Pros

Excellent fire-power

No snagging in holsters

Solid and durable construction

Perfect for concealed carry and target shooting

Very accurate with targets situated at 15 yards out

Cons

Might be a little weighty

Can be loud for some users

Trigger pull weight may be a little heavy

Runner-up

Rock Island Armory M206

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What Recent Buyers Report

Many new users found this revolver to be a bit more accurate than expected from distances ranging from 15 to 20 yards out. Some users were especially happy with the ease of use. One user said the trigger pull was a bit lighter than he expected. On top of that, he was a huge fan of the wood grip that actually allowed for more comfortable shooting.

Why it Stands Out to Us

One of the most interesting things about this revolver is aesthetics. Yes, looks shouldn’t really matter to anyone. But this revolver looks like it was made decades ago and was frozen in time. If you are a sucker for a snub-nose revolver you’d probably find in an old-school detective movie, then this might be the closest you can get to it. It loads up and fires pretty well and you won’t get even a single jam or malfunction out of the whole deal. So if reliability and accuracy are something you hold to a high standard, you won’t be disappointed with this revolver.

Who Will Use This Most

If you are in search of a revolver that will really stand out as an odds-on favorite for concealed carry revolvers, you may want to give this bad boy a closer look. This compact-size revolver is pretty stout and can do some damage at close range. If that isn’t impressive, then we can’t tell you what is. Oh…did we mention that it’s got a classic look you can appreciate?

Bottom Line

The Rock Island Armory M206 2-inch .38 Special is a revolver you can depend on in an EDC carry situation. You’ll know for a fact that you’ll be ready to use it if and when you need to. This revolver will stick around for the long haul if you take really good care of it. And you’ll be better prepared for anything that might happen. It’s always better to be prepared than not.

Pros

Easy to load

Excellent for concealed carry purposes

Shoots very accurately at 20 yards away

Aesthetically sharp, has a classic look to it

Front sight is really helpful in terms of accuracy

Cons

None

Best for the Money

Charter Arms Bulldog

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What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of new users were looking for a revolver that was not just great for concealed carry purposes, but also affordable for most budgets. They were not disappointed in the slightest when it came to the overall performance. Most users landed their shots with effective accuracy while standing some 20 yards away from the targets themselves. One user said that while he uses it at the range once or twice a week, he intends on keeping it handy for the purpose of self-defense.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This revolver is tough all-over thanks to the high-quality materials it’s made from. One of the other things that stood out was the grip. Made from a high-quality polymer, it is designed to give users a superior amount of gripping ability and better control overall. Not only will you be able to get an excellent grip out of this, but it will be comfortable thanks to the ergonomic design. Perfect for when you’ll be spending the entire day at the range firing off so many shots.

Who Will Use This Most

This is a great beginner revolver for those who want one for the purpose of concealed carry. And at the price it’s going for, first time users will have no trouble whatsoever affording it. In fact, they’ll be getting a lot more than what they’ve paid for. So if you want accuracy, reliability, and the best in concealability at a price that won’t break the bank, this is the one you’ll want to go with.

Bottom Line

The Charter Arms Bulldog is probably the one revolver that can definitely do a good job as a newbie-friendly revolver. While it can be fun to shoot at the range, it’s certainly a good revolver to have around just in case you need it in a dangerous situation. It’s affordable, but you are definitely getting a steal of a lifetime here.

Pros

Excellent firepower

Reliable and accurate

Affordable for most budgets

Simple to load, takes a few minutes or less

Aesthetically sharp thanks to the all-black finish

Cons

The cylinder may be difficult to pull out

Trigger pull might be a little heavy at first

Hammer may be a little tight to pull back when new

Best 357 Snub-Nose Revolver

Kimber K6S

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What Recent Buyers Report

Most new buyers were quite impressed with the kind of impact this revolver made. While it was effective at close distances, they were pretty happy with the amount of damage every shot could do. One user even said that after going through ten rounds, he had to replace his target with a new one. But he is fairly confident he found the perfect revolver in case someone dared to threaten his life.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This revolver has the perfect measurements for a concealed carry revolver. It’s compact, lightweight, and durable. But it’s the firing ability where it will make its money. So if you want a revolver that will get the job done and leave some pretty tight shooting groups, you may want to give this revolver a closer look. It has some serious shooting power and is the kind of revolver no attacker or prowler would want to be on the end of.

Who Will Use This Most

This will, perhaps, be a good revolver to have handy if you want something that is ideal for most applications. Since it’s compact in size, you can take it with you just about anywhere and be prepared for whenever danger is lurking nearby. While you might not find yourself in dangerous situations on an everyday basis, sometimes it’s good to know you have a revolver that will be handy just in case someone decides to mess with you.

Bottom Line

The Kimber K6S is the kind of .357 revolver that will make a gun enthusiast salivate. For a snub-nose revolver, you know for a fact that this small thing can’t be underestimated. Don’t believe us? Give this puppy a whirl at the range and you’ll see what we mean. Damaging shots, unrivaled reliability, and top-notch concealability are what you’ll get out of this.

Pros

Comfortable grip

Fits in most holsters without printing

Can hit targets accurately at about 20 yards

Perfect for concealed carry and target shooting

No jamming or malfunctions through 500 rounds

Cons

Too loud for some

It can be tricky to reload by hand. Consider using a speedloader

Best Snub-Nose .38 Revolver

Ruger LCRX .38 +P

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What Recent Buyers Report

As expected, a lot of new users purchased this for the intent of keeping it around as a concealed carry revolver. Sure enough, they were able to keep it nice and concealed in a holster of their choice. One user even said that once you put it away, you’ll won’t even know it’s there (but you won’t forget about it when the time comes to defend yourself, he added). Overall, the performance of the revolver was great and the quality was outstanding according to the new users.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This revolver is chambered to fire .38 Special caliber shots. They are among the top favorites for concealed carry users. In fact, they have long been popular, thanks to old-school police movies. But if you want something that will make your concealed carry experience a good one, you won’t be disappointed with a revolver like this. Its firing power is great and leaves nice, tight shooting groups right out of the box. The front and rear sights are co-witnessed to provide you with the most accurate and precise shooting from up to 25 yards. If that is something that will get those wheels turning in your head, it will be the right choice to get this revolver soon.

Who Will Use This Most

This revolver will likely be in the hands of many concealed carry users (both new and seasoned), especially when they’re looking for a revolver with exceptional firing ability and hard-to-match reliability. In fact, it might be one of the best revolvers in terms of reliability but without the name “Smith and Wesson”. If you want something that will be malfunction-free for a good, long time, this puppy will definitely be what you’ll want on hand for any concealed carry or other applications.

Bottom Line

If a .38 Special is what you’ll want, you’ll get it out of the Ruger LCRX. You can certainly give this revolver a good amount of use at the range. It will definitely shine the brightest when you have to use it in a survival situation. Since it’s concealable in most pocket holsters, it will be as if you’re not carrying anything at all. Additionally, nobody will notice unless you take the revolver out of your holster.

Pros

Perfect for concealed carry

Fits great in most pocket holsters

Excellent quality feel to it. It feels quite sturdy

Shooting groups are quite tight out of the box

Super-reliable and malfunction-free after 1000 rounds

Cons

Loading may be a little difficult at first

Unloading used shells from the cylinder seems like a chore

Disassembly for maintenance might be a challenge sometimes

How Accurate is a Snub-Nose Revolver?

Some have questioned the actual accuracy of a snub-nose revolver in recent years. However, with some practice and consistent use, you’ll be able to land effectively accurate shots. But these revolvers will be most effective when shooting targets situated from 15 to 25 yards out.

Characteristics of Our Favorite Models

Keep in mind that these revolvers were not chosen at complete random. We’ve kept an eye out for some important characteristics and features that stand out. Here are some things to look for while looking for your own snub-nose revolver:

Price

The price will probably be a cause for concern if money is tight for you. But you can still be able to get a snub-nose revolver at a price you can afford. This doesn’t mean going for cheap and sacrificing quality. You should always invest in the best quality and performance you can afford.

Photo credit: usacarry.com

Made From High-Quality Materials

High-quality materials like polymer, steel, or aluminum are some of the best materials used by gun manufacturers. The reason why quality is important is because it leads to longevity. If you have a revolver that is made from high-quality materials and you take good care of it regularly, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to keep using it for many years or decades.

Versatility

Here’s the thing about revolvers: they are useful for general purposes. However, there’s a good chance you’ll need to find one that excels at one application or another. For example, a smaller-sized snub-nose revolver would excel for concealed carry users based on the fact that they have the right dimensions for it to become a concealed carry revolver.

Why Should I Get a Snub-Nose Revolver?

Getting a snub-nose revolver might be a smart idea for most users. They can get some pretty good benefits just by using it. Here’s what they are:

Excellent Concealability

Most snub-nose revolvers will be small enough to conceal in small holsters. If you have had issues with conceal carrying a revolver (like bulging), these revolvers will eliminate that problem. Most are even able to fit in pocket-sized holsters to give maximum concealability. 

Great For Close-Range Shooting

While you won’t get very far, unlike some other revolvers, a snub-nose is pretty much used solely for close-range use. Granted, it can travel a good bit but probably won’t go any farther than 30 yards at best. So if you want to shoot from a short distance (especially in a self-defense situation) a snub-nose revolver could be a great handgun to use.

Smith & Wesson 642 .38

Superior Reliability

Of the five revolvers on the list, almost all of them are known for having unmatched reliability. In fact, they probably outperform larger revolvers in this category. If you want fail-free use, you will find it in one of the snub-nose revolvers listed. 

Conclusion

Finding a snub-nose revolver for your own use will take some time. But don’t fret if it’s taking a little longer than you hoped. You have plenty of options to work with, like the list above. Once you find one that you like, you’ll have a revolver built for the situations that matter most. 

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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