The .38 Special has been a popular cartridge for a long time and it is a great option of caliber to be used for a concealed carry revolver. With so many revolver options available, it is hard to pick something that you like and can still get its job done. Which is why it is important to first understand what to look for from the best .38 Special revolvers.
What to Look for in a .38 Special Revolver?
It is a great challenge to look for a great .38 but here are a number of the important buying considerations you need to know.
The quality of a gun determines its service life, whether it is a traditional pistol or a semi-automatic pistol. A good quality revolver can last you a long time and a poor quality one will only cause more worries for you. When selecting the best .38 Special revolver, you would want something that is built with high-quality materials by trusted manufacturers.
A revolver has a lot of applications, from target shooting to home-defense. When choosing the right revolver for yourself, make sure you know your needs for buying it and whether that revolver is made for that purpose.
Concealability is an important factor to consider because the most common function of a .38 Special revolver is to be used as a concealed carry. If the gun can’t stay hidden easily, then it is not the best choice for a concealed carry.
While this may not be the most important consideration when selecting a revolver, it is still important to put some thoughts into it to help you find the best one. Ideally, you would want something that is at a lower price range that can give you the best value for your money.
Best .38 Special Revolvers – A Complete Buying Guide
With all these considerations, let’s have a look at the list of the best .38 Special revolvers.
1. Smith & Wesson Model 586
Smith and Wesson is one of the best gun manufacturers in the market and has a very good reputation for the reliability of its guns. The revolvers made by them are no exception too. This Model 586 is the chance for gun enthusiasts to own a Classic revolver. It is also a revolver that can be used for target shooting and home defense.
This .38 Special revolver is made to be easy to use as well. All you need to do is load the Model 586 revolver with some .38 Special rounds, cock the hammer back and you will be able to fire it at your targets without an issue.
The Smith & Wesson Model 586 can be used as a single action or a double-action revolver. Regardless of what action you choose to shoot with, you will be able to fire all 6 rounds from the Model 586 smoothly and reliably.
The barrel length of the Model 586 is 6 inches and puts the revolver at an overall length of 11.3 inches. This revolver is slightly on the heavier side with a weight of 2.9 pounds. This .38 Special revolver has a red ramp front sight and an adjustable rear sight with white outline. The grip that is used for the Model 586 is a wooden grip and is textured to ensure that users grip the revolver comfortably.
The Model 586 is a decent revolver to be brought to the shooting range and fire six shots smoothly and accurately. The overall construction of this Model 586 makes it a reliable revolver that many people will appreciate.
- Good durability with a solid build
- Easy to use
- Good close distance accuracy
- High reliability
- Not a good concealed carry
2. Colt Cobra
Colt, a company that has gained its popularity through the innovation of revolvers for many years. After being missing for a long time, the Colt Cobra has returned and it is better than its previous version. There is a big difference in performance but the thing that is kept the same is that this revolver is still a snub-nose revolver.
This revolver is chambered for the .38 Special caliber and has a 6-round capacity. This .38 Special revolver can be shot in two different actions. The trigger pull for the single action is crisp and clean while the trigger pull for the double action is smooth too.
With a snub-nose design, it makes the Colt Cobra an ideal revolver to be used as concealed carry. In addition, this is also a small frame revolver with a two-inch barrel only. This compact design puts the revolver at an overall length of 7.25 inches only, which is important to maintain the revolver’s concealment.
Besides being small in size, the weight of this .38 Special revolver is only 1.56 pounds which makes it easy for anyone to carry it around. The rubber grip that this revolver uses also helps to reduce felt recoil and provide comfort for the shooter.
This .38 Special revolver is one of the best concealed carry guns that offers the best durability. It is short in length and light in weight making it easy to be carried around on a day-to-day basis. While this may be a concealed carry, it can certainly be used for home defense and target shooting as well.
- Can be used as an everyday carry gun and concealed carry
- Comfortable grip
- Good durability
- Hammer cocks back easily
- Low adjustability with fixed front and rear sights
3. Ruger LCR
The Ruger LCR or some may call it LCR Ruger, is an extremely lightweight .38 Special revolver. It is weighed at only 0.84 pounds and with a barrel length of 1.875 inches it puts the gun at 6.5 inches only. This compact design makes the Ruger LCR a great revolver to be used as a concealed carry.
This revolver is able to achieve its lightweight through the use of a polymer lower frame and an upper alloy frame. Apart from the frame, the stainless steel cylinder is also one of the reasons that the revolver is so light. It also has high-quality finishes with the Ionbond Diamondblack to ensure the revolver’s durability.
The Hogue Tamer grip that the Ruger revolver uses can effectively reduce felt recoil. It can be beneficial in a self-defense situation to gain control of your firearm. In addition, this gun has incredible accuracy despite its small barrel.
As a concealed carry revolver, it is important that the gun is small but still easy to draw during life and death situations. The Ruger revolver has low profile sights to ensure that the gun is easy to draw, aim and shoot.
A revolver with a simple design but useful features, making the Ruger LCR the best .38 Special revolvers in the market. If you are looking for a handgun as an everyday carry gun, this revolver would be perfect for you.
- Ideal for concealed carry
- Durable construction and finishes
- Low felt recoil
- Can fit in most OWB holsters
- High price
4. Smith & Wesson Bodyguard with Crimson Trace Laser
The Bodyguard is a small frame revolver made by the well-known and reputable manufacturer, Smith and Wesson. The S&W Bodyguard is chambered for the .38 Special caliber and it is designed to be a snub nose revolver. As compared to regular revolvers, snub-nose revolvers can deliver the .38 Special rounds more accurately.
In addition to the accuracy of this gun, it has a crisp and smooth trigger pull that allows users to fire off quick shots at the range. This means that you don’t have to worry about the gun not performing during crucial moments. However, some people may find that the trigger weight is slightly heavy and has affected their performance.
Not only this gun is accurate and fires smoothly, but it is also small in size making this a good revolver to be used as a concealed carry. Its barrel length is 1.875 inches only and the full length of the gun is 6.6 inches only. The compact feature puts this gun at a weight of 0.9 pounds and it doesn’t have a hammer to give it a snag-free feature.
The overall build of this gun is solid and durable too. It uses stainless steel for the cylinder and barrel and the frame uses an aluminum alloy. The S&W Bodyguard also has a Crimson Trace Laser to allow shooters to get on targets quickly with precision.
This is the kind of revolver that you will find useful in a close-range self-defense situation. It is a snubby and it is compact and lightweight allowing it to be concealed easily. The snag-free design is also a great addition to the gun to ensure that the shooter can draw the gun easily under crucial moments.
- Can fit in most OWB holsters
- Durable and lightweight construction
- Great as a concealed carry
- Crimson Trace Laser to aid in aiming
- Five rounds of capacity only
5. Charter Arms Undercover
Charter Arms is a well-known manufacturer that has been making the best quality pistols since the 1960s. The gun that has made Charter Arms’ name is the five-shot .38 Special CCW revolver. This gun has been an interest for many shooters and gun owners as this Charter Arms Undercover has been satisfying them from time to time.
Although Charter Arms is not great at adding a new touch to their guns, their product certainly doesn’t lack performance. There are a few models available for the Undercover, some with a hammer and some without.
Something in common that all the models have is that all of them are light in weight and compact. It has a short barrel that pairs with phenomenal safety features, making this weapon ideal for a concealed carry. It is also a well-balanced weapon between the weight and stopping power and it is definitely something that police forces would use too.
The Undercover is a simple revolver and has a classic look that has been the choice for many shooters. It is compact and light making it great to be used as a concealed carry gun. It will not feel bulky and at the same time give you the peace of mind knowing that it is there when you need it.
- Compact and lightweight
- Can be used as a concealed carry
- Simple design
- Low capacity
6. Taurus 608 6.5″
The Taurus 608 6.5″ is a remarkable gun that chambers up to eight rounds of .357 Magnum or .38 Special +P ammo. This gun was made as a response to the Smith and Wesson 7 rounds revolver. This gun has been designed to have a smoother trigger action and deliver good power.
As a user of this gun, you will find that the Taurus 608 doesn’t have much of a problem. Most people use this gun for target shooting as the accuracy of this revolver is good for hitting small targets at about 25 yards and can be accurate in hitting larger targets at about 50 yards. If you enjoy shooting at the range, the Taurus would be the right option for you.
The Taurus 608 is hammer forged to ensure the performance of this revolver and provide great accuracy. The sights that are used on this revolver are great too, it is adjustable at the rear and has a fiber optic front sight. The Taurus 608 is also built with a transfer bar for safety and a rubber grip to provide comfort for the user.
Another feature that makes it a best .38 Special revolver is that it has a factory-tuned porting and gas expansion chamber that reduces the kick delivered by the .357 Magnums and the .38 Specials. The result of that is a .38 Special revolver that is easy to control and has lower recoil. Which is also another reason that this gun is commonly used for target shooting and home-defense.
The Taurus 608 is the best .38 Special revolver that anyone can bring to the range and perform some remarkable target shooting. Besides that, it is also a great choice of weapon to be kept in your home for an emergency.
- High ammo capacity
- Low recoil
- Easy to control and use
- Gives a comfortable feel
- Smooth trigger pull
- More maintenance required
7. Chiappa Firearms Rhino
Out of all the best revolvers in the market, this is one of the revolvers that has the most unconventional look. It doesn’t look like any ordinary revolvers but it can surely perform just as well, if not, better than some of the best revolvers.
The Chiappa Rhino has a lowered bore axis that puts the barrel in the same line as the shooter’s hand. This allows the gun to be firing below the cylinder instead of above and giving the shooter a more natural position to aim. The benefits of that would be a reduction in muzzle rise as well lesser felt recoil. It ensures that the person using this gun is able to control it easily.
The weight of this revolver has also been reduced with the use of an aluminum alloy frame and it has a black anodized finish to ensure the durability of this revolver. The Chiappa Rhino is also available in different models with a different barrel length. No matter what the barrel length is, all the versions are equipped with a fiber optic at the front.
This is a revolver that has a modern aesthetics and innovative technology that enhances the performance of this gun. It is a great choice of revolver if you are looking for one that can be used for short ranges and good for defense.
- Comes with a leather holster
- Cocked indicator showing internal hammer status
- Unconventional look
- Minimal width
- Rails to mount lights or lasers
- Slightly heavy for its size
Our Final Thoughts
In conclusion, out of the list of all the best .38 Special revolvers, the best .38 Special revolver would be the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard with Crimson Trace Laser. This is considered one of the best revolvers because it is a brand from a reputable manufacturer which means that reliability would not be a problem. It also fits into most holsters so you don’t have to worry about finding the right holster for this revolver. The only downside of this revolver is that it can only fire five rounds.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: Is .38 Special more powerful than 9mm?
No. According to the recordings of these calibers, the .38 Special round produces 264 foot-pounds of force while the 9mm produces 365 foot-pounds of force. It puts the 9mm Semi-autos at around 38% more muzzle energy than the .38 Special Revolvers.
Q: What is special about a .38 Special?
What’s special about the .38 Special is that it is known for great accuracy and the recoil is manageable too. It is a popular cartridge for the revolver and is best used for target shooting and personal defense. However, it is not the best choice for hunting or for law enforcement guns as there are much better options in the market.
Q: Is .357 Magnum and .38 Special the same?
Yes. A .357 Magnum is the same as a .38 Special where both cartridges fire bullets that have a .357-inch diameter. The only difference is that the .357 goes faster than the .38 Special.