Listed are some of the best revolvers you can get from a dealer for $400 or less. This almost looks like a sales promotion page for Charter Arms and Taurus as they both make so many models. We didn’t list them all! Single action cowboy guns are not listed.
The DA revolver is one of the best choices for a safe house gun. There is no safety to mess with. A revolver can be kept loaded with no springs to wear out. A double-action revolver is safer if you have small children in the home, as most young kids don’t have the strength to pull the double-action trigger or cock the hammer.
A revolver is so simple to use that adults with no experience can shoot it.
Armscor M206 38 SPL
$220-$250 from a dealer
This quality revolver is made in the Philippines and is a close copy of the Colt Detective service handguns used 30 years ago. Rumor is Armscor purchased the tooling and equipment from Colt. The M206 has an alloy frame that keeps the weight down to about 25 ounces. Many complain about the parkerized military finish. It is supposed to be ugly you stupid fools! Sweet trigger. The Armscor M206 gun is made by the same company that makes the awesome Rock Island Armory 1911 pistols, so it should work great. Available in 6 shot 38 special with 2 inches or 4 inches (M200) barrels. Rated for +P ammo. If you want a bobbed hammer version, look at the Bersa Firestorm FS38R (also made by Armscor). Hogue rubber grips for the Colt Detective can be made to work.
Charter Arms Undercover 38 SPL
$300-$340 from a dealer
Charter Arms has improved their quality so much in recent years and now are one of the best. Made of premium stainless steel and weigh only 16 ounces. The Undercover has a 2-inch barrel and 5 shot capacity. There is also an Undercover Lite version with an aluminum frame that weighs only 12 ounces! Bobbed hammer versions are available for concealed carry. The police model is beefier and has a 6 shot capacity. All are rated for +P ammo. You can also get the Charter Arms Undercover in 32 H&R; mag for those wanting less recoil.
Charter Arms Pathfinder 22 Mag
$320-$360 from a dealer
The Pathfinder also comes in 22 long rifle caliber, but the 22 WMR packs more punch. Get the 4-inch barrel version ($40 more) so the 22 magnums can burn enough powder to be effective for home defense. My daughter owns a Pathfinder in 22 mag and it is very accurate and fun to shoot. I am amazed at the quality you are getting for the low price. Recoil is light, but they do make a lot of noise. Weighs 20 ounces and has 6 shot capacity. Nice trail gun!
Charter Arms Mag Pug 357
$320-$350 from a dealer
The 357 magnum is an awesome home defense round. However, in a small revolver like the Mag Pug, the recoil does sting. The good news is the 357 Mag Pug can also shoot 38 special bullets for practice. The Mag Pug has a 5 shot capacity, ported 2.2-inch barrel, and weighs 23 ounces. Choose blue or stainless finish. There is also a 4-inch barrel model that is good for police and security use. The most famous Charter Arms revolver is the 44 Bulldog that shoots the 44 special cartridges. The Bulldog is built on the same frame as the 357 Mag Pug. The 44 Special has a little less felt recoil than the 357 mags.
Comanche II 38 Special
$210-$240 from a dealer
The Commanche II is made in Argentina. Adjustable rear sight. 3-inch barrel. 6 shot capacity. All steel construction. Transfer bar safety. Weighs 29 ounces. Choose a blue or stainless finish. Perfect for security personnel and personal protection. Also available in a 4-inch barrel service version. Rated for +P ammunition. The Comanche II fit and finish is not as nice as the S&W; 19, but they are reliable and shoot good. The new Comanche revolvers should have past quality issues fixed. Comanche II warranty is covered by the Bersa Lifetime Service Contract.
EAA Widicator 357 Magnum
$280-$310 from a dealer
The EAA 357 Windicator is the best bargain of any revolver. The quality and reliability of this German-made revolver compare well to $600 handguns. The finish is just average, but so what. Look at the price! I owned a Windicator for 6 years and put thousands of rounds through it with no serious problems. I had to use Locktite to keep the screws from falling out, but I had to use Locktite on my Colt Python too. The Windicator weighs 26 ounces with a 2-inch barrel. There is also a 4-inch barrel version for duty use. The 357 Windicator is built very tight, so break it in easy by shooting 38 special for the first 100 rounds. The Windicator is also available in 38 Special with alloy frame. Choose the 357 instead as the frame is steel and only weighs 1 ounce more.
Rossi Snub Nose Revolvers
$290-$350 from a dealer
Rossi is now owned by Taurus. What this means is an excellent service and warranty. The Rossi R351 is chambered in 38 special and can handle the +P ammo. The R351 is 5 shot, with a 2-inch barrel, and weighs in at 24 ounces. The Rossi R461 comes in 357 Magnum, with a 2-inch barrel and 6 shot capacity. The R461 weighs in at 26 ounces. Both models also come in the stainless finish; model R352 for the 38 and R462 for the 357. You will love the rubber grips.
Rossi R971 357 Magnum
$330-$360 from a dealer
The Rossi R971 357 mag has been around for quite a few years and has shown a very good reliability history. The R971 is based on the S&W; K-Frame revolvers with 6 shot capacity. The 4-inch barrel and 32-ounce weight help to tame the recoil. Also available with a 6-inch barrel. For practice, you can shoot 38 Special ammo with no problem. You can also get one with a stainless finish (R972). You may want to check out the Rossi R851 in 38 Special. The R851 is pretty much the same size as the R971, but cost $40 less.
S&W; 637 Airweight 38 SPL
$370-$400 from a dealer
The 38 Special Smith and Wesson J-Frame revolver is economy-priced but offers good features. With the Alloy frame, the Airweight lives up to its name at only 15 ounces. Awesome for concealed carry. The 637 comes with a 1.87-inch barrel and 5 round stainless cylinder. It is rated for +P ammo, but don’t feed it a steady diet of the strong stuff. Best of all it is a Smith and Wesson at a price you can afford. Lifetime service policy.
Taurus 605 357 Mag
$320-$350 from a dealer
The Taurus 605 packs a lot of punch in a very small package. 2-inch barrel. 24-ounce weight. Transfer bar safety. 5 shot capacity. The Taurus 605 comes in blued or stainless finish. Something to think about: The Rossi R461 is also made by Taurus. The Rossi offers a 6 shot cylinder instead of 5. The R461 and 605 costs about the same. To me, the Rossi sounds like the better deal here. Also, see the 357 magnum Taurus model 617 with a 7 shot cylinder. There is also a model 445 Ultra-Lite in 44 Special caliber.
Taurus 65 & 66 357 Mag
$330-$380 from a dealer
Taurus model 65 is one of my favorite handguns. It just shoots and handles so well. The model 65 is a tack driver! The quality and performance compare well to the S&W; model 686 in every way. The blued finish does wear pretty fast. Spend a little extra and get one in stainless. This 4-inch barrel 6 shooter weighs 38 ounces. The model 82 is the 38 special version, but why bother? The model 66 features a 7 shot 357 mag cylinder. With model 66 you can get a 6-inch barrel for target or hunting.
Taurus 941 22 Magnum
$320-$360 from a dealer
Years ago I purchased a Taurus 941 revolver for my wife. I thought the light recoil would be perfect for her. It did not work out well. The DA trigger pull was so heavy, she could not shoot the gun unless she pulled the hammer back first. The DA trigger is heavier than a 44 mag! It was very accurate when cocking it first and just loved CCI ammo. I believe the heavy double-action trigger should be considered a design flaw. My daughter has a Charter Arms in 22 magnum, and the DA trigger is manageable. The 941 comes in blue or stainless finish.
Black Powder 44 Revolvers
$250-$320 from a dealer
If you live in an area where guns are banned, black powder weapons may still be allowed. The 44 black powder revolver packs as much punch as a 38 special +P! The gun that won the west makes a fine defense weapon. They are fun to load and shoot too. Just remember that a black powder pistol charge has a shelf life of about 12 months, so you need to take it out and shoot once in a while. Even though brass is very pretty, get one with a steel frame as it is stronger. Both the 1951 Colt Navy and 1958 Remington Army styles are proven designs. The 1860 Colt Army is considered the best. I believe you can order directly without going through an FFL dealer.