3 Amazing Starter Revolvers That Will Get You Hooked On Wheelguns
Everyone has to start somewhere, including with revolvers. While the semi-auto has certainly eclipsed the wheelgun in terms of ubiquity, plenty of the wheelgun faithful remain.
But what about the person that wants to see what it’s all about?
Just as there are good entry semi-autos, there are also some fantastic starter revolvers that can get a person hooked on six-shooters. Here are 3.
Great Beginner Revolver: Smith And Wesson Model 10
The Smith and Wesson Model 10 has been in production for more than a century, being first introduced as the Hand Ejector model of 1899. The basic model hasn’t changed a whole lot since then, as it’s pretty difficult to improve on perfection.
It’s a 6-shot double action revolver on their medium frame architecture, the K-frame. It’s chambered for .38 Special, so it’s easy and cost-effective to shoot. Barrel length is 4 inches, so it’s easier to get very accurate with compared to a J-frame or other snubbie. It shoots +P without issue and was one of the default service revolvers for police well into the 1970s, so it’s definitely a viable self-defense gun.
The current Model 10 is much like the classic ones, blue steel and walnut grips with a trench rear sight and low-profile blade front. However, you can get a modernized take, with the Model 64 – a carbon copy in stainless with rubber grips – or the Model 67, a Model 64 which has target sights.
The Model 10 is the definition of meat and potatoes. Price of entry can be a bit steep – the Model 10 has an MSRP of $739, though in-store prices are lower and used models can be had for half that amount or less.
The Model 10 is a full meal-deal revolver that anyone can learn to shoot. It works so well that it remains in production almost 120 years after it was first released. If you were to only get one revolver, or indeed one gun, the Model 10 would be a solid choice.
The Affordable Starter Wheelgun: Heritage Rough Rider .22
There are arguably better revolvers out there in .22 than the Heritage Rough Rider. Double-action guns, better craftsmanship, arguably greater inherent accuracy, arguably better looks and so on are all available.
However, in terms of “bang for buck”…you can’t beat it.
The Heritage Rough Rider is a clone of the Colt Single Action Army (aka “Peacemaker”) chambered in .22 LR, though several models come with convertible cylinders that will chamber .22 WMR (aka .22 Magnum) that can be swapped out at will.
You get 6 shots of .22. You do have to cock between each shot as it is a single-action, but the tradeoff is that since it’s a .22 you can shoot it all day without issue. Your hand won’t get sore, your ears won’t ring as much (since .22 LR is about 20 dBA quieter than larger calibers) and you’ll spend fewer dollars in the process.
On top of all the fun target shooting and plinking, you can also use swap out the cylinder for .22 Mag and carry it on the trail as a small game gun. If you’ve got a good aim, you could put down a couple of cottontails or grouse for the pot at camp without problems.
The best part? They go for about $200 or less, depending on the model. In terms of bang for buck, they just don’t get any better.
Don’t like the single-action platform? Top Tip: look on the used market for Harrington and Richardson .22 revolvers. They made a large number of double-action rimfires that are broadly the same as the Rough Rider, with swappable cylinders and all. Since they’re .22, they last forever. Since H&R isn’t a famous name, a decent example can be had for a pittance.
The Best Starting Revolver: Ruger GP100
More than one person has opined that despite a supposed lack of refinement, there really isn’t any improving on the GP100.
You might find some cheaper magnums out there, but they aren’t made of as stern of stuff. Most of them also recommend laying off the full-house loads. The GP100 is a tank; it will outlast you. It’s a Ruger, and they overbuild their wheelguns to the point that the term “Ruger handloads” is a thing.
There may be smaller magnums out there, but snubbies don’t make good first guns because the recoil may be a bit much for beginning shooters (a snubbie, even in .38 Special, doesn’t have enough mass to absorb much recoil) and short barrels take time to get accurate with.
While it may not have the best sights, the best grips, or the prettiest looks, the GP100 is a workhorse. It handles full-house magnum loads with ease and if shooting .38 Special, you’ll be able to shoot all day.
If you had to only choose one revolver and didn’t get a Model 10, the GP100 is the other one you just can’t go wrong with.
Entry price is a bit steep, with new guns going for about $600 in the basic blue steel. However, used models can be had for half that amount and it just won’t matter that you bought it used. Like Toyota trucks, you’ll have it for life.
About The Author
Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.