Needless to say, semi-automatic pistols dominate the market nowadays. From the sheriff’s belt, the hand of competitive shooters, to the bedside gun safes of landlords, semiautos are almost everywhere. But that was not the case two centuries ago, when revolvers had been the sidearm of choice. Powered by human muscle rather than power harnessed from the exploding cartridge and featured with deadly accurate, revolvers tend to be more reliable than semi-automatic pistols. Unlike many semiautos that are finicky about the powder charge, case length, and bullet-nose profile, revolvers will fire the cartridge if an appropriate-caliber cartridge is loaded into the cylinder.
With that in mind, check out the following 7 best revolvers of all time, including the greatest wheelguns from the Civil War as well as the latest state-of-the-art models.
Colt Single Action Army (SAA)
Colt Single Action Army, the Colt Top Strap, Frontier Six Shooter, or the Peacemaker, is an American icon. This king of all handguns was the first truly successful design and had won the American West and then continued to serve the soldiers, lawmen, and outlaws for about a century after the iconic .45 Colt cartridge was introduced. It was also one of the first commercially successful revolvers that used the metallic cartridges.
Today, SAA is still active on the silver screen with the likes of John Wayne, Roy Rodgers, Val Klimer, and Clint Eastwood dropping the hammer on the six-shooters.
Colt Detective Special
Colt Detective Special is one of the classic Colt revolvers that has gained enduring popularity for its slick little pocket appearance. Apart from the compact size chambered with .38 Special, the old revolver also made some innovations compared with other revolvers at that time. It was one of the first modern-type double actions that utilized a swing-out cylinder to fast reload and empty, which is a significant tweak for a defensive firearm.
Nowadays, Colt Detective Special is more of a popular collectible gun than a practical firearm.
In 1930s, S&W and Colt revolvers went on extensive development and modifications, making handguns with short actions, special sights, and barren ribs. As a result, Colt designed their own super custom revolver — the Colt Python, one of my favorite classic western revolvers. Regarded as the best revolver ever produced by various famous shooters including Col. Jeff Cooper, the Python was originally designed as a premium revolver and sold as such. Then, the Python remained to be an iconic double-action revolver for its outstanding ergonomic design, extraordinary smooth, and accuracy.
However, Colt Python was discontinued in the late 1990s and quickly became scarce on the market. Today, you have to spend a big sum of money to acquire one as a collection. But if you are someone who likes driving classic sports cars and shaking dry martinis, nothing is better to own than a Colt Python.
Smith & Wesson Model 19
Model 19 wasn’t hardly the Smith & Wesson’s first revolver, but it was the very first exquisite and lightweight one capable of six-round .357 Magnum caliber. The Model 19, designed with legendary lawyer and marksman Bill Jordan in 1950s, was built on S&W’s “K” frame, making it lighter and more ergonomic than any other mission revolvers then.
Although discontinued for some years, the Model 19 was later reproduced in stainless steel guise as the Model 66, which was as good as ever.
Smith & Wesson Model 29
The Model 29 was firstly introduced in the mid 1950s, but it wasn’t until its appearance in Clint Eastwood’s films Dirty Harry that it gained the worldwide influence and popularity. Unlike the above S&W Model 19, which is built on S&W’s “K” frame, the Model 29 was based on S&W’s N-frame, making it a controllable and acceptable six-shooter with .44 Magnum cartridge. A highlight of the Model 29 is that it can precisely fire in single- or double-action mode. Besides, the superb outlook also remains it one of the most popular big-bore classic revolvers of all time.
Ruger Blackhawk was the genuine working man’s single-action revolver that made popular in the last century with its ability to digest .357 Magnum rounds, although it later changed to chamber for the .44 Magnum. As time goes on, Ruger revives those classic Blackhawk revolvers these days. The new models are just as fun and tough as the Blackhawk of old times that has rolled off the assembly line over 60 years ago.
Ruger Super Redhawk
Although not enjoying quite the same popularity as S&W’s big-bore revolvers or even its own single-action siblings – the Blackhawk and Super Blackhawk, Ruger Super Redhawk was regarded as a dark horse among all double-action revolvers. Its durability and strength exceeded that of high-pressure heavy cartridge, making it ideal for big-bore rounds, like .454 Casull, .480 Ruger, and .44 Magnum. With integrated scope mounts to mount a proprietary scope for Ruger’s rings, Super Redhawk had become an optimal choice for handgun hunters.
The top classic revolvers of all time are more than the seven mentioned in this blog, there are also other famous revolver names such as Smith & Wesson J-Frame revolvers, 1917 Model revolvers, Dan Wesson revolvers, Freedom Arms Model 83, Nagant M1895 revolvers, etc. Today, the historical value of these classic revolvers is far greater than their practical value, but the rich page they left in history will never be forgotten by gun lovers.