The subject of concealability is a bit subjective as well. A petite 105 lbs. woman can conceal a different class of gun than a 250 lbs. man who stands 6ft tall. Some variables also contribute to the size and style of firearm you can conceal easily and comfortably. These variables include:
Where you intend to carry
Buckle your seat belt. I am sure that my opinions will rock the boat, and many will disagree with my thoughts.
The old conventions of “bigger is better” have been altered by developments in bullet design, powder technology, and new variations on cartridge design. In the past, the concept of more mass in the bullet translated into more knock-down power. Unfortunately, big bullets require big guns that deliver big recoil.
Big also means harder to conceal. To truly be the best concealed carry revolver, the weapon must be concealable. I prefer to put one well-placed round on target rather than 5 or 6 scattered around where I was aiming. Doesn’t it make sense to routine shoot and carry a pistol or revolver that you can manage and with which you are accurate? Caliber makes a big difference. My top picks for caliber for most people who are considering a concealed carry include:
.357 Magnum – In a revolver, this is a top pick. The .357 delivers a lot of energy for the size of the bullet, and, in the proper revolver, the felt recoil and muzzle flip are manageable.
.38 Special – The .38 special is the tried and true of the pistol world. It was for many years the go-to round for law enforcement. Its new variants, the +P, and ++P types deliver almost as much energy as the .357.
9mm Parabellum – A longtime favorite among those who routinely carry concealed, the 9mm is seeing renewed interest. The advancements in bullet design, loads and powders have given this vintage pistol round a fresh breath of life.
.380 ACP – The .380 ACP has been known in the past as the 9mm Short. The same innovations in bullet design, powders, and loads have benefited the .380 ACP bringing it back into the list of acceptable self-defense calibers.
Those are my picks for suitable concealed carry calibers for most people. Anything larger than a .357 becomes unwieldy to conceal and, for many people, uncomfortable to shoot. Anything smaller won’t reliably incapacitate a target with multiple well-aimed strikes.
If you purchase a brand name revolver from a reputable dealer, reliability shouldn’t be an issue. Functionally, firearms manufactured by well-known and long-standing companies deliver high-quality firearms that should function without much problem.
Reliability issues with most factory fresh firearms and any good firearm purchased from a reputable dealer should have no mechanical issues. There may be issues that come from issues not related to the design or manufacture of the gun.
Ammunition Feed Issues – This is a problem with some semi-automatic pistols but should never be an issue with a revolver.
Reload Issues – The means of ejecting and reloading a revolver are vastly different than a semi-automatic pistol. The methods and designs vary but usually involve a cylinder latch, a pivot for the cylinder, and a spent case ejector that may or may not automatically raise or remove the spent cartridges.
Cleaning and Maintenance – I believe that the chief cause of reliability issues with almost any modern firearm is the lack of care and maintenance that the gun receives. A pistol or revolver carried regularly is exposed to a wide array of contaminants, dust, debris, and other things that can impede the proper operation of the gun.
A gun manufactured by a known company and sold by a licensed dealer should never raise a question of reliability if appropriately maintained by the owner.
You wouldn’t wear shoes that don’t fit properly. Why would you carry a concealed carry revolver that doesn’t fit? I always urge people who are shopping for guns not to consider the advertising, the caliber, or the company who made the gun. When I was selling guns, I encouraged customers to pick up the firearm, handle it, and feel it.
I would often equip the pistol or concealed carry revolver with a dry fire laser system and allow them to point the gun at a reflective target downrange and experience how the gun pointed, the trigger pull, and the grip. It was fun to watch as some people would grasp a pistol or revolver and you could see the look in their face. When a gun fits, you can feel it, which makes shooting that gun much more enjoyable.
The gun should also fit into your concealed carry system. Some pistols and revolvers don’t work well in some carry positions or with some body types. What looks like a nice feature becomes a source of irritation as it pokes or pinches against you. Try the concealed carry revolver on just the way you intend to carry it. It will be quickly apparent whether it is comfortable to carry.
You must be confident in the concealed carry revolver you chose. You may, at some time, place your life on your ability to use that revolver accurately to defend yourself or your family. If you aren’t entirely confident that the gun you have chosen meets your requirements and your needs, it does not belong in your holster.
The time when you need to use that revolver is going to be a seriously intense situation that demands your undivided attention and focus. The last thing you want on your mind is any question about whether the gun will work or if you can shoot it accurately.
The Concealed Carry Revolvers as a Choice
Each type of firearm, revolver or semi-automatic, has a set of advantages and disadvantages. Knowing and understanding those differences allows you to make tradeoffs where needed. In the end, it is your confidence, skill, and training that make the big difference in how well your concealed carry revolver or semi-automatic pistol performs under pressure. Let’s look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of concealed carry revolvers as a whole.
Reliability – Barring a major mechanical failure, a revolver has the edge in functional reliability over a semi-automatic pistol. Semi-automatic pistols suffer from two points of potential failure. They depend on a magazine to hold and feed the cartridges to the chamber of the gun. The magazine and the feed mechanism are notorious for malfunctions. Concealed carry revolvers don’t have these built-in failure points, so they get the edge in reliability.
Simplicity – Revolvers are the epitome of simplicity. Unlike a semi-automatic pistol, there are no magazines, slides, safeties, or buttons. You need only point and pull, and the gun goes bang. Pull again and another bang.
Reloading – reloading a revolver under stressful situations is a much more involved task that a semi-automatic pistol. The expended rounds must be cleared from the chambers of the cylinder and then 5 or 6 fresh rounds inserted. It isn’t an impossible task, but it does take practice.
Malfunctions – A malfunction with a revolver is usually a much more serious issue that takes more than a quick magazine drop, a fresh magazine installed, and a quick pull on the slide to resolve. Most failures or malfunctions in concealed carry revolvers are catastrophic and require more than can be accomplished in the field.
Limited capacity – The more, the merrier is the old saying. For many concealed carry license holders, that is one of the most significant issues that drive their choice of a firearm. With concealable pistols that can now hold 12 or 15 rounds, these sorts are overjoyed. The knowledge that the average gunfight lasts only 3 seconds and involves only three rounds expended, sort of makes that extra capacity seem like overkill. The trade-off for more rounds at the expense of size and weight is one to be considered.