14 Best 38 Revolvers For CCW – March 2023

Taurus Protector 38 Special

The 38 Special is still a mainstay of the personal defense world and there’s a lot to be said for simple, straightforward 38 Revolvers.

So what are the best 38 Special revolvers for sale in 2023?

Here are our picks.

The Smith & Wesson Model 638 Airweight is a legend of a concealed carry pistol. Buy yours online today!

1. Smith & Wesson Model 638

  • Price: $519.00
  • Barrel Length: 1.875 inch
  • Overall Length: 6.31 inch
  • Weight Empty: 0.94lb
  • Capacity: 5

The Smith and Wesson 638 is one of the best-selling double-action revolvers of all time for a reason.

It is perfect for CCW because the almost concealed hammer can’t get snagged on clothing.

After all this time it is still an excellent option for personal defense and arguably should be the first port of call for new shooters. Simple, basic and almost infallible, the snubnose S&W 38 Special revolver is about as accessible as guns get.

The Model 638 is what Smith and Wesson calls an Airweight, a group of extremely lightweight J-Frame revolvers, or small frame revolvers. At under 1 lb, the Model 638 is one of the lightest carry guns that you can find. 

Recoil is a thing with these lightweight revolvers, but then this isn’t a 357 Magnum revolver.

The concealed hammer is still able to be cocked, which means you can operate the Model 638 in single action or double action revolver mode.  For carry revolvers, that’s a selling point, or not…

The Colt Cobra 38 Special revolver. The legend is back. Buy yours online now at the USA Gun Shop.

2. Colt Cobra

  • Price: $740.99
  • Barrel Length: 2 inch
  • Overall Length: 7.25 inch
  • Weight: 1.5lb
  • Capacity: 6 rounds

The Colt features an all stainless steel frame with rubber grips. It has a two-inch barrel and an exposed hammer. Both of these are conscious choices that give you options, but also come at a cost when it comes to concealability.

The exposed hammer allows for a short trigger squeeze in single-action, or a long trigger pull in double-action mode for safe carrying. Because of its added weight, the recoil felt is minimal.

The Colt Cobra is one of the most shootable carry revolvers on the market for personal defense. It is large enough to hold comfortably, yet small enough to conceal easily.

The stainless steel frame Cobra also holds six rounds, while most of the other 38 Special revolver options only hold five. One round might not sound like a lot, but when it really matters then, well, it’s a lot.

For more great pistols, revolvers, 1911s and well everything, check this post of the best Colt handguns for sale and some great Colt semi auto pistols.

Charter Arms Undercover 38sp revolver for sale. Get the best prices and find guns for sale online now at your favorite USA gunbroker.

3. Charter Arms Undercover Lite 38 Special

  • Price: $363.99
  • Caliber: 38 Special
  • Barrel length: 2 inch
  • Total Length: 6 inch
  • Weight: 0.8lb
  • Capacity: 5

Charter Arms made its name known in the firearm industry for producing a popular backup gun for police officers. That same gun lives on today, a .38 revolver with a 2-inch barrel that weighs in at just 1 lb.

The Charter Arms Undercover Lite 38 Special is a great combination of size, weight, and stopping power. Of course the Undercover Lite is also one of the least expensive guns on the list, coming in at under $400.  

Solid Performance at the Right Price

It might not be the most stylish, but this is a solid performer based on age-old technology and it does get a matte stainless finish. It also gets top rated in user reviews on the regular and these 30 revolvers are very easy to conceal.

The company make more or less the same style of revolver, from 38 special revolvers through to 44 Magnum. At first it was just a budget alternative, but the brand Charter Arms and the Charter Arms Undercover 38 Special specifically has become more and more of an option.

The Charter Arms Off Duty 38 Special is the hammerless version of the Undercover Lite, if you’re curious. And we really like the Charter Arms Off Duty 38 Special too.

Check here for the full line of pistols, too, many of them matte stainless steel and looking good. Others are pink and lavender, and, well, you decide…

S&W Model 686 Performance Center, shoot 38 Special or 357 Magnum ammo.

4. Smith and Wesson Model 686 Plus Performance Center Pro Series Model

  • Price: $1,129.99
  • Caliber: 38 Special
  • Barrel length: 4 inch
  • Total Length: 7.5 inch
  • Weight: 2.38lb
  • Capacity: 7

This is a longer barrel and a gun that can also shoot 357 Magnum ammo, if you want more stopping power, and it comes courtesy of the S&W Performance Center Pro Series Model.

You get seven rounds of either 38 Special or 357 Magnum, a chromed teardrop hammer. The cylinder is cut for moonclips and you can opt for the lighter 38 or the savage 35 Magnum. Depending on your immediate needs.

Obviously this Performance Center pro series model barrel is pushing the definition of concealed, especially with that front sight and that safety. It’s more of a single action target shooter, and we all know it.

But some people really don’t mind making room for the longer barrel for the benefits it brings for target shooting, including the adjustable rear sight and S&W internal lock to totally disable the pistol when not in use. Although not everybody loves that internal lock, we know…

This is a high price, high spec gun, with a matte stainless steel finish, but the sales figures suggest this top rated revolver is worth every cent.

The Ruger LCR is one of the greatest pistols of all time. Get your 38 special Ruger LCR today and buy guns online.

5. Ruger LCR 38 Special

  • Price: $553.99
  • Caliber: 38 Special
  • Barrel length: 1.87 inch
  • Total: 6.5 inch
  • Weight: 0.84lb
  • Capacity: 5

The Ruger LCR has a true internal hammer and therefore is a double-action revolver only. Because the hammer is internal, the LCR Ruger makes an excellent concealed carry revolver and it almost redefines the term small frame revolver.

At just 13.5 oz, the LCR Ruger also comes in as one of the lightest revolvers here. You can opt for the Ruger LCRx with the exposed hammer, too. The Ruger LCRx is cool, but this is much more easy to conceal.

Both offer a red ramp front sight, basically Wish.com night sights, but some form of night sights nonetheless.

The Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 38 special revolver combined with a Crimson Trace laser sight is the best way not to miss.

6. Smith and Wesson M&P Bodyguard .38 w/ Crimson Trace Laser 

  • Price: $429.99
  • Caliber: 38 Special
  • Barrel length: 1.875 inch
  • Total Length: 6.6 inch
  • Weight: 0.84lb
  • Capacity: 5

The Smith and Wesson Bodyguard comes with something no other revolver in this review comes with; a Crimson Trace laser.

The laser makes this carry gun great for new shooters, or anyone who wants to feel a little better about their aim.

At just 6.6 inches with a barrel under 2 inches, the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard is easy to conceal and that is a great start for 38 Special revolvers.

Now the S&W M&P Bodyguard with the Crimson Trace is about as point and squirt as guns can get as you don’t even need to master the smooth channel frame cut rear sight and fixed front sight.

For some, that’s a major selling point with the S&W M&P Bodyguard.

Taurus 605 for sale. A great 38 revolver that provides cost conscious personal defense. Get yours today.

7. Taurus 605

  • Price: $374.99
  • Caliber: 38 Special
  • Barrel length: 2 inch
  • Total Length: 6.5 inch
  • Weight: 1.5lb
  • Capacity: 5

The Taurus 605 is a good-looking gun with a real USP: You can shoot 357 Magnum revolver with this little beast too.

It has a blued stainless steel frame and a steel barrel. It measured 6.5” in overall length and weighs 24 oz, which makes it a good carry pistol.

The snub nose Taurus 605 also has a feature that many people will find interesting. It’s dual-chambered, meaning it has the ability to shoot a .357 Magnum revolver, as well as .38 Special. Now there are pros and cons of using a short barrel pistol with that much power, but it is impressive packaging.

Some guns aren’t built solidly enough to handle the extra energy created by the powerful magnum cartridge. But that’s not a problem for the Taurus.  Long range accuracy and felt recoil, though, are different matters….

Smith & Wesson 340PD for sale. A great gun that can handle 357 Magnum, as well as 38 Special.

8. Smith & Wesson 442PD

  • Price: $809.99
  • Caliber: 38 Special
  • Barrel length: 4.2 inch
  • Total: 9.5 inch
  • Weight: 3.06lb
  • Capacity: 8

The Smith and Wesson Model 442PD is made from a scandium alloy frame, purported to be much stronger than other small frame revolver options.

Because of this, they can chamber their J-Frame revolver for much more powerful calibers such as .357 Magnum.

That makes it one of the more flexible powerful revolvers for CCW and it is really easy to conceal.

The .357 version also fires .38 Special. Its dark scandium alloy frame finish juxtaposes well with the stainless steel cylinder and comes with the internal lock mechanism.

The scandium alloy frame also makes the gun incredibly light, just 11.3 oz.  It’s a Performance Center handgun, too, and everything from the concealed hammer to the cylinder release is polished or coated. The front sight is hi viz and the rubber grips feel higher quality.

We love the S&W Performance Center Pro Series model here, and this is one of our favorite revolvers.

Taurus 85 Ultralite. A dual caliber self defense pistol that is perfect for CCW or fun at the range.

9. Taurus 856 Ultra Lite 38 Special

  • Price: $219.99
  • Caliber: 38 Special +P Revolver
  • Barrel length: 2 inch
  • Total Length: 6.5 inch
  • Weight: 0.84lb
  • Capacity: 5

The Taurus 856 probably the best-selling revolver not made by S&W. Their most recent offering, the Taurus 856 Ultra Lite, comes in at just 13.5 oz, making it a great gun to concealed carry every day. We especially like the non slip rubber grips.

The Taurus 856 Ultra Lite is the most affordable gun in this review, and this Taurus model works if you’re on a budget.  In fact this matte black Taurus model is a great CCW revolver, period.

Consider the Taurus 856 Defender, too, which is the Taurus 856CH concealed hammer version. The Taurus 856CH Defender is a cost-effective and wildly popular handgun that is also super easy to conceal.

On another day, we’d have recommended the Taurus 856CH Defender first, but that’s life. And you can buy a stainless steel cylinder version of the Taurus 856 38 Special, of course, with the same cushioned rubber grips and red ramp front sight.

Smith and Wesson Model 10 revolver for sale. Get your .38 revolver here at the best gun store in America.

10. Smith & Wesson Model 10

  • Price: $500+
  • Barrel length: 4 inch
  • Total: 8.9 inch
  • Weight: 2.15lb
  • Capacity: 6 rounds

The Smith and Wesson 10 is the original S&W Special classic military & police revolver and arguably the stand out long range shooter here.

It is also the most popular gun of the 20th century, by the numbers, with more than 6 million produced over the course of 100 years.

So if you’re looking for a piece of history, then this is really the one you want. It is the archetype, the definition of the 38 genre, if you want to get all high-brow about this…

Before semi-automatic pistols became popular in the 1990s, nearly every law enforcement officer in the United States carried a Model 10 on their hip. It has the classic 38 Special revolver styling with a blued steel finish and wooden grips.

With a 4 inch barrel and 34.4 oz, this is not the best concealed carry revolver. If you’re interested in law enforcement history, however, this item is a collector’s piece. Of course you can get a 38 Special stainless version, an engraved special edition S&W Special, what you want really.

Rock Island Armory M206 38 Special revolver. A cheap carry gun that follows the tried and trusted principles of the classic police revolver design.

11. Rock Island Armory M206

  • Price: $283.99
  • Caliber: 38 S&W Special
  • Action: Single/Double
  • Barrel length: 2 inch
  • Total Length: 6.5 inch
  • Weight: 1.5lb
  • Capacity: 5

Rock Island Armory has a reputation for producing a solid and affordable firearms especially it’s semi autos that include double stack 9mm 1911s now.

Essentially the matte black stainless M206 38 Special Rock Island is a tribute to the classic police revolver, the S&W Special. There’s nothing particularly innovative, apart from the fin that offers a type of smooth channel frame cut rear sight. And it is a durable little gun that is easy to conceal and meant for daily carry.

Rock Island can sell you a stainless steel revolver for more money and this snub nose pistol is a pretty thing. But this is really all about the utilitarian matte black budget single/double action 38 revolvers.

Ruger GP100. A match grade revolver and one of the best wheelguns.

12. Ruger GP100

  • Price: $850.00+
  • Caliber: 38 S&W Special
  • Action: Single/double
  • Barrel length: 4-6 inch
  • Total Length: 6.5 inch
  • Weight: 1.5lb
  • Capacity: 6 rounds

The 38 Special Only Ruger GP100 was a thing for a while, but most people now like the dual caliber 357 Magnum option that also shoots the lighter ammo and gives you a guaranteed 38 Special +P Revolver too.

So check out this selection of stainless revolver options that are specialist long range shooters, competition pistols and more in the right hands.

This single/double action could also be a great general purpose handgun with a stainless steel frame for range plinking and home defense. Now it is a high price, high spec handgun. But it’s also very, very good.

The fiber optic front sight with adjustable rear sight is an obvious nod to competition, but you can use it too and night sights on 38 revolvers are definitely good when things go bump in the night.

The Ruger Redhawk is a great double action revolver with 8 rounds that can handle 357 Magnum, as well as 38 Special.

13. Ruger Redhawk

  • Price: $1,275.99
  • Caliber: 38 Special +P
  • Capacity: 8
  • Barrel length: 4.2 inch
  • Total Length: 9.5 inch
  • Weight: 3.06lb

The Ruger Redhawk is certainly not one of the best revolvers for concealed carry. It’s much too heavy to be easily concealed. The Ruger Redhawk does fit the bill for an excellent home defense revolver, as well as a fun range gun with considerable long range skills.

I’ve even known people to carry the Redhawk on big game hunting trips.  This is a great general purpose handgun.

Its 8 round capacity is the largest in this review because the Redhawk is the largest gun in the review. That’s close to semi-automatic pistol capacity.

The Super Redhawk is the single action alternative, if you’re curious. The Super Redhawk features heavily on our other lists, including our favorite 44 Magnum pistols and our collection of the world’s most powerful handguns.

At over 3 lbs you will barely feel any recoil shooting .38 Special. In case you need the Redhawk to stop some large game animals, it can also shoot .357 Magnum rounds.  Again, it’s a long range special in this company of snubnose 38 revolvers.

Armscor 200. A cheap simple revolver with rubber grips and a longer barrel.

14. Armscor M200

  • Price: $266.99
  • Caliber: 38 S&W Special +P
  • Capacity: 6 rounds
  • Barrel length: 4 inch
  • Weight: 1.76lb

This used the be the Rock Island Armory M200 38 Special, but you’ll have more luck searching for the Armscor 200 these days.

Basically it’s the same gun, a 4 inch revolver with a matte black finish, rubber grips, a smooth channel frame cut rear sight system and a cheap price tag.

Where to Buy 38 Ammunition

If you want 38 ammo, ammo for your rifle, shotgun ammo, rimfire ammo, just about anything else really, then we can help you out there. Palmetto State Armory has turned into a great source of ammunition. You can also find budget guns on the Palmetto State Armory website.

Check these suppliers for the best deals.

The Rough Rider Barkeep. A great .22 revolver
Consider a 22 Long Rifle Pistol

If you’re already looking at 38 revolvers, rather than the vast numbers of the best 9mm microcompact pistols out there, then you have specific reasons. So maybe a 22 revolver isn’t such a crazy idea after all.

Honestly we don’t recommend 22 Long Rifle for personal defense. But then this might be a snake gun, for range shooting or simply to scare larger animals. In which case, a 22LR revolver might be perfect for you. As a training gun, you can get a proper sized stainless revolver set up for 22LR as well, and the ammo is significantly cheaper.

There are some intriguing 22LR ioptions, too, including the Ruger Wrangler and the Heritage Rough Rider.

The Heritage Rough Rider has evolved into a model line in its own right, from the tiny boot gun, the Heritage Rough Rider Barkeep, through the 16 inch barrel length. That Heritage Rough Rider sniper is an absurd thing, but it is fun.

Go here to get your 22 Long Rifle revolver.

What Else is There For You To Buy Online?

What are the options if you’re looking for a smaller caliber handgun? You could always organise the price low to high on Guns.com with 38 revolvers and try and spot a bargain. Or you can go on user ratings, not just putting the price low to high.

The Taurus Judge and Smith & Wesson Governor are both viable options, but we’re not massive fans and both brands are well covered here. The Taurus Judge, though, is a popular gun and a great option.

There are plenty of Semi Automatic pistols, revolvers and more, aside from the Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 38 revolvers. I mean 9mm is the obvious choice, with the likes of the Sig Sauer P365 and Springfield Armory Hellcat leading the charge and occupying ever smaller carry holsters.

You should have gun cases, too, for the ever increasing number of firearms you possess. Gun cases are good, they protect your guns and save maintenance down the line. Buy one every time you buy a gun online, or something.

You can also look at air guns, depending on your local gun laws. I mean they’re not great, but anything is better than nothing right? And air guns that shoot arrows really are a thing now and you can buy a gun online pretty easy without the help of an FFL dealer.

Springfield Armory Hellcat 9mm pistol for sale. A new 9mm Micro compact and a Sig P365 rival
Micro Compact 9mms Are Seriously Good

Those Micro Compact 9mm semi auto pistols have seriously impinged on the 380 ACP Auto class, as well as these revolvers. But that’s simply progress, when you think about it.

We can sort you out with everything, from a brand new 45 ACP handgun, black powder guns, optics, scopes, bolt action rifles for big game, bolt action pistols, parts & accessories, carry holsters, ankle holsters, pocket holsters and so much more.

So if optics, scopes or other calibers are your thing, check out our other posts. We have everything from gun cleaning supplies, gun cases to shoes, boots and a single shot 50BMG rifle.

Looking for caliber conversion kits for your revolver or maintenance for your home firarms? A new rear sight? The best carry holsters? A gun safe? Gun storage? Handgun ammo? We can help.

Lots of them come with free shipping on orders, a gift card, shooting targets and other bonuses too. Keep an eye on our main content. Skip to content here.

The Original S&W Special

You can get an original S&W Model 10 S&W Special revolver if you’re into the history. And also a large number of tribute acts that have sprung up over the years.

Check out the used S&W for sale options on Guns.com here.

The double action revolver was designed around the new .38 Special cartridge with a medium K-frame. It was always known as the Model 10, which evolved from the snappily titled S&W Model 1899 Hand Ejector revolver.

In 1902 the Hand Ejector changed its name to the much better .38 Military & Police Model. This was the official sidearm in World War 1 and World War 2. That’s pretty good…

After the war S&W returned to the top rated civilian Model 10. But pretty much everybody continued to call this sweet double action the S&W Special.

It’s the best-selling gun of the last century, with more than 6 million units produced from 1900-2000 and a world of available gun parts and upgrades. This is an all-time Hall of Fame entry. So get yours, and a small piece of history. Also, it’s probably California legal…

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