The Winners at a Glance
S&W Performance Center 986
Charter Arms Pitbull
Chiappa Firearms 60DS
Ruger Super Blackhawk
Who Wants a 9mm Revolver Anyway?
9mm revolvers are like pineapple pizzas. Not everybody gets them, but enough of you love them to keep the dream alive.
Technically 9mm rimless cartridges were designed to stack in magazines, require moon clips to work at all and there are other issues. But 9mm is everywhere, 38 Special is increasingly rare and expensive.
9mm ammunition has evolved to become the self-defense ammo of choice and revolvers are simple, easy to shoot and simple to use in the heat of the moment.
That means the 9mm revolver does have something to offer the world when it comes to a simple point and shoot concealed carry gun and pocket pistol. This is a snag-free, near failsafe gun, and that’s not a bad sales pitch for new shooters and old hands alike.
But what is the best 9mm revolver for sale in 2023? We think it’s the Smith & Wesson 986 PC, but we have more options for you too.
1. Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 986
- Price: $1,283.99
- Barrel length: 2.5 inch
- Weight: 2lb
- Capacity: 7
Price: 2/5 Accuracy: 2.5/5 Prestige: 5/5 Concealability: 3/5
- Lightweight for CCW
- Great capacity
- Easy to conceal
- Just for close self defense
The Smith & Wesson 986 Performance Center snubnose pistol is peak engineering in 9mm wheel gun form. And it is a potent and compelling concealed carry revolver.
You get a stainless steel frame and barrel with a titanium cylinder that holds 7 rounds of 9mm Luger in this Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 986. The custom barrel has a recessed precision crown and there’s a fiber optic red ramp front sight and adjustable rear sight.
It’s an unfluted cylinder and you get a bossed mainspring, moon clips and some other niceties to make the 9mm cartridge flow smooth through this Smith & Wesson 9mm revolvers, and eject even smoother.
2. Ruger LCR 9mm
- Price: $654.99
- Action: Double Action Revolver
- Barrel length: 1.875 inch
- Weight: 1.08lb
- Capacity: 5
Best for Concealed Carry
Price: 3/5 Accuracy: 2.5/5 Prestige: 3/5 Concealability: 4.5/5
- Super light gun, same as a small Glock
- No hammer to snag on clothing
- Conceals anywhere
- Capacity is meh
- Plastic frame means durability dubious
The concealed carry Ruger Lightweight Compact revolver is available in a number of calibers, from 22LR to 357 Magnum. And this 9mm is the relative oddball of a pretty strange family.
The Double Action Only revolver comes with a patented polymer Fire Control Unit that helps absorb felt recoil and offers sufficient structural rigidity for the lesser rounds. A friction reducing cam design also offers a unique non stacking trigger pull that is just that little bit smoother.
You get a triple locking system that achieves accuracy, structural rigidity and reliability through consistent alignment for thousands of rounds. Even though it’s largely plastic.
Extensive use of polymer means the concealed carry Ruger LCR 9mm is super lightweight and that is a great option for concealed carry. It has just five rounds, but this small frame revolver is compact and super easy to conceal. For a defensive gun, that can be more important.
No external hammer means it’s a great pocket pistol. With the limited felt recoil of 9mm and a Transfer Bar safety mechanism guarding against accidental discharges, it’s also a great gun for women to carry in a purse or a pocket.
It doesn’t get more point and squirt than this Ruger LCR revolver. So they are great for new shooters that want to keep things simple. And if you want slightly more complication…
Ruger LCRx Gets a Spur Hammer
You can buy the Ruger LCRx 9mm with an exposed hammer to give you the traditional double action/single action revolver.
So if you want to thumb back the spur hammer and have a more precise and crisp single action trigger pull, the Ruger LCRx is the one you’re looking for.
You give up a little ease of concealment and concealed carry points in exchange for more precision at the range. But nothing in life is free.
3. Charter Arms Pitbull Revolver 9mm
- Price: $497.99
- Action: Double Action/Single Action Revolver
- Barrel: 1.875 inch
- Weight: 1.4lb
- Capacity: 5
Best Low Budget Revolver
Price: 4/5 Accuracy: 2.5/5 Prestige: 2/5 Concealability: 4/5
- Basic, rugged construction
- Light enough to carry
- It’s not pretty
This Charter Arms Pitbull revolver 9mm is a rare 9mm revolver that doesn’t rely on moonclips. Instead it is specifically optimized with a rimless cartridge extractor that marks this pistol apart.
Spring loaded clips inside each cylinder means you don’t require moon clips you find elsewhere and it is a clever system that Charter Arms has successfully applied to 40 S&W and 45 ACP ammunition.
A dual-coil spring assembly in the extractor star basically means you can load and unload 9mm rimless cartridges just as you would with the classic rimmed 38 Special in this Charter Arms revolver.
This small frame revolver gets an external hammer, although the Undercover version gets an enclosed hammer. And they both work like a charm and have found favor with Law Enforcement Officers as a backup gun more than a main firearm.
Charter Arms do some solid budget revolvers in most calibers, and this 9mm revolver offers real technical benefits.
4. Chiappa Rhino 60DS
- Price: $1,199.99
- Barrel: 6 inch
- Weight: 2lb
- Capacity: 5
Best for Innovation
Price: 2/5 Accuracy: 4/5 Prestige: 3/5 Concealability: 1/5
- Better bore axis than any gun here
- Full of clever ideas
- Cut down hammer
If you just like shooting the best 9mm revolvers, then you owe it to yourself to own a Chiappa Rhino 60DS.
With a 6 inch barrel and a mass of innovation, the Chiappa Firearms 60DS is really a perfect range gun. Or for backyard plinking if you have that luxury.
Now the full size Chiappa Rhino is a little futuristic for home defense, but it also got a starring role in the Total Recall remake, Suicide Squad and more for that exact reason.
The barrel sits low, so the bore axis is just better positioned in line with your wrist and hand. So the paltry recoil of the best 9mm revolvers’ ammo is squashed pretty much dead. That makes the Chiappa Rhino a great gun for target shooting and they do occasionally appear in competitions.
It’s an aluminum gun with massive cut outs in what we guess you’d call the barrel shroud. Only the barrel liner, ejector rod and a few other key parts are stainless steel. The rest of the Chiappa Rhino is anodized aluminum and the result is a gun that weighs just over 2lb with that long snout.
That’s impressive. As are the fiber optic night sights and cut down sports shooter hammer with a race gun grip type. There’s a short Picatinny rail up top for a red dot, too, and just a unique shooting experience with a thoroughly innovative revolver that has great gun reviews.
5. Ruger New Model Blackhawk Convertible
- Price: $746.99
- Caliber: 9mm/357 Magnum/38 Special
- Barrel: 5.5 inch
- Weight: 1.6lb
- Capacity: 6
It’s an old school cowboy six shooter chambered in 357 Magnum, but you can switch out the cylinder and start shooting 9mm Luger with this Ruger Blackhawk Convertible revolver.
That saves a fortune at the range with 357 ammo prices as they are these days.
You can also run 38 Special in the 357 Magnum cylinder with clips. So the Ruger Blackhawk Convertible revolver is the most versatile gun here too.
The 5.5 inch barrel offers that Wild West single action revolver experience and it’s a match grade barrel which is great for target shooting.
It’s a recreational shooting icon and the full size Ruger Blackhawk also will serve you well for home defense.
Also, the top strap is drilled and tapped for scopes & optics so you can push the range when you’re target shooting. It is one of the best 9mm revolvers on the market, and has been for a long time.
6. Rock Island Armory AL9.0
- Price: $739.99
- Barrel: 2.3 inch
- Weight: 1.6lb
- Capacity: 5
You might see this budget friendly handgun branded as a Rock Island Armory or Armscor revolver, but it’s the same dependable concealed carry revolver.
With minimal recoil and the small frame, the Rock Island Armory AL9.0 is ideal for shooters with smaller hands and it’s an ideal handgun for women.
Although it does have a heavy trigger, around 11lb of force is required for the long but smooth double action trigger on these 9mm revolvers.
The red ramp front sight and adjustable rear sight aids fast target acquisition, although this Rock Island Armory revolver isn’t the most precise kit at the range.
7. Ruger SP101 9mm Standard
- Price: $774.99
- Barrel: 2.3 inch
- Weight: 1.6lb
- Capacity: 5
The snub nose Ruger is available in a wide range of calibers and the 9mm, together with the moon clip adapters, surfaced in 2017.
Ruger’s Special Purpose revolver is a popular everyday carry and even saw active duty with French police in other calibers. The gun reviews almost always sing its praises.
That wraparound rubber grip on the Ruger SP101 9mm revolver with grip panel insets ensures there’s no exposed metal and felt recoil is kept to a minimum.
You get a recessed cylinder that is moon clip ready, the same triple locking cylinder and an integral rear sight.
You can switch out the factory black ramp sight at the front, and honestly we would. The grip frame is also compatible with a ton of Ruger aftermarket grips and accessories. So get a laser grip on there if you like rapid target acquisition on your everyday carry defensive gun.
7. Smith and Wesson 929 Performance Center
- Price: $1,406.99
- Barrel: 6.5
- Weight: 2.76lb
- Capacity: 8
If you’re a committed 9mm revolver shooter, you might want to take it to the extreme with this custom revolver from Smith and Wesson that bears the signature of perennial record setter Jerry Miculek.
Now this full size Smith & Wesson Performance Center handgun comes with a removable compensator. So you also get a threaded barrel for a suppressor or other muzzle devices from the gun parts & accessories shop.
You also get a chrome teardrop hammer and chrome trigger on the Smith and Wesson PC. Crucially, you also get 8 rounds in the titanium cylinder and that is a big deal for range shooting and home defense.
We also like the Smith and Wesson Pro Series 1911 subcompact semi auto pistol. But that’s a story for another list…
Where to Buy the Best 9mm Ammo Online
A lot of 9mm ammunition is tailored to concealed carry 9mm pistols with a 3 inch barrel, and the best 9mm ammo for revolvers is a niche request.
So you’re better off looking for general handgun ammo and best selling top brands that aren’t too specialist for their own good. Load those in your wheel gun and you should be OK.
- Firearms Depot – Ammo for your wheel gun, shotgun ammo, 9mm ammo, free shipping on large orders.
- Palmetto State Armory – Daily deals and bulk ammo discounts.
The Semi Automatic Pistol Alternative
A revolver chambered in 9mm is fun, but 9mm semi autos make more sense. We all know it. Especially for concealed carry…
So the wildcards aren’t really a wildcard at all, but here they are.
8. Sig P365
- Price: $549.99
The Sig P365 is the default 9mm semi auto pistol in the concealed carry gun reviews, ours included, and one of the best selling guns in recent times.
The little Sig Sauer packs 10 rounds in the mag, weighs just over 1lb and the 3 inch barrel gives a compact footprint that is great for deep concealment.
Now the Sig P365 is an excellent choice and one of the best guns on the market and on this list, even though it’s about revolvers…
9. Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus
- Price: $399.99+
The Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus has evolved into a real rival for the Sig P365.
It was a seriously dated design, but the addition of the Plus model with the double stack magazine has turned the Smith and Wesson M&P into an absolute star and a contender once again.
If you’re looking for a subcompact 9mm then never forget the Smith and Wesson M&P Plus, because it’s awesome.
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