The National Interest has produced a list of the five best revolvers, and I have to say it’s a little baffling. Here is the list, with my comments:
Ruger LCR The Ruger LCR was introduced in the mid-2000s as a lightweight, concealable self-defense weapon. Just 13.5 ounces and 6.5 inches long, the LCR fits easily into a pocket, hip or ankle holster. Like most small revolvers, it has a five-round cylinder.
Really? The LCR was designed to meet a need already admirably met by a bunch of other guns, like the Colt and Smith & Wesson snubbies. It’s just a more affordable version of guns that have been around for decades, and I can’t see how that qualifies the LCR for this list.
Smith & Wesson 686 One of the most popular revolvers in production, the Smith & Wesson 686 revolver is a medium (“L frame”) revolver chambered in the powerful .357 Magnum caliber. The 686 is designed to handle the heavier magnum round while pairing it with a heavier barrel and a six-round cylinder.
Again, not sure about this selection. Don’t get me wrong; the 686 is a damn fine piece. For quite a few years my woods-bumming rig included a S&W 586, the blued-steel version of the 686, and I liked it a lot. I carried it for a long time until I went in for .45s in a big way, leading to my purchase of my current favorite, the big Smith 25-5 in .45 Colt. But top five? I’m not sure the good but pedestrian 686 fits. If a Smith & Wesson piece belongs in the top five, it would have to be the famous .44 First Model Hand Ejector, better known as the Triple Lock. No less than Elmer Keith called it the finest double-action handgun ever made, and good examples still command huge prices today.
Ruger GP100 Sturm Ruger’s answer to the Smith & Wesson 686, the Ruger GP100 was introduced in the early 1990s. The GP100 was the successor to Ruger’s Security Six and Speed Six pistols, but uses a large frame very similar to the 686’s L frame.
My comments on the 686 also apply here. The GP100 is a fine piece, but really just a generic .357 double action. There is a piece from Ruger that really does belong on this list, though, and it is:
Ruger Blackhawk Sturm Ruger’s other line of popular revolvers has a distinctly Old West flavor to it. The Ruger Blackhawk line of pistols look similar to the old Western Colt Single Action Army revolvers of the nineteenth century, but with a host of modern features to keep them viable in the twenty-first.
Now here’s a piece I can recommend for the top five without reservation. Bill Ruger hit a home run with the Blackhawk; a traditionally styled single-action with modern lockwork and metallurgy, a fine-handling firearm that, for the first time, combined the best of both the 19th and 20th centuries.
Taurus Model 85 Ultra-Lite Although the semiautomatic pistol market has a large number of foreign competitors, Taurus is the only major overseas player in the revolver market. Among the Brazilian company’s many offerings, the most popular is the Model 85 Ultra-Lite. The Model 85 is a good choice as a home-defense handgun or concealed-carry piece, in the same class as the Ruger LCR.
Yes, the Taurus is a decent, well-priced sidearm in the same class as the LCR, but as with the LCR, there is nothing that stands out with the Taurus; its inclusion on the National Interest’s list is nothing less than baffling.
Here, for the entertainment and edification of all True Believers, is my list of the top five revolvers, in no particular order:
- Colt Single Action Army
- S&W 1st Model Hand Ejector
- Ruger Blackhawk
- N-Frame Smith & Wesson
- Colt Python
Feel free to offer suggestions.