Top 5 Budget Carry Revolvers for 2023

Shooters today have more concealed carry choices than ever. Compact and subcompact pistols abound, offering a myriad of sizes and features. Even in an environment dominated by semi-automatic handguns, the venerable revolver is still kicking, and with good reason. Quality revolvers are simple and reliable, and not subject to certain malfunctions encountered in their semi-auto cousins.

Firearms companies also continue to produce quality revolvers because people love them. Revolver sales are still strong, riding the wave of increased gun sales over the last few years. Revolvers, like anything else, can be expensive. But you don’t always have to mortgage your house to get a good one. Unfortunately, “budget” is a relative term. As with everything else, firearm prices are up in early 2023. We’ll do the best we can.

So, with that in mind, here are our choices for the Top 5 budget-friendly concealed carry revolvers of 2023 in alphabetical order. You’ll see some familiar names since some guns are popular for a reason. But you’ll also see some interesting new twists.  Our first selection has a Wild West feel. Appropriate for a revolver list, we think.

Diamondback Birdshead Sidekick

Diamondback Birdshead Sidekick revolver
The Diamondback Birdshead Sidekick is an interesting candidate for a backup concealed carry gun. (

Diamondback made a splash last year with their Sidekick revolver. The double/single action gun accommodates both .22 Long Rifle and .22 Magnum cartridges, thanks to the extra cylinder shipped with each gun. The Sidekick’s 9-round capacity is the best in the business. The cylinders easily swap out, giving the shooter lots of flexibility. The double action capability, coupled with nine rounds of .22 Magnum, makes the Sidekick a viable concealed carry option.

Now, for 2023, Diamondback is gunning for more of the concealed carry market with the new Birdshead Sidekick. The gun features the same chamberings with the extra cylinder, while cutting the barrel length to 3 inches from the original Sidekick’s 4.5 inches. The shorter barrel and birdshead grip also shave 8 ounces off the original’s weight. This is nowhere near as light as the Smith & Wesson J-Frames, but the Birdshead Sidekick will have almost no recoil because of it.

Key Specifications:

  • Caliber: .22 Long Rifle and .22 Magnum
  • Capacity: 9 Rounds
  • Double/Single Action
  • Frame and Grip Finish: Black Cerakote
  • Barrel Length: 3 inches
  • Overall Length: 7.83 inches
  • Weight: 24.5 ounces
  • MSRP: $327.00

Rossi RP63

Taurus-owned Rossi is reintroducing their wheel gun line with the RP-63 small-framed revolver. The stainless-steel frame, cylinder, and barrel promise rugged construction. The rubberized grip offers sureness in the hand, and the 3-inch barrel makes it easily concealable, along with the rounded butt. The ramped front sight won’t snag on the draw and is replaceable if you want to upgrade.

Rossi RP63 revolver
Rossi brings back their wheel gun line with the new RP63 in .357 Magnum. (

The RP63 packs a wallop with its .357 Magnum chambering, but the full underlug barrel helps tame the magnum recoil. The gun is designed to fit common holsters already on the market, so you should be able to find the accessories you need.

Key Specifications:

  • Caliber: .357 Magnum
  • Capacity: 6 rounds
  • Double/Single Action
  • Stainless-Steel Frame, Cylinder, and Barrel with Satin Finish
  • Barrel Length: 3 inches
  • Overall Length: 7.95 inches
  • Weight: 27.3 ounces
  • MSRP: $460.99

Smith & Wesson 442/642 Airweight

The Smith & Wesson Airweight revolvers are nothing new. But their sheer quality and handiness mandates their inclusion here. Smith & Wesson has been producing the J-Frame series since 1950, and the 442 and 642 are worthy heirs to that legacy. Chambered in .38 Special, these remarkably light wheel guns feature an aluminum frame with a stainless-steel cylinder and barrel. The internal hammer and ramped front sight mean a smooth draw every time. The 5-round capacity is a little small, but that’s a trade-off for the size and lack of weight.

Smith & Wesson Model 442 revolver, in the best budget revolvers of 2023 list
Smith & Wesson’s Model 442 (pictured) and 642 Airweight revolvers are proven concealed carry guns. (

These guns’ popularity means there is plenty of aftermarket support in terms of holsters and accessories. These are the lightest guns on our list, coming in at about 11 ounces, and the most expensive. But, again, budget is a relative term, and these guns are a bargain at their price point.

Key Specifications:

  • Caliber: .38 Special, +P Rated
  • Capacity: 5 rounds
  • Double Action Only
  • Stainless-Steel Cylinder and Barrel, Aluminum Frame
  • Finish: 442 Black; 642 Silver
  • Barrel Length: 1.88 inches
  • Weight: About 11 ounces (S&W does not list the gun’s weight on their website)
  • MSRP: $539.00

Taurus 605 TORO

The Taurus 605 made our 2022 list, but, as with the Diamondback Sidekick, 2023 brings new things. Handgun optics seem like they’re here to stay, so Taurus has introduced the Taurus Optics Ready Option (TORO) Revolver line to bring concealable wheel guns into that world. The stainless-steel construction is solid and the 3-inch barrel and rounded rubberized grip give you the concealability you want. The extended ejector rod aids in reloading.

Taurus 605 TORO revolver, in the best budget revolvers of 2023 list
Taurus brings optics-ready capability to carry revolvers with the 605 TORO. (

Like the entire 605 series, the 605 TORO is chambered in .357 Magnum, giving your carry gun plenty of punch, but this newest addition is also equipped to accept optics fitting the Holosun K footprint. Think of the TORO as a red dot-capable 605 Defender. Because that’s what it is.

Key Specifications:

  • Caliber: .357 Magnum
  • Capacity: 5 Rounds
  • Double/Single Action
  • Stainless-Steel Frame, Cylinder, and Barrel with Matte Black Finish
  • Barrel Length: 3 inches
  • Overall Length: 7.5 inches
  • Weight: 23.52 ounces
  • Holosun K Footprint Optic Compatible
  • MSRP: $450.99

Taurus Defender 856 TORO

I dislike having more than one choice from the same manufacturer, but Taurus has forced my hand. The company introduced the 856 Defender last year as an upgrade to their proven Model 85 revolver. One improvement was the 6-round capacity, compared to the Model 85’s five rounds. A year later, Taurus adds another option with the Taurus Optics Ready Option (TORO). Like the 605 TORO, the 856 comes ready to accept optics with the Holosun K footprint.

Taurus 856 TORO revolver, in the best budget revolvers of 2023 list
The Taurus 856 TORO is a thoroughly modern carry revolver chambered in .38 Special. (

The stainless-steel construction, 3-inch barrel, and rounded grip echo the 605, but the 856 is chambered for the lighter shooting .38 Special round for those who might not want a magnum on their hip. The .38 allows for an extra round, too. An extended ejector rod makes reloading a breeze. Taurus is upping their game, and the 856 Defender TORO is on the leading edge.

Key Specifications:

  • Caliber: .38 Special +P Rated
  • Capacity: 6 rounds
  • Double/Single Action
  • Stainless-Steel Frame, Cylinder, and Barrel with Matte Black Finish
  • Barrel Length: 3 inches
  • Overall Length: 7.5 inches
  • Weight: 23.5 ounces
  • Holosun K Footprint Optic Compatible
  • MSRP: $445.99

So, there you have it. Our choices for the top budget carry revolvers heading into 2023. We admit our list is subjective, and we probably left out a couple of deserving candidates. What would you add or remove? Let us know in the comments. Happy concealing, y’all.

William "Bucky" Lawson is a self-described "typical Appalachian-American gun enthusiast". He is a military historian specializing in World War II and has written a few things, as he says, "here and there". A featured contributor for Strategy & Tactics, he likes dogs, range time, and a good cigar - preferably with an Old Fashioned that has an extra orange slice.

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