Top 5 Budget Carry Revolvers of 2022

Believe it or not, revolvers are still viable concealed carry options well into the 21st century. Wheelguns are proven, reliable designs for the most part, and are often good choices when traveling, especially if you’re unsure of local gun laws.

Concealed Carry Revolver
Revolvers are legit carry options well into the 21st Century. (Melissa Allanson Photo)

As with anything else, top-brand revolvers can be expensive, but that doesn’t mean you have to shell out big bucks for a good blaster. Keep in mind that things like ergonomics and fit and finish may not equal a Colt King Cobra or similar offerings, but these guns have it where it counts and will go “bang” when you pull the trigger.

In the interest of budget-friendliness, we set the upper price limit for this article at $400. The MSRP on at least one is over the limit, but the actual retail price makes the cut, so shop wisely. So, now we’ll stop yammering and give you our totally subjective Top 5 list of inexpensive carry revolvers, organized alphabetically by caliber, at the end of 2022.

Rock Island Armory M206 .38 Special

The M206 has been around for a while, but that just means it’s a proven design. Rock Island didn’t set out to win any beauty contests with this gun, but it does the job. It’s among our heavier choices, but the upside is that the felt recoil will be lighter.

The trigger is better than you might expect, and the wood checkered grips look good. The shrouded ejector rod is more upscale than the price tag and the integral sights are solid if not spectacular. On a personal note, we prefer Smith & Wesson style cylinder releases to the M206’s Colt style, but that’s just us. Colt fans aren’t known to complain.

Rock Island Armory M206 Revolver
Rock Island Armory M206 Revolver. (

The only thing giving us pause about the M206 is that it doesn’t seem to be +P rated. Standard .38 Special can do the job, though given the choice, we’d rather have the +P for self-defense. Choose your self-defense loads wisely if you opt for the otherwise very good M206.


  • Action: Single/Double or Double Action Only
  • Caliber: .38 Special
  • Capacity: 6 rounds
  • Barrel Length: 2 inches
  • Weight: 24 ounces
  • Hammer: External or Internal
  • Checkered Wood Grips
  • MSRP: $259

Taurus 856 .38 Special

The Taurus 856 is basically the proven Taurus 85 with six rounds instead of five. You have your choice of an anodized matte black or stainless-steel finish. The 856 is also available with an external hammer for single action/ double action or a double-action-only internal hammer for low drag.

Taurus 856 Revolver
Taurus 856 Revolver (

Taurus has pulled themselves out of a bad time in the last few years when their quality waned significantly. One of our first revolvers back in the mid-1980s was a Taurus and it’s still a great gun. We’re glad the company has turned things around and is once again producing nice firearms. The 856 is one of those.

A great thing about Taurus is that quality comes with an affordable price tag. The matte black model’s 16-ounce heft is very nice, making it easy to carry. The stainless-steel model is a little heavier at 22 ounces, but that weight helps with recoil, so some folks may prefer it.


  • Action: Single/Double or Double Action Only
  • Caliber: .38 Special +P
  • Capacity: 6 rounds
  • Barrel length: 2 inches
  • Weight: 16 ounces or 22 ounces
  • Hammer: External or Internal
  • Rubber Compact Grips
  • MSRP: $376.05 to $399.99

Weihrauch Windicator .38 Special

Here’s a name of which you may not have heard, but we like throwing those in occasionally. The Weihrauch Windicator is made in Germany but is readily available in the United States. Weihrauch is generally known for air guns, but they have a history of self-defense revolvers in their home country. The Windicator is a well-made wheelgun available in .38 Special and .357 Magnum, though we’ll address the two-inch barreled .38 Special model here since it falls under our price cap of $400.

Weihrauch Windicator Revolver
Weihrauch Windicator Revolver. (

This is the heaviest of the snub revolvers at 28.8 ounces but, again, that helps with recoil if you don’t mind carrying it. The right holster helps a lot with that. You do get six rounds of .38 Special in the bargain, unlike some other small revolvers. One problem, however, is the Windicator is not rated for +P ammunition. You can find good defense loads that aren’t +P but make sure you do your homework if you go that route.


  • Action: Single/Double
  • Caliber: .38 Special
  • Capacity: 6 rounds
  • Barrel length: 2 inches
  • Weight: 28.8 ounces
  • Hammer: External
  • Molded Rubber Grips
  • MSRP: $377.00

Taurus 605 .357 Magnum/.38 Special

The Taurus 605 is the base model of an extended line of defensive revolvers, including the pricier Defender 605 models. But the base gun is no slouch. The .357 Magnum chambering gives you lots of flexibility with defensive and range ammo since it also fires .38 Special, including +P loads.

Taurus 605 Revolver
Taurus 605 Revolver. (

As noted earlier, Taurus has turned the ship around and is making quality firearms again. The 605 has been around the block and offers a lot of gun for the money. It’s available in anodized matte black and stainless-steel finishes, with the stainless model costing an extra $10 or so.

The capacity is less than some others on our list, but that’s the trade-off for the more powerful .357 Magnum in a small revolver. Taurus lists the MSRP at $419.00 and $429.00 but we found them on retail sites for as low as $329.00. This is a nice gun that may be just what you’re looking for.


  • Action: Single/Double
  • Caliber: .357 Magnum/.38 Special +P
  • Capacity: 5 rounds
  • Barrel Length: 2 inches
  • Weight: 24 ounces
  • Hammer: External
  • Compact Rubber Grips
  • MSRP: $419.00 (Black), $429.00 (Stainless-Steel)

Diamondback Sidekick .22 LR/.22 Magnum

And now for something completely different (with apologies to Monty Python). Yes, we know that most carry revolvers don’t look like cowboy guns, nor are they chambered in .22. But the Diamondback Sidekick deserves your attention.

The single/double action Sidekick has a 4.5-inch barrel, which is only .4 inches longer than one of our two main carry guns. The overall length is a bit more but work with us here. If you like revolvers, the nine-round capacity ought to get your attention, even if it is .22 Long Rifle. But wait, there’s more. The Sidekick ships with an extra cylinder chambered in .22 Magnum which also houses nine rounds. And you can swap the cylinder in about 30 seconds.

Diamondback Sidekick Revolver
Diamondback Sidekick Revolver. (

If you like to do your own thing, the Sidekick might be it. Either way, it’s a cool alternative, especially with the double-action capability. Take a look. You might just like it.


  • Action: Single/Double
  • Caliber: .22 LR/.22 Magnum
  • Capacity: 9 rounds
  • Barrel length: 4.5 inches
  • Weight: 32.5 ounces
  • Hammer: External
  • Checkered Glass Filled Nylon Grips
  • MSRP: $320.00

What did we leave out?

This is an admittedly limited and subjective list. We purposely threw in a couple of curves to keep it from being the same old guns in the same old article. So, what would you add to the list? What would you substitute it for? Hit us up in the comments below.

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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