Five Great .38 Special Revolvers

There's a lot to be said for carrying a compact wheelgun.

by
posted on November 29, 2023
38 Special Revolvers

The .38 Special revolver has long been a favorite for its reliability, ease of use, and versatile applications. In this roundup, we'll explore five great contenders in the .38 Special revolver market, including offerings from Ruger, Taurus, Smith & Wesson, Colt and Charter Arms.

Ruger LCR .38 SpecialRuger LCR .38 Special 

Ruger has established itself as an exceptional manufacturer of firearms, and the 5-shot LCR (Lightweight Compact Revolver) series is no exception. The Ruger LCR in .38 Special is one of the market's most popular concealed carry revolvers, celebrated for its lightweight construction and innovative design. Featuring a polymer grip frame with a stainless-steel cylinder, the LCR perfectly balances durability and reduced weight, making it an excellent choice for concealed carry.

The Hogue Tamer Monogrip ensures a comfortable and secure hold, even under rapid fire. The patented friction-reducing cam provides a smooth trigger pull, improving accuracy. With an MSRP of $739, the Ruger LCR provides exceptional value for those seeking a reliable and compact .38 Special revolver.

Taurus revolverTaurus 856 Ultra Lite

Taurus has been a stalwart in the firearms industry, and the Taurus 856 Ultra Lite continues the company's tradition of delivering quality firearms at an affordable price. This six-shot, compact revolver boasts a matte black finish and an aluminum frame, resulting in a lightweight yet robust firearm.

One standout feature of the Taurus 856 is the soft rubber grip that minimizes recoil, making it an ideal choice for novice and experienced shooters. The exposed hammer allows for single and double-action firing, providing versatility in various shooting scenarios. With a $429 MSRP, the Taurus 856 Ultra Lite is an attractive option for budget-conscious buyers without compromising performance.

Model 642Smith & Wesson Model 642 Airweight

Smith & Wesson is synonymous with reliable and well-crafted firearms, and the classic detective-style Model 642 Airweight is no exception. This double-action-only (DAO) revolver features a lightweight aluminum alloy frame and a stainless-steel cylinder, balancing durability and portability.

The enclosed hammer design of the Model 642 enhances its snag-free profile, making it an excellent choice for concealed carry. Equipped with S&W's patented internal lock system and a snag-free ramp front sight, this revolver offers both safety and quick target acquisition. The Smith & Wesson Model 642 Airweight is priced at $539, positioning it as a mid-range option with the renowned quality of the Smith & Wesson brand.

Colt CobraColt Cobra .38 Special 

Colt, a legendary name in the firearms industry, brings forth the Cobra .38 Special, a modern take on a classic revolver. The Colt Cobra features a stainless-steel frame, a six-round capacity, and a fiber-optic front sight for improved visibility.

Known for its smooth trigger pull, the Colt Cobra provides a satisfying shooting experience. The Hogue Overmolded grip ensures a comfortable and secure hold, reducing felt recoil. With an MSRP ranging from $700 to $800, the Colt Cobra is a premium option for those who appreciate the timeless craftsmanship associated with the Colt brand.

Charter ArmsCharter Arms Undercover Lite

Charter Arms may be considered the underdog in the revolver market, but the Undercover Lite model is a noteworthy contender. With an aluminum frame, five-shot capacity, and a compact design, the Undercover Lite is a reliable option for those seeking a lightweight and easily concealable .38 Special revolver.

The standard features include a stainless-steel cylinder, an exposed hammer, and a full rubber grip for enhanced control. Priced competitively at around $400, the Charter Arms Undercover Lite provides a cost-effective solution without compromising performance, making it an attractive choice for budget-conscious buyers.

Parting Shots

The .38 Special revolver market offers diverse options for various preferences and budgets. Whether you prioritize innovation, affordability, or the legacy of a renowned brand, these top five revolvers showcase the best the market offers in terms of features, benefits, and price points.

Latest

Hawke New Frontier Red Dot Sight
Hawke New Frontier Red Dot Sight

First Look: Hawke Optics New Frontier Red Dot Sight

Features a lower-1/3 co-witness mount with quick-release and uses the Micro T-2 footprint.

Review: WieBad Fortune Cookie Shooting Bag

Handy for stabilizing just about anything that goes bang.

Be More Than A Bodyguard

How do the skills of a professional protective agent apply to the armed citizen?

First Look: Walther PDP Pro-E Pistols

These new pistols bridge the gap between the standard PDP and the PDP Pro SD.

SilencerCo Acquires Zev Technologies

SilencerCo will focus on furthering Zev’s brand, as well as bringing additional resources for Zev-specific product launches

Interests



Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.