Top 10 Best Single-Action Revolvers in 2022


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Single-action revolvers are a bit of old-school cool that many shooters still appreciate today. 

We wanted to take a look at the best modern options out there for the folks that still love these classic guns.

Our overall pick is of course the reliable, beloved, and incredibly classic Colt Single Action Army Peacemaker, but there are a ton of other great options out there that are great as well (and less expensive).






















































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Best Overall:


Colt Single Action Army Peacemaker Revolver

  • Incredibly high build quality
  • Many variants available
  • Classic Style


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Best For Hunting:


Ruger Super Blackhawk (Fluted Cylinder)

  • Excellent Value
  • Reliable
  • Multiple Barrel Lengths Available


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Best Budget:


  • Extremely affordable
  • Available in many different finishes
  • Loading gate interlock and transfer bar safety


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Best Competition:


Cimarron Firearms Evil Roy Revolvers

  • Tuned out of the box for competition
  • Best Trigger
  • Various finishes and barrel lengths are available


VIEW ON SPORTSMANS →

Best Rimfire:


  • Great value
  • Huge aftermarket support
  • A large number of variants are available


VIEW ON SPORTSMANS →

Best Trigger:


  • Ruger-tuned trigger
  • Modern safety systems
  • High-quality fit and finish


VIEW ON SPORTSMANS →

Best for Rough Rider:


Heritage Manufacturing Rough Rider

  • Cheapest option on this list
  • Most factory options on this list
  • Dual cylinders (.22LR and .22WMR)


VIEW ON SPORTSMANS →

Best Price:


  • Peacemaker-esque styling
  • Affordable
  • Accurate fixed sights


VIEW ON IMPACT →

Best Compact:


  • High-performing rimfire revolver
  • Variety of grips and finishes
  • Best rimfire trigger


VIEW ON SPORTSMANS →

Best Classic Design:


  • Unique top-break design
  • Replica of a classic firearm
  • Accurate and easy to shoot


VIEW ON FIREARMS →

I’ve been shooting these guns since I was around 6 or 7 years old, and my first gun was actually a Ruger Single Six, which we’ll get into in just a minute, so this is something near and dear to my heart as well. 

Let’s get started with some recommendations, and then we’ll jump into a buying guide. 

Best Single-Action Revolvers

Colt Single Action Army Peacemaker Revolver – Best Overall

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Our top overall pick is the Colt Single Action Army Peacemaker, one of the most long-lasting and revered firearms on the planet. It was produced for most of the late 1800s and early 1900s, and there was an outcry when Colt took it out of production.

Thankfully, they eventually brought it back and it’s been in production ever since. It’s definitely not the cheapest option on this list, but it is arguably the best-made and the most reliable single-action revolver.

Samuel Colt set the firearms world on fire with the original Peacemaker design, and his impact and legacy can still be felt today through this awesome design. It’s still chambered in that classic .45 Long Colt for that true old-West experience. 

The SAA Peacemaker is a great option for collectors, competitors, or anyone who just wants to own a revolver with a legacy that goes all the way back to Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Bat Masterson. 

This is the quintessential single-action revolver, and it’s available in various finishes and barrel lengths, so, there’s something for everyone no matter what you might be looking for in your revolver.

Important Specs

  • Caliber: .44 Long Colt
  • Barrel Length: 4.75
  • Finish: Antique Blued Steel
  • Capacity: 6

Pros:

  • Incredibly high build quality
  • Many variants available
  • Classic style

Cons:

Summary

Overall the Colt Peacemaker is a great option for collectors, competition shooters, and anyone who has a desire for a well-made classic revolver.

Ruger Super Blackhawk (Fluted Cylinder) – Best For Hunting

Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk Hunter 44 Magnum

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If the Colt above is the poster child for classic single-action revolvers, then the Ruger Super Blackhawk is here to represent the ultimate form of modern single-actions. Like most all things Ruger, this is a well-made and affordable option that will do everything you need it to do. 

The Super Blackhawk line is beloved by plinkers and competitors alike, but where it really shines is on the hunt. Hunting with a revolver is a great option to take out medium to large-sized game with a compact and easy-to-carry weapon and is an interesting challenge as well.

The Super Blackhawk is also very popular among those that need a handy weapon for bear defense, or for dealing with large or dangerous animals in general. The Super Blackhawk is chambered in classic .44 Rem Mag, making it easy to source ammo for as well.

This is also a great option for target and bullseye shooting and is one of the more affordable high-end single-action options on the market, but it really shines for hunting and dealing with large or dangerous game. There are numerous scope mounts available for scout-style optics as well.

Important Specs

  • Caliber: .44 Rem Mag
  • Barrel Length: 4.75”, 5.5”, 7.5”, 10.5” 
  • Finish: Stainless Steel
  • Capacity: 6

Pros:

  • Excellent Value
  • Reliable
  • Multiple Barrel Lengths Available

Cons:

  • Only available in .44 Rem Mag regularly, though other calibers are available at times

Summary

The Ruger Super Blackhawn is a great option for hunting and defense. It is comparatively affordable and easy-to-use. It is mostly available in .44 Rem Mag, though. 

Ruger Wrangler – Best Budget

RUGER - WRANGLER 22LR 4.6

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If you want a cheap and cheerful single-action as a plinking or range toy, or as a simple and reliable way to do away with small pests (or maybe even as a holdout survival hunting tool in a go bag) then the Ruger Wrangler is definitely the best option around.

Frequently available for under $200, this six-shot .22LR is simple and stripped down, but very effective. It features an old-school loading gate, and a transfer bar safety, and is available in a variety of Cerakote colors so you can personalize it a bit according to your tastes.

It’s very accurate for its price and caliber, and we had no problems blasting cans and clay pigeons at 20 yards with it. The grips are simple injection-molded plastic from the factory, but there are aftermarket grips available, as well as special run and limited edition models with wood grips.

This actually takes the same grip panels as the incredibly popular Ruger Single Six (which we’ll get to in a minute) so there are different third-party grip options out there for you to pick from.

The cylinder frame is aluminum alloy, which is lighter than steel, but still plenty strong for this application, and it features a great 1:14” twist which is perfect for stabilizing a light bullet like most target-focused .22LR rounds. This can help prevent cheap ammo from tumbling, which is great.

It is a little heavy (30oz) for most frame styles, but revolvers tend to be on the heavy side so we can’t fault it for that. All in all, this is a great affordable little revolver, and its charm and performance have made it a crowd favorite in the value segment. 

Important Specs

  • Caliber: .22LR
  • Barrel Length: 4.62”
  • Finish: Ceramic Cerakote (Various colors)
  • Capacity: 6

Pros:

  • Extremely affordable
  • Many different finishes, frames, and grip styles are available
  • Loading gate interlock and transfer bar safety

Cons:

  • The trigger needs some wearing in to lose the gritty feeling
  • The milled rear sight isn’t adjustable

Summary

The Ruger Wrangler is the most affordable option on this list, but don’t let that fool you. It’s a quality option that does what it needs to do without breaking the bank. 

Cimarron Firearms Evil Roy Revolvers – Best Competition

Cimarron Firearms Evil Roy Revolver

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Cimmaron’s Model P (for Peacemaker-style) revolvers are already popular among cowboy action shooters. The Evil Roy Competition version kicks things up a notch with some popularly-requested features, making this a great competition-ready gun right out of the box.

It features a wide square notch rear and constant width front sight to facilitate the quick shooting that cowboy action competition is known for, as well as a lightened trigger and hammer springs, a tuned trigger to eliminate creep, and reinforced internals for reliability.

The design and upgrades of these revolvers were tested and designed by world-champion SASS competitors, particularly Gene “Evil Roy” Pearcey. They also include a US-made competition hammer for faster lock times and better overall function. 

There is also an Evil Roy signature on the barrel that is roll engraved, and you have the option of a 5.5” or 4.75” barrel to choose from. You also have a few different SASS-ready calibers to pick between, as well as blued or stainless finishes.

Altogether, these upgrades combine to give you rock-solid competition performance in cowboy action shooting right out of the box, which is a huge time saver over having another gun customized by a gunsmith. 

It’s also a huge financial gain because high-end custom work like this could easily run you twice as much if you commissioned all the work yourself.

Add in the fact that this gun was tuned, tested, and rebuilt a few times from the ground up by some of the most skilled cowboy action shooters on the planet, and you’ve got the best possible option for an off-the-shelf competition-ready cowboy action gun.

All that said…this is just a really great gun overall. It’s a blast to shoot, and is very accurate, with one of the nicest triggers on the market right now. Even if you aren’t interested in competition, this is still a great gun to have in the collection, and great fun to have out on the range.

Important Specs

  • Caliber: .45LC
  • Barrel Length: 4.75”, 5.5”
  • Finish: Stainless or Blued
  • Capacity: 6

Pros:

  • Tuned out of the box for competition
  • Best trigger on almost any stock revolver in this style
  • Various finishes and barrel lengths are available

Cons:

Summary

This is the best off-the-shelf production cowboy action revolver around, and a great pick for anyone looking for custom features at an affordable price.

Ruger Single Six – Best Rimfire

Ruger New Model Single-Six Convertible 22 WMR

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For more serious rimfire lovers, the Ruger Single Six is a great option, especially if you want something you can tinker with and mod. The Single Six has a huge amount of aftermarket support available and is one of the most popular rimfire revolvers on the planet.

Ruger offers a good bit of customization from the factory as well. For instance, you can swap the barrel out with just a single set screw, letting you go from anywhere from a 4” barrel to a 16” barrel (or theoretically any length you can find or make yourself) in just a few minutes.

As with any rimfire firearm, ammo is cheap and plentiful, with very low recoil that is almost unnoticeable in this relatively hefty firearm. This is a great first gun for a shooter of any age and is a great training tool even for experienced shooters.

It has improved internals for increased accuracy and reliability, and is one of the most consistent and dependable .22LR firearms you can get today. If you need something that won’t jam, even with the cheap target or soft-point ammo, this is a great option. 

It doesn’t suffer from feeding issues like you get with .22LR semi-autos feeding cheap rounds, and if you get a light primer strike or a misfire, you can simply recock the hammer and move to another chamber with a fresh round. 

It’s also great for dispatching small pests and even squirrel or rabbit hunting if you’re looking for something you can keep on your hip or in your pack. This is a great choice for that sort of thing and is a fun option for the added challenge as well. 

Important Specs

  • Caliber: .22LR
  • Barrel Length: 4” or 6”
  • Finish: Various
  • Capacity: 6

Pros:

  • Great value
  • Huge aftermarket support
  • A large number of variants are available

Cons:

  • Only available in rimfire calibers

Summary

The Ruger Single Six is a classic rimfire single-action and one of the most popular around for a reason. It performs well, works reliably, and is incredibly customizable.

The Ruger Vaquero SASS

Ruger Vaquero 357 Magnum 4.62in Blued Revolver

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Ruger’s Vaquero is another incredibly popular single-action revolver, and the SASS version is, in my humble opinion, the most badass one. It features a high-gloss stainless frame and a very comfortable and ergonomic hardwood grip.

The Vaquero is chambered in .45 Long Colt, a classic cowboy action cartridge and by far the most common one you’ll see at matches. It’s also a very affordable one to shoot, making this a great option for plinking at the range as well. We love a gun that can do it all.

The SASS version features a smoothed and upgraded trigger, cowboy action-style sights, and an improved and lightened hammer for faster lock times. It may not be as polished as the Evil Roy model above, but it’s a great competition-ready option that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. 

This is another one that’s just great fun to have as a range toy as well, and you’ll have a blast blowing away cans or ringing steel with this one. It’s a little on the heavy side, but that’s nothing to really complain about in the revolver world. It is something to note though.

Important Specs

  • Caliber: .45 LC
  • Barrel Length: 4” or 6”
  • Finish: Stainless
  • Capacity: 6

Pros & Cons

Pros: 

  • Ruger-tuned trigger
  • Modern safety systems
  • High-quality fit and finish

Cons:

Summary

Ruger is one of the most experienced revolver makers still in business, and the Vaquero has stood the test of time as a rock-solid addition to an already impressive lineup.

Heritage Manufacturing Rough Rider

Heritage Rough Rider 22 Long Rifle 6.5in Black Revolver

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The Heritage Rough Rider is the closest competition the Ruger Single Six has, and is a great option for anyone who wants a high-quality rimfire revolver at an affordable price. It features a loading gate interlock and a transfer bar safety making it one of the more advanced rimfire revolvers out there in terms of modern safety features.

It features a variety of cylinder types, calibers, grips, and barrel lengths so you can almost certainly find something that meets your needs and fits your aesthetics. Of all the options on this list, this is the one with the most factory options available.

If you’re looking for a glove box or tackle box gun, this is a phenomenal choice. It’s great for plinking and dealing with small pests alike, and uses the same classic Peacemaker-esque profile as a lot of the other big-bore options on this list. 

There are, as best as we can tell, around 50 different variants of the Rough Rider out there, with new options available all the time, so if you’re looking for customization and creativity, this is definitely the revolver for you.

And if you can’t decide, at this price point you can pick up three or four of them and still spend less than you would on other revolvers on this list.

Important Specs

  • Caliber: .22LR
  • Barrel Length: 4” or 6”
  • Finish: Various
  • Capacity: 6

Pros:

  • Cheapest option on this list
  • Most factory options on this list
  • Dual cylinders (.22LR and .22WMR)

Cons:

Summary

This could easily have been our top budget pick, but it was just edged out by the Wrangler. This is still one of the best rimfire guns on the market and an excellent choice for new and veteran shooters alike.

EAA Bounty Hunter

EAA Bounty Hunter

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European American Armory (EAA) may not be the household name that Ruger, Colt, and Heritage are, but they still produce some excellent firearms that fill some of the gaps between the .22LR options and the higher-end centerfire choices on this list.

The Bounty Hunter comes in at around three or four bills depending on features and when you decide to pick one up. These are based on a revolver that was essentially a Peacemaker copy, so if you want that classic styling without breaking the bank, this is a great option.

The grip is very comfortable and one of the easier to shoot on this list, especially given the classic wide-notch sights. It also features a transfer bar so you can carry it fully loaded without any worries of an accidental discharge due to a hammer impact.

Cylinder lockup is snug, and the trigger is very smooth and well-polished especially for the price, making this a great alternative to some of the more expensive SASS-style guns on this list. 

Lastly, it’s available in .44 Magnum and .45 Long Colt so you have some caliber options based on what exactly you’re looking to do with it.

Important Specs

  • Caliber: .44 Magnum and .45 Long Colt
  • Barrel Length: 4” or 6”
  • Finish: Blued
  • Capacity: 6

Pros:

  • Peacemaker-esque styling
  • Affordable
  • Accurate fixed sights

Cons:

  • Sights are not adjustable

Summary

EAA makes good quality revolvers, and the Bounty Hunter is, in our opinion, the best single-action that they have on the market right now. This is a great mid-range option for any single-action fan.

Ruger Bearcat

Ruger Bearcat 22 Long Rifle 4.2in Blued Revolver

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If you like the Single Six but want something a little more refined and compact, then the Ruger Bearcat is a great option for you. Ruger modified some of the specs of the Single Six and released the Bearcat which is based on classic Remington-style single-actions from around the middle of the 1800’s.

If you like the idea of the Single Six, but don’t like the styling, this is a great option as it’s just as dependable and reliable as the iconic Single Six. It’s also available in a variety of finishes, grip types, and barrel lengths so you have a few different options to choose from.

You also get the option of a .22LR or .22WMR cylinder you can swap back and forth with based on your needs and what you’re going to be doing with it. Having this kind of option is a great thing if you’re using it as a kit gun or something to have in case of emergency.

Important Specs

  • Caliber: .22LR or .22 WMR
  • Barrel Length: 4.2”, 3.5”
  • Finish: Blued or stainless
  • Capacity: 6

Pros:

  • High-performing rimfire revolver
  • Variety of grips and finishes
  • Best rimfire trigger

Cons:

  • Expensive for a rimfire revolver

Summary

Ruger hit it out of the park again with this one, and while it isn’t as popular or well-known as the Single Six, it’s just as good and a great option for anyone who prefers the Remington-esque styling over the Colt Single-Action styling of the Single Six.

Uberti 1875 Top Break

1875 No. 3 2nd Model Top-Break Hardin .45 Colt Single Action Revolver

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Lastly, we have something a little different, the Uberti 1875 Top Break. This is almost a replica of the classic S&W and Schofield top break revolvers from the 19th century.

If you’re looking for something a little different, this is a great option. The top break loading setup is something unusual and breaks with the traditional swing-out cylinder or loading gate designs which is enough reason to want one on its own.

The trigger is a crisp, competition and target-ready 3lb break, making it a great option for SASS-style shooting at cowboy-action events. The accuracy loss from the top-break design is incredibly minimal, and the difference is more than made up for with the faster reload.

Beyond that, it’s still a high-quality revolver that’s a lot of fun at the range and can even be used in some cowboy action competitions. Reloading is definitely faster than a loading gate mechanism. 

Uberti has a whole host of replicas out there if you want something that’s as close to classic firearms as possible.

Important Specs

  • Caliber: .38 SPL, .45 LC
  • Barrel Length: 5”, 6.5”, 7”
  • Finish: Blued
  • Capacity: 6

Pros:

  • Unique top-break design
  • Replica of a classic firearm
  • Accurate and easy to shoot 

Cons:

  • Top Break design is inherently weaker and can’t handle larger calibers. 

Summary

If you’re looking for something different from the norm, the Uberti Top Break is a great option. It reloads quickly, shoots well, and is a great choice for anyone who wants to shoot SASS events or just have a really fun range gun.

Choosing a Single-Action Revolver

Quality & Durability

As with all firearms purchases, I always recommend going with a quality manufacturer that produces durable guns. This goes double for revolvers, which can be quite finicky. 

We think of revolvers as more reliable than semi-autos sometimes, but the truth is your average revolver has far more moving and mechanical parts than a modern semi-auto does, which means more springs to wear out, more surfaces to slip, and more pieces to lose during disassembly.

Go with a trusted name, especially a brand with a lot of experience with revolvers (Colt, Ruger, S&W, Uberti, etc) and you’ll be fine. There’s no reason why a revolver can’t be as reliable and easy to shoot as a modern semi-auto at the end of the day.

Safety Features

The biggest safety feature we recommend looking for is a transfer bar safety. This is the bar that acts as a drop safety and trigger safety and prevents the hammer from ever touching the firing pin (and possibly setting off a round) unless the trigger is fully pressed to the rear. 

This allows you to carry the revolver fully loaded without leaving an empty chamber and keeps you safe in the event you drop the revolver or the hammer is otherwise struck or caught on something.

Caliber

Caliber choice should be informed primarily by what type of shooting you’re doing. For teaching a new shooter or for just general plinking, .22LR is a phenomenal option and one you’ll be able to shoot a lot for very little cost. 

The common .357 Magnum/.38 Special chambering is a great option if you want a multipurpose gun that can do it all, from relatively affordable plinking to competition or self-defense. The .44 Rem Mag/.44 Special chambering is also solid, but .44 Special is getting hard to find on shelves. 

You can also get a lever-action carbine chambered in these calibers, which is often the perfect companion to the big iron on your hip. The ability to share ammo between a sidearm and a long gun was popular in the Old West, and still makes a lot of sense today in a world where ammo costs continue to rise. 

Lastly, that .44 Rem Mag and its bigger cousins like .454 Casul are perfect for hunting or bear defense. We don’t necessarily recommend hunting dangerous game with these calibers (maybe .454 Casul) but these are great 

Barrel Length

The barrel length on a single-action revolver is another key thing to think about and with options from 3” “shopkeeper” style barrels all the way up to 8” sharpshooter barrels available you have a lot to choose from. 

In general, target and hunting guns typically have longer barrels around 6”, and defensive/quickdraw-style guns usually have a 4” barrel which is a good general-purpose length and ideal for most uses. The exception would really be if you need the extra sight radius for target shooting or the extra velocity from a longer barrel for hunting.

Finish

Lastly, many revolvers are available in multiple finishes, such as stainless steel or blued steel which are very common options. Each has its own pros and cons, but the main difference is going to come down to aesthetic preference.

A blued finish is generally going to wear and age as you use the revolver, making it a good choice if you like your firearms to look like they’re actually used rather than dust collectors that live in a safe all year.

A good stainless finish, when properly cared for, gets polished with just holstering and unholstering, making it a good choice if you want your gun to stay new-looking and well-maintained for years. It’s also generally a touch more expensive sometimes, but not always.

Lastly, modern ceramic finishes like Cerakote, as well as chemical finishes like Nitride are popular as well, but usually on more modern defensive firearms. The notable exception on this list is the Ruger Wrangler, which comes in a few attractive and durable Cerakote colors.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is single action better than double-action?

For most things, no. Double-action only revolvers have a heavier trigger pull but are easier to fire quickly and one-handed. DA/SA revolvers are common, which give you the best of both worlds as well.

Are single-action revolvers safer?

Many older single-action revolvers do not have a transfer bar safety, making them unsafe to carry with the hammer down on a loaded trigger. That said, follow proper gun safety and be aware of transfer bar issues and they are just as safe as DA revolvers.

Conclusion

Single-action revolvers are still incredibly popular, and with good reason. These classic guns are fun to own, easy to maintain, and a blast to shoot. And, as you can see,  there are a ton of great options out there!

Our top pick is still the Colt Single Action Army because you can’t beat a true American classic (or Colt’s reliability and build quality), but any of the options on this list will serve you well if you’re looking for a classic single-action revolver.





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