Colt Single action handgun

7 Best Single Action Revolver Reviews of 2020 | Lower Trigger Resistance for More Convenient Shooting

3 Top Picks

4 Reviewers

20 Hours Of Research

25 Products Considered

Single action revolvers have been around for a long time. Over the years, we’ve seen such revolvers evolve and adopt the modern advances in ballistics technology while remaining true to their roots. In this guide, I’ll walk you through seven of the best single action revolvers and help you pick the one that better suits your needs, be it to defend your home or your first gun purchase.

1. [Overall Best Single Action Revolver]
Ruger Super Blackhawk (Fluted Cylinder)

Ruger Super Blackhawk handgun

Editor's Rating 

4.9/5

2. [Best Budget Single Action Revolver]
Uberti 1873 Cattleman 

Uberti 1873 Cattleman handgun

Editor's Rating 

4.8/5

3. [Best Convertible Single Action Revolver]
Ruger Single Six

Ruger Single Six handgun

Editor's Rating 

4.8/5

What to Expect From a Single Action Revolver

I have this friend who tried a revolver once and wasn't a big fan of the trigger's resistance. All it took me to convince him to give revolvers a second chance was putting a single action revolver in his hands.

As their name implies, such revolvers only do ONE simple task on pulling the trigger, which is releasing the firing pin. All the steps leading up to this point have to be executed manually, unlike 9mm and 10mm pistols. So, you have to pull the hammer yourself between each shot, and with it, the cylinder rotates to bring the next cartridge in line with the firing chamber.

This might sound like a lot of work, but trust me, the payoff is worth it. As the trigger's role is concise and to the point, the force needed to pull the trigger is substantially cut down. Moreover, the trigger's travel distance is also more manageable, allowing you to land your shots even faster.

Product Name

Benefits

Rating

Ruger Super Blackhawk handgun
  • Responsive trigger

  • Premium construction

  • Stylish aesthetics

4.9/5

Uberti 1873 Cattleman handgun
  • Affordable single action revolver

  • Comfortable grip

  • Suitable for hunting

4.8/5

Ruger Single Six handgun
  • An iconic old western design

  • Excellent accuracy

  • Best-in-class reliability

4.8/5

Ruger revolver
  • More affordable

  • Premium finish

  • Durable steel cylinder an

4.7/5

Uberti Bonney revolver
  • Excellent ergonomics

  • Accurate shooting

  • Exceptional grip

4.6/5

Ruger Vaquero revolver
  • A reliable revolver

  • Non-intrusive front and rear sights

  • Transfer-bar safety system

4.6/5

Uberti KL CMS revolver
  • Perfect for mounted shooters

  • Premium build quality

  • Excellent accuracy

4.5/5

Types of Single Action Revolvers

When it comes to choosing one single action revolver over another, a couple of factors must be considered. Revolvers vary in terms of caliber and overall footprint. Such differences impact how practical a revolver can be for a particular purpose.

For example, if you're looking for a concealed revolver, pick one with a shorter barrel to better go unnoticed under your clothes. On the other hand, if the stealthy profile isn’t your priority, the barrel length can go as long as 8.5 inches, and this will help boost your bullet's velocity and travel distance. For more power, you should check out one of the 44 Mag revolvers.

Perks of Getting a Single Action Revolver

Before diving into the reviews, let's sum up what single action revolvers bring to the table. The responsive triggers are front and center to why people often opt for such types of revolvers. At just the right travel distance and resistance, you get consistency with every shot.

Furthermore, their reliability and easy maintenance are key selling points. The fact that the revolver you purchase today will have your back for years to come makes the decision of dropping the money on a premium single action revolver more reasonable.

Best Single Action Revolver Reviews

1. [Overall Best Single Action Revolver] Ruger Super Blackhawk (Fluted Cylinder)

4.9/5

Top Features: 

  • Hefty weight for a more manageable recoil
  • The revolver rocks a big-bore barrel which opens up the doors to experiment with different handloading cartridges
  • Customizable sights which boost the revolver’s accuracy
  • Exceptional build quality for a delightful shooting experience
  • The powerful .44 Magnum caliber is suitable for hunting and self-defense

Ruger Super Blackhawk handgun

Ruger nails the feel of a premium handgun, and the Ruger Super Blackhawk (RSB) is no different. At 43.2 ounces, I like how substantial the revolver feels in my hands. This isn’t by any means a lightweight handgun; however, the well-balanced weight distribution does its magic never to make the RSB feel too heavy in a single hand grip, even after extended shooting sessions.

Ruger Super Blackhawk (Fluted Cylinder) Specifications

Barrel Length

4.6 inches

Overall Length

10.5 inches

Caliber

.44 Magnum

Capacity

6 rounds

Weight

43.2 ounces

I really dig the RSB’s aesthetics, as the revolver feels smooth over the edges and comes with a classy wooden grip. Such a grip design also serves to absorb some of the recoil produced on shooting a .44 Magnum round, and this makes a huge difference.

For starters, the .44 Magnum cartridges pack 3-4 times the gunpowder found in an average round. You can expect wild recoil as a result of such significant firepower. Nevertheless, the RSB's weight and plow handle grip serve to make the revolver more steady in your hands. Thanks to this well-engineered design, you can expect follow-up shots to be as accurate as they can be.

Furthermore, the sight implementation on the RSB is a nice departure from the standard fixed sights we see on similar revolvers. Here, you can adjust the sights according to the wind direction and shooting distance to ensure you land the most accurate shots in a variety of situations.

The RSB delivers a well-rounded package that serves many purposes. Whether you're looking for a powerful handgun for self-defense or a trusty companion on your hunting trips, the RSB is the way to go. Handloaders, in particular, who assemble their own cartridges from scratch, will have a blast with this big-bore revolver.

The .44 caliber is perfect for experimenting with different components and recipes until you master your handloading game. You'd also have more motive to get on such a DIY train, as the stock .44 Magnum cartridges don't come cheap.

Finally, I can't praise enough how the RSB is well-built. The revolver has an all-metal finish with a stylish blue hue to it. The cylinder clicks securely in place and feels snug. However, my only complaint is the plastic rod release button. It feels out of place in this otherwise premium looking revolver, and I wish Ruger walked the extra mile to address such minor nitpicking of mine.

Pros

  • Responsive trigger
  • Premium construction
  • Stylish aesthetics

Cons

  • The ejector rod can benefit from reworking to boost its reliability

2. [Best Budget Single Action Revolver] Uberti 1873 Cattleman

4.8/5

Top Features: 

  • A unique charcoal blue finish to embark on your hunting trips in style
  • The fixed sight is well-placed for most of the shooting situations
  • The cylinder and hammer come with safety pins to minimize the chance of stray shots
  • Excellent weight distribution to better manage the revolver’s recoil
  • The 5.5 inches barrel ensures you get the most accuracy at a long shooting range

Uberti 1873 Cattleman handgun

With every new entry to its revolvers’ lineup, Uberti proves that it knows how to deliver just the right balance between an affordable price and a quality build. I genuinely like the unique charcoal blue finish that the 1873 Cattleman comes in. You get the same finish even on the hardened parts of the case for a consistent look.

Uberti 1873 Cattleman Specifications

Barrel Length

5.5 inches

Overall Length

11 inches

Caliber

45 (LONG) Colt

Capacity

6 rounds

Weight

36.8 ounces

Aside from the looks, I wasn’t blown away by my shooting experience with the Uberti 1873 Cattleman. The trigger feels a bit heavy for a single action revolver with the breaking point sitting at around five pounds. During my testing, I adjusted to the extra resistance; however, I couldn’t look past the inconsistent gritty sensation throughout the trigger’s travel distance.

Nevertheless, for its affordable price, many people won’t mind digging into their gunsmithing tools and take the responsibility of adjusting the trigger into their own hands. If you’re tight on budget and know your way around trigger customization, the Uberti 1873 Cattleman is a good bargain.

Unlike the RSB, the Cattleman comes with a fixed sight that's soldered to the metal frame. You lose on the sight adjustability with this setup; however, the placement feels right for most of the shooting scenarios, and I found myself landing accurate shots from a long-range.

Hunters rejoice! The Cattleman makes full use of the 45 Long Colt cartridges, which come with enough firepower to kill a bear. The long 5.5 inches barrel also boosts the bullet’s momentum and velocity to get considerable penetration power.

Pros

  • Affordable single action revolver
  • Comfortable grip
  • Suitable for hunting

Cons

  • The trigger can be quite heavy for a single action revolver

3. [Best Convertible Single Action Revolver] Ruger Single Six

4.8/5

Top Features: 

  • Easily moddable design to swap parts on the go without the need for dedicated gunsmithing tools
  • The .22 Long Rifle caliber is perfect for target practice
  • Suitable for pest control as it doesn’t produce much noise to alert your neighbors
  • A spring-loaded ejector mechanism for easier reloading
  • Manageable recoil which makes it perfect for beginners

Ruger Single Six handgun

Not all of us have a gunsmithing kit at our disposal, and even if you do, you need a certain level of skill to use such tools effectively. Here comes the role of convertible revolvers with their moddable designs that can be easily customizable without the need for dedicated tools.

Ruger Single Six Specifications

Barrel Length

5.5 inches

Overall Length

15 inches

Caliber

.22 Long Rifle

Capacity

6 rounds

Weight

32.9 ounces

Ruger Single Six proves that it fully understands the convertible formula and capitalizes on what makes such revolvers so special. The front and rear sights are highly customizable, allowing you to align both of them for maximum accuracy. Moreover, you can swap the revolver's barrel with a single secure screw to get different lengths down the line.

However, it's not all pink and roses, as the .22 Long Rifle caliber feels out of place if you intend to use your revolver primarily for self-defense. Unless shot at a close range, you don't get the stopping power necessary to impact your attacker's movement.

On the other hand, if you use the revolver the way it was intended to be used, you’ll have a lot of fun with this old western classic design. The Ruger Single Six is meant to be used for practice at a shooting range, and it delivers on such a premise. The long barrel and non-overwhelming caliber deliver the accuracy you need to pinpoint your targets.

Furthermore, the incorporated spring-loaded ejector rod makes the process of unloading empty shells and reloading your new cartridges more seamless. Revolvers aren't known for their reloading speed, but you can add six new rounds to the wheel with enough practice in no time.

Pros

  • An iconic old western design
  • Excellent accuracy
  • Best-in-class reliability

Cons

  • A bulky footprint for a .22 Long Rifle caliber revolver

Top Features: 

  • The extra weight can help boost the revolver’s stability
  • The unfluted design delivers an overall neat look 
  • The powerful .44 Remington Magnum caliber shines when it comes to hunting
  • Unfluted revolvers are more affordable thanks to their more streamlined manufacturing process
  • Reliable build quality for less malfunctioning on the field

Ruger revolver

I couldn’t get enough of the Ruger Super Blackhawk (RSB); that’s why I decided to review its variant with an unfluted cylinder. The two models are basically identical except for a minor difference that might go unnoticed for the untrained eye.

Ruger Super Blackhawk (Unfluted Cylinder) Specifications

Barrel Length

4.6 inches

Overall Length

10.5 inches

Caliber

.44 Remington Magnum

Capacity

6 rounds

Weight

44.9 ounces

Fluting in gun terms refers to the presence of grooves along the revolver’s cylinder and barrel. This helps to push the revolver’s overall weight down, as the grooves help reduce the frame’s density. You can notice the weight difference between the two models with the unfluted RSB sitting at 44.9 ounces.

Another key benefit you get with the fluted cylinder is its ease of rotation. The lightweight cylinder doesn’t require much force to bring the next shot in line with the shooting chamber. This makes the manual cocking of the revolver between each round less tiresome.

It’s worth noting that the unfluted revolvers have a cleaner overall look, which explains why the heavier models might receive some appeal. Since the gun manufacturers don’t have to bother with the extra fluting step in such models, their retail price tends to be lower than their fluted counterparts.

If you’re on a tight budget and you don’t mind the extra weight, I’d recommend you save a couple of bucks on the unfluted RSB. The cleaner look will also ensure the revolver secures an easy spot on a gun collector’s shelf.

Pros

  • More affordable
  • Premium finish
  • Durable steel cylinder and grip frame
  • Adjustable rear sight

Cons

  • Heavier footprint than their fluted counterparts

Top Features: 

  • A rounded grip for a more ergonomic feel
  • A faithful replica of Billy the Kid’s gun for old American West enthusiasts
  • The 45 Long Colt is a powerful caliber suitable for hunting
  • The black finish brings a stylish, clean look to the 1873 Cattleman
  • You can customize the trigger’s resistance to your liking

Uberti Bonney revolver

Old West fans might be familiar with the name “Billy the Kid” and how this infamous gunslinger caused havoc back in the 19th century. Uberti set on a quest to make the fanboy inside every one of us happy with its faithful recreation of his gun in the form of Bonney 1873 Cattleman.

Uberti Bonney 1873 Cattleman Specifications

Barrel Length

5.5 inches

Overall Length

11 inches

Caliber

45 (LONG) Colt

Capacity

6 rounds

Weight

36.8 ounces

The grip also replicates the feeling of a buffalo horn that was used in the original Billy the Kid revolver. Furthermore, I completely dig the all-black finish adorned by a brass-looking housing around the revolver’s cylinder.

Aside from the looks, the two revolvers shoot exactly the same. They both come with a 5.5 inches barrel and use the powerful 45 Long Colt cartridges to deliver a force to be reckoned with. Such raw firepower can be put to great use in the hands of a hunter.

Given the fact that the Bonney 1873 Cattleman is a limited edition revolver, you can expect its price to go above and beyond what the stock model retails for. In this case, only gun enthusiasts and collectors might be willing to spend the extra cash for the same specs they can get in another budget revolver.

Pros

  • Dedicated hammer and cylinder safety
  • Suitable for hunting
  • Premium grip materials

Cons

  • More expensive than the stock 1873 Cattleman

4.6/5

Top Features: 

  • High gloss stainless steel frame for excellent durability
  • The hardwood grip ensures the revolver feels comfortable in hand, even during extended shooting sessions
  • The revolver’s balance and stability benefit from its hefty weight
  • A well-thought-out safety system to prevent accidental shots
  • The 45 Colt cartridges ensure recoil doesn’t get out of hand

Ruger Vaquero revolver

You know the drill by now; Ruger knows how to make a single action revolver. The Ruger Vaquero shares the same DNA in terms of premium build quality, durability, and reliability. The entire frame is made out of stainless steel, which ensures the Ruger Vaquero can shoot anything you throw its way, whether it's old-school black powder cartridges or the newer smokeless options.

Ruger Vaquero Specifications

Barrel Length

5.5 inches 

Overall Length

10.25 inches

Caliber

45 Colt (LC)

Capacity

6 rounds

Weight

71.2 ounces

Speaking of smokeless cartridges, the revolver uses 45 Colt rounds. Such cartridges are capable of achieving the same velocity and firing power of their 45 ACP counterparts while keeping the chamber pressure in check. The end result is less recoil without compromising on power. 

Another highlight of my experience with the Ruger Vaquero is its safety system. The revolver doesn’t require you to touch the hammer while unloading or reloading. Once you open the loading gate, the cylinder can move freely. This ensures no stray bullets are shot accidentally while handling the revolver.

Unlike the Ruger Single Six, there’s limited room for customization here without using dedicated gunsmithing tools. Nevertheless, you get a solid package out-of-the-box that performs well enough for most people without any special adjustments.

One major complaint that I couldn't overlook using the Ruger Vaquero is its weight. At 71.2 ounces, the revolver is without a doubt on the heavy side. I admit that the revolver's overall stability benefits a lot from its hefty construction; however, not all people can appreciate the extra weight, especially that there are lighter alternatives on the market with comparable accuracy.

Pros

  • A reliable revolver
  • Non-intrusive front and rear sights
  • Transfer-bar safety system 

Cons

  • Inconvenient portability due to its heavyweight

4.5/5

 Top Features:

  • High gloss stainless steel frame for excellent durability
  • The hardwood grip ensures the revolver feels comfortable in hand, even during extended shooting sessions
  • The revolver’s balance and stability benefit from its hefty weight
  • A well-thought-out safety system to prevent accidental shots
  • The 45 Colt cartridges ensure recoil doesn’t get out of hand
Uberti KL CMS revolver

Uberti brings its years of firearm expertise and sets to pursue a new goal, which is delivering one of the fastest-shooting competition revolvers. This was made possible by completely redesigning the hammer mechanism. With 20% less hammer travel distance, the Uberti KL CMS ensures the transition from one round to the other is as brief as possible in a single action revolver.

Uberti KL CMS Specifications

Barrel Length

3.5 inches

Overall Length

9.12 inches

Caliber

45 (LONG) Colt

Capacity

6 rounds

Weight

33.6 ounces

Furthermore, the revolver fits perfectly as a concealed carry gun thanks to its relatively short barrel and lightweight. The support for 45 Colt cartridges is the icing on top. Such ammunition delivers enough stopping power for your Uberti KL CMS to double as your trusty self-defense sidearm.

I’ve got fun trivia for you! The KL in the revolver’s name stands for none other than the mounted shooting world champion, Kenda Lenseigne. Her input on the gun design helped create an exceptionally accurate revolver. Moreover, the custom made grip ensures the revolver doesn’t slip while aiming from the back of your galloping horse.

Finally, serious mounted shooters can also appreciate that the 45 Colt caliber doesn’t produce considerable noise to startle your horse every time you land a shot. The process of making your horse accustomed to the gun sound will be more straightforward on using such ammo.

Pros

  • Perfect for mounted shooters
  • Premium build quality
  • Excellent accuracy

Cons

  • The extra-wide sights might not click with everybody

What Purpose Does a Single Action Revolver Serve?

You might be surprised by how versatile a single action revolver can be. From a trusty companion on the shooting range to an everyday carry gun, here are some of the most popular situations where a single action revolver shines.

Target Shooting

Long-barreled revolvers fare pretty well on the shooting range. The single action models' responsive triggers, coupled with great accuracy, deliver a killer package for pinpoint shooters.

Bullets fly quickly on the shooting range, and by that, I mean you might find yourself looking at more than 100 empty shells at the end of the day. That's why choosing an affordable ammo caliber, like the 9mm, gives you more room to practice without hurting your wallet.

It's worth noting that revolvers typically come with longer reload times than semi-auto pistols. Be patient until you master how to manually house the six rounds into your revolver's cylinder in no time.

Concealed Carry

There are absolutely some tiny single action revolvers on the market, which makes the idea of carrying an everyday handgun less of a chore. I'd recommend you go for a lightweight revolver with a short barrel and easily pocketable footprint. 

Don't be fooled by the compact size, as such concealed revolvers are no joke. Models using overpressure ammunition deliver considerable stopping power to ensure your carry handgun is reliable whenever you need it.

Home Defense

You can explain everything one needs to know about using a single action revolver during a quick elevator ride! Such a simple point and shoot design come in handy in stressful situations. During the adrenaline rush of facing a burglar, the last thing you need is to be held back by your handgun's complex mechanical operation.

It's worth noting that revolvers come with limited bullet capacity compared to semi-auto pistols. They’re also slower to reload; that's why you have to make sure your revolver's cylinder is sitting at full-house and ready to defend your home in no time.

Why Are Single Action Revolvers Popular?

It's impressive how single action revolvers managed to keep their ground for so many years and didn't become irrelevant once modern firearms were introduced to the market. Let's dive into the features that contribute to their popularity today.

Affordable for Most Budgets

Since revolvers have been around for a long time, manufacturers don't have to spend big money on R&D and come up with completely revamped designs. If it isn't broken, don't fix it! This ensures that affordable models aren't going anywhere, and there is always a quality revolver for people on limited budgets.

Excellent Quality

The old-school feel of a revolver in hand is quite unmatched. It's just fitting to compare a high-quality revolver to a Swiss mechanical watch, as both require an incredible level of precision and craftsmanship.

Collectors and people looking for premium handguns will be thrilled by how many worthy options they can find in the revolvers' space. The icing on top is that even old revolvers age like a bottle of fine wine, as they don't require tons of maintenance like semi-auto pistols.

Highly Reliable

At this point, I believe I already said it loud and clear that revolvers are simple on the mechanical front compared to other modern firearms. Having less moving parts in a handgun ensures it's less liable to malfunctioning. 

It's not the end of the world if you end up with an unshot round as the next bullet comes in line with the shooting chamber on a follow-up trigger pull. Knowing that your revolver will simply just work the next time you need it gives you more confidence in your sidearm.


Final Verdict

There’s no definitive winner to the single action vs. double action revolvers standoff, as it all boils down to personal preference at the end of the day. If you’re looking for a revolver that automatically cocks the bullet on pulling the trigger, consider the double action options.

On the other hand, if the double action revolvers' trigger resistance is too much for your taste, you'll enjoy your experience with the single action variants. They’re known for their triggers' responsiveness and smoothness. That's why we see single action revolvers finding their way in fast-paced sports like mounted shooting.

No matter what budget you’re working with, you can find just the right single action revolver to cover your needs. Whether you’re looking for a compact revolver to use as your concealed carry gun or a powerful sidearm for hunting, the single action revolvers’ catalog has it all.