Top Five Tips for Carrying a Revolver

The Kimber K6s revolver. (Photo: Kimber)

Even in an age of very reliable and well-sized auto-loading pistols, I am still a big fan of carrying a snub-nosed revolver. I am drawn to their simplicity and reliability — two key attributes of a self-defense tool. I am drawn to the relatively heavy, smooth trigger action and the inherent accuracy at combat distances. I am really drawn to the lack of size and weight, which removes most obstacles to true everyday carry.

Sure, some auto-loading pistols share these attributes, and they come with the benefit of higher capacity and faster reloading. I am not a snubbie-or-nothing kind of guy, but sometimes, I am fine with five to stay alive. Here are my top five tips for carrying a snub-nosed revolver.

1. Carry it IWB at 1 o’clock

GunsAmerica’s Gun Bunny Clay Martin demonstrating appendix carry.

Appendix carry is great for a concealed carry gun. It is very easy to hide and access. It takes the right body shape to pull this off well. If you need a really good reason to shed a few pounds, here it is. Revolvers are widest at the cylinder, and IWB revolver holsters tend to put the cylinder directly under the belt. At positions other than 11 or 1 o’clock, the thickness of the revolver and holster can be a bit tight and uncomfortable. But at 11 or 1 o’clock, there is generally a bit more space to work with.

Some IWB holsters allow for a bit of reverse cant, putting the stocks near the gun belt and providing a bit more comfort while not sacrificing on stability or ease of draw. This is especially helpful when sitting and the muzzle and stocks have to go somewhere. For standing, walking and even running, a snubbie works best with IWB at 1 o’clock.

2. Carry it in a simple, plastic holster

Leather or suede holsters are softer and more comfortable than plastic holsters, but plastic holsters are not necessarily uncomfortable. Plastic holsters do, however, have the advantage of being molded to the particular gun you carry. That means guns go in with a positive click as the surrounding plastic flexes just a bit and then grabs the gun’s trigger guard. This added bit of retention can make a big difference in carrying a snubbie, especially if you get into a scuffle and your body is turned this way and that.

Simple and plastic is the way to go when carrying revolvers.

In the right holster, your gun will not fall out (at least not as easily as it might from a holster with no retention). Since it does not fall out, it will be right where you expect it so you can grasp and draw. And that can make all the difference in the world. Moreover, plastic holsters are durable, and you will get used to how they feel IWB at 1 o’clock. Plus, unlike leather, plastic holsters clean up easily and are relatively inexpensive.

3. Carry it with a speedloader

I have carried spare ammo with speed strips, a bandolier belt carrier, loose in my pocket and in a speedloader. By far, my favorite means of carrying and deploying a reload is with a speedloader.

Carry extra rounds in a speedloader. You probably won’t need it. But if you do, you’ll be glad you have it.

A speedloader allows you to insert five rounds all at once with a twist or a push, and it is much faster and more consistent than any other means of reloading a revolver. While a reload might never be necessary, that one time you need it makes having it all the more worthwhile. Make sure to carry the speedloader in a holster too. Carrying it in a holster on your gun belt keeps it ready when you need it.

4. Carry it all the time

Carry all the time!

This probably goes without saying, but you should carry your concealed carry gun all the time. For me, carrying all the time happens when I am carry a small, lightweight, reliable gun that I can easily carry IWB at 1 o’clock or appendix. If you consistently carry auto-loading pistols with more capacity and faster reloading capabilities all the time, that’s great. Keep on keeping on.

The reality of some concealed carry peeps, however, is that because the smaller, lighter revolver, is easier to carry and easier to take on and off, it is a more viable option to carry all the time. Moreover, with just a couple other holsters, you can carry a snubbie in other locations: OWB, pocket holster, ankle holster, shoulder holster and so on. Few auto-loading pistols have the same versatility.

5. Carry it with the confidence

Carry with confidence. Short on confidence? Practice, practice, practice!

The five to stay alive philosophy behind carrying a snub-nosed revolver means you have chosen the type of gun you think you would likely need to defend yourself and get out of a bad situation quickly. You are not looking to engage in any kind of extended gun battle. You are not planning on battling multiple assailants. These are all assumptions, of course, and they might be horribly wrong or misplaced. So there is a scale of preparation on which to stake your concealed carry gun and gear choices.

Admittedly, carrying a snubbie is probably toward the lower end of the scale, sort of a bare minimum. There are a hundred other considerations in play here (including mindset and training) that have nothing to do with the type of gun you carry. If you are looking for a simple, reliable daily carry solution, a snubbie is a good choice. It has been for years and continues to be today.

Conclusion

Whatever you do in daily concealed carry, be sure to train with the gun, ammo and gear you actually use. Drill on loading and reloading. Drill on drawing, shooting and reholstering. Get professional instruction on these things and practice, practice, practice.

Your turn. What gun do you carry every day and why?

About the Author: Mark Kakkuri is a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.

Discover how you can join more than 200,000 responsibly armed Americans who already rely on the USCCA to protect their families, futures and freedoms: USCCA.com/gunsamerica.

***Purchase Your New Concealed Carry Revolver on GunsAmerica***

About the author: Mark Kakkuri is a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.

{ 29 comments… add one }
  • Everette February 5, 2021, 2:10 am

    I carry a North American Arms five-shot 22 mag revolver. I carry it in my front right pocket. I could be getting mugged and when the person asked for my money,, they would not know it was a gun coming out of my pocket until they had already taken three to the face. That’s the only reason to have a gun like that. To give you enough time/room to get yourself and any loved ones with you, out of immediate danger. It has no trigger guard and you pull the hammer each shot, so there’s that limitation there that will help you keep your wits about yourself. I absolutely love that gun.

  • Paul de Florio June 7, 2020, 12:53 pm

    I currently carry an S&W Shield .380 PC EZ and love the gun. Light weight, loaded with Sig hollow points and an extra mag in my cargo pants pocket. Thinking I might also carry my new Colt Cobra with an ammo pouch. Anyway I carry everywhere!

  • Kevin Cossentine February 22, 2020, 4:20 pm

    I enjoy carrying my .38 2″ snubby Taurus 6 shooter within an OWB holster on my right hip mostly.
    Been thinking of making my own shoulder harness to hang it on my left side in the future tho considering how I need to get a new wardrobe soon. Do have a few loose shirts and a nice coat to cover the gun up in the meantime.

  • Jim April 16, 2018, 10:45 am

    Great articles, Mark! I get some good information from every one you write. I have to carry my S&W 340PD in an ankle holster. I am either driving or sitting in an office all day – every day. Have tried appendix carry and even though I only weigh 160 lbs it is still horribly uncomfortable to carry in that fashion. I get pitched a LOT of crap from people at the range about ankle carry. I usually just respond with the fact that “my ankle is a whole lot closer than the glove box in my truck”. Thanks again for the great article!

  • PaulWVa April 15, 2018, 7:00 pm

    S&W 642 Performance Center model with Liberty Civil Defense +P ammo in a Black Hawk “sticky” style holster. This carries great at 1:00 IWB or in a pocket.

  • FirstStateMark April 15, 2018, 10:51 am

    I like my S&W 642. Very concealable.

  • Donald Comfort April 14, 2018, 2:18 pm

    I started in Police work in late 60’s Revolvers were King back then and everyone either carried a 5 shot S&W or 6 shot colt as an
    off duty gun. I was involved in several shootings while working plain clothes. Using the ammo produced at that time, when a Bad Guy was hit with my 38 S&W, he fell down, fight over. With today’s much improved ammo choices, I laugh when I here
    how weak a 38 Snubbie is for defensive purposes.

  • Ron April 13, 2018, 10:09 pm

    I love my lcr in 327, and really love the urban carry holster

  • JB Miller April 13, 2018, 3:58 pm

    Dont laugh! I carry a Seecamp .32 in a RJ Hedley back pocket holster. I wear scrubs and anything else pulls my drawers down. When I get to wear real clothes, I have the option of a more conventional gun (Walther .40 ) with IWB holster. Funny thing is I still reach for that little mouse gun. It is comfortable and a whole lot better than the gun I’m not carrying!

  • Michael P DiNardo April 13, 2018, 2:41 pm

    I agree on carrying a revolver.I carry my 638 all the time.I use a N2 which is very comfortable. Oh- anyone can refer to themselves any way they want. But unless you were/are 13 Bravo you are Not a gun bunny.Only 13 Bravos have earned the right to refer to ourselves as a “Gun Bunny”.Anyone else using that term just looks foolish.

  • JHR April 13, 2018, 2:01 pm

    When I carry a revolver its a N frame Smith and Wesson Performance Center 627 with a 2 & 5/8″ barrel in a Desantis leather OWB holster. A extra long shirt tail covers it quite well for warm weather carry. As far as ammo goes I generally use 110 grain Winchester JHP’s. Might not be everyone’s cup of tea, its not a light revolver, but it is an accurate revolver with a 8 round cylinder.
    If anyone out there knows of a company that makes a 8 round speed loader for the S&W N frame let me know in a reply.
    I haven’t had much luck in my searches. Moon clips are OK but I think a speed loader would be quicker.
    Great article, thanks!

  • Al Flury April 13, 2018, 12:54 pm

    I carry my snubnose in a pocket holster for the same reason as others have pointed out. I am amazed at those who never go out with less than 30 rounds on them between gun and spare mag. I must not be reading the blogs and forums that cover these big capacity gun battles.

  • Rangemaster11B April 13, 2018, 11:54 am

    I carry both speedloaders & speed strips for my J frame. Even using the Safariland Comp loaders, there is no such thing as a smooth, fast reload as with a larger wheelgun.

  • Brian Thomas April 13, 2018, 11:30 am

    Would love to get a plastic or leather holder and speed loader for my Ruger SP101, know where I can get an affordable and reliable one?

  • Sammy April 13, 2018, 11:20 am

    That’s not appendix carry—it’s pointed at your junk.

    • PaulWVa April 15, 2018, 7:15 pm

      I guess you could carry 5:00 … pointed at your brain 🙂

  • Dwight April 13, 2018, 10:50 am

    I grew up in a time when revolvers were the most prevalent and have stayed with them because I feel safe around them more so than any pistol, especially striker fired. At the range I have seen a couple of negligent firings with them that would have never happened in my opinion with a revolver. (Inexperienced Shooters) That long trigger pull and the transfer bars are a big safety feature. Pistols in my early days were not as reliable as they are now but I still see far more failures to feed or eject with them. I Shoot about a 1000 rounds a year through my revolvers so not an expert, just my opinion. I mostly Carrying my revolvers cross draw in an outside the pants holster at 10 o’clock or in the pocket. In North Dakota where we have 8 months of winter concealing is not a problem, I just buy coats with big pockets and heavy shirts with long tails. I am always hoping the 5 or 6 will be enough but I do carry a speed strip. Up until 5 years ago I shot nothing but 357 mag but have purchased an LCR and An SP 101 in 327 federal magnum, My 357s get used a lot less nowdays, Little less recoil and very good penetration.

  • Rotaman April 13, 2018, 9:56 am

    I carry a Jox speedloader pouch, and it is fantastic. I highly recommend them. My Rugr SP101 is cut for moon clips, and my Jox pouch carries loaded moon clips as well as it does a speedloader.

  • Frank April 13, 2018, 8:58 am

    My personal carry gun is a Taurus 617, seven round .357 magnum stainless steel snubbie revolver on my right hip in a very snug Murph’s holster with my shirt tail out covering it and two seven round speed loaders in a holster on my opposite hip and with my wide shoulders it causes the shirt to hang over them without printing. It’s a bit heavier than a five round but I’ve grown so used to it I sometimes forget I have it on and besides, the number seven represents perfection and completion! I could use a holster with a retention strap because the Murph’s doesn’t have one and in a horizontal position, the revolver is prone to fall out if jarred hard enough, don’t ask how I know!

    • Pete April 13, 2018, 11:43 am

      Nice. I carry the same in Ti.

  • ronald April 13, 2018, 8:38 am

    I carry a 327 PC appendix WITHOUT a holster. Seems crazy, but if you really think about it, it is virtually impossible for an ND unless that long heavy trigger pull is engaged. Extremely unlikely. You are right, it is handy and comfortable to carry this way. With the cylinder under the belt and the grip above, the gun is very secure BTW. Also, I vastly prefer moon clips to speed loader. I can reload with moon clip in a little over a second. 8 more rounds, even quicker than a magazine load in a semi. Plus 8 rounds .357 mag tamed by Pachmyr Diamond Pro grips.

  • Bob Lee April 13, 2018, 8:33 am

    Thanks!

  • King Paris April 13, 2018, 7:48 am

    That photo sure looks like 12 o’clock to me. Are you sure you want to be pointing that thing at that thing? Not me!!!

  • Ton E April 10, 2018, 2:25 pm

    I never found AIWB comfortable. I carry a Ruger LCR .357 but I typically load it up with .38 +P with 5 .357 rounds in a speed loader. 3 to 4 o’clock iwb is how I roll.

    • Jamie April 13, 2018, 7:30 am

      Awsome, because we all cared exactly what Ammo you carried.

  • Floyd Burdett April 10, 2018, 3:33 am

    I Love my compact .38 Spl +P “5 to stay alive”…
    I usually carry a 12+1 double-stack semi-auto as my ‘regular’ CCW with long pants and a quality leather belt…
    BUT … my wheel gun is easy to throw in a jacket pocket when my IWB is covered up by outerwear — especially while riding my motorcycle, with my safety jacket on. But I can also grab my wheel gun for a pair of Shorts with a snug drawstring, and the belt clip still gets enough grip to allow a good draw. I just let the tail of my T-shirt cover the gun and GO!
    I am a lefty, and I do carry it in the 10-11 position, with a cant…
    With the belt clip, rather than a belt-thru the loop, I use it often as a ‘grab n’ go’ for a trip to pick up pizza or a quick grocery run, etc. But I carry it in the same location as my semi-auto, so it is still a pretty automatic draw movement.
    I also have an ankle holster for it…for those odd times when it is good to have a back-up, or when it is harder to conceal my double-stack…
    But it is hammerless, and CAN be shot even from inside my pocket, if needed, and is just plain fun to shoot, so i am very comfortable with it.

  • John Morris April 9, 2018, 5:54 pm

    I give up . Tell me the maker of the speed loader holster .
    Thanks .

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